Eustice sat in his reading chair with Chaucer curled up on his lap. The vulpix snored as his back leg kicked out a few times. The light outside was starting to grow. No one came through the library to light candles last night. Perhaps Shade was playing tricks on the cleaning ladies again. The women refused to stay in the castle after dark whenever the haunter did that. Eustice had a horrible crick in his neck from sleeping in his reading chair. He knew he'd regret it in the morning when he made the decision last night. Yesterday when Chaucer climbed up on his lap the man was only just starting a book. It wasn't often that his vulpix showed affection in the form of napping on him. This was a rare treat and Eustice worried about waking Chaucer. The vulpix had a small temper. In anger Chaucer did things like throw his purple pillow into the pond. That's what Chaucer had done after Shade stole his evolution stone.
The sound of fluttering wings caught Eustice's attention. He pulled himself from his musing to see Thales land on his perch. The hoothoot's message carrier contained the reply he'd been waiting on. The greying man looked down at the sleeping Chaucer once more then back at Thales. The owl hooted once before leaving his perch. He landed on the arm of the chair where the old man could reach the letter. As soon as the hoothoot joined him Eustice noticed something odd. Thales's feathers were damp with sweat and the hoothoot was shaking. "Thales?" he questioned while putting a hand on the hoothoot. Thales continued to shake like he was freezing. Before Eustice could do anything more all Thales's feather lit up like a sun. The light blinding and surprising the old man. He stumbled backwards out of his chair covering his eyes.
Chaucer hit the library floor with a thud. He snapped awake twisted in a heap. Then scrambled back to his feet. The light from Thales was harsh on his eyes but he could see the form shifting in the middle of it all. When the golden glow faded away a noctowl stood on the arm of the chair. Chaucer’s eyes grew big as emotions flooded over him. The vulpix bit back tears of frustration. Thales of all pokemon evolved! Thales had never even been in a battle or trained a day in his life. All he did was go to and fro fetching things for Eustice! How did that stupid hoothoot managed to evolve when he couldn't!
“Thales! Oh my goodness! Look how you've changed!” Eustice cheered. His face broke into a smile with pride and excitement at the event. He motioned for the noctowl to rest on his arm and held him up high. “You sure are handsome, old friend. I had no idea this day was coming. We should have a celebration. I will start planning it this afternoon…”, Eustice began to plan. He had no idea all the feelings churning through his vulpix's mind.
Chaucer had to get out of the castle. He couldn’t stand looking at his king's elated face any more. He ran through the doors, down the stairs, outside and through the village. The vulpx ran without ever looking back. Some of the villages called out to him. But the vulpix refused to stop until the village was completely out of sight. Soon nothing but trees surrounded Chaucer from every side. He slumped down in the shade of an oak and considered actually crying. If anyone saw him then there was no saving his reputation. Chaucer sat moping for what he deemed hours before an unfamiliar sound approached. It was the sound of wings but too large to be anyone he knew. An odd colored Noctowl landed with grace next to him. Chaucer realized it was Thales.
"Chaucer, Eustice is looking for you. You took off an hour ago and no one could find you in the castle," Thales announced. "It is time to go home." There was an aura of happiness about the noctowl. It was obvious how pleased he was by his current evolution. This only served to annoy Chaucer more.
"Nope, I'm not coming home," the vulpix growled standing up. His tails flared up in the air mimicing his mood.
Thales's head tilted 90 degrees to the side and he asked, "Why not? You are worrying Eustice. I promised to retrieve you."
"Because," snapped Chaucer, "I am the only one not evolving!"
Thales looked confused for a moment. He thought of all the others. Chichi, Banzia, Zana and Sashay who were also not evolved. Eustice didn't put work into making them warriors. "I believe your logic is fl...."
Chaucer cut the noctowl off, "It's true. I was going to be a powerful ninetails. Then Shade ruined everything for me by stealing my opal. I hate him!" Chaucer's tone was wild as he worked himself up remember that day.
Thales remained calm but hopped from one foot to another thinking. "If that is your only problem then it is not a problem," the noctowl informed. "Opals are gemstones found in the territory of Cameron's Deep. Half a mile from where we are standing is one of the many caves that contains gemstones. If you want an opal then all you need to do is go to the caves."
Chaucer stopped breathing for a moment. Did Eustice not know this? If he did why didn't the king tell his vulpix. He set his paws firm in the ground and stared down the noctowl. "Where is the cave?" Chaucer demanded.
Thales didn't seem worried about an angry vulpix staring him down. "Follow me. If this means you will come home I will get you an opal." He flew up into the air heading east. The noctowl wove through the trees feeling comfortable in his new form.
Chaucer raced to keep up with Thales. It was only midday and the sun bounced off his bright colored feathers. The vulpix could keep up even at the speed Thales was flying. They traveled for a few minutes when a cave entrance rose from the horizon. Thales didn't pause he flew through the dark opening. Chaucer stumbled to a stop before he dove into the cave. There was no sunlight in the cave only darkness. This gave Chaucer pause. He wasn't afraid of the dark but he'd never been in a cave before.
