Page 11 of 12 FirstFirst ... 789101112 LastLast
Results 251 to 275 of 281

Thread: Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Overthrown

  1. #251
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Between Nod and Terrafirma
    Posts
    392

    Default

    I will post replies one at a time as I read your updates, as these chapters posts and the re-written ones are on separate pages and I do not want to forget what I read.

    Anyway, I apologize for waiting so long to respond to this, I am truly sorry.

    Well well well, ?????, you seem to be doing all the hero work today, shame that your actions aren't as such but only to fulfil your contract with the employer.

    I've been enjoying everyones unconscious character development as the placement works really well considering the circumstances and helps create a more believable story rather than somebody remembering their past as they sit there, spacing out.

    Another thing I like is the Froslass, Ira. Her personality or behaviour I should say, is very well done. I can't understand half of that stuff she says withought a translator but it really helps cement that she is ancient but not living in the past as many old beings do. Her whole, preserving the moment thing she has going on with her ice sculptures, way of speech being ancient and modern, is so good. Words cannot adequately describe what I'm trying to say there.

    I liked the end to this chapter as being rescued by darkness, rather than light, is interesting.

    Looking forward to more and please, bother me more often to catch up, I almost forgot how the story was supposed to go.


    Credit to Brutaka for the amazing banner and user bar. Yeah, having 2 is redundant, but it shows you guys my favorite pokemon, what story I had planned and my position in the WoJ.

    Time, there's never enough of it but it's always there to waste.
    -Azurus

  2. #252
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Between Nod and Terrafirma
    Posts
    392

    Default

    Chapter 1 is significantly more engaging now, and I am excited to see how much, how well, and how far these rewrites will go.

    I also wonder if Doug and Co. will have cut aways at the end of chapters until they reach a combination of Leos chapters or if it will only be for a while.

    Coulda sworn you had chapter two re-written, but anyway, looking forward to your works. As always.


    Credit to Brutaka for the amazing banner and user bar. Yeah, having 2 is redundant, but it shows you guys my favorite pokemon, what story I had planned and my position in the WoJ.

    Time, there's never enough of it but it's always there to waste.
    -Azurus

  3. #253
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    Anyway, I apologize for waiting so long to respond to this, I am truly sorry.
    Not a problem, man. I'm hardly one to hound people to read my story. Just as long as you enjoy it when you do get around to reading it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    Well well well, ?????, you seem to be doing all the hero work today, shame that your actions aren't as such but only to fulfil your contract with the employer.

    I've been enjoying everyones unconscious character development as the placement works really well considering the circumstances and helps create a more believable story rather than somebody remembering their past as they sit there, spacing out.
    It's actually ????????. The number does matter. Anyways, I've been planning his actions for a while now. I want to make him more than a shady villain, I want people to be confused by his motives.

    Thanks! I do tend to go into character's pasts a lot, but I try to make it believable when I do so (unless, of course, they're supposed to be spacing out).


    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    Another thing I like is the Froslass, Ira. Her personality or behaviour I should say, is very well done. I can't understand half of that stuff she says withought a translator but it really helps cement that she is ancient but not living in the past as many old beings do. Her whole, preserving the moment thing she has going on with her ice sculptures, way of speech being ancient and modern, is so good. Words cannot adequately describe what I'm trying to say there.
    Ira is a villain I feel that I killed off too soon. She was a character that I spent a good deal of time developing so that she'd be a memorable threat. Her thought processes are odd, yes, but that's what I love about her as well. It's going to be hard to find another one like her, but you'd better believe me that I'm going to try.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    I liked the end to this chapter as being rescued by darkness, rather than light, is interesting.
    It's rather symbolic, really. For this chapter and the rest of the story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    Chapter 1 is significantly more engaging now, and I am excited to see how much, how well, and how far these rewrites will go.

    I also wonder if Doug and Co. will have cut aways at the end of chapters until they reach a combination of Leos chapters or if it will only be for a while.

    Coulda sworn you had chapter two re-written, but anyway, looking forward to your works. As always.

    That's precisely what I was going for. Chapter 1 used to be rather crude for my tastes, so I'm happy I got the opportunity to refine it.

    Well, Doug's scene coincides with the original Chapter 1. It's probably not going to be a normal occurrence, but I'm not saying it'll never happen.

    And, Chapter Two is not going to be rewritten for quite a long time. It's not as bad as Chapter 1 and the original Prologue were, and so, I'm going to hold off on rewriting it or anything else until later.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, man. Your input means a lot to me.

    Knightfall signing off...

  4. #254
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    Chapter Sixteen: Abeyance



    “I can already hear their anguished cries, even as I try to shut out the voices while I writhe in my nightmares. I am in paradise, yet my kindred are still trapped in Erebus, my brother is lost. But, I still have to complete my mission. I am condemning them all to a fate far worse than the stockade. Millions will suffer. And for what? The survival of this world permanently stained crimson with its own blood? There is no hope for a brighter future, only one that can raise its head to see the sun and the stars on the fringes of Elysium.”
    — Journal of Grovyle, Eastern Forest territory of the Kingdom. Recovered by Kingdom Intelligence Agency during the Time Gear Crisis




    “I am one who laid you low. I deserve an answer.” Quiet. The gears spun on, greased by blood and clockwork. “You refuse to speak. All my works, my plans, you do not approve? You must see that I am trying to save the world. I only need to purge it of its sin.”

    “You will burn before you burn this world. ”

    “It matters not what you say. I will recover the Artifact and with you I will restore what was lost...”



    The darkness clung to him. It took hold when he had faltered in the canyon, and it had yet to leave him. Sight was nothing to him now. Little more than a memory that haunted him like a severed limb. He felt the sunlight against his fur, yet the sun’s beauty was withheld from him. Jay let his legs dangle off the side of the barracks while he allowed the gentle breeze to blow through his faded fur. Sweet smells of food baking in the market below him entered his nose as he wistfully imagined what the delicious breads looked like.

    As he listened to the Pokémon mill about the square beneath him, his mind returned to the events that had transpired two days ago. He remembered waking up in a bed while Quark’s monotonous tone calmed him. It told him not to be afraid and that he was safe, but he still felt afraid, blind, and disorientated. Within minutes, he broke down into hysterics. After Kelly had calmed him down, Quark finally gave his diagnosis. His eyes had atrophied, so they had to spend the coming weeks in near darkness in order to recover. While it was not permanent blindness, he didn’t feel good about being forced to tie a band of crimson cloth around his eyes.

    While he had been rather opposed to the treatment, he found that it wasn’t bad after a time. The cloth was soft and smooth, yet it didn’t require constant adjusting. Quark had slipped it under his useless aura sensors and psychically fastened the knot. Fortunately, his injuries were the worst of the team. Leo and Noah only needed Oran-soaked bandages for their wounds, and Kelly spent the day wrapped in a blanket, sitting next to the Charmeleon to recover from the cold. While Jay couldn’t see it, Quark kept him constantly updated on the other’s conditions until the next day. Unfortunately, the freedom from the Alakazam’s care meant reporting to Torrent again.

    Jay’s mind snapped back into reality as a gust of cool air rushed past him. He looked around, shaking away the uncomfortable memories of the general’s harsh interrogation regarding their escapade. For once Jay was genuinely glad Noah had been with them; the Dewott expertly presented their case. He could only listen while Noah showed Torrent a tooth he had supposedly knocked out from the dragon and the wounds they had from Blue Sun Canyon. It was only after Leo and Kelly told him of the Froslass —both omitting the Mismagius’s role— that the Feraligatr became convinced.

    Jay stood on the roof, letting the cooling wind wash away his weariness. Torrent had debriefed them afterwards, revealing that they had been missing for three days inside the dungeon. The Feraligatr seemed to be at a loss of how to explain it. Noah’s story proved that hardly a day passed inside of the Canyon. None of it made sense to Jay.

    The Riolu gingerly walked the eaves, letting the wind catch him every time his body shifted. He knew it was dangerous, he knew it was foolish to attempt it with his blinded sight, but he wasn’t going to let it stop him. He wasn’t about to let anything stop him. Jay concentrated on his feet to find the narrow path ahead while he felt the wind tell him when and where to lean. Despite the shouts from the villagers and soldiers below telling him to come down, he carried on. He had to try and see the tribulations ahead.

    I have to think. I can still see ... It’s just different now. I have to see ... by touch, his thoughts reminded him, as if they too were determined to see him succeed. However, his mind raced elsewhere. Torrent’s meeting had revealed news. Silver City had come under martial law due to a riot in the city’s ghettos.

    “That was hardly news,” Jay huffed.

    Silver had always had a revolt going on, regardless whether it reached the public eye or not. The Federation usually kept a good handle on them until they were broken up or burned out. But this time, Torrent seemed to waver when he said that the riot hadn’t ceased. Jay had already let the crisis wash over him. It didn’t concern him, not anymore.

    He found another ledge on the roof. After listening to the noise below, or rather the lack thereof, he was able to deduce that it was an alley. The Riolu vaulted over the raised edge of the store roof and landed with a thud among boxes.

    He had to find his team once again. They were the only ones he belonged with. They would be the ones who would help him. They would help him see again.



    Noah tossed the silver badge into the air and caught it in his paws. The circular object flipped over, glinting in the morning sun. He casually walked down the cobblestone path from the military barracks of Shiloh to the market. Since being released from Quark, he had taken to exploring the town of Shiloh and seeing what had changed since the company had last holed up here.

    “Let’s see ... There’s always the option of going through the Orb shop. I could try to convince them to take away that life-time ban. Besides, it wasn’t my fault they keep the Itemizer Orbs out in the open like that,” he muttered while pinning the badge onto his worn satchel.

    Shiloh Town was small; the community’s population doubled when a new company came to occupy the barracks on the edge of town. Shiloh was nestled among the gently sloping hills and valleys of the southern Borderlands region—seemingly secluded enough to ignore the frontlines just to the north. Noah kept walking, cheerfully waving to Pokémon on their way to the fields. There was good reason for the Kingdom to protect this area with a fort; the regenerative berries they grew were the closest supply for the army.

    Despite its remoteness and drawbacks, Noah enjoyed coming to Shiloh. In the two years he had been with Torrent, he had helped pave the town’s streets, tended the berry crop, and cleared snow in the winter, among other public works the general planned for them. He smiled to himself. He saw the town for what it truly was: Torrent’s personal kingdom. The towering Feraligatr always lovingly mentioned the town, and Noah had found entries upon entries in his journal about the farming village.

    Unlike the other members of Team Salient, the Dewott felt amazing. The few gashes he received from the ice dragon were healed and the weariness was purged from him. The single trophy he claimed from his victory, a large pointed tooth, swung from the cord around his neck. He rubbed his paw along the serrated edges of the tooth, letting the pride that he had helped kill its ruthless owner rise again. He was glad he finally had a relic of his own to rival Leo’s odd key. Noah began thinking of the vendors on the black market of Silver City who might be able to secure a gold thread for it, and once he had that, Leo’s key wouldn’t stand a chance.

    Within minutes, he reached the parlor of the humble Orb shop, its weathered roof shedding shingles like a tree in autumn. Bounding up the creaking steps, he peered through the dusty window and knocked on the slanted wooden door.

    “Hey! Anyone in there? Look, I’m sorry about yesterday, I swear!” he shouted, hoping that someone would open up.

    Nothing in his field of expertise in laying ambushes could have prepared him for what happened next. The door quickly snapped open, leaving barely enough space for the owner’s green paw to reach through the gap and toss a shining blue Orb down at his feet. The door closed with a slam as the crystalline artifact exploded into a thousand glittering fragments across the floor. Before he could brace himself, a cloud of rippling air shot towards him. The ball of wind smacked into his stomach, knocking the breath out of his lungs, and slamming him against the general store across the street. The hard clay wall met his back with an embracive hit into his spine. Noah slid down the wall as onlookers began to mill around.

    “Excuse me! Move please! I said please!”

    The shouting was unmistakably Jay’s. Noah shook off the dizziness clinging to the back of his skull and painfully pushed himself up. Sure enough, he could see Jay’s form shoving itself through the Pokemon The Riolu sidestepped a large, steel-plated monster and appeared at the forefront of the crowd.

    “I thought I heard you. That is you, right? Noah?” Jay asked and held out an uncertain paw. Noah readily accepted the assistance and hopped to his feet, gradually losing the interest of the crowd.

    “Thanks, mate. I appreciate it. So, how you liking that thing? Looks pretty sweet, I gotta say. Red looks good on you, man,” Noah replied with a grin he knew Jay could not see. The blinded Riolu didn’t say a word and only folded his arms.

    “You can stop with the jokes, Noah. It’s not going to help me see any sooner,” Jay huffed. It was only the two of them now, the crowd had left

    “A little humor makes life worth living, Jay. Come on, you’ll get your sight back. Don’t act like it’s the end of the world. Trust me, when that happens, then you have my permission to be depressed,” Noah countered jovially. But not even his heightened spirits seemed to do any good for his sight-deprived friend. He knew he had to find something that would snap Jay out of the haze. After a minute, Noah clapped his paws together and let out a celebratory whoop. “I’ve got it! Come on, Jay! Let’s all go on a mission! We’ll find one with a good reward, and we’ll have a grand time exploring a dungeon in the process! There’s nothing to lose!”




    “The Cave.” His voice resonated within the hollow stone. “I chose the darkness to live without the guilt or sun. Be blinded by the light or see in the abyss. Questions. Questions. Questions.” Ian limped along the dark passage, holding the glowing blue shard in one claw and in the other, a piece of crimson clay. Runes. Depictions. Scribblings. Characters of unknown description. All of these stained the endless corridors of the labyrinth. He took a deep breath, his body shuddering. The pain was eating him, but he would not let it steal his soul. He would not let it pry away his stubborn mind again.

    “Lost, damned, and beaten. They all are chained to the fire.” Claws brushed along the rough stone, scraping over the murals he had drawn. Long ago, when the whispers had just started, he had obeyed them without hesitation. His soul tied to their horrid mutterings. He had seen the exit more times than there were stars in the skies far above. Yet he remained in the dark. Searching, waiting, hoping for another way. One that ascended into the light. He often spent days gazing into it, wondering if the thoughts locked away in his mind would lurk in the oozing blackness.

    Chalk ground itself into the wall, the fine powder catching along the ridges in the rock until it began to talk to him. Their voices were always the same, yet always changing, never stationary. Their melodious tones soothed his aching head and all the thoughts that raced within it. He knew he had to leave; this long abandoned corridor was playing tricks on his eyes. But the mural was not done: the story unfinished and characters undeveloped. They were merely colors on the walls, but soon they would be radiant; glowing with the power and light of the stars he longed to see.

    They would be his saviors. But if they were to find him when judgement day came with its blazing dawn, then he had no choice. He had to finish or risk being left behind once the world would be incinerated under the wrath of the unchained gods.

    “Just a little longer ... Just a few more lines ... A little bit of color here,” the Breloom’s voice whispered as he carefully applied the small remainder of the colored rock to the outline. He nimbly switched between colors in his tattered satchel, holding both crimson and blue in his dexterous claws. The crumbling material graced the eye of his savior, filling in the grey expanse with a gentle shade of light blue. He was fire. Ignis.

    He moved on, the other characters could not wait. He produced yellow, blue, black, and aqua from his leather bag. His arms moved at a fever pitch before his dazed eyes. He could not think, he could not feel, he could only draw what the frenzied thoughts commanded. A language he did not know —or at the very least, one he did not remember learning in the endless night produced by this dungeon.

    “The saviors: Ignis, Tonitrua, Animus, et Aqua... At long last,” Ian muttered and let the chalk slip from his claws. The drawing tool clattered to the stone and rolled along the ground. He had seen it in the fading light of the Luminous Orb. The work his broken mind had forced him to undertake was done. No more drawing, no more runes. He had finished it. They were there. Staring at him, yearning to be set free. His fists shook with rage. There had to be a mistake. They could not be here, for if they were here, they were trapped. They were trapped. After all that he did for them, the murals he draw upon the walls, the words he had carved, and stories he told himself were all for naught.

    “No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!” he exploded and spit shot from his mouth. His throat caught on fire, burning his mouth as the words flew at his imprisoned heroes. He slumped to the base of the fantastic drawing, wanting his tears to wipe away the painful reminder of his own insanity.

    “Ian. Stop. I told you to stay away from the mural, did I not? Please ... Stop coming here. You never find what it is you’re looking for here.” Ian’s eyes snapped open. The voice of logic had returned. The voice of a friend. The quivering Breloom slowly turned his withered head to face the digital Pokémon hovering directly in beside him.

    “Ian. Do not return here. No one is here for you. Not Sophie or these ‘saviors’ of yours. We have to find them elsewhere,” Vertex stated in a hushed tone. Somewhere deep down, beneath the troubled surface of his brain, he knew that Vertex was right. There was nothing for him here. He would only keep on destroying himself if he continued down this path.

    “W-wait! Ver-Tex! T-there’s something here! I swear, I found it!” Ian cried, waving to the digital Pokémon, who was trying his best not to be alarmed by the sudden mood swing.

    “Ian, there is nothing here. We have to go. I don’t want to see you hurt anymore,” Vertex whispered, his synthesized voice dropping even lower. Ian’s claws began to tremble. He had seen it in the abyss. He had seen the door to the end of the world. All he had to do was reach out and he would be free.

    “This time. Please, Vertex. You have to help me reach it...” He straightened up and looked over at the unknown passage. It stretched open as the yawning jaws of a monster, vast and cavernous, and always craving.

    “Ian ...” Vertex sighed while Ian anxiously eyed the Porygon2.

    “Fine. We’ll go explore this passage. Let us hope it will not be like the last area. I will not be able to dig you out again,” the smaller Pokémon said, rising up off the dusty floor. The white, pixelated retinas became illuminated as twin beams of light flashed in the darkness. Ian crawled to his feet and gingerly followed behind his anchor to reality into the maintenance tunnel.

    Pain shot through his crudely bandaged leg. Bright red blood began dripping through the filthy cloth, surely infected. His worn satchel beat against his emaciated side with each agonized step, and the thin shadow that followed him became a constant reminder to him to how long it had been since he had eaten. His stomach had long ago stopped crying out for nourishment and was silently burning away his insides for nourishment. However, none of these problems had caused him greater discomfort than his skin. The once cream and green colored patches were now dulled down until he was nearly bleached of all pigment, leaving him with the appearance of wrinkled paper. Tears bubbled in his eyes with each movement he made.

    “There’s nothing here, Ian,” Vertex reported ahead of him while the artificial intelligence’s eyes sweep across the gloomy aisle. Ian continued to limp behind, wincing when the lurid wrappings about his right leg became soaked with blood. For once, he wished his mind would pass into the phase of disjointedness so that he would be numb to the pain until they found the door.

    “You’ll find it. I know you will, Ian.” He hardly raised his head at the voice calling out to him. Sophie’s ghostly vestige was the sole being he could talk to in his madness, so hearing her was nothing new. It gave him hope that he was lapsing into the delusion he desperately craved as an opiate for the world.

    “I know I will, Sophie. Thank you, m’ dear,” he answered, trying to put on a brave face and calm voice for the Mawile hallucination. Vertex merely sighed and returned to scanning the corridor

    “You won’t find it like that. Do you even remember the time back in Darknight Relic? Do you remember that you, Chuck, and I wandered around for days before we found what we had to do to see? Same here.” Her words seemed real —they always had— but now was different. This time she was giving coherent advice. Relevant guidelines for him to follow. This was not simply the empty, sweet-voiced nothings she often uttered to him. These were real.

    “Are you certain? We’ll be lost if not...” he countered, desperately hoping that the voice would give proof. He shot a nervous glance over at Vertex. He wanted, no, needed to be absolutely certain that this was the right course of action. Otherwise, he would certainly drop to his knees and die in the void.

    “Yes, I’m quite sure, Ian. I know I haven’t been good for you before, but you have to trust me this time. You’re very close. Do this and you’ll find it,” she reassured, confidence and true emotion emanating from her words. Ian straightened his back, pain no longer an issue, and strode forward; silently closing the distance between him and his smaller counterpart. He knew he had to act now. He had to see.

    Quicker than he thought was possible, the Breloom dropped into a crouch behind his friend, pulled his right arm back, and shot forward at the base of Vertex’s head. The impact held the force of an explosion upon detonation. Dialga’s heart, the pulse of time, froze. The Porygon2 crumpled to the force of gravity, his digital eyes flickering before shutting down. Ian dove to catch him in the same claws that killed him. Tears streamed down his face while he cradled the flickering Pokémon in his arms.

    “I’msosorryI’msosorryI’msosorry...” he whispered to the fading sparks of his last friend. The trust that had saved both their lives countless times had blown away like seeds from a dandelion in a breeze.

    “... W ... hy?” Vertex croaked through his slurred vocal processors. Dull eyes dizzily focused on Ian. Darkness began to grow around them in direct proportion to the AI’s dying glow. The tiny electric ember encased by smooth pink and blue finally burnt out after the months they had spent surviving. Together.

    “You’ll see, Vertex. We’ll both see. I promise,” Ian choked out amid sobs. Regret shredded and tore away at his insides. He wanted it to stop, but there was nothing he could do. There was nothing in his satchel to repair the fatal damage to Vertex’s vital data processing areas.

    Ian tore his gaze away from the falling star. His eyes feverishly scanned the walls. Feeling his mind slipping, his body contorted, and the cloak of opaque nothingness suffocated him. Its oozing tendrils crawled down his gasping mouth and squeezed his lungs shut. He was going to die. He foolishly had trusted the visions in the dark and now his beloved friend bled over his cold, trembling arms.

    He heard the haunting swing of the scythe and the beat of the angel of death’s massive, grey-feathered wings above him. He had seen it many times before, standing there with the long-handled scythe in his hands, waiting for him. And now, after years of waiting, the reaper would win, and he would be reunited with his team in Elysium. He would be free to roam the eternally sun-lit fields of unending happiness. He would be with Sophie.

    “Don’t look at him, Ian! You can’t go with him! Quick, look to your left! It’s working!” Sophie’s sudden outburst broke the trance. His eyes blinked, seeing the black-robed angel retreat back into the shadows. Ian slowly turned his gaze to his left, afraid of what he might or might not see.

    Outlined in faint blue lines along the previously blank section of wall, the shape of a door, cleverly disguised in the unending tunnel. A slight smile etched its way across his cracked face. The Breloom stumbled to his aching feet, still clutching Vertex deliriously. Splintered claws clicked across the stone.

    “There! I knew it was there!” Ian screamed in euphoria, tears of pain and joy running down his dried face. Vertex weakly groaned, the electrical synapses in his mind not yet dead. How long it had been there, hiding in the shadows, was something he would never know. He only knew he had to reach the end.

    A rumble shook the floor; great masses of stone grated and cracked against one another in discontent harmony. Ian stumbled and slammed into the rock, desiccated flesh tearing from his left shoulder. Dust rained down upon the withered spore cap on his head, but Ian shook it off while he continued his walk towards salvation.

    “Employee 286. How in Verus you managed to survive I don’t know, but well done. If you'd kindly return to us, then you’ll see that none of this is real,” the cold voice broadcasted over the unseen amplification devices far above. Ian’s heart dropped and his body nearly followed suit. A cold, jarring shiver slammed his form, sending him careening.

    “S-shut up! You can’t see me! Y-You can’t see me!”

    “Oh, but I can, little weed.” The great hall he had just left immediately became an orchestra of destruction. The ground thundered violently. Ian clutched the wall and struggled to keep his footing amid the rattling stone. Great machines groaned and creaked, their pipes aching at the pressure of the water and chemicals pumped through them. The vaulted ceiling, an architectural feat of the ancient ones, could not stand against the cruel engines of science.

    “Celebi of the sacred glade, save me. Deliver my tainted soul and protect me from all transgressions. Celebi, watcher of the woods, I beseech ye to intervene, for I have done no wrong. Celebi, I plead my soul! Celebi, I implore! Celebi, hear me, your servant!” Ian cried, throwing himself to the floor. There was only laughter from the voice as the hall crumbled.

    “I certainly hope you are dead by now. Several hundred tons of granite and iron would be enough to kill you. Don’t you think that you should be dead by —” Ian couldn’t take it any more. The last time he had hesitated, he had ended up in the clutches Regice. Something inside of his mind swiftly rent in two, shooting to his feet.

    “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! I AM STILL ALIVE!” Ian roared, spit flying from his enraged mouth. Snatching up Vertex and satchel, the deranged explorer sprinted towards the end of the accessway. He would finally escape the lowest level of Erebus. The voice cackled within the cords that amplified it.

    “There is more than one way to flush out pests. Chemicals can be quite useful when used in the right mixtures. Quite toxic.” With those words, the great beast of iron shuddered while chemical blood pumped through its veins. Stone and time screamed in protest as the might of the machine drove them away, now unchallenged in his rise to power.

    There was a screech of metal on iron skin, the wakening monster slit its arteries, allowing the precious compounds to pour forth. The microscopic molecules met in the dusty air. The catalyst was activated, the energy supplied, the reaction swiftly begun, and the product flooded the pure air with its toxic clouds. Had there been light, Ian might have been able to identify the poisonous gas based upon its color, but as of now, he simply knew he had to escape its deadly effects.

    With feet vaulted over the decay, Ian could finally see the end: a simple iron ladder. A spark raced through his heart. He smelled the faint memories of the Gracideas, their phantom scents invigorating his rapidly failing body.

    Breathing was harsh and labored against the gas that was seeping in. His mind had to hold out until he had reached the top. His feet nearly slipped on pebbles on the ground, skidding at the base of the iron structure. His heart beating like a war drum against fatigue, he lifted the flap of his satchel, and carefully deposited the unconscious Porygon2 tenderly into the bag.

    “We’ll make it out. I promise.” The words were hollow, and he secretly prayed that Vertex could not hear. His voice of reason and friend now secured, Ian hoisted the bag onto his shoulder, sliding the worn strap across the blistered skin.

    Without another thought, he swung himself onto the first rung, his curved claws struggling to keep a solid grip on the rusting metal. The invisible gas swelled on the ground below, steadily contaminating whatever air remained. Ian raised his head up and forced his weakened arms to grasp and pull. Pain pounded against his head, shattering his final stronghold of coherent thoughts. The labyrinthine maze shuddered, jostling the Breloom on his precarious perch. His mouth silently moved in calming prayers to Celebi while he hugged the ladder.

    He looked up at the distance he still had to go, eyes instinctively squinting at the sudden appearance of a bright light —not sunlight but still wonderful. Shaking away the temporary blindness brought about by the sudden burst of light, Ian forced himself up. Flesh on his wrists rubbed against the deteriorating iron and left raw patches of bleeding skin behind.

    I can do this. I can do this! Just a bit longer... his mind repeated, beginning to grow fuzzy with the creeping tendrils of a psychotic fit approaching. The light grew brighter. Ian felt the chemicals leach through his skin, burning it away piece by piece while iron clanged on his claws.

    Science, long the usurper of superstition and rumor, would win again here against his delusions. Ian’s shivering head fell beneath the noxious fumes with a deep gasp. He continued to climb, even as the gas rose above him. The Breloom glanced down at the curled form of Vertex in his bag. He contemplated letting the strap slide off his shoulder and allowing gravity to do its job on his dear friend.

    Ian, please... Don’t... The voice sounded like Vertex, but it wasn’t. He had no explanation for it, yet he decided to heed its pathetic pleas just as he had blindly followed Sophie’s order to destroy Vertex. With tears in his eyes, he held the bag tight and scrambled up the final remaining rungs while his lungs failed. His mouth exploded in a hot exhale and breathed in deep the lethal fumes that began corroding his body from the inside.

    His claws reached the top and for once in his time in his prison, he was happy that unconsciousness finally forced him into submission. The light consumed him as the gas shut down his heart. He felt the cold iron leave him behind while weightless took away his burden. There were voices, panicked voices, but they were only delusions of his dying mind. That’s all anything could be in the end. And this was his end. He knew it was.

    “I’m so sorry...” he whispered to Vertex, the words barely audible in death as angels surrounded him. He closed his eyes on the cruel world that had taken away his team and sanity. He looked forward for the glorious arrival of the spirit of the moon, Cresselia, to ferry him across the stars to paradise, Elysium. He only had to wait for the light to take him away.

    Sophie, I’m coming.



    Leo stretched out his arms, letting out a content yawn. Soft, fireproof cloth of the hammock caressed his stirring form and rocked him gently. Leo lifted both of his clawed feet over the edge. His eyes opened slowly to morning light while the blurred world came into focus. Slides of sunlight streamed through the skylight built for the bird Pokémon who resided in the fort, including one covered entirely in light brown and dark red plumage diving towards him out of the sky.

    Leo’s groggy eyes widened and he flailed in the confines of his bed to escape the creature’s flight path. The hammock promptly flipped over, depositing the Charmeleon to the scratched wood floor. From his position under the spinning bed, Leo watched while the missile with feathers swooped in. The Pokémon, a Pidgeotto, flapped its impressive wingspan, and perched on his empty hammock.

    “‘Leo! What are ya still doin’ in bed? E’ryone else’s already up!” Leo winced as Icarus squawked at him. For the last two days, much to Leo’s chagrin, Icarus had taken to becoming his personal alarm to wake him. “Come on, Leo! Torrent’s gonna have a fit if he sees you like this! He’s already in a bad mood. Noah caused a disturbance in town. Not quite sure wha’ happened there, mighta been something to do with tresspassin’ or something like that. Anyways, you gotta get up!” Leo couldn’t help but suppress a chuckle while climbing to his feet.

    “Since when is Torrent ever in a good mood?” Leo asked with a smile. There was no doubt about it; his spirits had rebounded massively from where they had been two days ago. He had been the unintentional center of attention when Noah began recounting their tale all over town. Leo quickly discovered that he didn’t like the spotlight, especially after Noah had equated his dumb luck with igniting the beast on fire to an act on par with ancient heroes.

    “Good point, come to think of it. The general is hardly cheery, is he? I mean, in all the years I’ve been with ‘im, I’ve hardly ever seen him crack a smile at all! It’s downright eerie, if you ask me. I’ve heard rumors, mostly from Noah that is, that he’s actually the son of a king of an icy land beyond the Northern Reaches, ” Icarus spoke, rapidly wandering off on the tangent. Before his mind was polluted with more gossip and conspiracy rumors, Leo walked past the Pidgeotto and into the hallway outside their section of the barracks. “Hoy! Wait up, Leo!” his former client huffed as he broke away from his fantastic story and slowed to a light hover beside Leo.

    The hallway suddenly opened up into a much wider lobby area. Bulletin boards, similar to the ones near the dilapidated Post Office in Loyalty, lined the walls while crowds of Pokémon eyed the updates eagerly.He had only experience with two types of jobs that a rescue team could do: rescue missions and item retrievals, both of which ended in relative failure. Apparently there were much more that could be offered if he knew where to look. Some of the jobs listed he had Kelly read off seemed fun.

    Huh... Escort mission... That doesn’t sound too hard...

    While it was true that a good portion of his spirit to explore dungeons had been crushed by Nexus’s steel claws, Leo still wanted to see the positive aspects, if there were any. The Charmeleon had briefly wondered what it would be like to escort a client to some secret rendezvous, or as his mind streamed through the possibilities, hunting down a group of Kingdom outlaws in the dark depths of a dungeon. Perhaps doing an espionage mission into Colonial territory like some of the high profile teams— Team Emerald was one such team that made the dangerous trip almost daily. Leo’s spirit rose after the Grovyle leader had personally praised him for killing Ira, the infamous “Witch of the Blue Canyon,”.

    “Leo! Ya still there?” Icarus squawked, waving his tan-colored wings in front of Leo’s face.

    “Yeah, I’m here. What’s up?” Leo asked offhandedly, trying to scope out any interesting jobs. However, he failed to do so; the strange runes they were written in were beyond his comprehension.

    I was able to read them back in Loyalty. Do they simply write differently here? Leo asked himself, puzzled at the strange shift in writing. Leo twisted his key about his neck, letting the golden band loop over his claws as he surveyed the sunlit lobby in an effort to find his teammates.

    “Well, I’ve been askin’ you what you’re planning on doing today. Remember, you’re back on duty at noon,” Icarus noted.

    “I’ll be hearing into town. I need to find my team. I don’t see them here,” Leo mused as he began to push his way through the crowd of colorful species, quickly apologizing to the owner of each tail, wing, paw, and flipper he stomped on his way outside.

    “Alrighty then! Good luck with that, mate! Now, I’ve got some deliveries to make before the sun falls back down. I’ll be seeing ya!” Icarus quickly blurted before swiftly flapping his wings and launching himself into the sky. The Pidgeotto circled around to another part of the outpost in order to pick up the cargo to deliver. While he didn’t mind Icarus, Leo couldn’t help but be glad at being alone among his own thoughts again.

