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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Ring of Fate

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Galahad.

A name known for purity and gallantry, made famous from tales spun about the knights from Arthur’s very own Round Table.

Clanking metal sounded each step through the dungeon’s twists and turns.

He’d snagged these things called X-Ray Specs. When you put them on, you could see through the dungeon’s walls, see items scattered about through the void of the lens and other Pokemon. Blue for the items, red for the other enemies, and purple for…

Galahad put the lens down. He didn’t know what the purple meant. He stowed the X-Ray Specs in his stash, along with the other evolutionary stones, berries and elixirs he stole. All the while, he kept up the pace, since the vendor of the Kecleon shop he just stole from was right on his tail—he didn’t actually have one, being a Bisharp.

While he couldn’t use some of the items that he just stole, the evolutionary stones would do well for selling to desperate others down the road. For slightly more than they were priced.

Hey. He needed some way to make a living.

Pokemon in his region had a lot of trouble trying to evolve recently and that included Pokemon that just needed to get stronger. Galahad was lucky that he’d evolved long before this crisis started. It was also a ripe chance for him to make at least four-thousand Poke from the Pokemon he duped.

It should be said that he had no idea what it meant when there were a lot of items in one area.

He’d been lucky so far. It wasn’t like Monster Houses were that common and since he wasn’t an Explorer or Rescue team, he wouldn’t have known that it was a tell-tale sign of danger that they would’ve done better staying away from.

Galahad had also no idea what it meant when he fainted in a dungeon because he hadn’t done so thus far.

The twists and turns he made his way through were pretty dark and he could barely see much around him. He stepped into the entrance of a lit up room which was lined with gummis, sticks, thorns, pebbles, shiny disc things (ah yes, they were Technical Machines)… So yeah, there was a lot of crap lying around in it.

He’d already encountered some Azumarill and Krookodiles on the way through the dungeon thus far, but never in the numbers that he was encountering now.

They literally dropped from the ceiling from out of thin air, looking confused and frantic. There they were; hordes of Fairy and Ground Pokemon in hysterics.

That wasn’t even the least of his worries, considering Kecleon was still behind him. Galahad had no choice but to power his way through the throng of crazed Pokemon if he wanted to find his way to the next floor. There! He could see a set of large, stone steps leading downwards!

Galahad would’ve been lying if he said that he had every bit of confidence that he could get through, but he had to try. His career depended on it.

Putting hours of practice into play, his arms and feet slid into his clan’s hunting stance. Say what you will about Bisharp and Pawniard clans, but you couldn’t deny the effectiveness and vicious nature of their hunting plays.

He dove straight into the crowd, spinning frenetically, wildly before landing in between the familiar sights of red eyed, crazed Azumarill.

Any Bisharp worth their salt knew that starting off without an Iron Defence or Swords Dance was asking for the least bit of efficiency or endurance. Galahad was more of an offensive player and he needed more power than defence on his side then.

Narrowly, he sidestepped a torrent of water headed his direction. A Hydro Pump, but considering its sheer inaccuracy at the best of times, he could easily slide a powered up Poison Jab into his target. It yelled in pain from the super effective damage.

Even though he was prepared for any Azumarill’s bulk, he couldn’t have expected the water blasting its body headfirst into his chest. Without any time to reach, some Pokemon were torn through as the Azumarill carried through with its Aqua Jet, slamming him into the nearest wall.

Dear Arceus, that hurt! It was because of its ability…

Thankfully, a Bisharp’s defence was still nothing to snuff at. He saw his foe following up with an Aqua Tail, but having already shaken off his surprise and the shock of that earlier attack, his Poison Jab hit home. Right in the face.

There was a wave of growls from the mad mob as the Azumarill was fainted and teleported from the dungeon.

His instinct rewarded him by letting him dodge a Krookodile’s Earthquake attack (clearly it didn’t know that its own powerful attack was probably going to knock out a lot of the Pokemon around him) with a well-timed jump.

Those with the same idea—a Slurpuff and Aromatisse—charged at him with glowing pink paws of energy and volleys of Moonblast to shoot him down towards the ground respectively.