Thales was halfway through the cave when he realized that Chaucer was not with him. He had a moment of worry trying to turn. The tips of his wings brushed the cave walls. He wasn't small enough to make hair pin turns anymore. "Chaucer. Why have you stopped?" he asked flying back out and landing next to the fox. "Your opal is at the end of this cave."
Chaucer looked between the darkness and the noctowl. The darkness mocked him for his unease. If he asked right now to go home Thales would never say another word about it. No one would ever know he was too afraid of the dank dark cave. Images of the sparkling opal flashed through his mind. Chaucer took a step forward. He could go into this strange place if it meant getting his evolution. Thales hopped along beside him on the ground. They moved slow trekking through the darkness. Chaucer’s face grimaced as his paws got wet with mud and what he hoped was water. The deeper they went the more unfamiliar the air smelled to him. He promised himself a long bubble bath once he'd evolved.
As the sunlight became too faint to navigate with Thales's eyes lit up. His eyes cast a red glow over the rocky structures and walls. The eerie colors didn't sooth Chaucer it had been easier to walk in the black. "Does anything live here?" he asked the noctowl.
"No. This cave is not conducive to wildlife. In my many trips here I have yet to run into any mineral type pokemon either. I believe this cave is empty," answered Thales. He hobbled along only keeping up with Chaucer because the vulpix was staying close. Thales eyes warmed at the unconscious movements of Chaucer. He thought back to when Chaucer first hatched. The little fox had been timid and shy as a baby. He always stuck close to Thales just like this when they explored the large castle. That was before Chaucer rebelled against Eustice. Before he started training as warrior and refused to spend time with Thales anymore.
As the last view of the entrance disappeared behind them Chaucer noticed something strange. The walls of the cave sparkled as though covered in diamond dust. Further in small gems appeared to be growing on the walls. Rubies, sapphires and emeralds dotted the whole cave. "How did you find this place?" asked Chaucer his fear turning into wonder. The cave was break-taking lit up in red and shining from every wall.
"Eustice found it. This is how Eustice pays for everything in the castle. He collects a few gems every month and sells them to traders. How did you think he fed us?" pondered Thales. His head tilted to the side again. There was no malice in his question just open curiosity.
Chaucer hung his head for a moment. He never thought about where the fluffy pillows, books and breakfast came from. That was just Eustice's job wasn't it? "It doesn't matter what I think," the vulpix mumbled. Thales half rolled his eyes at the over dramatics of Chaucer’s response. They headed further still into the cave.
The gems on the walls were getting bigger and Thales swore the back of the cave was close. "I believe opals are in the back," Thales explained. He was struggling to catch up with Chaucer now that the fox had calmed down.
Chaucer slowed down once more when he noticed something odd. It was a faint glimmer from further towards the back of the cave. He saw the glow take the shape of his coveted opal as they got closer. The opal gleamed in the darkness just outside of Thales' glowing eyes. It was the same as he'd seen when Amelia first pulled the gem from her bag. That perfect glow promising power. "The opal!" cheered Chaucer running full speed towards it. Happiness filled every inch of the vulpix nothing could make this day better.
"Wait Chaucer that's..." Thales warning did not come in time. Chaucer felt something warm, wet and slimy start at his chin and lick all the way up to his hair. , "...not an opal. It's Shade!" The glow had been the haunter's tongue ring. Nothing more than another horrible trick by the ghost.
"BWAHAHAHA!" Shade's laughter filled the cave. He took off through Thales's foresight turning him visible. He streaked past the noctowl and back towards the entrance of the cave. Shade must have been following them since Thales left the castle.
Chaucer sat on the stone floor with a disgusted look on his face. Shade's tongue smelt like three day old garbage and the smell was stuck in his nose. The artful mess of hair on his head was sticking up in a point from saliva. Bits of purple ectoplasm dripped from his chin to the ground. Chaucer hated that ghost so much. He hated him and his stupid jokes.
Thales hobbled up next to him and held one of his claws out on the ground in front of the vulpix. When the noctowl pulled it back a small opal lay in its place. "What is this?" demanded Chaucer anger filled him again. Now Thales was playing jokes on him too! Fire threatened to spill out from behind his eyes.
"An opal," said Thales with that new head tilt of his. "Your words were you needed an opal to evolve. I have brought you an opal. There might be a bigger one if this is too small." The noctowl blinked a few times not sure why Chaucer was getting angry.
Chaucer thoughts clicked together. Thales wasn't at the castle when Amelia was there. He'd been away on a deliver for Eustice at the time. Not returning home until a week after Shade's theft. Unless Eustice had told him the story there was no way for Thales to know about the magic of the opal. Chaucer looked down at the opal on the ground. Thales had shown him this cave with every intention of helping the vulpix evolve. There was no cruel joke here. Only a noble friend trying to be as helpful as always. "No this opal is perfect.," Chaucer picked up the opal with care, "Thanks. We'd better get home and not worry Eustice anymore."