Chapter 29: Boot Camp

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Chapter 29: Ground Rules

The next day, there was a knock at the door and (Y/N) could guess exactly who it was. She had spent the previous evening informing her Pokémon about the training camp. While they weren't exactly thrilled about a bunch of males invading their space, save for Deuce and Ace who had spent time there previously, the prospect of having the dorm fixed up was too tempting to resist.
"I'm coming!" (Y/N) shouted, the baby Pokémon and Grim right behind her. "Let the show begin."
She opened the door and Rook stepped inside first.
"Bonjour! (Y/N), Grim, and tiny monsters! Thank you for allowing us to stay with you for the next 4 weeks. Please take care of us."
Grim crossed his arms as the babies began sniffing the newcomers (Cufant ran straight for Kalim). "This is for my canned tuna. It can't be helped."
"And dorm repairs." His dormmate added. "Welcome, I guess."
Vil stepped inside next with Epel. Vulpix was the only one brave enough to approach him, while Applin and Jangmo-oh were circling Epel. The blonde glanced around.
"Oh my, it's cleaner than I expected, what with all the beasts running around..."
"Please excuse our intrusion." Epel said as the trainer sighed, eyeing her fellow dorm leader.
"This is gonna be a long experience."
"Cufant!" Kalim beamed, hugging the little elephant who was excitedly blowing her trunk. "Woah, the ceiling is so low. If I came in on my magic carpet, I would hit my head!"
"Ha..." Jamil sighed as he held Shinx, who had demanded it. "First off, stop trying to fly indoors. (Y/N), I'm terribly sorry, but would it be possible for me and Kalim to be put in the same room? Or for us to have rooms next to each other? There is less security here than at Scarabia since you don't have to go through the Mirror Chamber."
"Sure." She answered. "Me and my Pokémon already cleared a few rooms out, so you should be fine. Also, I'd argue there's better security because a few of my Pokémon and the ghosts don't have to sleep."
"Yeah, you worry too much, Jamil!" Kalim insisted. "I haven't been targeted since I've entered the school, right?"
"I'm not worried about you. I'm worried about my position as your servant if anything were to happen to you. Just because nothing happened before, doesn't mean it'll be the same today."
Ace and Deuce then stepped inside.
"Excuse us!" Ace cheered, his voice luring Raboot to them.
"(Y/N), thank you for letting us stay over again." Deuce said as Raboot greeted his dormmate. "Here, something from Trey."
He handed the girl a box, the scent luring the babies to their trainer. As they nudged her to get a better look, Grim climbed to her shoulder.
"Hm? Smells like something nice and sweet inside the box."
"It's Trey's special chocolate cake and apple pie." Ace explained as Applin began to get super excited at the prospect of apple pie. "He wanted us to take this as a thank you for letting us stay at your dorm. He's like a mom. Let's all eat it together later."
"Nyahaha!" Grim cheered. "I'd expect nothing less from that glasses guy!"
(Y/N) smiled. "That was very sweet of Trey. I'll be sure to thank him later."
Vil then came and plucked the box from her hands. "Unfortunately, I will be confiscating that."
"Heh!?" Grim yelped as the little one's began yapping angrily. "Why!?"
"Honestly, Trey is the same as ever." Vil said, rolling his eyes. "You need to be wary about the type of man who will just spoil everyone, thinking it's all well and good."
"Don't tell me you're gonna be like Riddle and follow some dumb rule and throw away our food!" Grim growled. "I can't forgive someone who's horrible with food!"
"Huh? What are you talking about? I didn't say I was going to throw it away. We are going to have a very important discussion before training camp begins, so please gather in the lounge with all of your belongings."
They all dragged themselves into the langue, which has been recently finished. Ampharos was in her usual spot near the fireplace, Swampert was waiting by the stairs, Luxray and Absol had the couch, Gengar, Marshadow, and Dragapult occasionally fazed in and out of the walls, and Crobat hung from the ceiling. Epel and Rook were obviously dazed by the ghosts. Seeing the rest of the group walking in, Absol, Luxray, and Ampharos headed upstairs and Swampert joined his trainer by the couch.
"Well, Vil, what is it?" Kalim asked as Cufant stayed by his leg. "What is the important thing you want to talk about?"
"Everyone, please open your bags." Vil ordered.
"Eh?" Ace said in surprise. "Wouldn't it be better if we unpack our luggage in our rooms?"
"It's fine. Just open it." Everyone reluctantly unzipped and Vil's face fell. "I knew it..." he glared at the Heartslabyul duo. "Potatoes number 1 and 2. What is all this? All these snacks and carbonated juices. Cookies, candy, and even snack bars!"
"I get hungry at night..." Deuce said bashfully. "And Tyranitar likes sweets..."
"I thought we could all eat these snacks together since we are all staying here for training camp." Ace said.
Vil then turned to white haired boy. "Kalim, most of your bags are completely full of Tupperwares of food."
"Oh! It's fried buns and flour confectionery treats called Kunafa. Jamil made them! With nuts, cheese, and cream on top! I want you and the Pokémon to try some!"
The babies all ran to Kalim when food was mentioned, though Crobat dove down to make them behave.
"Jamil didn't seem to bring any food, but..." The dorm leader rummaged a bit further through the bag. "What is this, wrapped in this large cloth?"
"It's a set of magical medicines and herbs, so in case of an emergency, I can make a quick antidote."
"Jamil, I have Pecha berries that can cure all types of poison." (Y/N) said. "And Pokémon that can cure effects like that."
"I suppose, and with Vil being so talented in potion making, but it is better to be prepared."
"How off-putting..." Vil said. "Very well. Epel, you didn't bring any sweets, right?"
He fidgeted like a scolded child. "Um...y-yes...but...I did bring a few dried apple chips I made myself..."
"Nuts and dried fruits are okay just as long as you don't eat too much. Finally, Rook, I trust you, but why is your only luggage a thick photo album and a camera...what is this?"
"Haha!" The eccentric male laughed. "It's a collection of my life's work. I wanted to take it with me wherever I go. It's private, so it would be embarrassing to open it up here. Besides, taking up residence in the dorm will allow me to photograph and study all of Stone's magnificent beasts!"
"Pardon me, I have no intentions of invading anyone's privacy."
"He says while looking through everyone's luggage." (Y/N) whispered snidely to Swampert.
"Well, now then, all sweets, drinks, and treats with sugar will be confiscated!"
