The charred remains of a Bomb Bee marked the path behind Caleb as the Growlithe Xenayo obediently followed beside him. "The way we've been guys don't suppose Darkrai headed into the Palace of Darkness?"

Jameson kicks the bee's corpse out of his way and takes a stiff drink from his flask. "How the fuck are we supposed to know?" Jameson glances around the area with little interest and growing amounts of alcohol in his body, leading to the human stumbling every once in a while.

Mogwai walks along behind, arms behind her head "It's possible. That place is like a magnet for evil things apparently. Gizmo?" Gizmo just says in a sing-songy voice "Spooooooilers!"

"There's no way that Shade wouldn't know about his presence..if we don't find Darkrai, maybe we could ask him. And maybe he can shed some light on your situation, Jameson. If, that is, where we're going.." suggested Caleb as he reached a fork in the path. He held his fingers up to his temple and closed his eyes to concentrate, watching a vision of Darkrai taking the path to the right and below.

"It can't be a you remember how to move around in there, Mogwai? Kalin didn't know what he was doing, so I'm not sure what to expect."

Mogwai ponders this "Well, when we went in there it was dark. Insanely dark. Luna's blessing allowed some light there, but even then the threats could only be seen through reflections. But... I've been speaking to other adventurers, and it seems our trip doesn't correspond to what they experienced." "They're a trial," adds Gizmo "It's only fitting it'd be tailored to the seeker. We're not after the spirit, so who knows what we'll find."

Jameson continues to hold little interest in the area, but slides his flask into his jacket. "So what if we have to deal with another trial, we can just have Mogwai shit out lasers like the freak learned to. Boom. Problem solved."

"I'm not sure if Mogwai can 'shit out lasers', but she does still have Shade's blessing. And he may not be our target, but wouldn't you wish to meet him? Not for his blessing, but for some answers?" asked Caleb as he took a left at the next fork.

Mogwai rolls her eyes "No, I can't shit out lasers. My powers are just minor things really, like lighting a fuse, or doing small repairs. All of us had different reactions to the spirits. As you are all too aware. Maybe Eevee was just special."

Jameson says ' Yeah yeah, special in that he could shit lasers. As for this Shade bastard, no I don't want any more 'blessings'. His would probably make it so I could never close my eyes or some equally retarded grimdark bullshit. Let's get out of here as soon as possible.'

"Very well." said Caleb simply as he stopped in place. Ahead lied the path to the Palace of Darkness. "I suppose there's no denying it now. Would you mind taking point, Mogwai? I'll take over if it seems like we can follow his trail. But if Gizmo's correct, we might not even see the way he went."

"Uh, wait a second. Shouldn't we do something sensible like, I dunno, tie a rope to everyone?" Jameson looks at the palace. "You know, so we don't get lost or split up in some giant act of dickery?"

Mogwai nods and takes point alongside Gizmo, both of them bringing out crystals and channeling Luna's blessing into them. The crystals begin to give off a faint light. "Well, you can hold my hand if you really want. But last time we didn't see any major traps. Just lots of ghosts. And a possession or two." Gizmo pauses on the threshold into the palace "Darkrai is after something. We are after Darkrai. It stands to reason we will follow the same path, if my theory is correct."

Jameson rolls his eyes. "Yeah sure let's just throw caution to the wind because we've been here before. It's not like we're interacting with immensely powerful beings who absolutely love being disturbed. Oh wait, my sarcasm is showing again."

"I'm sure it's nothing we can't handll--oof!" grunted Caleb as he tripped over something on the ground. Resting near his foot was a tiny pitchfork and a giggle could be heard from a ledge above.

Gizmo actually laughs for once "Your sarcasm is surprisingly spot on. I've been led to believe they actually love testing mortals and having their power used. I would imagine it's like a god receiving worship. In any case, do stay close." She turns around as Caleb trips, rushing over to catch him "It's not the spirit we need to worry about here."

Jameson eyes Caleb. "Huh. I thought I was the one that was drunk." He spots the pitchfork a few moments later, and grunts. "Nope. Still am. Damn."

