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  1. #1
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    Default Possession (OujiaShipping)

    Rating: R (For Violence, Language, and Disturbing Moments)
    Fandom: Pokemon
    Genre: Drama/Horror
    Status: In Progress
    Pairing: OuijaShiping (Morty/Gengar)

    Author's Note: This was originally meant to be a oneshot, but, big surprise, I overplanned it and realized that if I wanted to get anything else done this Spring Break then I'd have to make this a chaptered affair. Much of the inspiration for this fic comes from the move The Exorcist (which I just recently wrote a paper on).

    I think it should probably be fairly well implied, but I might as well spell something out here: this is not going to be one of my light-hearted, happy fics. Fair warning...

    Also posted on my fanfiction.net account.

    PM List
    -Sidewinder


    Possession

    Chapter 1. Contact.


    It began with… a close. The fastening of the casket lids, encasing my parents’ made-up bodies within their dark, airless beds; the click of the hearse door, black and sleek as it slammed shut; the soft piling on of dirt on mahogany as the earth healed the breach the gravediggers had made; and finally the slow close as Aunt Polly shut the door to her house in lower Ecruteak City behind me, staring at me as though not sure what to do.

    She crouched down to look me in the eye, her hands fidgeting as though she wondered whether a hug was a prerequisite in this situation—perhaps a mere pat on the shoulder would do? Even that seemed too much for her. She folded her arms together and instead tried: “You’ve had a hard day, haven’t you Morty?”

    I stared at her. I nodded.

    She flashed me a weak smile that I’m sure was meant to be understanding. “Well, I’m sure you’ll want to get used to the place… maybe see your room? Your Uncle Richard,” she said, referring to her brother, “brought everything over and helped me set it up, so it’s all ready for you.” She looked at me helplessly. “Why don’t you go up and see your new room? You’d like that.”

    I knew that I was being dismissed, though she framed it as though I was being dismissed by my own preference. “Okay,” I said.

    Aunt Polly stood up and smoothed out her dress. “Your room is up the stairs. Turn left and it’s the room at the end of the hall.”

    I walked over to the stairway and climbed its rickety heights—slowly. What was the point in rushing to anything?

    Aunt Polly had walked up to the base of the stairs, clasping her hands together worriedly as she watched me move. “I’ll get dinner started,” she said, “and afterwards I’ll show you the rest of the house.”

    “Okay,” I said again, turning from her and setting my eyes back on the stairs in front of me. I don’t think I’d said more than two words in a row since the burial. My mouth was too dry to be talkative and I couldn’t think of much to say anyway—nothing at least that I could say to anyone living.

    *****

    I walked into ‘my room’ which then I could only consider Aunt Polly’s guest room with all of my worldly possessions laid out awkwardly within. The Eevee comforter was mine, but the bed was different. My bed had been wood, but this one was made of iron. I sat on the mattress and felt it give beneath me with a croak. I looked out at my toys—old Christmas gifts or begged for impulse purchases—books that had been read to me aloud so many times that even before I’d learned to read I could recite them. My clothes hung in the open closet with short sleeves mixed in with the sweaters. Mom would’ve put the summer clothes in storage—the weather was getting too nippy for them. In a place of honor on the shelf built into the wall was the six Poke Ball set that my parents had given me for my seventh birthday last year. They weren’t toys, they’d said. They were for when I was older, they’d said. I’d make them proud with them, they’d said.

    That was it… the gifts, the photographs, my memories and finally… me; that was all the… the residue my mom and dad had left.

    Intellectually I knew what death was even then, but that was the first time it had touched me personally—and I didn’t see how it could be. They were there and then suddenly… I’m supposed to believe that they’ve vanished? That everything that made them up was gone?

    It didn’t help that dewy-eyed relatives I’d seen only a few times before had come up to me at the wake and told me: “They’re in a better place.”

    “Then are they coming back?” I asked, resilient to their efforts to set me at peace.

    “No… no, Morty,” they’d told me sadly. “I’m afraid they can’t.”

    “Well, then can I go to them?

    They hadn’t liked that. More tears and no one knew what to say.

    Mom and Dad couldn’t have been gone. I knew they were, of course, but… but still I’d insist that they couldn’t.

    I lay back in the bed and clasped my hands over my chest the way I’d seen my parents lie. I stayed still and tried not to breath. I didn’t move until my aunt called me down to dinner.

    *****

    I panned my flashlight across the attic, eagle-eyed for anything that might be an obstacle to my exploration—a rat, a broken section of flooring, an upended nail. I didn’t see anything like that—only boxes. I hunkered down close to the nearest one and began to search its contents.

    Technically this was snooping and technically I should’ve known better, but there was little else for me to do. Aunt Polly had taken me out of school for the time being so that I could “have time to process things.” I almost wished that she hadn’t. I probably was in no fit state to do anything at school and would’ve been a basket case anyway but… at least it would’ve been a distraction. Aunt Polly had a friend over and I felt it had been implied that I was to go off and amuse myself. She’d had a lot of friends over since I arrived. She’d never seemed like the social type. I thought that she did it to avoid talking to me about… about anything that might’ve mattered—anything more emotionally draining then, “why don’t you go outside and play with your friends?”

    My friends were in school and I wasn’t going to go outside. It was getting too cold out. I was always cold then and I wasn’t used to it yet. So I decided to climb the old ladder outside my bedroom and explore the attic.

    There wasn’t much of anything interesting in the first box I searched—just some old newspaper clippings. The second box had a collection of VHS tapes, many of which were broken and had shiny black tape spilling out of them. The third box had a bunch of yellowing mystery novels with titles like Kiki Star and the Case of the Endless Staircase and Detective Dodrio and the Pidgeot Police. They smelled like decay and when I moved them choking dust filled the air. I was about to either give the books a look or check the next box when I noticed something sitting in the bottom of the box hiding below the books.

    I levered it out and held out my flashlight to see it better. It was a wooden board with black writing on it. The middle part had all the letters of the alphabet and numbers zero through nine. On the top were the words “Yes” and “No” between a drawing of a skull with bat wings. On the bottom were the words “Hello” and “Goodbye.” Illustrated stars had been painted onto the border.

    I’d seen something like that before… yes… at a sleepover once someone had brought one out… a Ouija board. We hadn’t actually tried it. One of the boys had chickened out and they’d put it away. But I’d wondered…

    I set the board on the floor and looked inside the box for what I knew I was missing. Sure enough the little heart-shaped piece of wood with a hole in it was lying in the bottom of the box. I picked it up gingerly. It certainly felt like nothing more than an ordinary piece of wood. I set it on the board so that the little hole in the middle of it showed half the P and half the Q on the alphabet part of the board.

    I realized that if I put both my hands on the planchette then I wouldn’t be able to hold the flashlight too so I wouldn’t be able to even see the board. Sure that I was doing it wrong, I set one hand on it and held the flashlight up with my other hand.

    “Is… is anyone there?” I whispered.

    For the longest time nothing happened. I watched the board for any sign of movement and listened intently for any voice—anything beyond the normal.

    And then there was a slight sigh. It could’ve been a draft of late autumn wind blowing through the roof of the house… or maybe not. It was just enough to push the casters on that little heart-shaped piece of wood and roll it upward.

    YES.

    The word was incased in the circle in the wood.

    I breathed out, suddenly anxious both to abandon my experiment and continue it. I stared at the word. YES. YES. YES. Someone was there… who?

    “Who are you?” I asked, somewhere between caginess and deep curiosity.

    The little slab of wood my hand was resting on slid downward once more with ponderous slowness toward the alphabet.

    WHO… ARE… YOU?

    That… that seemed a fair enough question to ask (it had seemed fair when I asked it).

    “M-Morty,” I said.

    The planchette slid back up toward the top row of the alphabet, gliding through the three rows easily and without my intervention.

    HOW… APPROPRIATE.

    I didn’t know what it, whatever it was, meant by that, so I decided to try my question once more. “Will you tell me who you are now?” I asked.

    I… AM… NAMELESS.

    I stared at the board as though it might provide me some further context. “What do you mean nameless?”

    NAMELESS. The letters repeated.

    “Everyone has a name,” I insisted.

    I… DO… NOT.

    The mysterious spirit didn’t seem to be willing to budge on this. “Well… what should I call you then?” I asked.

    YOU… WILL… NOT… NEED… TO.