"Why!?" Kalim asked. "There's no poison in them, I think!"
Vil glared at them. "Scarabia combo, all of your ideas are nerve racking! That is not the case at all! What do you think this training camp is? We have to polish both your mind and body, like a mirror to shine in the VDC! There are only 4 weeks until the event. Sweets and sugary drinks are full of simple sugars and monosaccharides that will cause weight gain. And meals with large amounts of fat and spices that will cause bad skin will not be allowed."
"Eeehhh!?" Kalim protested.
"Do not worry. I've created a nutritious, high-protein, low-calorie meal plan. I'll make sure to tighten those sloppy body lines of yours thoroughly."
"Excuse me?" (Y/N) challenged as Ace looked equally frustrated.
"Ha? But we are still growing!?"
"Oh? I grew to 183 cm without sneaking late night snacks. The most important thing for growing boys is to eat enough nutrients and get a good night's sleep. Eating all the sweets you want will lead to acne. Remember that."
"Geh..." The red head sighed. "Seriously..."
"Hey, we aren't participants, so we can eat what we want, right?" Grim asked.
Vil crossed his arms. "Do whatever you like, but please refrain from stressing everyone out by eating in front of them."
"We'll eat outside." (Y/N) assured him, which he nodded to.
Rook laughed again. "Hahaha. Don't worry, everything will be all right. Vil isn't going to make you go on some diet. His point of views on food are to give you more energy and make you feel beautiful."
"As expected." Deuce noted. "You really are preparing for us to aim for the top."
Vil smirked. "Hmph, this is preparation to you? This is just the basics. Now, take your luggage to you rooms and we will begin lessons immediately."
"Hold it." (Y/N) interjected. "I have ground rules to set if you guys are going to live here. It should be obvious it won't be just me and Grim you have to share the dorm with. It's all of my Pokémon. First and most important rule, do not aggravate them. Every Pokémon living inside has been socialized and trained to not mind human company. However, they will hurt you if you aggravate them, especially the parent Pokémon. And that includes insulting their appearances. Vil, I'm looking at you."
He glared at her, but nodded. "That's...reasonable enough."
"Rule 2, the biomes are opened to you, but try to go into them either accompanied by me or one of the senior Pokémon. A couple of the Pokémon out there can be territorial if you just stroll in there without supervision. Rule 3, the large colored containers in the kitchen are my Pokémon's food. Do not touch them."
"Good to know." Jamil said.
"Rule 4, my room is off limits. 5 of my original 6 Pokémon live in there, so if you barge in, you will be mauled."
"As if we would barge unannounced into a lady's room." Rook assured her.
"Good. Rule 5, there is a lake separated from the biomes. Do not go near it. There is an aggressive Pokémon named Gayrados that lives there. I'm currently working with him, but he has yet to be fully socialized. If you approach him, there's a good chance he will attack you."
"I know where the lake is." Jamil said. "We can show you where it is later."
"Anything else, Stone?" Vil asked.
She shook her head. "Just...get along. This building can't take much abuse."
"Well, now that is settled, let us-," Vil was cut off by the vibrations of his phone, which he picked up. "Hm? My manager is it urgent?"
He walked away to take the call, though (Y/N) kept an eye on him. He seemed excited at first, but his face quickly fell, as he became more and more frustrated. She heard the name Neige come up, and Vil looked royally pissed. He quickly ended the call and turned back to the group.
"What's wrong?" Kalim asked. "Was it bad news?"
"It was nothing." He insisted. "Now then, let's begin today's lesson."
Rook crossed his arms as (Y/N) heard the unmistakable sound of ink dripping.
She sighed. "Great..."
The group headed back to Pomefiore's ballroom to practice. (Y/N) had Gardevoir accompany them as she was a good dancer.
"Huddle up after you finish your stretches." Vil ordered. "The song we will be using for the VDC has been completed."
"The song is finished? Are we doing an original song?" Jamil asked. "Even though it's for a student music production, that's amazing."
"For the past few years, it's been a normal practice to produce an original song for the VDC. The Vocal & Dance Championship isn't some beauty contest or fashion show. It's a contest that critics your singing and dance abilities. Also, did we choose a song that suits us?"
"A song that suits us..." Deuce repeated. "That's kind of vague isn't it? What exactly do you mean?"
"Just as there are certain clothes that suit you, it will only be a disadvantage to pick a song that does not suit the vocal skills and atmosphere of your group. For example, if elementary school students started singing the blues or heavy metal, no matter how skilled they are at singing, the overall visuals and singing could be discomforting. It is just as important to choose the perfect song, so we can be the favorite of the audience."
"Oh yeah, in the competition, the winners are chosen by audience votes." Jamil remembered.
"That's correct. The winner of the VDC is chosen by everyone in the venue. The audience, contestants, and the staff, everyone will have the right to one vote for the team they deem fit as the winner."
"Every contestant?" Kalim repeated. "But isn't it possible that some will just vote for their own team? Everyone would think their team should win."
"Yes, amateurs would think that way, but when you see the skills of others, you might not have the heart to vote for yourself. The moment you see their performance, you realize, you could never truly beat them. When you see that performance and you can still lie to yourself in your heart like that, then you are truly pathetic."
Jamil nodded. "I...think I understand what you're saying."
"Lying to...yourself..." Epel repeated.
"That's why I plan to do my best, so I can proudly vote for our group. The original song is one way I plan to do just that."
"Your profile is soaring to all heights!" Rook exclaimed. "It's truly beaute! You are dazzling, Vil. May we hear the song?"
"Of course." Vil then turned to (Y/N). "Well then, manager. Can you please press play on the audio player?"
She gave him a look. "Manager?"
"Who else would I be talking to? Didn't headmaster tell you you'd be our support? If you really want the prize money, you better put in the work."
"It's for the dorm." (Y/N) growled to herself as she pressed play.
The song started and it was really good. Everyone seemed very impressed.
"Wow, amazing!" Ace said. "This is the real deal!"
Kalim was practically jumping. "It's got a good rhythm! This is so cool!"
"This genre of music is like electronic dance, right?" Jamil asked. "If we're going to make a dance to this song, urban hip Maybe hip hop jazz?"
"I'm thinking some urban hip hop with jazz, breakdancing, and a little vogue at the end." Vil explained as (Y/N) leaned towards Gardevoir.
"You understand what they're saying?"
