Mithora was excited! This was the first thing exciting happening in town since the cart race nearly a month ago. A festival being held by Hunters Guild in honor of the ambassador from Iaponese would start that very morning, and Mithora was hyped for it!
The only thing that might have disappointed her was the fact that it involved ice, something she never quite appreciated. Even though Mithora was a fire type, she never liked the cold. She wore her scarf for a reason. Her friends in the past claimed that it was because she lived next to a volcano most of her life, but Mithora presumed that it was just a natural thing for Fennekins.
The whole event was being hosted at an inn called the Avalodge, unironically run by an Avalugg. Mithora practically had to drag Layron there to get him to participate - apparently he didn’t like ice either. “We’re out here to have fun, Layron, so if you really hate ice so much then find something to do that doesn’t involve it.” Mithora insisted.
The Lodge turned out to be packed to the brim with festivalgoers. All sorts of Pokemon were all about, participating in activities such as ice sculpting, apple bobbing, and dancing! Outside, other Pokemon were playing all sorts of sports. Mithora looked out at the playing Pokemon with glee, and told Layron to do whatever he liked so long as he didn’t set anything on fire. The expression was actually unironic in their perspective.
Mithora raced outside to join all the sports players. At that point, she realized a critical problem - there were arguments going on about what sport to focus on. Only a few Pokemon had made up their minds on what to play, and sadly they had abandoned the indecisive group. Thus, Mithora took it upon herself to make a new game for them which they curiously agreed to try.
She began to tell them about a sporting event they had back where she came from, where teams would compete against each other to collect the most points by bringing balls on the field to their bases. Teams would battle it out for the balls, and even steal balls from opposing bases. Thus, there were elements of offence, defence, and strategy all mixed together in one unique sport.
The group of nine was perfect for Mithora’s idea. Two teams of three would compete to see who could the most balls to their bases, which were represented by soccer nets. Referee Pokemon would periodically toss in balls of their type onto the field, with different ball types representing points. The group decided that a baseball would be worth one point, a soccer ball would be worth two, and a football would be worth three. Mithora explained that there could only be a certain number of unclaimed balls on the field at a time - the refs could only toss one football, two soccer ball, and four baseballs onto the field at one time, and no more could be put into play until the balls already put on the field were in a base. As Mithora explained earlier, thieving from somebody’s base was completely acceptable, so long as the balls were stolen physically. The game would go for twenty minutes and the team with the most balls at the end was the winner.
A bunch of flags and cones were used to mark off a playing field, which was shaped to be a large central area with two smaller squares on either end for the teams’ bases. If a Pokemon or a ball was pushed out of those bounds, the Pokemon would have to return to their base and re-enter the field from there, and the ref would have to take the outbound ball and throw it back in when appropriate. Unlike in most sports, pushing an opponent out of bounds was completely legal, especially when they either had a ball in their possession or they were raiding another’s base. It was decided amongst the group that they should set a limit of one hundred points to keep the game simple - ten footballs, fifteen soccer balls, and forty baseballs. One had to wonder why they had so many baseballs lying around... The last detail Mithora explained to them were the penalties - direct conflict was allowed, although since they didn’t have proper armor they wouldn’t use moves. Kicking, punching, and other means of combat were allowed, but excessive beating was also forbidden.
The teams were organized shortly there-after. For fun’s sake, Mithora tried to declared herself the captain of one team and her friend Dawn the captain of the other. Mithora was immediately accepted as a team captain, but Dawn just as soon refused the position. She insisted that she wasn’t good at sports with her wobbly legs, but was out here anyway just to give it a shot. Mithora insisted that Dawn could make a good leader though, even if she wasn’t going to play on the front lines. After some convincing, she accepted. Nobody else particularly wanted the position so no arguments were made.