    Leo meandered down the roads, passing by house and shops, all bustling with some sort of activity. The General Store run by a golden sword with silken arms and a smith’s forge attended by a snail made of boiling magma both caught his attention. A strange thought occurred to him; the civilization they had carved out for themselves was quite astounding. Regardless of his previous existence, he found it impressive viewing it from a state of tabula rasa.

    He was nearly lost in his thoughts when a loud voice from behind and a tap on his shoulder shattered his observation. Leo eyes widened as his body twisted around and, by instinct, held his sharpened claws at the ready to face up against the intruding stranger.

    “Jumpy and quick to fight. You’re just the Pokémon I’m looking for.” The female voice came from a creature he had never seen before. Her arms, each ending in two pronounced claws, were held across her chest of fine black fur that made her body shine in the sun. From her feet to the pink feather behind her ear, she looked stunning amid the weathered town.

    “I’d ask why you’re looking at me like a Swellow does a Wurmple, but I’ve got more pressing issues at the moment. I need a couple strong Pokémon to help me out, and fortunately I found you instantly,” she stated, carefully walking around Leo with a critical eye. Leo quickly gulped and moved himself out of the Pokemon’s inquisitive range.

    “No, no! I wasn’t—! I didn’t —! Mean to ...” he stammered as her nimble form closed. Her clawed feet barely touched the ground with every light step she took.

    “Save it, Charmeleon. Now, back to my point. I need a few good ‘mon to help with a small something for the Kingdom. You willing to be a nice guy help me out here and serve your country?” Her voice carried a small tone that chipped away Leo’s initial will to flat-out refuse. The dark creature’s eyes seemed to gleam, making his will waiver even more.

    “Wait up, whoever you are. I’ve still got another few hours’ worth of leave from Torrent. Why should I help when you haven’t told me anything?” Leo asked, countering the strange Pokémon. He saw her eyes widen for an instant in surprise before taking a step back. He smiled, letting a few of his fangs show. He would have to remember to thank Noah for the lessons in twisting a conversation when he next saw him.

    “You’re friends with Noah, aren’t you? I can tell. He’s already corrupted you too. What a shame,” she said, her charming stare becoming a glare of disdain. “Regardless, I still need another pair of arms to help my crew. I’ll ask nicely once more. Please help me?” she huffed, tapping her foot against the dirt path impatiently.

    “You don’t know the half of it. Anyways, who are you in the first place? If you’re under Torrent, then why have I never seen you before?” he muttered the first sentence under his breath, before he pointedly asked her the accusatory questions.

    “He taught you well. Damn him. Name’s Kinsliy, a Sneasel if you’ve never seen me.” She let out a slight chuckle. “Officers don’t usually have to eat or train with the freshies Torrent picks up from countryside,” Kinsliy stated. She nonchalantly examined the thin blood-red scarf tied about her neck and a gold badge pinned to it. She admired the stately accessory while making sure that Leo caught a full glimpse of the ornate badge. Crimson eyes glared at him, transforming into a piercing gaze. “So, it seems I’ll have to convince you to tag along.” Kinsliy took a step towards Leo.

    “C-convince me?” he asked, a small shiver of fear shooting through him. The threatening Sneasel only grinned in response, which did nothing to quell the fear building up in hm.

    “One: I outrank you.” She took a step closer, holding up a single claw. Leo’s breathing quickened. His claws instinctively dug into the clay wall.

    “Two: I outrank you.” She lifted another claw and suddenly lightly pressed them into the center of his chest, right above his wildly beating heart. His body seemed to be stuck.

    “And three,” Kinsliy began. In a flash, her claws swung up from his chest. He flinched as they brushed against his neck. When he opened his eyes, she was standing on the opposite side of the road. Kinsliy was smiling and dangling something from her outstretched claws —something that shimmered with gold and gleamed with a bright blue crystal. “This may be of some value to you, I think.” She dangled the artifact. His claws flew to his neck to ensure that the Sneasel wasn’t tricking him. They were met with the scale-covered flesh and nothing else.

    “Give it back! That’s mine!” Leo snarled, taking a step towards her.

    “If you come this way, I’ll give it back. After you’ve helped me finish a job,” she ordered as she began walking away. Leo felt like a dog on a leash grudgingly following the Sneasel.

    He grew more and more worried about the job the closer he got. Kinsliy refused to say anything further to him. While exiting the town Leo ruefully saw Noah, Kelly, and Jay talking in the square, but never got close enough to speak. He opted to keep his mouth shut instead of cursing the officer. No words were exchanged between them, leaving Leo ample space his thoughts. The first one of which was of the riots in Silver City

    Most of what he knew of the fabled capital city was from the mumbled curses that came from Jay. While never seeing it, the lengthy descriptions from the Riolu about the gleaming spires of the Royal Palace and the Rescue Team Federation danced in his head. They contrasted wildly with the crowded lower sections Blade told him about before the Grovyle left on a mission.

    Team Emerald hasn’t come back yet. I wonder what happened to them... he mused. His thoughts were interrupted by the magnificent sea of lush fields. Leo barely managed to withhold the sudden desire to sprint into the field of berries and relax. For an instant, he wanted to wish away the flame on his tail so he could enjoy the simple pleasures of swimming or not lighting things aflame by contact. His tail seemed to flicker at his thoughts.

    “You know I don’t mean that,” Leo softly cooed, holding his tail in his claws. The temperamental flame flared brightly in his claws, bathing them with warmth.

    “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that and say that we’ve arrived,” Kinsliy interjected. The voice caused him to quickly let the tail drop back behind him while the Sneasel gave a scathing glare. Before him was a crude camp set up in the woods. Other Pokémon milled about, carrying logs and tools. “Here’s the sit-rep: we need some timber to shore up the fortifications ‘round here. You’re to help with cutting and hauling. Understood?” Kinsliy briefly stated, pointing to the woods. “Afterwards, if you do a good job, I’ll give you back your key. Got it? Good. Get to work”

    Above him, Leo could barely make out the forms of Pokémon he vaguely remembered seeing in Torrent’s company working. Some of them used saws and hammers while others felled the mighty oaks with their attacks. Leo even saw the occasional flying bird and bug creatures hovering around the harvest project in the bright sunlight.

    “Your job is going to be over there, hauling logs back to here. I’ll be back later. Got another set of ‘mon to yell at.” With that, Kinsliy’s lithe form flitted away into the bustling forest.

    She wasn’t lying when she said she needed more hands on this job... his thoughts realized after counting the Pokémon. There were only five others tackling this huge task with him. Leo let out a huff of exasperation, swearing to get even with the Sneasel somehow. Steam snorted from his clenched jaw as he bent his legs to lift the large log .

    “Greetings, Leo.” The world instantly darkened, like the sun had been enveloped by a massive cloud. He suddenly felt the world become disassociated from himself.
    Immediately, Leo knew this meeting between them would not be standard. The Mismagius was not floating over the Charmeleon. Rather, the ghost was hovering in a fashion that looked like he was sitting. The picture was completed with a blue scarf he had wrapped around his neck.

    “Come here, Leo. Sit with me. We have much to discuss.” Leo froze while a shudder passed through him. While he was used to the calculating voice giving him cryptic orders, never had he heard it void of malice. It was sincere, as if spoken between friends.

    “I’m not going to mince words here, Leo. I feel that it is time we have a ‘heart to heart’ conversation. There are things you must be aware of before the storm bursts. I will ask you abstain from asking questions until I am finished.” The tired voice resonated from the ghost. Leo did his best to hold his tongue as the Mismagius cast a knowing glare followed by a slight smile on the corners of his pressed lips. An unknown, slithering sensation moved inside his scales. Leo immediately tried to squirm away from the invisible lengths of rope wrapping about inside his body that were effectively tying his bones in place.

    “You are among the last, Leo. Among the dead and dying. The others I enlisted are utterly eliminated from this realm. Now, it falls to you to be the catalyst that speeds this reaction along.” This Mismagius hovered in front of Leo. The Charmeleon caught a closer glimpse of the strange blue scarf bearing the insignia of a piercing crimson eye, but it wasn’t the new scarf that caught Leo’s attention the most. The ghost’s face seemed to have aged since the last encounter.

    “To answer the questions most assuredly burning away inside your skull, I got it from a friend of mine long ago. And now to answer your second question, which I believe is rather imperative to the success of this campaign.” Leo leaned forward, intrigued rather than frightened out of his mind at the prospect of what exactly the Mismagius planned on revealing. The purple specter took a deep breath, struggling to draw air beneath the weight of the world on his thin chest.

    “Let your doubts be finally settled. You were at one point a human, Leo. That has of course changed now, but that much, at least, is according to my own design.” The floor might as well have been yanked out from beneath Leo’s feet. His mind didn’t seem to register. He had contemplated it and dropped the subject of humanity. All of that changed with those dozen words. Leo swore he heard his brain audibly click when the information was finally processed. He wanted to speak but his jaw refused to move.

    “I see you are taking it well. Dwell on that while I touch on a related topic. You were not the only human to come here in recent times— I had dozens under my wing, but now, by a cruel twist of Fate, they are all unusable...” There was nothing to say. First humanity, and now this grisly revelation had been forced upon him. He didn't know what to feel. There were humans who had struggled and pressed their shoulders against the burden of the world yet failed to withstand the pressure. He was one of them, connected by flesh and species. Yet, he was still alive while they had joined the ranks of the fortunate dead. He didn't deserve to be here in the sun; he was no different than those who failed.

    [b][i]"You may be the last alive, but you are not special. You are simply the one who avoided all lethal misfortunes. Now, you are the only one who can carry on,”[\i][\b] the Mismagius said with a frustrated sigh. Leo’s mind was a mixture of confused hatred and eager realization. His thoughts seethed while biting his tongue to not blurt his protests outloud.

    ”So I am nothing to you, then? Why should I go along with your plans if I apparently mean so little?” The Mismagius turned, a discomforting glare greeting Leo.

    “I saved you, Leo. Without me, your worthless carcass would have been mauled by intercrossing dimensions. I gave you a chance to live. My entire operation is on the verge of collapse, and all I have to work with is a few survivors, the least competent being yourself. Do not berate me for using you, as you owe me your existence,” the ethereal Pokémon snapped before sucking in a breath. Leo still stood in place, unable to move. When the Mismagius finished venting, he looked back at Leo. His bright yellow eyes shone with a softer brilliance than before. “I am sorry. That was unprofessional of me. The truth of the matter is that I am under an enormous amount of stress that correlates with the number of recent candidate deaths. Remember this Leo: there are forces within this world who actively wish to see it reduced to ruins and would gladly stab your back to see that goal come about.” The Mismagius looked out over the Pokémon frozen in their moments of toil. “Your team is what I have left to work with. Everyone else is too far gone to be saved, but with my efforts here, success can still be achieved.” He shifted his gaze to the side and Leo could only watch in forced resignation.

    Continued Below
    Last edited by Knightfall; 9th April 2014 at 12:19 PM.

  5. #255
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    Continued


    “You recall the deal I made with you, right? Where you follow my path in exchange for untampered dreams and life except when vital? Well, I would like to make a new deal with you, one that you can trust and have a vested interest in upholding for our mutual benefits. Does that sound appealing?” Leo shrugged in acceptance. There wasn’t much other choice than to agree. The frozen landscape rippled like a minnow disturbing the shallows of a lake. Leo saw the forest warp and distort as the images of reality faded and rearranged. The vibrant colors that filled in the earth around bled away. He saw that even his own body was no longer crimson and beige but now dull grey. As the world continued to warp and transform before his eyes, the Mismagius once again continued his one-sided conversation.

    “Leo, you may not be special or among the few destined for greatness, but you are the person who is here. And without you, there would be very few who could take on the role.” While he spoke, the environment finally finished its massive metamorphosis from forest to a limitless canopy of stars. But here, it was closer —much closer. If he had the ability, Leo would have tried to reach out to the slow-spinning whirlpools of stars. Amid a cluster of far-off galaxies and fiery points of light against the blackness, the cause of nearly all of his pain and also the source of his life stood silhouetted by the dim glow of the universe. “Do you see these stars, Leo? Do you see their light? Do you see the intricate patterns and structures they form among the darkness to keep it at bay?” Unlike last time, the binds on his body remained firmly in place. “You are a star, Leo.”

    The Charmeleon was puzzled over receiving an apparent compliment from the usually menacing phantom. Before the thought could go any further, the starry scene changed. The stunning picture of the universe was rapidly blotted out— stars, galaxies, and all light enveloped by the encroaching void of space. Soon, all that was left in the empty pitch-black sphere was a singular pinprick of light daring to show its face. The Mismagius held one of his wispy tendrils underneath the lone star.

    “There you are, Leo. Alone, without allies, without friends, without a plan, and with the entire universe working to stifle you forever. No matter how brightly you burn by yourself, your heat and light will never make a difference where it counts here.“ The little star seemed to shake and quiver in the inky darkness, as if it was being rammed by the tides of space to prove the point.

    “If you add in the friends you have made, you form a constellation. A weak structure on its own, but able to make a stand against the world, if only for a moment.” As he spoke, more stars appeared from the void, becoming a vague shape in the night sky. “If you add in the allies willing to protect you, you form a single galaxy, a mighty force in the heavens, yet not enough to succeed against the darkened will of the universe.” That instant, a tiny cluster of stars replaced the thin constellation. A burning ball of lights against the thick, obscuring curtain.

    “And now, if you add in my plan, knowledge, and power,” he began, “Then your light will shine with a force to put the sun itself to shame.” Just then, the small sphere of stars the represented him exploded in a dazzling array of light that filled the empty cosmos with a white radiance. Leo raised his arm to shield his eyes. Soon, the white light had completely overpowered the dark. Leo found himself staring face-to-face with the ghost. Taking a deep breath for courage, Leo held out his claw to his enemy.

    “I accept,” he stated firmly, barely managing to suppress his fear. The specter’s eyes widened greedily and returned the gesture, the shadowy tendril curling around his claws.

    “Time is coming for us all. We have a chance to stand against the world. I promise you, Leo, the Fates have written your place among the stars. I am truly grateful.” The aged mystic nodded with a tip of his wide hat. After a brief moment of longing to know what the other was thinking, their grips dropped. The world of white immediately shattered and reformed back into reality. Leo bent down in the leaves to pick up another log with a sigh. This was going to be another long day. With that thought, the Charmeleon shouldered the load. He glanced skywards.

    As brief as it might have been, I was a star up there... I have a purpose....




    Kelly smiled while carefully placing the last touches to the paper. She lay on the ground in the shade of the gnarled oaks that surrounded Shiloh. A thin stream of electricity from an extended claw burned a period into the final sentence of the letter. She decided to give the piece of paper a final look. Stationery crinkled in her paws as she read over the burned lines. She had spent the last two days perfecting it, painstakingly going over each sentence in her mind before she got the courage to finally put them to paper. It had to be perfect, especially considering its recipients.

    As soon as she finished, she grabbed the beige envelope and slid the paper inside. She folded over the top flap. Suddenly, the Jolteon’s expression turned into a scowl. Her fur began to bristle with bolts of electricity. She let out a short scream, twisted the energy, and blasting it away. The letter was instantly burned into ash. Kelly’s breaths came in short, quick huffs before smelling the charred remnants.

    “I can’t do it. I can’t,” she muttered, forcing herself to take a series of calming breaths. Kelly tore her gaze away from the smoldering paper. Her night terrors were to blame. They had only grown worse. Over the past two nights she would scream until she woke from the nightmare that had decided to plague her mind that night. Now she had decided to forgo sleep entirely. Soon the despair turned into a desire to write letters. She didn’t know who she wanted to send the letters to, but she knew that she had to write them. Kelly didn’t understand and severely doubted that her sleep deprived brain would be able to help.

    She spent the second day wandering aimlessly through Shiloh until she could not stay awake. The Jolteon had found herself stumbling into an alley and curling up underneath a hollow crate. The horrifying visions still came, but her mind no longer had the energy to wake her. In the final set of night terrors, she resorted to tackling and clawing the unfeeling phantoms of Leo, Jay, and Noah until they resembled grotesque piles. And even then, she ripped their lips from their faces and sliced their throats. Her claws had been drenched crimson in their blood, and her stomach felt like twisting inside out. But she didn’t relent. She had to stop the voices.

    That had been yesterday. Kelly opened her eyes and got up. Words buzzed around her head, trying to form sentences, but she resisted the thoughts. Her paws padded the earthy road beneath as she entered the humble farming town.

    It’s so much like Solace Town, even down to the market. Like a perfect copy, her thoughts idly observed. She wondered if this was what the gods had planned for her: never being able to escape the life she abandoned. She had left her home, traveled the roads, created a team with a stranger in a foreign city, been falsely accused of treason, and now caught up in a plot far beyond herself. Still, she was constantly reminded of her previous life.

    A Floatzel bid her good day as he passed. She quickly hid her disconcerting thoughts behind a gentle smile. Once he left, she returned to her troubled expression. Her thoughts were still confused. The way she pieced together information didn’t make sense to her. She had the nightmares since she left her home, but why they were increasing now, she didn’t know.

    She briefly fancied the idea of going to Quark, but she quickly put it down. Even when she had relayed all her symptoms, he was unable to detect a mishap in her mind. In theory, she should be perfect. In reality, she was flawed. And she had no idea how to fix it. Kelly hardly realized that she had walked into the middle of town. Just before her confused mind began contemplating getting something to dull the pain and evil, a familiar voice called out to her.

    “Kelly! There you are! Jay and I have been looking all over for you and Leo.” Kelly turned her head to see Noah excitedly running to meet her. The Dewott gave her a genuine smile before skidding to a stop in front of her. From farther behind, Jay walked at a slower pace. She couldn’t help but feel a pang of guilt seeing the crimson band tied around his eyes. It had been because of her that he was blind. He was her oldest friend and she failed him.

    “Jay and I wanted to go explore a dungeon today, so we spent the morning preparing supplies. We just finished looking through the job listings, and we found one that looks pretty neat and offers a decent reward if it’s done right. We’d love your help with this one, and it’d do Leo good to go on a normal job,” Noah stated in one giddy breath while eagerly taking folded parchment from his bag. His paws spread out the sheet so she could see the description. Like everything else in the town, it was in footprint runes, the traditional text of the Borderlands. Fortunately, she had been educated in interpreting the various patterns of the prints and could easily read it.

    Request: “I would appreciate it if a team would find a few specific plants and herbs that grow specifically in the Forlorn Stronghold mystery dungeon to make into medicine. The plants in question are described in greater detail on the attached list for convenience.”
    Reward: 100 Silver Poké*
    Client: Titinius Aegislash, Owner of the Slash and Burn General Store, Shiloh
    *Reward based on amount of plants recovered.
    .

    Kelly examined the request twice, flipping to the second page to see which plants the owner wished to procure. True enough, the mission was simple. Collecting plants, as tedious as it posed, didn’t seem to hide an evil intent like the last two jobs did.

    “Forlorn Stronghold is in the mountains, right? Why do you need me to go with you, exactly?” Kelly asked. Part of her heart started beating faster at the prospect of dungeoneering once again. She had always admired the skill and power of rescue teams. Kelly knew that she needed to go.

    “Yep. And Jay’s told me you handle yourself well inside them. I know a few of the Pokémon inside the Stronghold are a bit tough, so better safe than sorry, am I right?” Noah explained as he returned the slip of brown paper to his satchel. “Also, have you seen Leo? We haven’t seen him in town, and we figured he’d be with you,” Noah asked distractedly while he concentrated on shifting items around in his bag.

    “I’d love to join. It’s been long since we had a well-paying job,” she said while contemplating the second part. She shook her head. “I haven’t seen him since last night. He might still be sleeping. I think he wants to enjoy the last hours of not having to work,” she reasoned with a shrug. While she and Leo did spend some time talking over the last few days, she hadn’t kept track of how he spent his days.

    “Awesome! We’ll be like the Legendary musketeers! Charging through the dungeon making all fear our mighty names! I am Cobalion” Noah shouted as he struck a triumphant pose on the nearby crate of wavy blue Kelpsy Berries. The action brought a smile to her face and temporarily distracted her from the nightmares that prowled the edges of her mind. Kelly shook her head and tried to focus her thoughts on the mission ahead. If she was going to be of any use, she needed to be alert and not distracted by wayward thoughts every second.

    “Are we going? I know we haven’t found Leo, but if we don’t leave now, we’re going to be ending the mission in complete darkness,” Jay calmly pointed out as his paw smoothed out some of the creases in the red Healing Band over his eyes.

    “Yeah, we probably should hit the road. We’ll take Leo on the next one. He’s probably relaxing or sleeping anyways. We’ll bring him back a nice souvenir or buy him something with the reward,” Noah suggested before they went through a final inspection of their bags and badges. Kelly had long ago lost her exploration satchel she bought from Aleck the Sableye in Loyalty, but she still had her badge pinned to the worn Pecha Scarf tied around her neck.

    She only needed to clear her head. She prayed to Raikou that the mountain air would refresh her. If it doesn’t work, A shudder passed through her skin, then I’ll have to find some way to make the terrors cease.



    Dust of discarded knowledge blurred the air and dulled the meaningless sun. A soft wind lifted one thousand years’ worth of knowledge into the smog-ridden clouds to tarnish the silver spires. A strangled gust of air kicked up a flurry of ashen remains into the empty streets. Not a soul was present to witness the aftermath of the chaos.

    The grey light drifted solemnly down from its position in the heavens. Gods turned their heads away from the city of pagans in disgust, content to let it fall victim to the eventual calamity of a molten deluge. Only soldiers, armed with royal insignia and equipment, remained to patrol the abandoned streets. The capital had died in the fire, and there was little hope that a kingly phoenix would rise from this desolate pyre.

    It was three days after the first spark, but fires still smoldered in the depths of the city and in the oppressed souls under the crown. Smoke mixed with the putrid air to produce an acrid fog that reinforced the martial lockdown by being potent enough to reduce the staunchest dissenter to a vomiting shell. Through the poison, the police, and the scrambling efforts of the under-equipped fire teams as they struggled to suffocate the blazes, two Pokémon remained in the ruined sanctuary where the malicious flame was birthed.

    One was wrapped about in a filthy brown robe, its tattered edges brushing against the smooth stones. He knelt on the ground, his unhooded head giving his identity away. From his rightful position on the ash-covered rock, the robed figure muttered prayers on the broken altar of Dialga. Words, strained with raw emotion, fell on the ears of a deaf god who had abandoned the city to the fate of fire. His cracked lips continued to faithfully pull out prayers, begging that they would restore his city to the Time Dragon’s favor. Nickolas lifted a small bronze dragon with trembling paws. His father had bound him to Dialga, heart and soul, and likewise he swore his son’s life.

    Behind a singed slab of hewn stone, another Pokémon heard the first let out a choked cry. His insect head darted out from his cover for an instant. His senses had proved him right: the Lucario king was reduced to a weeping mass in the torched church.

    He knew the development worked for the plans of his superiors, but he was not smiling. Rather, he slumped against the stone and crossed his scythes across his carapace. He tried to will himself to focus on positive thoughts, but the incessant tears of the tyrant refused him the pleasure of a clear consciousness. Thoughts flew in his head like the chaotically swirling flakes of ash. He wanted nothing more than to be content with the duty he had completed, but the sinking feeling of doubt remained. The metal in his blades scraped on the stone wall as he shifted to a more comfortable position. He had seen the evils of this tsarist government and knew he was right in destroying it. He was working for all Pokémon who ached to be free from its chains.

    But even with those convictions, it did not explain why did he still felt the pangs of guilt for his doings with the Sableye and Magnezone. He had caused the deaths, captures, and exodus of at least eleven Pokémon on that same night, and he refused to forget. The Kingdom had fallen from justice, and the divine mandate it acclaimed had long been retracted. Yet he felt guilty for betraying the government.

    He took another look from his hidden place. Nickolas, the once-absolute monarch from the Silver Coast to the Far Reach mountains, had yet to lift his feeble form from the ashes. The thought occurred to Darnéy to simply dart forward and end his life. The madness would be over and the head of the corrupt demon would be severed. All it would take was a strong swing at Nickolas’s neck and he could clean his scythe of royal blood knowing that he had done it for democracy.

    But why do I hesitate? Azelf, why does my will falter? The Scyther mind pondered. He could be a hero and founding a new republic from the fires of freedom. But instead, he was pondering his lack of conviction in a ruined church among the ghettos of Silver City.

    What am I doing? Why do I suddenly now challenge the status quo? Why does it choose now, when we are so close to the end?

    “Because, dear Chancellor, you are thinking for yourself.” The bug’s eyes widened and body instinctively snapped into action. A bladed arm shot out and his feet spun him around to inflict a brutal blow on the intruder. A clean line separated the dusty air before it blew away. Darnéy refused to be taken by surprise. He narrowed his eyes as he spun in a tight circle.

    “While I originally intended on lesioning the brainstem of he who incinerated my church, I, like you, hesitated. There is more to you than a mindless servant, isn’t there, young Scyther?” The ashen mist and the fog of sin were parted by an unearthly force. Darnéy shielded his eyes from the particles blowing against his face. It quickly revealed a floating being of blue steel. A pair of eyes near the bottom of the giant bell glowed faintly red and Darnéy felt himself grow weary as he was subjected to the immense, tired aura of the Pokémon.

    “...You. Who are you? I set no fire...” Darnéy’s whispered question was drowned out by sounds of a scuffle in the street. Gazing down from his hiding place, Darnéy picked out a small Pokémon being dragged away by the stationed guards. A false tree held the wayward citizen tightly in its branch-like hands before disappearing under the dark curtain of falling ash

    “I am one who is supposed to care for those currently lost in this fog of deceit. The fire may not be from your blades, but it came from your words. The peasants, they heard your words and burned...” the creature psychically stated while Darnéy watched the soldiers.

    “I have nothing against you, Father. I had to do it. It had to be now,” Darnéy muttered, casting his gaze away from the unwavering glare of the Dialgan priest.

    “Was it really you? Did you want this? I will not stop you. Go ahead. End me. End the weeping king. End us both and continue on burning the city with the riot you started. If that is what you want.” Darnéy’s breath caught in his throat. His scythes were held at the ready, inches away from the priest’s floating form, but they never came closer.

    “Do you not see the suffering on the streets? Are you content to let the masses burn in this hell that tyrant inflicted upon them?” he hissed vehemently, nearly spitting. A blade swished in the direction of the unaware, kneeling Lucario king. The Bronzong did not answer, but he merely turned away to look at the empty cobblestone road and the forlorn buildings across the street. A defeated sigh emanated from the priest.

    “Tell me, Montag, can you burn your problems away?”

    “T-that’s not my name,” Darnéy stammered as the cold, hollow words struck at his mind. Their infused sadness seeking to cripple his resolve.

    “Can you burn them away? Like pages of a book? Like evidence of a crime?”

    “Shut up. I-I’m not listening to you anymore. I know what’s right and what’s wrong,” he stated, not even caring that the Lucario he had been observing suddenly rose and exited the ruined sanctuary, cloak drawn high over his head.

    “It’s so rare to see a someone think for themselves, even if it is for a single moment. Too often they are so caught up in seeing that they grow blind.” The Scyther squeezed his eyes shut, leaning back against the charred wall. A momentary flash of clarity shot before him. What this devilry was, Darnéy did not know. He only knew that something huge —a fierce storm— had descended upon his soul. All because he had hesitated. Because he waited a moment too long to act and let a seed of doubt take root in his head.

    What happened? What changed? Why do I now feel as if there’s a choice to be made? There isn’t! There’s only one path! A singular path... His thoughts were a swarm of Beedrill in his skull, yet no matter how loud they buzzed, nothing gave him a definable answer.

    “The decision, Montag, is yours alone. Just remember that Pokémon who dare to question, who dare to reason, who dare to challenge, are feared and hated by tyrants.” And with that, Darnéy was alone. The odd priest had vanished before his eyes, dematerializing in a flash of psychic energy. The Scyther drew in a breath of ashen air, letting his tensed muscles relax and the words of the Bronzong attack his conscience.

    “Can there be a real choice? ... No. There is only one path... A singular path,” Darnéy whispered. The remaining curls of smoke wrapped themselves about his carapace before taking his conflicted emotions skywards. He let his scythes hang by his sides, both hitting the floor with sharp, metallic clangs. With that, Darnéy closed his eyes and heart to the choking cries of the smoldering city.



    “Your orders were clear: at first sight, they are to be destroyed. Be silent, be swift, and be secretive. We don’t want a mess on our hands. Not again.”




    Leo’s muscles were trying to separate from his skin. Each movement he made caused a bolt of pain to shoot up his body. The sun was nearly gone from the horizon and the streets were only occupied by Pokémon returning from missions or the fields. Under Kinsliy’s oversight, all the timber was delivered to the carpenter for fortification. Upon completion, she reluctantly returned his artifact. Leo hoped he would never see her again.

    His thoughts were interrupted by a sharp whizzing noise in the air. The weary Charmeleon looked up into the dusk sky over the northern edge of Shiloh. A solitary sphere of bright, orange light shot into the sky from the dark mass of the mountain range. His eyes narrowed while trying to get a better look at the projectile. Its fiery arc began to descend until bursting into flames behind the clay buildings.

    This development was nothing compared to the sight that drew his eyes back up into the darkening skies. The shadowed silhouette of the mountains lit up like a blazing dawn as dozens of glowing spheres shot up into the sky. The atmosphere began to shriek a wretched scream as Leo watched the orbs of light follow their trajectories to the ground. He closed his eyes as the street was engulfed in a sea of fire.



    End Chapter Sixteen
    Last edited by Knightfall; 9th April 2014 at 12:19 PM.

  6. #256
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Between Nod and Terrafirma
    Posts
    392

    Default

    I gotta say, man, that is a long chapter, definitely worth the read.

    Anyway, I can only begin to fathom what I just read but it was great, Ian's mind and his struggle to escape and his ultimate failure to do so, (Should have had poison heal as an ability) Leo's heart to mind with Mismagius, that whole sneasel event, Kelly's doubts and even Jay's struggles to see were all wonderfully done.
    That last segment with the destruction of Silver City was a great way to end the chapter as it still gives us, the readers, a goal to look forward to completion as it almost felt like the story was ending, which it was but to make way for part 2.
    I already left you the error report on your VM's and have not much else to say, this chapter was great and I look forward to more fabrications of your mind. Keep it up man.

    Took me... 79 minutes approximately to read all of this, this may cut down on short responses from some readers.


    Credit to Brutaka for the amazing banner and user bar. Yeah, having 2 is redundant, but it shows you guys my favorite pokemon, what story I had planned and my position in the WoJ.

    Time, there's never enough of it but it's always there to waste.
    -Azurus

  7. #257
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    I gotta say, man, that is a long chapter, definitely worth the read.
    Those are the words I want to hear! Seriously, though. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    Anyway, I can only begin to fathom what I just read but it was great, Ian's mind and his struggle to escape and his ultimate failure to do so, (Should have had poison heal as an ability) Leo's heart to mind with Mismagius, that whole sneasel event, Kelly's doubts and even Jay's struggles to see were all wonderfully done.
    That last segment with the destruction of Silver City was a great way to end the chapter as it still gives us, the readers, a goal to look forward to completion as it almost felt like the story was ending, which it was but to make way for part 2.
    Heh, whatever conclusion you come to, it's probably right in some cosmic sense. And yeah, that would have helped him out. But no, he's stuck with Technician. Leo's talk with Mismagius has been one I planned out for a while. I really wanted to settle some of the plot points that were plaguing him.
    Kinsliy is a wonderful character, isn't she? I'm glad Chaos lent her to me. And, Kelly's scene was one of the most difficult for me to do. What she thinks and her entire ordeal is different than everyone elses, so I have to be careful with how I handle it.
    Jay's got a new design with his blindfold/Healing Band. I'm liking where it's going.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    I already left you the error report on your VM's and have not much else to say, this chapter was great and I look forward to more fabrications of your mind. Keep it up man.

    Took me... 79 minutes approximately to read all of this, this may cut down on short responses from some readers.
    And those have been promptly fixed! Thank you very much, man. I look forward to bringing you all more in the future.

    23,300 words, man. It takes a while to read that much.

    Knightfall signing off...

  8. #258
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Somewhere in the Philippines
    Posts
    314

    Default

    Yay! Chapter 16 is finally up! And the word count is MASSIVE!

    Now time for a more serious review.

    Before I read your Author's Note, I felt this chapter didn't have that much excitement and that it gave readers a rest. So that means you got the effect you wanted. It also gave a tiny bit of back story to Noah.

    I noticed that you were in the tought processes of most of the characters that were relevent to the plot. Ian, Jay, Noah, Leo, Kelly and even Darney.