The Embrace Pokémon shook her head.
Vil continued. "There will be 3 main vocalists. We plan to have other members on the main chorus and dance."
"Eh?" Kalim said, confused. "We all aren't singing together?"
"It's probably to keep your voices from jumbling together." (Y/N) said. "Just having the harmonies sing will make it sound clean."
"Exactly." Their leader agreed, eyeing the girl with some suspicion. "It would be difficult to harmonize all 7 of our voices. That's why we should focus on specific points."
"I don't understand anything you're saying..." Deuce admitted.
Grim nodded. "Me too."
Vil ignored them. "As for choreography, we have to prepare an original dance to match the song. I'll show you a dance video that has a similar feel of what I'd like us to do for the championship. There should be plenty of videos of professional dance groups on's one."
The video began to load, only for an ad to pop up.
Grim growled in annoyance. "I know. You have to watch a commercial ad first before you can watch the video, right?"
The ad began playing, and the boy from the last ad appeared on a white background with pink petals falling down.
"The importance of soft like snow skin. Your delicate skin needs protection against hard UVs." The narrator said.
"The magical sunscreen will make your wish come true." Neige introduced.
"Felicite Cosmetics, Precious Protection Base."
The boy smiled. "Hey, come here..."
"Hey look, it's Togekiss boy again."
"Seriously (Y/N), what is a Togekiss?" Ace asked.
"It's a fairy/flying type. I don't own one, but Cynthia does. I wouldn't mind raising one once I get back home. It's a really kind and delightful Pokémon, and it's a really good battler if you know how to use one."
Deuce pulled out the Pokédex and looked up the creature, having to do a few searches since he kept messing up the name.
"Togekiss, the Jubilee Pokémon. The evolved form of Togetic and the final evolutionary form of Togepi. It shares many blessings with people who respect one another's rights and avoid needless strife. These Pokémon are never seen anywhere near conflict or turmoil. In recent times, they've hardly been seen at all."
"Yeah, that's pretty fair." Ace said, while nodding.
"Hey, what's that?" Epel asked, looking at the Dex.
Deuce held it up. "Oh, it's (Y/N) Pokédex. It lets us look up information about (Y/N)'s Pokemon by just pointing at them. I guess you guys should take it since we've already heard all the entries about them."
Rook happily took the device. "Magnifi! This will make studying (Y/N)'s creatures much more efficient."
"So, how do you use it?" Epel asked.
This time, Jamil answered. "Just point it at Gardevoir."
Rook followed the instructions and the Dex sounded off again.
"Gardevoir, the Embrace Pokémon. A possible evolved form of Kirlia and a possible final evolutionary form of Ralts. Gardevoir has the psychokinetic power to distort the dimensions and create a small black hole. This Pokémon will try to protect its Trainer even at the risk of its own life. It has the power to predict the future."
"Black holes!?" Epel yelled. "Something like that is that powerful!?"
"Yup." (Y/N) grinned. "Gardevoirs are some of the most powerful Pokémon in my region, so I know a few powerful trainers who train them."
"How wonderful!" Rook exclaimed. "Graceful, beautiful, and powerful!"
Epel was less enthused. "Remind me not to mess with it..."
"Oh yeah." Ace said, trying to get back on track. "That guy in the commercial, Niege, isn't he going to be in the VDC? Cater said he's the hottest thing on Magicam right now."
"Hmm, he'll probably get a lot of votes in the VDC." Jamil pointed out.
"He is the representative for the Royal Sword Academy." Rook explained.
"Well, that explains the security team Crowley wants me to make." (Y/N) sighed. "Even saying the name sets people off."
"Then, he'll be rivals with Night Raven College!" Kalim said cheerfully.
"That's right." Rook confirmed. "There's no exaggeration that to claim victory, we must defeat him. However...ahhh! His red lips, his shiny hair, and his lovely smile that captivated everyone...even though he's a rival, he is beaute!"
(Y/N) chuckled. "I think Rook's got a crush. Still, he's gonna be tough to beat by the look of it."
"My canned tuna dreams are riding on this competition!" Grim said sternly. "We're for sure gonna win!"
Epel looked a bit uncomfortable as Vil looked annoyed.
"You guys, focus on the dance video instead of chatting!" As the others crowded the phone, (Y/N) heard the blonde mutter under his breath. "This time...I will not lose."
Taking a break from training, the group returned to Ramshackle. Vil isolated himself in the common room and glanced at his phone.
"Mira, Mira, please tell me..."
The phone answered. "Yes. What would you like to search for?"
"Who is the most beautiful one of all?"
"Web search results for the account with the most mentions of the word 'beautiful' is... Neige LeBlanche. Would you like to continue searching?"
Vil narrowed his eyes. "Just watch, relax and tranquil, while you still can."
Vil was startled by the noise and turned to see one of (Y/N)'s monsters looking at him curiously from the couch. It was one of the little one, the white fox, who tilted its head at him.
"Didn't your mistress teach you not to sneak up on people?"
He sighed. "(Y/N) says you're supposedly able to understand what I'm saying, but it seems you have no intentions of making that clear to me. Still..." He scratched the small Pokémon's chin, and it purred with delight. "You are the most refined looking of the small beasts. Perhaps you can inspire Epel a tad."
Break ended, and much to (Y/N)'s surprise, Vil asked her to bring Vulpix as well. Vil clapped, bring them all into the center of the ballroom.
"Let's begin the lesson, but before that, I will announce the main vocalists and dancers. I chose these individuals based on their performances in the audition. Depending on who improves before the competition, some formations may change. If you were not selected as a main vocalist, you should work on improving to take that position. First! The main vocals will be Jamil, Epel, and myself."
"Wow!" Kalim cheered. "You did it, Jamil!"
Jamil looked less than thrilled. "Me!? A main vocalist!?"
"That's right." Vil said. "Is there a problem?"
"There's no problem, but wouldn't Kalim be a better-,"
"What happened to no more holding back?" (Y/N) challenged.
He sighed. "...never mind. Understood. I will do my best to meet your expectations."
"Um, I'm not sure I'm really confident enough for this." Epel admitted. "Wouldn't someone better for this?"
"You have no right to refuse." Vil stated. "Did you forget about the promise you made to me when you first enrolled in this school? It would be an issue if you did not become the 'poison apple' to destroy him."
"...yes. I understand."
"Epel?" Deuce said, worried.