After regaining control from the fall thanks to Gizmo, Caleb rises up and glances upward in the direction of the giggle, but found nothing. He then reached around and grabbed his axe, whistling for Xenayo to stick to close. Not far ahead rested a chamber with exits in every direction. Caleb began to concentrate again, but the trail he saw caused an obviously concerned express on his face. "The goes through every one of these exits!"

Jameson rolls his eyes. "So either he split up or they all lead the same place." The human looks down the passageways and shrugs. "You lot wanna do this the old fashioned way?"

"Or he simply went down every passage at least once." Gizmo pulls out a sheet of graph paper and a pencil and makes a few marks to show the first couple rooms and the exits "Old-fashioned sounds good." Mogwai takes a dormant bambino bomb and chucks it down one of the passages, to see if it returns.

This can't be a coincidence..Darkrai is very calculated, he worked very hard to consider all possibilities. I'm sure that he would have checked to see if I was dead if he had the chance after he left me on Temporal Tower. Still..the right path has GOT to be in here somewhere--OW!" shouted Caleb as Mogwai's bomb flies in from a different path and hits him from behind.

"I'm sure that is the ca--OWW!" shouted Caleb as the bomb arrived from a different path, slamming into Caleb once more. "Can we please stop throwing things? Look, it came from a different is that possible?" asked Caleb, kicking the bomb aside. What would soon follow is a strange sensation, a voice speaking into the minds of everyone nearby.
"You are wasting your time, children. You walk the path of those not blessed by mana. Why have you come here?"

Mogwai speaks up "We are chasing after a murderer and scoundrel who has my..." she sighs at this "My love. I'll walk any path that leads me to him." Gizmo rolls her eyes "I am Gizmo, and I have a world of time to waste."

Jameson grunts. "Her lover, my ex-pet. Mostly I'm here because I was following these assholes. Speaking of assholes, any idea how to get rid of mana spirit blessings?"

"We have to find him, if we don't.." started Caleb until the voice cut him off. "You are a strange group..but your reasons explain your differences in mana. This is fortunate, as I have been curious of one who passed by here some time ago." replied the voice as the sound of wings could be heard flapping from above.
"As with any seeker of darkness, Lord Shade wished to have him tested. Yet the dark one made a mockery of this sacred place and vanished into the darkness below you."
The voice continued on, "As for your inquiry, I cannot say. A blessing is bestowed by a mana spirit in person. What a strange thing you ask for."

Jameson growls, anger cutting through the soothing buzz of alcohol. "Yeah well your 'blessings' are shit, asshole! Tell me how to get rid of these things so I can go on with a normal fucking life again!"

Mogwai looks up "So, speaking of wasting time, do you have any idea where Darkrai went? Or shall we just keep doing what we were doing?" Meanwhile, Gizmo sets to pacing the room, tapping the floor every so often with her foot.

"You seem to be confused." stated the voice as the sound of flapping wings grew stronger. A figure then perched on the floor nearby, the darkness concealing most of its characteristics. One obvious characteristic, however, is its bright, glowing red eyes. "I serve Lord Shade, but I have little knowledge on the mana spirits and their blessings. I merely 'see' them and help guide the blessed here to Lord Shade himself. As for this 'Darkrai'..."

The eyes then turned towards Mogwai. "The darkness stretches far and wide. It reaches the entire cleft, and it is governed by Lord Shade. This 'Darkrai' has used this place to travel within that darkness. It is possible to pursue him, but not without the guidance of Lord Shade himself."

"Take us to your leader." Gizmo says with a grin "I've been waiting for a good time to say that."

Jameson grunts. "Yeah, better than talking to some self-important asshole who doesn't actually know shit. Take us to your boss."

The red eyes proceed to scrutinize everyone nearby before stopping and focusing on Mogwai and Gizmo. "..The two of you are blessed. I will take you to have an audience with Lord Shade. But the other two and the pokemon cannot. They can, however, play with Lord Shade's pet while you meet him. Shall we go?" asked the voice as it stretched out its wings and began to flap them, rising up from the ground while awaiting an answer.

"..Lord Shade's what?" asked Caleb, taking a step back.

Gizmo eagerly gives her consent, while Mogwai is a little more hesitant "Ok... Caleb, be careful. Oh, and Jameson too."