Clicking his tongue, he managed to bat the Aromatisse before it was able to shoot, hitting it squarely in the stomach with a well-placed Sucker Punch. Sure, it wasn’t very effective, but that wasn’t what he was going for. He just wanted to get it away from him while he dealt with the Slurpuff.

He took the Play Rough attack head on, getting hammered with Fairy type strikes (thankfully it wasn’t super effective because of his typing) before retaliating with a vicious Metal Claw which knocked it out instantly.

He felt the impact of the ground.

And then he felt the effects of his Swords Dance recede.

Galahad landed on top of a Wonder Tile.

He paused for a moment.

What kind of Tauros crap was that!?

Galahad was almost caught by surprise when a Dragon Claw came and swiped at him, but managed to roll out of the way of the attack before it hit home.

In all the adrenalin fuelled action that had transpired, he forgot about his greatest threat.

“Hah! That’ll teach you! I’ll be taking all of these back!” Kecleon laughed triumphantly and gathered up Galahad’s sack of stolen goods, leaving him fainted on the ground. He was knocked out with a single Fury Swipe. He couldn’t even ponder how ridiculously overpowered those Kecleon were while he was fainted.

The thief was warped and unceremoniously dumped outside the entrance to Smooth Cave; the dungeon he was just in. It was so named as the walls of rock appeared to be cut and rigorously hewn by Pokemon moves. The original inhabitants removed the stalagmites and stalactites from its surfaces, leaving it with smooth, limestone surfaces.

This was also exactly where the officer of the region was standing. “Galahad the Bisharp! You are under arrest for several charges of theft, smuggling and attempted murder. You have the right to remain silent.”

Galahad groaned as he tried to recollect his thoughts. What even happened? He just remembered that he was taken out by a Fury Swipe… Ah, there was that thought. “Wha? Where am I?” he mumbled, bringing himself to full height, however shakily.

“Rise and shine, you’re in the hands of justice, Galahad!” The officer grinned as two Vulpix emerged from behind him and used Confuse Ray on Bisharp. Galahad quickly began to realise that he had been caught by Officer Ninetales, and he was not going to get out of this easily. Darn.

“O-Officer Ninetales! W-Where the heck are you taking me!?” Galahad cried frantically, his vision spinning unpredictably. And he had lost all of his loot too! Tarnation.

“Well, to the Pokemon Exploration Team Federation’s base of course,” Ninetales replied heartily as they walked on the path. “I’m sure they’ll delegate a suitable punishment for your misdeeds, Cunning Galahad.”

“Ugh…” He’d sold some stolen Razor Claws to some Sneasel a long time ago. He didn’t realise that they were the ones that had leaked his name until after he saw them again and they were all Weavile. He also hated that name.

It took some time—a few hours—before they all arrived at the entrance to the ETF. Ninetales thought the whole thing was too long to say along the way.

Ninetales sighed as he arrived. He and his fellow Vulpix were being stretched thin because of the problems now appearing in their region. It wasn’t Time Gears and comet based apocalypses, sure, but Pokemon couldn’t evolve, more Mystery Dungeons were appearing and most Pokemon just had a bad attitude to pretty much everything that was going on around them.

Relative peace, he guessed.

“Well, Here we are,” Ninetales smiled despite his thoughts at the large cave entrance. The mouth of the cave stretched far up, and teeth-like rock hung and sat on the ceiling and floor. The countless stalactites and stalagmites stood many metres high, some even forming columns, and they served as effective wards for any would be Pokemon-attackers. They were that huge!

“Oh god… I’m never escaping from there…” Galahad’s eyes widened as he looked at the interior of the cave.

“Lucky you Galahad, that you live in this region. You’ll likely only be incarcerated for a short period of time before they give you parole,” Ninetales explained. “You’re a young kid. You have a lot more to do than stealing and trying to kill fellow Pokemon.”

“Hey, that last charge is a lie!” Galahad exclaimed.