    I puzzled over what it meant by that, but I decided to leave it be. I was growing anxious to ask what I’d wanted to ask ever since I’d set eyes on that Ouija board.

    “Do you…” I tried to think of how to open up the topic. “Do you know my parents?” I asked helplessly.

    There was a silence, then…

    YES.

    I leaned closer toward the board, my skin clammy with sweat and a chill running down my spine. The flashlight nearly slipped out of my fingers as I asked: “Can I talk to them? Can you get a message from them or something?”

    I waited in the darkness for some sign, some answer to my long awaited question. The planchette wobbled slightly as though it might glide toward an answer any second and…

    “Morty?” I heard Aunt Polly calling from downstairs. Her footsteps were close. “Where are you? …You’re not up in the attic, are you? It’s dangerous up there.”

    The planchette stopped its movement. I stared at it, gripped by the sense that I’d been robbed.

    “Morty?” she called again, this time from the base of the ladder.

    “Coming!” I called, slamming the board hurriedly back into the box and piling the books back on top of it before she could reach the attic.

    *****

    That night I dreamt I was underground. My vision was dark and the blackness around me smelled like charcoal. A gust of wind blew at the dirt, scattering like ash and uncovering me. As my body was freed from the ground I looked around and saw three rocks, each of them taller than me, that had been buried along with me. They were black and shining and had a sort of liquid look about them as though they’d once been molten and had solidified in a hurry.

    I stepped between the rocks, touching them lightly as I passed. When I first put my hands on them, they felt cold, but as I touched them they grew warmer and warmer until I had to pull my hand back to avoid getting burned. A red fire seemed to glow from inside of the rocks—pulsing on and off.

    I heard an inhuman cry and then the world began to shake. I struggled to keep my footing as white light burst from each of the rocks. From one of the rocks came the smell of a spring rain, from the other the sizzle of a campfire, and from the other the rumble of thunder. I finally could stand no longer and fell to the ground as the shaking continued.

    Lying on the ground, I looked up in the sky and saw… something. It was too high up to see it very clearly, but I could tell that it was massive—it just had a weight about it. Any detail as to what its form was like was obscured by the beautiful haze that followed it as it moved across the sky—all the colors of the rainbow.

    There was a crash and my gaze snapped back to the rocks. They’d shattered, sending shards of sparkling rocks flying. Out of the stone I could see the silhouettes of three creatures—black and featureless. They ran at me with such incredible speed… their black forms blocked out my vision, blocked out the white sky, and blocked out the rainbow.

    Then I woke up.

    …I like to think, that is, I cling to the notion that that was my very first premonition. But… who even knows if it was? And even if it was a premonition… who can say that it was my future?

    *****

    The next day I eased my way back into my room, hoping that my aunt hadn’t heard my quick jaunt up to the attic. She hadn’t wanted me there, but I had to go back just once to get the board. I closed the door quietly behind me and slid the Ouija board out from under my sweatshirt where I’d stashed it. I brought it over onto my bed and sat cross-legged in front of it with my hands rested on the planchette.

    I tried to think of exactly how I should reopen the conversation. First of all, I wasn’t even entirely sure if the same spirit from before would show up—maybe since I was in a different place it wouldn’t speak to me. And I wasn’t sure how to bring up the topic of my parents again… to put words to all the things I needed to know.

    Before I could even form the words to ask anything, the planchette tugged under my fingers toward the alphabet.

    DID… YOU… ENJOY… THE… RAINBOW… POKEMON?

    I gasped. “How did… how did you know about that?”

    I… SHOWED… IT… TO… YOU.

    “Really?” I dug into my memory and tried to grasp at the insubstantial picture of that majestic, but far off creature and its rainbow. If only I’d been closer…

    I… COULD… SHOW… YOU… MANY… THINGS.

    “Do you think you could show me the rainbow Pokemon again?” I asked enthusiastically, childlike greed to reclaim the experience shining in my eyes.

    PERHAPS, the spirit spelled out.

    Then, with a rushing sense of guilt, I remembered what I’d initially come to ask the spirit about. “And… what about my parents?” I asked. “You said you knew them. Could you show me them?”

    I prayed Aunt Polly wouldn’t interrupt me again. The planchette glided away from the alphabet.

    YES, it said.

    I took my hand off the planchette to punch the air. “Really? Would you do that for me?”

    IF… YOU… WOULD… LIKE, it said.

    I nodded vigorously, smiling so hard it hurt. I rubbed the moisture out of my eyes before saying, in unthinking gratitude, “Thanks! If you can do that then I’ll really owe you.”

    I stared down at the board. My business was done and the spirit was going to give me what I wanted—the contact I desperately needed. But still… I felt like I couldn’t break off the conversation just at that.

    “So…” I said, unsure of what to say. “What’s it like being a spirit?”

    *****

    Catching me in the attic the previous day seemed to have convinced Aunt Polly that she would have to occupy me herself is she didn’t want me rooting through her possessions. We played cards that afternoon—a nice, structured, non-confrontational activity.

    She’d asked what game I wanted to play. I’d said Old Maid. …I didn’t really know why I suggested it since I didn’t even know how to play it myself. She’d stiffened up and said she’d prefer to play something else.

    We sat at the kitchen table with our cards fanned out in front of our faces. Aunt Polly lowered her hand to pick up a card from the deck. I could see her thin lips pursed in a frown—perhaps because of the state of her cards, perhaps not. She discarded.

    I sighed and picked up another card from the deck. The cards smelled of coffee that had gone bad and were ragged around the edges. I reordered my hand to make room for the interloper and got rid of a useless card.

    I wanted to escape this enforced ‘family time.’ I might have embraced it a few days ago when I was desperate for anything to break the monotony, but now… it was only keeping me from the more welcome company that spoke through the board I’d hidden under my bed.

    Aunt Polly chewed her lip and played a card. “Your Aunt Clara will be coming to visit for Christmas,” she announced, pleased to have hit upon some neutral news with which to fill a conversation. “She’ll be staying with us for about a week—you should enjoy that.”

    I didn’t even look at her, gravely drawing a card. “No she won’t,” I said simply.

    Aunt Polly looked at me over her hand, a perplexed expression on her face. “What do you mean she won’t?” she asked. “I just spoke with her on the phone. She’ll be driving down on the 23rd.”

    “No,” I said again. “She won’t make it.” I stared blankly at the glass door that led out into the sparse backyard. The sky was white and cold—a few flakes of snow drifted down onto the grey wood of the deck. “There’ll be… an accident.”

    Something close to pain crossed Aunt Polly’s face. She picked up a card to cover for it. She sighed as though realizing that she finally had to address something unpleasant before it got out of control. “Morty… what happened to your mother and father was… just because it happened to them doesn’t mean it’ll happen to everyone else.” She sniffed, seemingly not sure of what else to say. She discarded. “Anyway, you don’t have to worry about your Aunt Clara.”

    I couldn’t take my eyes off the sparse snowflakes from outside. My mouth hung slightly open as I watched them.

    “She’ll crash into a tree and try to walk to the nearest Pokemon Center,” I said in a monotone, unsure how I knew or even that I’d consciously decided to say any of this. “She’ll try to walk across a frozen lake that she thinks is just a field covered in snow. She’ll fall through the ice. They won’t find her until the thaw.”

    Aunt Polly stared at me, numb with disbelief.

    “Gin,” I said and laid all my cards down.

    *****

    In my dreams that night I wandered through a long gallery that I knew I’d been in once before. Yes… on a trip to Goldenrod City I’d gone to see the magnet train with my mom and dad. This place had to be the station. It had the same cement walls, the same benches at regular intervals, the same lit boards with advertisements, and the same occasional spray-painted lettering that my mom told me was the work of vandals. But… it felt so empty. When I’d been there before it had been bustling with people who all seemed to be in a hurry. It was darker too, only the glow of the advertisements and a hanging light from the ceiling that swayed this way and that.

    I stared across the track and saw them, there, on the other side. My heart practically stopped.

    My mother and father were there—dressed as they were last time I had seen them. No, not in their funeral bests, not the last time I’d seen their bodies, but the last time I’d seen them. They’d seen me, and they were gesturing to me. I could see their mouths moving, but even in the empty, echoing passageway I couldn’t hear anything beyond a fuzzy sort of white noise.

    I jumped over the edge of the platform and ran across the tracks to reach them, but a roar froze me halfway across, cutting over the static that had been all I could hear. Down the tunnel, out of the blackness, a small light shown… and it was growing. The rattling of something large approaching shook the ground below me… but I couldn’t move! It was like I was frozen to the ground.

