In Postwick, there is a house that is haunted.
Nobody has lived there for many years now - at least, this is what the children whisper to each during sleepovers, swathed in blankets and with a torch to their chins.
Once, there had been a family who, like many of the other families around them, tended to crops and herded wooloo for a living. Once, there had been a boy who dreamt of leaving his hometown to become a champion, as so many did.
Once, there was a boy who did not return home.
There is a small cottage in Postwick, built right by the edge of the Slumbering Weald, that is haunted. Not by polteageists or litwicks, or even the small fairy types that sometimes clamber out of the mushrooms and trees in the Slumbering Weald. Sometimes at night, you can see a light shining from the windows, and the silhouette of a boy pacing a room.
The adults will not say anything if asked, only hush children and remind them to listen to them. That there are far more dangerous pokemon in the world than wooloos and rookidees. That the shining arenas on their televisions are just that, a performance, and to not dream of fairy godfathers who will visit with a sponsorship letter. That death is as much a part of being a trainer as winning and losing is - and no, they will not be getting a charmander on their birthdays.
Tonight though, there is no child wandering around its dusty rooms. For the first time in years, smoke creeps out of the cottage's chimney.
Leon does not recognise the sender's number when the text comes in. Its message is simple, but effective.
He died because of you.
His rotom tells him that the number was registered only a few hours before, and that there are no social media accounts linked to it.
Leon, undefeated champion of the Galar region for some sixteen years and greatest trainer of all of Galar, continues to make small talk at the party he is in for another ten minutes even though his handler is nowhere in sight (a yamper, a well-trained yamper is all he is) before making his excuses to leave - a sandstorm in the Wild Area which he needs to train in, they all understand. He almost runs to his penthouse apartment but forces himself to take deep even breaths the whole walk back. He does not even bother turning on the lights after he slams the front door shut. In the dark he hangs up his cloak and puts on a black jacket, the one with the wide hood he uses when he needs to go incognito. He opens the window and thumbs open the pokeball.
Leon climbs on his charizard and flies home.