- Yes, more fanfiction. I was inspired by a Sonic the Comic issue involving Knuckles, in the Archie timeline however, since I hardly have a clue about the StC continuity.
Knuckles trudged through the dark forest, listening to the distant sounds of howling emitting from the other side. 'What was it that the old ape told me?' He thought, 'Oh, now I remember, but not all of it. He said something about a village, and an ancient, Hmm. Gah, I'm so soft-headed! Did he say something was wrong about the town? Which direction I should turn?'. Knuckles yawned from all of the walking through the dark path, with only a small lantern to light up a few feet in front of his shoes. Eventually, he encountered a fork in the road. "Terrific. Which way do I go from this point?" He said aloud. Attempting to regain the words of the elderly ape he saw close to the entrance, the echidna closed his eyes and leaned against a tree, accidentally placing his elbow in a small hole.
"Hey!" yelped the tree.
Knuckles slightly jumped and whirled around, fists in front of him. "Alright, who's in there?!?" he demanded. Immediately, a small beaver jumped out, begging for mercy. "P-please don't hurt me, sir! I didn't mean to surprise you!" Knuckles gave a smile, and lifted the beaver onto his hand. "My apologies. Is that your house?" he inquired. The beaver replied, "My new home, at the least. I used to reside in a village not too far from here, but the folk began to act strange, it used to be a lively community. I guess you could say I'm a coward, as I decided to make a small hole here the woods. My name is 'Chomps', my great-grandfather's middle name." Knuckles pondered for a few seconds 'This could be the village the old man was talking about. Maybe the Chaos Emerald shard is somewhere around that area, but how could it end up so far away in Mobius? Ugh, I should've asked for help from Sonic, but I'm too fused up to speak to him after hearing what had happened to Sally... (*StH: #232)'.
Knuckles then requested the location of the village. Chomps directed him to the left, and warned him of a few loose vines and stones. "Thanks." Knuckles said after that, "And stay clear away from the village until I figure out what's happening." The echidna gave a fierce look into the even darker path, and slowly walked in, weary of the rocks and vines Chomps warned him of.
Upon a 15-minute stroll through the forest, Knuckles' eyelids began to grow heavy. Squinting, he could see a few flames in the distance. 'The village!' he thought. Rushing at a quicker pace, Knuckles felt a vine against his foot, and stumbled into a hidden pit-trap. The echidna landed on the ground of the hole, and angrily glanced up at the surface. "Cute. Did they seriously think they could simply trap someone down here? Even Sonic could run up the wall in 1 second." Knuckles immediately scaled the wall using his knuckles, and hoisted himself onto ground level.
Knuckles glanced behind him and noticed Chomps had followed him, hiding in a bush. "I forgot to warn you, I dug up a pit trap to be triggered by a loose vine close to the village. I ran off when I remembered." Knuckles, embarrassed by the fact that he tripped on the vine forgetting about the beaver's advice, replied with a determined frown while stroked the back of his head, "That's fine, I was just checking to see if it was, um... still working. I saw it all along". He continued, "You'd better get going, I'll take care of things from here." Chomps guiltily smiled and wished him luck.
Entering the brightness of the torches (though still heavily shrouded with darkness), the echidna entered the town. Weary of all the faces watching his every movement from the small houses, Knuckles walked to one of the villagers and requested "You guys have an inn here?". Utter silence from the supposedly frightened eyes emerged from the folk. Knuckles tried another house: "Could you please direct me to a place I can stay?" Again, no reply. Irritated by the town's resistance of speaking, Knuckles felt something tap him on the leg. Turning around, he saw a small animal like Chomps, a raccoon. He spoke with a low and shaky voice, "T-there's a t-tavern over to the-the l-left of that hou-ouse over t-there." Knuckles bended low, the raccoon taking a step back. "Thank you." Knuckles replied with a smile. The raccoon smiled back, saying to him "I'm Rory". The echidna slightly tapped him on the head, as a gesture of thanks. Following the direction of the raccoon, he found the tavern and braced himself for any trouble.