    I looked up desperately for help from my parents, but by the time my gaze reached the platform they’d been standing on, they were already gone.

    A whistle screamed through my consciousness. Down the tunnel the blackness was being swallowed up by that horrible white light and the thundering mechanism hurtled toward me.

  2. #2
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    Chapter 2. Spiraling Downward.

    It wasn’t until after Christmas when I returned to school that I realized I could communicate with the spirit without the use of the Ouija Board. It didn’t always speak to me in words… sometimes it was just a sort of… feeling. Most often it came as concept… as though I was remembering what it had said, but didn’t remember it actually speaking. But we communicated often… very often.

    I had to stay apart from others in order to concentrate my full attention on it. After all, people tend to look at you oddly when you start talking to no one. People already looked at me oddly. My friends were nice enough—invited me to join their play whenever they could. But I could feel their discomfort when they asked, as though death in the family was somehow contagious; and I could feel their relief when I declined. The spirit helped me see this.

    I couldn’t say that I’d actually seen the spirit at this point, but I felt it. It was like a weight on the world. Sometimes I felt it around me; sometimes I felt it within me, riding around and watching passively through my eyes.

    During recess I’d try to find individual activities to occupy myself with—a sort of cover to speak with the weight on the world that stayed with me. While those children fortunate enough to be wearing snowpants climbed the piles of snow left by the snowplow, I scribbled with chalk on the blacktop, covering my gloves in pastel dust as I held a muttered conversation with the invisible presence.

    Even muttering was rapidly growing unnecessary. Often the spirit could understand me without the need for words, which was a blessing since it was growing harder and harder to articulate the many things I wanted to say.

    I leaned down on the blacktop, scraping the chalk against the ground without paying much mind to it as I muttered to myself. I pulled my scarf tighter around my neck.

    “It’s so cold,” I said. “It’s always so cold.” It didn’t seem to matter if I was inside or out—it was always too cold. I suppose I should’ve been thankful that I was outside—at least there no one made a fuss about wearing winter clothes.

    You needn’t feel the cold if you don’t want to, it said. Its speech was insubstantial and temporary, like words rubbed into the condensation on glass.

    I furrowed my brows. “What do you mean?” I asked. I always seemed to be asking it that.

    Just that, it said simply.

    I rarely ever got a clear answer to my questions, but I’d come to accept that. The spirit was the only one I had to confide in, and its strange knowledge soothed me. Even if I didn’t know all the answers, it certainly did and that counted for something.

    We talked about everything—about life, about death, about what lay beyond. Though I didn’t understand most of it back then. We talked about Aunt Polly. I could never be sure, but I think it felt that it was somehow in competition with her—perhaps that would explain why it loathed her; it certainly spoke of her using words I’d been told not to use. Perhaps it was that sense of competition for favor—its need to be my center—that dulled my urgency to talk a great deal about my original reason for seeking it out—about my parents. Oh, we talked about them. I shared memories and fears and desires, but when it came to the spirit telling me about them… it always told me it would show me. It always told me that—patiently. But I only ever saw them in dreams and only briefly. I came to accept that the spirit would not be rushed and that I must wait.

    “Morty? What’cha drawing?”

    I looked up from my barely conscious doodling to see Keiko, a girl in my class, standing over me, tilting her pig-tailed head to the side to look at the chalky ground.

    “Nothing,” I said.

    “It looks like a face,” Keiko said, squinting at the drawing. “A mean face,” she added emphatically.

    I looked at what I’d been drawing for the first time. Yes… I hadn’t really noticed because I wasn’t paying attention to it and because I’d been drawing it upside down but… it was a face… a face I’d seen in a dream I hoped wouldn’t recur.

    “It’s not,” I denied.

    “Is it… is it biting someone?” she asked, disgust creeping into her tones.

    “No,” I said, standing up and trying to wipe out the drawing by scraping my shoes across it. All it did was streak the phantom face with pink chalk and make it look more otherworldly… more horrifying.

    Keiko stared for another moment at the monstrous face creeping out from the netherworld of asphalt, her nose wrinkled in revulsion before she let it go. “Anyway,” she said, tearing her eyes away from the creature and up to me, “you know what I heard? I heard there’s buried treasure up by the trees at the end of the schoolyard!”

    I stared at the thicket of trees that made up the boundary between the play yard and the nearby residential area. It was black with dead looking trees and white with snow-choked silence. I didn’t see why anyone would bury treasure there, but the spirit seemed interested… though I think not in the supposed treasure.

    “You believe me, right?” Keiko asked hopefully. Her features became sulky. “No one else believes me! But that doesn’t matter because you and me can find it and we can split the treasure and then no one else’ll get anything!” she declared.

    Thoughts began to rise in my mind, troubling in their lack of source. It struck me that the cluster of trees was dark and crowded—obscured from the watchful teachers that roamed the playground. It also struck me that with all the myriad screeches and yelps of children at play, a scream would likely be drowned out or dismissed. I don’t know why I thought those things, and it worried me.

    “C’mon, Morty!” she said, looking from me to the foreboding line of trees. “Aren’t you coming?”

    “I…” I felt myself pulled to and I knew the presence wanted me to go, but I was afraid. “No,” I said quickly before I could say anything to the contrary. “I can’t.”

    She gave me a betrayed look. “Awww,” she said pouting. “Fine then!” she decided crossly. “More treasure for me!” And then she ran off.

    It wasn’t until she was gone that I felt safe. I turned back to the blacktop, dropping my chalk numbly to the ground as I took in the face, the merciless eyes, the mouth that went on forever, the claws, the teeth… what was it ripping into? What was this thing?

    *****

    I could see Aunt Polly’s gaze turn to me, her crow-footed black eyes reflecting toward me in the rear-view mirror of the car. She’d been wary of me lately—watching me ever since that card game weeks and weeks ago… watching me closer since Aunt Clara disappeared.

    “How was your day at school, Morty?” she asked in a would-be casual voice.

    Normally I would’ve told her “fine” no matter what had happened. I wouldn’t have dared mention the face or the girl or the spirit’s murky intentions toward her. Surely she could see the unease swirling about in my eyes; surely that’s why she asked in that come-down-from-that-ledge-dear tone.

    And I would’ve just swiped her off with a nothing of an answer if it weren’t for the strange feeling that began to fill me. It was a sort of perverse levity and it banished my anxieties with a relieved sigh. I felt like I was a balloon rising up, tethered only by a thin, weak string. I felt light and distasteful. It had happened to me a few times. I mistook it for confidence then. It certainly felt like confidence—like stronger confidence than I’d ever felt before.

    “Tolerable, I suppose,” I mused, a lazily malignant tone that wasn’t mine oiling every word, “but only just.”

    “Tolerable?” Aunt Polly repeated, troubled by my change in tone. Her eyes flicked back to the road in front of her. “Did you play with any friends?”

    I lounged in the backseat and reached out a hand to scratch at my chin—for show, I realized, as soon as the action was done. I could hardly feel my body. “I wanted to make a friend,” I said thoughtfully, a dash of spite sprinkled into my voice, “but I was… interrupted. It won’t happen again.”

    That was when the worry brought me back. I left off the serum of alienated poise and fought to return. I slid myself along the tether and fought the buoyancy that propelled me away from control. I willed myself to sink back into myself. It was not as easy as it had been before.

    “What was that?” Aunt Polly asked, forehead wrinkled in confusion.

    I clutched my head from both sides as I felt my mind slipping back into place. I held on as though that would help me keep it there. “N… nothing,” I managed to get out. “It was nothing.”

    *****

    I had many dreams during that time… and many that spiraled into nightmares. As I look back, one in particular stands out to me. I suppose you could say, with a cringing sort of irony, that it began with something as simple as a haircut.

    I heard the metallic scrape of a blade first. I opened my eyes and tilted them back. My hair fanned out behind me as though I was being suspended upside-down, but I felt no blood rush to indicate that that was the case. I couldn’t see the blade at first, and I never saw what was holding it.

    It moved in a careful formation at the ends of my hair and sliced—not taking off whole locks like one cutting hair might, but slicing finely, as though to take off one particle at a time. As the blade worked its gradual way toward my scalp, the cuttings began to collect below me—so fine that they were nothing more than blonde dust.

