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The early-evening Moon casts her light down unto the Glimwood Tangle, a faint disc watching over the dense foliage and all creatures great and small in nature's hold.

"No, but really, can you imagine, " comes a voice that refuses to stay still, "a poison type. Harnessing the will of the Fair Ones? I'd have never believed it if mum hadn't shown me hers!" The girl grins, enraptured by life's green spring and left to twirl in place in place of trying to make sense of it all. "They take in the dirt of the air, and make it clean again, isn't that wonderful?"

"Well," says another, floating gently beside her. "That's just the way of things, isn't it? They get broken down, then broken down again so the parts can add back up to something new?"

"A new what, then? Can't it be a new vessel of, and I repeat, fairy magic?"

"Fairies aren't magic, Opal."

"Wot! Of course they are."

"Only as magic as ghosts."

Opal circles her head in emphasis of how she rolls her eyes at him, turning to walk backwards with a tsk, tsk, tsk. "'Aight, so what are ghosts, then?"

Allister takes a moment's pause. "Well…."

"You don't know, do you?"

"Oi, I think I'd know better than you," he crosses his arms, toothless.

"You have no idea."

"You don't either…."

"Fair enough."

After a few long, dragging moments of walking in silence, Allister speaks up.

"But there are rules to these things, though, and there's no rules to magic. Fairy types are weak to steel and poison, and ghosts can't interact with the tangible world without some kind of allowance. Like how you can't move from the spot where you die until you find your body and you're at peace, and whatever." 

Opal turns on her heel to face him.

"You can't leave?"

"Nope."

"But.…we've been to Ballonlea. I went with you?"

"And that's in the Tangle, isn't it?"

"… How long have you been stuck in the Tangle?" 

"A while," he says, looking down at the dirt rolling along with the light brush of his feet. No amount of squinting and wanting makes a footprint impress on soft earth. "By the calendar in the Centre? … Fifty years?" He shrugs, mumbling into the collar of his borrowed jacket. 

" Fifty years!"

"… Somethin' like that…."

"B…. Well where's your body then?"

"W- Opal, it'll be long gone by now…."

"Oh, nonsense . Spoken like somebody without a friend who is An Absolutely Excellent Finder as I! Lucky for you, we have daylight to burn." 

"W-wait, I really don't think you should--"

Opal is already charging ahead into the fray, her trusty morgrem at her hip, boundless enthusiasm lighting her way through the woods. Allister can only hope that lighting the mushrooms along her path will keep her from tripping face-first out of her daydreams. "Come, Allister! Your body isn't going to find itself, I need another set of eyes, right?"

He, for better or worse, follows.

*

Opal, in her ten years of life, has never truly seen a body to know how to find one. She has been bored to (if insensitively) death at funerial functions for old colleagues and family friends-of-friends with no children of their own to speak of, leaving a little girl in a poufy black dress to sit at the back of the parlor with a glass of juice while the adults go off and weep their goodbyes. So sad, they seem. So, so sad.

Their sorrow informs her scripts, the plays held and hosted by Ballonlea stadium including tales of love and loss and agony. The aspiring actress learns from tales of woe that emotion is meant to be deep and expository and all-encompassing without a clue of how those words feel. When Juliet lay upon her pyre, what separates her sleep from true repose? The actress simply gets up again, and Allister, masterful actor in his own right, has done just the same here. Do they "die" because we say they do? Saddened by a nap, a pitiful existence, that. If all things are so supposedly finite, shouldn't the sadness be as well?

She searches high and low, over hill and under tree, in the valleys and crags in the ground and past a few dozen morelull waving their hellos, and Allister follows. She'd bet his body looks just lovely, being Allister, with those violet eyes of his. Perhaps with a bouquet of wildflowers held to his chest, close to his heart, posed under a blanket of moss just waiting to be uncovered. Like a secret kept between him and the thicket, patiently waiting in quiet sleep for someone to wake him up again. Lain in a bed of sweet pink roses, resting until time has turned just right for the two of them to meet. She'll take his hand, and help him to stand by her side as he's been meant to do all this time.