    All five of their thought processes were, as expected, different then the last. One is struggling to keep a hold on reality in the midst of escaping (Ian. One handling blindness after being "blind" for so long (Jay) and doesn't really care more than himself and his comrades, which now I realize is what's the word? Well, it's either ironic, ridiculous or symbolic, or maybe all three.

    One (Leo) is calming down from the torture and is the second calmest of his team, while Noah is the most relaxed and calmed after their exposition. While Kelly's mind is going in unsurpassed and unusual turmoil and for some reason I feel like shouting at her the answers, or at least my ideas on how to fix it.

    Perhaps I related to her more than I realize?

    Anyways, as for characters, you've added another aspect to the omnipresent Mismagius. Showing he is more than just a business um, ghost, but I still believe it is still for the sake of whatever his "business" is. And is it just me? Or is he wearing a scarf just like the fanart you oh so hate titled "Fabulous"? (Or maybe I was imagining things.....)

    As for the chapter itself, once again you put quality over update speed which makes the wait all the more worth it. There were some typos and such but I think you fixed them after Azurus's review.

    And you end in a cliff-hanger, that might slightly annoy readers as they eagerly wait for the next chapter.

    I don't see anything that I could suggest to improve on. So this is where my review ends. (Sort of)

    As you can (probably) tell from my last few not-so-critisizing reviews, I absolutely love your story and it is an inspiration to me. I can't wait to see the next chapter.


    Banner by Brutaka, Buttons and Userbar by Astral Shadow

  9. #259
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCharredDragon View Post
    Yay! Chapter 16 is finally up! And the word count is MASSIVE!
    Now time for a more serious review.

    Before I read your Author's Note, I felt this chapter didn't have that much excitement and that it gave readers a rest. So that means you got the effect you wanted. It also gave a tiny bit of back story to Noah.
    First off, thank you. I do realize that the word count is rather high, but that's just sorta how it turned out. :/

    And yes, that was the entire purpose of the chapter. To be the calm before the storm. In fact, that's what the title means: "Calm".

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCharredDragon View Post

    I noticed that you were in the tought processes of most of the characters that were relevent to the plot. Ian, Jay, Noah, Leo, Kelly and even Darney.

    All five of their thought processes were, as expected, different then the last. One is struggling to keep a hold on reality in the midst of escaping (Ian. One handling blindness after being "blind" for so long (Jay) and doesn't really care more than himself and his comrades, which now I realize is what's the word? Well, it's either ironic, ridiculous or symbolic, or maybe all three.
    Yep! This chapter was meant to a "perspective" chapter of most of the major cast thus far. I wanted to establish where they were coming from and what they are feeling now so that their actions later make sense.

    Ian's character is an odd one. Always has been. I can't write him normally, as his thought processes are far from normal. And Jay .. Well, what can I say about him? It's in his nature to be kinda self-centered, and now that he's truly blind, it gets worse. More on him later.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCharredDragon View Post

    One (Leo) is calming down from the torture and is the second calmest of his team, while Noah is the most relaxed and calmed after their exposition. While Kelly's mind is going in unsurpassed and unusual turmoil and for some reason I feel like shouting at her the answers, or at least my ideas on how to fix it.

    Perhaps I related to her more than I realize?
    For once, you're right about Leo. He is one of the calmest in this chapter. I suppose it goes with him submitting to the Mismagius's will a few chapters ago... And Noah is Noah. What else do you expect? XD

    And Kelly is a special case. I have to be delicate with her character, because her plot is one I have to handle properly otherwise people might miss it entirely.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCharredDragon View Post
    Anyways, as for characters, you've added another aspect to the omnipresent Mismagius. Showing he is more than just a business um, ghost, but I still believe it is still for the sake of whatever his "business" is. And is it just me? Or is he wearing a scarf just like the fanart you oh so hate titled "Fabulous"? (Or maybe I was imagining things.....)

    As for the chapter itself, once again you put quality over update speed which makes the wait all the more worth it. There were some typos and such but I think you fixed them after Azurus's review.
    Ah yes, Mismagius. I tried to develop him a bit more as well too, but he wasn't the major concern of this chapter. Yes, the scarf is the same as the one in the picture. And, for everyone else. This picture (WHICH IS NOT CANON BY ANY MEANS) should explain things. Drawn by Kutie Pie a few weeks ago, who took some ... creative liberties with his character while I could only look on with whimpering horror...


    Quote Originally Posted by TheCharredDragon View Post
    And you end in a cliff-hanger, that might slightly annoy readers as they eagerly wait for the next chapter.

    I don't see anything that I could suggest to improve on. So this is where my review ends. (Sort of)

    As you can (probably) tell from my last few not-so-critisizing reviews, I absolutely love your story and it is an inspiration to me. I can't wait to see the next chapter.
    Well, the reasoning for that is that it leads to Chapter 17. Sure, it might be a cliffhanger, but it was necessary.

    And once again, thank you very much. It's not that often that I get a review as long as this, and I'm always happy when I do. I'm very glad that this story inspires you. That's one of the best compliments I can hear as an author.

    Knightfall signing off...

    (I swear to Dialga that the Mismagius is not "Fabulous" by any means)

  10. #260
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    ████
    Posts
    1,108

    Default

    I am totally going to feel like a jerk by doing this because this is a blunt review, and I’m sorry. orz In any case, I’m focusing less on specifics and more on general thoughts here because we’ve got sixteen lengthy chapters of ground to cover. However, a lot of this will probably focus on things that happened in the sixteenth chapter, just because that’s freshest in my mind … and also the one I liked the least. But in any case, if my judgment is completely off, I apologize in advance for that much.

    Anyway, let me also come right out of the gate and say this: I thought this fic was okay but not quite there yet. To give you a better idea of what I mean, allow me tell you about this one time my friend and I watched the second Lord of the Rings movie. Now, don’t get me wrong. The movie was very pretty, it had a huge fanbase when it came out, and every part of it was necessary and added to its overall story. But there were also parts where we would be watching Merry and Pippin ride around on the ents, and my friend would turn to me and say, “Yeah, uh, they basically just ride around on ents and talk. Do you want to skip this scene?” We did that about seven times and came to the conclusion that we didn’t miss much by skipping those scenes.

    I’d hate to be unusually blunt for how I normally review, but Overthrown is a bit like that, especially towards the end of this thread. You have a lot of incredibly detailed scenes and scenes where characters are very introspective or do minor things like fixing a dam or having a chat or literally walking down the street, but including these things causes the story to feel like it isn’t moving forward. Here’s the thing. You have a plot, and that plot is about a growing civil war and these characters’ involvement in it, yes? Well, that should really be the focus of your story, and it should feel as if a lot of your characters’ actions are somehow heading towards that goal of being involved in this war. However, when it comes to Overthrown, I forget that there’s a war going on because so much time is spent in the characters’ heads/focusing on subplots that there isn’t much added to the main plot. As a result, it feels as if the story is going slowly because there’s less plot motion and more … walking down the street and staring at sunsets. Moreover, the more subplots you have, the more fractured your story becomes, and it seems—especially in chapter sixteen—as if all of the main characters are off doing their own thing, rather than going forward with the main plot.

    That last note is probably why I actually felt as if the last story arc in which Team Salient went through a mystery dungeon was so memorable: you have all of the characters working together to move the plot forward. They’re not doing their own thing, and everything, including the scenes that took place elsewhere, felt like they were ultimately contributing to a single story. That and, frankly, they weren’t spending so much time basically meditating on their identities/focusing on their personal problems.

    (Yeah. You probably can tell that I didn’t care for chapter sixteen all that much. Sorry about that.)

    In short, when the story of a side character (Ian, in this case) is more gripping than what’s going on with your main characters, chances are, you need to give your main characters something to do. And to be fair, yes, I liked Ian’s story arc. That’s just because it felt like something was happening there. You maintained the same level of quality in your prose, but every word you were using felt like it was contributing to an overall picture, be it to add atmosphere or to describe Ian moving closer and closer to his goal. In other words, Ian’s storyline isn’t stagnant. He’s not simply sitting still and mediating. He’s doing something, and it’s that something that makes his arc interesting.

    The other issue I want to talk about is chapter length. Yes, it doesn’t seem like it’s a significant thing, but chapter length is important to the medium you use to convey your story. Think of it like this. When you read a book, what happens when you need to stop and do something else? If you’re reading a print book, chances are you stick a bookmark between the pages you’re reading or otherwise figure out a way to manipulate the pages so you know roughly where you left off. If you’re reading an ebook, all you have to do is turn off the device or close the app, and your reader will save your place for you.

    What happens when you read something on a website, however? You can save your place between chapters, but you can’t save your place between pages. This is pretty significant because with a book or ebook, the ability to save one’s place allows them to take as many breaks as possible. They don’t need to know the exact part where they left off because something will be able to remind them where they were. With things that are actually posted onto a website, a reader’s only breaks are between chapters because there’s not really anything that can reliably mark off which page a reader is on. So when you have a chapter that’s forty pages long, that’s not really impressive; that’s daunting and rather exhausting to a reader. As I’ve mentioned via PM, long chapters are more difficult to digest than shorter chapters because of this, and as a result, specific events become less memorable. The reader ends up focusing some of their attention on figuring out how they can take in an entire chapter or otherwise save their place, rather than focus all of their attention on what’s going on in your story.

    The solution to this issue actually a lot simpler than you would think. That is, it’s literally break up your chapters. It’s not necessary to have eight lengthy scenes in one chapter; even if scenes are related, it’s perfectly fine to carry them over to the next one. You have to remember that even if it’s not that unusual to have chapters that are twenty pages or more in print or ebooks, you’re not working with that same medium. As a result, you actually do have to adapt and do things slightly differently.

    (Of course, this all is just me, but I’ve heard that you had some trouble getting people to read this chapter due to its length. If that’s true then … you now know the kinda-sorta sciencey reason behind that.)

    I bring both of these issues up because they really do feed into a pretty basic issue I was having. Although I was reading this in a way that did allow me to save my place and come back to it, a combination of all of that filler/downtime and the sheer length of some of these chapters actually made a lot of what went on rather … not quite memorable, to put it as politely as I can think of. I can’t really lay out the exact timeline of events in all sixteen chapters of this work. I can’t tell you what the name of the last mystery dungeon Team Salient went through was. I can’t even give you a list of important details from the last chapter. And all of this is because it was really difficult for me to focus on what was going on. Some of that was due to the fact that I had to work to sift out all the unimportant details and figure out what I should be remembering, and some of it was due to the fact that I was genuinely exhausted by the time I got to the end of a chapter. (Incidentally, that’s why there was no final comments note when I beta’d chapter sixteen. Sorry about that.) Either way, yes, you’ve mentioned to me that you’re really working hard to be concise, and to summarize … I pretty much agree. That is absolutely the main thing you should be focusing on: filtering out what isn’t important to present the important parts that push your story forward.

    I do want to say a word about the characters. Now, I have to admit, a lot of them fell victim to the above problem, and for the life of me, I can’t even name half of your supporting cast. But when it comes to your main cast … let’s just say being concise would certainly help. You present a lot of information, so while you do have plenty of moments where a character shows that they’re on an arc that will result in growth, that gets lost by all of the other information you present. In other words, sometimes, it’s easy to forget what a character is going through or where they are in their own individual arcs.

    Jay is probably your strongest character, I have to say, if only because his journey is the clearest. He’s relied on his aura powers all his life, he’s been blinded, and now he’s on a quest to help him see again. And in the introspective parts, you don’t fall into the trap of making him angst forever about his dilemma; rather, he acknowledges he has to get stronger and pushes forward. His breakdown is present, but it’s refreshing to see that it’s limited to one sentence. So, really, as negative as this review is so far, I have to give you credit for giving a character a crisis and making them face it in a way not many people have the balls to do. It really would have been so easy to make him angst for chapters on end. It really would have. But you don’t, and that’s fantastic.

    Conversely, you also have an interesting character in Kelly, who is stuck on the fact that her parents abandoned her. She gets so obsessive about this that she writes letters to them over and over again expressing her feelings, only to burn them up. She has nightmares about them. She was practically kidnapped and nearly killed because Froslass could take advantage of that fixation. In short, this kid has problems, and although I flinch just a bit because of my inner “this is a war why are we really going to spend scenes focusing on a character’s parental issues really Knightfall really” reaction, it’s also interesting to see that she’s, so far, only hesitantly taking steps on her journey. It’s as if she’s reluctant to fix her flaws, unlike Jay who gets back up and says, “Okay, let’s do this.” Of course, there’s a pretty fundamental difference between the two (Jay’s problem is crippling to him whereas Kelly’s is just a nuisance to her), but still, it’s not every day that you see a character so resistant to change.

    You also have Ian’s madness compared to Vertex’s composure. Ian’s insanity and desperation was actually portrayed rather beautifully, which really went to highlight his struggle. (You can probably tell that Ian is my favorite.) But the part where Ian knocked Vertex out (and probably killed him, judging by how you described it then) was particularly heartbreaking because it looked almost like Ian was punching out his conscience and sanity right then and there. The two balanced each other rather nicely, so of course, it was hard to watch that relationship dissolve.

    Then, you’ve got the king (whose name I have hilariously forgotten due to the above issues), who’s given a rather humbling journey through his downfall and time at the church, plus the rather amusing notes concerning Torrent, his stance towards the town, his journal, and so forth. It’s very rare to see leader figures be placed in such humanizing positions, so it was beautiful to see that happen to both. For the king, it’s refreshing because he’s not made into an evil tyrant or anything of the sort. He’s a man who held power and made mistakes during his reign, and now he’s trying to find himself and seek ways to repair the damage he’s done. For Torrent, it’s just amusing to see him as more of a fatherly figure, a caring ruler, and above all, a contrast to how the king apparently ran things. The contrast is, of course, fairly subtle and therefore rather well done.

    To be honest, I think that the only characters who I couldn’t really focus as much on were Noah and Leo himself. Noah is understandable because he’s more of the laid-back, comedic relief character, so I really didn’t expect him to go on a quest of his own. Of course, that doesn’t mean he I didn’t think he did anything significant in the story or that he’s not as well-developed or likable. Noah doesn’t need a quest; he doesn’t need to fix anything within himself. You never drop any implication that he does either. So on his own, it’s easy to be okay with him—even like him, given his shenanigans—because we can focus on his personality and still see a complete character.

    Leo, meanwhile? It’s difficult to get a vibe from him because a lot of the time, things are happening to him, or things are being done by the characters around him while he’s just sort of hitching a ride. The latest chapter’s a great example of that. He sets out to do something, but instead, he’s forced to go help build a dam by a passing Sneasel. Then, there was the whole Mismagius business, wherein of course he doesn’t really have too much freedom to act on his own accord. While I have nothing against passive protagonists now and then, Leo’s the main character in a PMD fic, and he’s built up to be someone who should be able to take charge (what with the fight against Froslass and all). Yet he doesn’t. He has all of these mysteries he should be setting out to solve (what his key is, how he got into this universe, why he’s a Charmeleon, what his role is in all of this, who the eff Mismagius thinks he is, that kind of thing), but he doesn’t really do much—at least, not in this chapter—to sort things out. Not until someone else comes along and pushes him forward. So it’s harder to connect with him because I tend to see him more like a chess piece than a full-fledged character. He reacts; he doesn’t act.

    As for that Mismagius, well. I’m all for mysterious assholes who hold more power than they should over characters, and it seems like Mismagius is a very, very nice example of such.

    In terms of writing style, filler aside, it’s not too bad. Descriptions are frequently very vivid, and although the pacing of the story drags in more than one area, you do know how to build atmosphere rather well. (Again, this is something that I really liked about the Ian scenes as well as the scenes that take place in the church. For Ian’s scene, you create a very nice dark, House-of-Leaves-esque labyrinthe, and it’s very beautiful and very creepy at the same time. The church, meanwhile, is very clearly somber and ancient, and it’s easy to imagine it being cold, dusty, yet awe-inspiringly holy. As a result, Ian’s scenes become fantastically frantic; the king’s become grave and serious to intense levels. It really does feel like I’m reading a high fantasy with both.)

    There’s also the fact that the world-building is probably some of the best I’ve seen in a Pokémon fanfiction. It’s clear you spent a lot of time building up this world and creating not only a cast of characters but complex politics, societies, customs, writing systems, regions—you name it. It’s a very deep and fleshed-out world, and it’s easy to get excited about the idea that it’s probably going to get destroyed. And by that, I mean when you get more into the war, it’s going to be fascinating to watch, just because you have all of this history and background details to add depth to what’s going on. It’s not, for example, just an attempted assassination on the king. It’s an attempted assassination that comes as a result of years and years political abuse.

    In short, Overthrown was difficult to get through. You have a lot of good points going for you. You have some interesting character arcs, deeply detailed settings, even some pretty good atmosphere-building going on. However, it does get bogged down by a lack of focus, which may hurt you in the long run due to the platform and method through which you’re releasing your story. It feels more like Overthrown should really be split up into multiple fics, come to think of it, each focusing on a different character arc, and that’s just because you seem to tackle a lot at once and might have trouble deciding what is and isn’t important to your overall story. Assuming you don’t want to go this route (because it is rather messy and probably also unnecessary, considering you’re sixteen chapters in), just keep asking yourself, “What’s the main idea of this story? Will this scene contribute to the ending that I’m looking for? Do I really need to spend paragraphs with this one character going on about how crappy his life is?” (Chapter sixteen, third scene, by the by.) The more you ask yourself about what is and isn’t important to your plot, the less likely you’ll spend time on something that really isn’t all that important.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. Side plots are perfectly fine and dandy. You can definitely have a character go down a story arc that has nothing to do with the main action. It’s just that if you have a chapter or few that’s 90% that and 10% things that contribute to the story/moments in which characters are actually doing something besides taking a leisurely stroll and talking, then that might not be quite as okay.

    Tl;dr, Overthrown is okay, but it definitely, definitely needs a bit more focus.

    REBOOT: Chapter fifteen now available. | Original: Chapter thirty-one now available.

    The Witch of Fic | 365+ Reviews
    Q&A's for all your writing needs. | 365 fanfic reviews in 365 days.

    The Fan Fiction Mafia | Author's Profile

  11. #261
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default Reply to Critique

    Quote Originally Posted by Knightfall View Post
    I would appreciate reviews, constructive criticism, and advice to improve the quality of this fic.
    I said this nearly two years ago, and I’ve tried my best to retain this philosophy throughout writing Overthrown. And it is with that mindset, that I reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    I am totally going to feel like a jerk by doing this because this is a blunt review, and I’m sorry. orz In any case, I’m focusing less on specifics and more on general thoughts here because we’ve got sixteen lengthy chapters of ground to cover. However, a lot of this will probably focus on things that happened in the sixteenth chapter, just because that’s freshest in my mind … and also the one I liked the least. But in any case, if my judgment is completely off, I apologize in advance for that much.
    Jax, I asked for this review. I fully knew that you, being who you are, would find the errors here and expose them for what they were. I knew it would hurt, but I also knew that I needed to see them in order to improve. Do not apologize. This review stung deeply, but I am not yet dead.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Anyway, let me also come right out of the gate and say this: I thought this fic was okay but not quite there yet......

    I’d hate to be unusually blunt for how I normally review, but Overthrown is a bit like that, especially towards the end of this thread. You have a lot of incredibly detailed scenes and scenes where characters are very introspective or do minor things like fixing a dam or having a chat or literally walking down the street, but including these things causes the story to feel like it isn’t moving forward. Here’s the thing. You have a plot, and that plot is about a growing civil war and these characters’ involvement in it, yes? Well, that should really be the focus of your story, and it should feel as if a lot of your characters’ actions are somehow heading towards that goal of being involved in this war. However, when it comes to Overthrown, I forget that there’s a war going on because so much time is spent in the characters’ heads/focusing on subplots that there isn’t much added to the main plot. As a result, it feels as if the story is going slowly because there’s less plot motion and more … walking down the street and staring at sunsets. Moreover, the more subplots you have, the more fractured your story becomes, and it seems—especially in chapter sixteen—as if all of the main characters are off doing their own thing, rather than going forward with the main plot.
    You are completely right in your analysis, but I have my own (likely misguided) reasons for including those “needless” scenes.

    I tried to include a scene a realism to the characters by having them do seemingly normal tasks. They are a team, but not every moment has to be spent together, especially while they have a few days off. I realize that you disliked Chapter 16 greatly, but I warned that this was a calm chapter. I purposefully made sure that the atmosphere was not entirely plot driven and gave the story a breather for a single chapter. And, realistically, the characters needed time to recover, so I gave it to them.

    I thought what I was doing added more development to their characters, but apparently you disagree. With good reasons, I might add. You have every reason to berate this chapter, and I see your points. But, I am sticking to my argument that I needed to give everything about this story a bit of a break for one chapter.

    And, I understand about the multiple subplots. Many of them were left over from a time when this story had no focus or even a true ending to work towards. Back then, before Chapter Ten, I had no idea where I was going with this story, because I was still an inexperienced author. But recently, I’ve found my focus, despite what you say, and I’ve tried my best to make up for my shortcomings in earlier chapters with better development and a more centered story.

    It seems I will have to prove myself to you in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    That last note is probably why I actually felt as if the last story arc in which Team Salient went through a mystery dungeon was so memorable: you have all of the characters working together to move the plot forward. They’re not doing their own thing, and everything, including the scenes that took place elsewhere, felt like they were ultimately contributing to a single story. That and, frankly, they weren’t spending so much time basically meditating on their identities/focusing on their personal problems.

    (Yeah. You probably can tell that I didn’t care for chapter sixteen all that much. Sorry about that.)
    That was ... Back in Chapter Seven, if you are referring to the woods outside of Loyalty Square. Or, if you are referring to the last mission they did in Chapter Three, in Spore Meadows, when they rescued Icarus.

    But, your points are valid...

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    In short, when the story of a side character (Ian, in this case) is more gripping than what’s going on with your main characters, chances are, you need to give your main characters something to do. And to be fair, yes, I liked Ian’s story arc. That’s just because it felt like something was happening there. You maintained the same level of quality in your prose, but every word you were using felt like it was contributing to an overall picture, be it to add atmosphere or to describe Ian moving closer and closer to his goal. In other words, Ian’s storyline isn’t stagnant. He’s not simply sitting still and mediating. He’s doing something, and it’s that something that makes his arc interesting.
    Well, this is heart-wrenching to read. To think that everything I’ve worked for in terms of developing my characters backfired with the stagnation. Going back to my previous argument, I don’t want to keep my characters in constant action towards the end plot. There needs to be time for meditation and reflection on their parts. I feel I would simply burn out if I didn’t write these scenes. And, this is only Part One. Since when does all the action happen in the first act? I tried to pace this story so that it gradually picks up as it gradually moves towards its goal.

    While it all might not be interesting, I enjoy writing it. That’s one of the reasons why I write. Yes, I want to have a good story, but my style at the moment enjoys writing these introspective scenes on the occasion. I will fix the issue in future chapters, though.

    Chapter 17 will see the implementation of this. Action for the main characters, and the resolution of several of the sideplots. I am sorry that you had only Chapter 16 to reflect on when you wrote this, as I believe that when it is done, Chapter 17 will change your outlook.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    The other issue I want to talk about is chapter length....

    What happens when you read something on a website, however? You can save your place between chapters, but you can’t save your place between pages. This is pretty significant because with a book or ebook, the ability to save one’s place allows them to take as many breaks as possible. They don’t need to know the exact part where they left off because something will be able to remind them where they were. With things that are actually posted onto a website, a reader’s only breaks are between chapters because there’s not really anything that can reliably mark off which page a reader is on. So when you have a chapter that’s forty pages long, that’s not really impressive; that’s daunting and rather exhausting to a reader. As I’ve mentioned via PM, long chapters are more difficult to digest than shorter chapters because of this, and as a result, specific events become less memorable. The reader ends up focusing some of their attention on figuring out how they can take in an entire chapter or otherwise save their place, rather than focus all of their attention on what’s going on in your story.
    I understand. I do. You are not the first and will not be the last to tear me apart for my long chapters. It doesn’t help that several authors I look up to constantly write long chapters, so I feel a need to emulate them to an extent. Coupled with my descriptive writing style, and it makes for long chapters.

    And I foolishly took it as a thing to be proud of. I wasn’t considerate to my readers, or my beta readers. I was selfish there, and my God, it shows. And, it doesn’t help that this chapter was the NaNo chapter. It got the majority of my words that month to say the least.


    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    The solution to this issue actually a lot simpler than you would think. That is, it’s literally break up your chapters. It’s not necessary to have eight lengthy scenes in one chapter; even if scenes are related, it’s perfectly fine to carry them over to the next one. You have to remember that even if it’s not that unusual to have chapters that are twenty pages or more in print or ebooks, you’re not working with that same medium. As a result, you actually do have to adapt and do things slightly differently.
    I will go with the first option, to an extent. I do see the need for breaking up chapters, and I will get to work on it for future chapters.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    ...That is absolutely the main thing you should be focusing on: filtering out what isn’t important to present the important parts that push your story forward.
    Again, I understand. There are some things that need to remain, but I will strongly take this into consideration...


    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Jay is probably your strongest character, I have to say, if only because his journey is the clearest. He’s relied on his aura powers all his life, he’s been blinded, and now he’s on a quest to help him see again. And in the introspective parts, you don’t fall into the trap of making him angst forever about his dilemma; rather, he acknowledges he has to get stronger and pushes forward. His breakdown is present, but it’s refreshing to see that it’s limited to one sentence. So, really, as negative as this review is so far, I have to give you credit for giving a character a crisis and making them face it in a way not many people have the balls to do. It really would have been so easy to make him angst for chapters on end. It really would have. But you don’t, and that’s fantastic.
    I laughed when I got here. It was here that I realized that nearly everything I’ve been doing was wrong. I always thought Jay to be my weakest character. I am not ashamed to admit that I rank him among the least of my favorite characters, and so gave him little screen time.

    In my ignorance of him, it seems I let him develop perfectly while I simply ruined the others. This was quite the slap to the face, but it’s one that I needed. I laughed, but it was a laugh one makes when revelation is had. When one’s work is suddenly rendered null and void. It was a laugh followed by frustration.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Conversely, you also have an interesting character in Kelly, who is stuck on the fact that her parents abandoned her. She gets so obsessive about this that she writes letters to them over and over again expressing her feelings, only to burn them up. She has nightmares about them. She was practically kidnapped and nearly killed because Froslass could take advantage of that fixation. In short, this kid has problems, and although I flinch just a bit because of my inner “this is a war why are we really going to spend scenes focusing on a character’s parental issues really Knightfall really” reaction, it’s also interesting to see that she’s, so far, only hesitantly taking steps on her journey. It’s as if she’s reluctant to fix her flaws, unlike Jay who gets back up and says, “Okay, let’s do this.” Of course, there’s a pretty fundamental difference between the two (Jay’s problem is crippling to him whereas Kelly’s is just a nuisance to her), but still, it’s not every day that you see a character so resistant to change.
    I thought I was doing the right thing with her. I thought I was giving her an issue to tackle in due time, and that she would eventually resolve in her own fashion, but it seems that way was wrong as well. In drawing out her troubles, I ruined what good standing she had.
    I take that last sentence is not supposed to be taken as praise...

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    You also have Ian’s madness compared to Vertex’s composure. Ian’s insanity and desperation was actually portrayed rather beautifully, which really went to highlight his struggle. (You can probably tell that Ian is my favorite.) But the part where Ian knocked Vertex out (and probably killed him, judging by how you described it then) was particularly heartbreaking because it looked almost like Ian was punching out his conscience and sanity right then and there. The two balanced each other rather nicely, so of course, it was hard to watch that relationship dissolve.
    Thank you. Ian is a character who I enjoy writing. Yet, while you say that you like him, I’ve seen everywhere that not many people like his scenes or see their point. And, this goes back to your point. I haven’t tied him into the plot at all. That was intentional, but it seems that some foreshadowing is in order.

    And I’m glad that you were able to truly enjoy at least one scene in this unfocused story... It’s been noted.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Then, you’ve got the king (whose name I have hilariously forgotten due to the above issues), who’s given a rather humbling journey through his downfall and time at the church, plus the rather amusing notes concerning Torrent, his stance towards the town, his journal, and so forth. It’s very rare to see leader figures be placed in such humanizing positions, so it was beautiful to see that happen to both. For the king, it’s refreshing because he’s not made into an evil tyrant or anything of the sort. He’s a man who held power and made mistakes during his reign, and now he’s trying to find himself and seek ways to repair the damage he’s done. For Torrent, it’s just amusing to see him as more of a fatherly figure, a caring ruler, and above all, a contrast to how the king apparently ran things. The contrast is, of course, fairly subtle and therefore rather well done.
    Again, I’m glad you seem to enjoy Nickolas. His character is another that I truly enjoy writing. I have always thought about what happens to leaders when they are put in positions that take away their power and way of life, and it is with those thoughts that I wrote him. I don’t want him to be a villain, or even bad, because he isn’t. You’ll see that with a lot of characters. They have motives for why they do what they do, and at times, they aren’t evil or with malice intended.

    And Torrent is just that grizzled member of the army who cares for his recruits, and not much else what the government says. Heh, I’ve enjoyed writing him.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    To be honest, I think that the only characters who I couldn’t really focus as much on were Noah and Leo himself. Noah is understandable because he’s more of the laid-back, comedic relief character, so I really didn’t expect him to go on a quest of his own. Of course, that doesn’t mean he I didn’t think he did anything significant in the story or that he’s not as well-developed or likable. Noah doesn’t need a quest; he doesn’t need to fix anything within himself. You never drop any implication that he does either. So on his own, it’s easy to be okay with him—even like him, given his shenanigans—because we can focus on his personality and still see a complete character.
    Then I am sorry to disappoint you, but Noah does have a purpose other than comic relief. I never intended for him to be simply such, even during the time when my story had a weak plot. I wanted him to mean something to the plot, and so, I made plans. Plans that are about to be carried out. He has a quest, and he has a single problem to sort out. Fortunately, it is small and his personality should shine through once it’s done with.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post

    Leo, meanwhile? It’s difficult to get a vibe from him because a lot of the time, things are happening to him, or things are being done by the characters around him while he’s just sort of hitching a ride. The latest chapter’s a great example of that. He sets out to do something, but instead, he’s forced to go help build a dam by a passing Sneasel. Then, there was the whole Mismagius business, wherein of course he doesn’t really have too much freedom to act on his own accord. While I have nothing against passive protagonists now and then, Leo’s the main character in a PMD fic, and he’s built up to be someone who should be able to take charge (what with the fight against Froslass and all). Yet he doesn’t. He has all of these mysteries he should be setting out to solve (what his key is, how he got into this universe, why he’s a Charmeleon, what his role is in all of this, who the eff Mismagius thinks he is, that kind of thing), but he doesn’t really do much—at least, not in this chapter—to sort things out. Not until someone else comes along and pushes him forward. So it’s harder to connect with him because I tend to see him more like a chess piece than a full-fledged character. He reacts; he doesn’t act.
    Remember that outline I mentioned earlier that called for more action in the second part? Leo was included in that. I tried to build him up as a followers and reactor for the entire first part, as circumstances change in the second part. He gets the chance to act on his own and flex his own muscles. He seeks answers to his mysteries. But, yeah, I see why you see him like this, because he truly hasn’t done much yet. I have no argument, as this is kinda how I wanted Leo to be at this point in time. I didn’t see it as that bad of a thing, but apparently it is...

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    As for that Mismagius, well. I’m all for mysterious assholes who hold more power than they should over characters, and it seems like Mismagius is a very, very nice example of such.
    I figured you’d have more to say about him, but I figure a short-but-positive sentence is great and I’ll take it. I love writing his character. Absolutely love it.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    In terms of writing style, filler aside, it’s not too bad. Descriptions are frequently very vivid, and although the pacing of the story drags in more than one area, you do know how to build atmosphere rather well. (Again, this is something that I really liked about the Ian scenes as well as the scenes that take place in the church. For Ian’s scene, you create a very nice dark, House-of-Leaves-esque labyrinthe, and it’s very beautiful and very creepy at the same time. The church, meanwhile, is very clearly somber and ancient, and it’s easy to imagine it being cold, dusty, yet awe-inspiringly holy. As a result, Ian’s scenes become fantastically frantic; the king’s become grave and serious to intense levels. It really does feel like I’m reading a high fantasy with both.)
    I’m glad that I’ve been able to impress. Description has long been part of my style, and unfortunately, it does account for many of the positive and negative things seen here. I will get around to finding the balance. I will get it right.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    There’s also the fact that the world-building is probably some of the best I’ve seen in a Pokémon fanfiction. It’s clear you spent a lot of time building up this world and creating not only a cast of characters but complex politics, societies, customs, writing systems, regions—you name it. It’s a very deep and fleshed-out world, and it’s easy to get excited about the idea that it’s probably going to get destroyed. And by that, I mean when you get more into the war, it’s going to be fascinating to watch, just because you have all of this history and background details to add depth to what’s going on. It’s not, for example, just an attempted assassination on the king. It’s an attempted assassination that comes as a result of years and years political abuse.
    Thank you. This world has taken up a large part of my imagination, and since I’m weird, I enjoy fleshing it out. I enjoy thinking up laws and protocols that will likely never see any mention in this story. I simply love making this world as real to me as any nation on earth is (besides Molossia).