(Y/N) crossed her arms. "I'm very concerned how you phrased that."
"Aww..." Ace moaned. "I'm not one of the main vocals."
"But if we do our best, we can take their spots, right?" Kalim said. "Wow! I'm so pumped! Let's do our best as the chorus-dance team to not lose to the main vocals team!"
"That's good to hear, Roi D'Or!" Rook praised. "Your positivity is like the bright illumination of the sun!"
"Watching singing and dancing should be just as fun as doing the real thing yourself!"
"Just because it's called 'main', doesn't mean they are the main character and the chorus are just the supporting characters." Vil stated. "Every one of you should take your positions seriously, just as if you were the main character. Now that the positions have been decided, let's begin with the lesson. Watch my movements closely and carefully as I do. Manager?"
Gardevoir used Psychic to hit the play button as the boys got to work. Vil began drilling the moves into their head. Vulpix was so dazzled by the moves and even tried to copy the dancing. The hours ticked away.
"From the pose to rock the boat and down. One, two! Stop! Stop!" Vil ordered. "That's not it at all! Potato #2!"
"Eh? Potato #2, me?" Deuce asked.
"Who else would I be talking to?"
"You can call them by their names." (Y/N) suggested.
"You are so focused on your hands that you aren't moving your feet. Above all, your moves are completely stiff. Do you have a clothesline stuck to your back?"
"I-I'm sorry."
Vil then turned to Epel. "Now that we're mentioning stiff, Epel, you are as well. You need to be more loose when dancing jazz hip hop."
The short male looked down. "But, these wiggly moves are so girly. I...don't do it."
"Ha? Wiggly? Girly? You must be sleep talking. Even if that's the case, I will not listen to this nonsense."  Vil then grabbed Epel by the ear and began squeezing.
"It hurts! Please stop pulling my ear!"
"Even though it's still evening, my cute little apple is so tired. I'm just trying to help you head better."
"Vil, knock it off." (Y/N) warned.
Vil opened his mouth to say something, only to see (Y/N) preparing to signal Gardevoir to attack. Reluctantly, he let go and glared at the smaller male.
"Is that better? These 'wiggle moves' look beautiful because they help you build muscle. There's no such thing as 'only for men' or 'only for women' in terms of clothing and dancing. It's so old fashioned to be embarrassed doing a feminine dance just because you're a man. Did you time travel here from 100 years ago? Well did you?"
"No, I didn't..."
Kalim inserted himself between the two. "Aw, come on, Vil. You don't have to get so angry. Epel, I know it can be a little embarrassing at first, but once you start getting into it, it can be a lot of fun!"
"Just as Kalim said, your scrawny, weak dancing isn't beautiful at all." Vil twisted the words.
Eh? That's not what I meant-mfff!!"
Jamil grabbed Kalim, dragging him out of the crossfire and covering his mouth.
"Kalim, just keep quiet for now."
"It's decided. Epel will have a different training regime, starting tomorrow."
"Eh?" The boy said, worried.
"You will be doing ballet lessons alone until I say you're done."
"Eh? Ballet, is it a ball sport that has 6 players?"
"Read the context. Just because you have a cute face, doesn't mean you have to be cute on the inside too."
"That's eloquent way to call someone a moron." (Y/N) joked to Gardevoir, who lightly tapped her trainer on the head.
Vil continued. "You're going to do ballet like a ballerina."
"Eeehh!?" Epel said, horrified. "Me, a ballerina!?"
"I'm not telling you to stand on your tiptoes, but I want you to clean up your turns. First and foremost, throw away that fossilized mindset of yours that thinks about what is 'manly' or 'girly'."
"But doing this all of a sudden...just because you told me to...I-!"
"Heee!" Grim yelped. "He's a demon coach compared to Coach Vargas!"
Ace nodded. "He's definitely the type you don't want to mess with. (Y/N), you wanna get in there?"
She crossed her arms. "No. In some ways, I agree with what Vil is trying to teach Epel."
"Eh!? Really!?"
She gave him a blank look. "Ace, Vulpix, Gardevoir, and I are all girls. Would you call what I do very masculine?"
"I mean, I guess?"
"Then how do you think that makes me feel when I hear that? Don't you think it's a little insulting to me and the many other female trainers who work hard?"
"Oh, I guess when you put it like that."
She turned back to Vil and Epel. "Epel mindset is close minded and not adaptable. If you try to categorize things into male and female, you lose out on a lot of experiences that could help you grow. Vil's right, it's an outdated mindset."
Deuce then approached the blonde. "Um, Schoenheit senpai."
"What, Potato #2?"
"Would it be all right if I participated in the ballet lessons too?"
"Eh!?" Ace and Epel yelped as (Y/N) smiled at the bluenette.
Ace slid next to his dormmate. "Are you serious!? Why would you want to do that?"
Vil crossed his arms. "What is your reason?"
"I also think about whether something is 'manly or not'. I am one of the selected members. If we are aiming for the top, I want to give it my all."
"Deuce..." Epel said.
Vil nodded. "That's fine. Even a scarecrow can be closer to moving like a human after some bar lessons."
(Y/N) raised a hand. "Gardevoirs are actually naturally talented at ballet. She could show the boys a few things."
"That sounds acceptable." Vil agreed to. "Well then, that's all for today's lesson."
"Oui!" Rook agreed. "Let's all start heading back to the Ramshackle Dorm and have some supper."
The group were all relieved, until they found out they had to clean as well. Afterwards, they dragged themselves back to the dorm, the sun having already set.
"Ugghh!" Ace moaned. "I'm so tired! After lessons, we had to go on all four with rags to clean the ballroom floor. Vil's a demon!"
"I was forced to clean the windows as if my arms were wipers." Deuce joined in. "My arms and back hurt..."
Even Kalim was tired. "Thoroughly cleaning is so much work."
"I'm so hungry." Epel whined.
"Me too." Grim agreed.
"You all did great work today." (Y/N) tried to encourage, though she was tired too.
Rook laughed. "Hahaha! Even though it's time consuming, the cleaning has a purpose. Scrubbing the floors and cleaning the windows work to create a beautiful back. These are both part of Vil's regime to keep your bodies beautiful."
"Rook seems to understand Vil a lot." Jamil noted.
Ace crossed his arms. "I don't think it's understanding. I think he is just validating him."
