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Character Count: 101
Ml: 48 - Fml: 51 - Oth: 2
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With the cooling season of Autumn, Ice-types are starting to re-emerge from their hibernation as Ghost-, Normal-, and Flying-types swarm in the largest numbers they will all year. In comparison, wild Fire- and Bug-type populations are falling in number. The migration of Flying-types to the south in search of warmer weather has also started, as Istin City starts to re-freeze and Autumn marks the beginning of Cypwater Point's rainy season. Handlers and Rogues alike should be wary: Ghost-type powers are boosted during this season, at the cost of being more prone to their triggers.

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 The Legend of Koro, Alex Fitzgerald, Líadain Kenyon (closed)
Slondermins
 Posted: Apr 15 2017, 06:28 PM
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Jezenya diHadi | Seze Cal

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Alexander Fitzgerald, Lvl. 17


Líadain Kenyon, Lvl. 4


QUOTE
Title: The Legend of Koro
Restrictions: None.
Description: A mysterious rogue in an Octillery mask--- he is only known by the name Koro. In the events of the Schism, he was pivotal in securing the political clout of the Healers' Circle, in ways both legal and illegal. He moves like lightning, and is as elusive as a dream--- but the Guardians have pinned down his location to here. At the same time, various people seek to repay their debts of honor to the slippery man. Which side are you on? Will you aid, or depose, the Koro?


Spawn Pool

http://i832.photobucket.com/albums/zz241/HarperRegion/Sprites/336seviper.png
Shed Skin and Infiltrator
Scary Face and Punishment

http://i832.photobucket.com/albums/zz241/HarperRegion/Sprites/27sandshrew.png
Sand Veil and Sand Rush
Flail and Night Slash


Spawn Level
Alexander: Level 1-70 (try to keep around mid-50's max)
Líadain: Level 1-15

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The Desert Dancer

The Blade in the Shadows


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Korosensei
 Posted: Apr 18 2017, 07:51 PM
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Alexander Fitzgerald | Emilie Chartoire

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An excited female voice squeaking “We’ve got him” was the first thing Alexander heard when he arrived at the outpost camp on the eastern border of Dedrius, bearing only a note telling him to meet a certain Guardian Ashlyn.

“Who’d we get?” Alexander asked the nearest Guardian, the one who had spoken so enthusiastically.

“Oh, Fitzgerald, glad to see you’re here – you are Alexander Fitzgerald, yes?” the woman asked as she tucked a strand of her auburn hair behind her ear. Alexander noticed a nearby jumpluff watching her, but a second poke ball on her belt meant that she had another pokemon, as well.

“I am,” he affirmed. “I received a note saying that a group here needed an interrogator; what can I do for you?”

“We’ve got someone out there,” her voice dropped, “not quite in custody yet, but this is a big lead.”

Alexander sighed. “I don’t do captures in the field, as I’m sure I’ve told people – that’s not my specialty, I’m far better at getting information once the person is brought in. The deFleur case was an exception.”

“I know, I know, but… didn’t you support the Healing Circle during the Schism?” Her voice was soft, hesitant, but it was an odd enough request for one Guardian to ask of another that Alexander knew it must be serious for her to have asked him out here for something like that.

“I did… it’s not a popular opinion around here, though.” There was no harm in getting a little questioning practice along the way, he decided, and he was quite curious why this mattered for the mission.

“Well, we’ve… a field report alerted us to the location of a certain rogue. Dark hair, face hidden by an octillery mask…”

“You found Koro?” Alexander whispered, impressed. He knew of the rogue only known as “Koro,” but even after helping the Healing Circle to the fullest of his abilities and integrating himself completely within their ranks, he had never seen hide or hair of the man. All he knew was that he wore an octillery mask, and otherwise he blended into his surroundings so completely that he was often called slippery like the water-type. He had heard the rumors of Koro’s involvement in the peace negotiations after the Schism, but even the leads from that had turned into smoker when they got too close. “How?”

“We received an alert from the Istin Guardians that he had been spotted there a few days ago, and with another report we were able to match his location to this area. We’ve got him surrounded, but we don’t think he knows that yet; I wonder how he’ll try to get out of our clutches.”

“What do you want me to do, Guardian?”

She sighed and leaned in closer. “You’re a rising star in the Dedrius Guardians, and with that new promotion it’s obvious that Lord Folgart favors you… I was wondering if your allegiance to the Healing Circle is still what it was, or whether you’ve given that up to be simply a Guardian.”

“I’m not in the mood for puzzles,” Alexander replied, thinking of the myriad reasons why she could have asked him to be there, and why there was such a need for secrecy.

“I didn’t call you here to have another Senior Guardian on the case, Fitzgerald. I sent you that note because I wanted to know if you were my ally in this.”

“Explain.”

“Koro has been incredibly helpful to the Healing Circle. He’s a rogue, yes, and a rumored assassin of legendary skill, but I don’t know if the Healing Circle can afford to lose him. If the group here catches him, which is likely to happen thanks to the way all these little camps are set up, he’ll be sent in for official interrogation.” She paused, watching as her jumpluff alighted on a tree branch and found a Pecha berry to eat. “There are two things I’m asking of you, Fitzgerald, but for one end result. I think we, as Healing Circle supporters, both need for Koro to go free today. Whether he escapes the camp or escapes from interrogation, I’ll need you to find a way to get him out of here safely.”

“Is that all?” Alexander asked with a slight nervous chuckle, wondering how he was going to do this while looking like a reputable Guardian. After all, he had new Guardians following him in many missions now, and there was no real way to convince himself to con a new Guardian and favor a rogue… Eventually, after realizing he would have to take a much closer look at the territory to come up with a plan, he added, “Do we have any other allies here?”

“Not that I know of; this camp is in charge of – oh, Guardian Hortensia, Fitzgerald is here,” she announced with a much louder voice as another Guardian with a ribbon matching Alexander’s approached.

“Fitzgerald, you are a Senior Guardian now, but as someone who’s more senior in the field, you will answer to me on this mission. You will bring in the rogue known as Koro – I know this may sound intimidating given his proclivity for assassination, but you will have an ally.”