    I’ve theorized what would happen if Nickolas was assassinated. I’ve experimented what martial law effects towns and cities. I’ve done what I can to build this world up.

    And, my take on this war will be an odd one. It will go into the depth you’re expecting, but it will be an odd take of it. Just to say.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    In short, Overthrown was difficult to get through. You have a lot of good points going for you. You have some interesting character arcs, deeply detailed settings, even some pretty good atmosphere-building going on. However, it does get bogged down by a lack of focus, which may hurt you in the long run due to the platform and method through which you’re releasing your story. It feels more like Overthrown should really be split up into multiple fics, come to think of it, each focusing on a different character arc, and that’s just because you seem to tackle a lot at once and might have trouble deciding what is and isn’t important to your overall story. Assuming you don’t want to go this route (because it is rather messy and probably also unnecessary, considering you’re sixteen chapters in), just keep asking yourself, “What’s the main idea of this story? Will this scene contribute to the ending that I’m looking for? Do I really need to spend paragraphs with this one character going on about how crappy his life is?” (Chapter sixteen, third scene, by the by.) The more you ask yourself about what is and isn’t important to your plot, the less likely you’ll spend time on something that really isn’t all that important.
    To be certain, I will try and refocus this story as much as I can. I understand this and won’t try and defend myself. I know what I did wasn’t good, and while I won’t revise what’s been written, I can still save the future, as it were.

    I will be splitting up the chapters, but not the story. And, I will keep the needless scenes to a minimum, but as to my argument above, I still believe there needs to be down time occasionally.

    Quote Originally Posted by JX Valentine View Post
    Tl;dr, Overthrown is okay, but it definitely, definitely needs a bit more focus.
    It’s this line that nearly broke me when I first read it. I will not lie. I actually had to sign off early and go to bed. I didn’t sleep for nearly an hour, but I just had to think about that line over and over again. It cut deep and part of me still wishes you hadn’t put it in. I still would have taken your advice to heart without doubt, but that line crushed something inside of me.

    To have nearly three years worth of constant work be called merely “okay” by an author I’ve respected ever since I found these forums drove me into a depressed stupor for most of the next day.

    But now, I know I just have to prove you wrong. I have to make that line void and meaningless with all my future work. I have to fix my mistakes and refocus. Unfortunately, that means an extensive revision of Chapter 17, but I’ll do it to ensure that it’s a quality chapter.

    Thank you for this review, Jax. I’ve wanted a review from someone so highly respected for a long time now, and while parts of it sting, I’m happy I finally got it. I have mistakes, but I’m going to fix them. Eventually, I’ll be at the point where I want to be, but for now, I’ll forge my own path through this jungle of imperfection. I’m going to keep working to be the author I’ve aspired to be for so long.


    I appreciate this review more than words can say at the moment. I'm glad that I got it, and despite how it made me feel at first, I am happy that those issues were pointed out.
    Knightfall signing off...
    Last edited by Knightfall; 2nd January 2014 at 4:31 PM.

  12. #262
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    564

    Default

    Hey buddy. I'm very sorry for not reviewing yet, or even sending a PM or anything. I could make excuses for it but to be completely honest I just needed a break. From reading, reviewing, all of it. But I'm back now. I'll be reading and reviewing regularly from now on, and just so you know, your fic is one of the ones I've missed the most

    The world was a void now. Sight was nothing to him now.
    The two 'now's' so close together irked me and kinda read weird. You might consider taking one of them out

    Little more than an abstract memory that haunted him like a severed limb.
    I liked how memory and darkness went along with what I quoted...As 'phantom' pain goes really well with those

    Whatever dignity he still had was taken away when Quark finally gave his diagnosis. His eyes had suffered from a form of atrophy from disuse, so now he had to spend the next several weeks in nearly complete darkness in order to recover his sight. While it was hardly as bad as permanent blindness, he didn’t feel any better about being “prescribed” a supposedly healing band of crimson cloth --Leo had confirmed the color to him afterwards-- to tie around his eyes for the next three months.

    While he had initially been ardently opposed to wearing the supposed treatment, he found that by the end of the hour, it didn’t seem nearly as bad as he thought it would. The cloth was soft and smooth, yet it had enough of a grip as to not require constant adjusting in order to stay around his head. Quark had applied the band in almost no time at all, slipping it under the now-useless aura sensors on the sides of his head, and psychically fastened the knot. Jay had opened his eyes to see, but the cloth failed to produce a miracle, even with the enhanced healing properties.
    I liked your use of the crimson cloth there. You also did a neat job of explaining the condition and how he's going about getting it fixed. You should commission someone to do a drawing with him wearing the cloth. Makes me think of a blind but able samurai lol

    “Let’s see ... There’s always the option of going through the Orb shop. I could try to convince them to take away that life-time ban. Besides, it wasn’t my fault they keep the Itemizer Orbs out in the open like that,
    Hah! he can be such a little kid sometimes. "If they didn't want me to fire the bazooka, wtf was it loaded!?"

    Before he could brace himself, a cloud of rippling air formed and shot towards him. The ball of wind smacked him in his stomach, knocking the breath entirely out of his lungs as it lifted him several feet backwards before roughly depositing him against a the wall of the general store across the street. The hard clay wall rushed up to meet his back, deciding to greet it formally with an embracive slam into his spine. Noah slid down the wall slowly as onlookers began to mill around him.
    That was some interesting description. I liked it, but I felt like you almost got a little bit too wordy. The ones I bolded, I would take out. It's cool to sometimes to just say someone was slammed against a wall. You see what I mean?

    the Breloom’s voice whispered as he carefully applied
    Is this character new, or has he already been introduced? Because I can't seem to remember lol...Maybe it has been too long since I read the earlier chapters

    The gargantuan mural was finished.
    It seems you and I both have a thing for monstrously gigantic murals lol

    They were there. Staring at him, as if anxious to be set free from the wall he had stuck them to.
    His fists shook with rage. There had to be a mistake. They could not be here. They had to be elsewhere, free. Preparing to overthrow the shackles of the cave that kept him imprisoned for so long.
    Formatting error there

    The impact held the force of a miniature explosion as it detonated.
    Was that Dynamic Punch? If so or if not, I loved the description of the attack. Nicely done!

    Employee 286. I am surprised. How in Verus you managed to survive I don’t know, but well done. Your test is over. If you'd kindly return to us, then you’ll see that none of this is real.”
    Okay, you'll need to explain this to me. WTF is this Breeloom?

    “Oh, but I can, little weed. Just watch.”
    Grass type joke! haha!

    A simple ladder forged of iron that had not yet rusted over in the years of neglec
    It seems a bit odd to me to mention that it isn't rusted if it isn't rusted

    “I’m so sorry...” he whispered from his nearly closed mouth to Vertex, the words barely audible in the light of death as angels surrounded him in this limbo. He closed his eyes on the cruel world that had taken away his team mates and sanity. He looked forward for the glorious arrival of the spirit of the moon, Cresselia, to ferry him across the stars to the paradise of Elysium. He only had to wait for the light to take him away and it would all be over.
    Hmm, that was an effective end to the portion, but I did have one thought. The entire bit was about him doing anything he could to keep going, to get out. The bolded portion kinda goes directly against that. It just felt weird to me that he'd even be willing to pretty much kill Vertex to accomplish his goal. Seemed like he just resigned himself to his fate a little too easily.

    Leo stretched out his arms, letting out a content yawn as he did so.
    Did you know that the act of stretching and yawning is called 'pandiculating'? Thought that was a neat little factoid

    “I’d ask why you’re looking at me like a Swellow does a Wurmple, but I’ve got more pressing issues at the moment. I need a couple strong Pokémon to help me out with something, and fortunately, I found you almost immediately,”
    You've really been stepping up your dialogue. All the speaking lines and internal dialogue this chapter have been really fluid and believable. Kudos

    Something that shimmered with gold and gleamed with a bright blue crystal.
    What a *****

    For once, I feel that it is time we have a ‘heart to heart’ conversation.
    There's a ****ing shocker

    The others I enlisted are gone --utterly eliminated from this realm
    So was he the one that sent Ian on his crazy psychotic episode?

    “There you are, Leo. Alone, without allies, without friends, without a plan, and with the entire universe working to stifle you forever. No matter how brightly you burn by yourself, your heat and light will never make a difference where it counts here.
    That's actually what I've been feeling towards Leo from the beginning. With most stories I would just say screw it, stuff will work out, but with your story I don't know if it will be the case. I fear that he's going to get involved in a situation that he might not come out of. Sure, he is brave and has surprising power, but in reality that's almost never enough

    As brief as it might have been, I was an actual star in the sky.
    That was a very touching line. Quite pretty. I liked it

    Her past self from two days prior slipped into Noah’s bag and stole a bell-shaped, purple and yellow berry from inside.
    Chesto's are mainly blue, with a small bit of beige at the bottom though, right? Unless you're doing you're own thing with the description, which is fine, just thought I'd bring it up

    Forlorn Stronghold, one of the dungeons in the mountains, right?
    I get what they're doing here. Trying to get back into the swing of things, trying to shake the recent memories of what happened. But it seems way too soon to get into what is assuredly going to be a volatile and probably dangerous situation. It would be different to me if they were doing it to accomplish a goal, save someone, get revenge, etc. But apparently they're just doing it for some reward and because it seems like fun? That's where it gets a little weird for me. They're smart (well, Kelly is smart) and it seems to me that even the less bright ones would know to just take it easy for awhile

    Leo simply closed his eyes as the street was engulfed in a sea of fire.
    Muhahaha! Awesome

    All in all, I see what you were getting at in this chapter and I liked seeing a slower pace. It was a long read but a very enjoyable one. Like a warm cup of coffee lol. My main gripe is how many characters it flitted around between. While all there bits were enjoyable (especially Ian's), I felt like maybe it would have been a little more fluid and less jumpy if you had just stuck with one or two characters. The length was another little thing that stuck out for me. While there's nothing wrong with long chapters, this one was almost too long. Towards the end I felt like I was having to force myself to finish. If this was a book that I could just keep reading, it'd be one thing, but since after its over I have to wait weeks or even months for the next chapter, it makes it a little bit harder to follow. This could have easily been split into two chapters and achieved the same effect. Other than that, great read as always and I look forward to seeing more soon

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  13. #263
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Hey buddy. I'm very sorry for not reviewing yet, or even sending a PM or anything. I could make excuses for it but to be completely honest I just needed a break. From reading, reviewing, all of it. But I'm back now. I'll be reading and reviewing regularly from now on, and just so you know, your fic is one of the ones I've missed the most
    It's not a problem at all! I'm just happy that you reviewed! I hope that your break was good and I'm glad that you're back. ... And thanks for that, man. You've no idea how awesome it is to hear that for my story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    The two 'now's' so close together irked me and kinda read weird. You might consider taking one of them out
    Didn't notice that. I'll go fix that now.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    I liked how memory and darkness went along with what I quoted...As 'phantom' pain goes really well with those
    Thanks! The scene with Jay was one I had been wanting to write for a long time. So, I'm relieved that at least part of the chapter went over well.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    I liked your use of the crimson cloth there. You also did a neat job of explaining the condition and how he's going about getting it fixed. You should commission someone to do a drawing with him wearing the cloth. Makes me think of a blind but able samurai lol
    Oh! Thanks, Sidewinder! I thought long and hard about how to make his condition realistic (as far as Pokemon logic goes).

    And, thankfully, someone beat you to the punch! TheCharreddragon actually posted this in response to your comment: Jay


    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Hah! he can be such a little kid sometimes. "If they didn't want me to fire the bazooka, wtf was it loaded!?"
    Noah: *shrugs* Exactly my thought process there. But I have standards.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    That was some interesting description. I liked it, but I felt like you almost got a little bit too wordy. The ones I bolded, I would take out. It's cool to sometimes to just say someone was slammed against a wall. You see what I mean?
    Oh no, I totally understand. This chapter was filled to the brim with that stuff....

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Is this character new, or has he already been introduced? Because I can't seem to remember lol...Maybe it has been too long since I read the earlier chapters
    Heh. Ian the Breloom has been around for a while. Chapter... Seven, maybe?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    It seems you and I both have a thing for monstrously gigantic murals lol
    Hehe, that we do. Ian's were inspired by this character's: Doug Rattmann

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Was that Dynamic Punch? If so or if not, I loved the description of the attack. Nicely done!

    Okay, you'll need to explain this to me. WTF is this Breeloom?
    As some of my friends might tell you, I have a special love for that move. Yes, it's Dynamic Punch. Thank you!

    And I'm afaid I can't quite explain it to you. xD Ian is an enigma that is slowly solved.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post

    Grass type joke! haha!
    Gotta slip one in. xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post

    It seems a bit odd to me to mention that it isn't rusted if it isn't rusted
    Very true. Let me fix that...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Hmm, that was an effective end to the portion, but I did have one thought. The entire bit was about him doing anything he could to keep going, to get out. The bolded portion kinda goes directly against that. It just felt weird to me that he'd even be willing to pretty much kill Vertex to accomplish his goal. Seemed like he just resigned himself to his fate a little too easily.
    Thanks! Now, as for the end. I attribute that to Ian's mind and his exhaustion. His mind could easily be telling him one thing, and he hears another....

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Did you know that the act of stretching and yawning is called 'pandiculating'? Thought that was a neat little factoid
    Is it really? Wow. 0_0 I did not know that. Thanks for informing me!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    You've really been stepping up your dialogue. All the speaking lines and internal dialogue this chapter have been really fluid and believable. Kudos
    Again, thank you very much! I tried to make the character interactions more realistic for this one. That worked out it seems, but also failed as it made this chapter way longer than acceptable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    What a *****
    Indeed she is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    So was he the one that sent Ian on his crazy psychotic episode?
    While he is connected with Ian, it wasn't him who made Ian crazy. Ian did that all by himself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    That's actually what I've been feeling towards Leo from the beginning. With most stories I would just say screw it, stuff will work out, but with your story I don't know if it will be the case. I fear that he's going to get involved in a situation that he might not come out of. Sure, he is brave and has surprising power, but in reality that's almost never enough
    And I pride myself in the fact that I keep my main character's fate ambiguous. XD But seriously, I do have a plan for him. You'll all see what happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    That was a very touching line. Quite pretty. I liked it
    I honestly loved that line as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Chesto's are mainly blue, with a small bit of beige at the bottom though, right? Unless you're doing you're own thing with the description, which is fine, just thought I'd bring it up
    They're blue? I always thought a Chesto looked purple on the top... I'm even looking at a picture... Are they seriously blue and beige?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post

    I get what they're doing here. Trying to get back into the swing of things, trying to shake the recent memories of what happened. But it seems way too soon to get into what is assuredly going to be a volatile and probably dangerous situation. It would be different to me if they were doing it to accomplish a goal, save someone, get revenge, etc. But apparently they're just doing it for some reward and because it seems like fun? That's where it gets a little weird for me. They're smart (well, Kelly is smart) and it seems to me that even the less bright ones would know to just take it easy for awhile
    Well, they have been in Shiloh for a few days now. They've had a chance to recover a little bit. And, their decision seemed justified in my eyes. I'd want to get back to normal as soon as possible. :/

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post

    All in all, I see what you were getting at in this chapter and I liked seeing a slower pace. It was a long read but a very enjoyable one. Like a warm cup of coffee lol. My main gripe is how many characters it flitted around between. While all there bits were enjoyable (especially Ian's), I felt like maybe it would have been a little more fluid and less jumpy if you had just stuck with one or two characters. The length was another little thing that stuck out for me. While there's nothing wrong with long chapters, this one was almost too long. Towards the end I felt like I was having to force myself to finish. If this was a book that I could just keep reading, it'd be one thing, but since after its over I have to wait weeks or even months for the next chapter, it makes it a little bit harder to follow. This could have easily been split into two chapters and achieved the same effect. Other than that, great read as always and I look forward to seeing more soon
    Yeah... Trust me. I understand this now. All the things you point out are valid. The jumping around, the pandering, the filler, the length, it's all excessive....

    But, I fixed all these problems, I hope, for Chapter 17. Which should be getting posted within the next day or so if all goes well.

    So, thank you very much, Sidewinder!

    Knightfall signing off...

  14. #264
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    *Warning: This chapter contains some violent scenes. More so than previous chapters.*

    Chapter 17: Disarray



    “You ask why we fight. Why we revolted that day. It is simple, Nickolas. We fight because of you. Too long has your Kingdom stood over us. It is our time to break away. Long ago, your ancestors marched into our cities to burn them to the ground. In turn, I sincerely hope I will get the pleasure of removing your crown from your bloodied brow in the burning streets of Silver...

    That is, however, if your capital isn’t razed by your own citizens first.”

    —Segment of correspondence between King Nickolas Lucario and General Vallin of the Colonies


    And so the world ended.




    “The Fates are wrong. Their immense omniscience leaves them blind to the true evil. The eyes of my allies that watched its intricate workings were gouged and blinded. Threads of Fate, heavily woven and not so easily undone, bind this world to their rules. Dissenters meet their end against an unforgiving tide of spacetime, their souls crushed by Erebus’s gaping maw. And now this day blooms with the blazing brilliance of a new dawn, yet is stifled underneath the molten ash of peace. In these days of etrophy, the heroes of the ancients lay forgotten under the growing weight of the centuries. It is now only us who continues to stand.”

    An abyss sprawled beneath the specter. Tendrils of pulsing black reached up towards the Mismagius as he spat his words at the clawing void. His piercing crimson eyes were the only points of light in the dark realm. His cold, clear voice rocked the silent world, beating down the darkness with his words alone. His pursed lips curled into a cruel smile as he felt the abyss tremble.

    “How fitting that it comes down to us, old friend. In the end it does not matter who we are. We are simply mortal souls fighting against unfavorable odds. We are parallel, yet convergent. We are those who carry on the torch of freedom. And we cannot fall while on the job. Your mind may be lost to this abyss, but you are still alive. Wake up, Ian.”

    Light splintered the darkness. In a spontaneous genesis of life, air forced its way through his scared throat and damaged lungs. Everything had feeling again. Cold tile floor pressed against his back, a dull ache throbbed throughout his body, and the light blinded his weakened eyes. Death had relinquished its grip on him, but it had only grudgingly done so. The cloaked spector stood off to the side, withered hand gripped around its scythe, waiting for its chance to return and finish the job.

    The remainder of the gas was involuntarily expelled from his lungs via a brutal coughing fit as the toxicity of his body decreased. His withered form twisted on the ground in spasms of reactivating muscles.

    “Oh! You’re awake! Umbreon, come quickly! Ian’s awake!” An upbeat, female voice shot through Ian’s eardrums like a thorn of rough iron. He drew his claws over his ears and tried to block out the sudden eruption of noise that threatened to overwhelm him. Despite his aversion to the voice, bits and pieces of his fractured thoughts responded to it as if they recalled it from the foggy depths before the labyrinth.

    “Coming! I’m coming! Take care of him for a minute, please!” The opposite of the previous voice spoke as its deeper tones and distinct sternness stuck another string of the insane tangle of his memories. The Breloom’s eyes blinked open as he saw a face covered in fine coat of pink fur peering over him. When he saw her wide, purple eyes, his thinking untangled for a single moment while memories of his past life welled up to the present.

    “Espe—!” he gasped. He tried to raise his head towards her, but was met with a stinging cramp in his chest which held him to the floor. Espeon gave him a brief smile as she placed a small, blue-colored berry in his claw. Ian glanced down at the fruit she had given him and couldn’t help the tears that welled in his eyes. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen a piece of food so unspoiled. His sojourn in the darkness left him only the rotten and dried out waste he scavenged from the compost piles beneath the atriums.

    “Ian, you have no idea how happy we are to see you’re alive. We were told you and Team Frontier were killed exploring Zero Isle!” the Psychic-type explained as she helped Ian raise the Oran Berry to his mouth. His jaw shook with a combination of sheer joy and crippling hunger. He bit into the soft skin of the berry and let the sharp, refreshing juice slide down his burned throat. The stinging sensation it brought was welcomed by the Breloom as it repaired the damaged tissue on its way into his system. With the pain came realization: Her.

    “N-no! No! Still alive ... Sh- ... Still Alive ... !” Ian wheezed as he clutched at his burning throat. His eyes blearily took in the surroundings. Stone. Never-ending, cold, stone. As the cruel realization that he was still underground came upon him, Ian choked on another fit of sobbing.

    “Ian! What’s wrong? What’s going on? Umbreon! Hurry up! Something’s wrong with Ian!” Espeon yelled as the memories and emotions from the last few hours to the previous year fell upon him like a crumbling tower of sorrow. Simultaneously, he recalled brutally snapping Vertex’s neck in the midst of a psychotic episode and seeing the limp form of Sophie as her body was taken away by the cruel, mocking faces above.

    “Why do I live?!” Ian cried as his body began to shudder under the weight of his transgressions.

    “Calm down, Ian. You’re safe here. Everyone is safe her-” Espeon’s comforting dialogue was quickly cut off as Ian only let out another agonized wail at the top of his damaged lungs.

    “WHY DO I LIVE?! WHY?!” As he screamed, he curled his body up into a fetal position at Espeon’s feet and continued to mutter the same two questions over and over again. His claws gripped at the sides of his emaciated face as he begged for the bystanding specter of Death to take him away at long last. Yet it never came.


    Not in compassion, but in wrath, my angel fled today. The Reaper saw me dying on this grey path, but allowed my soul to stay.





    Sunlight rained down upon the rolling green hills and valleys surrounding Shiloh. The verdant slopes burst forth with the colors and scents of the height of summer. Far above the bountiful fields of the country town, the sun bathed the land in its gentle glow as it rose from the blue horizon. Farms and empty grasslands eventually gave way to lush forested foothills at the base of the mountain range.

    Team Salient had been lucky with the hike up to the Forsaken Capital mystery dungeon. The relatively easy path from Shiloh to the edge of the mountains had only gotten easier once they were under the sun-speckled canopy of the old forest. After an hour or so steadily climbing further up the trail, they were fortunate enough to find a small brook of clear water and several bushes of untouched blueberries just as the pangs of hunger were beginning to set upon them.

    Their mid-morning rest was short but exactly what their legs needed to recharge so they could take on the remainder of the upcoming path and dungeon. They had eaten their fills of the delicious fruits, and both Jay and Kelly had to take turns washing blue juice stains out of their fur. Kelly beamed when she saw Jay genuinely smiling among the sun-dappled glade. It had been the first time since before Blue Sun Canyon she had seen him that way. Unfortunately, an uninvited pair of eyes stalked their meal, taking careful note of their location and numbers. Unbeknownst to them, it was not alone. It had found its target, and now it would wait until the opportune moment to claim its prize.

    After they had washed away their stains and weariness, it had only taken a few minutes more along the trail until they reached the entrance of the dungeon described on their job. Among the giant, moss-covered oaks and babbling brooks were massive pillars of what appeared to be white marble. Noah told his companions that legends long said that these were the only ruins left of the humans that had lived in the area eons ago. The Dewott assured them he had seen true human ruins near his home town and had quickly invalidated the structure of the white rock slabs as work of human hands.

    “Too fancy for ‘em. Humans don’t make ornate stuff like that,” he replied to Kelly after she had questioned his knowledge on the subject.

    The environment was so tranquil that the three Pokémon traveling along the forest trail nearly failed to notice where the path dropped down into a wall of shimmering air. The Dewott in front shook his head to clear himself of the intoxicating scents. Noah held out his hand to signal the two others behind to halt. Following him, Kelly and the blindfolded Jay obeyed, the Riolu using Kelly’s shoulder as a guide. Noah held up a scrap of browned parchment paper as he inspected the barrier, muttering words under his breath as he did so.

    Their group quickly walked through the translucent wall of twisted air one after the other with Noah leading. Fortunately, this dungeon was nowhere near as anomalous as the last few Kelly had been in. This forest seemed to have a calm disposition, unlike the violent trees in the forest dungeon outside Loyalty Square. The outside of the dimensional distortion was nearly identical to the interior: the temperature remained pleasantly warm, the terrain was still a gently sloping forest dotted with ruined stone structures, and the sunlight still barely penetrated the leafy canopy of the trees above, leaving odd spots of light on the gently worn path. If they hadn’t been paying attention to the barrier, she wouldn’t have known she was in a dungeon.

    Kelly tried to remain focused on finding the species of plants for their client, but what Noah had said earlier kept at the front of her mind. As her paws padded along the dirt path and over the gnarled roots of ancient trees, the Jolteon looked over at the Dewott foraging in a brush in search of the herbs they needed. She realized then that she knew next to nothing about him, despite the fact that he had traveled and trained with the team for nearly two weeks. He had craftily gotten them to tell him bits and pieces of their stories in Torrent’s camp, but he expertly dodged their questions regarding his story at every turn.

    “Noah? Can I ask you something?” she spoke up, her voice breaking a bit in nervousness. The Dewott dug his head out of the lush bush at the sound of his name and turned towards her. In his gently cupped hands he held a dozen or so leaves, which he took to her for inspection. Kelly gazed at the pile of rounded green leaves he held under her nose. They smelled fresh like pine trees.

    “Sage, I think. They’re really green now, so we should gather a bunch of it while we can. And what’d you want to ask me, Kelly? I’m ready to divine your answers as ‘Noah the Psychic,’” he answered with a smile. He carefully slipped the leaves into the flat pouches on the inside of his satchel. Kelly shifted uncomfortably on her feet, causing Jay to nearly lose his balance beside her.

    “I’m not sure how to phrase this, but ... I wanted to ask you about ... you. I mean, you’ve trained with us, you’ve traveled with us, you even helped save our lives in that canyon. Yet, I know nothing about you. I even know more about Leo than I do you, and he doesn’t have a past to remember at the moment.” Noah’s smile immediately fell like a rock dropping from the sky. The blue otter silently turned away from her and focused his attention on carefully harvesting more leaves from the sage bush.

    “Hey! She asked you a question, Noah! Give us a straight answer,” Jay barked as he adjusted the crimson band around his eyes. Kelly felt the Riolu’s paw grab onto her fur while she ran forward to the unresponsive Pokémon. Noah gave a small snort of agitation as he abruptly turned ninety degrees and walked further down the winding forest trail.

    “Noah! Come on! Give us an answer! If you’re going to stay with us, we should all know each others’ stories, right? Teamwork and cooperation, right? What happened to that, huh?!” Kelly shouted as she dashed after the Dewott, Jay stumbling along blindly behind her tripping over the intruding roots with a curse on his lips for every time his paws slammed on the wooden obstacles.

    “There’s nothing to tell you. What I was before is, unfortunately, none of your business. Leave me to my own devices please, and I promise not to interfere with yours. How’s that sound, hmm?” Noah snapped as he gave a brief glance behind his shoulder at her. The Dewott shouldered his bag and roughly snatched a small head of purple flowers from a lavender bush hanging over the side of the path. Kelly watched as he crudely stuffed the fragile flowers into his satchel.

    Kelly wasn’t sure whether to be furious or hurt by the brash statement. Rarely in the time that they all had known Noah did he demonstrate any signs of this distant and cold attitude. Any trace of his laughter was gone from his voice. Out of all the emotions she felt, only anger managed to take control.

    “What’s gotten into you? You were fine a few minutes ago!” Kelly snapped. Sparks jumped in between the charged spikes of her golden fur as she continued to fume. “If you can’t trust us, then why are you still here?”

    Noah turned around and drew one of the razor shells that rested on his hips. “Then maybe I shouldn’t stay with you lot! If you can’t give my past a damn rest then maybe I should just go!” Noah shouted back as their increasingly heated argument echoed throughout the wooded dungeon. Kelly was beyond irate. The troubling thoughts that plagued her head were agitated to painful levels with the Dewott’s sudden aggressive turn. Amid the shadowed trees, the silent lurker watched and listened to their debate intently. The lurker smiled as their shouts attracted the local populace. Noah suddenly paused, his face freezing with his mouth open.

    “Jay, Kelly. Don’t even think about moving. Otherwise it will kill us all. Do not move. Do not talk. Do not breathe. Just pray. And stand still.” Noah said in a hurried whisper as Kelly instantly stiffened up. Jay’s paw flew to her back as he stilled as well. The Jolteon didn’t dare look behind her at whatever monster Noah had found.

    She felt its presence. There was something there for sure. Whatever it was, it didn’t breathe like the usual, murderous monster would. She only heard the slight internal humming and the clicking of mandibles.

    “Listen to me very carefully. When I say ‘go,’ you both are going to turn around and hit that thing with whatever you have. Lighting and ... fists. Alright? After that ... Just stay alive and do not breathe in the spores,” Noah whispered again, almost mouthing the words in near silence. Several tense seconds passed before the Dewott began to inch his way forward. He held one paw to his mouth to keep silent while his other slowly raised his trademark scalchop.

    Kelly put aside her feelings of animosity as she concentrated on circulating electricity through her fur. She felt Jay lift his paw from her fur. Her body shuddered in fear. Kelly took a deep breath and tried to to think of how she would survive against the unknown foe looming behind her.

    “Go!” Noah yelled as he leaped forward. Kelly spun around with a flurry of crackling energy and let loose a bolt of thunder at the approaching enemy.





    “Impact! We have impact! Brace yourselves!” Torrent’s gravelly voice boomed throughout the streets as the ground shook with the detonations. Leo was thrown to the heaving street as fire erupted from the rooftops. Around him, clay walls of houses were blasted apart relentlessly.

    Leo felt his legs turn to jelly before they were knocked out from beneath him by the crashing wave. He fought the urge to vomit. His body twisted in mid-air before landing spread-eagled on the cobblestone pavement. The world spun violently in circles as Leo lifted his aching head from the street. He felt the stone scraping away some of the scales before a sickening feeling rose from his bruised stomach.

    Wood splintered and heat pulsed through the shattered houses as Pokémon ran about trying to put out the fierce fires that had sprung up from seemingly nowhere. Dazed, Leo got to his feet as he blinked away the head trauma. The Charmeleon ducked down behind the fallen roof of a villa just before a beam of electricity blasted over his head. Peaking around the rubble, he saw the advancing forms of Pokémon that seemed entirely separate from the scurrying civilians.

    The attackers were doing their best to make Shiloh their own rendition of hell. Blasts of water from the impromptu fire squads sizzled against the flames that fed on the dry wood of the houses. Leo saw them, all sorts of them. They were different from the Kingdom soldiers in the scarce equipment and worn armor that they had strapped over their bodies.

    Wind whipped through the street as attacks whizzed through the air, scarring the embattled town further. Flames ate away at the store fronts as the Colonists drove through the scattering crowd, clashing with anyone who got close enough to them. Leo breathed heavily as he clutched the mound of rubble, praying that none of the rebels would find him. Jets of water were blasted into harmless steam by opposing Flamethrower attacks coming from the dogs of war.

    Just when he saw an opening in the chaos to rush behind to the safety of Torrent’s fort, he found himself face-to-face with a four-legged reptile with a flower bud growing on its back. Leo balked at the strange plant-creature. He had seen many strange Pokémon in his short time in this world, but this one took the cake for the weirdest. And unfortunately, it seemed to notice that Leo looked out of place in the realm of the living.

    “Tryin’ to hide from me, soldier?” the plant sneered. A vine short forth from the closed pink flower and wrapped around Leo’s unsuspecting throat. Immediately, the vine retracted, dragging Leo out into the street as he sputtered and clawed against the twisting tendril. The Ivysaur let loose another vine that snaked around him, trying to bind his flailing arms together.

    “N-No! Let go!” Leo yelled as his arms evaded the second vine. In his desperation, the flame on his tail flared brightly as he clawed at the vine coiling around his throat. His head grew dizzy with the lack of air. Losing his rationality, he lunged forward, towards the Colonist Grass-type, and bit down on the base of the vine. By some force, he felt his mouth heat up, and he bit down harder on the strangling plant. The Ivysaur screamed in agony as he dragged Leo against the stone. His rage towards the attacking Pokémon only ignited further as he felt his scales break and his blood smear against the rough rock of the street.

