Changed my mind on the expositional dialogue since it wasn't actually that long.

Chapter 32: Goal Within Reach

While we were crossing the sea, Lapras explained how he had met Wigglytuff before. Back when Wigglytuff and Chatot were first exploring Brine Cave, Lapras had been lingering nearby, near the cove where the pattern was.

"That Kabutops and his gang attacked them without warning. Chatot reacted first, shielding Wigglytuff, but was knocked out in the process. Wigglytuff easily overpowered them after that. But with his partner knocked out, Wigglytuff began to panic because he didn't know what to do. I stepped in and helped heal the worst of Chatot's wounds."

I nodded, "So that's how you met Wigglytuff?"

"Yes. I didn't intend to reveal myself at all… But I changed my mind the instant I saw Chatot on the ground. I simply had to help. Afterward… I made Wigglytuff promise me something."

"What was it?"

"I recognized right away that Wigglytuff and Chatot were an exploration team. I couldn't tell what they're true intentions were, but I asked them, for the sake of the world's peace, that they not investigate the pattern that was inscribed on the wall. Wigglytuff promised to honor my request, most agreeably. He said he owed me thanks for coming to Chatot's aid, and that he would stop all investigations into the matter."

"But why didn't you want anyone to investigate the pattern?"

"In the Hidden Land… is Temporal Tower where Dialga reigns. Dialga feared intruders could wreak havoc at the tower that regulates time. Dialga decided to protect Temporal Tower. He hid the Hidden Land in a gap in time."

I tilted my head, "What does that mean?"

"It is hard to explain, but… It is a gap in time itself… It's the space between parts of a split second."

Grovyle nodded, "I see. No wonder the place couldn't be found. A gap in time… No one could ever hope to go to such a place."

Lapras looked back at us, "No. Dialga left one key for entering the Hidden Land. That's a special fragment with a mysterious pattern etched into it."

"Meowth's Relic Fragment?"

"Correct. The night before the rest of the guild arrived, Wigglytuff came to Brine Cave and explained to me that time was stopping all over the place and that the world was in grave peril. He explained that the Time Gears needed to be taken to Temporal Tower in order to stop it. He asked me to reveal how we could get to the Hidden Land. Understanding the situation, I told him that the Relic Fragment chooses who goes to the Hidden Land."

I looked at the Relic Fragment, "But if it chose Meowth, then how can I use it?"

"Because you and Grovyle have a mission to prevent the planet's paralysis and Meowth gave it to you willingly. Had the Relic Fragment been stolen, it would be rendered useless."

"Wow. I just wish that Meowth was hearing this too. He'd be surprised."

We moved across the water in relative quiet for the rest of the night.

-The Next Morning-

"Hey, Lapras."


"You've been swimming a long time. Are you doing okay?"

"I'm fine, Rio. No need for concern. Because we're almost there. See? It's coming into view!" I looked forward while Lapras continued, "On the far horizon. Do you see where the sea looks a little different?" Grovyle followed my gaze, "It's true! The waves… The waves are all twisted up!"

"What is that, Lapras?!" I asked.

"The edge of the gap in time. That is the portal through which we will go to the Hidden Land. Okay! Here we go!" Lapras swiftly sped up and gradually lifted out of the water.

I gawked, "Lapras is flying!"

Grovyle shook his head, "No! That's not it. This… This isn't flying! We're crossing the sea of time!" Everything flashed white for a brief instant before a giant landmass appeared in front of us.

Grovyle said, "Lapras! Is that…! Is that the Hidden Land?!"

"Yes! We're going in!" Lapras flew to the edge of the Hidden Land and turned sideways, allowing us to jump off his back. Grovyle and I looked around.

I was in awe at the land around me, "Th-the Hidden Land…"

Grovyle was equally in awe, "We finally made it here."

Lapras tilted his head up, "Please… look ahead."

We followed his gaze and saw a massive, deep blue tower floating in the sky on a mass of rocks. Grovyle asked, "Is that… Is that perhaps…"

"Yes." Lapras answered. "It's Temporal Tower."

"…That's where Dialga is… That's where we have to go. The Time Gears have to be taken there."

I looked at the distinct distance from the peak of the mountain to the lowest rock of the floating mass. "But… That place… seems to be floating in the sky! How are we supposed to get there?"