Alexander bowed to the older Guardian, noting the faded ribbon on her armor and taking that as an indication of her long time having her rank. “I would be pleased to work with Guardian Ashlyn on this mission.”

“Oh, this is far bigger than a new Guardian like Ashlyn. I’ve called for reinforcements from Seaway, and Councilman Wolfrum is sending one of his Guardians to arrive via abra. I’ll give you two a little time to coordinate, but your mission is to use your pokemon to flush the rogue towards one of the three camps.” Hortensia spent a while describing the three camps arranged like an equilateral triangle, managed by a Senior Guardian at each. With a final suggestion to “Use that shiny noctowl of yours to get his attention, there’s no way he’ll ignore that,” she returned to the other Guardians, showing them their protocol for capturing Koro.

Alexander had only just gotten Caledonia out of her ball, to the amazement of a few people nearby including Ashlyn, before a voice in his head informed him that his junior partner for the mission would be arriving soon. Thankful for the fact that he didn’t know many Guardians outside of Dedrius, he tried to keep a straight face for the greenhorn as he thought of how he was supposed to do two competing missions at once.

It was true that he didn’t know many Guardians outside of Dedrius. But the face that appeared in front of his was all too familiar.

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Yana
 Posted: May 4 2017, 05:45 PM
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Líadain Kenyon

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Lía stood at attention in Wolfrum’s office, chewing the inside of her lip and resisting the urge to fidget. The councilman soon waved her to a seat, already in his own.

‘At ease, Kenyon, and thank you for being prompt. I’ve an... unusual mission for you today, one you’ll be travelling for so I hope you have a go bag ready.’

Lía nodded, even as her frown of confusion deepened. Though she’d been with the Guardians for nearly a year now, she was still given the local missions, the easier ones. She’d never been asked to venture abroad before.

‘Good. Although the infighting between the different factions has eased of late, we’re still dealing with the fallout. Councilwoman Dunn has recently informed me that the Dedrius Guardians are closing in on a rogue and suspected assassin who gained considerable ground for the Healing Circle during the troubles. She’s already put a team together to capture this person – they call him ‘The Koro’ – but has requested aid from some of the other councillors. Given your knowledge of Dedrius thanks to that incident during the Rose Bowl, and your association with Dedrian Guardian Alexander Fitzgerald, I’ve volunteered you to go and assist. You’ll be under the command of a Dedrian Senior Guardian upon arriving, who will give you the full brief. Any questions?’

Lía paused, thinking through the ream of questions she had, before deciding that most of them would be addressed in the brief bar one. ‘When do I leave?’

Wolfrum smiled. ‘ As soon as you’ve got your kit. There’s an abra waiting in the barracks by your bunk. Good luck Kenyon.’

* * *


Lía had dashed off a quick note to her parents and sent it off with a Guardian messenger pidgey before heading for the barracks and her already-packed bag. It had sat untouched since her first week on the job, neglected in favour of her backpack on the occasions she’d spend a day or two in the field.

She couldn’t help wondering if Alexander would be on this mission. He was the only Guardian in Dedrius she knew, and it would be reassuring to have a familiar face around. No point in betting on it though; she wasn’t sure what the size of the team was and Dedrius had plenty of Guardians. He might well have other duties to attend to while the raid was going on.

Sure enough an abra had made itself comfortable on her bunk, drawing a few odd looks from the others in the room. Lía headed straight for it, swiping up her bag from the foot of her bunk as she went. ‘You’re my teleport to Dedrius?’ she asked in an undertone, mindful of her colleagues asleep after coming in from a night shift.

The psychic nodded, hovering up to eye-level and reaching a hand out. At Lía’s permissive nod, it clasped her shoulder and she braced for the now-familiar feeling of teleportation.

It was milder in Dedrius, she noticed first. Milder but drier, though not by much. Through the flickering dots in her vision she made out the outline of her superior officer and straightened up. As the spots cleared though, the blur of colours coalesced into a familiar figure. ‘Alexander!’ Lía beamed, then caught sight of his blue ribbon and saluted without losing the grin. ‘Or Senior Guardian Fitzgerald now, I see. Congratulations.’

Gold glinted in her peripheral vision. Lía’s eyes softened, salute dropping as her smile gentled. ‘You found Caledonia? Oh, you and Casper must be ecstatic,’ she said, genuine relief and joy in her voice. The noctowl really was beautiful, though smaller than expected. Lía crouched down to be on eye-level with the owl pokémon, careful to keep a respectful distance. Not because she was one of the Harperian Trio – Lía had never quite got the obsession with them, even after spending nearly fifteen years in the country – but because from the little Alexander had told her, Caledonia had had a very traumatic few years and she didn’t want to disturb the owl pokémon. She gave her a small smile without showing her teeth, nodding her head towards Alexander. ‘Hello Caledonia. I’m Lía – Alexander’s told me a lot about you. If I’m not mistaken, we’re going to be working together today. There’s just me and my partner, Mairead, so I’ll be counting on you guys to watch our backs.’ She kept her voice level and soothing, and slowly drew Mairead’s ball out to release the spheal.

Mairead blinked a few times in the sunshine, barking happily when she saw Alexander again and rolling forward onto her front flippers to look at Caledonia curiously. She bleated a greeting to the other pokémon before turning to Lía, looking for direction.

Chuckling, Lía stood and nodded to Alexander’s pokéballs. ‘Who else is joining us then? And what’s the plan? I’ve barely got any information other than we’re trying to capture a Healing Circle rogue called the Koro.’

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Korosensei
 Posted: May 7 2017, 12:18 AM
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Stupidface McNoctowl
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Alexander Fitzgerald | Emilie Chartoire

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Alexander's hopes and fears were realized as a familiar figure appeared out of nowhere, smiling at him.

"Alexander's fine - we know each other better than that," Alexander said when Lía deferred to his title. "It's very new, anyway," he added in a softer voice. "I'm not very used to it."

Her eyes alighted on Caledonia, the shiny noctowl's feathers twinkling when the sunlight hit them in the right way. "Yes, this is Caledonia," Alexander said, beaming with pride. "It was quite the journey to find her - my team and I got into a huge battle against about a dozen Order rogues as a few Guardians and I infiltrated their camp; without some of the tactics I learned from our Rose Bowl match, I might have lost my life, or one of my pokemon. It seems, in a way, I am indebted to you."