Rook just smiled. "Beautiful people and beautiful things enrich me by just being around them. Beauty is powerful and sometimes seeing beauty can save you and sometimes it drives you crazy. But at the same time, it can be fragile and fleeting and as soon as you take your eyes off it, it will disappear. So that's why I just want to help and protect beauty as much as I can."
Jamil looked less than convinced. "You talk about Vil like he is a delicate flower or a work of art. Certainly he is a beautiful person, but I don't really see him as the type of person who is fleeting, fragile, and in need of protection."
"Me too." Kalim agreed. "Vil is like a diamond, stern and strong."
"You're right. Vil does not need my protection. If I were to reach out to help him, I will only be met with a 13 cm heel right to the head. What I want to protect is not Vil himself, but the beauty that he has."
"I don't understand what he's saying." Ace whispered to (Y/N).
She gave him a look. "You think I do? Maybe Rook is more the stand-in for Wallace."
Deuce nodded. "Pomefiore students are unusual after all."
Epel sighed. "I'm from Pomefiore, but I don't even understand...I think?"
Grim flattened his ears. "Well there's nothing we can do now."
Rook just chuckled. "Fufufu. The day will come when you will understand. Dazzling beauty that illuminates your will know when it's there."
The boys dragged themselves into the dinning area as Vil got their dinner ready. (Y/N) was out back with Grim, cooking some curry for their dinner. Ace groaned.
"I'm so jealous that furball gets to have curry while the rest of us starve!"
"Vil wants us to stick to the eating regiment." Jamil said, trying to shut up their complaints, but Kalim wasn't listening.
"But spicy curry sounds so good now!"
"I don't think being so hungry is helping." Deuce said.
Epel, who was also starving, noted a bright red apple out of place on the dining table. He moved to pick it up.
"Maybe we can split an apple? It might not be much, but it could probably hold us over."
As soon as he touched it, the apple burst open, revealing a small, green, reptile with yellow, oval eyes and puffed up cheeks that hissed at him. Epel yelped, falling over as the creature flew off the table and out a window. Epel shot back up.
"What was that!?"
"That was Flapple." Ace answered. "Probably should've warned you that you need to check the apples to make sure they aren't either him or Applin. I made that mistake and I still feel the bite."
"Just how many Pokémon does (Y/N) have?"
"I think somewhere around 50?" Ace said, unsure. "A lot of them are outback since they're way too big for the dorm."
The short male just sat down, no longer wanting to risk biting into a different Pokémon. After dinner, the boys were still unsatisfied as they dragged their feet through the halls.
"Ha...I already finished eating, but I'm still hungry!" Ace complained.
Kalim nodded sadly. "I get what you mean. The food wasn't bad or anything, but it needed a pinch of spice."
"The recipe was full of vegetables, fruits, and chicken breasts." Jamil stated. "That should be enough."
"He said the menu wasn't to make us lose weight, but for muscle building." Deuce recalled. "Still, I'm jealous of (Y/N) and Grim."
Just then, the doorbell buzzed, drawing the boys to the entrance. Deuce opened the door to find a ghost in a delivery uniform.
"Delivery! Is there an Epel Felmier from Pomefiore here?"
"Yes." The boy answered. "I am Epel."
"Please sign here. I have 10 large boxes for you. Can I leave them here by the front door?"
"Eh!? 10 boxes!?"
"Yes, the sender is also a Felmier. Is this from your family? They are all heavy, so please be careful when carrying them."
The ghost vanished, replaced by a wall of boxes.
"In the blink of an eye, the entrance to the Ramshackle dorm is now filled with boxes." Deuce narrated and the front door opened yet again.
"Guys, where did all these boxes come from?" (Y/N) asked as she, Grim, and Swampert walked in.
Epel looked embarrassed. "Woah! These are absolutely from gram-my grandmother. Geez, I tell her all the time over the phone, she doesn't have to send me anything."
"What is it?" Kalim asked. "Did your family send you a bunch of silk or something?"
Just then, scratching was heard from the front door. (Y/N) opened it as Appletun came trotting in with Flapple on her head. The two immediately began nudging a box as Applin rolled in to join them. (Y/N) sweatdropped.
"I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it's apple related."
Epel was too stunned at the sight of Appletun to respond right away, but a nudge from Ace got him to respond.
"Y-yes, I think. Just apples from my hometown. Maybe it's all just apple juice..."
"Figured." (Y/N) sighed as she grabbed Appletun's shell and began pulling. "Down you three! It's not polite to go rummaging through other people's stuff!"
The family trio looked at their trainer with sad eyes, but a look from Swampert put them in their place.
"All of this is juice?" Ace asked, shocked. "That's enough juice to open a stand!"
Epel then noted something on the box. "Oh, there's a letter. I wonder what it says. These didn't sell and are almost expired. Please share these with your school friends. Geez! Stop giving me unsold stock. But all this didn't sell..."
Deuce smiled. "Epel, you must be rich if they can afford to ship you all this stuff."
"Oh I see." Ace teased. "Epel probably prefers this brand of apple juice, so he only drinks this one?"
"T-That's not it at all...if you'd like, please, everyone, try some. It's 100% apple juice with no preservatives. The juice is filled with vitamins, so I hope Vil won't get angry...but I can promise it tastes delicious!"
Ace grinned. "So you do have a preference for apple juice."
Epel forced a laugh as Rook looked happy. "Merci! Monsieur Crabapple. Thank you for the treat. Say thank you to your family on my behalf."
"First, can we move these boxes into the common room?" (Y/N) asked. "They're blocking the entrance."
"Right." Jamil agreed.
(Y/N) whistled as a dark form descended swooped down from the upper levels. Epel nearly had a heart attack as a giant metallic crow with bright red eyes landed in front of them.
"Corviknight, can you take a few of these inside the common room?"
He nodded and wrapped his talons around two, easily carrying them away. Everyone else had to go one at a time. Vulpix even came running in, wanting to help. She used Psychic to lift the boxes, but it was pretty heavy, so it shook. Epel plucked it from the air.
"I think this is a little too heavy for you girl. You should let us and the big Pokémon handle it."
Vulpix pouted before head butting Epel's leg. He stumbled, causing the box to drop, only for Vulpix to catch it with Psychic again. The fox strutted away quite satisfied as (Y/N) chuckled at the shorter male.
"You insulted her."
Once all the boxes had been moved, Epel thanked everyone.
