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Stranger in a Twisted World

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Cam landed face first on her bed. It had been a long day for the Kalos League Champion. Her Umbreon Elara jumped onto the bed, just as tired as her trainer.

“What a day,” Cam sighed, flipping onto her side. Elara curled into her trainer, Cam’s hand lazily running through her smooth fur. Eventually, Cam’s eyes closed and she was lulled to sleep by her Umbreon’s breathing.

But then the weirdest dream started. She found herself in a room with a multitude of floating coffins, a large mirror in the center. Cam took a few careful steps toward the mirror.

“Ah, my dear beloved
A lovely and noble flower of evil,
Truly, you are the most beautiful of all”

Cam’s head whipped around in an attempt to find the source of the voice.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the most…”

An image flashed before her. A black carriage carrying a coffin. A castle looming in the distance. The creature pulling the carriage puzzled her. It looked like a Ponyta, but the color was different. She’d never seen an all black Ponyta before.

“Those who are guided by the dark mirror
As long as your heart desires,
Take the hand that appears in the mirror.”

As the voice said, an outstretched hand appeared in the mirror. Cam carefully extended a hand. To her surprise, she was able to grasp the hand. It felt cool to the touch. Not a human hand then.

“Flames that incinerate even the stars,
Ice that imprisons even time,
The great tree that engulfs even the skies,
Fear not the power of darkness.
Now — demonstrate your powers.”

Everything went dark. There was no way she’d find the speaker now.

“For me. For them. For you.
We are all running out of time.
No matter what, never let go of that hand.”

“Crap,” Cam breathed. It had been a number of years since the Team Flare incident, and longer since she’d had a dream about them. Where was this going?

It was then that she heard scraping and rattling. Maybe mom’s Espeon, Cam wondered.

“Morning already,” she grumbled softly. She moved her hand, feeling fur at her side. Umbreon was by her side, per usual.

“Crap. People are coming. Gotta get a uniform while…”

Cam nearly jumped out of her skin. She knew Umbreon couldn’t talk. She didn’t recognize the voice, and it wasn’t the voice from earlier. Maybe she was still dreaming?

She heard a grunt. An attempt to open a door?

“The lid is too heavy,” the voice bemoaned. “Time for…my secret move!”

A flash appeared in front of her closed eyelids, hearing the voice give a cheer in triumph. Cracking her eyes open, all Cam could see was fire and a small figure.

“F-fire,” Cam croaked out, scooping up Umbreon and jolting her awake. She took a step and found herself in the same room as earlier in her dream. Before her there was a small creature, grey in color with blue flames in its ears. This creature must have been the cause of the fire.

“Ok, ok. Gotta get...” the creature trailed off, turning to face her before giving a surprised yelp.

“Why are you up,” it demanded.

“A talking Zigzagoon,” Cam wondered out loud. No, she thought, it looks too different. A new Pokémon?

“Just who are you calling a raccoon,” the creature cried, “I am the Great Grimm!”

A what now?

“Well, whatever,” Grim grumbled. “Hey, human!”

Cam quirked an eyebrow in response.

“Hurry and gimme those clothes! Otherwise…”

Flames burst forth behind Grim. “I’ll roast ya!”

“Dreaming about getting roasted by a Pokémon,” Cam wondered, “that’s a new one!”

“I said I’m not a freaking raccoon!”

Time to bolt, Cam thought quickly. Elara jumped out of her arms, eyes glued to the creature. Cam bolted for the exit, her Umbreon hot on her heels, the unknown creature close behind. Pokémon and trainer flew down hallways trying to shake their pursuer. Cam needed a chance to check her person. Her clothes were different, that was for sure. She didn’t have a bag though. Was Umbreon the only Pokémon with her?

Cam skidded around a corner, slamming a door open. It swung open to reveal a library.

“If this is a dream, I wanna wake up” she grumbled.

“Did you really think you’d get away from my nose? Dumb human!”

Cam resisted the urge to groan in frustration. Umbreon placed herself between her trainer and the creature.

