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Thread: Conflagration: The Tale of the Burned Tower

  1. #1
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    Default Conflagration: The Tale of the Burned Tower

    This is a story about three young people and their lives leading up to the burning of the Brass Tower in the Johto region.

    Chapter I: Dreams of Fire


    Visions of flame. Mindless, dancing flame.

    Silhouettes howl helplessly against the roaring embers. The inferno sweeps through every corridor, setting the rafters, the pillars, the quarters—all of it—ablaze. Smells of burning cedar and carcasses fill the air, as does the sound of every floor collapsing, one right after another.

    I’m shaken from my awe of the fiery maw before me as I hear a thin, scratchy voice coming from somewhere amidst the disaster.

    Choking. Someone’s choking.

    Sweat beads over my brow and into my eyes as I try to gaze into the molten remains of the building. Smoke fills my lungs and I start to feel my head spinning. Air…I need air, and water. Water for my dry throat.

    My eyes widen in dark realization.

    I reach up to grab my neck in despair, but my fingers claw into char and ash instead. I can feel my last breath leaving my body like a sickness, cleansed by the fire swirling around me—

    “Koji, can you hear me?”

    That distance voice…it’s so familiar…


    “Koji, wake up!”

    A blinding light flashed across my eyelids.

    In another instant, I woke up with my face pressed against the tatami mat on the floor. Hot air from the nearby kiln entered my lungs, giving me breath once again—but the tightness in my chest remained. I looked up to see my sister, Emi, kneeling over my futon with a look of concern on her face.

    “You were grunting. And sweating a lot.”

    A rosy hue spread across my cheeks as I self-consciously rubbed a sleeve across my dripping forehead.

    “Tch. It is almost three-hundred degrees in here,” I complained. “Where’s Farfetch’d? Did he come back yet?”

    “Should be here anytime now… I really wish you’d gone with him, though.”

    Emi got up, stepping gingerly on her bad leg over to the door. Just as I began to lift myself up from the ground, I heard the sound of the front door creaking open down the hall, and a pair of tiny footsteps waddle into the house. My sister left and for the next few minutes, she and the visitor conversed in the kitchen—enough time for me to lie back on my bed and mull over the contents of my dream.

    It had been the third night in a row I’d seen fire in my sleep.

    The shōji to my room slid back once more, allowing a light draft to pass through. Emi entered the doorway clutching a kettle, and alongside her, a stubby, brown bird Pokémon wearing a happi coat covered in splinters. Farfetch’d quacked indignantly as he threw his leek to the ground, huffing his chest and taking a seat on the floor next to my legs.

    Emi giggled as she knelt to the floor to pour tea into some ceramic cups.

    “He says he’s been through hell tonight! Always the hero, huh, Fetch’d?”

    Farfetch’d sniffed and turned his beak up at her, swiping a cup of tea.

    “What is it this time?” I asked, reaching over to take a cup myself.

    “A Murkrow,” she said in a matter-of-factly tone. “I guess she lost her little fledglings deep in the woods, so Fetch’d decided to launch his own rescue effort. You know, to impress her.”

    Farfetch’d choked and spit hot leaf juice all over the mat.

    Emi continued (despite the bird Pokémon’s death glares): “So this Murkrow told him to go west through the woods near the brook to find her babies. Only when he got there, they weren’t as…uh…’little’ as he thought. It was an ambush.”

    I looked down at Farfetch’d and watched as he lowered his gaze to the floor, solemnly sipping the rest of his tea. Smirking, I plucked a few of the tree slivers from his family jacket.

    “Oh come on, buddy, you know you shouldn’t be courting ladies of the night,” I said, laughing. “It always ends in heartbreak.”

    I looked at Emi. “Was it really that bad?”

    She pursed her lips.

    “Bad enough. He didn’t return with any wood. Or the cart.”

    I gulped.

    “But we have enough dry wood in the shed to give us at least a week of business,” she said calmly, though I detected a hint of unease in her voice. “That’ll give us plenty of time to build a new cart.”

    “That’s not the point, Emi. What if Dad finds out? He’ll be back from Violet City in the morning.”

    Farfetch’d turned to me with a worried look. I bit my lip and avoided glancing at the Pokémon.

    “Winter’s almost here, and the villagers need firewood,” I stated blankly.

    “Well, if someone wasn’t too scared to enter Ilex Forest without his big sister,” Emi snapped back, “maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place.”

    Without another word, my sister left the kettle on the floor and rose to slip through the sliding door. The shōji shut with a loud clank that made Farfetch’d’s feathers ruffle.