"Please drink some apple juice if you'd like. The apples have a lot of citric acid and polyphenols which help with fatigue. It's perfect for a tired body after a lot of singing and dancing...I think?"
Epel poured a cup out in a glass as (Y/N) poured a few bowls of the Pokémon. Vulpix, Applin, and Flapple shared, Appletun got her own, and Swampert and Corviknight shared since they weren't huge on the stuff. She'd give the rest of her Pokémon some later.
Deuce sniffed the air. " can smell the sweet and sour aroma of the apples just from opening the bottle."
"Such a fresh scent." Rook added. "I'll have some too." Rook took a sip and his eyes widened. "This is...C'est Bon! It's absolutely delicious, Epel!"
"Let me try! Let me have a sip!" Kalim insisted as he took one. "Ooh! This is so good! It tastes just like a fresh apple!"
Jamil also took a drink. "It is 100% apple juice, so you're correct. But yes, it's incredibly delicious."
Grim beamed. "It's so refreshing! I would drink all this juice if I could!"
"Hey, Grim! Don't put the bottle up to your mouth!" Deuce scolded.
Ace brushed him off. "Well I feel the same wanting to drink all of this juice."
"It's not too sour, nor too sweet." Rook vocalized. "It's refreshing to the throat, like a nice cool breeze blowing through an apple field. You can tell it was made with a lot of love and sincerity."
Epel smiled. "I know right! The juice is a mix of several types of apples, it's the pride of my hometown! If you mix the juice with honey, it's very good for your throat! A perfect drink for after singing practice! Ah! And not just the juice! The apples too are yumm- I mean delicious."
"Hahaha! You speak so passionately! That's good. Monsieur Crabapple. I can see you love your hometown very much!"
"But, because it's a little unknown town in the countryside of the Land of Pyroxene, we don't get much business."
"Heh?" Kalim said. "Even though it's so delicious? What a waste."
"The number of tourists visiting have been getting lower and lower every year..."
Vil then walked in. "How long do you all plan on hanging out in the lounge?...what is this pile of boxes?"
"Epel's family sent him boxes of apple juice." Rook explained. "So we all wanted to drink some."
"There's no sugar in them!" Epel quickly assured. "No preservatives either! These can't be stored for very long so...please have some Vil, if you'd like."
"Hm, fine." He said. "I'll drink some when I feel like it. To be honest, I smelled apple pastry and thought you were eating the apple pie Trey made."
"Oh that's just Appletun." (Y/N) said, motioning to the pudgy dragon. "She naturally smells like that."
Vil looked at her skeptically, only to step towards the dragon and smell. " it would seem."
"Hey, (Y/N)?" Epel said, now looking uncomfortable. "Should...should your apple monsters be drinking...apples?"
"Why would that..." She then put it together. "Guys, they're not made out of apples, they eat apples to help with their evolution. Look, I'll show you." She knelt down by Applin. "Applin, sweetie, can you come out for a moment?"
The small dragon looked at her for a moment before a small green, worm-like creature popped out of the top, smiling at the group. The boys jumped back as he burrowed back into the apple.
"See? Separate Pokémon. Completely safe."
"That's kinda weird, (Y/N)." Ace said.
"I think they're super cute!" Kalim argued.
Epel decided to use the Dex out of curiosity, starting with Applin.
"Applin, the Apple Core Pokémon. It spends its entire life inside an apple. It hides from its natural enemies, bird Pokémon, by pretending it's just an apple and nothing more. Not only does the apple serve as its food source, but the flavor of the fruit determines its evolution."
"Flapple, the Apple Wing Pokémon. A possible evolutionary form of Applin. It ate a sour apple, and that induced its evolution. In its cheeks, it stores an acid capable of causing chemical burns. It flies on wings of apple skin. It can also change its shape into that of an apple."
"Appletun, the Apple Nectar Pokémon. A possible evolutionary form of Applin. Eating a sweet apple caused its evolution. A nectarous scent wafts from its body, luring in the bug Pokémon it preys on. Its body is covered in sweet nectar, and the skin on its back is especially yummy. Children used to have it as a snack."
"People used to what!?" Epel yelped.
(Y/N) waved it off. "Relax, it comes off naturally. Think about how a snake shed skin. Same concept."
Epel still didn't look convinced but Applin rolled over to him. "Oh...hello?"
Applin chirped, hopping a bit as his parents came over. Flapple landed on his shoulder, nuzzling his cheek while Appletun rubbed his leg.
"Oh, wow, you guys are really friendly."
(Y/N) giggled. "Congratulations, Epel, you've been adopted into the Apple family."
Everyone else laughed as Vil cleared his throat.
"Well, it's almost 10 pm. Time for bed."
"We have to sleep by 10 pm?" Ace complained. "What are we? In elementary school?"
"Or Jack?" (Y/N) joked.
"If you think sleeping early is for children, then you're the one with a childish mindset. It is recommended to sleep for at least 7 hours a day to maintain beautiful skin and hair. Oh, that's right. I need to ask everyone something. What are your hair and skin care routines?"
(Y/N) froze and immediately began trying to sneak away.
"Eh? Care? What's that?" Deuce asked.
"My hair gets a bit tangled after I wash it, so I put on some hair oil." Jamil said. "I don't do anything special for my face."
"I used to have a routine when I was home, but I haven't done anything since I moved into the dorm." Kalim stated.
"You seriously leave your skin as it is after you walk all your dirt and oils off!?" He sighed. "I will give you all my personal skincare products. Make sure to use it and wash your face every morning and night. This includes you, Stone!"
The trainer stopped as Vil pulled out the products.
"Wow! Vil you made your own skincare? That's amazing!" Kalim praised.
Jamil nodded. "As expected of the Pomefiore Dorm Leader. You have a lot of knowledge on natural herbs."
"Epel and I have had flawless skin since using Vil's homemade skincare products." Rook assured.
"Yes, and the sunscreen, loose powder, lip balm, hand cream, etc..." Epel added, less enthused. "He pushed it- I mean, he graciously gave it to us."
"By the way, there are so many bottles." Kalim noted. "How do you use them all?"
"You don't know?" Vil said sternly. "It can't be helped...allow me to teach you how to wash your face. Kalim will act as a model for this demonstration. Now, watch closely and take note."
"Y-yes." They all said.
"Kalim, what do you usually use to wash your face?"
"Absolutely not. First, with a well-foamed facial cleanser, wash your face gently in circular motions. Do not rub too hard."