The noctowl observed Lía carefully, looking for whatever it was that members of her species tried to discern in others, and she gave a small yet satisfied-sounding hoot to signify her approval for Lía accompanying Alexander.

"Looks like she likes you," Alexander said with a smile. "She's not much of a talker, but we're getting to know each other, and I have no doubt we'll be great friends in time."

"Noctowl," Caledonia contributed, offering no indication of whether this was positive or negative. Well, until she stretched out a wing and lightly tapped the back of Alexander's head.

"Well, on that note, I'd better explain the mission," Alexander said with a smile as Lía brought Mairead out. "There are three camps set up here, likely in some sort of triangular formation. We know the rogue known as Koro is in the forest here, but we don't know exactly where. Before you arrived, I was thinking Cal might be able to get a good aerial view of the forest, but I think I'll want a look from the ground first. What do you think?" He neglected to mention that he had belonged to the Healing Circle, and although he worked from a different side of the law than Koro, he had a similar impact on bringing the Healing Circle into the forefront during the Schism. He wondered how much Lía knew of this - and how much she would be willing to help him - but he would have to learn this as he went along.

As he spoke, the noctowl offered her own greeting to the newly summoned pokemon: "Hello, Mairead," she said politely, looking down at the very round pokemon curiously. She had never seen a spheal before - nor many water pokemon, in fact - so she was curious. How did the ball seal pokemon move on land? She wasn't rude enough to ask, so for now she would simply observe.

When Lía mentioned the poke balls hanging at his waist, he let out a short bark of a laugh. "Your old pal Amarie is here, and thanks to a large new scar from that battle against the Order, she's even more confident than she was, if you can believe it. She also wears a necklace with some trophies from vanquished enemies; she loves showing them off and she'll probably show you the scar and the necklace as soon as she's out of her ball." He stopped to chuckle at the idea of Amarie demanding a rematch from a bewildered Lía. "I'll make sure she behaves, though - oh, and the other two from our match are here, Clover the bulbasaur and my brother Casper. I also have a particularly strong pair of fighters with me to do most of the fighting if necessary; Victor, my mr. mime, has a friendly rivalry with Gyro, my hitmontop. Both are friendly, although Gyro is far more approachable," he said in the most politically correct way possible. He didn't need to mention all the details of Victor's murders...

"Anyway," he said, taking a few steps forward, "shall we get going? I don't want us to waste valuable time." Truthfully, most of all, he hoped to get Lía out of earshot of the other Guardians, especially Hortensia. He needed to know if she was on his side, and if she wasn't, he had a whole lot of planning to do in a very small amount of time if he wanted to help Koro escape.

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Yana
 Posted: May 11 2017, 06:18 PM
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Lía’s smile softened, becoming something supportive rather than cheeky. ‘You’ll grow into it. I’ll stick with Alexander though, if you don’t mind. Less of a mouthful,’ she said, teeth flashing again.

Lía quickly wave away his words, keen to dispel that idea. ‘As glad – and relieved – as I am that our match helped you, you don’t owe me anything. I learned far more from that battle, I’m sure.’ Her grasp of tactics, certainly, had been shaped during that round.

She smiled at Caledonia’s favour, glad for the good start. ‘I only hope one day I can say the same.’ She bit the inside of her cheek on a giggle when the owl swatted her trainer to get him back on track, before hastily assembling her expression into something reasonably professional in time for Alexander to address her.

She nodded slowly as she considered the plan, seeing nothing wrong with the basic concept. ‘Sure. I take it we’re going to try and flush him out or something?’ she asked, glancing over Alexander’s shoulders at the other Guardians gathered. A sizeable force to be sure, but enough to effectively comb a forest?

Mairead bobbed forward in greeting when Caledonia spoke to her. ‘Hello. You’re the one Alexander and Caspar were looking for, aren’t you?’ she asked, well-meaning and innocent but blunt, as was her way. She sent a slightly perturbed glance Alexander’s way when he mentioned Amarie, just as Lía laughed.

‘Oh, that’s... lovely. I don’t suppose her trophies are pretty shells and dried flowers, are they?’ She could live in vain hope, if only for a few minutes. So long as the giant crab didn’t try to guillotine her on the spot, she would be fine. Clover and Caspar she’d be happy to meet again, especially the shy little grass-type. She gave Alexander a mildly sceptical look at the mention of his psychic-type however. She’d never met the Mr. Mime herself, admittedly, but... ‘The same Mr. Mime from the Rose Bowl, you mean? The one all the rumours were about?’ None had been especially flattering for Victor. Intimidating, certainly, which if the stories were right would be the mime’s preferred reaction anyway.

With the nudge to get back to business, Lía gave a sharp nod and straightened, her work face dropping into place. ‘Lead the way.’ Alexander must have already been given orders to take the greenhorn on a scouting mission. She still wondered how they were supposed to surreptitiously find a highly skilled rogue in this much woodland, but perhaps the Guardians present had already tightened the noose to a smaller area. She’d find out soon enough, she was sure.

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Korosensei
 Posted: May 15 2017, 03:35 PM
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Alexander enjoyed the playful banter with Lía, although in the back of his mind, he couldn't forget that he was supposed to be doing the impossible. He had considered manipulating his junior partner, or perhaps allowing them to make the "mistake" that would lead to Koro's escape, but the more he talked to Lía, the less he wanted to do anything resembling that. He wanted to be honest, but without any way of knowing Lía's reaction, it was a huge risk for him in his career. She could very easily turn to any of the other Guardians around and reveal what she heard, and then Alexander would be in deeper trouble than he ever cared to be.

But what could he do? Lía was his friend, and a Guardian. And Ashlyn and countless other Healing Circle members were invested in the Koro’s near-legendary deeds. He would simply have to find a middle ground, or else risk being caught on the wrong side of either of the groups he had allied himself with.

For now, though, he tried to keep his demeanor friendly, not letting Lía know of his internal turmoil. “Yes, the goal is to flush him out,” Alexander affirmed Lía’s idea, although inwardly cursing that she was getting so involved with the mission. She was going to try to make everything perfect - perhaps even to impress him, whether in a professional or personal context - and that could be the difference between success and failure for Alexander’s hidden mission.

