“Hey, Edward, look at this!” Pikkun held the note out, bouncing excitedly. “Ruins! Previously unexplored ruins! This just screams tracker work!” He said, pressing the note into Edward's hands, moving to grab some essentials. “Okay, Compass, Cartography tools, Do we have any spare water?”
Edward read over the note and shook his head. “No. Nononono. We are not doing this-- We need to stay with everyone else! Here! Y'know, water crisis, crimelord with a thumb over the entire town-- There's an orphanage that needs rebuilding! Why don't we help out with that?” Edward pleaded, But even he went to pack. “This just-- This sounds like an entirely unnecessary risk that could be better spent--”
“But Eddy--” Pikkun turned, gently grabbing the other 'mon by the shoulders. “Imagine, having the honor of mapping out some ruins no one has ever seen before-- And That thing about stuff from another Era, Aren't you even a little curious?” He gently patted his shoulders before weighing out their water-skins. “Do we know any water types we can bring along? I'm worried about that line about water abandoning that place.”
“... I admit, it is tempting to study some ancient ruins up close, b-but numbing death! That's some sort of poison, I'll bet any chance of evolution on it!” Edward huffed, looking over the note again. “And an uphill battle? Are you not even worried about what that might be?”
“Nope! Because, with you and I, There's nothing we can't handle!” Pikkun said, grinning, before frowning at what they packed. “... Well, unless there's a water puzzle. I dunno if we can do a water puzzle.”
After exploring the desert...
“Aha! This is the place.” Pikkun said, gently patting the stone, feeling it's surface. “Now I just need to find the right place...”
Edward, meanwhile, took off his glasses to wipe his forehead, looking up at the sky. “At this point, I'd welcome deadly traps to get out of the sun.” he admitted, putting his glasses back on. “Could you hurry up with that? The heat's unbearable!”
“Just a second-- There!” The Pikachu reared back a fist, and then struck a point on the rock, Causing it to shatter. “The problem of having Brick-break over Rock Smash: You got to find the point that it'll shatter properly.” He dusted off his paws, looking down into the hole the rock had covered. Amid the rubble was a spiral staircase going deeper into the earth, spiraling down deep. “Oof, It's dark down there. I should have brought some torches. Right! Okay.” He turned to Edward, clapping his hands together a bit. “Into the ancient staircase into the ancient city!” And promptly turned right back around and started to climb down.
“Remember to put your hand against the inner column! I don't trust the walls yet, that numbing death sounds-- Well, deadly.” Edward called out after Pikkun, Scrambling over some of the larger pieces to go down deeper. And so the two descended, going deeper and deeper into the dark...
“Ack... Man, this is dark.” Pikkun huffed, steadily making progress going down the stairway. “How long have we been climbing, you think?”
“Well, The stone's changed type... An hour, maybe?” Edward peered at the rock, before giving up. It was useless, everything was utter darkness. “If only we thought to bring an umbreon with us. Or anyone who can see in the dark, really.” Edward fell slient for a moment more, before running right into Pikkun's backpack. “Oof--!! What-- Why'd you stop?” Edward tried to peer up at his friend, squinting in the non-existent light.
“The ground's leveled out. I think-- Aha! Someone left a torch here.” Pikkun grabbed the wooden stick, feeling the end of it. “Looks like it's still good. Now, if I get a spark...” He charged up a thunderpunch with the other, letting the electricity arc around his hand, as he let it move to the torch to ignite it, throwing light all around where they were at, revealing...
A huge square of sorts was laid out before them, and in the middle a grand but decrepit temple loomed over the area. The center had some sort of crude well, but it was just full of sand at this point. Pikkun moved a bit farther forward, Looking around the area. “Wow! Look at all this, Edward! How long has this been down here? And why did they seal it off?”
“Probably so no one else could find it. After all, they didn't leave willingly.” Edward moved toward the well, looking into it. “Like the note said, 'Water has long left these time-worn caverns.'” He gently moved the sand, sighing. “The water probably dried up and they were forced to go somewhere new. But what I want to know is...” He moved from the well, adjusting his glasses as he looked up at the temple. “What Pokemon is this? It doesn't look like anything I've seen, at least in my books.” He said, moving close and pointing his rod at a relief of a two-tailed Pokemon.
“Well, We're not gonna get an answer from here, just gawking, are we?” Pikkun said, taking one last look at the abandoned square before taking a few steps into the temple, with Edward trailing behind. The temple Foyer was nothing special, a few rows of benches, dried and crumbling with age, and a few faded lettering, aged beyond reviewing. But, in the far back was a pathway into the inner chambers, and Team Sparkstar marched right in.