Vil demonstrated and Kalim began to laugh.
"Ahaha! That tickles!"
"After washing your face, wipe off the excess and apply a toner with a cotton pad."
"We are putting more stuff on my face after we just washed the foam off?"
"This is a separate approach to remove the dirt from your pores. Next is moisturizing. Use a lotion and apply some in your hands then gently press the lotion into your skin."
"Wow! It smells like flowers. It feels so nice!"
"Next is a milky lotion. We high school boys produce a lot of oil, so apply this will help reduce that."
"Haha! It's kinda funny for Vil to say high school boys."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Because you seem a lot more mature than all the other third years!"
"If you call me old, I will hurt you. Well whatever. Now that I've taught you, I want you all to do this skincare routine every morning and night. This cream case is a special care pack that you use once every 3 day before bed. Please use this hair oil by applying it to your ends and then blow dry. This body milk is for after you shower. Don't forget to apply it to your elbows, knees, and heels."
"This seems harder than doing experiments in alchemy class." Deuce mumbled.
Kalim just beamed. "Wow! After all that stuff Vil did, my face feels so much smoother! Come on! Touch my cheeks!"
(Y/N) decided to give it a try. "Wow! So squishy!"
Vil grabbed her hand. "Don't touch his face with your bare hands! Your hands are full of bacteria! Especially handling those beasts of yours!"
"Vil is just like our dorm leader in a sense." Ace whispered. "This is so annoying."
Deuce elbowed him. "He can hear you!"
The red head then tried to change the topic. "Um, Vil, you became the dorm leader because you are so good at magic, huh? Is it possible to use magic to clean your hair and skin?"
"I think you all are aware as fellow magicians that most magic and magical medicines don't last forever. Beauty that's been created by magic is nothing more than a momentary dream, but...I am not interested in magic that disappears at the stroke of midnight. What I want is genuine, pure beauty. Just like the Beautiful Queen that the Magic Mirror praised."
"If that legendary mirror were present, it would absolutely recognize your beauty!" Room assured him.
(Y/N) sighed jokingly. "It's too bad. It would take nothing short of magic to make me look good in short sleeves."
Ace grinned cheekily. "Aw, give yourself some credit, (Y/N). Your face totally distracts from your arms, especially when you're angry."
She laughed and punched his shoulder. "Shut up, you jerk."
Deuce coughed awkwardly. "Well, I think your scars look cool, (Y/N). They show how strong you are."
"Thanks Deuce."
"Scars?" Epel asked.
(Y/N) rubbed her head. "Oh yeah, I guess none of you have seen them."
"I heard rumors that you did have some on your arms." Jamil said. "Are they that bad?"
(Y/N) snorted and rolled back her sleeves. "Yeah, some."
She held them out and everyone looked shocked.
"Geez, (Y/N)!" Kalim yelled. "What happened to you?"
"Most are occupational hazards. Wild Pokémon, stray own Pokémon."
"And the burn marks?" Jamil asked.
Ace, Deuce, and Grim looked at each other worriedly as (Y/N) clenched her fist. Rook, Jamil, and Vil took notice as she quickly hid them again.
"Just...bad memories. Anyways, just as I said, there's no amount of makeup in the world to cover these. Now, if you'll excuse me, good night."
"Stone." Vil said. "I do have some creams that help scars fade out."
"I appreciate the thought, Vil, but the burn marks are the only ones that bother me. Plenty of high level trainers have scars of their own."
"...I'm sure I can find something to help."
She smiled sadly at him. "I'd appreciate that."
She then walked out, Swampert close behind. The boys looked at each other.
"Why do I have the feeling we screwed up?" Epel asked.
Ace sighed. "Because you kinda did. Look, it's none of your faults, you didn't know, but (Y/N) is super sensitive about those burn scars."
Jamil rubbed his chin. "I figured. It looks like repeated damage was done over a consistent period of time."
"Yeah." Grim said, hesitantly.
Deuce rubbed his wrists. "It's not our place to say, but...(Y/N) didn't have a great childhood. Just, please don't bring it up."
"Of course." Epel said, feeling guilty.
"Oui. Such a shame a beautiful heart like Madame Dompteur de Bêtes was wounded by another. There is beauty in the strength to survive hardships."
Kalim looked ready to cry. "(Y/N) is so nice though. I can't imagine she went through something horrible like that."
Vil sighed, his expression unguarded for once. "Sometimes, people are kind because they've suffered cruelty. Whatever the case, it would be ungentlemanly to pry. I ask that you all put what you saw out of your mind." They all nodded. "Good. Now, go to your bedrooms. Don't forget to do your skincare before going to sleep."
Grim returned to the room a bit later, and (Y/N) was back to her usual self, much to his relief. He sighed while dragging himself onto the bed.
"Fnya, it's only the first day of training camp and I'm already exhausted."
(Y/N) chuckled. "Just imagine how the guys must feel."
Grim steeled himself. "This is so I can get my canned tuna...we're going to win the competition for sure!"
It was then that singing was heard through the window, causing the Pokémon to all look in the direction of it.
"Is someone singing in the garden?" Grim asked.
"Yeah." (Y/N) said while getting up to look. "Is that Kalim?"
She opened the window, Crobat landing on her shoulder to peak, and saw the white haired male standing in the snow. She immediately grabbed her coat as Swampert followed closely behind. Running downstairs, she ran outside.
"Kalim! What are you doing out here? It's freezing!"
"Yeah! You're gonna get in trouble if Vil the Demon Coach finds you out here!" Grim warned.
"Ahh!" Kalim yelped. "Grim! (Y/N)! You heard me singing all the way from the dorm? My bad, my bad."
"It's fine." (Y/N) assured. "The walls are thin. Why are you still practicing?"
"Yeah, especially after all those lessons!" Grim exclaimed.
"It's not good for your throat to practice too much. Plus the cold air is really bad for it."
He chuckled. "Oh? I didn't know. I suppose this is a first for me. I'm...pretty disappointed that I wasn't chosen as a main vocalist."
"Heh?" Grim said, surprised. "It didn't seem like you were upset about it."
"I didn't feel this way when they first announced it. When I went to bed and closed my eyes, I just started getting more and more frustrated. I couldn't help it, so I just got up and came here to practice...this is the first time I've ever felt like this."
"Haha." Grim chuckled. "I'm guessing it's cause this is the first time you didn't get everything you wanted."