Dawn and Mithora started choosing team members from the eight remaining Pokemon. There were two Flaffies present, so Mithora and Dawn opted to each accept one onto their team. Mithora received a Flaffy named Daffodil. Her rugged fur and stern expression seemed to oppose her name. Dawn meanwhile received a Flaffy named Dara, who seemed a bit less tough than Daffodil but eager to play, none-the-less. Mithora picked a young looking Dewott named Kati, who seemed to have an expression that either held confidence or determination. Dawn picked a Skorupi named Ariz who looked swift enough to play defense, although she noticed they had a bit of a limp when he came over. Perhaps it was just how Skorupi moved, Dawn thought. Mithora picked a Zangoose named Marcos next. He was very unique with his blue fur streaks rather than the common red, and despite his gentle-looking nature, he looked tough and swift enough to play effective defense. For an extra edge of strength, Dawn decided on the Hawlucha who was standing a bit separate from the group. He looked very serious and a bit distant but when he came over to Dawn’s group, he introduced himself as Libre and assured her that he would help lead them to victory. She gave him a confident nod in reply. As for the remaining two Pokemon, Mithora choose the Growlithe for some additional speed on her team. He introduced himself as Archen and assured her that he would be super fast. Dawn accepted the final player, an Oshawott named Ace, onto her team. He seemed a bit annoyed about being the last one picked but she gave him a rub on the head and insisted that he would probably be the most special member on her team.
Thus it was Mithora, Daffodil, Kati, Marcos, and Archen on one team and Dawn, Dara, Ariz, Libre, and Ace on the other. With all of that organized, Mithora gathered the proper playing equipment and distributed some sports padding to everyone. They put on everything from helmets to leg and arm pads and shoulder protection. At least one or two of the participants raised concern about the sport if it required padding, only to be assured that it’s just a safety precaution. In order to oversee the game, Mithora flagged down some fast-looking Pokemon and asked them to perform the task of being referee and tossing in new balls to the field when need be.
Everyone got on their respective side and they started planning. Mithora told Marcos and Daffodil to play defensive whilst the rest of them take the offensive. Daffodil objected and insisted that she would play offensive better. Kati also raised concern and suggested she play defense instead. Mithora accepted their proposition and switched their places. The group broke up and turned to the opposing team, who had opted to take a defensive strategy - Dawn, Dara, and Ariz were at the far end of the field near their base, ready to defend, whilst Ace and Libre were on the front lines. Pretty decent set-up, but Mithora failed to understand why the Skorupi was playing defense if its agility was good enough to play offense.
A ref blew a whistle and the game began. Balls were thrown into play and the offensive players rushed out to grab them. Mithora and her teammates raced forward but they were surprised to find themselves outmatched by Ace and Libre, who quickly grabbed the football and both soccer balls and raced back to their base to deposit them. Daffodil and Archen grabbed the baseballs still on the field and ran back to their base while Mithora waited for more balls to be thrown into play. By the time new points were tossed into the field, Dawn’s team had already scored points and were back onto the field while Mithora’s team were barely arriving at their base to deposit their balls. A slow start, but they could catch up.
Mithora managed to scoop up a football and baseball and rush those back to base. She was met with opposition though when Libre leaped over her head and landed in-between her and their base. She rushed forward and head-butted him, knocking him out of the way and continuing towards her base. She scored and returned to the field, where the teams were competing against each-other for the new balls on the field.
The score was now 8-7, favoring Mithora’s team. Mithora joined in on the confusion and gave Archen the opportunity to get the soccer ball back to their base. Ace took the opportunity to bring three baseballs to Dawn’s base, however. Everyone else was more concerned about the football. 10-10, in favor of nobody. Daffodil and Libre competed for the football. This was a really close game so far, Mithora thought. That is, it was until Libre performed an astounding feat of agility and pulled a sudden backflip-kick that knocked the football out of Daffodil’s grasp and into his hands, in mid-air no less. The entire movement took place in the span of seconds, but Mithora was quick to react. She charged forward and head-butted Libre as he landed on the ground, releasing his grip on the football and allowing her team to claim it for themselves.
Mithora raced the football to their base; 13-10, in favor of Mithora’s team. The game continued to progress in a similar fashion, usually favoring Mithora’s team. The footballs ended up being divided evenly between the teams, however after seven minutes of game time Dawn’s team managed to claim a majority of the soccer balls thrown into play so far. The score was 34-37, in favor of Dawn’s team. Focus started to shift to baseballs as two in hand were equal in value with the soccer balls. Mithora knew exactly what would happen in a few minutes though, at the very most by halftime. She raced back with a soccer ball rolling ahead of her and warned the defense to be on their guard, especially for that agile Hawlucha.