He decided to move forward regardless. After all, if he was going to look suspicious or make an odd request, it would be better to do so in front of one person he trusted rather than a camp full of strangers. He beckoned Lía forward, noticing that Caledonia watched Mairead rather carefully.

“I am,” she answered the spheal’s question. “How did you know that?”

Alexander, meanwhile, answered Caledonia’s question in a roundabout way by discussing his other team members. He chuckled when Lía mentioned Amarie’s trophies, and was quick to explain: “I don’t think Amarie would know what to do with a flower,” he joked around, “but whenever she meets a particularly fearsome foe in battle, she takes a piece of them with her. I don’t know if it’s normal for crawdaunts, but my pokecard says they love scars and other physical proof of being the strongest pokemon, so I could see that making sense.” Out of respect to Lía, he didn’t exactly say what the trophies were, but his explanation plus Lía’s knowledge of Amarie’s behavior should clue her in to what he was talking about.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to do much with Clover in this mission - she’s still quite the nervous pokemon, and I don’t want to put her in danger. I’m feeling somewhat the same way about Casper, but he and Caledonia are quite the fearsome team together, and I have no doubt they would keep each other safe,” he continued as he watched the noctowl follow behind him as he headed for the treeline.

As he neared the entrance to the thicker vegetation, he had to let out a laugh at the way Lía spoke of Victor. Lía, who was so skilled in battle that she had made it to the finale of last year’s Rose Bowl with a team full of rental pokemon, was afraid of his Victor? “I didn’t know there were rumors,” he said, a certain curiosity in his voice inviting Lía to tell him exactly what she had heard about his infamous mr. mime. “We’ve worked together a great deal, and even though he came to me ready to kill any human on sight, we are now the closest of friends, if you can believe it. I can introduce you later, if you’d like; I promise he won’t hurt you.”

Caledonia clucked at Alexander as her feet crunched on leaves, and the handler was reminded of his circumstances. He couldn’t waste more time talking about Victor, not without a plan in mind. Lía seemed to be taking his lead on this, which meant he could try to come up with a plan that would draw the rogue out, but then what would he do with Koro if he found him? As Hortensia had told him, the forested area was surrounded by a triad of Guardian camps, each with Senior Guardians at the ready.

In the end, however, he decided not to lie outright. There was enough time for manipulation if things went south, but he wanted to trust that Lía would help him as he had helped her in the past. “Do you know anything about this rogue, Lía? The one we’re hunting?” he asked awkwardly, trying to sound casual. “And as a Senior Guardian, it’s my job to help you figure out plans. Your patron would not have sent you if he thought you didn’t know what you were doing, or couldn’t help the situation. So… what do you think we should do to start?”

The noctowl rotated her head, watching Alexander carefully. She had seen the man act either confident and assured or morose and penitent. This was new - and something ripe for study.

Alexander had to fight back a groan as he realized the noctowl was keeping a close eye on him. Just as the rogue Koro was trapped between three camps of Guardians, he himself was trapped between three factions - the Guardians who gave him a career path, the Healing Circle who had let him fight for his beliefs, and the noctowl who he intended to spend his life working with. How could he - and Koro - manage to get the right outcome?

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Yana
 Posted: Jun 22 2017, 10:42 AM
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Mairead tilted her head, shoulders bunching slightly – her version of a shrug. ‘Alexander told Lía about you after the Rose Bowl. Lía wanted to help find you if she could but she was stuck in Seaway.’ Well, she hadn’t even known Alexander had a lead on Caledonia beyond what he’d told her at the time, but if she had known she’d have volunteered to help. That was just the shorter answer.

Meanwhile Lía winced at Amarie’s chosen method of decorating herself. ‘How very... Amarie of her,’ she said, choosing not to comment further. Amarie was psychotic but it was hardly polite to say so, even if her handler agreed.

‘Well we could always team Clover and Mairead up,’ she suggested as they began to walk. ‘I don’t want anything happening to Mairead either, but that way they’d get some experience – even if it’s just watching the others – and they’d be able to watch out for each other. Only if it’s something Clover would be comfortable with, of course.’ Mairead she was sure would be fine with it. The little spheal was braver than she knew; if her performance during the Schism was anything to go by. Sure she’d more annoyed that Hydreigon than actually harming it, but she’d still stood up to a fully evolved dragon pokémon intending to eat her. She’d shown a remarkable willingness to press on with the mission even if she was hurt, something that Lía couldn’t fault even if it worried her.

Lía laughed, only a tad sheepishly. ‘Oh, there were a few. Not specifically about the Rose Bowl, but apparently Victor’s got a reputation as being quite dangerous. You know how people talk.’ She smiled at the offer, trusting his word. ‘I’d like that. I’m more worried about what he’ll do to this rogue than me.’ Especially if the Dedrius guardians wanted him alive – if Alexander’s summary of Victor was anything to go by, killing people wasn’t outside of his boundaries.

She hummed in thought as they moved deeper into the forest and the sound of the Guardian camp faded behind them. ‘Only vague rumours Dad passed onto me, and he heard those second or third hand. He’s meant to be a rogue, and an assassin for the Healer’s Circle. Wears an octillary mask. That’s about it. I don’t even know who he targeted or what his M.O. was. Can you offer any insight?’ The news Seaway got tended to be especially patchy, with it being separate from the mainland. Unless it came from an official report, Lía took it with a grain of salt.

‘As for a plan...’ she paused, considering. ‘Assuming he’s caught between the three camps but is lying low, we’d need some way to draw or spook him out. Forest fire would be too uncontrollable and destructive, and might just kill him rather than catch him, so that’s not really an option. Earthquake from a pokemon maybe, but that’s not much safer than a fire and is only limited in range. Some kind of diversion, or something to attract him might work. A lot would depend on his own confidence in his own ability and his forewarning – does he know he’s trapped? Does he think he can escape? Is he good enough that he could grab whatever we bait him with and get out safely? Would he even fall for bait, if we laid it out for him? There’re too many variables I can’t account for without knowing him better.’ Honesty would be best here; no bragging or guessing. That could spell disaster should Alexander or the other Guardians take her at her word. Not likely since she was still a Junior, but possible.