That is not what she finds.

It's been hours. Hours upon hours, cycling through every inch of the Tangle, and they've nearly found themselves in Stow-on-side. Allister shakes his head, lightly, finally about to tell her that she’s done enough, she best head home, now, when his breath catches. 

He has been here before. He knows, even before inspecting the area, that he recognizes this place, and it fills his chest with molten lead. It’s uncanny. The decades have brought forth new life, flora and fauna that have shifted the soil beneath them, but this very spot has been branded into his memory with a fire poker and he can feel its scalding edge sink deeper and deeper into the wound. 

Opal looks at him, but only has a moment before he takes a long drag of Sinistea’s tea and yanks her by the collar into a bush. 

What do you think you’re doing?!” she whispers, in a tone loud enough to be heard the next city over. 

Allister, however, can barely hear her over the sound of blood he does not have rushing in his ears. “Those footprints.”

“What?”

He shakes his head, nonono, and presses the button on Dimple’s pokeball. The morgrem stretches a bit, looking around the small clearing. “They can see you, but you can’t see them.”

Opal poises her pokeball to return Dimple to his home, but he appears to be sniffing along the ground for something. Behind a bigger bramble bush, more morgrem emerge and come together. Dimple stumbles up to the center of the site, simply to see what is there.

Bones. 

Not just any bones, Sinistea translates, listening hard to the conversation. These are special. They’ve been here for a few generations now, imbued with… ectoplasm, more or less. They each take a splinter when they evolve as a rite of passage, so they can get a. Taste, for ghost pokemon. 

Absolutely everything in Allisters body says to run away. Run away, run far away from this accursed spot, how dare you let your gift be so. So, so mutilated, and violated, used as a tool of destruction. How many have died because of your carelessness? How many beings have suffered?

Allister’s first instinct is to run away, but Opal’s is to run up and inspect these decayed remains the moment the morgrem have gone. She’s gathered the few fragments that are still in tact into a small pile in her hand, sifting through the dirt and dust to uncover any more. 

She’s taking her sweet time. 

His hands ghost over his chest, a spot plain between the ribs where he’d found himself vulnerable to the tangled vines of grimmsnarl’s vice of a grip. It was so quick, the images flashing before his eyes the more he dwells on it, the fire and ferocity before the flood, and flood, and flow of the life right out from aching bones. He’d fallen asleep to forget. 

He has not forgotten, and refuses to see it happen again. 

With all the strength he can muster, he drags Opal away from the morgrem’s grounds and bolts into the depths of the Tangle, toward Ballonlea. He does not look back.

*

The pair arrive at the mouth of the forest, where the morelull cross over a sliver of moonlight, Pokemon Center in sight. Opal drops haphazardly to the ground when Allister’s arms finally can’t support her leaning anymore, himself tumbling into the dirt and letting his face stay buried.

“Look, Allister! I got some! What do you think…,” Opal glances over to his weeping into crossed arms. 

“Ay, Alli, look here! Alli. Hey. ” She waves a hand in front of his face, but he refuses to quit his crying. She hazards to think it’s almost irritating , really, that sound. The sound of…

Sobbing. 

Deep, uncontrollable sobbing. 

She pockets the pieces she’s found, laying them carefully in the front zipper pouch of her pale pink bag, and zips them away. She’s not completely sure what’s compelled her, but it feels like the proper thing to do.

The only other proper thing , then, is to help Allister lift his mask long enough for her to wipe his tears, and to offer to hug him until the tide rolls back out.

*

She keeps them. 

The fragments of her friend, she keeps them for eight years before she realizes the magnitude of what she holds in her hands. But a bag is no place for a corpse, so she’s certain. She saves the largest piece she can salvage, and takes the rest outside. 

Buried deep in the ground, a tragic memory is lain to rest and marked with a bed of purple and yellow zinnias.