"You must take the Rainbow Stoneship." Lapras said.

"The Rainbow Stoneship?" Grovyle asked.

"Yes. Far ahead you will find the Old Ruins. There you will find an ancient mystical vessel, the Rainbow Stoneship. It will take you to Temporal Tower."

I bowed my head slightly in thanks, "Thank you, Lapras."

"This is the extent of what I can do for you. From here, you're on your own. Good luck on reaching Temporal Tower!"

I nodded, "Okay." I turned to Grovyle, "Grovyle, we're almost there! Let's keep pressing on!" He nodded and I replenished my items at the Kangaskhan Rock and wrote in the Adventure Log before walking forward with Grovyle into the forest of the Hidden Land.

The enemies in the Hidden Land were tough, even with all of the training that I've had. Unless Grovyle and I worked together, it was too much for either of us alone. Several of the Pokémon had Fire-type moves, so I needed to cover Grovyle while he protected me from getting cornered. Even with Wide Slash, most of the Pokémon were strong enough to shrug it off and gang up on me.

I got knocked out once while we were in a narrow passageway. Grovyle had to defend me alone while my injuries were healed by a Reviver Seed. I actually got up while it was half done so we could get away. It also didn't help that there were invisible traps everywhere. Forget the Old Ruins, getting to the waypoint was a difficult time for both of us. We both sat, resting from the trials of the first half.

Quite a far cry from Brine Cave… If the enemies here are this tough, will we even make it to the top of Temporal Tower? No! I can't start thinking like that! We WILL make it to the top and stop the planet's paralysis because if we don't, then all will be lost.

With some effort, I managed to get to my feet and walk up to the Kangaskhan Rock. I wrote in the Adventure Log and Grovyle got up and nodded. We pressed on, moving through the second half of the Hidden Land's forest.

-Grovyle's POV-

The fact that traversing the Hidden Land is so difficult is less than encouraging.

I knew that crossing the Hidden Land would not be easy, but I didn't expect there to be so much opposition. Coupled with the fact that we will have to fight our way up Temporal Tower and most likely fight off Dialga, the odds are not in our favor. Looking at Rio, I kept that last piece of information a secret. He already seemed to realize that we might not make it.

I was impressed that Rio had learned some new moves to attack multiple opponents. It helped with whittling down large groups to take them down before they could take us down. Even without Meowth, he's adapted well to fighting without the extra back-up.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally reached the entrance of the Old Ruins. We walked past the images of legendary Pokémon and Rio looked at them with a chuckle.

I asked, "What's so funny?"

"Just wondering how many of these Meowth already knows about. I'm betting he knows more than half. I know that he's already seen a Groudon." He said, placing a hand on the image of Groudon.

We continued on and I said, "Like Lapras said, this is the Old Ruins. The Rainbow Stoneship should be here."

Rio nodded, "Right! Let's go then!"

We soon reached an outdoor area where a grand staircase led up. Rio gawked and said, "What is this place…?"

I answered, "I'm not sure myself, but… I would imagine… It must be the temple of the Old Ruins."

He nodded, "Let's move on."

We reached the top of the stairs and Rio looked at the floor and then at the Relic Fragment.

"The strange pattern is here too." I said. There was a small hollow in the center. Rio suddenly moved toward the edge of the platform. "Hm? What is it, Rio?"

He pointed, "There's a stone tablet over here with some writing on it. I don't know what it says, though."

I looked closer, recognizing the runes instantly, "This is inscribed with Unown letters. It's written in an ancient language."

Rio turned to me, "Can you read it, Grovyle?"

I nodded, "Yes. I've researched extensively to learn about this."

He smiled, "That's great! Please, read it."

I nodded, "Give me a minute." I looked closely at the tablet and read the runes inscribed on it. After a few moments, I said, "I've got it. It appears this place itself… This is the Rainbow Stoneship."

"Really?! This whole place?!"

I nodded, "Yeah. That's right. That indentation there; this is where it goes." We walked over to it and I continued, "Fit that fragment with the strange pattern on it into the indentation. That will activate the Rainbow Stoneship. We can ride it to Temporal Tower… That's what it said on the tablet."

Rio nodded, "Okay." He started unfastening the Relic Fragment and took a step forward.

A new voice called out, "That's quite enough of that."