“Get ready Elara,” Cam mumbled to Umbreon.

“If you don’t wanna get roasted, better hand over-”

Before he could finish, something hit him. Cam winced while Umbreon’s focus quickly shifted to the new presence.

Grim cried in surprise. “Ow! What’s with this rope?”

“This is no mere rope. It is a lash of love!”

Whatever makes you feel better, Cam thought, watching a second figure step toward them. The man must have really liked Corviknight. His ensemble definitely reminded her of one, right down to the glowing eyes shining through his mask.

“Ah, I found you at last. Are you one of the new students?”

Arceus, she wasn’t seriously having a nightmare about school was she? Cam couldn’t even remember the last time she attended school. The more she thought about it though…

“You shouldn’t do things like that. Leaving the Gate on your own,” the man chastised. “Not only that, you have yet to take your familiar which has broken a number of school rules.”

“But that’s not-”

“Let me go,” Grim hollered, “I’m not their freakin’ familiar!”

“He’s ri-”

“Sure, sure. The rebellious ones always say things like that.” There was a hint of exasperation in his voice. “Just quiet down for a moment.”

A hand over his mouth prevented any more protests from Grim.

“My goodness. It’s unprecedented for a new student to leave the Gate on their own.” A loud sigh followed “How impatient can you be? The entrance ceremony is already well under way. Let’s head to the Hall of Mirrors.” The man, Grim in his arms, turned toward the door Cam had burst through.

“I’m sorry,” Cam interjected, “gate?”

“It’s the room you woke up in with all the doors.
All students who wish to attend this academy must pass through one of those doors to arrive here.” The man looked off, pondering something before voicing his thoughts. “Normally, students wake up only after the door is opened with a special key but…”

“So those coffins were actually doors.” A strange thing to use as a door, certainly not something she’d use if she had a gym. Might be too creepy for younger trainers.

“They bid farewell to the only world they’ve ever known and are reborn. Those doors were designed with such sentiments.” Well, Cam supposed that sentiment made sense. But it also made her think of various ghost Pokémon.

“…Oh my,” the man exclaimed, evidentially remembering that he was supposed to be leading her back to where she came from. “Now isn’t the time to be long winded. The entrance ceremony will soon come to a close. Let’s get a move on.”

“Just a second, where exactly am I,” Cam questioned. This was weird. The longer this went on, the less the situation felt like a dream. Elara moved closer to her trainer.

“What’s this? Are you still dazed? It appears the teleportation magic has left you disorientated…”

Teleportation magic? Did he mean the move Teleport? Was this all the doing of a Pokémon?

“Well, it is fine,” he continued. “It happens often enough. I shall give you an explanation as we make our way there. For I am gracious.”

I think it’s the least you could do, Cam thought as she and Elara followed the man.

The man cleared his throat before beginning a much needed explanation. “This is Night Raven College. Those magicians blessed with a unique aptitude for magic gather from all over the world, here at the most prestigious magical academy in Twisted Wonderland. And I am the headmaster, appointed to take care of this academy by the board chairman, Dire Crowley.”

“Night…Colle…?” Cam was so confused. College? Magicians? Twisted Wonderland? Cam had to be dreaming. Magicians didn’t exist outside of fiction, unless this was some kind of school for those with psychic abilities? But that doesn’t help in finding out what exactly Twisted Wonderland is.

“Only those magicians seen as worthy by the Dark Mirror can attend this school,” Crowley continued. “Chosen ones use the Gate and are summoned here from around the world. An Ebony Carriage carrying a Gate should have gone to meet you as well.”

It wasn’t much, but Cam could recall a few things. “I think I remember going through a dark forest…”

Crowley nodded. “The Ebony Carriage goes to welcome new students chosen by the Dark Mirror. They are special carriages that carry the doors to the academy. The market decided long ago that carriages are used to welcome people on special days.”

Cam, again, wasn’t sure what to say. “So you’re saying that carriage just brought me here on its own!?” Elara nudged her leg in an attempt to calm her trainer.