The score entered the forties and Mithora’s team began to bridge the gap, claiming enough soccer balls to bring the score up to make the score 42-43, in favor of Dawn. Sure enough, as she was grabbing some baseballs, Mithora turned to see Libre racing towards their base. He grandly leaped over both Kati and Marcos, who amusingly crashed into one-another trying to tackle Libre, and grabbed a football. He rushed out of their base and back towards Dawn’s. The second half had begun, Mithora thought to herself. She called out to Daffodil and Archen to go on either side of her to block Libre. The Hawlucha raced towards Mithora and, despite Mithora attempting to jump in his way, managed to leap over her and bring the football to their base. Dawn and the others cheered in excitement.
The score was 39-46, favoring Dawn’s team. They were pulling away with this now! This required a change in strategy, Mithora realized. She told Archen to back to base and play defensive, to which he nodded and rushed to join Kati and Marcus. Thus, Mithora and Daffodil were left on the field to face off against Libre and Ace. Several more baseballs were tossed out onto the field. Ace managed to grab two of them while Daffodil and Libre each grabbed one. Mithora didn’t go for any baseballs, in favor of a strategy she had. She tailed behind Ace and Libre until they had returned to their base. Mithora charged right into Dawn’s base, racing past Dara and Ariz and sliding through Dawn’s wobbly legs, tripping her up in the process, and ending up right next to a football. She grabbed it and kicked several soccer balls out onto the field before racing back to her base. The diversion of the soccer balls bought her enough time to make it all the way back. 43-46, favoring Dawn’s team.
The distraction gave Mithora’s teammates the opportunity to grab four more baseballs, bringing them one point into the lead. Ace tried to pull off the same trick Mithora pulled, but her team was coordinated enough that they were able to suppress his attack and force him out of bounds. It occurred to Mithora that Dawn wasn’t so good on her legs, Dara seemed much slower than Daffodil, and that Ariz seemed to have been walking with a limp when he had raced out to grab the soccer balls. That would explain Dawn’s team set-up then - put the strongest Pokemon out on the field while the others can keep a watchful eye on their base.
Mithora decided the best strategy at this point was to split their focus. She charged out onto the field with Daffodil behind her. The Flaffy started collecting baseballs whilst Mithora rushed ahead, attempting to raid Dawn’s base. She barged past their defense and even past the offence, who hadn’t even left the base yet. She ran behind their ball pile and the others moved to surround her. Mithora managed to grab two footballs, leaving Dawn’s team in a predicament - if they pushed Mithora out of bounds with the footballs, they would be taken out of play and tossed back in later. Six whole points lost. Dawn and Ariz were on one side of Mithora, Dara and Ace on the other, and Libre atop the ball pile. Libre made the first move, diving swiftly at her to both grab the footballs and force her out of bounds. His efforts were fruitless though - Mithora dropped one ball and hopped up above the Hawlucha with the other hanging from her teeth. He managed to grab it, but he immediately slid across the ground out of bounds. The refs immediately raced over and took the football from him.
As the refs returned to the middle-edges of the field, Dawn’s team realized something else - in the time that Mithora had been keeping them preoccupied, the opposing team had gone out and collected almost every remaining baseball! A remarkable feat of cunning and strategy that had landed them far, far in the lead. The score was declared to be 51-43, favoring Mithora’s team, with about six minutes remaining in the game.
Their team went into a panicked state. Mithora returned to her base to see Dara had joined the offensive. She, Ace, and Libre were currently charging towards their base. Dawn was shortly behind them, grabbing a football and the three remaining baseballs to even the scores. 49-51, Mithora realized. All balls were in play, and therefor Dawn’s only hope was to steal some balls from her. Libre was the first one to charge in. He jumped over the group, only to be caught short by Daffodil, who clashed with him in a fierce test of strength right on the edge of the bounds line. Ace ended up clashing with Kati, who proved not so much stronger than she was better suited for the game - she was able to easily pick the Oshawott up and toss him out of the bounds. Dara meanwhile found herself swiftly pushed out of bounds as well. Daffodil ended up losing the test of strength and was pushed out of Libre’s way, but he wasn’t able to grab a high-value ball fast enough before Marcos was able to grab him from behind and toss him out of bounds.