Swampert knocked the cat into the snow for his lack of tact as Kalim scratched his temple.
"'s true, but it's also's a little different. All my life, I've never thought that I was naturally going to be chosen for something. It just never crossed my mind. Any time I've ever won something, I knew it was because Jamil...let me win. It sucks. It sucks so much."
"Well it sucks even more for me because I didn't even pass the auditions!" Grim murmured through the snow.
"Oh yeah, that's right! My bad, I didn't mean it like that!"
"What Grim means to say is, you are completely valid in feeling the way you do." (Y/N) redirected. "However, if you want to feel better, let's win the VDC together."
Kalim smiled once more. "Right! I'll do my best, so please cheer me on!"
"Great." She grabbed his arm. "Now back inside before we all freeze to death!"
They all headed back inside and back up to their rooms. As soon as her head hit the pillow, (Y/N) felt her mind drift as the image of the rippling mirror filled her head.
"Great. Another one."
She jolted as she heard a loud scream. The image focused on a young girl, cornered in front of a rock and a man in a hunter's outfit bowing to her.
"I can't do it, please forgive me, your highness!"
"I don't understand!" The girl said.
"She's mad, jealous of you! She'll stop at nothing! Run away!"
The image whited out to the Beauty Queen, scowling at a concoction in a wine glass. She was in some sort of lab with a crow perched on a skull.
"That traitor! Now to transform my beauty into ugliness. Now, begin thy magic spell." In a flash of lightning, she transformed into a hideous hag. "A perfect disguise. And now...a special sort of death for one so fair. What shall it be?"
The dream faded and (Y/N) could only think:
"She did all that just for beauty!? I was right, she was vain."
(Y/N) woke up. It was still dark out, so she hadn't been asleep for very long. Just as she was about to go back to sleep, she saw Grim was no longer in his spot on the bed. She nudged Swampert, who woke up.
"Did you see where Grim went?"
He shook his head and yawned, but a rustling could be heard from downstairs. Groaning, (Y/N) got up and dragged her feet to the common room, noting that Absol was also missing from his shared bed with his family. She found him peering down into the lounge from the staircase. She walked up and petted him.
"Something wrong, boy?"
He motioned downstairs and (Y/N) looked down to see Ace, Deuce, Grim, the babies, Flapple, Appletun, Falinks, Gengar, and Ampharos all gorging on the baked goods and carbonated drinks.
She clicked her tongue.
"Are you morons crazy!?" She harshly whispered, quickly going downstairs. "Did you stop to consider what would happen if Vil catches you!?"
Ace ignored her. "Oh, hey (Y/N)! We saved you a piece of the cake. Try it! It's delicious!"
She facepalmed. "You're playing a dangerous game. Wait..." Her eyes drifted over to Absol. "If Absol was drawn over here, then that would mean..."
The lights flicked on.
"Oh my, who could possibly be in the kitchen at this time of night? Little mice perhaps?"
"Fnya!" Grim yelped. "That voice is...Vil!"
He glared at the boys. "Bad boys who can't keep their word get punished."
Vil raised his magic pen before (Y/N) whistled.
"No magic duels in the dorm!" She then glared at her friends. "Though I get your anger."
"We're still growing!" Ace insisted. "It's normal for us to get hungry in the middle of the night!"
"As a Heartslabyul student, I cannot ignore Trey's handmade sweets!" Deuce justified.
Vil crossed his arms. "It's about time."
"Huh?" Ace said. "Time for wha-Ugh!?!"
Along with the trio, the Applin family, Vulpix, and Ampharos all collapsed. Gengar and Cufant were completely fine, while Jangmo-oh and Falinks, while looking like they had some stomachaches, remained standing. (Y/N) immediately raced to her Pokémon.
"Vil, what did you do!?" She demanded, cradling poor Vulpix.
Absol growled at Vil.
"Gah! My body...can't move..." Ace struggled to say.
"Guh..." Grim moaned. "I can't stand up..."
"It hurts..." Deuce added in.
"Did you poison the food!?" Ace yelled as Vil handed a vial to (Y/N).
"Here, this will cure them." (Y/N) didn't even glare at him, immediately grabbing the vial and administering the antidote. "And it's not poison. It's a curse."
"A c-curse?" Deuce repeated as the Pokémon relaxed, their symptoms now relieved. "Why is there a curse on the food?"
"This is my unique magic, Fairest One of All. With this magic, I can put a curse on anything I touch. And the curse cannot be lifted until certain conditions are met, in this case, administering an antidote. This curse is on all the food that I collected. Any fool who puts this in their mouths will not be able to move until I give them the antidote."
"Is that even possible!?" Deuce asked.
"That is scarier than poison!" Ace exclaimed. "It didn't change the taste at all!"
"I told you to refrain from eating sugar and additive filled foods until the VDC, did I not? You truly don't understand what it means to be selected members. As punishment, roll on the hard floor until morning."
"I was forced to eat it!" Deuce insisted.
"No excuses. You are all at fault. However, it is unfair for Stone's creatures to suffer for your idiocy. And I didn't see Stone eat any of the food.
(Y/N) was still crouched over Vulpix and the Applin family who looked over the worst of it, but were still a bit sluggish.
"You say it's a curse, not poison, but it seems to have the property of poison."
"That is correct." He approached her, looking down at the four. "Are they all right? The antidote should have cured them."
"Vulpix is part fairy type, while the Applin line are part grass type. They're especially susceptible to poisons. It's also why Gengar and Cufant were fine. You can't poison a poison type and steel is immune to the stuff. Jangmo-oh and Falinks are fighting types so they resist the stuff."
Vil rubbed his chin. "I see. I apologize. I didn't anticipate them sharing the dessert with your creatures. I would've accounted for them in the curse had I known. I'll brew a remedy that should help and update the curse in the morning."
"Please do." (Y/N) said as she scooped up Applin, Flapple, and Vulpix before glancing at Ampharos. "Will you be all right?"
The electric type, who now looked completely fine, nodded.
"Good. Come on guys, let's get you to my room. Corviknight! I need you to carry Appletun upstairs!"
The steel/flying type swooped in, plucking up the chunky dragon and heading upstairs, Absol and (Y/N) close behind.
"Fnya!" Grim cried. "Don't leave us!"
"Silence!" Vil ordered before sighing. "Good grief. Why do you all like to behave in such an unattractive manner? I can't understand this at all."

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