    “Hey, Fetch’d,” I said, rubbing the Pokémon’s shoulder gently. “I’m sorry for what you went through. I should have been there, maybe I could have helped.”

    Farfetch’d shook his head.

    “It’s not fair for me to ask you to do this… It’s my responsibility, not yours.”

    We both sat there in silence. Of course, I knew Emi was right. Before my sister’s accident a few months back, I had always worked the kiln at home. It was safe, easy, and completely natural to me. Dad and Emi were the ones who went out and cut the trees (with the help of Farfetch’d) to haul back to the village. They knew all the outposts and trails, and were more than capable of holding their own against wild Pokémon lurking in the woods.

    But I couldn’t do any of that.

    The bird Pokémon looked back up at me after a moment and gave me a slight nod. Then, he got up, fetched his leek from the ground, and followed after Emi through the door.

    I sighed and ran my hand through my dark, wet hair, casting my gaze downward until my eyes fell upon the cups on the floor, and the spilled tea. I’d made the cups as a birthday present for my mother. The clay came from the bottom of Slowpoke Well, and I remembered spending a whole afternoon carefully molding it with my bare hands to make the perfect drinking cups. Now they were just some dishes lying on dirtied mats.

    After cleaning up the mess on the floor, I shut off the light and moved back to my bed, where I stared at the ceiling all night, wondering how I’d even begin to clean up the mess waiting for me in the morning.
    Last edited by CHeSHiRe-CaT; 8th May 2014 at 1:10 AM.

  2. #2
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    Welp, this explains the FB post.

    It's good to have you back, dude. You've always had a way with words, and reading your work has always been a treat.

    This definitely seems like a neat premise. I'm a sucker for all things Ecruteak/Johto legends, so you definitely have my interest. I'm really curious to see how these characters relate to the burning of the Brass Tower regarding what connections they have, as well as seeing the event through their eyes and witnessing how this will affect their community.

    I like your start here - you begin with some nice, strong imagery to grip readers before getting into the lives of the characters. We learn a lot through this single scene, and it's overall quite cute. There is a neat dynamic between the characters, and we get to see some nice interactions between them that are simply fun. Overall you do a good job of letting us know about their lives without getting too infodump-y, and also leaving the readers with interesting questions about the family.

    My main thought was that there were a few parts where you did a bit too much telling instead of showing. For instance, tell us what burnt cedar and carcasses smell like, and what it sounds like when multiple floors collapse on top of each other - the groaning, the snapping, the crashing, the crackling of flames. Show us what webbed feet sound like on a wooden floor, or the taste of the hot tea. You also don't say what time of day it is during this scene, though you seem to imply at the end that it's night-time if Koji is still in bed. If it's evening, describe the dark room, as well as some of Emi's features Koji might notice in the dark. When you're writing in first person POV, it's also a lot easier to describe other characters than it is the narrator; Koji describes himself a couple times, and a character describing themselves seems kind of out of place unless they're literally taking time reflecting on part of their appearance. With description, especially from any limited POV, you want to focus on really only describing things the character actively notices.

    I do have some nitpicks about word use and language, though nothing too big or hard to fix.
        Spoiler:- Nitpicks:



    Overall, you have a really interesting start here. Characters are definitely your strong suit, and it shows in the way they interact. My main advice is to work a bit more on description, some of your language, as well as turning the narration a bit further inward so we can see more of Koji's thoughts. Otherwise, this is a very solid start, and has me looking forward to seeing more.

    It's nice to see you writing again, and I wish you the best of luck with this. :>
    ~Psychic
    Last edited by Psychic; 8th May 2014 at 8:38 AM.

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  3. #3
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    Heyyy, Psychic! Thanks! It's good to write some fan fic again. I've been out of it for a long time, so I really appreciate the critique. I was actually worrying about a lot of the things you mentioned--I thought it would be passable, but apparently not. Haha. I think I wanted to avoid a rewrite of some scenes, but sometimes that's what ya gotta do.

    Really appreciate the time you took to review it!

  4. #4
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    No prob, it really is good to have you back! Don't get me wrong, though - it's not just passable, it really is quite good. Don't be so hard on yourself! I'm just very critical, and I'm not going easy on you because I know you set high standards for yourself and are always pushing yourself to do better. That's an excellent attribute for any artist, whatever their craft. I'm just trying to help.

    Thank you, I really hope it helps, at least with later chapters and whatnot~

    Pokéthon was a huge success! Check out our Facebook page for photos from the event!

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