“All the better then. I just want you not to cause trouble anymore, kid,” Ninetales replied, placing a paw on his helmet, much to his irritation. “Well, we better lead him in girls,” he spoke to the Vulpix keeping constant watches on their captured Bisharp. They nodded back wordlessly and pushed Galahad into the ETF’s base.

“It’s surprisingly light in here…” he mumbled.

“Well, yes. They hang lanterns and replace them regularly, which keep the base well-lit,” Officer Ninetales laughed. “I wonder though, if they keep Pokemon on jobs just to replace those lanterns and light them…”

Galahad sighed. Didn’t these Pokemon have anything better to do? How much were they getting paid? Ten Poke an hour? He scoffed at the figures.

The cave stretched unapologetically before him. The stone had indents hewn from them as rooms—whoever chose this place for the ETF’s base must’ve been aiming to capitalise on the natural formations in the cave. There were probably tunnels, some definite ladders and some stairs leading all around the different facilities.

He headed down the corridor (even in the corridor, he saw some rooms meant for Pokemon to train in, others to store items and money, and those meant for organising and copying requests to be sent out to various guild bulletins, each sectioned off with tall partitions) to reach a clearing in the rock. “Large, but a bit claustrophobic for my taste,” he complained, seeming to be in jest.

“If this is claustrophobic for you, I wonder how you handle Mystery Dungeons so well.” Ninetales chuckled a bit as Galahad rolled his eyes. Speaking off, the effects of Confuse Ray were wearing off by the time he got inside. It was just that he was surrounded by officers which he had a complete tactical and typing disadvantage against. “Anyways, here we are.”

At the end of the hall was a large room with a wall full of cubby holes for just about every bit of news that it could hold. In front of the wall was a table, and in front of that table was an Alakazam who was seemingly looking through some of the papers. Galahad immediately noticed that the signature moustache that Alakazam usually had was unusually short. “Oh, hello Officer Ninetales,” she smiled. A rare female, it seemed.

“Hello, Lady Alakazam.” Ninetales’ tone was all business, unlike his rather joking tone around Galahad. “I must take my leave. Good day, Galahad.” With a flick of his many tails, Ninetales left the premises along with his fellow Vulpix officers.

“Now Galahad, was it? I wouldn’t make an attempt to run just because Officer Ninetales is gone,” she said with a thin smile. He was given a look that just about froze him in place—in fact, her eyes were glowing… Miracle Eye? So her Psychic attacks would work on him regardless. Not someone he wanted to get into a tussle with, clearly.

“Your criminal record is extensive, but aside from charges of theft and assault… Well, it is nothing that cannot be amended,” the Alakazam spoke. “If not for your earlier blunder in Smooth Cave, you likely would’ve gotten off scot free like all the other times.”

“So?”

A crushing pressure came from around his body. Galahad immediately got the message. Perhaps sensing that, her power subsided. “Instead of putting you into solitary confinement for a number of months, I have another proposal.” He was immediately sceptical, but it wasn’t like he was going to interrupt her again. Galahad just gave her a raised eyebrow for her to continue. “I believe that you have the skills to make it as a member, or even a leader of an exploration team.”

Galahad stared at her for a good few moments before bursting into laughter. “S-Sorry, don’t kill me but—” He held his stomach as he let out his remaining barks of laughter.

He looked back at the unamused Alakazam. “Oh. Oh, you’re being serious.” And he thought they couldn’t get more lenient.

She folded her arms. “Well, if you really knew what you were doing, you might not actually be in this situation right now.”

Ouch. Galahad straightened up, sighing as he gestured for her to go on. “And you want me to learn what to do and then… uphold justice and all that.”

“Well, Exploration Teams do something called exploring. Where they discover new lands, see new places, encounter old civilisations steeped in lore…” Okay, okay, okay… “Find riches…”

His hands twitched at ‘riches’. Galahad furrowed his brow. “You have my attention. But what if I end up not liking the job?”

“Then you end up making more paperwork for me and you go back to the original plan,” she answered simply.

Galahad nodded slowly. “Well, alright, I guess. Where do I sign up?”

“I’ll sort out everything in advance, although I’m loath to admit that there is a part of me that doesn’t want to do it…” Her brow furrowed as she thought of the droll forms.