With three minutes remaining, Dawn’s team had to go all-out or accept defeat. They all gathered together and rushed towards Mithora’s base. There was little point in defending if they were to behind in points so late in the game. Mithora was tempted to send somebody around them to toss their entire hoard of balls out of the bounds - an absolutely legitimate strategy in this game - but she decided defending her base from this sudden show of force was best. The two teams came into contact just outside of Mithora’s base. Only Libre was able to get past them right away, along with Ace a few moments later, but their attempts at theft were quickly halted with some quick movements on the part of Marcos and Daffodil.
Dawn and Ariz were not fit for forcing their way past five Pokemon. Their strategy had quickly fallen apart. A ref blew a whistle and signaled that the game was over. Mithora’s team cheered whilst Dawn’s team felt disappointment, but then the two groups congregated together and congratulated one-another for such a good game. They had to admit it had been very close - had Dawn’s team, at any point, taken a soccer ball near the end, the score would have turned around. It was a fun game and they were all glad to have played it, though now everyone was just exhausted. They bid their farewells and went their separate ways to enjoy more of the party.
Pleased with her victory, Mithora returned to the lodge to celebrate with some more activities. She happened to notice some of the ice sculptures - some of them looked really creative and were clearly designed with the skill of master crafters. Other statues were either smaller, less impressive, or were simply of poor quality but never-the-less she enjoyed seeing all this unique artwork.
Then she noticed Layron, who was crawling atop one of the statues. He was chipping away at a statue of a Registeel, perfecting its shape and details. That was strange given that, merely a half hour ago, Layron had stated that he hated ice. In fact, Mithora went over to Layron and said to him “I thought you said you hated ice.”
“Naaaaaah ice is nice.” Layron replied before resuming the laborious task of chipping out the eyes.
A few hours later, the event began to wind down and everyone started going home. Things were packed up, Pokemon said their goodbyes. A fair portion of Pokemon, however, stayed for a little storytelling contest going on around a bonfire outside. Mithora felt a bit obligated to attend this little get-together after the party was over, for she had a very fascinating story to tell.
She and Layron walked over to the bonfire and sat down. Somebody was telling a story, although it sounded more make-believe than real.
As soon as Mithora got to speak, she raised her paw and offered to tell her own story. “This isn’t so much of a story as it is something that actually happened to me.” Mithora explained. “Do any of you know what transmutation is?” Mithora couldn’t help but smirk as a wave of murmurs spread across the group, offering her a resounding ‘no’. She gave a quick explanation of the concept - that a Pokemon changed their physical form using intense magic, with the purpose of becoming far more strong. The idea worked but the drawback was that staying in a transmutated form for too long had horrifying effects...
Mithora began to describe a warped version of a transmutated Aggron. “As you may know, Aggron are huge and bulky creatures that use brute strength to their advantage. A transmutated Aggron is even bigger and bulkier!” Her audience whispered amongst themselves, anticipating a very unique story. The Fennekin was certainly setting up her story well. “But,” Mithora continued “an Aggron who stays transmutated for too long will start to change... their armor will start to become distorted, growing brittle and forming painful spikes. They jam into its skin causing intense, maddening pain that makes the beast loose all sense of rational thinking.” Another murmur of curiosity came from the audience, much to Mithora’s satisfaction. “Some of the transmutated Aggron manage to stay sane long enough to realize their problem and reverse their transformation. But others... they resort to trying to tear their armor right off, but of course this only causes them more pain. Often times, warped Aggrons will have their armor pieces hanging limp off of their bodies, their exposed flesh festering in the open air!”
The whispers of the audience were more disgusted than they were curious. Many of them tried to imagine what an Aggron’s flesh would even look like - it was hard to imagine they had any flesh, given they always are covered in armor. The monster this Fennekin described sounded gruesome, if not pitiful. Mithora went on to explain that, at the point where they begin to tear at their armor, their minds are already too afflicted with the warping magic and they cannot change back into their normal forms. Several members of the audience asked why they couldn’t, to which Mithora replied that many had tried to fix their minds and their bodies and were met with catastrophic failure. It was nothing if not sad - the only hope for such a creature was to just put it out of its misery.