Xenayo whines as the beating of wings gets louder. A pair of talons reach out in an attempt to grab the moogles while the floor below simply vanishes. Caleb yelled loudly until he landed in another room, the Growlithe landing nearby. A deep grumbling can be heard not far to the north while the area slowly became illuminated by pairs of blue flames. Caleb grit his teeth and stood up, picked up his axe from the ground. "You alright over there, old man?"

Meanwhile, the guide proceeded to fly through a series of dark holes, releasing the moogles as it arrived in a not-so-large chamber, void of decor excluding a throne made out of bones.

The two moogles tumble to the ground, Gizmo coming up in a kneel. Mogwai stands up and dusts herself off before catching on and following Gizmo's lead "Hello again Shade. It seems we need your help tracking someone down."

Jameson does not land gently. In fact, his impaired state causes him to tumble a bit, landing hard and with a groan. "I'm not old, shit for brains. I'm 26!" He attempts to force himself up, spending a moment untangling himself from his jacket before he manages to do so

"Could have fooled me." mumbled Caleb as the blue flames began to reveal that they were in a large, circular chamber. The flames also revealed what appeared to be a fairly large, three headed dog with red eyes, sharp fangs, and a fierce appetite. The three heads peered up and began howling loudly. "..You don't suppose he likes Xenayo's doggy biscuits, do you?"
Materializing from thin air, Shade's figure begins to hover silently over the throne. "So it would seem. But your needs mean nothing to me."

Jameson just sighs. "I hate you all, you know that?" He settles into a loose boxing posture, sizing up the three-headed dog and gritting his teeth. "Flank it if you can. Just don't get eaten."

Gizmo stands up "Perhaps not. But I hear this individual has insulted you and your temple. Surely you can see the logic in allowing us to do your dirty work for you?"

"Right!" shouted Caleb as he whistled towards Xenayo, pointing towards the right head. The Growlithe nodded and moved over to the right a little, taking a deep breath to form fiery embers in its mouth. Caleb then moved towards the left, twirling his axe and waiting until he could get close enough to strike.

"It is true, I am not amused by Darkrai's actions. The darkness is my realm, and I have been challenged for it in the past. But such fools know their place and will never succeed in overpowering me. What you desire is to plunge into an endless abyss of hatred and suffering. Do you really want that?"

Jameson moves on his own as well, bumrushing the three headed hound and ignoring any shred of traditional fighting logic. To accomplish this, he stands directly infront of all three heads and attempts to punch the center one in the nose to assert dominance.

"My name is Gizmo. In my own time, I am hunted down by a monster that claims to be a god... and has the strength to back it up. In this timeline I am constantly stepping carefully to avoid causing any paradoxes, while simultaneously aware that as I exist here, my very existence is being erased from time itself. I am not taking a plunge here. I am simply swimming to another part of the pool." Mogwai stands up as well "Darkrai has my beloved with him. I told your servant that I will walk any path to rescue him. That was NOT thoughtless bravado. That is a fact."

As Jameson's punch slammed into the center head's nose, it blinked a couple times, confused yet strangely lovestruck. The other two heads barked at the middle one a couple times, attempting to snap it out of its daze. Caleb cocked his head and watched the creature cautiously until his foot collided with something on the ground, causing him to trip and fall. The flames in Xenayo's mouth dissipate as he rushes over to Caleb's side, pawing at what seemed to be a large green ball.

"An interesting philosophy. But only few beings can survive in such darkness. You would have to trust entirely in me. Do you find yourselves capable of that?"

"I trust you." says Gizmo. Mogwai looks back and forth between the two "I trust... Gizmo. But she trusts you, and that's good enough for me."

Jameson shoves his finger into the middle head's face. "Oi! Lay the Fuck down!" He forces all of his years of training pokemon into this statement, attempted to glare the beast down and stop the fight before it even begins.

The Cerberus lets out a whine as it begins to sit down. Caleb slowly rose to his feet, impressed that Jameson's taming techniques were actually working.

"There is no room for doubt." said Shade as a black dagger appeared before Mogwai. "If you are here for the reasons you claim, you will grip this dagger and plunge it into your heart. Or is your resolve lacking?"

Jameson nods to the tri-dog. "Good... Goood. Sit. Stay." He pulls out his flask and unscrews it. "Sit and you get a reward. You want the reward?"

Mogwai takes the dagger and looks at it with hesitation as she points it towards herself. After a couple seconds, Gizmo taps her on the chest "Your heart's here." Mogwai yells back "I know where my heart is, jackass. Altana above..." she gives one final sigh before following through and stabbing herself.

The cerberus barks happily in response to Jameson as sits down. Caleb scratched his head as he glanced down at the green ball, kicking it out of the way. As the ball bounced closer to it, the left head began to bark, attempting to convince the other two to go after it. But they knew their priorities.

As the dagger penetrated Mogwai's heart, she would not feel a thing. Almost as if the blade was merely a shadow. "I see that you are prepared after all. So be it. Gryph shall accompany you, heed his words and you will succeed." Shade then began to slowly move forward. "I suppose we should see if your friends are still alive."

Mogwai slowly opens her eyes and looks around "Wait... that's IT!?" Gizmo bursts out laughing "Well, good to know you trust me at least."

Jameson nods at the three-headed dog. "Alright then. Staaaay." He holds up the flash and taps the dog's mouths, motioning for them to open before pouring some of the liquid in each one. The rocket trainer nods to the beast and talks back to Caleb. "No worse than some of the bigger monsters I had to deal with back home."

"I guess he was being serious when he said we could play with it..." commented Caleb, putting his axe up behind his back and wondering what kind of awkward situation they would have been in had they tried to kill the beast. Behind the cerberus, the wall began to open and reveal the chamber that Mogwai, Gizmo, Gryph, and Shade were in. As this occured, Caleb waved towards the moogles and the pair of eyes. Shade was no where to be seen.

Jameson caps up his flask and looks over to the wall before pointing at the dog. "Stayyyy." He drops the container of alcohol before the dog and walks over to the moogles. "You done yet?"

Mogwai breathes a sigh of relief "Oh good, you two are... huh, playing with his pet. Somehow didn't expect that. We're good. Nice to see that, as usual, me and gods don't mix." Gizmo scoffs "Oh admit it, it was funny. Anyway, we apparently have the conviction to follow him into hell. So, guess where we're going?"

"I wish I could say it's nice that you're TELLING us were we're going this time, but no. No it isn't." Jameson pinches the bridge of his nose, and then looks around. "So where's the guy? Did you at least ask him about that thing for me?"

"If you are prepared, then let us waste no time." said Gryph as a dark portal began to form towards the back of the chamber. The pair of red eyes then dropped slightly and lunged into the air, landing within the illuminated chamber and revealing its figure. A large, owl-like creature about Jameson's size. As its voice was heard, its beak did not move.

"We may be behind, but no darkness can match Lord Shade's power. Heed my warnings and we will reach our destination safely." Caleb stared at the owl, surprised. He then turned towards Jameson and asked, " that a..?" while moving towards the dark portal.

Mogwai looks around shiftily "Ermm... he was here a second ago. I would have asked if I'd known he was going to run off so soon." Gizmo looks incredulously at Jameson "Really? It was a rhetorical question. I said we showed conviction to enter hell. Then asked where we're going. The answer's hell, that's the joke. Come on." She falls in behind Caleb.

"Shut up and move." Jameson growls at being hurried, and returns to a dour mood as opposed to the almost-happyness he exhibited when interacting with the three headed dog. He does, however, move with the rest of the group.

As Caleb stood at the edge of the portal, he stopped and grit his teeth as he waited for the other to get closer. Shade's Guide was personally guiding them, yet he couldn't shake a rough feeling in his heart. Just what were they getting into? "Follow, and go forth with resolve!" said Gryph telepathically as he spreaded his wings and plunged into the portal. Caleb grabbed Xenayo and returned him to his pokeball, leaping inside after the guide.

Gizmo marches in, singing something to herself "Living easy, living free. Season ticket on a one-way ride..." Mogwai follows close behind, a little less jolly.

"Goddamn slow cunts." Jameson enters behind with nothing more said, and already agitated.