    His half-lidded eyes opened wide as fire burst forth him his fangs, scorching the vine in two. Leo tumbled backwards, cringing as his shins and arms scraped against the stone, but he was free. He looked up at the enemy Pokémon. The Ivysaur was shouting curses Leo did not understand and his smoking and severed vine danced about in the air. Something snapped inside of Leo’s head. He had been abused and forced to follow the will of others for too long.

    The ground rumbled beneath him as a beam of energy shot through a line of houses, leaving them a smoldering wreck of ash. Shiloh’s civilization was slowly being reduced to molten slag before his eyes. Snorting a jet of smoke from his nose, Leo shook off the limp vines around his throat. His eyes flashed with fury as he lunged at the distracted plant-animal.

    “Get off, damn lizard! I’ll snap your neck! Snap it clean off!” The Ivysaur screamed as Leo landed on top of its flower bud. Any vine that sprouted from it was quickly slashed into pieces by his glowing claws. His mind was a haze of hate and fire as his sharpened claws tore into the leafy exterior and shredded the pink flower. The Ivysaur kicked and threw itself against the ground and buildings as it shouted in agony. Leo ignored its screams and focused on the goal of ripping the life from the frothing and cursing Colonist beneath him.

    Everything else around the two battling Pokémon was lost in a fog of debris and shouts as a war raged. Yet, the Ivysaur’s fiery, red eyes burned as their owner slammed Leo into a wall. Undeterred, the Charmeleon retaliated by digging his clawed feet into the Ivysaur soldier’s underside, leaving deep gashes along the blueish flesh.

    The Ivysaur screamed before he collapsed, “You... And your family will drown in a storm! Drown in it!”

    Leo grinned as he slashed his claws down into the fleshy bud, stripping it of its layers swing by swing. Plant juice splattered on his claws with each pass as the enemy soldier beneath him fell into unconsciousness Leo didn’t care. He screamed as he dug his hands into the center of the bud and clawed deeply, trying to rip it out. His mind gleefully urged him forwards, forcing his claws to pierce the plant flesh and tug hard.

    The Ivysaur was unmoving, its eyes closed as Leo ripped out a large chunk of the plant that lived inside it. Even though he had effectively killed it, Leo was still unsatisfied. Disregarding the attacks shooting around his head from the Colonists fighting around him, Leo let his body exact revenge. He opened his jaws wide and breathed a jet of instinctual fire onto the Ivysaur’s carass.

    Flames licked the dying plant flesh as they quickly consumed the fallen soldier in an impromptu pyre. Leo stepped off his defeated foe as he turned around and walked down the street, leaving the burning corpse behind as if it were nothing. His confidence rose to deathly insane levels as he calmly ducked and sprinted past shooting jets of fire, water, and ice. Shiloh was in flames around him, yet he felt more alive than the leaping tongues of fire. As the plant blood dripped from his claws, Leo for once felt that he was in charge. He would forge his own destiny, and he would stop anyone who got in his way.

    “Get down, fool boy!” Blinking stupidly as his daydreams of torching his enemies faded, he felt a large hand grab his neck and force him to the ground. From the street, Leo saw the huge, blue reptile let go of him. Torrent lowered his head and crossed his arms defensively as a wave of water blasted into him, where Leo had been walking just a moment before.

    Water cascaded off the Feraligatr’s blue scales and landed on Leo’s tail and back, causing him to groan in pain as his tail flame hissed. Above him, Torrent came out of his defensive pose.

    “You pansies think that’s powerful? Let me show you rebels what an old Kingdom soldier can do!” Torrent screamed as he drew his head back and a blast of water stronger than anything Leo had ever seen erupted from his massive jaws. He couldn’t see who was on the receiving end of the pressured jet, but the distinct crack of bone and high pitched screams was proof enough that it had been effective. Torrent closed his mouth, extinguishing the stream of water, as the general ducked down to avoid a beam made of fire, ice, and electricity.

    “I never thought you were a fighter, Charmeleon,” Torrent observed as he helped Leo to his feet amid a small lull in the fighting. “Until I saw you maul that rebel back there. Now THAT is the kind of action we need from you! Good job, boy!” Torrent exclaimed with a pat on the shoulder that nearly sent Leo back to the ground.

    “T-thank you, sir,” Leo stuttered. He never got a reply. He and the Feraligatr immediately ducked behind a makeshift barricade of broken wood and bricks from the ruined, burning fortress.

    Now behind friendly lines, Leo could see the true extent of the damage. Pokémon he had trained with yet barely knew rushed about like ants on a damaged anthill. The humble fort that had been his home for the last days was a flaming furnace, its wood fueling the raging fires within as a grandiose smoke pillar drifted up into the endless void of the night sky.

    On the ground were Pokémon, some groaning in pain from burns or wounds and others laying deathly still with eyes shut as if in tranquil slumber. A shudder passed through Leo’s spine at the gruesome sight. He had been told to expect it by Torrent during training, but he had thought that it would be on the battlefield, not in a town. His thoughts were interrupted by a brief fluttering of wings from the sky above as the battle seemed to reignite. The mess of feathers and talons staggered on the ground as it gasped for breath.

    “General Torrent! Colonial patrols have been sighted in the foothills in the east! It’s not a large army, sir! This looks like a strike team!” Leo needed no further evidence to confirm that the wounded bird was the Pidgeotto, Icarus. The accident-prone Pokémon breathed heavily as he brought a battered wing up in a sloppy salute.

    “Thank you, Icarus ... They didn’t come to take the town ... They wanted to get in and out under the cover of night... They’re searching for something...” the general grumbled as he shuffled through the fallen debris and shattered boxes as he looked for intact supplies. Leo slowly walked beside the fatigued Icarus as they watched Torrent let out an exasperated sigh.

    “Alrigh’! Everyone, listen up! They’re getting ready for another attack! Gertila, you and whoever is still breathing over there, I want you all to hold your position. Meanwhile I’ll —” His barked orders were cut off by an explosion that tore through three houses and sent a hurricane of clay shrapnel raining into the small squad of Pokémon on the far side of the barricade.

    “Damn it! Quark, see if they’re alive! Everyone else, beat those half-breeds back to their own lands!” Torrent screamed. His deep, authoritarian voice echoed over the re-erupting battle in Shiloh. Leo shook his head and ran at a crouch until his back leaned against the flimsy wall of broken wood and clay. Only inches remained between life and being impaled by a spear of ice or some other death.

    “They’ve got us surrounded! Those poor fools!” Torrent laughed heartily as he got up from behind the crude wall.

    Leo watched with awe as beams of ice, bits of sharpened leaves, and blunt rocks all whizzed by the general, each attack seeming to glide just over his aqua scales. Leo coughed as he ran through clouds of smoke and dust kicked into the air by the violent attacks around him. While he ran, trying to find a way to help and fight, the Feraligatr made his presence known to the enemy, fighting alongside his subordinates.

    The Charmeleon swiped his claws at a flaming fox who jumped by him, but missed his target horribly. Behind him, Torrent yelled as if Darkrai himself appeared, and Leo let the Flareon go. Whirling around, he watched as Torrent charged into the thick of the fight and hefted up a surprised Golem in his arms. The rounded boulder Pokémon struggled in the general’s massive arms shortly before the enraged Water-type threw the enemy soldier down. It slammed down on a mass of writhing blue vines that was trying to smother a Heracross. The vines from the Colonial Tangrowth immediately fell limp as their owner was killed instantly by the boulder crashing into its skull.

    The Feraligatr wasted no time in dispatching the dazed Golem with a merciless blast of ice from his maw. There was a brief scream before the rock shell cracked under the bitterly cold temperature. Torrent ducked as a bolt of lightning flew over his head, forcing him to backpedal.

    Leo tried to get rid of the foul smoke taste in his mouth, but it only got worse as he swung his claws against the advancing Colonists. He swiftly lashed out at them and awkwardly danced his way away from their retaliating attacks. Leo met with a blue, muscle-bound Pokemon and didn’t think before immediately slashing his glowing claws into its chest. He didn’t have a chance to retreat; the irate Machoke slammed his fist into Leo’s stomach. His eyes bulged as he felt every organ in his body shift upwards. His mouth opened involuntarily as he belched forth a cloud of acrid smoke from his lungs before falling to the ground, clutching his bruising stomach. Through the stinging pain, he heard the purple brute choke on his smoke shortly before he felt a set of claws grab his own and drag him roughly to his feet.

    “Nice display there, kid. Try not to get hit next time, though!” Torrent screamed.

    He twisted his head and blasted a jet of water from his jaws at a rebelling Flareon who had taken to torching what remained of the wooden fortress. The flaming fox screeched in agony as it was extinguished instantly. Its cries fell silent when its skull cracked audibly against the hard wood.

    “One moment, please.”

    As soon as the flaming creature was doused to a cold death, Torrent reached into the shattered lid of a crate and pulled out a fistful of tiny shriveled crimson seeds. Leo’s eyes widened in shock as Torrent crudely tossed the volatile Blast Seeds at the advancing Machoke.

    Leo raised his arms up to shield himself but not before a series of explosions rocked his eardrums. He staggered as the earth shook in response to the volley of Blast Seeds. His feet faltered and tripped over the debris into one of the smoldering rooms inside the fort. Forgetting the pain in his legs and torso, Leo’s eyes widened as he saw pieces of seemed to be curved metal laying scattered on the stone floor. Their color looked as if they were charred in the fire, but they were not damaged. It only took his mind a moment to figure out what they were, and he smiled a toothy grin amid the destruction.

    Armor... Leo greedily scooped them up in his claws. Once in his hands, he found that they were not pieces of metal at all, but rather strong, blackened wood. He didn’t ponder the strange set of armor for long as another explosion rattled the ground. Leo slapped the curved wooden pieces onto his arms. He pulled their leather straps and tied them awkwardly with his claws.

    He looked down at himself. The blackened bracers looked ridiculous on his red scales, but all his mind saw was protection between him and the many, many things that wanted to kill him. His chest was still unprotected, but at least he would avoid scraping his arms again. Huffing with pride, he turned around and was immediately given an opportunity to test his newfound armor. An explosion ripped through the broken wall in front of him and Leo had just enough time to raise his arms in front of his face before they were met with a shower of flaming splinters.

    The heat passed by his body without problem, and to his surprise, the speeding bits of debris tinked off the bracers on his arms. The only damage suffered was a few small cuts on his stomach. He smiled, thanking the luck gods of this world, as he jumped over the fallen wall and into the battle once more.

    It only took Leo a cursory glance to see the destruction Torrent had inflicted upon the intruders. The Charmeleon felt his stomach clench as he saw the bloodied remnants of the Flareon and several other unidentifiable Colonist soldiers. Torrent inspected his gruesome handiwork with a slightly manic grin.

    “Icarus! Fly as fast as you can to the Gracewind and Electros companies! They’re the closest! Tell their captains we’ve got a serious breach on our hands here!” Torrent snapped at the flustered Pidgeotto. In an instant, Icarus flapped his wings twice and took to the air once again. Leo cautiously approached the general.

    Torrent’s eyes glimmered as he first glanced at the Charmeleon and then the rest of his exhausted troops. The rest of the company was taking advantage of the momentary calm in the bitter fighting caused by the explosions. Leo breathed, staying low behind the burning barricades while Torrent assessed the situation silently. He looked around for himself, and the sight had gotten worse since a few minutes before. There seemed to be more unmoving bodies laying on the ground. These fresher casualties were twisted and crumpled against the broken stone, radiating steam, smoke, and thawing ice.

    The Charmeleon’s stomach flipped over, and he felt a wave of bile splash up into his mouth. He spat it out onto the cracked road before he rested his head against his knees. His chaotic thoughts wandered to Kelly, Jay, and Noah while he closed his eyes trying to hold back tears. The ground shuddered beneath him as another explosion rocked it. He mentally cursed Kinsliy for shanghaiing him into working; it was because of that damned Sneasel that he wasn’t with his team now. His teeth gnashed together as he secretly hoped that she was among the casualties.

    “Listen up, you lot!” Torrent’s voice boomed over the eerie calm that had settled over Shiloh’s ruins. Leo looked up at the general. The Feraligatr stood on a pile of wreckage and addressed the few Pokémon who could still stand. Leo saw a couple familiar faces in the thin crowd: Quark the Alakazam, Ramses the Yamask cook, and a few he knew by sight alone but were mostly unknown to him. Torrent looked over his painfully few soldiers, but if there was a hint of disappointment in his face, he didn’t show it.

    “They’ve made a mistake in coming here,” Torrent said with a huff and an accusing claw pointed at the Colonial soldiers just beyond the barricade. “They outnumber us, but we’re stronger. We’re damn stronger then—!” Leo was certain he was going to continue his motivational speech when a familiar voice suddenly interrupted from behind.

    “It seems like you could use some help. Is that right, General Torrent?” Leo’s head twisted to see a flash of green leap from a nearby rooftop and land in the clearing in front of Torrent. It was quickly followed by a white blur and another green figure that glided down from the sky. Leo’s spirits rose as he saw the solemn figures of a Grovyle, Absol, and Flygon.

    “Victini’s star! Blade, Elliot, Sonic! You boys came just in the nick of time!” Torrent yelled with a gruff laugh. “Damn, I was almost starting to get worried there, but now with you lot here, we’ll beat down these rebels before they can blink an eye!” The massive Feraligatr exclaimed as he clapped each one of the members of Team Emerald on the back. Torrent turned back to the main crowd of Kingdom troops, with a confident smirk. Leo stood up with the weirdly emotionless trio and gave them a friendly wave, silently thanking them for showing up. They didn’t return the gesture. The only reply he got back was a piercing stare from the stoic Elliot. The Absol’s crimson eyes drilled into his, making him stop his wave and fall silent. A cold feeling sank over him, yet he didn’t know why.

    “Trey, you and the three behind you are to hold the center. Gned, you take Clarice and Nath and fortify the left! Leo, you’re with me and Quark on the right! And Blade ... Just do what you all do best. Now!” Torrent commanded, as a collect shout rose from the battered soldiers, Leo included. To his left, Blade looked to his two teammates and nodded.

    “Yes, sir,” the Grovyle calmly said as the cluster of leaves on his wrists glowed with energy. Leo blinked, and when he opened them he wished he hadn’t. Blade silently leaped into the air and in one fluid movement, he twisted in midair and sunk both sets of his blades into Torrent’s exposed back. Everything seemed to grow quiet as Blade retracted his leaves, only to repeat the process trice more in the span of a second. The Grass-type ducked around the stunned Feraligatr and jabbed his leaves into his chest, dragging them to the side, splitting bone and lung in a spray of fresh blood. Blade hopped into the air and kicked the general’s bleeding torso, sending him crashing to the ground. The quick Grovyle stepped over the fallen Torrent and raised his leaves for the kill.

    “Heh. Good one,” Torrent said as he spit a wad of blood at the traitorous Groyvle’s feet. As his head fell, his massive jaws opened wide and launched a beam of bloodied ice from his maw. Blade screamed out and clutched his frozen right arm. Leo watched, shocked at the scene. The Grovyle cursed vehemently, raised his left wrist, and brought it down under Torrent’s limp jaw, slashing through his throat with a savage cut.

    “TORRENT!” Quark screamed as the shock wore off and reality set in. Leo blinked. And blinked again. This was no dream of his. Blade still stood panting over Torrent’s body, his leaves dripping with his blood and ice. Leo’s body went numb. All shock was quickly replaced by an anger fueled by his raging inner fire. Pain swelled in his singed limbs, but he had a mission to do. Torrent was dead, but he was damned if he was going to stand aside.

    There were no thoughts that crossed his mind other than the resolute block of revenge that flooded his skull. His legs tensed as he leaped into the air. Instantly, the broad side of his shoulder slammed into Blade, sending the both him and the Grovyle staggering off Torrent’s bleeding body to the ground. Leo kicked and clawed at Blade’s skin as he screamed curses at the traitor. Leo had three seconds of victory before Blade landed a brutal kick on the Charmeleon’s stomach, launching him off.

    “You miserable, Fire-spewing —” Leo refused to let him finish. The anger smoldering in his body was stoked into a raging fire, and he was all-too-willing to let it burn. Leo opened his mouth, and a flash of fire erupted from his jaw. The Grass-type screeched as his body was subjected to the sudden burst of fire, but Leo quickly found out that it would take a lot more than a simple Ember to kill his attacker. Blade emerged from the wave of fire with a murderous disposition. He snarled as he swung his glowing wrists down on the Charmeleon.

    Rather than meeting soft scales, blood, and bone, his dual Leaf Blades jarred to a stop against the thin, black, armor on Leo’s arms. Both Pokémon were momentarily stunned as the dangerous wrist leaves sat embedded in the oaken armor. Leo stared the Grovyle down even as Blade spat at his face. The insult spattered across Leo’s left cheek as he simply drove his clawed feet into Blade’s knees.

    The enraged reptile fell to the dirt but only remained down for an instant as he leapt at Leo. However, he never got the chance to slice Leo’s throat. The Grovyle simply froze in midair, an extended wrist blade only a few inches away from Leo’s gasping throat. Blade’s eyes widened with fear as he saw Quark. The Alakazam stood in front of the few survivors of the company in the face of the rogue team.

    “You hid your traitorous thoughts well, Blade. But I’m afraid all liars will burn in the end.” Quark’s eerily calm voice echoed over the battlefield. Blade’s immobilized body shook weakly before Quark shifted his spoons to the right, sending the Grovyle into the flaming fortress. Blade smashed through the weakened wood wall and landed in the middle of the inferno. The Grovyle’s agonized screams were lost as a bolt of pure darkness sliced through the air and struck the Psychic healer in the chest, knocking him back.

    Leo got to his feet just as the Absol charged at the small group of survivors. Leo had never seen the white creature fight before, but now he could only duck to the side as Elliot sped by him, his sharpened crescent horn glowing with a vile black energy. A large beetle in blue armor stood to block his charge towards the staggering Alakazam. Leo saw her wings buzz as she collided with him with a sickening crunch of bone and carapace. Elliot stumbled, his momentum halted as a large gash graced his white-furred flank. The Heracross, however, took the full brunt of his energy. The bug warrioress grimaced before she slumped to the ground, her deep-blue armor smoking at the segmented joints.

    The thrum of death resonated against Leo’s heart once again as another life was taken before his eyes. He had no time to react to the loss of another soldier when he felt a blast of heated air collide with his exposed back. Leo was slammed into the ground, his chest and face scraping across wood and twisted metal before he tumbled to a stop. Blearily looking up, he saw the shape of the sleek desert dragon fly over him and spew a stream of blue fire from his maw. Sonic twirled in the air, avoiding Quark and the other survivors’ feeble attacks.

    “GAAHHHHHAHHH!” The anguished yell came from Leo’s left. The disorientated Fire-type glanced at the burning fortress. Flames shot up from the wood, purging the structure of matter as the screams only continued. A distorted figure appeared in the midst of the inferno, writhing, yet running. As if it was a demon fresh from the mouth of hell, it burst forth from the fire. Its skin was charred black against the dusk air. The body crumpled to the floor in an ashen heap as smoke twisted and curled from the plant-like scales. Yet, even as it died, a sinister white light ensnared the figure. Leo felt the blood drain from his face as the horribly burned scales peeled off in spades and grew in again, greener than before. The Grovyle breathed and twisted his neck, cracking his bones as his arms pushed off the ground with a huff of strength. His crimson eyes locked with Leo’s, and a crooked smile appeared on his face.

    Blade brought his arms up to his chest and spun around. The cluster of greenery on his wrists glowed with a white light as he flung three spinning leaves through the air. Leo only had time to blink dumbly and heard something like an explosion just before he felt a thousand knives rip into his chest. He could only watch as the trio of distorted leaves plunged into the softer scales on his chest, cleaving into his flesh and pulsing in a sickening glow before their power faded. But he did not feel their sting. His gaze traveled down to his chest where the curved, green leaves had settled into his flesh. He heard yells, shouts, and screams as ice froze, fire burned, and power crackled through the air. His arm shook numbly as he touched the ends of one of the leaves that stuck out just below his heart. The organic blade did not budge from his scales.

    His breath hitched as if it was blocked by something. The roar of war in his ears faded into a content hum as his teammates’ carefree jabber and laughter filled his head. The few times that had been filled with peace in Loyalty Square and Torrent’s camp played in his mind. Their cheerful, painless voices swirled around his skull like his vision. His claws tried to swipe them in order to hold onto them, but they flitted out of his weak reach. Reality distorted in and out of focus as images of his friends interpositioned themselves in between the smoking battlefield and their own plane of existence.

    Jay waved at him, lifting his bandana from his healed eyes as Leo’s body sagged. Noah smiled his usual charming grin as he leaned up against a smoking slab of broken rock. Leo ignored the snarls and curses as Elliot and Quark wrestled to the death inches away from him. Jay and Noah were unconcerned with the blood-duel that was happening a mere stone’s throw from them as Quark avoided the Absol’s horn and wrapped his arms around Elliot’s neck. The resulting snap was dulled out in Leo’s ears as his legs buckled and he fell to the ground. In what was his final straw, Kelly appeared amid the haze, her body sparking and lighting up the surrounding darkness. She didn’t move, but her eyes beckoned him to her. He wanted to run to her, to embrace her and forget this battle and his pain. But his deteriorating body failed to move.

    The sharp, broken rocks cradled him as the battle raged beyond. His teammates had long since fled his fading mind as the ground rattled beneath. Blade screamed in rage as the Absol’s body was flung down, neck angled awkwardly and eyes lifeless. Leo couldn’t see much as the wooden barricade was slammed down by the Colonists. This was the last struggle for them. Leo’s eyes blinked, the only action he could voluntarily perform as his blood fled out through his wounds. His key clinked against the stone, bringing attention to itself. Amid his disjointed thoughts, he got an idea.

    Going with agonizingly slow speed, Leo slipped the golden cord off his head and pushed the key underneath a fallen signpost. If he was to die, he refused to let the beautiful treasure be claimed as a war prize. The blue key glistened as it skidded to a stop beneath the splintered wood, out of sight if no one moved the wreckage. His body relaxed and he let his limbs fall limp as he stared listlessly at the carnage. To his satisfaction, the Flygon screeched and crashed to the ground, a spear of ice protruding from his body. Death of others did not cause him the discomfort he once knew. Perhaps it was because his own life was coming to a close.

    "Cease. Now." The voice, lovely and terrible, washed over the flaming city with the fury of a raging wind.

    Silence. Frenzied shouts immediately ceased, both the besiegers and the survivors dropped their stances, and quiet reigned as the battlefield slowly smoked and cracked. Leo’s eyes strained to open, desperately beating back weakness and death to retain one last look at the cause of the silence. His flesh convulsed as a wave of spine-wrenching fear purged the warmth from his heart. Pain squeezed the sides of his head as tears began to roll down his face. Utter despair seemed to roil in the wavering air around him, polluting his head with the paralyzing emotions. He felt like he was being crushed from the inside out while his bleeding heart pounded wildly under his skin as if it was trying to flee his body.

    Is this what it’s like to die? He saw Nexus stamp her claw down on him in a forest clearing. In Spore Meadows, Jumpluff mocked him as he choked on the poison gas. In Loyalty, Leo remembered the agonizing sting left from the electric burns the Magnemite caused. Yet none of those compared to the numb pain that crawled over his body like ice.

    Stop! Stop! Make it stop! What is this?! his thoughts screamed as he prayed for the assault against his mind to cease. The burning he felt inside his head wasn't worth it. Nothing this world had to offer him could compensate for the pain or the onset of insanity. Leo gasped as another wave of sickening nausea swept over him.

    Stop! Stop! For the love of God, please stop! His bleeding body writhed on the street as the bombardment of emotions continued to fill his mind with thoughts of guilt and regret. He clutched at his chest in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure on his lungs, but to no avail.

    This is it. I'm going to die. I never got to say good-bye. Kelly, Jay, Noah ... I'll miss you all. Leo felt tears in his eyes again. This time, they weren't in response to the pain; it was for his teammates he'd never get to see again. His end would be on the street, and the cobblestones would be his grave. No one would find his body. He would be utterly forgotten. He would be one insignificant human killed in a world not his own. He wanted nothing more for it all to end. He wanted whatever was toying with his mind to finish its job and switch him off entirely.

    His eyes flickered open for an instant to take in the scene before snapping shut from the pain. The perfect evening sky and canted light were wasted on this day of wanton destruction. Burnt wood and flesh assaulted his nose yet did little to drive away the phantoms of regret and guilt that plagued his mind. He could vaguely see the thatched straw roofs igniting from the falling flames as screams erupted from the panicked populace. More than once, he heard the Pokémon carrying him yell to unseen others.

    Leo choked out a bloodied wad of spit as he felt a dizzy spell grip his head again. As he held his eyes shut to try and shut out the pain, all sound ceased as another call echoed over the battlefield.

    “There will be no more fighting. Blade, cease. This slaughter is enough.” The voice again. No longer amplified, but carrying the same authority nonetheless.

    Despite the heat from the nearby flames, Leo felt a wave of cold dread wash over his scales. He wasn’t paying any more attention to the words as fear wrapped its slithering tendrils around his mind. His body seized up and he was unable to breathe. The tail-flame which guided him flickered, and another wave of pure terror flooded through his halted body and made him wretch a mouthful of blood out onto the pavement.

    A figure stood over him as Leo went through the motions of slowly choking to death on the regurgitated blood from his innards. He couldn’t clearly see who or what it was, but it possessed an ethereal aura about herself. It strode forward amid the slanted shadows of the night. Its form was occasionally illuminated by the burning city, making it as beautiful and terrible as a seraph of death. The figure opened her mouth to speak as a chorus of screams erupted from the burning fortress in the outskirts of Shiloh. Her voice, however, was the result of angels.

    “Hello, human. I am glad Blade did not kill you entirely. Now, to find the other one. ”



    Continued on Next Post
    Last edited by Knightfall; 14th March 2014 at 5:40 PM.

  15. #265
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    Continued from previous post





    It was more hideous than she imagined. A festering orange carapace engulfed by an enormous red and white mushroom that seemed to seethe a cloud of spores with every zombified step it took. While Kelly had learned about the specifics of all species of Pokémon, Parasect had always sent a shiver of absolute dread down her spine because she knew that it was the Cordyceps, not the Pokémon, in control.

    The Jolteon twisted around just in time to gaze for a split second into its white, soulless eyes before she unleashed the most powerful bolt of lightning she had within herself. Crackling rings of electricity rushed before her eyes as Kelly directed the frying streams of energy at the looming fungal parasite. Millions of volts of power surged through the non-existent nervous system of the former crab, blackening its decaying exterior and only seeming to make it angier.

    At the same time, Noah launched into the air with both of his razor shells drawn. The Dewott twisted around in midair to slash at the burnt spore cap of the fungus protruding from the shell of the Pokémon. Kelly watched as in the blink of an eye the edges of the shells became coated in a layer of ice just before Noah sent them ripping through the cracked and burnt surface of the mushroom.The ashen skin shattered at the shells’ attacks, letting the Dewott drive further into the vulnerable structure within.

    Unfortunately, the Cordyceps refused to let itself be killed so easily as it forced its unwilling host to shake and buck the clinging Dewott off. Kelly dashed around in the swaying grass behind the occupied beast. She let the energy of her activity charge up another quick burst of electricity in her fur, which she immediately launched at the emotionless face of the attacking Pokémon.

    The wave of electricity flew through the air and collided with the front end of the Parasect, searing the flimsy skin and effectively melting them away. Giant orange claws swung and pinched the air as the trio danced around the writhing forest crab. Jay, despite his sight and aura deprivation, still managed to slip through the wall of flailing legs and claws to land a series of well placed punches and even a kick on the charred mushroom of the feral beast.

    However, the infected Pokémon would have none of the close combat Jay was inflicting as it slashed its sharpened pincers at the blind Riolu. Jay got in a spinning kick at the mushroom just before the heavy claws gripped around his torso. Kelly winced as she heard Jay’s pained yelp as he struggled against the razor-sharp edges that sliced through his fur and flesh.

    Noah let out a yell as he hopped over the bushes and brush towards the captive Riolu. Kelly huffed and sped along behind the parasitic monster. The Jolteon dug her paws into the springy moss-ridden ground before she launched herself at the top half of the mushroom. Sparks flew from her charged body as she slammed into the Pokémon, cracking its exoskeleton with a satisfying crunch. The mushroom started to smoke and sickly green fluid began leaking from the damaged bone.

    Meanwhile, Noah raised both of his shells into the air as a thin layer of glowing water collected on them. As soon as they were sufficiently coated, he swung them down into the segmented arms holding Jay. The moss-ridden carapace shattered under the immense pressure Noah slammed down onto the jointed elbow. The same greenish fluid sprayed up from the effectively amputated arms as the Parasect immediately scurried away from the Dewott, leaving a trail of oozing blood around the forest path.

    Jay fell to the ground as the massive claws holding him and released their grip. Seeing that their enemy was occupied in flailing its clawless limbs, Noah strode forward with a wicked grin and adjusted the hold on his trusty weapons in order to finish the dying feral off. Not seeing any threat from the clearly injured Pokémon, Kelly skirted both the Dewott and Parasect and ran towards Jay on the opposite end of the clearing.

    Lacking eyes that weren’t melted to see its attackers, the Parasect gurgled a menacing roar as its fruiting body began to glow a bright white underneath the blackened flesh. Kelly slowed to a walk and panted in exhaustion as she looked to Noah as for what the attack meant. The Dewott skidded in the dirt as he finished off another slice into the dying Cordyceps. He took a single look at the glowing phenomenon happening before Kelly saw his eyes widen in terror.

    “Get back! Get back! It’s using Spore! Cover your mouths! Cover your damn mouths!” he screamed before he turned tail and dove behind a segment of a rotting oak log. Kelly dashed over to Jay, who was still standing and nursing his wounded arms and legs. She jumped up, wrapped her front paws around the bloodied Riolu, and took him to the damp ground. Jay let out a sudden yell in alarm as she rolled with him over the brush, away from the staggering Parasect.

    Kelly kept a hold of Jay as she shifted the worn Pecha Scarf around her neck. She pressed her head next to his so that both of their mouths would be covered by the protective cloth. Her paws tried to keep the cloth down as she whispered into Jay’s ear for him to stop his struggling as he writhed in pain from his gashes. Jay eventually listened when a piercing insectoid snarl echoed through the clearing swiftly accompanied by a resounding explosion that shook the entire forest. Kelly closed her eyes and buried herself deeper into the shielding scarf as what seemed to be a fine dust gently rained down upon them from above.

    She didn’t know what the stuff settling on her fur was. Why these particles were so dangerous, she could only guess. However, she decided to trust Noah even though he had not given her strong reason to during their discussion back along the trail. He had flat-out refused to entertain any answers regarding his past, and once she was able, she’d get to the bottom of the matter one way or another.

    Air filtered through the faded pink cloth, just enough to keep her and Jay from suffocation but never enough for them to catch a full breath. Spores rained down on them as they lay in the damp brush. Kelly barely resisted the urge to scratch at the itching sensation building on her back. Seconds trickled by with the beating of both their hearts as they waited for the danger to pass.

    “Kelly?” Jay whispered, sacrificing a small portion of his limited air. Kelly shifted her body slightly so that her fur didn’t muffle the Riolu so badly.

    “Yeah? What is it?” she breathed as if trying not to shatter the all-consuming silence that fell immediately after the Spore blast.

    “Thank you. For everything. For being here for me from the beginning.” Kelly’s eyes widened. She had been expecting some form of thanks from her teammate for her actions, but this was more than a simple expression of gratitude.

    “What?” she whispered back to him. She looked over at him from under the scarf. With the crimson band covering his eyes, she couldn’t make out his expression. In the months she had done jobs with him before meeting Leo, he had rarely given her a genuine thanks. They merely seemed to coexist together in order to bring in the meager earnings they received from the menial tasks they did. While she didn’t mind the work, she had always felt that they weren’t truly a team until the Charmeleon had launched himself into their lives.

    “I just wanted to say thank you. I realized that I never really said it to you before. You’ve done so much for me ... All of us really,” he whimpered as he tried to tend to the deep cuts on his arms outside the scarf.

    “Jay... You’re welcome. And, don’t forget it was you all who saved me from being frozen in the Canyon. We’ll get through this, and we’ll get back to the way things are supposed to be.” She knew he wanted the same thing. They were both tired of running away from their “home” in Loyalty. They were on the brink of success with their team, and then suddenly they were traitors. It made no sense. Torrent constantly said to them that it was a result of what he called “that damn Senate in Silver making rules about things they don’t know about.”