Mithora began to explain another concept to the audience - “There are these temples, these magical machines of wonder and mystery, that warp around my homeland essentially at random. These are remnants of a society powered by science and sorcery - one that discovered a way to combine magic and technology into powerful creations, but then all at once... vanished! Without a trace...” She added pauses for dramatic effect, which seemed to stir the audience to confusion. Many of them asked what happened to these Pokemon, who they were, and why they vanished. To all of these questions, Mithora had to reply “I don’t know. Nobody does. All I know is that they vanished, and that the few remaining members of their society are warped monsters.”
With her story set up, Mithora began to tell her tale. “When I was younger, my parents took every opportunity for me to get experience in combat. Once, one of these mysterious temples appeared in the mountain underneath our town. My father gathered a group of our best warriors to go in and fight off everything inside. It was common practice to delve into these temples as they appeared, usually for the purpose of preventing the warped beasts inside from reaching the surface. There was but one beast in this temple...”
Mithora paused to let her words sink in. The audience whispered amongst themselves, wondering just what happened to the Fennekin that day. Some of them became a bit skeptical as to whether her story was as true as she claimed, but others insisted that it didn’t matter - this story was proving to be interesting.
“I remember my father shouting in alarm.” Mithora went on to say. “‘Aggron!!!’, he yelled as he ran in terror. To give you an indication, my father was a Blaziken. As the Aggron stood up he was twice as tall as him, so this was a big Aggron! Bigger than any other we’ve ever seen!” The audience was breathless with anticipation. “My father leaped back as the Aggron smashed his claws into the ground! Me and my sister rushed forward and started pounding him with attacks. We split up and got on different sides of him, which worked to confuse him for a moment until... woosh!” Mithora spun around, swiping her tail at the air. “He spun around and swiped my sister up off her feet and slammed me into a wall!”
One of the audience members halted Mithora. They were confused - who all were with her at the time, they asked. Who was her sister? Mithora had to pause - she didn’t expect to be asked such a thing. “My sister was... somebody that I loved very much. It was my family and two guards down there - the other soldiers were elsewhere. My sister was a Braixen at the time and my mother a Delphox.”
“At any rate,” Mithora continued “I was up against a wall, weak from such a forceful impact. The Aggron was attacking my father, who was doing all sorts of flips and kicks to his vulnerable body. I swear, the way he moved was like a dance and like an art, although I guess they are the same.” She paused to let the audience imagine her father’s combat style - she recalled how, despite how brutal he was, her father’s fighting style could be very free flowing and genuinely like a dance. “I raced forward and struck the Aggron in the back, full force, with my Flame Charge! My father took the opportunity to slam him in the chin with his uppercut-Blaze Kick! It fell over backwards and looked defeated for a moment - we even cheered. But, then he started to get back up.”
The audience showed worry and discontent. How did they escape, they wondered. “We immediately started bombarding it with every attack we had, in the hopes of keeping it down. Eventually it got on its feet though and charged at us like a bouffalant! Everyone except one of the guards - a Bayleaf, as I recall - got impaled in the neck and was killed instantly. My father went mad at that point - he started bashing the Aggron with every attack he knew. He gave him Blaze Kicks, Focus Blasts, Fire Punches. Eventually my mother had to calm him down by attacking him with one of her psychic attacks. At that point, he was more than dead.”
Most of the audience was unsure of what to make of the story at that point. They weren’t sure whether they were supposed to be excited or whether to be sad for their allie’s fate. It was certainly a sad thing, to be slain in such a manner that the Fennekin described. “My father normally keeps the heads of great beasts that he slays, but he decided that this one didn’t deserve the honor. We carried the guard’s body out and gave him an honorable funeral. I recall that the other guard claimed he had pushed him out of the way of the Aggron’s charge.” She paused to see if she could think of any other details, but none came forth. “Well, there’s my story. Hope you all enjoyed.” She got up, turned, and left. Many of the listeners still had questions, but they would have to go unanswered. Mithora was tired and she wanted to get some rest. If they wanted answers, they’d have to come and find her later.