    When the blade had sheared off all my hair I shivered and realized I was naked.

    The blade moved away from my scalp and down to my feet. It ran across the tips of my toes and dug in to only the barest degree before it began the slice. I couldn’t move—couldn’t scream as the blade sliced thinly, patiently across skin and blood and eventually bone. The blade did this on both sides before it ran up my legs, slicing away as though to even me out—as though whittling in flesh instead of wood. It traveled up between my legs, carving in the same methodical centimeter by centimeter way in which it dealt with any resistance it met.

    With all my might I tried to move, but I was paralyzed from the neck down. Having no way to protect my body from the knife, I could only try to protect my mind. I wrenched my gaze away from the bloody display and upwards to the ceiling, but all I saw was my own body reflected back at me.

    The knife edge dragged painfully across my body, evening out imperfections and excising marks of identity. It ran across my lips, my ears, my nose… it left my eyes for last.

    I don’t know how I could see—I had nothing to see with—I was nothing. But I suppose no one can stay in their body while that’s being done to it. The psyche can only escape or perish. But I saw the body that used to be mine as the blood was wiped away and it became white, featureless and lifeless. I saw it moved into a pile of other bodies, with that same sculpted, uniform look. I couldn’t tell which body, in that pile of mannequins, had been mine.

    *****

    After that dream, I decided not to sleep anymore, but that turned out to be an impossible notion. My energy felt depleted, leeched away and I seemed to be always on the edge of sleep, whether it was night or day. I wasn’t to have caffeine, but I tried to take it anyway. It didn’t help. Nothing helped.

    I never remembered falling asleep, but I always seemed to be waking up in a panic. It’s frightening, to find yourself suddenly conscious, and find you’ve been screaming in the middle of your classroom—eyes wide open but unseeing the entire time. What happens before that is more frightening.

    I heard Aunt Polly whispering away to other adults about the “strain” that I was under and about getting me “help.” I knew I needed help, but I needed it from a higher and stronger power than Aunt Polly could ever acquire. I knew that “help” would involve questions… half of which I didn’t want to answer, the other half I couldn’t.

    *****

    I lay in my bed. That was all I could manage to do most of the time. I was exhausted without any sort of activity to cause such exhaustion. The only time I felt active, felt like I could do anything was when the spirit was in me. Then I was seized with an unstoppable sick energy—I’d feel simultaneously like I could run a marathon and like I could faint at the slightest breeze. I’d feel alive and perilously unstable.

    All I could do at that moment was feel the pounding in my head and the breath slowly entering and leaving my lungs. I was anemic with terror.

    The spirit was there—somewhere above me. I was still at the point where I could more sense it than see it, but my eyes were beginning to register faint traces of… something—specks of blackness that migrated across my eyes around its approximate location. I could tell it was looking at me even though I saw no face.

    It was… considering me. Would it take me over, charge me with its insane, inhuman energy and lead me off on its own agenda? Or would it just float there and watch me squirm—feed off of me?

    “Morty,” it said, but it used my lips, exercising control over me even from the outside, “would you like to know a little something about your family… about your parents’ death?”

    I knew what the right answer was. I knew that, despite the reason I’d gone into this, despite my curiosity, despite my soul-burning need to know, I had to deny it. I had to let go. I had to put forth some resistance even if it was already too late to stop what was going to happen.

    I cracked open my lips, my voice wispy and frail now that it had ceded control of my vocal chords.

    “…Yes,” I said.

    *****

    There came a thunderous hammering from outside my bedroom door. “Morty!” Aunt Polly’s voice called, a bit of heightened anger mixed into her panicked tone. “Your teacher called about your essay—what is going on with you? How could you write something so—”

    My bedroom door slid open, cutting her off in mid-sentence with her fist still tilting forward to knock. I was sitting on my bed, staring at her. She looked at me, unease quenching her anger. She looked at the door, beyond my reach to open.

    I, or something that seemed like me, stared at her with dead, appraising eyes. “Are you ashamed of yourself, you traitorous bitch?” my mouth said.

    Fury fired up in her cheeks. “I don’t know where you learned such appalling language,” she tried when she finally found her voice, “but it is in no way acceptable! Not to me and certainly not on your homework! I hope you realize that you’re in deep trouble!”

    “Fine,” I said evenly. “Then: are you ashamed of yourself… you traitorous cunt?”

    She looked like she’d been smacked. She stared at me, an eight-year-old boy spouting profanity, eyes swirling vacantly… detached.

    I stood up before she could find the will to talk back. “You wished she was dead, didn’t you?” I accused numbly. “You didn’t have the courage to kill her yourself—to cut her breaks, to poison her, to stab her in the chest—but you wished she was dead. You committed murder in your mind every day, and the menace swirled around her like a beast… nearly choking her, though she didn’t know it.”

    Aunt Polly slapped a hand over her mouth, fearful as I took a step closer. “And your heart sang a happy little song when you heard she was dead,” I said, nearly whispering. “Your own sister. Your own sister!” I eyed her disdainfully. “You didn’t know that he’d died in the crash too, and when you found out your heart sank. You were the oldest, but he’d never paid any attention to you… no, always your little sister… always my mother.”

    I glared at her, a fury that was mine paired with one that was far beyond my human understanding. “So I’ll ask you again, you traitorous cunt,” I said. “Are you ashamed of yourself?

    She had backed up, nearly all the way out the door. Her face was white and there was a tear running down her face, sliding down the ringless fingers that were clamped over her mouth. When she finally uncovered her mouth, finally managed to speak, it was practically in a whimper… an utterly mystified whimper.

    “Morty…” she said weakly, “what on earth has gotten into you?”

    My mouth pulled upward into a grimace, my pain and my betrayal leaking out of the picture as the control became tighter. That confidence, that perverse levity, was beyond me. When I spoke my voice was layered and strange.

    “You have no idea,” I answered.

  3. #3
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    Chapter 3. The Singular Plural.

    It becomes difficult to continue from this point. There’s much that I don’t remember and what I do remember my mind attempts to deny. I cannot be certain about what was done and in what way it was done… nor who did it. What shall I say from now on? Will I say that it or he did those things? Lay all the blame on the alien and unthinkable entity that owned me? Will I distance myself from the incident—try to develop an objective viewpoint? Say that “Morty” did this and “Morty” did that… whoever or whatever “Morty” was at that point in time. Or should I take responsibility for what I had let into my life? The things that I allowed myself to do? Should I say unequivocally that I was the one who did the things I’m about to confess?

    I could ask for the truth. I could ask once and for all who was responsible for it all. I doubt I would receive an answer. I’d only reveal my own uncertainties, and that would give him great pleasure.

    It was all a jumbled mess then. Usually it was him, as I must call him now if only to recognize him as an entity greater than an it. Sometimes I acted. I think I must say we acted because so often I can’t be sure who did what… or when we acted together. The one that loses control of their pronouns loses control of their identity.

    There were doctors. Briefly.

    The doctors would only perform the most basic of tests on us. The loss of my parents, they said, and all the grief and stress that came from that loss, had cracked my little mind. That was a much more likely excuse for my derangement than any physical sickness. They believed that—but it was more than that. They also didn’t want me. They didn’t want us. They didn’t want our profanity or our leers or our whisperings of their secrets. They didn’t want our unthinkable strength to turn the needles back on them… not a second time.

    They sent me to a therapist and to a psychiatrist. I went through eight therapists before Aunt Polly gave up on them. In my time long since then I’ve tracked down seven of these men and women, but they won’t talk to me. I couldn’t find the eighth.

    I don’t remember much about what happened during those sessions. But I do not think the therapists were in charge. He was in charge.

    The psychiatrist was another story entirely. He stayed. I think he tried every drug he knew the name of on me. Occasionally I worry, now, about the long-term effects such strong chemicals might have had on my body. But then again, it’s almost a relief to get to worry about my body for a moment and not my soul.

    After awhile, we stopped taking the pills. They always made us sleepy or shaky or dull in the head. We didn’t like them, so we hid them. We crushed them. Aunt Polly caught us with the powder before we’d worked it into her food. This is not the moment in my life that strikes my heart with the most guilt, but it’s close.

    Aunt Polly took us back to the psychiatrist and told him we wouldn’t take the pills, or rather, she told him that I wouldn’t take the pills, because she wasn’t aware that we were two. The psychiatrist told her that I had to take the pills—that she had to make me or I’d never improved. That she must throw them down my throat if she had to.