“You could also not do that…”

Alakazam sent him a glare, telling him, perhaps with telepathy, ‘you want a trip to the Distortion World?’ He held up his arms with an ‘it was just a suggestion’ kind of sentiment. “Anyways, why am I given this chance?”

She laughed, however icily. “Don’t tell me you’re backing out?”

“Nothing of the sort.”

“It’s simply because the ETF makes a great effort to try and reform criminals. It isn’t always very long before Pokemon are released from prison again,” she explained. “We here, always offer the chance. It’s usually likely that most criminals are in some ways skilled enough to become explorers. It’s a chance to put those skills into something that will not harm other local Pokemon. So really, it’s a win-win situation if they manage it.”

“Oh.” Galahad folded his arms. “But how often would it be that someone who ‘accepted’ the offer was secretly using that as a way to escape again?” he asked.

She just smiled. “Well… When it comes to the guilds, you can bet that they do their work rather well. And if they did escape…” Alakazam’s eyes gleamed. “I get more paperwork. And when I get more paperwork because of this, I do my job to make sure they don’t even toe the line.”

Ah. Well, considering what power he felt earlier, he wasn’t going to try in the first place, but that was reassuring… “Right.”

“Hey.” Her expression more or less turned neutral. “I don’t believe that you’re really a bad Pokemon. I hope you don’t work to prove me wrong.”

Galahad looked down his nose. “I wasn’t planning to. I just hope you don’t put this much faith into every single criminal that comes into your office. I just hate being tied down physically and mentally. With this it’s just not both.”

“Well, if you’ve changed the next time that I see you, you owe me.”

“What?” He furrowed his brow.

“You do a day’s work of paperwork.”

“Call off the bet. Now.”

Alakazam just laughed heartily. “Exactly.” Oh. “Anyways, farewell Galahad.” Her eyes glowed with mystical blue light and white engulfed his vision.

He was thankful for it fading, because his burning eyes were more than irritating. “Ugh… Would be nice to do that without the blindness,” Galahad grumbled.

“If you’re done… You must be the newcomer.” He stared into the face of an Armaldo with more than threatening claws and a matching gaze. “My name is Gawain. I am the Guildmaster here.”

Chapter Text

On second thought… Nah, he’d seen more threatening claws than that.

It was the intensity in his eyes that got him.

Galahad straightened up and met the gaze of Gawain. On closer inspection, the shell armour that Armaldo were so famed for was scratched, burnt and in some places, had faint scars that told of past, more ruthless battles. “Right. I’m Galahad.”

He looked the Bisharp up and down, observing his recently battered frame. It wasn’t anything serious—the blemishes could be done away with some sharpening—but he looked reasonably strong. That seemed to satisfy Gawain. “So I’ve heard. Alakazam’s telepathy has near unrivalled strength.” The calm, level tones he spoke in were low and steady.

Well, that answered his question as to how he knew about him coming so quickly. “Listen carefully now; I will not repeat myself.” At least with how he spoke, it would be hard to miss anything.

“I will have one of the guild members bring you to your assigned room. Wake early, at least at six. Meal times are seven AM, twelve AM, if you are staying at the guild during the day, and at six PM,” Gawain explained. “You should be introduced to the rest of the Guild members at dinner today, and the rest of the evening will be spent familiarising yourself with the basics with another Guild member. Got it?”

He nodded. “Got it.”

“Good.” Gawain looked towards the door. “Lance. This is Galahad. Please show him to one of the vacant rooms.” He turned back to Galahad. “Please follow him.”

With a short nod, he went to join Lance. There, was a large, rather intimidating Staraptor. “Gotcha boss.” The Staraptor gazed upon Galahad in with an inquisitive set of eyes before exclaiming, “Cool!” He walked from the door with reasonable balance. For a bird.

Immediately following the surprisingly cheerful Staraptor, Galahad took a bit of time looking at his surroundings. It was mostly wood, and very much circular. “He put the Guild in a tree,” he noted flatly.

