NB: There are no pictures because Tumblr is being a jerk. Will attempt to do something about it later.
The Castelia City Gym I remember was… odd. Its residents, a group of clowns who specialise in Bug Pokémon, had modelled the place after a beehive, with hexagonal rooms divided from each other with walls of gluey honey, which challengers could walk through, but only with difficulty. I always found these honey walls tremendously bothersome, since they don’t actually present a puzzle to be solved or a maze to navigate the way most Gym features do, but still slow you down significantly as you move around the building. When Jim and I step into the Castelia Gym, we note that the honey walls are nowhere to be seen, and realise that Burgh has been busy over the last two years – and the other Gym Leaders probably have been as well. The inside of the Castelia Gym is now wreathed in fine white thread, as though some enormous spider has taken up residence – and, hell, for all we know, that’s exactly what’s happened; Burgh’s probably been making some new friends. With this in mind, we enter – slowly, carefully. The clowns are nowhere to be seen. Perhaps Burgh has eaten them. Such a… tragedy. Yes. Quite. The ground level of the Gym is empty, but for a few woven cocoons, connected to the upper levels by long, thick cables of silk. One is inaccessible, separated off by an impassable silken thicket, but the closest cocoon seems to have two openings in it. Jim and I glance at each other and unclip Jaime and Ulfric’s Pokéballs from our belts before walking gingerly up to the thing. Jim touches it cautiously; his hand comes away sticky, but the cocoon doesn’t react. Hmm. Step by step, I move around the cocoon to examine the rounded opening, and-
OH DEAR LORD IT’S EATING ME!
Through some inexplicable force of suction, the cocoon draws me in, swallowing me whole before I can jump away and leaving behind nothing but a strangled screeching noise. I feel myself being dragged upward, though the silken ‘cable’ which I now realise is a hollow tube. Convinced that I have been snared by the monstrous spider Pokémon which has certainly taken over the Castelia Gym, I start kicking as forcefully as I can and try to twist my body around in hopes of wedging myself halfway up the tube. I pop open Jaime’s Pokéball, screaming through the muffling silk for him to cut us free with Razor Shell, and wrench my ensnared hand down to my belt in hopes of finding Barristan or Tyrion. I hear Jim, faintly, through the silk as he calls for a Cut from Ulfric. Jaime, now out of his ball, is squirming for his scalchops but can’t reach them with the sticky threads hindering his movements. Luckily, I manage to get my hand down as far as my waist and tap on another Pokéball, not much caring at this point whose it is. Success! Barristan bursts out and gives a low, distressed howl as he realises our predicament. Convinced that I have the way to freedom, I scream the words “Flame Wheel!” at the top of my lungs.
You can… probably imagine how the situation deteriorated from there.
Half an hour later, a rather mournful Burgh paces back and forth in front of us on the ground floor of the Gym. The walls and floors are built from a hardy construction polymer, and are a little blackened but largely undamaged. Unfortunately the webs, which apparently allow the Bug Pokémon and their trainers to move between floors, have been burnt completely to ashes, including Burgh’s spiderweb loft at the top of the building. It will take months, he wails, for the Ariados to repair the place, and he may never replace the paintings he had stashed in some of the cocoons. Jim points out diplomatically that no one has been seriously hurt (or at least, nothing a Burn Heal won’t fix) and suggests that a battle might take his mind off things. Burgh sighs and admits he’s probably right; if nothing else a good battle might at least inspire him to get started on some new paintings.
At some point during the… incident… Jim had called Falk out to help, and a slight misunderstanding with the Gym trainers had led to the poor Magby being surrounded by half a dozen angry Whirlipede and Swadloon and bludgeoned into submission; he is therefore in no condition to fight. Dovahkiin, however, is still fit and ready, and manages to handle all three of Burgh’s powerful Bug Pokémon – a Swadloon, a Dwebble, and a Leavanny – with skilful use of Counter and a little medicinal support from Jim. Burgh hands Jim an Insect Badge, with a brief remark of congratulation, and gives his Pokéballs to a clown to have his Pokémon healed. He then turns to me, slouched against the wall with Jaime and Barristan still at my side. He attempts to give me a friendly smile, but it comes out as more of a grimace. He starts to say something, but chokes on the words. He finally throws a second Insect Badge at my feet, makes a mournful rattling noise in his throat, and leaves the building.
Victory is mine!
Obviously that didn’t go exactly as planned but it’s still worth a celebratory moonlit walk in Castelia Plaza! Jim and I get our Pokémon checked out at the Pokémon Centre, then stroll down Castelia Street to the plaza. Even at this late hour, the main streets are still bustling, though the plaza itself is fairly quiet… quiet enough that Jim instantly recognises the curious-looking scientist he met in the Castelia sewers the day before and points him out for me. He notices us looking and, rather than fleeing as he did in the sewers, begins to approach us. Jim quietly warns me to refuse any candy offered to me and keep my eyes peeled for a white van with tinted windows. I adjust my belt and casually tap my fingers against Sansa’s Pokéball as our new friend gets closer. He introduces himself as Colress, and compliments Jim once again on his battling in the Castelia sewers, before asking to see our Pokémon.
“Are you sure? But this is,” he strikes a dramatic pose, his notebook clasped against his chest, staring intensely into the night sky, “for science!”
Colress thinks for a moment, and offers us a chocolate bar in exchange for letting him see our Pokémon.
Jim protests, but I happily accept the proffered candy and munch on it as Colress examines Sansa, who bleats at him and crackles a little bit, but doesn’t attack. He proclaims his delight at seeing a Pokémon so strong and confident, and explains that he studies ways for humans to “bring out the power of Pokémon,” something Jim and I appear to be doing. Colress tells us that he’s heading North, out of Castelia City, and invites us to follow him for a Pokémon battle to further his research. He then turns and leaves without another word. I want to follow see what he’s on about; if nothing else, there might be more candy. Jim admonishes me for taking chocolate from a stranger, but admits that he’s curious to know what Colress wants (he’s probably just jealous because he didn’t get any candy), so we set off for Route 4 together.