    Aunt Polly knew better than to put her hands anywhere near our teeth.

    She stole a page out of our book and tried to slip it into our food. It seemed like a safe bet—after all, we were ravenous then. We ate everything that was provided us. Good meat, bad meat, fat, connective tissue, and even soft bone. But we wouldn’t be fooled by her. We threw the plate down on the floor until it shattered, spraying the dosed meat everywhere. We walked across the floor to our room, over the shards, without wincing. We left bloody footprints across the floor.

    Aunt Polly is the one in all of this that I feel the most sorry for now—she who hadn’t wanted me in the first place. She who acted out of obligation and not love. I can feel sorry for her now, with the distance I’ve acquired, but back then… he and I… we delighted in our hatred of her.

    I didn’t know then that Aunt Polly’s sense of duty was the only thing keeping me from being put away. I didn’t know then that her sense of duty only had a limited shelf life and that if much more time had gone by I would’ve been locked up and that she’d have soothed herself with the fiction that I was among “people who could care for me.” I think he knew, though, and being institutionalized wasn’t what he had in mind.

    She was uncomfortable with us being in the house, but she dreaded leaving us alone and coming back to whatever we’d done. She would’ve sent us to school to be rid of us if there was absolutely any way that could’ve been justified or tolerated. As it was, she shared a house with a monster. She’d taken to locking us in our room, but it wasn’t any use. We could get out. We could get out and creep around any time we wanted. Aunt Polly learned not to sleep.

    “Morty,” she said one day, her voice wavering to the point of exhaustion, “this has to stop. You have to take your pills. I know you don’t want to be like this and I know you’re depressed about your mom and dad, but you have to do something. You have to take your pills.”

    We were all gathered together in my room—me, Aunt Polly, and him. She was slumped over, holding a bottle of jangling capsules like a meager offering. She’d found the Pidgey nest and the half formed creatures drenched in yolk—pink, prenatal, and near death. She’d found it on the doormat. She’d known, must’ve known, that it didn’t blow there by chance, that the ruinment of the nest hadn’t occurred by some accident. She’d heard them cheep weakly, raw, naked skin only slightly speckled by new bristles where down would’ve formed. She saw them claw pointlessly among the shell fragments with their useless wings. She saw them stop moving, lying still in the yellowing discharge and twigs of the nest under which the words ‘Welcome Home’ could just barely be read.

    “This can’t go on any longer,” she said heavily.

    We stirred from our languor on the edge of the bed and looked up at her. We smiled. “It will go on forever.”

    “No,” Aunt Polly said firmly, holding up the bottle of pills which rattled as she raised them. “You have to take your pills,” she said for a third time. “They’re good for you.”

    We frowned. Her distress at the site of the dying nest had been entertaining, but this idea that she had that she was in charge was growing tiresome to us, and we had no intention of taking our pills. “Don’t you have something better to do with that fucking mouth of yours than talk?” we asked, our voice growing guttural and unearthly. “Why don’t you go suck off my dad’s corpse? That’s what you want to do anyway, isn’t it?”

    The slap came so quickly that I’m sure she didn’t even consciously choose to hit us. Our head had tilted to the side from the impact and by the time we turned around we could see that she was horrified by what she’d done. The slap had barely registered any pain. We were mostly numb at that time anyway and a little slap wasn’t nearly the worst of our injuries. We were so covered in our own scratches and bites that the hit hardly made any difference to us.

    We answer her self-revulsion with a grin, extended a hand that didn’t touch her, and pushed at the wind—pushed with the mind.

    Aunt Polly flew back, the air super-heated and slightly luminous as she was thrown with invisible hands through the open bedroom door and down the hall. There was a sickening crash as she hit the timbers that made up the doorway at the other end.

    We took a few steps forward and beheld her. I will always remember how she looked then. She’d fallen awkwardly, her body twisted on top of her arm which had bent the wrong way under her weight. Her head was bleeding where she’d hit the wall and her hair was undone and smattered with blood and splinters. She looked at me. Her face was white, though not, I think, from pain. A horrified idea was occurring from behind her eyes.

    “That’s right. Go do it,” he ordered. I’m sure it was he that said it. I cannot with certainty deny that I was a part of the near poisoning, or what happened to those baby birds, or even throwing Aunt Polly so hard against the wall that her arm broke—though I couldn’t have done that on my own power. I know, however, that he was the one that said this, because I did not understand it. “Just try. And when it fails you’ll find out just how insignificant you and this boy are to your gods.” He arched my eyebrow at her, mockingly. “Try—and when it’s over there will be no questioning my ownership of this body.”

    She stared at our diminutive form as though we were an entity too big to be understood. She slowly unfolded herself from the twisted position of her fall. She lifted herself with a great effort using the arm that wasn’t broken as a lever. Sweat ran down her forehead, thinning the blood that was already there. She got up without once taking her eyes off of us.

    When we didn't make a move for her, she hobbled down the stairs and out of that house.

    *****

    We waited. I didn’t know what for, but he did. He always seemed to.

    Before too long we heard footsteps. They were not the meek, inconspicuous footsteps of Aunt Polly, but the noisy flap of multiple sets of sandals. We didn’t move as they approached the door—three grey-robed figures with shaven heads. Two were young and one was old—the old one wore a red sash across his chest. I’d seen them before—most often at the Bellchime Trail and around the Bell Tower, but sometimes out in the city—preaching or praying or begging.

    “Finally,” we said, mouth warping into a smile, “something worth playing with.”

    “Ignore it,” the oldest sage ordered his two neophytes. “Bind its hands.”

    “But master,” the first monk objected, peering at us with concern, “he’s just a little boy…”

    “Not anymore,” the old sage said, fiddling with the prayer beads he carried. “Now bind him.”

    “But the woman didn’t say that it was a—” the second monk interjected, with a similar look of concern only slightly tinged by unease as it watched us.

    “If you make me repeat an order again, I’ll ask the both of you to leave,” the old sage bristled. He gave us a look without pity.

    The first monk hesitated only a moment more, then approached us. We held out our hands passively and allowed him to tie them together. “Does your mother know you tie up little boys for a living, Nico?” we whispered to him as he worked. “Not surprising for a holy man.”

    “Brother Nico, the scroll,” the old sage spoke over us. “Brother Kenji, the sacred wine.”

    Brother Nico took out a piece of parchment with delicately constructed calligraphy all over it. He placed it gingerly on our forehead, not wanting to touch our spoiled skin any more than he had to. We winced in pain as the scroll was attached.

    Brother Kenji took a small, foul-smelling bamboo pail that he’d carried with him and tipped the contents over our head. It ate away at our skin like acid. Flames spouted from our flesh and we screamed.

    “Master, he’s—” Brother Kenji cried out, appalled by what he’d done, as he reached over to my bed for a blanket with which to smother the flames.

    “Pay it no mind,” the master commanded. He folded his hands together and began muttering a prayer. We could see his godly beseeching through the inferno that made up our body.

    When he reached the end of his prayer he continued with a ceaseless repetition of, “demon begone. Demon begone. Demon begone.”

    We were burning, but the flame did not consume our body. There was pain, but there was power. We modulated the flames to rise to their highest point and then effortlessly let them extinguish. The flames ate away at the bonds that tied us, but not at us.

    Free of the heat and the ties, we raised a hand triumphantly and locked eyes with the sage that had drenched us in that most putrid and sacred wine and let out a laugh. The young monk froze, paralyzed in our black gaze. He looked downward and drew in a terrified breath.

    Before him on the floor there was what at first seemed to be a mass of spiders crawling toward him. They weren’t simply that. In fact, where one spider seemed to end, another attached. What looked to be a cluster of spiders was one organism, shambling on many legs toward the monk’s sandaled feet. It was the singular plural, and it flowed in like the tide, sloshing and scampering up his body with mottled, hairy feet. It did not simply crawl up him, it encased him in itself from the ground up. The monk whimpered and squirmed futilely as the thing rose to chest level, fangs clicking as it moved.

    “What’s wrong with Brother Kenji?” the other neophyte asked, bewildered.

    It could’ve been said, that nothing that Brother Kenji beheld was actually real. It was real enough to him.

    The old sage ignored all of this. “Demon begone. Demon begone. Demon begone,” he droned on.