“He carved out the rooms and the stairs… They lead up and down, but there’s a ladder on the outside,” Lance informed with a grin. “There’s other stuff like temporary member recruitment and a swap shop on the branches too.”

“I take that back.” Lance looked towards Galahad curiously as he began descending the aforementioned steps. “He put the Guild in a tree!”

He took a moment to decipher just what exactly was different from what he said earlier. “Yup!” Lance finally exclaimed, bursting into laughter. “I thought it was cool too! It’s great for flying types. Like me!”

Galahad could understand why and nodded to himself. The stairs spiralled down outside of the rooms, presumably in-between the last layer outside and the walls. “Hey. How many Pokemon live here?”

“Hm…” Lance smiled. “There aren’t that many of us actually.

“There’s Percy, and he’s a Gallade. He’s so polite, but it makes it a bit hard for someone like me to talk to him!” Lance began listing, still making his way down to… wherever the room was. “Tristan is a bit off their rocker sometimes, but you’d be surprised what you can get him to do if you’re good friends with him.

“Bors is a Sceptile and… he’s a cool, calm collected guy. Doesn’t get his feathers ruffled easily.” He smiled to himself at the brief pun. “There’s Morrie, but she tends to keep to herself. I wouldn’t say she’s shy, but she’s even harder to talk to than Percy is. That’s an achievement. By the way, she’s an Absol, so that might explain a few things.

“Lessee… We have a Garchomp called Morty. But you gotta be careful with what you say. He has a really short temper. Last time Kay had a confrontation with him, she got an Outrage to the face!” Galahad cringed. Sure, he’d probably survive that, but he was definitely making a mental note to stay on Morty’s good side. “Kay’s a Haxorus… She’s kinda rude to everyone, but no-one can really say anything about how quickly she can complete a request though. I don’t like talking to her when I have to.”

Galahad could agree on that course of action.

“Then the last two are Gareth and Ben; a Kabutops and a Scizor,” Lance finished. “Gareth is ultimate level of hard to talk to. He prefers to do rather than say. Ben on the other hand is… well… You should talk to him yourself.”

“Why?”

“Because! I think you’ll like him!” Lance was so excited and clearly insistent, that he even spread his wings as part of that enthusiasm.

“So, without me… there are only nine of you and the Guildmaster?” Galahad asked. Was that not a lot of Pokemon for a Guild?

He gave a very decisive nod after tucking his wings in again. “Yup. With you, there’ll be eleven of us altogether.” Lance smiled as he tapped the wall near the entrance of the main trunk. There was a blank rectangle on the wall. “We’ll put a slate there later. Bors can do it if you don’t want to, but it’s very… default-y?”

“I can do it later,” he said shortly.

“Awesome.” Lance poked his head in. “Well, there’s not much to the room: bed, water, toilet, window, map…” The lighting was an odd, light blue colour which came from a lantern hung up on the ceiling. “Obviously, we won’t be using traditional fire. While we’re living in a… uh… tree…”

“I admire the common sense.” Galahad stifled a sigh. “Last thing before I get used to this room…” Lance cocked his head. “Is ten Guild members a lot?”

He shook his head. “Nah. If you’ve ever heard of Wigglytuff’s Guild… It’s kind of amazing that it has even eight members! A lot of the other Guilds have a larger number but it depends on the training that they offer.

“There are private Guilds like Gawain’s and we take people up until they become an Exploration Team… Usually, the training is a lot more intense and that’s why there aren’t a lot. There are a few exceptions though! Don’t get me wrong there,” Lance said with a pleased expression.

“The public guilds are kinda more like gyms? If you get what I mean. Pokemon come and go to enter the training programs there and they’re more casual. Less focused. In my humble opinion, not quite as cool as Gawain’s Guild,” he added.

Galahad rubbed the back of his head. “Right. Well, thanks Lance.”

He puffed up his chest. “No problem Galahad! Call me if you need anything! My room’s up at the very top, which will kinda suck for climbing and all, but it’s some good exercise, trust me. You’re at the middle of the tree, so don’t despair, don’t despair!”

Oh joy. “Moreover, dinner’s in a few minutes. There’s a layout of the Guild on the wall, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. Later!”

Lance flapped away out a passageway, presumably to his room.

Finally, he could breathe. He didn’t seem like a bad guy, but he was too cheerful and talkative for his taste. Galahad slumped into the straw and hay, looking up at the water root system which dripped into his room and over to the dragon type looking flame powering the lantern.

He wasn’t sure whether he wanted to fit into the Guild. Yeah, he had close to no choice or really any other appealing choices but… Getting along with other Pokemon was not his strong suit, even if he really wanted to go through with it.

Lance was almost overwhelmingly peppy so yeah, he could talk to him. Or well… Listen to Lance talk about stuff to him. Gawain was alright as well, but Galahad doubted that he’d talk to him that much—both because of his personality and just because he was the Guildmaster.

He lastly turned to the map on the wall, which had the drawing carved neatly into it. Twenty-five floors, his being the thirteenth from the ground… and all the names of the previously mentioned Guild members carved above him. It said that the mess hall was third from the top, which was kinda unfortunate, but at least he was no stranger to exercise.

Resigning himself to aching legs, Galahad began making his way up. He saw Ben’s name slate written in neat, curved footprint runes. Actually, his full name was Benjamin. Wonder why Lance was so insistent on him talking to Ben.

All the way up, he saw names in plain runes, messy runes, runes that went through the name slate, small runes, more plain runes, really sharp looking runes and lastly, thin, neat runes. Never would’ve pegged Lance to be the neat type.

When he reached the mess hall, he saw various Pokemon milling about. In particular, he noticed a Kangaskhan and her child bringing food to a large table. Maybe she was part of staff or something instead?

He also saw Lance, a Gallade and a Sceptile in the same area. Sounds of footsteps were also coming from behind him. “Hey Galahad!” he called. Percy and Bors, he presumed.

“Yeah, hi…” he said curtly, folding his arms.

The Sceptile gave him a cool look. “Guess Lancey here musta told ya about us, huh? I dun wanna hurry ya or anythin’ but try not ta stand too long in front of the door,” he warned.

Galahad took a side step from the door, allowing a Pokemon to come through. “Pay more attention to your surroundings, punk.” She turned and stared down the Bisharp with a gleam to her eyes and blades. “If I ‘accidentally brushed’ you with my tail off the Guild here, I’d be able to throw more blame onto you. Just like the dirt for your grave.”

“Kay, how utterly… boorish of you. I had hoped you wouldn’t make your scathing insults to our new member at least on his first day.” Percy shook his head, folding his arms. “I am pleased to finally make your acquaintance, Galahad.” He gave a sweeping bow.

“…Likewise.” Lance was right on the money. Wonder how long Lance had been at the Guild.

Kay just sneered and made her way to a heap of pillows scattered around the table. How comfortable. “Well, I guess you know who I am now! Just try not to do anything stupid and we should be just fine.”

“I’d be fine; fine with you shutting your Giratina-damned mouth.” A gruff voice came from a Garchomp. His fins and teeth looked finely sharpened, ready to shred any adversaries to bits. “I’m Morty. Nice to meet you. If you aren’t rude as that… that…” He seemed to have trouble finding a word besides a curse to describe Kay. “As her, then we’ll get along.”

“Noted.”

After Morty gave Galahad a nod, he went to sit at the opposite side of the room, far from Kay. The last few Pokemon came from below; an Aegislash, Absol, Kabutops and Scizor.

“How’re things going boys and girls!?” Tristan exclaimed.

Morrie gave a small ‘eep!’ before hiding behind Gareth. He only gave as much as a nod at Galahad before calmly seating himself at the table. The Absol on the other hand, just gave Galahad a wave before scooting over to another place around the table.

“Hello. You must be Galahad, yes?”

“Would say so,” he replied to Ben.

“Nice to meet you. It’s Benjamin, but everyone just calls me Ben,” the Scizor greeted with a smile. “You can sit pretty much anywhere; just not in Kay, Morty, or Gawain’s spot.” He gestured where the majority of others had gathered.