‘If I had one of Mam’s dogs with me and we had something of his, they might have been able to sniff him out. Do any of the other Guardians have something like that we could use?’

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Korosensei
 Posted: Jun 25 2017, 09:11 PM
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Caledonia nodded when Mairead replied, but Alexander had to fight back a laugh when Lía politely called Amarie's behavior "so Amarie." "It's her, all right - and yet, she wouldn't be herself any other way." He hoped this didn't sound creepy, but his crawdaunt was dear to his heart, having worked with him since the beginning of his new journey. Corvus had stuck by his side as well, but it wasn't quite the same - the corphish with the enormous personality had taken over soon after she met Alexander, and she even managed to hold her own in a team now composed of dragons and Alexander's brother and a shiny legendary pokemon.

"Perhaps it's best not to bring her out right now, but she might be helpful later if Koro gives us a fight," Alexander mused, trying to sound nonchalant. "I think Clover would love to work with Mairead, as long as Clover knows she won't use any ice-type moves. Not that I think she would, but Clover's awfully timid, and I don't want her to be afraid."

He paused to release the bulbasaur from her ball. Soon, he had a vine wrapped around his arm as Clover looked hesitantly at Mairead. "Hi," she said in a shaky voice.

"Clover, this is Mairead, who travels with Lía, a friend of mine. Don't be afraid, she wouldn't hurt you." The bulbasaur looked hesitant, but she reached the vine that wasn't attached to her handler over in Mairead's direction, reaching out in a gesture of goodwill.

"As for my other pokemon, I didn't know Victor had that sort of reputation, but he's actually a very dear friend of mine. When I first met him, he had been abused by humans, so he had learned to hate them, but after traveling together for so long, he has learned that some humans can be kind." He smiled as he thought of his memories together with the mr. mime, and with Lía's permission, he took the poke ball off its belt and held it in his hands. "He works very well with Gyro, my hitmontop who I also brought today, but I think I'd like to let him out alone for now. I don't want to call out too many pokemon and tip Koro off to the fact that we have him cornered."

Victor emerged from his ball silently, looking at Lía and Mairead before turning to face his handler. "They're friends of mine," he said, and the mime's posture visibly relaxed.

Alexander smiled at Victor and then turned to Lía. "This is Victor. He's half-psychic, so he's not able to speak to me with words unless I'm wearing my Psychic Amulet, but he is very expressive with emotions and images. I think he'll be invaluable in our search today." Looking down at the other poke balls on his belt, he added, "Like I said, I'm keeping Gyro in his ball for now, and I don't want to bring Casper out until I'm certain I won't be battling. He's not trained in battle like the others, as you certainly experienced, and I don't want him to get hurt."

"Who are we fighting?" Victor asked Alexander.

"His name is Koro," Alexander answered, before clarifying for Lía, "Victor asked me who we're fighting, and this seems as good a time as any to tell you all what I know of Koro." He took a deep breath, hoping his voice sounded even and unconcerned. "No one knows much about his personal details, like a name or city of origin, but he is definitely a skilled man, proficient in a variety of weapons and excellent at staying hidden if he doesn't want to be found. In fact, I don't know how he got cornered today, but it might be difficult to draw him out."

"I also know," he continued, "that he seems to prefer building up his influence from behind the scenes, and he's built a following within the Healing Circle as an important political figure, perhaps even as important as a non-healer can get within their guild."

What Alexander didn't mention was that he knew all of this from experience.

He had never met Koro personally, but he had heard tales of the man during his time in the Healing Circle. He had never expected to wind up assisting a group where the vast majority of members were Order rogues, but the intelligence he obtained from his time there had proved useful, and he liked the fact that he had managed to meet some mages who seemed to actually care for people rather than the reverse. As a Guardian, stating his affiliation could even be tantamount to treason to some people, but as an interrogator, he knew that sometimes it took a short foray into the darkness to better understand the light.

Even so, he didn't try to tell any of this to Lía. He knew that as a junior Guardian, she was below him in rank, but she had always seemed very intelligent and forward thinking, and he didn't want to put her in a position where she would have to betray either him or whichever Guardian (or perhaps even her patron) who had sent her on this mission. He would keep his own personal feelings private, but how would he manage to deceive Lía? He quickly tried to think of a plan to not drag out the silence for too long.

"I think some aerial surveillance might help, especially if Caledonia could talk to Victor. She's rare enough that she usually gets a lot of attention, and we might even get the added benefit of startling Koro or catching him off guard. Only if you're wiling, of course," he concluded as he turned to face the noctowl.

The noctowl peered at Alexander for several long moments before she answered, "I will not fly out of range of the ball. If I call out to you, recall me."

"Deal," Alexander said, and Caledonia took off into the treetops, followed by Victor in the underbrush. Now, Alexander was left with only Clover by his side, and Amarie, Casper, and Gyro in their poke balls.

"We might need more backup," he grumbled as he released Gyro from his ball, the hitmontop quickly approaching Lía for a handshake. "Shall we follow them, or do you think it's safer out by the perimeter? And if we do flush him out..." He was loath to suggest Amarie, although he suspected Lía would think that was the perfect plan. His crawdaunt never let prey go once she spotted it, and with her penchant for tearing off limbs (which he hadn't told Lía, but he had told her enough), she would be able to incapacitate Koro without killing him.

Alexander did not want to incapacitate or kill Koro.

He wouldn't be able to do anything until Caledonia or Victor gave him a signal, but his mind teemed with ideas, and no small measure of panic. How would he keep Lía from finding out what he was up to? And how would he free Koro when he was surrounded by camps of Guardians on all sides? And, most of all, was he even right to be thinking like this about a rogue who had killed at least a dozen people along the way?

He would just have to wait and see what happened next.

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[[OOC: Please feel free to have Victor (color is hotpink) or Caledonia (color is e6e600) speak to move the plot along, if you'd like. http://i832.photobucket.com/albums/zz241/HarperRegion/Sprites/Emoticons/1.png ]]

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Lía smiled. ‘I’m sure Mairead can manage that. If it does come to a battle she may need to use them on Koro, but if so she can make sure none of them touch Clover.’ No wide-reaching ones; only targeted attacks. That was only if they ended up fighting, and if Koro’s team would be weakened by Ice-type moves.