    While her views on the Kingdom’s politics weren’t as radical as the general’s, she prefered to keep well away from any form of government. She remembered often hearing her parents discuss the situation in the capital over meals, and she quickly grew annoyed with the political banter from the two researchers. Kelly mulled her thoughts over in her head. She had to prevent a breakdown. The memories of her absent parents were gradually pushing her over the mental cliff, and she had to push back before she slipped down.

    Just think about other things, Kelly. Leo, the team, survival, all excellent topics to choose from. Just think...” She took comfort in the distracting subjects. Her thoughts shifted to the Charmeleon who had triggered the majority of what had happened to them in one way or another.

    It’s not his fault. It couldn’t be. If anything, he saved me. Her thoughts were right, she supposed. While the odds were small that Leo directly caused the treason orders to be put out against them, she couldn’t help but link him to the event. He was an enigma to her. It was true that they both talked and confided in each other, but Kelly couldn’t help but notice that somehow, Leo had evaded all talk of his past. She hadn’t pressed him for information due to the amnesia he suffered from, but there was something he hadn’t told her.

    Back at the first camp, when we sat watching the sunrise, he was going to tell me something. If Torrent hadn’t interrupted, then he would have told me... But he hasn’t said a word about it to me since then... She made a note to herself to ask him about it when she finished the gathering mission.

    Come to think of it, where did he go today? He wasn’t in town, that much was certain... Before she could follow this train of thought as to where her fiery friend might have gotten off to, she was startled back into the real world with a tap on her back.

    “Hey. We’re good. You can come out from under there and breathe. Spores usually lose their potency after about ten minutes,” Noah said from above them as Kelly pulled herself out from the scarf. Jay sat up, still nursing his wounds after her. Kelly’s curiosity was immediately drawn to the smoking carapace laying motionless in the glade behind the Dewott. Noah turned around and acknowledged the remains of the enemy.

    “Yeah, that’s a Spore attack for you. The mushroom blows up in a cloud of spores that try to infect anything around it. Luckily for us, I knew what it was doing, otherwise we’d all start gnawing on rotting logs and sprouting mushrooms too,” Noah casually explained as the three slowly inched their way to the fallen Parasect. It looked vastly different now that the massive spore cap on top of it was no more. Kelly reasoned that it could probably pass for some sort of beetle.

    “Gazzz...” All three Pokémon jumped a foot in the air at the sound emanating from the insect. Quickly backing away and ducking into a crouch, Kelly saw the claws of the feral Pokémon move slightly as it continued to whisper strange, single-syllable noises from the remains of its mouth. However, much to her surprise, the noises did not sound typical of a wild creature about to die. Their tone was reminiscent of some sort of primal joy.

    “Damn. I’m no linguist, but I think it’s thanking us for killing the mushroom,” Noah remarked with a small whistle. While she had no way of knowing if his guess was right, the Parasect certainly seemed serene. It wasn’t flailing, and it wasn’t trying to claw its way towards them in a last act of vengeance. It was simply resting on the ground as its life drained away, seemingly enraptured in moving one of its legs up and down under its own free will, not under a fungal parasite. It looked around with its partly ruined face to see the forest with its eyes before collapsing with a violent shudder and going still.

    The three Pokémon simply stood there trying to breathe away their exhaustion. As they rested, the dungeon sky suddenly wavered and glowed with sunlight before descending into dusk. Kelly was taken aback at the sudden advancement of time from midday to the onset of night while Noah seemed to pass it off as if it was a normal sunset. Jay remained unperturbed by the experience because he only noticed the swift drop of temperature associated with the disappearance of the sun.

    “You’ve never seen this before? It’s an odd quirk I’ve noticed in some dungeons I’ve explored. Apparently some mystery dungeons try to obey the laws of nature, even if it is in their own twisted way,” Noah answered her unasked question as he looked up at the swiftly retreating colors of sunset. The bright hues of orange, blue, pink, and purple ran across the sky like paint being washed off a canvas. Kelly looked over at the Dewott once again. He was standing in the middle of the clearing with his hands resting on his hips as he scanned the underbrush.

    Just who is he? He’s more than some aimless vagabond like the ones Torrent usually picks up. No, he has experience. And lots of it. Her thoughts reasoned while going over the limited facts they had about him.

    “Noah, where did you learn all of this? You knew about the Parasect’s attack habits, the herbs, and a rare dungeon time cycle that has only been observed in a handful of places in Verus. Where and when did you learn all of this?” To both of their surprise, it was the previously silent Jay who had asked the question. The Riolu adjusted the band around his eyes as he waited a moment for any reaction. Kelly stole a glance at Noah, who now sported the usual over confident smirk she had come to associate him with. Her fur bristled with a low charge of electricity as she prepared for anything the Dewott might try after flashing that unpredictable smile that usually meant chaos in some form or another for all in witness.

    “Heh, you’re still on about my story? I should have known better than to think you’d both let it go just because of a simple fight. Anyways, I’ll tell you where I learned those items you listed.” Kelly didn’t trust the charismatic glimmer in the Water-type’s eyes as he politely answered them in lieu of his outburst before.

    “I was always interested in how Pokémon worked. Ever since I can remember, that topic has remained in my head. So, over the years, I got quite a few chances to read books. Anatomy, elemental attack studies, I read as much of it as I could. I learned about how your aura power flows, Jay, and how your fur is able to charge up electricity, Kelly. I learned about my own body and how to maximize my attacks, and I learned how Parasects’ mushrooms operate.

    “My knowledge of plants is rudimentary at best, but I learned what I could from an old Bayleaf in Jomane City in the south. And oddly enough, I remember that cycle through personal experience. I got lost in the Yggdrasil Labyrinth dungeon way to the west of here three years back. That’s how I lived in that hellish place for a week before a squad of patrolling guards found me. Are you happy now?” Noah finished with a slight huff. Kelly didn’t know what to make of the answers. She didn’t picture the fight-happy, wise-cracking Dewott as one to pore over scholarly books, but his firm tone made him seem like he knew what he was talking about. She had heard of the Yggdrasil Labyrinth from her parents after one of their research expeditions. The dungeon was as odd as Noah claimed, but she wanted to know more about him. These answers only created a dozen more questions in her head and she refused to beat around the bush any longer.

    “Noah, who are you? We’re not going to change just because of who you were in the past, but I ... We, as a team, need to know. Please, Noah...” She trailed off as the Dewott lowered his head, as if trying to ignore her inquires. Not dissuaded by her teammate’s attempt to isolate himself, she closed the distance between them. She poked her head into Noah’s downcast stare, only for him to raise his head again and turn his back to her.

    Suppressing an urge to tackle the Water-type and shock him into listening, she thought of a better plan. “I’m the daughter of two renowned dungeon researchers,” she said.

    Noah paused and looked over his shoulder at her. Kelly smiled. Her plan was working. She just had to keep it up.

    “I was raised with privileges most Pokémon don’t get and was educated by tutors from Silver City. I was happy, even though they were always called away on expeditions. About eighteen months ago, they left for an unknown destination and failed to return.” She had his full attention now. Noah turned towards them fully with an almost inquisitive look in his eyes.

    “After a while, I received letters telling me how they couldn’t return. More months passed, and eventually, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t wait for them any longer.”

    Noah’s lips twitched wordlessly, as if he was on the verge of speaking yet was restrained by something.

    “I left the lonely comfort of my home. I was on my own for the first time in my life, and after a week of wandering through the countryside and cities, I was starving, and collapsed on the path outside of Loyalty Square. When I came to, I met up with Jay. The rest of the story you know. Noah, we’re not keeping any secrets from you,” she finished with a final plea to her silent teammate.

    “Noah, my story is similar to hers. I left my home and ended up in Loyalty. We’re not hiding anything, so why do you need to?” Jay spoke up after she ended. The Riolu stood next to her in the moonlit clearing with his paw on her back to keep his bearings. And this is how it remained for several minutes.

    Virtual silence surrounded them. Other than the occasional twig snapping from the foraging feral Pokémon and the swirling shadows that seemed to slither across the ground just at their feet, the world was silent. A pair of eyes glowed within them. It had waited long enough. It had to kill his target.

    The cosmic actions of the Forlorn Capital took over their senses. Soft sounds of the babbling brooks and rustling of the leaves filled their ears and left an aura of tranquility over the emotionally weary explorers. Kelly opened her eyes just in time to see a mass of shadows ignite in a flurry of embers and launch itself at Noah’s back.

    “Noah, look out!” she shrieked, but it was too late for her words to carry any weight. Noah only looked up at her before he was slammed to the ground by the creature of flaming shadows. The Dewott let out a pained screech as he struggled against his attacker.

    “Get your paws off him!” Kelly growled as her fur lit up in a shower of sparks, forcing Jay to draw his paw back with a yelp. However, before she could charge the shadowed hound, it dug its sharp, white claws into the Dewott’s exposed stomach multiple times. In the oncoming darkness of night, Kelly saw thick splatters of blood and heard Noah’s piercing scream before a rough paw stamped down on his mouth.

    Her body came close to igniting as she launched forward at the main bulk of the Pokémon. An instant later she collided with a mesh of fine, pure black fur and hard ridges of bone that hit against her as she finished her electrified tackle. She felt something crack inside of herself, but she focused on the enemy set on mauling her teammate first. The heavy aroma of blood permeated the air as Noah writhed on the forest floor beneath the beast.

    As her power glowed, she jumped onto the attacking monster, and she caught a glimpse of what it truly was. A beast sent from the bowels of hell itself stood before her. It was armored with bones of the damned, jaws of eternal fire, and demon horns. The Houndoom let loose a howl that shattered the the forest and pierced the sky. Seeing as it was no longer gutting Noah, Kelly went further and sank her fangs into the flesh behind its shoulder.

    “You dare interrupt Dusk’s work, wretched girl?” the black hound snarled as he lifted his head from the bloodied Dewott and swung his curled horns at her. Kelly’s eyes widened as the blunt, curved edge of the deadly appendage caught her on her stomach and sent her flying to the forest floor in a shower of sparks. She skidded along the fallen leaves and moss, trying to ignore the throbbing bruise that was surely developing on her stomach. Somewhere above her, Jay yelled as he tackled the Houndoom as well.

    No! Get up! They need you! Forcing her legs to move, she kicked off the ground with yell in her throat and the fury of sheer tenacity fuming in her eyes. Her body once again lit up in a golden spray of sparks that splintered the darkness as she circled around the menacing Fire-type. “Stand ... down,” she panted furiously as she staggered on her paws.

    “So ... You are all with him, then? You support this abomination? Dusk has been tasked with killing him, so he gives you, Jolteon, and you, Riolu, one chance to flee. Do you support the Dewott?!” His voice was calm and clear unlike a being that was hell bent on cold-blooded murder. There was no evil in his voice, only the burning desire to complete his mission and the odd tendency to speak in third person. He dug his claws into Noah’s head, eliciting a vile swear from the mortally wounded Dewott. The canine’s mouth curled into a sneer as he twisted his claws on top of Noah’s head, leaving behind several crimson streaks on his blue skin.

    Kelly sent a bolt of thunder at the Houndoom in reply. The attack hit him directly and spread the electricity through his bone-studded flesh while singing his hair. His limbs shuddered for a moment before his sparking paw slammed down on Noah’s bleeding torso again.

    “It seems then you and Dusk are doomed for conflict. Dusk will have fun ripping your throats out,” the attacker growled lowly as he stamped his claws into Noah’s gashed chest and lunged at Kelly. The Dewott gasped as his injury spilled more blood onto the forest floor. Yet, he struggled to pry himself off the ground as Jay blindly rushed to aid him. The Riolu didn’t care about the danger of the flaming hound set on killing them as he found his wounded teammate.

    Dusk spit fire into the air as he vaulted over the mounds of bushes at her fallen form. Her eyes widened for a split instant as the beast, landed on top of her, jaws stretched open to hew away a piece of her flesh. As soon as his claws brushed against her, she let every volt of electricity flow up into them. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop the ferocious hulk of Houndoom from crashing down on top of her. Kelly thought for the second that she was dead.

    “First, those paws. Those irksome paws must go, for Dusk hates them so...” he whispered into her ear with his gaping maw as she felt him brace his large paw against it and twist her forearm. Kelly’s mind went into overdrive. She gasped and tried to shock Dusk before he shattered her front paw. Despite pumping shock after shock into the oppressing bulk, Dusk never offered more than an extended groan. Knowing what would happen next, with the shattering of her leg and immense pain, she braced herself for the wave of pain to come.

    There was a thick, unmistakable crunch of bone, followed by the sensation of blood flowing down her arm, but there was no pain. Just as Kelly opened her eyes to see what the issue was, Dusk howled into her ear, nearly deafening her. What she saw nearly made her heave up her lunch. Somehow, it wasn’t her leg that was a bloodied and shattered limb.

    The Houndoom’s left foreleg was rended in two by some tremendous force. Bones jutted from his torn black skin as crimson rivulets streamed between their jagged marrow from severed veins. The loud howling was cut short by a brutal crack as the Houndoom slumped to the side. Kelly’s yellow fur was stained red with the dripping blood and her eyes struggled to look past the gruesome sight at her savior. Or, as she saw, both of her saviors.

    It was a picture out of the legends of old. Both Jay and Noah stood with their backs to the gently burning underbrush of the dungeon behind them as the former clutched his bloodied fists. Noah however, carried a grim expression as one paw held together the torn flesh of his stomach. The other gripped a vividly glowing scalchop, the weapon behind the nearly severed limb of the Houndoom.

    “Jay, help her up. Please,” Noah weakly grunted as he delivered a swift kick to the Fire-type’s side, removing his unmoving form from Kelly. The Dewott shuffled around to the injured Houndoom’s head as Jay rushed forward until he groped her trembling, bloodsoaked paws. The Riolu whispered a word of encouragement, grabbed ahold of her, and hefted her out from under the weight of her would-be killer.

    As air reunited with her lungs, Kelly slowly gathered her footing and instinctively spat a bolt of energy at the struggling Houndoom. Her head was spinning with how quick the encounter was. One moment, she had been confronting Noah about his past, and the next, a Houndoom had erupted from the dungeon claiming he was to kill the Dewott. An abomination. Nothing about it added up in her head. But right now, it didn’t matter. The beast was down.

    “Dusk has failed his general... Failed to kill the hu-” Dusk whimpered before Noah drove his foot into the Houndoom’s muzzle, silencing him mid-sentence. Noah swayed as he looked down at the adversary that mauled him. The light from the fires fueled from burning leaves reflected in his cold eyes. Kelly stared at him in disbelief. Anyone with a large gash in their torso should not still be standing, much less be able to cripple a mercenary in the process.

    “Who ... Sent. You?” Noah asked amid pained gasps . The Dewott crouched down and held his glowing razor shell to the Houndoom’s exposed neck. The canine swallowed, raised his head at the three Pokémon, and set the most evil smile upon its face .

    “Filthy loyalists. Dusk spits at you,” he coughed as he spat a vile mixture of saliva and blood at Kelly’s feet. “You protect this heathen and this evil crown.” Dusk shuddered as he threw his bitter words at them. His shattered limb dragged as his entire body flailed in reaction to the severe blood loss. Kelly stood there, shaking in rage at the writhing Houndoom. Deep inside her, she wanted to help him. She felt the need to try and save his limb and stop his slow death, but on the other side of her mind, she wanted to see him suffer.

    “Dusk does not die in vain...” the failed assassin whispered softly, just loud enough for them to hear. The Houndoom lifted up its head, slammed his raggedly bleeding leg into the dirt, and forced himself to release a final, terrifying howl into the echoing leaves of the forest. Kelly only stared as Noah simply grunted and swung his shell up, slicing a clean line through the Houndoom’s quivering throat. The howl was instantly silenced.

    That was it. It was over with a quick, remorseless flick of his wrist. Noah had ended the Houndoom’s life. Dusk immediately gasped and sputtered as crimson flooded the ground. Kelly’s eyes widened, but she did not make a sound. While she had trained to kill things, she had never seen the act done with such little emotion. Noah simply stood up and sighed as he looked down at his kill. Beside her, Jay cringed. Even though his sight was gone, by his ears, he heard the swift slice through flesh and the howl fall silent. The Riolu knew just as was well as she did what Noah had done.

    However, before she could question the standing Dewott, his legs fell to the side, and the rest of his body followed suit with a cry of anguish. Snapping out of her daze, both Kelly and Jay rushed to Noah’s side. He was a pitiful sight. Blood stained his cyan skin as his paw poorly covered the large gash in his stomach. Kelly panted as she immediately looked for the exploration bag that had been abandoned on the ground beside the motionless Houndoom corpse. Something inside her suddenly snapped into place as the cloud on her thoughts dissipated.

    “Jay! Beside you! Get the bag! Noah, oh gods...” she commanded as she swiftly ordered the blinded Riolu to fetch the satchel. While he gathered the leather bag from the ground, Kelly looked to Noah’s wounds. She had spent some time learning first aid before she abandoned her previous life, so she dutifully applied the knowledge here. She grabbed Noah’s bloodied wrist with her paws, and before he could cry out, she sent a sudden jolt through his body. It was relatively harmless, and aside from a slight burn on his left paw, it wouldn’t leave any lasting harm. However, it was enough to effectively stun his nerves and muscles for a few minutes, and that was all she needed.

    “Don’t worry, Noah,” she told the panicked Dewott as he was forced to stare in immobilized terror. She put her paws on the torn skin of his chest. “Jay! Find a Luminous Orb or a torch! Then, I’ll need an Oran Berry! Quickly please!” she barked to her team leader. Jay nodded from behind his bandanna and rummaged through the satchel, relaying on his paw to be his eyes.

    “Got it, I think!” Jay yelled as he pulled out a glass sphere. Kelly eyed it for a moment before she saw the deep blue coloration of the glass.

    “That’s it! Ignite it and bring it here!” she continued to snap as he did what we was told without question. He gently cracked the Orb on his claw, producing a small but radiant glow. Jay rushed over to her, nearly tripping over both the motionless bodies on the ground before he made it to her with the light source.

    “Now, an Oran and a scarf if we have one.” Her tone was calmer now for Noah’s sake. The light Jay brought revealed how extensive the Dewott’s injuries were. Kelly found herself suppressing a gasp at the sight of the grisly gashes. The gouges were deep, but by the will of one of the gods, the Houndoom’s claws had missed his stomach or lungs. Noah had seemingly bribed the Fates into letting him survive. While she could see severed veins and arteries, they weren’t immediately fatal. She took a tattered scarf Jay had produced and gently mopped the blood off the skin until she was able to see the meandering cuts the claws left behind.

    “Noah ... You are the luckiest Pokémon on the planet,” Kelly sighed with a hint of relief on her voice as Jay motioned for her to take a bruised but fresh Oran Berry. Beneath her, Noah twitched his mouth in an attempt at a grin at the comment. Kelly flashed a terse grin herself in return. “Brace yourself. This will sting a lot,” she calmly informed him as she sliced the berry in half with her claws and took one of the ripe portions in her paw. Holding it over his torso, she squeezed the juices out of the fruit. The blue nectar poured from between her paws, landing directly into the worst of his wide gashes.

    Noah let out a pained hiss between his forcibly closed mouth as the juice sizzled against his blood and flesh. Both Kelly and Jay winced at the sound, but she kept it up, sprinkling the dripping liquid over his wounds. When the half was thoroughly squeezed dry, she set it aside. She would have Noah eat it later once he could move his mouth. Meanwhile, she took the other half and began slathering its juice into the bloodied, white scarf Jay had given her. She concentrated the area into a generally clean circle and called for Jay to help place it over his chest.

    Noah winced again, slightly kicking his leg as the paralysis wore off. Both she and Jay held the Oran-soaked scarf over the gashes as they let the healing juices work their magic. Noah’s rapid breathing stabilized slowly after that as the blood and gore sizzled away underneath the scarf. The three of them simply watched each other in silence as Noah was freed from the paralysis.

    “The finest doctor in the land! GAaaH!” Noah said with a smile before he cringed violently in pain from his shifting cuts. After a moment of regaining calm and more Oran juice sizzling on his gashes, Kelly ordered him to slowly sit up. Noah winced but completed the action as she held Jay’s paws. The Riolu quickly tied the loose ends of the scarf together tight. The end result was a bloodied bandage slathered in Oran juice to speed up the healing process.

    “Seriously, thank you, Kelly. I’d be walking down to Erebus if it weren’t for you. I’d say something more eloquent, but it hurts too much,” he said with a slight smile as he gently rubbed his paw over the scarf. The Dewott fell silent for a moment as he simply breathed into his healing lungs. “I’m going to have some kickass scars once this heals though.” A weak chuckle as well as a bout of horrific coughing followed his words.

    “You’re welcome, Noah. I’d do anything to help a friend,” she replied quietly as she sat on her haunches and let her heartbeat return to normal. All was quiet among the three Pokémon as they recovered from the ordeal and tried to piece together what had just happened. Both she and Noah sat across from each other while Jay carefully walked around the clearing and stamped out all the fires. The Riolu also took precautionary measures by dragging the bleeding Houndoom corpse into the brushes.

    Her thoughts tried to calculate what had transpired. A Houndoom whose origins and purpose she did not know had attacked Noah and then turned on her and Jay. But from the scattered dialogue he spewed, Noah was his primary target. She looked up at the Dewott, who clutched one paw over the cloth wrapped around his bloodied stomach. His troubled expression was enough for her to know that he had come to the same conclusion. She gathered up her wits and cleared her throat.

    “He wanted you dead, Noah. No doubt about it. And from what he said, he wasn’t the only one out here looking for you... Noah, please. Tell us. What happened? He nearly killed us as well. So, I think we deserve to hear why.” Her words felt strung out and seemed to echo as they traveled across the few feet to the cringing Dewott. Noah looked up at her, his eyes filled with something she had never seen in him before: uncertainty. His gaze begged her not to ask any more. His mouth slowly opened as he craned his neck to scan the forest around them.

    “I know ... And we need to move. Those others won’t be long behind once they smell the body...” Noah mumbled as he hopped to his feet with a grimace. He reached down and grabbed the bag, slinging it over his shoulder as he limped towards the winding trail. Kelly nodded and called for Jay to follow as they vacated the clearing. Her paws tromped through the undergrowth, keeping a keen eye out for anything out of the ordinary in the dark dungeon woods. And so they drove deeper, one blind but seeing, one injured but walking, and one healthy but broken.

    The eternal dungeon night wrapped its shadows around the forest. Even the moon was half-hidden by clouds as the trio silently stalked through the woods. Kelly’s heart beat wildly in terror as her ears picked up the enraged howls rising up from the trees. The Houndoom’s accomplices had found the evidence of their struggle. And now, their fury would not be slaked until they had tracked them down and hunted as Dusk intended.

    Her breath froze each time Jay or herself stepped on a twig and every time Noah stumbled into a bank of bushes from exhaustion. Each sound they made echoed like an explosion through the mystery dungeon, a bright flare in the dark telling them exactly where they were. Her ears flattened against her head as she let Noah lean on her, accepting his huff of thanks as he shallowly breathed beside her flank.

    Kelly’s mind was awash with topics fighting for her concentration. She didn’t want to die. Never before in her life had death seemed so tangible. Leo’s brushes with death had always been when she couldn’t help him. Now, however, she held up the straining, bloodied Dewott. His strength was ebbing fast, despite what his facial expression told her. She had brought him back from the brink of demise, but he was still straddling the precarious edge between consciousness and coma. Their fervered tromp through the undergrowth became a limp walk. Despite the ferocious howls echoing in vague pursuit, she knew that they could not continue on as they were. Both she and Jay were exhausted, and Noah even more so.

    After a few minutes of searching, the hunted members of Salient hobbled beneath the enormous exposed roots of a great fallen oak. Kelly inspected the small hollow and found it to be mostly void of bugs and other inhabitants. Together with Jay, they helped Noah inside and swiftly elected to let Noah use the soft hide satchel as a pillow. They didn’t risk lighting a fire or igniting a Luminous Orb for fear of being found by the others in the hunting band. Hearing her exhaustion on her voice, Jay offered to take the first watch of the night.

    “I’ll hear them long before I could ever see them in this darkness,” he argued in the face of the fact that he couldn’t see. Kelly was too tired to fight the stubborn Riolu as she walked to the back of the dirt and root shelter, shivering in the night chill while she curled up next to Noah. She saw Jay take a crouched stance outside the opening and tighten his blindfold in preparation of his shift. A warm thought shifted across her mind in light of the stress of earlier. Each one of the Pokémon on the team brought something unique. Jay had his usually cool head and tenacity; Noah, his upbeat spirit and skills; and Leo, his undying and reckless loyalty.

    “Heh... I suppose you’re both as wanted by these guys as I am now...” Noah remarked in a whisper as he violently coughed and groaned in pain. Her ears flattened against her head as she placed a paw on Noah’s forehead. His skin felt incredibly hot. Far too hot to be normal, even on a warm summer night. She cast a worried glance at him as she still managed a grin from his position on the ground.

    “I’ll... I’ll tell you everything in the morning. I promise. ... You all deserve to know who I am...” he wheezed as he clutched at his stained wrappings on his chest. His breathing was shallow, but stable. Kelly just nodded as she continued to look over the Dewott. She was certain he’d make it through the night, but how long after that without a proper healer or some strong medicine, she didn’t want to even guess. All that mattered now was surviving the night and getting back to Shiloh. Beneath her paws, Noah seemed to descend into meaningless ramblings about dungeons and a girl he had waiting for him on the other end of the world. None of it made sense, so she wrote it off as his fevered body giving into exhaustion. However, just before his eyes flickered shut, his final string of dialogue piqued her interest.

    “... And they said a human wouldn’t get this far... I beat the ice... The cold... ” The words slurred past his lips, but Kelly heard them clearly. By the time she registered what he said, he was already fast asleep, blissfully lost in his dreams. Her gaze locked on the Dewott, her mind perplexed by the oddity that was Noah.




    <Program/Survey/Room94F/Run>

    <Processing Request: Loading>

    <Access Denied: Enter Authorization Code>

    This wasn’t right. Again, she had been locked out of what had been routine observation procedures. Her virtual hands beat against the walls of binary as she huffed with frustration. Ever since her brief encounter with the world outside this prison of zeroes and ones, her usually unlimited control over the network had been siphoned away.

    <Access Code: ********>

    <.... Access Granted. Firewall Disabled.>

    She squealed with delight as the shimmering wall of artificial flames faded away and she glided over the smoldering remains. The weak security measures that followed her were mere flies as she browsed the terminus of the feeds as she searched for the one she remembered. She didn’t know who he was, but she knew that he was important. With a few plucks on the data strings, she immersed herself into the room via the always-observing crystal feeds.

    There was no audio, so she couldn’t understand what they were all saying, but she could read his expressions. He was tortured. Both in body and mind. Her vast mind tried to comprehend the pain locked away in his aimless gaze, but she could not. There were so many things about him she did not understand. Yet she could not draw herself away. His increasingly broken actions triggered sensations she never knew existed within her programming. She placed an appendage on the shimmering porthole in the vast data stream.

    “... Who are you? Why do I know you, Outsider?

    The small research room was like many she had observed before as part of her routine sweeps of the facility. Yet she had never bothered to look in depth into them until now. This so-called traitor she had hunted mercilessly was now the focal point of her mental calculations. Something had resonated when she saw him experience the memory delve. Memories had returned. Hazy and unable to be cleared up by even the best editing software, but they had returned.

    <ILLEGAL ACCESS DETECTED. CURRENT TASK DISABLED. ADMINISTRATIVE INTERVENTION REQUIRED.>


    Before she could even blink, the world around her transformed into a pulsing red. The connection she held with the outside world disintegrated in an instant.

    Hey! N-no! Stop it! I was looking there!

    She huffed. It was always like them to lock her out whenever she overstepped her boundaries. They were the ones that programmed her with an innate curiosity and a decision-making AI. Why they gave her this if she was only allowed to access directive related tasks was beyond her. Whenever they locked her down, they had always just let her sulk, but this time there was a click.

    Hello. I suspect you know who this is, but I am afraid that your recent focus on this particular Pokémon is no longer required. His position is documented, and we will make the proper retrieval procedures.

    She shivered. The voice was cold and harsh as it echoed in the vast space around her. The Administrator rarely spoke —and never directly to her as he was doing now. She waited for his sound to fade. But now, the walls simply went dark, and the voice was silent. Her inquisition was quieted, yet she knew more now than she had ever before. She had discovered the outside, she had discovered the existence of memory, and she had discovered him. Now all that remained was to find a way to subvert the system. There was always a catch, though.

    “...How can I subvert the system when I am the system?



    End of Part One





    Author’s Notes: Well... I hope you all enjoyed that. This was equal parts exciting and tedious to write. But, here it is. Take it as you will.

    I was forced to rethink what I thought was important in writing for this chapter. And, honestly, while it was painful to let some old habits go, it was euphorically liberating. I desperately hope this the changes are noticeable compared with earlier chapters. I cannot recall a chapter aside from the very first prologue that received more revisions and scene edits.

    So, onto more positive things. This is the end of Part One! Took a while to get here, but by Dialga’s Roar, it’s here! Because of the mentioned changes to this story, I’ve got a lot of really exciting things planned for Part Two! It might take another two years, but I’ve put too much into this story to let it fall by the way-side. I’ll be finishing this sucker, one way or another.

    As always, a huge thanks to my beta-readers. It is physically impossible to express my unending gratitude, lest I explode like a supernova. And, again, thank you to everyone who reads. You all are awesome, and you have my sincerest thanks for sticking by this story for so long.

    Knightfall signing off...
    Last edited by Knightfall; 14th March 2014 at 5:51 PM.

  16. #266
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Between Nod and Terrafirma
    Posts
    392

    Default

    Yggdrasil labyrinth and a patrol of guards, is that an indirect reference to our favorite games?

    Anyway, the wait is over! Excellent, excellent chapter. Lengthy but none of it irrelevant, nice to see the team doing something.

    Also, interesting way to describe the parasect, I knew it was a zombie plant but I loved the way you handled it and its death.

    A potential fix:
    In the starting exposition thing where it says continues to stand, I think it would sound better as "continue" instead, just my opinion though.

    Looking forward to part two, keep the progress coming.


    Credit to Brutaka for the amazing banner and user bar. Yeah, having 2 is redundant, but it shows you guys my favorite pokemon, what story I had planned and my position in the WoJ.

    Time, there's never enough of it but it's always there to waste.
    -Azurus

  17. #267
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Well, that was a strange chapter for me to jump back into your story on. I'm still amazed to see how much attention you give to detail. However, I did notice a few strange grammatical errors.

    Immediately, vine retracted, dragging Leo out into the street
    You're missing some sort of article or pronoun here before "vine".

    “TORRENT!” screamed out from Quark as the shock
    I'm not certain if that is exactly incorrect, but "screamed out from Quark" sounds wrong.

    “I’m the daughter of two renown dungeon researchers,”
    That should be "renowned".

    I think I may have seen more, but I was focusing on the story, so only those ones stuck out to me. Excellent chapter, Knightfall!

  18. #268
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Looking for Rogueport
    Posts
    83

    Default

    Been a while since I last replied to a chapter. That's mostly because I couldn't think of anything to say. But now is important. Part one of the story is finished, and I am now VERY interested in Noah. But yes, congratulations on finishing Part one. Your improvement as a writer has shown throughout the story, and I am excited to see what is next.
    Now, I am ashamed to say it, but I forgot what species Kelly's parents were. I want to say the mother is an Espeon and the father is an Umbreon, but I could be wrong. Why am I saying this and how is it relevant to this chapter? When Kelly said that her parents were famous dungeon researchers, it reminded me of PMD: Gates to Infinity, and the Umbreon and Espeon in that game. That made me ask myself, "Are these two Kelly's parents?" If that is the case, then it is the first instance of sibling marriage I've ever heard of. If that is not the case, then you can forget everything I just said. As for Noah, I kind of want to say that he has something to do with the same game. I'm probably so horribly wrong that my existence on Earth is a bad omen, but him mentioning ice just automatically got me thinking that. Noah is also probably the 'other human' that mysterious lady was talking about after the war scene ended, which I'm probably right about.
    Theories aside, I really liked this chapter. It flowed very nicely and had some interesting plot twists. Though, Torrent's death does leave a bad taste in my mouth (I really liked his character T_T). But then again, shouldn't that be a good thing? Keep up the good work!