Grim attempted to say something, but his mouth was still covered by Mr. Crowley.

“Come. Let’s go to the entrance ceremony.”

With that, they continued on quietly to what Crowley called the Hall of Mirrors.

Cam could hear voices on the other side of the approaching door. When she left earlier, Cam was sure that she, Elara, and Grim were the only ones in the room.

Crowley threw open the door before shouting “Not at all

A petit, red haired boy turned toward the door. His gray eyes looked between the two humans and two creatures. “Ah, he’s here.”

“I cannot believe you all. We were missing one new student, so I went to find them.” Cam wasn’t sure how anyone would have figured there was one missing, given the number of students that were currently in the room.

Crowley turned to Cam and her partner. “You are the only one yet to be assigned a dormitory. I shall watch over the raccoon, so step in front of the Dark Mirror.”

Again, Grim attempted to loosen Crowley’s grip on both his body and his mouth to no avail.

Cam stepped toward the mirror in the center of the room, Elara refusing to leave her side. Her glowing red eyes shifting across the crowd.

“State thy name,” the Dark mirror asked.

“Champion Camille…”

“The shape of thy soul is…”

There was a long pause. Cam started to shift, not wanting to be in the center of all this. Elara bumped her leg again, ensuring Cam that her faithful companion was still there.

“…is unknown,” the Dark Mirror finally stated.

Crowley blinked. “Come again?”

“I sense not a spark of magic from this one…The color, the shape, all are nothing. Therefore, they are suited for no dormitory.”

The crowd broke into murmurs.

“An Ebony Carriage would absolutely never go to someone who can’t use magic! In 100 years, there has not once been a mistake in student selection. So why in the world…”

With one last attempt, Grim struggled against Crowley’s hold and finally broke free. “Then I’ll take their place!”

“Stay right there, raccoon!” From the way things were looking, Cam doubted thing were going to end well. She crouched next to Elara in anticipation.

“Unlike that dumb human, I can use magic,” Grim gloated. “Let me in the school instead! If you need proof, I’ll show you right now!”

“Everyone get down,” the red haired boy cried.

“Elara, grab him!”

The Umbreon leaped from her spot beside her trainer. In a few strides, she closed the gap and picked up the smaller creature by his scruff. He didn’t seem pleased, shouting to be put down. Elara then made her way back to her trainer to hand the troublemaker over.

The crowd watched the dark-type, expressions ranging from awe to nervousness.

The red hair turned to Elara and Grim, pointing a pen with a large red stone at them. Cam stood quickly, about to make a move to her Umbreon. “OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!”

Grim gave a yelp, a red, black, and gold object appearing around his neck. To Cam, it looked like a lock or a collar. Maybe both?

“The heck is this,” Grim yelled indignantly.

“Laws of the Queen of Hearts: Number 23 "One shall never bring a cat into a festival." You being a cat means you've broken the rule. I shall have you leave at once.” Cam had no idea what this boy was talking about. Who would make up such weird rules?

“I'm not a cat!! I'll burn this collar right up and…” There was a pause in which Cam, and seemingly Elara, expected fire to appear. But nothing happened. “E-eh? I can't use my fire!”

“Hmph! You won't be using any magic until I remove the collar. Just like an ordinary cat.”

That “cat” was anything but ordinary, Cam thought dryly, but go on. She was nervous about that power though. Would it be able to block a Pokémon from using moves?

“Wh-What?! I'm not some pet!”

“Don't worry, I'd never keep a pet like you.
I'll take it off anyway when you get thrown out.”

A silver haired boy stepped forward, making a grand gesture. “Wow, as wonderful as ever. Any and all magic gets sealed by your Unique Magic, Riddle.I simply must have it... Err, I mean I wouldn't ever want that cast on me.”

Crowley turned toward Cam, frustration clear in his voice. “You must do something about this! It is your familiar, after all! Properly discip—”

“Like he and I have been trying to tell you,” Cam sighed, “he’s not mine. Meaning not my problem.”

Crowley blinked, seemingly having listened to her for the first time, “eh? It's not yours?”