He nodded and followed Ben over. Galahad couldn’t exactly deny how good the food smelled as it wafted into his nose. The distinct aromas were so strong that he could almost taste the smell on his tongue. It was a definite departure from the food he usually managed to buy or steal.

Lastly, Gawain made his appearance at the last empty space, coming from above unlike the others. “Go ahead, everyone. Just make sure to give our newcomer a warm welcome for now.” Without further words, he started picking at his food with his claws, skewering Clawitzer on them.

“I heard from Lance that ya just showed up in the Guildmaster’s room, right?” Bors asked, absentmindedly popping Pecha berries into his mouth. “Dun hafta, but wanna tell the class what happened?”

Galahad stopped midway through his bite. “I was teleported here. By an Alakazam.”

Tristan laughed. Well, so it seemed. No-one could tell where his mouth was, to be honest. “Ohhhh, so you’re one of those reformed criminal types, aren’tcha? Well, hope you don’t try to cause trouble around here! I know someone here who could probably knock your lights out with a single Drain Punch!”

The Gallade took the comment in stride. “I would not say that so early, Tristan. It is speculation merely based on a type advantage; a rather drastic type advantage, but nothing more. You should know that.” He gave a small smile as Tristan gave yet another hearty laugh.

“I’m surprised Alakazam chose my Guild as well. I don’t often get new members. She must’ve been impressed with your apparent skill,” Gawain contributed, although with a straight face.

Kay just shook her head as she swallowed some meat. “Hah! He managed to get himself captured, didn’t he? Apparent skill my a—”

“Could you just shut your damned insults for even ten minutes!?” Morty roared.

He went back to his food, listening to the Pokemon talk (or shout) amongst themselves. How could Galahad keep up being nice to them when he wasn’t sure he wanted to? “You might have to get used to this. It’s always a little bit rowdy.” Despite his words, Ben had a warm smile on.

The Bisharp’s eyes shuttered, staring at his nearly empty plate. “Well… I’m not sure if I’m looking to fit in.”

Ben laughed. “Exploration Teams work in teams. You have to try if you want to get good at this.”

“I’ve always worked alone.”

“But wouldn’t it be nice if… You had someone you could trust?” Morrie asked, having trouble getting her words out to Galahad.

Galahad wasn’t sure how to answer that.

For the most part, the rest of the meal went without incident. “Ben, could you show Galahad the basic facilities for the evening?”

The Scizor nodded. “Will do, sir.” As the rest of the members filed out to their rooms (sans Gareth, who went about cleaning the dishes somehow), Galahad stood, ready for a lot of walking. “You saw the map, right?” From the way he asked, Ben seemed to expect it from him.

“I didn’t know what all the facilities were for though.”

“Alright. Well, the main trunk is for us Guild members. Besides the mess hall, all of our rooms are in the middle. We have pretty easy access to every facility if you know which branch to go from. And before you ask why we have to walk everywhere… We are getting elevators installed soon so don’t worry about it for too long.”

Thank Arceus.

Ben started outside. It was the first time Galahad had actually seen the outside of the tree. In fact, the Guild was completely surrounded by lush greenery and thick foliage. Black trunks barred entry to the heart of the forest where the town was situated. The Pokemon living here adapted to living in the trees, having bridges, ladders and their homes in the boughs and trunks of trees. Lit up by dragon fire and some yellow captured in lanterns by local forest dwelling Electric types, Galahad had never seen anything quite like the town he saw sprawled before him.

“This is Arboreal  Town. But everyone calls it Arbor for short,” Ben told him.

“I can kinda see why it’s called that.” Not every landmark in his world had that good of a name. You had HAPPI, Smooth Cave… Now, Arboreal Town? It was either cheesy, told exactly what it was, or both.

Ben nodded. “Now, the branches which are part of the Guild have some of the bark stripped away from them. The others don’t, and they might lead to other houses and such. The Guild is really close to the townspeople, so it’s easy to find something to do from nearby.”

He gestured with his claws at the branch they stood on, and in the opposite direction. “The Guild facilities are always opposite each other and have the same markings on the bark, so it should be easy to see which is which.” Ben turned back towards Galahad. “In this case, the Swap Shop and V-Roulette is here. You know about V-waves, right?”

Galahad nodded. Kinda like weather, but for types. And he didn’t mean rain or really sunny weather. “Good, well, the V-Roulette has a chance of changing the waves, predicting which waves, predicting the weather… useful stuff. It isn’t open all the time though since Victini doesn’t come by all the time.

The Swap Shop, run by Croagunk, is for trading far-off items with other Pokemon from other Swap Shops across the world. The items can help make certain Pokemon more powerful, or even a Type more powerful, if you’re lucky. They tend to be rare though. Got it?”

He nodded. That sounded like something he could get a lot of money off of… Well, if he was thinking about actually doing it in this town. “What’s on the next floor?”

“A Pokemon called Klefki runs a shop that opens special boxes which you can’t open. You find them in Mystery Dungeons sometimes.” Scizor thought for a moment. “And on the same floor, there’s a Gold Bar exchange where you can exchange that treasure for money or items. Cofagrigus is a real sucker for ‘sparklies!’.”

Great impression.

“Next floor down is Spinda’s Juice Bar, which also runs a Prize Corner thing. I go there to relax after missions and such. You have to bring him the ingredients, but then he’ll make you a drink. For some reason, I feel like it makes me stronger, but I’m not complaining about it.”

“The same floor has a place run by a Scrafty, who helps Pokemon forget moves and remember old ones. Very useful.”

“You manage to remember all of this?” Galahad asked, putting his arms behind his head.

“Sure. If you put it into your routine, eventually it gets ingrained into your memory. In fact, the reason why Gawain wanted you to learn about the facilities here now is because you remember stuff better if you do it right before you go to sleep.” He put on a sheepish smile.

Oh. “The last floor on ground level has the bulletin board which has all the requests we might get from locals. We get rewards and money which contributes to help run our Guild,” Ben explained. “Unfortunately, you only get ten per cent of the total reward when it comes to money… but selling items and finding money in Mystery Dungeons makes up for it. When you’re finally an official Explorer, or part of an actual Exploration team, you give fifty per cent of your total monetary earnings. By that time though, the Dungeons will have more stuff in them and more money, so it isn’t really much to worry about.”

“What kind of monetary rewards are we talking about here?”

“At least two-thousand Poke, so we get about two-hundred depending on the requests.”

Galahad blinked at the figures. He was expecting less, but maybe that was just his pessimism kicking in? “Okay. And the other?”

Ben smiled. “Well the ground floor has the bulletin board, the assembly system that Persian runs and Kangaskhan’s deposit.

“The Assembly is used for organising party members. We usually go solo, with a partner, or in a group of three. Four is usually a bit big, so we try not to make teams like that,” he explained. “Sometimes you can ask other Guild members to help out or even have other Pokemon outside of the Guild join you. But when it comes to Guild-exclusive stuff like expeditions and whatnot, you can’t take them along with you.

“The last is for storing money and important items you don’t want to lose. You might’ve noticed… but you get kicked out of a Dungeon by fainting. You usually lose half of your money and your items if you do. So.” Ben looked embarrassed. Galahad briefly wondered whether it happened to him some time ago.

“Oh.” So that was what happened. Glad he’d never done that until now. “Thanks for explaining, I guess.”

“No problem. If you want, you can bring me along for a mission if I’m not doing anything that day or call me for anything else. I think I’m gonna get some sleep…” Ben stretched his arms. “See ya later. Don’t forget to wake up early tomorrow. I know I did a few times.” With a nervous chuckle, he jumped away down the branches.

Galahad noticed that he was helped along by his wings, which made his landings more precise. That was… convenient.

When he finally returned to his new room, he saw the dragon flame above him dim. It must’ve been lights out soon for most, if not all of the Guild members or something.

But he couldn’t bring himself to close his eyes. Just what had he gotten himself into? Better than incarceration, but everything, down to his routine was blindingly new.

Galahad just couldn’t help but think about the unease he felt as he struggled to fall asleep.