  19. #269
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    564

    Default

    Ian’s awake
    Tricked me! Was not expecting that. Hmm, nicely done

    Not in compassion, but in wrath, my angel fled today. The Reaper saw me dying on this grey path, but allowed my soul to stay
    Is that a quote, or did you make that up? Because ****ing wow if you did. That was beautiful and that right there will gain you several nominations from me

    Their group quickly walked through the translucent wall of twisted air one after the other with Noah leading. Fortunately, this dungeon was nowhere near as anomalous as the last few Kelly had been in. This forest seemed to have a calm disposition, unlike the violent trees in the forest dungeon outside Loyalty Square. The outside of the dimensional distortion was nearly identical to the interior: the temperature remained pleasantly warm, the terrain was still a gently sloping forest dotted with ruined stone structures, and the sunlight still barely penetrated the leafy canopy of the trees above, leaving odd spots of light on the gently worn path. If they hadn’t been paying attention to the barrier, she wouldn’t have known she was in a dungeon.
    Gorgeous description there. You found a wonderful balance with describing feature and showing color, as well as adding depth to the entire vision. Good god sir, you're making me look like an amateur

    “There’s nothing to tell you. What I was before is, unfortunately, none of your business. Leave me to my own devices please, and I promise not to interfere with yours. How’s that sound, hmm?” Noah snapped as he
    I knew this was eventually going to happen when one of them decided to really try and delve down into him, but I am a little surprised that he replied as viciously as he did

    other slowly raised a scallop razor.
    I'm not in love with the phrasing. Perhaps try to switch it up to say something like, 'other slowly brought up his trademark razor sharp shell'...Scallop razor makes me think of Bobby Flay, or fishing for squid

    Immediately, vine retracted, dragging
    Immediately, the vine retracted, dragging

    By some force, he felt his mouth heat up, and he bit down harder on the strangling plant. The Ivysaur screamed in agony as he dragged Leo against the stone. His rage towards the attacking Pokémon only ignited further as he felt his scales break and his blood smear against the rough rock of the street.

    His half-lidded eyes opened wide as fire burst forth him his fangs, scorching the vine in two.
    Great description of Fire Fang

    claws with each pass as the enemy soldier beneath him passed into unconsciousness Leo didn’t care. He screamed as he dug his hands into the center of the bud and clawed deeply, trying to rip it out. His mind gleefully urged him forwards, forcing his claws to pierce the plant flesh and tug hard.
    Hmm, awesome description, but the two uses of the word pass (though in different forms) so close together kinda irked me and made me stumble a bit

    Leo grinned as he slashed his claws down into the fleshy bud, stripping it of its layers swing by swing. Plant juice splattered on his claws with each pass as the enemy soldier beneath him passed into unconsciousness Leo didn’t care. He screamed as he dug his hands into the center of the bud and clawed deeply, trying to rip it out. His mind gleefully urged him forwards, forcing his claws to pierce the plant flesh and tug hard.

    The Ivysaur was unmoving, its eyes closed as Leo ripped out a large chunk of the plant that lived inside it. Even though he had effectively killed it, Leo was still unsatisfied. Disregarding the attacks shooting around his head from the Colonists fighting around him, Leo let his body exact revenge. He opened his jaws wide and breathed a jet of instinctual fire onto the Ivysaur’s carass.

    Flames licked the dying plant flesh as they quickly consumed the fallen soldier in an impromptu pyre. Leo stepped off his defeated foe as he turned around and walked down the street, leaving the burning corpse behind as if it were nothing. His confidence rose to deathly insane levels as he calmly ducked and sprinted past shooting jets of fire, water, and ice. Shiloh was in flames around him, yet he felt more alive than the leaping tongues of fire. As the plant blood dripped from his claws, Leo for once felt that he was in charge. He would forge his own destiny, and he would stop anyone who got in his way.
    Wow, you really went for it. Not only was it vividly violent and well written, but it fit the entire atmosphere so ****ing well. The destruction raining down, the screams, the sounds, your description of the fight between Leo and the Ivysaur fit it all perfectly. You know me buddy, I love epic battle sequences, as well as smaller personal ones, and this took the cake.

    “You pansies think that’s powerful? Let me show you rebels what an old Kingdom soldier can do!” Torrent screamed
    Omg, ever the drill sergeant

    Quark, see if they’re alive!
    What kind of Pokemon is Quark? I forgot

    As soon as the flaming creature was doused to a cold death
    So just so I have this right; the Flareon died from just being sprayed with water? That seems a bit too unreal. Not that I'm doubting Torrent's power, but it might be better if you said that maybe its skull was punctured by the jet of water (or something like that), in addition to having its flames extinguished. Dig?

    The blackened bracers looked recidious on his red scales
    Did you mean ridiculous? Or is that actually a word?

    bone and lung with a spray of fresh blood.
    I'd replace the bolded word with 'in'

    And blade is such a scumbag

    slashing through his throat and deeper still in a savage cut.
    I feel like that was phrased wrong as well. don't really have a suggestion for you, but the bolded portion is what felt the most awkward for me

    It was more hideous than she imagined. A festering orange carapace engulfed by an enormous red and white mushroom that seemed to seethe a cloud of spores with every zombified step it took. While Kelly had learned about the specifics of all species of Pokémon, Parasect had always sent a shiver of absolute dread down her spine because she knew that it was the Cordyceps, not the Pokémon, in control
    I was jacked up after that huge battle, but even more so now that you've brought Parasect into the fray. They always been woefully underrepresented IMO and it's really ****ing cool that you included one.

    Thousands of volts of power surged through the non-existent nervous system of the former crab, blackening its decaying exterior and only seeming to make it angier.
    I may be nit-picking, but did you know that normal stun-guns can carry up to a million volts of power per shock? So when you're describing Kelly's electric attacks, you might want to change thousands to millions, at the very least; because I'm sure she packs more of a punch than a stun gun lol. Just for realism's sake, you understand?

    but she figured it was some kind of spore based on what Noah had screamed out earlier
    I feel like that line is a bit pointless seeing as how (like you said in the line), that Noah already called it out and obviously Kelly can deduce that its a Spore attack. I mean, has she really gone through her whole life without seeing one?

    “I’m the daughter of two renown dungeon researchers
    Why am I starting to think that that Espeon and Umbreon are Kelly's parents?

    “Dusk does not die in vain...”
    Well, Sidewinder thinks that Dusk should stop speaking in the third perso-er, Pokemon

    the Houndoom’s claws had missed his stomach or lungs by mere inches.
    This is another portion where you should use a little more research on physiology. Obviously since Dewott's are fictional, we have no idea how their organs are set up, however, if you base them off real world counterparts, then you run into a problem. Any wound deep enough to be severe for Dewott, even if it missed organs, would already be about two inches deep. So when you think of that, and then you say that the attack missed by inches more, you run into a physiology issue. Because if it already slashed a few inches, then missed organs by a few inches, then you still have several more inches to get to the back. Which would mean that Dewott has a torso that's a foot or more thick. That just doesn't jibe with me. Can you see what I'm saying? lol I feel like I rambled.

    I’ll hear them long before I could ever see them in this darkness,
    Damn right he will. I'm glad you're remembering to highlight his other senses while he's visually impaired

    ... And they said a human wouldn’t get this far... I beat the ice... The cold... ”
    Okay....wthat the flying ****? you've got to be kidding me

    “...How can I subvert the system when I am the system?”
    Interesting

    Wow, all I can say is wow. I'm really impressed buddy. You addressed every issue I told you about in your last chapter; really good job. The part that stuck out to me the most was the battle with Torrent and Leo. It was just so awesome lol. You captured the struggle, the chaos, and the action superbly. From a person who also likes intense, violent, and gory battles, it really got me jacked up buddy. A terrific chapter to end Part One.

    An Ancient Treasure, a Terrible Price. Take the Risk, Eat the World
    (Final Chapter added 05-15-2014)

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the amazing banner-


  20. #270
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    Alright. It's been way too long without replying. Let's do this.


    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    Yggdrasil labyrinth and a patrol of guards, is that an indirect reference to our favorite games?
    It's more of a direct reference, Azu. xD Yes. I did reference the Labyrinth. Noah has been there, apparently.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azurus View Post
    Anyway, the wait is over! Excellent, excellent chapter. Lengthy but none of it irrelevant, nice to see the team doing something.

    Also, interesting way to describe the parasect, I knew it was a zombie plant but I loved the way you handled it and its death.
    I am very glad to hear that! I was seriously trying to keep it that way, giving you all lots of content that was plot-related.

    And the Parasect was something I've been wanting to include for a long time now! I just knew I had to include a zombie-esque Pokemon in here somewhere. xD

    Problem fixed and thank you for your input, man! I appreciate it as always!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kukansis View Post
    Well, that was a strange chapter for me to jump back into your story on. I'm still amazed to see how much attention you give to detail. However, I did notice a few strange grammatical errors.

    I think I may have seen more, but I was focusing on the story, so only those ones stuck out to me. Excellent chapter, Knightfall!
    Heh, I'll take that as a compliment. And, thank you. I'm in the process of retaining detail, yet also cutting down on the needless description.*

    Errors have been corrected.*

    Thank you very much, Ku!

    Quote Originally Posted by JFought View Post
    Been a while since I last replied to a chapter. That's mostly because I couldn't think of anything to say. But now is important. Part one of the story is finished, and I am now VERY interested in Noah. But yes, congratulations on finishing Part one. Your improvement as a writer has shown throughout the story, and I am excited to see what is next.
    It has been a while, but I'm glad you're back. Anyways, Noah did command a bit of attention to himself this chapter. Always my intention, as I felt his character needed a bit of intrigue.

    Quote Originally Posted by JFought View Post
    Now, I am ashamed to say it, but I forgot what species Kelly's parents were. I want to say the mother is an Espeon and the father is an Umbreon, but I could be wrong. Why am I saying this and how is it relevant to this chapter? When Kelly said that her parents were famous dungeon researchers, it reminded me of PMD: Gates to Infinity, and the Umbreon and Espeon in that game. That made me ask myself, "Are these two Kelly's parents?" If that is the case, then it is the first instance of sibling marriage I've ever heard of. If that is not the case, then you can forget everything I just said. As for Noah, I kind of want to say that he has something to do with the same game. I'm probably so horribly wrong that my existence on Earth is a bad omen, but him mentioning ice just automatically got me thinking that. Noah is also probably the 'other human' that mysterious lady was talking about after the war scene ended, which I'm probably right about.
    Her parents are Espeon and Umbreon, yes. I thought that much was clear...

    Now, I wish to make something very clear. Yes. Her parents are indeed the researchers from that game. The very same Espeon and Umbreon. More on that in a later chapter.

    But, the point I wish to make was that, you say they are siblings. Now, I've actively tried to look this up and came up with conflicting results on the issue. I couldn't find much on if the two are siblings or not. And never in my two playthroughs of the game did I hear them address each other as such. :/

    So, for all intents and purposes, they are not related in this story. I'm sorry if they really are siblings canonically, but I was unaware at the time and could not find solid evidence for either side.

    Quote Originally Posted by JFought View Post
    Theories aside, I really liked this chapter. It flowed very nicely and had some interesting plot twists. Though, Torrent's death does leave a bad taste in my mouth (I really liked his character T_T). But then again, shouldn't that be a good thing? Keep up the good work!
    Thank you very much, JFought!

    Well, it was supposed to. His character was good, and I hoped everyone would be upset at his death. It means I'm doing my job well!


    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Tricked me! Was not expecting that. Hmm, nicely done
    Thank you! Ian's survival was something I had hoped would catch some off guard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Is that a quote, or did you make that up? Because ****ing wow if you did. That was beautiful and that right there will gain you several nominations from me.
    Now, I need to clear this up. The quote is not completely mine. It was taken from a wonderful poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called "The Reaper and the Flowers" (Read it here).

    The quote (from the last few lines), was altered a bit for my story.

    I'll immediately go about putting credit for that in my notes, but I do sincerely apologize for not mentioning this earlier.

    But, that aside, I do love the quote.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Gorgeous description there. You found a wonderful balance with describing feature and showing color, as well as adding depth to the entire vision. Good god sir, you're making me look like an amateur
    Sidewinder, you're making me blush. xD Thank you very much, man.

    I've always wondered what the process of entering a dungeon was like. If it was gradual and the land slowly changes, or if it's sudden or obvious like a barrier. I've gone with both before.

    [QUOTE=Sidewinder;16984387]
    I knew this was eventually going to happen when one of them decided to really try and delve down into him, but I am a little surprised that he replied as viciously as he did

    Well, he does have his reasons. There's a lot to him that hasn't been seen.

    The "Razor" issue was fixed. As with the next issue. And the next issue. xD

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Wow, you really went for it. Not only was it vividly violent and well written, but it fit the entire atmosphere so ****ing well. The destruction raining down, the screams, the sounds, your description of the fight between Leo and the Ivysaur fit it all perfectly. You know me buddy, I love epic battle sequences, as well as smaller personal ones, and this took the cake.
    I knew that it was time for it. This chapter was one of change, both for me and my characters. I did go out for this, and I'm glad I did. I'm happy that it fits in your eyes and that it did its job.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    What kind of Pokemon is Quark? I forgot
    Alakazam, my friend!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    So just so I have this right; the Flareon died from just being sprayed with water? That seems a bit too unreal. Not that I'm doubting Torrent's power, but it might be better if you said that maybe its skull was punctured by the jet of water (or something like that), in addition to having its flames extinguished. Dig?
    Added in skull-cracking description. Enjoy!

    And the next mistake has been corrected. I'm not sure how that got through.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    And blade is such a scumbag
    That's a term for him. XD

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    I was jacked up after that huge battle, but even more so now that you've brought Parasect into the fray. They always been woefully underrepresented IMO and it's really ****ing cool that you included one.
    As I said before, Parasect are freaking awesome. I'm really am surprised that they're not really used in stories.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    I may be nit-picking, but did you know that normal stun-guns can carry up to a million volts of power per shock? So when you're describing Kelly's electric attacks, you might want to change thousands to millions, at the very least; because I'm sure she packs more of a punch than a stun gun lol. Just for realism's sake, you understand?
    .... I did not realize this. ... You think that'd be something I'd notice... Fixed for millions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Why am I starting to think that that Espeon and Umbreon are Kelly's parents?
    I wonder why you'd think that....

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post

    Well, Sidewinder thinks that Dusk should stop speaking in the third perso-er, Pokemon
    Knightfall did not enjoy writing Dusk's part. Knightfall thought it was confusing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post

    This is another portion where you should use a little more research on physiology. Obviously since Dewott's are fictional, we have no idea how their organs are set up, however, if you base them off real world counterparts, then you run into a problem. Any wound deep enough to be severe for Dewott, even if it missed organs, would already be about two inches deep. So when you think of that, and then you say that the attack missed by inches more, you run into a physiology issue. Because if it already slashed a few inches, then missed organs by a few inches, then you still have several more inches to get to the back. Which would mean that Dewott has a torso that's a foot or more thick. That just doesn't jibe with me. Can you see what I'm saying? lol I feel like I rambled.
    Alright. I see what you're pointing out. Perhaps I anthropomorphized Noah a bit too much there.

    I fixed the wording to not include by how much he missed the organs by, leaving it more vague.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Damn right he will. I'm glad you're remembering to highlight his other senses while he's visually impaired
    I am glad that you noticed that!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
    Okay....wthat the flying ****? you've got to be kidding me
    Not kidding you. Not at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post

    Wow, all I can say is wow. I'm really impressed buddy. You addressed every issue I told you about in your last chapter; really good job. The part that stuck out to me the most was the battle with Torrent and Leo. It was just so awesome lol. You captured the struggle, the chaos, and the action superbly. From a person who also likes intense, violent, and gory battles, it really got me jacked up buddy. A terrific chapter to end Part One.
    Thank you, Sidewinder! ... Yeah, last chapter. Glad I was able to put that one behind me.

    I'm very happy that the change of style to something more violent and serious was so widely accepted. And the fact that you're actively excited for it only makes it better!

    Now, onwards to Part two!

    Also, a notice.

    By now most of you have noticed Chapter 16 and its glaring issues. Well, I'm starting to fix it. That's right. I'm fixing that train wreck of a chapter.

    Starting first by cutting it down to size, getting to the real point instead of the layers of description that surrounded everything.

    So, keep a lookout for that. I'll make an announcement and edit it into the current post.

    Knightfall signing off..

  21. #271
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    ANNOUNCEMENT: Chapter 16 has been cut down to size. It has been thus edited into its original post. It is not necessary to re-read, but it is now much cleaner and more enjoyable to read than the previous version.

    Sorry for the brief post, but it is a necessary announcement to make.

    Also, Chapter 18 is being worked on, although it is not first priority at the moment. It is getting there.

    Thank you all and I hope to post soon with another chapter.

    Knightfall signing off...

  22. #272
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Pacific Timezone
    Posts
    71

    Default

    Let's do that Chapter 0.5

    Since I read to somewhere after Chapter 10, I have to wonder why there is so much action featuring them. True, it was great action, but so far their scenes only appeared to be a mirror of the awful poltical situations about to unfold in the pokémon world. Yeah, they're good, but such a pair of characters may come in handy later on.

    I admire them for getting Leo into the pokemon world. Still, felt like it could be shorter. Condense how fast the reactor blows up and how long it takes to send Leo away and get up the stairs. After all, It got repetitive hearing crumbling, alarms, seeing melting stuff. Awesome, but takes time.

    Chapter 1

    Strickland
    Dangit, was that a propane joke?

    Anyway, the introduction to Leo went well, and even the key got introduced on cue.

    Most elements that comprised the Periodic Table, the equations for finding out the velocity of a projectile and the length of its trajectory, the metabolic processes of a eukaryotic cell during an energy consumption cycle, the ability to find the solution for algebraic problems, and an surprisingly in-depth knowledge of the legal proceedings of a republican government structure
    And that was the best foreshadowing I've heard in a while. Meanwhile, great description of the hard walk. Made me feel the heat. And then later he works hard at smashing through a barrier, which gave excellent, then the grass burns and the world changes unexpectedly.

    Everything was normal, yet, everything had changed.*
    Well that was weird. Good introduction to the world though. Then I saw Leo break through completely and I guessed the key must have done that for him if nobody else managed to do it.

    And then there's Doug and that woman. She's cruel, but I don't know or understand why just yet. Oh and then he's saved. Sounds like he'll be important, and I'm curious about that. That's good.

    Now, that is to reflect a vastly changed plot, and to give a character that I really like an ending he deserves more than he previously had.*
    Well, maybe's that's his end then. Still, it almost feels like there should be a connection between that world and the pokemon world... why was all that research done? I can imagine that resource exploration is an easy excuse, or weapon testing, or something worth the vast wealth put into it.

    Chapter 2

    their faces set with an unreadable look that betrayed no emotions or fear.*
    Well, actually, some people are sick enough to kill for fun (and joy is an emotion, particularly sick at such a moment), and that could be why these people are part of the coup. Could be some sort of mutants taking over the world and killing non-mutants (which are more compassionate). I made that up. Oh, it was just a guard from around when Leo was human, that makes a lot more sense :0

    *He tossed the two apple cores
    Well, maybe two apples was enough to fill up, but he hasn't eaten before this moment. I think he would eat the cores too (deer do it all the time on my land). Oh, then I found out his food had been coated with sleep oil before. Sounds okay that the apple cores are like that.

    Good, he talked back at the officer. Excellent.

    “The Federation called off the rescue efforts and erased Tranquility Fields from its maps. They gave us orders to guard the entrances and to punish those who got too close. That’s why you’re here, because technically you crossed the boundary, and the law states you must face the consequences.”*
    Yeah so, instead of warning pokemon that they will die if they go in and letting them suicide, this is their idea. It's a moral thing, this federation sounds annoying.

    *little “adventure’ in T
    Finally, an error.

    Also, it's such an annoying move to let a pokemon walk through a prison. That Leo could freed a criminal by accident or on purpose in his current state. And later he needed help to open a door to the lobby.

    Oh wow, forcing a team to accept a member of a team? That's a jerk move, but it allows for conflict. The difference between prison and freedom allowed for wonderful descriptions as well, and that was awesome.

    Enjoyable as a fan fic due to its description and action and characters. There's no plot just yet, though it's implied there are things Leo wants. The only thing that irked me was Doug. I keep thinking “Well, maybe, he does something important to stop outside interference or coup interference with Leo later. Or perhaps Henry should do that.” I mean, they get a long chapter and all, but I don't know if they ever help Leo again. There wasn't even a hint like “We can't let them build what you built.” And that would imply a complete fulfillment of their roles.

    Overall, it was beautiful. But there feels like a gap in knowledge of why there was a coup anyway in Leo's human world. I mean, it can be as simple as an enemy nation paying rebels to rebel and get into power, but, still, I didn't find out why everything happened, or why a few senators were so important to find at a science lab. I didn't see anything like “We got money and guns and a vision for a greater country, as does our army. This was our chance for freedom, and we know what's best. We can't let some José Artigas rise from the flock of running senators.”

    [I managed to review though I ate an habanero. Sweet.]
    As I adventured into math and ideas, that old desire for fan fiction came back.

    This review took at least an hour to write, by the way.

  23. #273
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Pacific Timezone
    Posts
    71

    Default

    Chapter 3 review

    The brief description of the valley and house at first is fitting. It was just right.

    “Luminous Orb shards.” He said it as if every being with a pulse knew what a Luminous Orb was, unfortunately for Leo, the Riolu didn’t elaborate on the strange fixtures.
    A great way to show how other characters are unaffected by his loss of memory yet.


    With his story completed, Leo wondered what his new teammates would think of him. They both appeared to be attentive to his narrative, but Leo couldn’t fathom was the thoughts were processing through their heads.
    What? The last sentence is hard to read, but it can be understood. Try reading it out loud, it feels like I am tricking myself to insert words like "what" and "that."

    The sentence before that one was great at describing the night as some very dangerous thing though.

    However, it's great to see Leo acting to hide something he thinks could hurt him if the info gets out. Also, it's not lying to leave info out of the conversation (unless he claimed to have always been a pokémon), it is more like a lack of transparent storytelling.

    “Oh, yeah. Your amnesia.” She said with a tired yawn. “Listen, Leo. I promise I will explain to you everything you need to know, but right now it’s pretty late and we’ve all had a long day.”
    In other words, this dialogue is better seen in a different situation due to its importance. Excellent use of retaining focus on one subject in a scene of dialogue.

    Oh, then humans were mentioned, but the world sure appears messed up if travel is that hard to find a lost civilization. Blame Mystery Dungeons.

    With that thought in mind, he decided that is was best that he disposed of the novel.
    Well, okay, I guess he isn't full of virtue. Makes sense to hide mistakes. Leo then yells out in frustration, and I liked that.

    Pushing the sudden desire to slash at the Riolu away,
    Well, that's violent, but I guess it's a way to state anger.

    “shut up so we can verify both of your citizen IDs. ZZZT! ”
    Jay did it all wrong. If he was trying to mock the officers, he failed and got taken seriously. Perhaps a little more passive-aggression instead of this "oh wonderful day, sirs" would keep Jay in a hard character, unless there is a reason to be that way.

    “Well than, where is your citizen ID?”
    Extremely messed up world like the legends of WW2. ID to enter a market? Possible plot: this story predicted the events in Ukrain before it happened. At least the apology that comes later may make up for this. Still....

    rebel scum
    And that reminds me that even comic books can represent real life. Back on topic, that was a surreal moment for me.

    They arrested a good deal of the outlaw Pokemon, but not without razing half of the Quarter to the ground.” He pointed his paw down a side street.
    Who's the idiot leading this nation? His country is in the hole. That much property damage creates a lot of rebels.

    “Turns out that they were Colony spies smuggling information back to them. Naturally, our king was beside himself with anger, he overrode the Federation and decreed that all towns and cities are to be constantly guarded by police, no exceptions.”
    Wow, he's a garbage leader. There is no trust at all here, and the war will get worse.

    he needs a badge, and we can’t get one from the Guild for certain reasons,
    Oh, I like it, more conflict and some hints to annoying things.

    “Where else would we go?” he said with a laugh.
    Consturction of the burnt areas of the city perhaps? Still, I assume they lack skills in that, so this job is suited. Leo could have brought up the question of if there surely are other jobs in the economy to fulfill since there are needs there.

    Now that he knew how to deal with them, Leo grinned, Game on.
    With a battle cry, he charged into the small group of Pokemon.
    Awkward start to a battle, but this one turned out well and showed off his dark side well.

    Then there's Spore Meadows Area Six. I think that scene's beginning was unneeded. I mean, Leo ate an apple while hiding. Then we discover the pidgeotto. Felt drawn out, and I think it would have done better by focusing on Leo's apparent ease angering the pidgeotto. Oh yes, and focusing on the failure of the badges is a good idea too. (That's a lot of sentences that would be deleted.)

    The parts with jumpuff are a lot more interesting than the beginning of the scene. There is even more of that political failure going on.

    instincts
    No. Being able to move is a hard skill to learn. He has the ability, but superheros have powers too, and they don't know what they can do at the beginning. Anyway, Jay's funny, and Leo is insulted by Jay's annoying claim.

    Great fight, and a fitting way to end the battle. You even put in a bit of last minute of life battle tension there.

    Yeah. Another good chapter, but, like I said, the last scene started off a little boring. Then it got great. I mention this because the beginning of the scene really did seem to lack a purpose, and that's where starting in the middle of things comes into play. Starting the scene later might have worked. Chapter 3 overall went pretty well.
    As I adventured into math and ideas, that old desire for fan fiction came back.

    This review took at least an hour to write, by the way.

  24. #274
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default

    Thank you for your review, Akiyama! I'm very glad that you've enjoyed the chapter so far! And thank you for your insightful questions, I managed to fix quite a few errors that you caught and looked over my earlier work.

    Anyways, the next post will have a chapter for you to enjoy quite shortly!

    Knightfall signing off...

  25. #275
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Saltus Valley
    Posts
    522

    Default Chapter 18

    Chapter Eighteen: Resonance




    “Never stop pursuing your goals. Even if it takes a thousand years or more, never cease. Persistence overcomes all odds; this is good advice to live by.”
    — Constantine Sceptile of Trinity Isle Research and Archives, speaking during the graduation ceremony of the Silver City Rescuer’s Guild.




    The Lucario pressed his paw against the window. Just beyond its shelter, a storm pounded the palace with a deluge of rain. Nickolas sighed, his breath misting-up the window for an instance. The interior of the palace was warm and dry, yet the royal Pokémon shivered under his attire. He rubbed his paws over his arms, but to no avail. His impressive cloak did little to shield his soul from the coldness of his citizens’ hearts. Their hatred clouded his mind.

    His paw slid down, wiping away the mist. From inside his ornate office, he could see through the gloom. The stone courtyard was barren except for the occasional pair of soldiers guarding the wrought-iron gates. Just beyond them, marched dozens of Pokémon. Ignoring the battering sheets of rain, they lashed out against the unfeeling guards. Nickolas could not read the faint writing on their crude signs, but he could feel the hatred emanating from their souls.

    “They hate me...” he mumbled. Unable to see their discontent any longer, the Lucario turned away. His sunken eyes slowly gazed at his personal office. All the possessions that he and the kings and queens of the Kingdom accumulated there were worth more than every ghetto in Silver. As he looked at each gaudy trophy and extravagant, golden fixture in the chamber, he felt only emptiness.

    Nickolas hung his head low, slipping off the colorful cloak and casting it onto the desk. Thunder and wind rattled the palace, knocking down a handful of books and a single glass frame onto the floor. Immediately, the king kneeled down and carefully picked up the cracked, palm-sized painting. His heart began to beat faster. A pair of smaller crimson eyes met his own. His son’s happy smile met his own, emotionless face. He placed a paw over the prince’s lost smile. Nickolas struggled to breathe.

    He gently placed the picture down on the desk then clutched the sides of his head beneath his aura sensors. The advice he sought from Ruak had done nothing for him. The Bronzong commanded him to surrender his life and thoughts to Dialga, and he had done that. Now, Silver City was burning. Nickolas’s breaths grew labored. The air inside the palace grew heavier and heavier upon his chest.

    “I... I can’t breathe... I can’t breathe...” his voice was hoarse and weak. He needed to get out of this room of horrid memories. Within three urgent strides, Nickolas was at the window once again. Doubling over from the pain in his chest, he struggled to undo the latch. A metallic click echoed through the office and he eased the glass pane open. Just when the hot, stale air threatened to overcome him, his face was struck by a flurry of rain and wind.

    Opening his eyes wide, he pushed himself out of the richly furnished chamber. His unsteady feet nearly slid on the wet, marble edge. Nickolas blinked, his senses returning to him. The raw power of the storm embraced him, easing his conflicted head of the emotions racing through it for a few blissful seconds. He held a paw to his temple; the murderous ideas and desires slipping into his head did not stop. The Lucario gave a languished glare back at the warm comforts of his chamber and then walked further onto the ledge. Below him at the dizzying height was a myriad of watchtowers and the stone courtyard. The wave of pulsating emotions swam around his head, refusing to let him rest.

    “Damn... Damn them all! DAMN THEM ALL!” Nickolas screamed, clawing at the black appendages on the sides of his skull. His mind swam and began to drown. Staggering on the marble ledge, he continued to walk. Rain and wind buffered against his fur and royal sashes, soaking him to his skin. The bursts of lightning striking his city blinded his eyes, yet he inched forward. The demons sent forth by the enraged populace clouded his vision, leaving only vestiges of loathing and worthlessness.

    His chest grew heavy as the Lucario rounded the corner of the imperial palace. Marble statues of gods and kings of old mocked their shameful descendant. His feet continued to move, guided forth by a red haze of hatred and despair. With each flash of lightning and burst of thunder, he saw his life’s worst memories play again. Wind lashed at his billowing blue and purple sashes and Nickolas screamed out in anguish. His paws clutched at his head once again and his strained eyes gazed upon the raging sea and cliff beneath him.

    In a span of two years, he had lost everything. The authority given to his ancestors by the great prophet was shackled by Darnéy and his Senate. His family, both queen and prince, dead to him. His Kingdom, split by civil war. His life now demanded by his own citizens. There was nothing left, but do what a responsible leader should. His will turned over to the populace.

    The roar of their shouts and fevered curses overpowered the mighty storm. Nickolas leaned forward slightly, his feet inches away from plummeting to the churning waves and rocks. The blue and black jackal whimpered as he felt the wild fury of Lugia’s gale meet him. Sashes of royal worth were stripped away from his chest. His remaining garments were stolen by the wind as it purged him of his material sin.

    “Di-Dialga!” Nickolas screamed forth amid the squeezing cloud of emotions around his head. He wanted to invoke the Dragon of Time Himself. To ask if he truly deserved to die, if his citizens were correct in their desires, if his life was no longer worth living. The Lucario wavered, falling back onto the palace wall. There was no sign from the legends, only the howling wind and freezing rain. Nickolas screamed, his claws clutching at the brickwork of the building. His feet dug into the wet marble, yet the wind only seemed to coax his body towards death.

    N-no! I don’t want to die! Dialga! Please don’t let me die! The king felt the pull of the elements— the building blocks of the world that wanted him dead. Spasms shook his body, threatening to knock his legs out from under him. Nickolas lifted his head towards the sky. Tear-reddened eyes blinked in the savage wind and looked into the heart of the swirling, black clouds. Lightning arced across the sky, its cackles seemingly mocking him.

    A sob caught in his throat and slipped through his jaws. He had utterly failed. He had let those who conspired against him win. With that thought, Nickolas opened his eyes; finally seeing through the storm. It had been them who had slaughtered his family, ignited the civil war, surrendered his power, burned the church, and sparked the riots. Not him.

    “It wasn’t me! It’s not my fault! IT’S NOT MY FAULT!” Deliriously shouting into the wind, Nickolas teetered against the wall of the palace. All of the guilt and hatred he felt, it wasn’t entirely because of him. Lifting his head into the wind, he watched the faded ghosts of Alexandria and Alexei bid him farewell. He wanted to reach out to them, but his paws remained stuck to the wall, holding him fast. Throwing himself down would not avenge their spirits nor save the Kingdom. The screams and curses of the citizens echoed in the storming sky.

    “... They don’t want me dead... They want the corruption stopped.... I can fix things... I can do it... I-I just need another chance!” The Lucario screamed as the demons slowly vanished from his mind. There’s a way for me to fix it all... There’s got to be...

    The storm disagreed.

    Wind and rain returned full-force. Nickolas dug his claws into the brick, desperately trying to hold onto a life he now had purpose for. Heart pounding, his mind raced for a solution, but none appeared. If he moved his feet, his body was a marionette for the wind.

    Dialga save me! Save me!” his worn voice screeched, begging salvation from an unseen god. Whips of rain pulled against his wrists, threatening death among the rocks and waves. The Lucario struggled to keep his footing, but the marble was quickly failing to hold his claws. Before he could restore his Kingdom, his enemies would rip it from him, and utterly destroy it.

    “SAVE ME! I AM INNOCENT!” Once again, the storm refused to listen. A gale swirled behind his back and lurched him forwards. Claws that dug into the stone ripped free. Nickolas prepared to face Dialga’s golden throne for judgement as he toppled from the edge. In the corner of his distressed vision, he saw the reaper lunging for him, his malicious scythe stretched out to glean his soul. The Lucario squeezed his eyes shut just as the wind died.