    Brother Kenji devolved into a series of incomprehensible shrieks as the thing made its way toward his face. We laughed and flicked our wrist at him, freeing him of the delusion and of his paralysis. We wanted to see if he’d do as we predicted. He did. He ran screaming out of the room in terror.

    “Brother Kenji, where are you—” Brother Nico called pointlessly after him. He turned helplessly to his master, who had stopped his chant and was looking disapprovingly at us. “Master, what are we to do?”

    “Bind him once more,” the elder said. “We must try again.”

    Brother Nico approached us wearily, unsure of what had happened to his friend. He felt about his robes until he found a piece of string and then reached out toward us. His body was as far away as it could be while still allowing him to reach us. His hand was out in a manner so that it could be withdrawn at a moment’s notice.

    But he wasn’t quick enough. We bit down on the back of his hand. We did not bite just to break the skin; we did not swiftly release him when he cried out in pain. We held on. We forced our jaws to push harder than any child could. We did not stop pushing forward until we heard a crack.

    “Release him, you monster!” the old monk thundered. “Brother Nico, stay with me!”

    Brother Nico collapsed to the floor. His face drained of all color. He looked down at his limp, bleeding hand and spotted a gleam of white. He fainted.

    Our mouth was filled with the dirty coin taste of blood and the greasy finish of flesh. We showed our reddened teeth to the elder, satisfied that the man was shaken.

    “So, now the old man is alone,” we observed.

    He quickly pulled himself together. “Beast,” he addressed us, “you can’t take advantage of me as you did my disciples. I will not be conned by your cheap illusions. I will drive you out of that boy.”

    We let out an unimpressed titter. “You call them cheap illusions, you sodomizing fuck? Fine.” Our expression turned to one of fury as our eyes became devoid of all light. “Have the real thing. Have hell, old man!

    My body didn’t empty, but the presence grew bigger—it leaked out beyond me and into the supercharged air. The old man put his hand over his mouth and nose, as though breathing had become painful for him. Wind whipped up all around, pushing the monk to his knees. His chin began to bleed from a wound that hadn’t been there before. The slit of blood ripped downward like a seam, slicing along his neck.

    The old man pulled up his robe and tried in vain to stop the flow of blood, but it just seeped through the cloth. His eyes rolled back into his head and he slept.

    I don’t know exactly what did it in that moment: the sight of my would-be exorcist’s blood staining his own robes, the taste of the human flesh still in torn scraps between my teeth, or perhaps it was… him. I finally saw him.

    He was still within me, but for the moment he was without me as well, spilling from my mortal form to enact immortal powers. He was like a galaxy—a smoky aura of stardust and flame all circling around the event horizon of a massive and unforgiving black hole. There were eyes there—cruel expanses of white with black pinpricks that looked and darted and shone with the glee of torture. There were teeth, long and ivory and notched on all sides from frequent use.

    He still had me. He hadn’t left me. But he had stepped out of me, just a bit. And in that tiny moment I recoiled from him, from what I had done with him inside me. His slight remove from me and my slight remove from him presented just enough space—just one moment of defiance.

    But even that small amount of freedom was too much to put real hope in. There was nothing I knew I could do against him. He’d easily broken down those experts, and I could fare no better than them. I knew what would happen. I would flail pointlessly against him and he would lose his interest with the tormented monk. The moment would pass and I’d be under his subjugation again. To do what horrors, I didn’t know.

    I looked at the picture of my parents, sitting on the shelf. I wanted to cry for them one last time, but I was afraid he would notice and push my consciousness back down. But I could barely contain my emotions as I saw the objects sitting on the shelf next to the picture. Yes… there were… those…

    I picked up one of the objects and hoped that he was too busy lapping up the agony of the monk’s bleeding out to notice. I’d never thrown one before, and I knew I must not miss, however hopeless the endeavor.

    I threw the ball at the spirit. He shed his malevolent reveling for just a moment as the ball hit him—his expression undecipherable as he disappeared into the orb. I barely dared to breath as the ball rocked back and forth, back and forth.

    It paused for an undecided second, and then the red glow on the Poke Ball diminished. It sat there, still and passive, on the floor in front of the bleeding monk and my lonely form.

  4. #4
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    I loved the description and story line because it's dark and the imagery is so gruesome and powerful. I also think it's quite mysterious and unpredictable which I think makes it really exciting and fun to read.


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    Thanks so much! I was a bit worried, because I don't generally write things like this so it's a bit out of my comfort zone and I wasn't sure if it would work. I've only had brief brushes with horror in my other writing, so this is kinda new territory for me.

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    X3 I really enjoyed this! I like your writing style, it's pleasant to read, and the character's voice really emerges within it. Your description is good, as are your character interactions- I quite like the awkwardness between Morty and his Aunt, I thought that was nicely realistic.

    A few little things about the first chapter:

    The plot seems to be shaping up really well! Certainly the introduction drew me in, the way in which you described the funeral was unique, and I enjoyed that. One thing about the character's voice does arise, though – he's an eight-year-old, and yet his 'voice' reflects that of someone at least twice his age. I wasn't certain if you were trying to write this as an older Morty reminiscing on elements of his past? It seemed so at certain moments, when you had the narratorial voice step back from the scene and remark on parts of the situation, but I feel you're not quite using the right tense to signify such a distance in time. You'd need to use the phrases such as 'she'd crouch down to look me in the eye, her hand fidgeting as though she wondered whether a hug...” - just to give it a more reminiscent feel. It's an annoying tense to write in, I personally think, but if that's you want to retain your character's older voice you need to make the distinction, otherwise it seems a little odd. Another possibility is that you were just writing Morty as intelligent? In that case I still think it sounds a little too advanced for an eight-year-old, unless he's some kind of genius...? All of this said, I nevertheless really like the voice you're using, even if I think it's a little out of place. It's got a nice tone to it. X3 And a taint of childhood curiosity and naivety does come across in and following the first Ouija board conversations. Very enjoyable. <3

    On the introduction itself, I wasn't overly fond of the last repetition of 'close' in the 'finally the slow close...' - I get the feeling you were trying to go for a cyclical effect here, tying it back to the beginning of the paragraph, and it may just be me but I felt it was a little repetitive considering the themes of 'shutting' you've already interwoven.

    And I got caught up in it and am now reading the entire thing x33 Really enjoying it~ The spirit's gradually tighter hold on him is very well construed, I quite like the oblique way you've gone about it :3

    “The one that loses control of their pronouns loses control of their identity.” - now that is an awesome quote x3

    And it is a crime this hasn't seen more readers! I'm really hooked, his descent is fascinating, and you wrote it very well. :3 Slipping back into the narrator, which brings up the 'voice' thing again, but tell the truth I'm enjoying it too much to mind. <3 It's really a shame how many good 'fics get buried, people just don't have time to read... This is a real gem though. :3 Please continue it. <3

    The pidgey nest... <3 Very twisted, it fits perfectly. X3

    And what a way to end it <3

    Lovely m'dear! I really enjoyed it, you slipped right into your stride the more you wrote. X3 I was only going to read the first chapter, but I felt almost physically compelled to continue, your writing is really engaging, and the topic very exciting. X3 The little things I found in the first chapter were the only things I actually noticed, I was too drawn in otherwise. Morty's relationship with the Gengar is perfectly written, a lovely struggle, and I look forward to reading more of it~!

    (this was for the Review Game, but I read way more than I intended to, and glad I had the chance. x3)


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    Thank you so much for the lovely review! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

    Yeah, my intent is for the narrator to be older Morty looking back on this encounter, which is why it's so elevated and un-eight-year-old like. I could definitely see the confusion there. I prefer the tenses as they are, since it is all past with the occasional present day commentary, and it's being told pretty linearly... but I definitely think I should've made it more clear that this was looking back from an older perspective and I should've done that earlier on, especially since older!Morty's connection to this is a little... odd. It's meant to be a little disembodied since he's looking back on a network of traumas that he finds hard to reconcile with who he is or who he thinks he should be. I think that gets clearer later on (and will continue to, since time jumps are approaching) but I definitely wish I'd snuck a bit in about that earlier.

    That first paragraph got a lot of massaging as I wrote because of that very problem, and I agree... the fact that I ran out of synonyms became pretty evident. I was going for a repeating thing but... that's the problem with repeating things... they're repetitive :P Unfortunately I think that one works out better visually than it does on paper.

    XD It was *so* hard to keep things consistent when the pronouns got all screwy, but it was the only way to get the kind of effect that I wanted.

    I'm glad the things like the Pidgey nest had a good effect. I'm not used to writing horror, so it's difficult for me to decide what's "too much" and what's "too little."

    The next chapter of this is next on my fanfiction update priority list well, maybe a drabble/oneshot for my Trinity Universe pairing collection first, but that's not going to be too major so I hope to have chapter four up without too much of a delay. I'm also going to try to give some thoughts to tweaks for chapter one related to the things you pointed out. Once agian, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about it

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    @ Chapter 1

    It began with… a close.
    Hah! First line I read. After I read that, I thought, "This is going to be fun"...sets the mood for the first chapter I think

    “Then are they coming back?” I asked, resilient to their efforts to set me at peace.
    It's interesting to see death from a child's point of view. I may have missed how old Morty is through all of this, but at least ten I would imagine. The subtle details he focuses on like the color of the caskets, his parents made up bodies, etc. Focusing on the points of the funeral rather than what it actually stands for. The view from a child is much more specific than I would have thought, and as I've been reading I take myself back to see how I would react in that situation. When I find myself trailing off from the story to try and put myself in Morty's eyes it's hard for me to relate to him. I don't mean that in the sense that you've done a poor job describing him, I just mean that I haven't been exposed to death like he has, especially one as signifigant as his parent's. It's a great talent you have, making me want to read and stop to try and picture each experience.

    EDIT: Saw in chapter two that he is eight

    Nicely done.

    WHO… ARE… YOU?
    Should there be spaces between the '...'?

    There was a crash and my gaze snapped back to the rocks. They’d shattered, sending shards of sparkling rocks flying. Out of the stone I could see the silhouettes of three creatures—black and featureless. They ran at me with such incredible speed… their black forms blocked out my vision, blocked out the white sky, and blocked out the rainbow.
    Really good visual there. I always love dream sequences in Fic's, especially dark themed one's. I can't think of any other Pokemon that exudes Rainbows besides Ho-Oh, which is appropriate given who he is and where they are. The three black shapes are pretty important I think, as you drew alot of attention to them. I'm not sure what they could be, but I hope you'll expand on them as you go on.

    I tried to think of exactly how I should reopen the conversation.
    I liked that portion as well. It's so realistic coming from someone his age. Hell, it would be a realistic thought coming from me and I'm twenty-four. The thought of conversing with spirits is so far outside my comprehension that I wouldn't even know where to begin.

    childlike greed to reclaim the experience shining in my eyes.
    That line sounds odd to me for some reason

    She’ll be driving down on the 23rd.”
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it was my understanding that numbers under one hundred should always be spelled out

    “Gin,” I said and laid all my cards down.
    Goes to show his youth once again. I doubt that he doesnt care if Clara died, but it somewhat shows me he is getting somewhat detatched. Or maybe that the spirit is starting to make his mind wander away from what is the 'norm'...I hope that makes sense haha

    @ Chapter 2

    It wasn’t until after Christmas when I returned to school that I realized I could communicate with the spirit without the use of the Ouija Board.
    I knew it!

    I saw it moved into a pile of other bodies, with that same sculpted, uniform look. I couldn’t tell which body, in that pile of mannequins, had been mine.
    That was the most shocking version of that sequence to me. I know that this should be pretty obvious at this point, but the spirit is in control of these dreams, right? I'm worried about him. Obviously he is intelligent, but a dream like that can affect someone's psyche in pretty extreme ways. I'm sure you know that, but when you write out these almost horror movie capable scenes, keep in mind that our unconcious mind's have a way to leak over into our concious one. At the same time though, Morty is who he is, and maybe he can handle this sort of psycological strain. I'm not sure where I stand on this, as I can see it as a blend of doing him harm, or him learning to look past these dreams at a greater meaning and really learn something. I hope that makes sense too. Lol that's the funny thing about your fic, I'm so involved and attatched to the story, that when I try to explain it I start to falter and stumble over my own words lol

    “Are you ashamed of yourself, you traitorous bit ch?”
    Now this is getting exciting. One quick thing though. You may want to try and find a better way to avoid the swear filter. Profanity has the awesome ability to snap us into attention and let us know something important is going on, but when you type the word that way with a break in the middle, it makes me stumble and lose my place. I noticed it a couple more times in this chapter and for some reason it broke my rhythm. You might try italicising one letter of the word as a way to get around that.

    “You have no idea,” I answered.
    I can imagine him smiling pretty wickedly when he said that.

    All in all, another great chapter. Things are getting exciting, and I'm enjoying the relationship between Morty and his Aunt. On one hand, I don't like her because of her complaining to people about Morty and making herself out to be this burdened woman, but at the same time I kinda feel for her for this responsibility she has shouldered. She didn't have to do, but she did. Should be fun.

    @ Chapter 3

    It was all a jumbled mess then. Usually it was him, as I must call him now if only to recognize him as an entity greater than an it. Sometimes I acted. I think I must say we acted because so often I can’t be sure who did what… or when we acted together. The one that loses control of their pronouns loses control of their identity.
    I was wondering when this was going to happen. I'm finding it hard to tell as well who's in charge at some points. Though I see the spirit as being selfish and somewhat wicked, I can also see Morty as having some of those same traits. You're out right saying/showing that the spirit is in charge sometimes, but I can't help but wondering if the spirit really isn't that bad at all, rather he's just tapping into some of the feelings and thoughts that Morty is already having and amplifying them.

    The ruining of the Pidgey nest was another nice touch, and makes me wonder how you're going to portray other Pokemon if they end up getting introduced. The reason I say that is because of the standard of care Pokemon are treated with in most Fics. A sight like the Pidgey's in most fics would inspire alot of horror and sadness, but in your story, Morty's Aunt reacts almost with annoyance. No doubt she thinks it's a disturbing act, but she treats them like they were animals. Which isn't a bad thing at all, but it does set a certain expectation. We haven't seen very many Pokemon introduced, well, not that I'm thinking of it, Pidgey may really be the only thing so far. Some fics treat them like animals (see Magikarp being eaten for food), while others show them as trusted partners and the thought of intentional harm or consumption of one is unthinkable. I'm excited to see what your take on them are.

    The old sage ignored all of this. “Demon begone. Demon begone. Demon begone,” he droned on.
    Wow, Morty's aunt really took this to the extreme. What a wonderful situation to explore. I have never seen an exorcism preformed in a Pokemon fic, and I have to say you did a great job. It's such a realistic touch and somewhat rational considering what the aunt went through and how supersticious that city probably is. I could picture the scene perfectly and I liked that you keep pushing the bounds of what might happen next. So many writers are so afraid to get dirty, get intense with their writing. You're obviously an exception. Good job too BTW on using the flames to get loose from the ropes.

    He was still within me, but for the moment he was without me as well, spilling from my mortal form to enact immortal powers. He was like a galaxy—a smoky aura of stardust and flame all circling around the event horizon of a massive and unforgiving black hole. There were eyes there—cruel expanses of white with black pinpricks that looked and darted and shone with the glee of torture. There were teeth, long and ivory and notched on all sides from frequent use.
    Gastly? The smoky aura comment makes me think it is, but I can also see it as a Gengar radiating ghostly energy. I know that this is about Morty and his Gengar, but I can't decide which one it is lol

    You said in a reply to a review that this is a little outside of your comfort zone? If so, stay out of your comfort zone. I'm three chapters in and I'm in love. The pacing and description are perfect, and I could not find a single mispelled word. I'm really surprised this hasn't seen more attention, as this has alot of promise. It's such a weird mix of these mature elements combined with the story of this small boy, who I feel sorry for, and at the same time root for when I see him lash out. I'm really liking what I'm seeing, and want to be added to the PM list. Great job!

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

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    All Hail the Six Kings...
    Chapter One added (12-07-2014)

  9. #9
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    Okay, first off, thank you SO MUCH for the awesome review. I really appreciate this in-depth look at the story and I'm glad you're enjoying it because, like I said, this one represents a lot of risky moves for me.

    To respond more specifically to points:

    Should there be spaces between the '...'?
    You know, I'd really like to give you a quick and easy response, but none of my online grammar sources are being totally helpful because there's a lot of different ways to use ellipses. Some places I'm seeing recommend using not only a space after the dots, but a space before it as well. Others say there should be spaces not only before and after the dots but interspersed between them. Still others say that all of these spaces are bound to get edited out by typographers because all those gaps look nasty on a page. Of course, the compounding factor in all this is that, at least the way I've always understood it (which could be flawed), the very spaced out " . . . " is more along the ellipses function of displaying an omission, than a trailing off. Could be that I'm entirely off base, though, or maybe it's just my typographer side that recoils at the idea of those extra spaces.