Mairead bobbed her head in agreement, and politely waited for Clover to orient herself after being called out. ‘Hi!’ she replied, gently booping the tip of Clover’s vine with her nose since her flippers weren’t very good at grasping anything, never mind shaking hands – or vines, as the case may be. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll look after you,’ she said reassuringly, while Lía smiled down at her.

‘Good to see you again, Clover. I’m glad to be working with you rather than against you this time. Alexander told me you’ve learned Sunny Day.’ Lía said, trying to put the little grass-type at ease.

As the conversation turned to Victor, Lía nodded. ‘That makes a lot of sense.’ At his explanation for only drawing out a few of his team she glanced around out of habit, checking they were still alone. ‘Of course.’ That was why she’d left Riagán at home. He wasn’t the best for stealth missions. Her little bundle of draconic energy would be great if they needed a loud, attention-seeking distraction, but not for anything requiring even a smidgen of finesse. Mam and Dad were keeping an eye on him and trying to get him to stop challenging Leith. The blastoise had jetted the poor dragon across the room five times in the last week alone, solely to prove a point when Riagán irritated him enough. She’d have to show him to Alexander at some point, but this was not the time or place.

When Victor emerged and Alexander introduced them, Lía gave the mime a polite nod in greeting. She listened closely as Alexander delved into his explanation, memorising as much detail as she could, though there was precious little to be heard that she found useful on a practical level.

‘Any information on what pokémon he carries?’ she asked, hoping to be able to prepare for that much, since everything else seemed like it would be adapting on the fly.

She waited patiently as Alexander gathered his thoughts, assuming he was thinking of the best approach to take. She nodded as Caledonia took off, waving at the two departing pokémon. She grinned as Gyro bustled over with his hand outstretched and obliged him with a strong handshake. She didn’t comment on his visible scars, but noted they didn’t seem to hinder him from what she could see.

Lía paused, considering the questions carefully. ‘It would be safer, yes, but we’re not here to be safe. We’re here to do a job – one I don’t think we can do if we stick to the safe spots. As for an encounter...’ she hummed, mind ticking through possibilities. ‘Forgive me for saying so, but Amarie’s too violent. She’s as likely to kill him accidentally through blood loss as capture him. Clover and to an extent Mairead are observing only, unless they are comfortable with more... although a status powder like Sleep could be useful, should Clover be willing and the chance arises to inflict it safely for her. If it comes to a physical battle rather than us getting the chance to ambush him, then I think it would be best for us two, Victor and Gyro to manage it, with the others running distractions and interference if needed. Save Amarie as a trump card if we need her.’ Lía had limited experience fighting pokémon herself – mostly from the events of the Schism. She was more used to fighting people, more comfortable.

She still had the memory of that hydreigon’s jaws bearing down on her – and its skull crushed between Emer’s teeth.

Lía shook herself out of the memory, focusing fully on Alexander again. ‘Would that be a feasible plan of action? I’ll happily follow your lead on this if you think otherwise.’

[OOC: Cheers! Will do if I need to.]

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Clover listened intently to Lía's words, taking comfort in the fact that she wouldn't be attacked by the pokemon who approached her, lightly touching her vine. Even though Clover was embarrassed to be the only one with a vine out, she still understood that Mairead was a friend, and offered a shy and polite "Thank you" at the offer of protection.

The young bulbasaur turned to Lía again as she spoke, noticing a large smile on her handler's face. She beamed at the praise, reaching out a vine to shake Lía's hand.

"That's very kind, Lía," Alexander said, leaning down to pat Clover on her bulb. "We battled once, but that was for a tournament, for fun. Lía and I are friends now," he clarified, and noticed the bulbasaur's smile got wider as she finally began to trust the handler of her former opponent.

Staying with the idea of putting people and pokemon at ease, Alexander decided to give Lía a bit more information about Victor. It was true that Alexander hadn't known of the mime's reputation, but he could easily see how it could have formed - a whisper here, a harsh attack there, and the idea would follow that Victor was a dangerous pokemon, not safe to be around people. It was also true that Victor had no particular fondness of humans, but his work with Alexander over a great period of time had endeared him to the Guardian, and he had in fact made a pledge to not harm any human who Alexander told him not to harm. The mime noted the casual demeanor between his handler and the young woman and mentally added her to the list, acknowledging her with a curt nod.

Now that the pokemon matters were settled, it was time to get down to business and locate Koro. "He's famous for one pokemon, an octillery that compliments his mask. Rumor says the octillery may be golden like my Caledonia, but I cannot speak to that since I haven't seen the creature myself." A pang of sympathy for Koro hit him there. Had he reached his level of both notoriety and secrecy to keep a shiny pokemon safe, much like Alexander was trying to do? "Octillery is known for concealment in water, although I would presume this one has a Lugia's Pearl. Its main mode of disguise is a sticky black ink that it propels from its tentacles. As for other pokemon, he has been seen with others, but never more than once. The octillery is our only constant to build upon."

From there, he let Lía do a bit of the planning, trying to assess her skills as a Guardian - and he was not disappointed. Her ideas were clever and came quickly to her, and she even thought of Amarie as a backup plan even after dismissing her for the primary mission for being too violent. He was inclined to agree with Lía's thoughts about his pokemon, and yet he couldn't help but feel nervous that Caledonia was out of range. He stayed quiet, hoping to hear a signal from Victor that everything was okay, that he could still sense the golden bird in the air. There was always the possibility, however, that Koro wasn't alone, or that one of the spectating Guardians would take a fancy to the golden bird. All he could do at this point was hope.

At least, until he suddenly received a message from Victor in his head. Without his proximity to the Psychic Amulet, all Victor was able to send was a picture, specifically of something dark and inky, and a vague sense of direction. "Victor says north-west," he said, figuring out the way the mime had intended for him to go. "The octillery is here. We need to think fast. Stay with me, or split up? Investigate, or wait?" If Lía didn't take action soon, he would choose to follow where Victor had shown him, trusting the mime and thinking of ways to prepare for the ink that wouldn't involve Amarie's plentiful supply of water. Then again, as a Senior Guardian, part of his mission was to allow Lía her own opportunities to think, and to make mistakes, if necessary.

Was this the answer he had been seeking? he wondered as he looked back to face his partner, curious about both how Lía would react and what each of them would find in the next stage of their mission.

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Lía waited for Clover to extend her vine before accepting the handshake, not wanting to accidentally bully the little pokémon into contact she didn’t want. ‘I’m sorry if that fight scared you, Clover. I wasn’t used to battling and in my previous fights I’d had to hit as hard as I could to even stand a chance. I shouldn’t have used such a strengthened fire attack against you... or Casper,’ she admitted, with an apologetic glance up at Alexander. She’d apologised at the time and felt horrible for her misjudgement, but it had taught her a valuable lesson about control. She did feel comfortable with fire-types, especially after two consecutive Rose Bowls using them, but she was glad she didn’t have one on her team yet. It had given her time to test herself and learn from it, without making those mistakes outside of a controlled environment.

As their conversation turned back to the Koro, Lía nodded, relieved to have some solid details to work with, sparse as they were. ‘So if we find this octillary – or ink spatter, if it’s using it for propulsion as well as disguise – we know Koro is close. Do we know anything about his specific victims, or are we going after him on reputation alone?’ Of course, reputation spawned from actions, but it was far easier to attribute false actions to a name already gaining notoriety than it was to craft a reputation from nothing at all.

Still, Lía would feel better if she knew more about who Koro targeted. Was he an unrepentant assassin, going after anyone for the right price – or a vigilante? Both should be stopped, of course, but... something in Lía agreed with the rationale that if the justice system failed, a criminal should still be punished. Maybe not with death – it depended on the crime – but doing something to hold them responsible for their actions.

Not that it was her decision to make, in this case. She had her orders, and information on the Koro was so scarce that she couldn’t risk letting him go on the off-chance he was doing what he did for a good reason.

Lía’s heartbeat picked up and her nerves sang as Victor’s message came in. She shifted with the sudden nervous energy, focusing. ‘I’ll stay nearby, though we can spread out a bit to canvas a larger area. I don’t want to find myself separated and facing an enemy too powerful for me. And I’d say investigate. This might be our only chance – if we wait around here we could let him slip away. Should we alert the others?’ she asked, leaving the decision with Alexander and unknowingly giving him an out, should he want to let Koro escape.

@Korosensei

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The young bulbasaur shook Lía's hand gently, appreciating her kindness and blushing slightly before shying away and returning to her place near Alexander. "I don't blame you, nor does she," Alexander responded to Lía's apology. "I didn't make a smart decision about my team - it was my first year too, and I take responsibility for not realizing how intense the battling would get." Never again would he bring a pokemon like Clover, or his brother, to the Rose Bowl. It was simply too risky, both for their physical as well as their mental well-being.

Conversation soon shifted back to their target, the elusive rogue known as Koro who had brought them into the small but thick patch of forest that day. The rogue was a notorious figure within the Healing Circle, and even though Lía hadn't chosen that as her faction, Alexander was still slightly surprised at how little she knew. He had heard about Koro on his first day, and the man's infamy had only grown over time. "He kills who he needs to get the job done," was the simple answer, but there was far more beneath. "He tends to go for smaller targets, not anyone too well-known or too much of a public figure. He doesn't discriminate much about who the person is, because he generally kills to make the way easier for his own people."

"I know how that sounds," Alexander continued, hoping Lía wouldn't take things the wrong way. "It'd be someone like a minor church official who keeps capturing healers, a shop owner who discriminates against healers, a handler from another faction who harms them first." The irony of his own position as a former interrogator didn't escape his notice; in another life, he could have been a target of Koro's. Then again, in that life, his brother would still be alive, and so much would not have happened to guide Alexander towards the Healing Circle faction...

"The victims generally seem random at first, but they all have some sort of negative association with the Healing Circle. He also doesn't kill lightly; he would rather achieve what he needs to with less bloodshed. Less problems for him, of course," Alexander said, but he wasn't quite sure if he believed that. From what he had heard of Koro from several of the healers, he knew the man as someone who stuck up for those who everyone else had abandoned. Almost like a Guardian, in fact, just using different tactics.

But what could he do? There was a limit to how much he could help Koro, and how openly. His best bet would be to find a way to lure Lía away, but in the back of his mind he couldn't help but wonder if he was harming his career, or hers. Losing Koro would be a big blow to a spotless record, and knowing Lía, she likely did her missions effectively and didn't return until the job was done. He could only hope that he wasn't harming her future prospects by helping Koro and those under his wing.

He wouldn't have much time to think about this, however, as Victor soon alerted him to the octillery's presence. He spoke quickly to Lía, hoping she would choose to go off in a different direction. Her first words led him to an initial sense of despair, but the offer to alert the others gave him an opportunity to make himself look like the one who had let Koro get away, without jeopardizing Lía's safety or reputation. After all, he was well-known in the Healing Circle himself, and would likely not get targeted by Koro, but a cornered rogue with no personal connections to Lía might target her for his own safety.

"Let's head out," he said, urging Victor to continue giving him information. Not too far from the initial location, they found the beginning of an inky trail leading east, then turning west, snaking around the forest floor. But this trail was too obvious; Koro would never be so sloppy as to let his octillery use ink like this. Was it a trap for Alexander and Lía?

"You can alert the others once we get a sighting," he told Lía, hoping that a brief moment of separation would be long enough to let Koro find some way to escape without Lía watching and reporting back. "Victor, find the octillery," he called out again, but a glint of gold in the trees made him look up, only to see what he first thought was Caledonia but soon realized was a different pokemon, equally golden and trying (and failing) to blend in with the foliage.

"It's up there!" Alexander called out to Lía, only to see a human-shaped blur darting through the trees. "That's him," he continued, "we need to guide him in a direction and go!"

But the man's movements in the trees were not as fluid as he would expect from a master rogue, not as honed. Was Koro injured, or was there more than met the eye?

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Relieved Alexander and his team didn’t hold a lasting grudge or fear after their Rose Bowl match, Lía felt comfortable slipping back into her Guardian role and focusing back on the job at hand.

From what Alexander was saying Lía was becoming less reluctant to pursue the man. Alexander must have seen her opinion on her face, as he strove to elaborate. While he made him sound more like a simple murderer rather than a heartless one, Lía remained sceptical. There were other ways this Koro could have dealt with the examples Alexander gave that would give the same result, without killing. Injury to take the official out of action; a smear campaign against that shop; getting the culprit jailed for his crimes – or a crime, not necessarily the one he should be charged with if the law wouldn’t cooperate. While Alexander said Koro killed sparingly, from the sound of it he still killed more than necessary. Yes, that’s what assassin’s did, but she found Alexander’s defence of him... odd. If the man was an unrepentant assassin, say so. Why make excuses for him?

He might simply be echoing the words of others; made to think Koro wasn’t as bad as he was. At the end of the day though, Alexander had more information than she did: likely details not necessary for him to share but that shed more light on Koro’s motivations. She’d take his lead for now.

She ended up doing so far sooner than anticipated – Victor’s psychic alert soon had them both running to find the start of a highly obvious trail; black ink spattered on foliage and tracking across the ground.

Far, far too convenient. ‘Trap?’ she asked, glancing at Alexander to check.

She nodded at his instruction, loath to leave before she’d really done anything. She scanned the branches ahead, the foliage, the treetops even. Anything out of place, any hint...

Gold.

‘There!’ she shouted, the same time Alexander did. She took off at a run, tracking the man through the trees. She didn’t have to push herself to a sprint; he was slower in the branches than she was on the ground. It gave her the chance to shout to Mairead over her shoulder, the little spheal using rollout to keep up with her. ‘Mairead, Water Gun, knock him down!’

She turned her attention back to where she was going, trusting her partner. Sure enough Mairead bleated, then a jet of water blasted over Lía’s shoulder towards the fleeing rogue’s back.

The man barked in pain, losing his footing and tumbling to the ground. Lía was on him in seconds, even as he scrambled to get to his feet despite being winded, from the sound of his wheezing. She cannoned into him, knocking him flat for the second time in as many seconds, pinning him with a knee in his back and her hand twisting his arm up behind his shoulders.

‘Stay down!’ she barked as Mairead caught up, the seal tracking the octillery in case it retaliated.

His face obscured by an octillary mask, with the corresponding creature in the trees, it had to be him. Sloppy though, for a supposed master assassin...

Lía looked over her shoulder for Alexander, trusting him to lead the arrest, even as her mind ticked and a sense of anxiety rose in her chest. Her earlier word came back to her, and she couldn’t help wondering at such an easy capture when they were up against someone of Koro’s reputation. Could this all still be a trap?

@Korosensei

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[[ OOC: So sorry for the delay! RL and muse problems have been solved, and I'll be around more for our thread http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/emoticons/1.png ]]

Hoping he hadn't destroyed his chances of helping Koro escape by giving Lía - a good person, an innocent - too much information about the rogue's crimes, he continued along the way, hoping to find some clue of Koro before he had to keep the lie going any further. He needed to just get the test done, fulfill his obligation to each side, and not get discovered - which was easier said than done, especially when he saw the octillery in the trees and Lía leapt into action.

Mairead's Water Gun brought the man down to the ground, and Lía quickly restrained him. "Good work," he told her, before bending down to take a closer look at the man as he struggled faintly in Lía's grasp. The height was about right, as was the build; the clothes were nondescript and the octillery looked gold, even though Alexander could no longer see the creature that had splattered the ink trail. Looking back down at the man, Alexander noted his hands, his shoes, his face.

A beard showed underneath the mask. Koro was always clean-shaven.

It wasn't a detail anyone outside of the Healing Circle would know. It was something small and simple, a cleaning habit that would allow a decoy like the man here to pose as Koro until the real Koro could break him out of Guardian prison, if he didn't have underlings to do it. A master of disguise, much like that rogue Emilie who he had met during the Schism, hiding her affiliation to gain his trust.

Here, however, the situation was less clear. This man was not Koro, that much was certain. He kept his mouth shut, not even yelping at the pain, simply wriggling about and trying to regain his freedom. Had he not been trained in speaking the part, perhaps? Or was he simply trying to convey a different message? Was he truly willing to surrender himself (and likely, his life, considering the crimes in question) for Koro? Who was this man, to convey such loyalty? And, most importantly, was Alexander willing to go along with it?

No one could fault him if he caught the wrong man by mistake. He had downplayed his role in the Healing Circle enough that he trusted himself to get by in a conversation, even an interrogation, about the day's events. But at the same time, he knew that an innocent man lay on the ground, and the octillery had likely gone to rejoin its true master.

As Alexander pondered what to do next, Victor spoke to him in his mind: "Another human is here."

Without even knowing for sure, Alexander now faced an even greater challenge: did he bring in the innocent and take away attention from the real Koro, who was presumably the other person Victor spoke of, or was it more important to bring Koro in, no matter how much he had helped the Healing Circle?

"He's seen Caledonia," Victor said, and Alexander's heart froze. How was he to explain this to Lía? He needed to go immediately, without arousing suspicion...

"Keep a hold on him, and Clover, you help too, send some vines out," he said in his most commanding voice, trusting in Lía and in the young bulbasaur to keep the suspect safe until further notice. "Victor says the octillery fled in his direction. I need to make sure we bring the octillery in, and my pokemon are better suited for a battle. Try to keep the prisoner here for now, the pokemon may be trained to follow him. If he struggles too much, take him in."

He knew these instructions gave the man on the ground a way to take matters into his own hands, but Koro and Caledonia together could be a disaster he couldn't fix. Call it nepotism, gullibility, or just plain stupidity, Alexander was determined to try to find the true Koro, and keep Caledonia safe at all costs, if she was truly in danger.

Assuming there were no problems leaving, he would follow a trail Victor left in his mind, weaving through the trees until he saw the golden noctowl, perched on a low branch, surprisingly unharmed. "Victor? I thought you said - " he started to say, before noticing that it looked like the noctowl suddenly had a third wing.

What he had thought was a wing was in fact a draped tentacle. The tentacle of an octillery that lounged in the tree, golden as the rumors said, a shade that mimicked Caledonia's own feathers. Before he could do anything, though, he felt a breath at the back of his neck.

"Fancy meeting you here, Alexander Fitzgerald."

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