The inner sanctum was nothing special at first-- Just a long winding tunnel, made more bearable now that Pikkun had a torch with him to light the way. But when it opened up, It opened up wide. It looks like the challenges were to begin!
The first challenge seemed to come into form of a giant room, with a large amount of stairs. “... Well, We climbed down a lot of stairs. Going up can't be that much harder.” Pikkun said, starting up the few steps first. However, by the third stair, it sunk and an echoing 'click' was heard, causing the room to shudder and shake, until sand started to pour from near the top, a wave of sand moving down to them. “... Okay, that one was on me. You might want to get into the backpack.” Pikkun said.
“... Normally, I'd argue about the indignity, but I think today, I'll let it slide.” Edward said in reply, Clambering up to ride in the backpack, as Pikkun started to climb higher, making a few more steps before the sand got to them, causing the climb to be much harder. “You okay, Pikkun? I could probably climb up myself, now that it's down.”
“N-Nonsense!” Pikkun said, still working on climbing, the slick sand slipping beneath his feet as he clambered up the steep sandy hill. “I've gotta stay focused-- My curiosity's piqued, Eddy.” he added, taking another step, sand cascading down the hill.
And thus the climb went, for at least a half hour, full of intense climbing. Thankfully the sand was nice and cool, so heat wasn't a factor in tiring him out. At the top, though, he sat back down, taking a few deep breaths. “Man, what an intense climb! Whoever wrote that definitely meant an uphill battle.”
Edward handed Pikkun a water-skin, before hopping out of the bag and looking around. “Catch your breath for a moment, we're not there yet.” He said, looking down another hallway. “We'll take it slow for now.”
Even yet deeper into the temple, And yet another long winding hallway. This time, when it did widen out, it did not widen out as wide as the other one, still just a hallway. But it did have a unique chamber to it, a floor with tiled squares, and walls that were criss-crossed with holes. “Well, This screams 'I'm a trap.'” Pikkun commented, following behind Edward for now. “I could probably gun us across if I hit top speed.”
“No, I have a better idea.” Edward said, adjusting his glasses. He moved to the tiled area, pressing on a few tiles, before stopping on one. “We start here.” He said, moving onto it and testing the tiles nearby to trail blaze through, Pikkun right behind him. He'd hiss back a reply every time he'd press a bit too hard, causing a dart to shoot out of the wall and hit the wall on the other side, the dart quivering, but soon recover, trying a different tile.
With a lot of Trial and error, they made it to the other side, and they both let out a huge breath of relief. “Let me just...” Pikkun took the moment to dig out the cartography tools and set them down. “Let's jot down the path so we can remember it later.” with Edward's guidance, the path was jotted down, and the two continued on.
It didn't take long for the next room to widen out, revealing a large pair of ornate doors. Loose sand filled either side of a long walkway, and a mechanism covered the door, making it appear locked. Once upon a time, it looked like water from the next chamber was used to open and shut these doors, but like the well out in town, it had long since dried out.
“Well, you did forecast a water puzzle.” Edward said, gently brushing at the sand. “Too bad there's no water.”
Pikkun quietly strode up to the doors, reared back a fist, and punched right through, the ancient wood splintering under his rock-shattering punch, letting out a good sigh afterwards, as if he relieved some stress with that. “There we are! One way forward. Couldn't get stopped with a dead end at this point.” He said simply, striding through the hole.
Unlike the rest of the temple, which was deliberately carved, the next room was definitely natural, and undeniably huge. It easily dwarfed the size of the rest of the temple, and at one time was probably beautiful. All that remained was a dry lakebed, a large bridge, and a shrine at the center. Edward and Pikkun's steps echoed as they walked toward the shrine, and looked upon it-- and the few scraps of clothing left around it.
“I don't know why, but I feel... well, more determined than ever.” Pikkun admitted, picking up and admiring a beautiful blue scarf. “Hey, this kind of looks like the pokemon carved into the temple, Doesn't it?”
“There's some writing here...” Edward squinted at the shrine, trying to decipher the words there. “Most of it is faded out, but I can read one thing.'Azelf.'” He said, before he too felt complied to grab one of the articles as well, a blue strip of fabric he wrapped around his heal rod. “That must have been the name of the pokemon who was worshiped here.” He paused, before looking to Pikkun. “You were right in coming here. I feel... more fulfilled.” he admitted.
Pikkun took off his old scarf, putting it in his pack, before tying on his new one, proudly displaying his willpower. “I know exactly how you feel. Let's mark this place, and head back to the others, Eddy.” He said, starting the trek back.