Upon opening the door to the lower end of the tavern, many unwelcoming eyes gave their attention towards Knuckles. Attempting to ignore this gesture, he calmly walked towards the bar, and received not much of a warmer welcome than the other people in the building. "Wottya want, stranga?" The head man of the tavern spoke with a thick cockney accent. Knuckles replied, "A room and a drink.", laying down a few gold coins. The bartender seemed pleased by the amount of wealth, and exclaimed, "Quoite the generous fella, ain't he, givin' me three tymes th' payment fore a room!" Everybody laughed, only encouraging Knuckles to grab the bartender by the shirt collar, growling "Just give me the drink and the room!". Settling his laughter, the bartender gave Knuckles a shot of a rich drink, spiked with wild grapes and after that, two shots of water. Minutes seemed to pass by like hours, the echidna felt, due to all the eyes still watching him. 'What is wrong with these people? Haven't they ever seen a guy drink before?' he thought to himself.
Upon that, the bartender found a room not in use. "Second floor, you'll get a noice, view of th' town, yo majesty...". Knuckles ignored this remark and gave a cold thank you to the man. Upon going into the room, Knuckles cleaned his face with a towel, took off his shoes, and began to rest under the white sheet, pondering of his quest. 'One of the two remaining emeralds somehow split into a few pieces, much similar to when the Master Emerald was shattered (*Sonic Adventure). However, Archimedes claimed that this emerald held a special power if shattered, unlike the other emeralds. He said that there might be a connection to the spirits of those with the Chaos Force. I hope this is true...' Knuckles sadly recalled the sacrifice of his father while he was Enerjak (StH: #180 to #184). Soon, Knuckles found himself going to sleep. But this was good, as it was a long journey during the day.
Awakening to a strange sound, the echidna bolted up. However, the bed he was in had disappeared. Looking around, he noticed the room was gone as well. We was in some sort of chaos-energy like limbo. Then, it struck him: He was in a Chaos Force. "Am I, dead?" Knuckles inquired aloud. "Not yet, your time hasn't arrived just yet, young one." Knuckles looked around, searching for the strange voice that emitted inside the Chaos Force. 'I feel like I know that voice.' The echidna pondered. "Who are you, and why have I been transported to here?" The voice replied, "I am someone familiar, and I needed to give you an informative message, and since you are no longer in a Chaos State, this was the only means of communication". Stroking his head, Knuckles asked another question, "How could I have been transported here through sleep?" Again, the voice replied, "It isn't by dreaming. It is by a strong connection between the emerald shards you seek, and it appears to be quite close." Another thought struck Knuckles' mind. 'Wait a second! If I have a strong connection, that means the emerald shard must be close! I knew I saw it going in this direction when the emerald split into pieces.'
Talking to the voice, the echidna requested to leave his dream-like state. The voice decided to challenge him to this, by placing a series of obstacles to what looked like a doorway. "Pass these tests and you shall be awoken. Awakening from a type of inception is not as simple as it sounds. There are always challenges, even in an unconscious state. You can prove yourself worthy should you succeed." Knuckles sighed and observed each section. One, appeared to be a giant wall. 'This should be easy...' He thought to himself. But when he attempted to punch the wall open, not a single stone had been chipped by the slightest. Irritated, Knuckles tried again, but only lead to failure. "What kind of test is this, anyways?!?" he demanded to the voice. The voice replied "This is to test your patience and thinking talents." "Patience? What would punching down a brick wall have to do with patience?" the echidna replied. The voice went on, "You must answer that question yourself." Pacing around, Knuckles leaned over against a part of the wall in attempts to think over the problem. Suddenly, he felt a slight budge against the stone. Pushing it forward with all of his strength, the stone pushed out and Knuckles was free to pass the test. 'Oh, now I get it. "Patience" must mean by scaling for a correct area to solve the problem. The wall must represent the problem, and the patience factor represents the solution. Maybe "thinking" involved me leaning against the wall.'
- In progress*