Her thumb and pointer fingers came to pinch the bridge of her nose. “How many times do I have to tell you?” Cam dropped her arm, pointing at the silent Umbreon sitting calmly by her side. “Elara here is mine. And, clearly, she’s calm and listens to instructions. He,” he said, pointing to Grim, “is definitely not my responsibility.”

“Y-You did?” Crowley blinked before clearing his throat, attempting to redirect the conversation. “Anyway, let's get it out of the school at any rate. We won't turn you into a stew. For I am gracious. Someone help, please.”

Someone carefully stepped toward Grim, still held by Elara. Her red eyes watched them carefully, carefully letting go of Grim once in the other person’s grasp.

“Let me go,” Grim hollarded. “I'm going to, going to...Become the greatest mage!” As he yelled to the crowd, he was escorted out of the room. The door shut behind them, cutting off any further protests from the furball.

“I kinda feel bad for him,” Cam muttered to her partner. Elara nodded in agreement, watching the door he was taken through.

“We had a bit of trouble along the way, but this brings the entrance ceremony to a close.” Crowley turned to a few students standing toward the front of the crowd. “Dormitory Heads, please show the new students back to the dormitories...Hm? Now that I think about it, I don't see the leader for Diasomnia, Mr. Draconia, around at all…”

A young man with Pyroar ears sighed heavily, “that's no different from usual, is it?”

A jovial boy with a turban looked around. “What? Did nobody tell him about the ceremony?”

“If you're going to complain,” an admittedly beautiful young man interjected, “you should have done it yourself.”

“Hmmm,” the jovial one hummed in thought. “But I don't really know anything about that guy.”

Murmurs sounded throughout the hall.

“By Draconia... Do they mean "that" Malleus Draconia

“So he really is attending this school.”

“Scary…”

This Draconia person couldn’t be that bad, could he?

The door creaked open, a boy popped his head through the door, looking around before stepping fully into the room. “Oh, I knew it. I came here to check if my suspicion was right, and sure enough Malleus isn’t around. It seems the invitation "never arrived" again.”

“My deepest apologies,” Azul said, with what Cam thought was false sincerity. “I promise, we didn't intend to exclude you.”

“His aura makes it hard to approach him,” the red head, Riddle Cam recalled, muttered.

“It's fine. Members of the Diasomnia Dormitory can come with me. ...I hope this doesn't upset him…”

If he was as bad as the crowd made him out to be, Cam wanted to get out of here before she found out how he was when upset.

As all the students filed out of the hall, Crowley turned back to Cal and Elara.

“Then,Cam, I'm terribly sorry about this but...We must have you leave the school. Those without any talent for magic cannot be allowed to attend class here.”

Cam shrugged, “makes sense.”

“Not to worry,” Crowley continued, “the Dark Mirror will send you directly back from whence you came. Enter the Gate, and picture your home clearly in your mind…”

Cam picked her Umbreon up again before turning to the mirror and closing her eyes. Images of Lumiose City flashed through her head. Prism Tower. The large, boutique-laden avenues. The cafes and restaurants. Her mother’s apartment high above the city.

“Oh, Dark Mirror! Guide this one back to the place they belong!”

There was silence. Cam didn’t feel any different. She still felt Elara’s weight in her arms, though she resisted the urge to open her eyes to check.

“Once more. Oh, Dark Mirror! Guide this…”

“It is nowhere…” the Dark Mirror cut in.

“Eh?” Crowley clearly sounded confused at this point.

“Excuse me,” Cam drawled.

“The place they belong is nowhere in this world...It does not exist.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“What did you say? That is unbelievable! Hmm, well, the unbelievable has been on parade today.”

The Dark Mirror remained silent.

“This is the first time it's ever happened since I became Headmaster. What should be...Where exactly did you come from?”

“Lumiose City, in the Kalos Region,”

Crowley paused for a moment. “I've never heard of that place. I have a general grasp of where all the students came from, but I've never even heard that name before. Let's go do some research in the library.