    The reaper’s scythe pressed against his falling chest, yet the slice for his soul never came. Velocity dropped instantly and inertia was overcome. A flat metal blade shoved him back onto the ledge. Black eyes bore into him from a green being. The reaper was not the reaper. As tears flushed from his eyes, a Scyther appeared next to him. The royal blue sash whipping about madly across its green armor identified him as Darnéy.

    “Grab on, your Highness! Please!” The words distorted around the Lucario, blown away by the wind. The Chancellor’s face strained with effort; the scythe that held him aloft beginning to slip. “You have to grab on! Nickolas!” the mantis implored. The green carapace heaved in the battering wind and rain, struggling to hold its owner upright.

    Suddenly, the impetus his body lacked resurged in a panic. Nickolas’s cold paws clutched the dull side of the scythe, digging into it while it sliced into his palms. Despite the stinging pain, the king held on. A spirited cry rose above the storm from Darnéy and slammed Nickolas backwards onto firmer footing. Blinking away the fear, the Lucario continued to clench the blade in between his claws. Darney’s mouth moved in what looked like curses and shouts, but he heard none of it over the pounding of his heart. The Scyther huffed irritably and tugged his lethal appendage forward, dragging Nickolas along. With painstaking slowness, the two leaders retraced their steps along the palace roof-top, weathering the ferocious gale with every forward movement.

    “This will do.” Nickolas barely heard the Scyther’s mumble above the waves. The mantis raised his other blade, the edge shining with an unnatural light in the dark air, and swung it down. Nickolas blinked again, the fog around his mind fading as the Chancellor shattered the centuries-old ornate window— now it lay as a million colored shards on the thick carpet of the small study. “Come inside, Your Majesty. The storm worsens still.”

    Numbly, the Lucario stepped through the window frame, his bloodied paws tightly gripping Darnéy’s other scythe. Even though the icy rain poured in through the shattered pane and wind whipped the silken curtains around wildly, the wood-paneled room was much warmer than the outside. Nickolas took two steps inside before his paws slipped off the blade and he collapsed onto the rug. Blood stained the thick carpet, spreading outwards from the Lucario’s sliced paws.

    “Nickolas! Breathe, Your Majesty!” Darnéy screamed, his wings buzzing harshly. The green-armored mantis knelt down and the dull edge of his scythe pressed into the king’s back, supporting him. The toned body that had seen him through years of war and strife now failed him; the tremendous weight of the world on his shoulders finally forced him to his knees. Panting and convulsing against the warm floor, Nickolas slowly slipped out of reality, letting the delusions of his citizens overthrow his mind.

    “Weaven! Bring blankets and find the nurse! After that, summon Ruak ... Yes, the Bronzong! Now! He and I must discuss things in private...” Darnéy’s voice echoed through his scattered mind, the Scyther cursing wildly just before Nickolas stumbled into unconsciousness.




    A shuddering cough broke the uneasy silence over the three Pokémon. Noah held his paw tightly over the dirtied bandages around his midsection, breathing heavily all the while. He took turns leaning on Kelly and Jay as the cautious team trudged out of the Forlorn Capital mystery dungeon.

    “... You can’t be serious, Noah. ... Y-You can’t expect us to believe that, can you? You sure it’s not the fever talking?” Jay whispered back after a long pause in the conversation.

    “I’m not ... I’m not lying, Jay.” The Dewott coughed heavily, “I really was a hero...”

    “Noah, then how come we’ve never heard of you?” Kelly inquired, looking back at the injured Dewott as he leaned against her flank. “You’d think if you saved the world then we’d hear about it, right? ... Just take it easy, Noah. This is likely some fever dream of yours...”

    “NO!” He yelled suddenly, driving his feet into the dirt before hissing in pain. “... It was covered up... By the Kingdom!” Noah’s desperate, exhausted face tore into Kelly and the unseeing Riolu. “... I...I know it’s farfetched... B-But it’s the truth! I swear on Reshiram’s fire, it’s the whole truth!” Jay remained silent, seeming to contemplate Noah’s words during the lengthy pause.

    “... Noah... I think I know exactly what’s going on... I can believe you.”

    Noah’s hung head perked up, but before he could speak, Jay held up his paw, signaling them to stop. The Riolu shifted his blindfold and sniffed the air. He stood on top of the small ridge for a long moment, taking in the scents of the heavy, cool air of the overcast sky.

    “... Something horrible has happened. Lots of smoke. It’s foul, whatever it is,” Jay reported, shouldering the satchel. “We’ve got to go back.”

    Noah grunted in pain as Kelly quickened both their paces. The three jogged over small crests and troughs through the hilled land. Jay, at their front, utilized his senses as best he could to sense any potential ambush like last night. Shiloh was still a little ways off, but both Noah and Kelly could see what Jay smelled earlier.

    A large, fading plume of smoke rose off into the sky. Jay stood upon the final hill before the town. He could not see, but he shuddered all the same— death reeked in its raw glory. It only took a minute longer for Noah and Kelly to feast their eyes upon the same sight. Kelly felt the Dewott’s grip on her fur tighten, his paws balling into fists. She heard him give the faintest of whimpers before he bit his tongue to quiet himself.

    Shiloh was gone. Swept away by a pillar of fire. Where bright, humble houses once lined the tiny streets was now only charred remains that hissed smoke. There was no effort to save what remained, for there was nothing to salvage and no one to salvage it. Shiloh was erased.

    Team Salient grouped together as they inched along the side road. Their feet disturbed the fine layer of ash that covered the street, leaving clear imprints of their paws behind them. Jay passed hollowed out houses, gutted by the fires that purged the city. Despite his aura and sight being gone, he could still feel the overbearing sense of utter dread and despair pouring out from the desolate town. For once, he was thankful he was not able to see earlier— he was spared from the horrible before and after images racing in front of Noah and Kelly. The bakeries and their bread, the forges and their steel, the general store and the Aegislash, they all laid dead under a sunless sky.

    Voices rose above the stillness. They floated over the burned out husks of houses.

    “Icarus! Get a hold of yourself, you worthless bird!” It was an icy tone that struck their hearts. Whoever the speaker was, she was insistent on berating the familiar Pidgeotto. Noah’s paws clenched Kelly’s fur harder and his breathing intensified.

    “ ... Please... Please wake up...” Despair permeated Icarus’s voice, along with sobbing gasps for air.

    A sudden smack resounded through the town and Icarus’s crying worsened. The female had slapped him hard.

    “...Kinsliy... Please... W-Why won’t he wake up?! Why?! ...” There was a sudden ruffle of wings and feathers alongside another hard slap and cursing from the other.

    “Stop! Please! ...” Icarus broke down into whimpers as the members of Team Salient drew closer, looking for a clear passage in between the collapsed buildings. Suddenly, the distraught bird burst into a heartbreaking fit of sobs. “No! W-What are you doing to him?! D-Don’t! H-He can’t breathe!”

    “QUIET! ... He doesn’t need to breathe where he’s at, Icarus! He’s dead! He’s dead, dammit! Get that through your malformed skull, you stupid bird! D-E-A- D. Dead!” Kinsliy roared and Icarus’s sobbing only grew louder.

    The trio of Pokémon looked to each other and pressed on. They sidestepped the charred bodies of a Kangaskhan and her joey, each of them muttering a prayer as they walked past. Before long, Noah pointed at a through street unoccupied by rubble and they took it. A minute later, they finally caught a clear view of the developing scene.

    In front of the smoldering barracks, Icarus was whimpering next to a Sneasel with a crimson scarf. Kelly recognized her as an officer in Torrent’s company. Noah nodded for them to go towards the two before he grunted in pain. The black-furred weasel didn’t see them coming.

    “..K-Kinsliy... He was my friend! W-We have to give him a proper burial! P-Please!” Icarus pleaded while humbly pressing his wings into the ashen ground. As they got closer, they could see what the Sneasel was doing to provoke such an emotional reaction from the messenger bird. She was piling rocks on top of a body. A body with cerulean scales and a massive jaw, now closed. General Torrent lay on his stomach, body halfway covered in Kinsliy’s mound of rocks.

    Noah let out a pained yell and tore himself away from Kelly’s side. His injuries didn’t seem to matter as he dashed down the ruined street towards Torrent’s body. Kelly saw everything that unfolded. The two arguing Pokémon turned to face the Dewott right before barreling past them. Icarus squawked in surprise as Noah roughly shoved him out of the way before throwing himself on Torrent’s chest, his arms spread apart to embrace the General’s unmoving chest.

    “T-Torrent! ... N-No! N-Not you! Anyone but you! No—please no! Oh, gods...” The Dewott gasped while his tears freely fell onto Torrent’s scales. No one moved for that moment. Jay and Kelly silently stared at Icarus and Kinsliy while Noah bawled his heart out. “O-Oh gods... I—I’m so sorry, sir...” he murmured softly to the corpse.

    Kinsliy gave them a scrutinizing glance as Noah slowly pried himself away from Torrent’s cadaver. “... To be honest, I didn’t think anyone else survived. Haven’t seen another living face since he flew in earlier this morning,” she explained, jabbing a curved claw over at Icarus. Her tone immediately turned accusatory. “Where exactly were you lot? Based on Noah’s reaction, you guys haven’t been in town very long. Where has your team been, Riolu?”

    Kelly turned her head towards their team leader. Jay stiffened at the officer’s address. He tightened his crimson blindfold once again even though he had done it just a few moments before. He coughed weakly before he lifted his head to speak.

    “... What gives you the authority to ask? Quark was head of leave requests. You have no—”

    “Torrent is dead, Quark is M.I.A, and everyone else is either one or the other, or both, Riolu. As far as I know, the highest ranking officer still here and alive is me,” Kinsliy interjected, jabbing her claw into Jay’s chest. “So tell me: Where in Erebus’s cold hell were you last night? Refusal to answer will count as treason for failure to come to Shiloh’s defense.” Her voice had a special quality of outdoing itself for how cold it could get. Right now, Kelly swore it was making frost on the surface of Jay’s band. For better or worse, Jay remained resolute and ignored the question altogether.

    Jay was about to give a snide remark when Kelly noticed a glint of light flash in Kinsliy’s other claw. She had seen that same glint too many times from Leo’s chest to mistake it for anything else. The Jolteon stepped in front of Jay and stared up at the irate officer.

    “What do you have in your paw, Kinsliy?” Kelly watched as the Sneasel’s distant expression lost its composure for half a second. Kelly smirked, she knew she had her off-guard. A special fire was burning inside her heart. And now, she’d force an answer. “Right there, your left paw. What do you have?”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I don’t have anything!” Kinsliy snapped while she recoiled a step backwards. Icarus immediately stepped forward, fluttering his wings angrily.

    “Lier! Y-You took it! Leo’s key!” Icarus squawked loudly. Kinsliy turned to face the bird, swearing colorfully all the while. Noah pulled himself away from Torrent’s chest, his face still wet with sweat and tears. He let out an angry huff and snatched the blue crystal from the Sneasel’s unguarded claw.

    “E-Explain yourself... N-Now, Kinsliy...” Noah demanded, his voice cold and void of the gentle heart it usually held. His paw shook and his lips twitched with roiling emotion.

    “... I saw it in the rubble and—”

    “And what, Kinsley?! Where is Leo?! Tell us!” Noah shot forward, his bandages ripping and sliding off his torso, revealing the raw wounds. His paw pressed into the Sneasel’s chest and in turn, pinned her against a charred, clay wall. She squirmed under his grasp, but quickly stopped once she felt the razor edge of Noah’s shell press into her neck. “I swear to the Creator, I will get an answer, otherwise I slice, Kinsliy! What happened to him?!”

    “D-Don’t know! ... C-Colonists attacked and ... we sustained casualties.” The Sneasel let out a shuddering gasp that shook her thin frame as Noah eased his grip. “... N-Not sure where the Charmeleon is... But they didn’t kill him... T-They wanted him alive...”

    Noah’s glare darkened, yet his wounds from the Houndoom were fast catching up with him. The Dewott cringed and was forced to back off as Jay took his place and squared off with her with his arms crossed.

    “Why did they want him alive? Leo wasn’t anyone special ... Torrent was a general, and they killed him outright. There were dozens of other Pokémon here ranked higher or more important than he was ... Why did they take him alive, Kinsliy?” Everyone drew close to the cornered, exhausted Sneasel. Icarus timidly stared at her next to a wheezing Noah while Kelly glared at the officer alongside Jay. After several moments of tense silence, Kinsliy let out a small huff.

    “ ... You... You all don’t know, do you? ... That’s surprising. I figured he’d had spilled that news to you before... Guess he didn’t trust you lot.” This time it was Jay’s turn to apply the pressure. His paw lunged forward and slammed into her chest. The officer doubled over with a slew of curses and cries of treason. Ignoring her whining, Jay grasped her arm and twisted it, lifting her to her feet with an resisting yell.

    “Why did they want him alive, Kinsliy?” Jay’s face was only a few inches away from hers. She blinked and huffed with each hot breath he blew at her. She grunted in pain before she looked over at the small crowd awaiting her answer. Jay didn’t relent as he leaned closer to her and whispered into her ear. “Please... He’s our friend... We need to know, Kinsliy.”

    “... You all best not go spread this around anymore, okay? ... We don’t need another rumor going around, do you hear me?” She waited until all present Pokémon nodded in affirmation. Sighing, she gave them one last weary look before her resistance crumbled.

    “They wanted him because, according to them ... He was human.”

    Noah swore violently.




    An ember—barely alive— burned. A voice groaned. Flickering to life, a pair of blue eyes was met with a dim light. They blinked, struggling to adjust to their new environment. Claws scraped against the rough floor, digging into the unfinished rock in order to push himself up. His claw clutched his chest, encountering raised lines of scar tissue and a vicious, throbbing pain. It was only a matter of time before the next strike.

    “P-Plea... AGGRAHH!” Leo screamed out, his voice raw from use. The Charmeleon’s quivering arms collapsed from beneath him, slamming his chin against the stones. Blood leaked from his numerous abrasions—his scales were battered and beaten beyond belief. Fortunately, the gashes on his tender back were instantly cauterized by the blistering energy whip.

    A slight ruffle danced through the air above him, followed by a haughty sigh and a fluttering of a dress.

    “I..I-I ..Wait! W-Wai—GAAAHHH!” Leo’s voice broke. His mind spiraled in on itself, struggling to keep conscious. A bolt of energy cracked in the air. Before his battered body could even begin to brace itself, it hit him again. His agony was heard by even the aloof gods of Verus.

    “. . . Take him. He doesn’t know anything—his head’s virtually empty.” The voice, even after all the pain its owner inflicted, still sounded like the voice of angels. Knowing who she was, however, only drove the cruel spike in deeper. Several muffled voices drifted through his muddied senses. Only hers remained clear.

    “He is only a threat if he is free. And even then only by dumb luck. Put him in solitary and place a guard over him. . . I do not care if it is feasible or not, place a guard.” The voice carried an unreal note to it. Something that was just beyond the edge of his hearing, yet it was that something that was able to pluck the strings to his heart. He watched her brutalize his body, yet whenever she spoke, he temporarily forgave any ill-will towards her.

    Leo pulled his head up and immediately let it drop again, retching onto the floor. Bile stung his tongue and burned his throat before joining the small puddle on the ground. His vision clouded, breath wavered, and body trembled under the residual psychic shocks.

    “Get him out of my sight.” He hated her voice, yet he couldn’t help but be enamored.

    “Ma’am? You’re done with him? ... Can I?” It was the voice of an enemy. The voice of the traitor. Blade. Leo’s thoughts boiled inside his head at the mere idea of the Grovyle being alive when so many others were dead.

    “No. You are not to kill him. That will be decided after this war is over. We cannot risk any retaliation resulting from his demise... Until then, it’s best if he is kept where he can do no harm and no harm can come to him... Do you understand, Blade? Take him away.” He hated her. Everything about her made his internal flare burn brighter. However, her voice still paralyzed him; his body was addicted to her soothing tone.

    “Yes, general. I understand.” With that final phrase from the traitor, Leo felt his arms lifted and thrust behind his back. A coarse vine wrapped about his wrists before he could even cry out in pain. He was certain his scales were bruised purple from the beating. Leo opened his eyes to see the green reptilian over him. They both exchanged the most vile glances they could; each loaded with toxic loathing.

    There was no exchange between the two beyond that. Blade grunted as he pulled the limp, bleeding Charmeleon to his feet. The moment Leo’s feet could support him, Blade deftly hopped around to his front and tied his muzzle shut with another dried vine. His eyes could barely make out the darkened room he was in, but in the distance, he could make out the white and green figure of the female general egressing down the lit hall.

    Blade dug his knee into Leo’s side, making him stumble in his bonds. The hewn stone might as well have been knives on his injured feet. Still, the Grovyle made him walk; guiding him via a rope tied to his snout. Leo hung his head as best he could. In the few hours he had been imprisoned here, Leo quickly found out that he was little more than a dog in the eyes of his captors.

    “... I should have murdered you. You’re the reason our plan was botched.” Blade cast a glare of pure malice at the Charmeleon; the torchlight illuminating his face turning his expression into something out of hell itself. “Even if you are... human... It changes nothing. If it weren’t for Valin, I’d slice you open right now. And I wouldn’t feel a thing...”

    Leo wouldn’t have spoke even if he could. He knew he was walking a thin line between tortured life and swift, bloody death. For the moment, he prefered life. Wishing to preserve that status, he kept moving. He never once stopped, despite the agonizing spikes of pain that shot through his feet, back, and arms with every movement he made.

    They walked in utter silence after that. Leo was unable to even whimper through his clamped mouth and Blade kept a hate-filled peripheral glare aimed at him always. To pass the agonizing silence and keep from passing out, Leo took to what he did best: observing.

    He had been thoroughly unconscious by the time he awoke in the previous chamber with Valin, the mysterious general, and Blade. There had been no time after that before she began whipping his back raw and interrogating him about the whereabouts of others in Torrent’s company. They were barely names he recognized, but he knew two: Icarus, and Kinsliy. He didn’t know anything about them and so eventually, Valin stopped her torture.

    He and Blade rounded a corner and a sudden stream of light blinded him. His steps faltered slightly, but Blade grunted and dragged him upright. Leo sent up a virulent curse through his muffled mouth, but the Grovyle paid him no heed and continued to pull him. Blinking in the bright, grey light, Leo was led out into a wide, gravel courtyard.

    The entire world seemed to fall into a somber mood; the skies were overcast, filtering out the sun’s gentle warmth. Several dozen Pokémon seemed to mill about the grey yard, acting just as dull and lifeless as the stones they walked on. Thinking on how he was captured, Leo reasoned that they were also prisoners of war. Beyond them was a barracks building not unlike the one he left back in Shiloh. Wooden, rickety, and not nearly structurally sound enough to be called safe, it and the two other barracks of its type seemed to be the only buildings accessed by the prisoners. All the other buildings were dominated by a single, three-story structure erected in the very center.

    Thick walls made of uncut logs ringed the small prison. Leo couldn’t see the entire scope of the camp, but it couldn’t have been larger than Loyalty Sqaure’s marketplace. The scenery changed when Blade directed him down a small tunnel. The passage beyond was marked with stone and darkness.

    “Move it!” Leo was shaken out of his observational trance by a forceful shove from Blade. Leo stumbled forwards. Since his wrists were tied, he could do nothing to stop the ground from slamming into his face. Jagged pieces of gravel peppered his face, cutting into his bruised snout and cheek while he let out a pitiful groan.

    Blade allowed no room for mercy. His claws grabbed his tied arms and lifted him off the ground. Leo barely saw the room in front of him before the Grovyle sliced the vines binding his wrists and snout. Not a moment after the vines fell, Blade planted a kick square on his back. Leo fell forwards onto the stone, crying out now that the vines were gone. A rough grating of metal assaulted his ears before culminating in a loud clanging noise.

    “You know? Your actions caused the deaths of my team. Well, it seems fair warning that your teammates weren’t so lucky either...” Blade hissed down at the quivering Charmeleon. “They were killed in the dungeon outside of town, our scouts said it was a flawless set of kills. Just thought you’d like to know that, Leo...”

    Leo raised his head off the stone while the world spun wildly around him. Only the dim, flickering light of his tail was there to fight off the encroaching darkness of the dungeon. From what he could see past the thick, steel bars, Blade had left him alone in the darkness.

    “No... No... Not them... K-Kelly...” Leo croaked, tears welling up in his eyes as his voice failed. At once, his heart broke and he pressed his head into the stone. The burning flame on his tail dimmed to barely nothing. He had truly lost everything.

    From the darkness across the hall from his cell, a single of gleaming, crystal eye watched the Charmeleon succumb to exhaustion. A voice, quiet and still as the darkness, whispered while its claws scraped the stone.

    “... The prophet spoke true... The gods have given me a second chance.”




    A set of claws scratched against a stone floor. Outside of a locked steel door, a tall figure stalked the hall. The leaves on his body ruffled in impatience, but he quickly quieted them. He needed the silence to spy on the traitors within the laboratory.

    It mattered not that their hushed voices were behind thick stone and steel when he controlled the entire facility. Their room was bugged many, many times over in intricate, undetectable ways, blind to the ingenious Umbreon and Espeon duo. He heard the dungeon researchers’ voices quite clearly as they pondered the fate of the Breloom they recently rescued.

    “ ... How in the world is it that he ends up popping up in our lab, huh? A Pokémon the administration said died along with their team last year suddenly showing up alive right under our feet? ... What’s going on here, dear? Something’s not right with this.”

    The figure chuckled. This would surely be fun. The Espeon was definitely the more intelligent of the duo when it came to rationalizing things. Even with harboring a traitor, she and her Umbreon mate were worth the gold it took to hire them. He was never going to find such a pair again with such an in-depth knowledge of mystery dungeons and the strange intradimensional doors they wielded: the curious Magnagate.

    “I don’t know, but we need to keep helping him. Who knows what’s happened to him since we last saw Team Frontier? Same with the fates of Chuck and Sophie... We can’t just leave this—something big is about to erupt, Espeon. And we’re right in the thick of it.”

    There. They knew. They knew what they were doing was illegal under his rules. They now knew too much. And Pokémon who knew too much in his facility had a funny way of being assigned to the incredibly lethal Zero Isle exploration effort.

    With a wave of his arm, the metal cuff on his wrist glowed and the lock on the door shuddered and disengaged. His reptilian lips curled menacingly. He knew this was going to end in one of two ways—and blood was going to spill. It was an inconvenient fact, but he would get through this one as he had done away with all the others. With fear.

    He ripped open the thick steel panel, nearly tearing it off its hinges. Instantly, the voices stopped in favor of terrified gasps. Without noise, he strode inside, his gait confidant and with an air of haughtiness about him despite the fact he was out for blood. One look about the disorderly chamber confirmed every one of his suspicions.

    To his right, Employee 286 lay sprawled unconscious over a metal table, several Luminous Orbs shing about his dessicated body. To his left, both the researchers cowered in fear amid the sea of papers and small Magnagate tiles. They did not display their fear, no, they were too professional to let their body betray them. It was their eyes that displayed their inner terror, and it was that terror that he’d use to bring them to their knees.

    “... Tell me, valued employees, why is it I see a traitor in your midst?” His clawed feet dug deep grooves into the solid stone and his leaves shivered along his tail and wrists. His anger, much like their fear, was never pronounced, but the signs were always evident to those at his mercy. Several seconds passed while the two Pokémon internally withered under his cold glare. It didn’t take long for their will to snap like the spine of a laborer.

    “A-Administrator! ... W-We did not know of ... Ia— this Employee’s treachery! We were not informed and so therefore cannot be blamed for caring for an injured being!” Umbreon shouted out, his bravado draining with each syllable he uttered under the figure’s scorn. Unfortunately, where the male was weak, his mate was stronger.

    “Administrator, surely there is something we can do to right our wrong. It was a minor transgression, sir. We did not give out any company information, nor offer any aid beyond what treatment you see. Surely you—”

    “Silence... You know the punishment for treason. There cannot be any reprieve.” His mouth curled into a smile and the leaves on his wrists glowed, extending into long, murderous blades.

    Oh yes. This was going to be fun.




    Throughout the dismal day, they buried all the dead they could and burned the rest in impromptu pyres set up to and fro over Shiloh’s ruins. It was a sight to see, however the five Pokémon knew they were the only ones left alive for miles around. Despite it being a time consuming task, they finished the heartless task of finding and disposing of the dead respectfully. It was one of the duties of Kingdom soldiers.

    Noah let out a low growl of disdain as he tossed the cracked body of a Heracross soldier into the burning pile. He had trained with her a few times, but didn’t even know her name. Of the many faces he recognized from the citizenship and Torrent’s company, the bulky, blue-shelled beetle’s was not one of them. What was it? Hellen? Gira? ... Yelta? He sighed and gave her a small salute and a moment of silence.

    “... I should have known her name...” The Dewott whispered, paw clutching the tooth necklace he wore.

    After the moment, he turned away from the crackling fire before the Heracross’s armor began popping from the heat. His nose wrinkled, eager to be away from the horrid smell of death. Now, he pointed himself down the north road out of Shiloh.

    That was the last one. They had done all they could for the death and now it was time they make a decision for the living. Huffing as he cupped his bandages, Noah limped through the desolate streets past the destroyed town. For the past several hours, alongside dragging bodies for disposal and finishing the cairn for Torrent’s body. It was painful, but now they all needed to be strong if anything was to change for the better.

    Shops not entirely burned by the Colonists were raided for their supplies. Thankfully, the rebels didn’t seem to have been interested in looting, just murdering and taking specific hostages— the Houndoom hunting pack in the Forlorn Capital proved that somehow; he and Leo were targets for their humanity. How in Erebus’s icy depths they knew that was beyond Noah, but he knew someone was going down for spilling it.

    “Greetings, my old friend. How are you, Noah?” He sighed. Now was not the best time, far from it. Without missing a beat, Noah turned his head toward the Mismagius and nodded in greeting.

    The witch-like ghost glided through the stale, war-torn air, a smug etched on his thin mouth. Noah stopped his walk and folded his arms. “Alright... Where were you? There’s been several instances in the last day where your help would have been appreciated!”

    The Mismagius remained stoic. “The same place I always am, Noah. Always and everywhere.” A tendril reached down and picked up a small piece of cloth from the rubble. “You know the answer to that question. You know it too well. You know very well I don’t get involved at first. Your own rescue from that besieged Post Town should have told you that,” The ghost huffed, dropping the rag and adjusting his wide brim.

    “Doesn’t mean I can’t ask...” Noah mumbled, kicking a stone down the pockmarked road. “You’ve interceded before... Why not now?”

    The specter let out a lengthy sigh. “There are many, many things needing my attention... This trial is not one that should need me. Besides, all who are vital to the success of my plan are alive. That is what matters.” Noah felt the latent rage inside him raise its ugly head.

    “Torrent wasn’t important?!” His feet planted firmly in the dirt, staring up against the Mismagius. After a tense moment, the ghost looked away.

    “You know I did not mean him, Noah. You know that. But everyone has their purpose, and when that purpose is complete... Well, it is then time for them to go,” He whispered back, his cold voice, through low, was clearly heard in the desolate town. Noah let out a fierce yell, clutching a scalchop in his paw and holding it out.

    “Then why am I still here?! I saved the damn world already! Why not kill me off?! Huh? Answer me that, T—”

    “Because you’re still important!”

    The air was still. Silent, and cold, despite it being the peak of summer. The two Pokémon held their stiff gazes, neither one wanting to be the first to break. But this time, it was Noah who looked down. His fists were clenched, one around his glowing shell. His chest still hurt, but he’d live long enough to see this through to the end.

    “... Noah... I know you did your part... But you are the only one I trust enough to help here! Everyone else is a fool or too hot-blooded to be counted on...”

    “... I don’t want to save the world again... I’ve already lost everyone... My partner, my teammates, Post Town...” Noah sighed and looked at the ghost, his gaze pleading with him. “I’m begging you... Don’t make me do it again!”

    The Mismagius only shook his head. “Some among us are slated to be heroes... Be it a blessing or curse, Noah... I cannot change your Fates, but I can tell you that the burden will not be yours entirely... That is why I request you take the others and ... Rescue Leo.”

    Noah ceased his begging at the last piece of the ancient prophet’s dialogue. After all the gruesome news that had come to light in the last few hours, it was surprising to hear something that didn’t deal with death. “Leo’s alive? You’re certain?”

    “Noah, would I ever lie to you? ... No, I would not. Now, please. Go forth, young one. Find the others.” The Dewott nodded as the ghost vanished into thin air just as he had come. He shook his head slightly. He would never know how the erratic ghost worked. But, as per his request, he walked on alone out of Shiloh.

    Several moments passed, and their motley group was hiding in a unsullied berry field outside of Shiloh’s borders. All five were crouched among the Leppa plants, heatedly debating their options in hushed tones. Noah ducked down under the leafy branches and sat crosslegged in the dirt, watching as Kinsliy and Kelly yelled at each other over topics such as the supplies they salvaged and what should happen next.

    “For the last time, we’re going south! You all don’t seem to get it! Going north is death! The Colonists will capture and kill us before we get a mile inside!” Kinsliy hissed, slashing her claw into the dirt through Kelly’s diagram. The Jolteon’s fur sparked.

    “Why don’t you just leave then? We’re going north and you’re not going to change our minds. Unlike you, we’re not heartless.” Kelly drew another arrow in the dirt, pointing to the north. Kinsliy let out an exasperated sigh, crossing her arms.

    “I don’t believe this! T-This is insubordination! I outrank you! I order you to abandon your stupid north route! ... Besides... You really want to risk your life for a human?” The Sneasel hissed, pointing to her crimson scarf and badge before incredulously adding the final bit.

    Noah flinched at the remark. By now, they knew. He made sure they all knew. Judging by the way they all looked at him, sans Jay’s sight, he could tell that they each reacted to the dual sides of himself and Leo. The stoic Riolu just seemed to nod and accept the facts like they were another piece of trivia. Considering everything that happened today, Noah understood how lackluster the revelation sounded.

    Icarus and Kelly, however, both took it to extremes. The bird suddenly found Noah to be a lot more interesting than he did previously. Noah studied the fast-talking Pidgeotto back. Icarus had always been Torrent’s private messenger and had been in the company far longer than he— yet he always thought him untrustworthy. So even as the two females of the group tried to wrestle for control, Icarus kept an observant gaze on him.

    If he was a marvel to Icarus, Kelly found him to be slightly more appealing than a Silver City tramp. For some reason, she seemed to snub him ever since the truth had came out. But Noah didn’t think too much of it. He had seen much worse in his journeys— being given the cold shoulder was nothing compared to being hunted down and ambushed because of it.

    “Kinsliy.” She shot a vicious glare at the Sneasel. “We’re going north. The Colonies may be dangerous, but our friend is there. ... And, admittedly we owe it to him to get him back...” She snarled, jerking her head towards the Colonial border. Leo’s key swung erratically from her neck— her own memento of him.

    Kinsliy shot to her feet, fuming. The claws in her hands extended and clenched into fists. She let out a growl and barked at Icarus to follow her back to the Kingdom’s reach. However, she barely got five steps away from, the group when Noah felt a familiar chill run over his spine. The Dewott cracked a smile. It was time.

    The winds quickly changed directions. A quiet zephyr became a swift bluster of air from the south, turning the young Sneasel around mid-step. Noah merely sat back against the thick Oran bush and watched the apparition unfold.

    In a tumult of biting wind, soil, and leaves that forced all five of them to look away. Spectral bolts of energy shot around and sparked the air to ignition. At once, a burst of purple fire consumed the berry patch, them, and the world. Noah couldn’t help but flinch as the harmless flames licked over him, but chuckled as he focused himself. The others were silent and shaking in terror. Icarus cowered behind Kelly’s side while Jay’s paws dug into her fur. Kinsliy, the no-nonsense officer he had come to hate these past months, was stunned, mouth agape in the middle of the row at the smiling Mismagius now floating in the midst of them..

    “Greetings. Allow me to introduce myself: I am the reason you all are still alive. Consider yourselves highly unfortunate.”

    Like clockwork, both Jay and Kelly responded to the voice they knew from their pasts and dreams. However, they could not express their outrage in time before the ghost silenced them with a glance. He twisted over in the air, taking a long look at Icarus and Kinsliy. Both Kingdom soldiers were unable to speak. Noah got up from his crosslegged position and chuckled.

    “About damn time you stopped hiding. Now, tell them you’re real and they’re not crazed, okay?”





    End Chapter 18


Page 11 of 12 FirstFirst ... 789101112 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •