~~Prologue: A Grave Discovery~~
The four finalists stood on the podium showered by a downpour of colorful confetti that sparkled in the sunlight, the tallest block on the podium which was reserved the Johto League Silver conference champion smelled strongly of the basil leaf that adorned the gold and silver poke ball symbol the decorated the pedestal. The pedestal to the right was about a foot shorter and was adorned with clear-cut crystals imbedded in the sterling silver embossment on the face, the base resembled an ionic column with its roots in Greek architecture.
The third place pedestal had several carvings etched in the stone that were filled in with bronze that gave off a fiery sheen in the golden rays of the sun. Finally the spot meant for the honorable mention was no more than a platform raised about six inches off the ground and decorated with pine green stripes.
“We will now being the crowning ceremony, will the finalists please step to the center of the stage.” The director stated over the loudspeaker in an authoritative voice. The loudspeaker blared and even then could scarcely be heard over the deafening cheers of the crowd.
“Ladies and gentleman I am pleased to present to you the four winners of this years’ Johto League Silver Conference Tournament. These talented Trainers are truly worthy of the title(s) that they have earned over this past week, through numerous trials and triumphs they have persevered with their partners in battle and here their names will be immortalized in the inner sanctum of the sacred mountain itself!”
The cheering crowd gradually simmered down, and finally died down to an acceptable decibel as a mysterious figure clad in gold and black armor marched up the trail of stairs leading to the apex of the podium- his silky black cape billowing behind him. The trainer continued his journey up the flight of stairs until he stood face-to-face with the four trainers on the podium, he was observing the long-standing traditions when he stood in front of the first trainer, his spiky red hair caught the rays of sunlight to his rear giving his visage an eerily fiery countenance. His piercing blue eyes stared directly into her determined brown eyes with an unwavering intensity, this man seemed to be judging whether or not she was truly worthy of the title that was about to be bestowed upon her. This act was mimicked with every trainer on the stage until the very last one, and once his “evaluation” was completed and he was sufficiently satisfied he nodded towards the speaker box located high up in the stadium and proceeded to take his place on the stage.
Next too approach the stage was a(n) aging gentleman who walked with a distinguished air about him, his walk seemed naturally elegant either by conscious effort or simply the by-product of his noble ancestry. The gentleman sported a white blazer complimented by red suit pant and black leather shoes; Professor Samuel Oak strode across the stage accompanied by DJ Mary Johto’s highest rated radio host. The white blouse seemed almost perfectly tailored for her petit frame and complimented her flowing pink hair that seemed to dance in the gentle breeze. As both individuals took their places on the stage beside Lance Evans the previous leader of the Elite Four, and
they took the time to nod approvingly towards the four trainers who stood before them.
Finally the crowning ceremony reached its climax as each trainer accepted his medal and took his designated place on the pedestal, after which numerous photographs were taken and another torrent of sparkling confetti was released.
The Chairman of the board of Trustees smiled to himself as he watched the trainers in-by-one take their places on the pedestal as their names were called off once more, these names would be etched into the plaques on their respective pedestals where they would be immortalized for all of time. The Johto League Silver Conference was held every four years, and to qualify was a challenge that deemed insurmountable to the vast majority of trainers, but to win and join the ranks of trainers before who masterfully displayed their skill and valor, there was no word to quite describe that honor.
Dr. Preston shed a single tear as he watched his former student take his place on the bronze column, and dutifully bow as to have the 3rd place medal draped around his neck. The man’s thoughts were interrupted by a loud and sudden rapping at the door. He wondered who would be knocking at this hour, Open House was over at 9:30 Geo Standard Time and now it was almost half past 10. Placing his curiosities and apprehension aside he turned his attention away from the television set in front of him, and strode slowly over to the large wooden door, the large lecture hall seemed eerily foreboding as shadows cast by the dim lights danced around the empty chairs, echoes of the bustle of activity that took place during classroom hours. Dr. Preston opened the door slowly and was greeted by the silhouette of a man shrouded in the shadows of the hallway; he seemed to be hunched over an unfortunate accident of some sort the Dr. presumed.
“Good evening Dr. Preston I presume?” The man spoke with an accent that was hard to place, but nevertheless seemed to be of no cause for immediate concern.
“Why yes sir. You startled me with the way you were hidden in the dark over there.” The Dr. replied somewhat cautiously.
“My sincerest apologies, I fear it is an unfortunate side-effect of my rather turbulent childhood.” The man said in a somewhat melancholy tone.
“Well yes these are dark times we live in.”
“Yes they are, but as they say an age is called "dark," not because the light fails to shine but because people refuse to see it.” The man said tactfully.
Dr. Preston was somewhat taken aback.
“Well you certainly don’t see this every day, an enlightened soul at this hour of the night?” He said somewhat pleased.
“Well that is the nature of light, we as men cannot hold a torch to illuminate the path of another without also brightening ours as well.
“You as an instructor of men should understand this more than anyone.”
]Minutes sped by as Dr. Preston become deeply engaged in conversation with the stranger, he was intrigued by the florid tact in his voice but at the same moment was astounded by the innate truth to his words. However as the seconds crept by the good doctor could not escape a nagging feeling in the stomach, however friendly this man may have been something about him was amiss..
“Well good sir I have quite enjoyed this spirited exchange, but now I must be going. These term papers don’t grade themselves.” Dr. Preston said with a light chuckle as pivoted his torso to return to the classroom.
“Such is the duty of an instructor but first if I could just trouble you for one last question?”
Dr. Preston hesitated for a moment before turning slightly to face the man.
“The face of evil is ever changing, and it is the darkness in the hearts of Man that allow that evil to flourish. However if one had the power to banish this darkness for the good of man would it not be a greater sin to keep such a power hidden from view?”
Dr. Preston nodded.
“Man was gifted with the ability to choose his destiny, and as time goes on his mind becomes more and more clouded by the delusions of those who make false claims of salvation. Man has long since forgotten his true purpose, his purpose since the beginning of time”
Dr. Preston’s heart sped up a bit, he swore that the man’s voice had grown deeper since they had first begun talking; also that nagging in the pit of his stomach feeling was growing stronger and he was forced to swallow some bile, the doctor tried to banish the apprehension from his mind.
“Surely you jest, Man’s one and only purpose was to glorify the Divine Creator.” Dr. Preston retorted with a start.
“Now you are playing coy Dr. Preston, you of all people should know that the Destiny of Man lies in the power of Ascension!”
Now the feeling in his stomach was overwhelming, he had to distance himself from the man. Dr. Preston hastily bid the man good night and briskly turned to enter his classroom. Then suddenly as a large weight had clamped on his neck he found could not breathe.
The man spoke in a chilling voice.
“Do not move.”
The sixty-two-year old man clawed feverishly against the hand that clenched his neck in a vice like-grip, his eyes watered as he felt his breath-no his life exit his body. The man feebly began feeling his way across the doorway until he found a small button, and pressed it in a panic. Almost immediately a shrill alarm sounded and an thundering iron gate fell directly in front of him, barricading the classroom entrance and nearly crushing the man’s arm.
Dr. Preston sat on the floor for a moment, wheezing as he gently massaged his neck taking stock of himself. I’m still alive. He thought to himself, and he turned to crawl towards his desk where his loaded Heckler and Koch pistol was hidden. When behind him a shot rang out like a thunderclap, and a searing heat hit him squarely in his back knocking him to the ground. The good doctor’s legs froze up and he feebly rolled himself onto his back despite the fiery lances of pain that coursed their way through his body.
“Looking for this?” The man taunted.
A scant ten feet away, standing outside the sealed gate, the monstrous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. His shoulders were broad the rest of his physical features were hidden beneath his black cloak, the flashing lights made the patterns on his white mask slightly visible, but through the moisture in his eyes he could not discern them. Beneath his cloak his white stirrups sported red specks which resembled dried flecks of blood. However the most frightening feature however 9mm pistol that dangled from the black leather gloved fingers.
“You should not have tried to run.” The attacker stated menacingly. “Now tell me where it is located.”
Dr. Preston lay sprawled on the floor in a pool of blood-defenseless.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“You are lying.” The man said as he stared at him from beneath his mask. “But don’t worry I have ways of making you talk…”
[/INDENT][/INDENT]Almost as if part of some otherworldly nightmare the attacker walked through the iron bars as if he was made of water, Dr. Preston stared in horror as the man strode over to him and once again clamped his neck in a vice like embrace and hefted him into the air. Dr. Preston’s heart skipped entire beats as he was brought face to face with his attacker, and a surge of adrenaline hit him as he struggled to free himself despite the searing pain in his right shoulder.
“To struggle is useless.” The man stated calmly as he punched the good doctor in the stomach.
“Perhaps now you will see things my way.”
Dr. Preston felt like a ball of solid iron had hit him in the gut as he began coughing up blood, he looked up weakly and for the first time noticed the man’s mask only revealed his left eye. While the design that covered the mask seemed to be black concentric lines that resembled planetary orbits, with the Sol symbol marking the middle of his forehead. The attacker shook him slightly and the proceeded to forcefully prop his head up to look him directly into his eye, and Dr. Preston gasped in horror.
“Willingly or not you will give me what I seek.” The gazed into Dr. Preston’s left eye with his own.
“Now submit…” As the attacker said these words Dr. Preston’s world went black...
Several minutes later Dr. Preston awoke to find himself alone in the classroom, he lay in an ever-widening pool of his own blood. He turned his gaze towards the Iron Gate in the doorway-locked. He was trapped the doors could not be reopened for twenty minutes. By the time anyone got to him, he would be dead as even now blood continued to drip from his lips and each breath was becoming harder to exert than the last. Having been a veteran of war he had witnessed the fate that now awaited him. The bullet had ricocheted off of his ribcage, and lodged itself into his stomach, now untold amounts of various acids usually purposed for digestion would begin eating away at his internal organs. Even so, the fear the now gripped him was one far greater than the thought of his impending death.
The secret must live on!
He staggered to his feet once, only to collapse back to the floor. His strength was rapidly leaving him. The room had suddenly become cold; he shivered as he dragged himself to his desk where his prized globe of the Earth sat comfortably seated atop a gilded axis. Until recently the only light in his world was now the fact that he must pass along the secrets that he had died for tonight, ironic as it was the light had had stayed silent to protect would be the one to bring darkness to his world.
Wincing in the pain of the wounds he had sustained he summoned all of his faculties and strength. A desperate and final task lay before him, which he knew would require every ounce of strength remaining in his body, and one he also knew would require each remaining second of his life…