    I'm too sleepy to research any further right now, but I will do due diligence to this later on and if I'm wrong then I guess I'll have to try to break my habits X_x

    Really good visual there. I always love dream sequences in Fic's, especially dark themed one's. I can't think of any other Pokemon that exudes Rainbows besides Ho-Oh, which is appropriate given who he is and where they are. The three black shapes are pretty important I think, as you drew alot of attention to them. I'm not sure what they could be, but I hope you'll expand on them as you go on.
    Thanks! I almost feel like I should've done more dreams, but I'm glad the few I did worked out well. This indeed will be revisited to some degree later on, though I think it is possible to hazard a guess as to what the three forms will be. I think this'll end up answered fairly obliquely in chapter 4 (once I finally have time to write it).

    That line sounds odd to me for some reason
    Hmm... I get where you're coming from. Maybe if I flipped it around it would sound a little more natural?

    From:

    “Do you think you could show me the rainbow Pokemon again?” I asked enthusiastically, childlike greed to reclaim the experience shining in my eyes.
    To:

    "Do you think you could show me the rainbow Pokemon again?" I asked enthusiastically, my eyes shining with childlike greed to reclaim the experience.

    Does that sound better/clearer?

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it was my understanding that numbers under one hundred should always be spelled out
    I do believe there's an exception for dates. I mean, I don't generally see the 23rd of May spelled out as "the twenty-third of May." If you have other information you can correct me, but I believe that's the case (there's also an exception for statistical numbers, I think).

    Goes to show his youth once again. I doubt that he doesnt care if Clara died, but it somewhat shows me he is getting somewhat detatched. Or maybe that the spirit is starting to make his mind wander away from what is the 'norm'...I hope that makes sense haha
    I was going for detachment at this point. The spirit is influencing him at this point, and it's an alien force he can't connect with. The experiences are too ethereal for him to really latch onto.

    That was the most shocking version of that sequence to me. I know that this should be pretty obvious at this point, but the spirit is in control of these dreams, right? I'm worried about him. Obviously he is intelligent, but a dream like that can affect someone's psyche in pretty extreme ways. I'm sure you know that, but when you write out these almost horror movie capable scenes, keep in mind that our unconcious mind's have a way to leak over into our concious one. At the same time though, Morty is who he is, and maybe he can handle this sort of psycological strain. I'm not sure where I stand on this, as I can see it as a blend of doing him harm, or him learning to look past these dreams at a greater meaning and really learn something. I hope that makes sense too. Lol that's the funny thing about your fic, I'm so involved and attatched to the story, that when I try to explain it I start to falter and stumble over my own words lol
    I'm glad that scene was shocking and even "horror-movie-like" because I really put my all into making it that way. It was the first ever chapter I think I put the mature content warning on in my DeviantArt upload. And you're right to be worried about Morty. The spirit is indeed in control of his dreams. The nice one with Ho-oh was a hook--beautiful images and a sort of prophetic power that's very attractive. Then things start getting a little sinister with his dream about his parents and the train, but yet it still contains something he very much desires to see--his parents. By the time this dream rolls around, we've completely descended into nightmare territory and that suits the spirit's purposes. More than just a way to antagonize the child and leech off his fear, this dream is more than anything about bodily alienation. It is one of the techniques the spirit uses to psychologically break Morty down, and seperate him enough from his body to allow the spirit complete control. That's what I was going for with this anyway ^^;

    Poor Morty! His psyche certainly does not fair well in this fic...

    Now this is getting exciting. One quick thing though. You may want to try and find a better way to avoid the swear filter. Profanity has the awesome ability to snap us into attention and let us know something important is going on, but when you type the word that way with a break in the middle, it makes me stumble and lose my place. I noticed it a couple more times in this chapter and for some reason it broke my rhythm. You might try italicising one letter of the word as a way to get around that.
    I completely agree with you. I think I'll go back and go the italics route. Part of me wishes there was a way to turn off the swear filter just for these higher rated fics where it's allowed and expected and all, but the mod in me knows what kind of anarchy that would bring :P

    I can imagine him smiling pretty wickedly when he said that.
    Ooooh, yeah, me too. With the corners of his mouth rising up farther than a human should be capable of.

    I was wondering when this was going to happen. I'm finding it hard to tell as well who's in charge at some points. Though I see the spirit as being selfish and somewhat wicked, I can also see Morty as having some of those same traits. You're out right saying/showing that the spirit is in charge sometimes, but I can't help but wondering if the spirit really isn't that bad at all, rather he's just tapping into some of the feelings and thoughts that Morty is already having and amplifying them.
    I definitely think you've got something there and Morty doesn't hide that fact. Though it's difficult to say if Morty really participated in these acts or if the older version of himself feels such tremendous guilt for being the vessel that committed these acts that he takes undue responsibility for them.

    The ruining of the Pidgey nest was another nice touch, and makes me wonder how you're going to portray other Pokemon if they end up getting introduced. The reason I say that is because of the standard of care Pokemon are treated with in most Fics. A sight like the Pidgey's in most fics would inspire alot of horror and sadness, but in your story, Morty's Aunt reacts almost with annoyance. No doubt she thinks it's a disturbing act, but she treats them like they were animals. Which isn't a bad thing at all, but it does set a certain expectation. We haven't seen very many Pokemon introduced, well, not that I'm thinking of it, Pidgey may really be the only thing so far. Some fics treat them like animals (see Magikarp being eaten for food), while others show them as trusted partners and the thought of intentional harm or consumption of one is unthinkable. I'm excited to see what your take on them are.
    Hmm... that's a very interesting question and because I haven't delved into a lot of Pokemon fics from the reader's side, it was one I hadn't even thought of. I suppose I can answer it like this... Pokemon are both trusted partners and animals. I say this because Pokemon are help-mates in this fic and quite intelligent, but this is also a world where bad things happen and they happen every day. Baby birds die, flattened animal corpses end up at the side of the road, and Pokemon kill other Pokemon in the wild for food. The people in this fic are aware of that fact, and it's not like it doesn't make them sad. It makes me sad when I see an animal on the side of the road, but the fact is the sight is not uncommon. I think that's the real change in perspective here. Which is why Aunt Polly's horror comes less from the ruined nest and more from the fact that it was Morty who did it.

    It's a sad fact that most of my Pokemon fics do not involve actual Pokemon heavily. There'll be more later on, but I definitely see that there's a lack here. In fact, I think I threw in that Morty had a Pokemon-emblazoned bedspread just so I could manage to get one in there.

    Wow, Morty's aunt really took this to the extreme. What a wonderful situation to explore. I have never seen an exorcism preformed in a Pokemon fic, and I have to say you did a great job. It's such a realistic touch and somewhat rational considering what the aunt went through and how supersticious that city probably is. I could picture the scene perfectly and I liked that you keep pushing the bounds of what might happen next. So many writers are so afraid to get dirty, get intense with their writing. You're obviously an exception. Good job too BTW on using the flames to get loose from the ropes.
    I'm glad that worked out. The movie The Exorcist was the whole inspiration for this fic, so I had to have an exorcism in here. Of course, the real challenge for me was shifting it away from Catholism-styled exorcism, and I'm not sure how I faired in that regard.

    I've gotten much more violent in this fic than I've done before and have been trying to use my own discomfort as a metric. If I'm uncomfortable writing a scene, then my readers probably are too. In this case, discomfort is what I'm going for, but it's often hard to tell how much.

    Gastly? The smoky aura comment makes me think it is, but I can also see it as a Gengar radiating ghostly energy. I know that this is about Morty and his Gengar, but I can't decide which one it is lol
    I could answer that since it's not a huge spoiler, but since it'll be answered quite clearly and early on in chapter four, I'll go ahead and wait :P

    You said in a reply to a review that this is a little outside of your comfort zone? If so, stay out of your comfort zone. I'm three chapters in and I'm in love. The pacing and description are perfect, and I could not find a single mispelled word. I'm really surprised this hasn't seen more attention, as this has alot of promise. It's such a weird mix of these mature elements combined with the story of this small boy, who I feel sorry for, and at the same time root for when I see him lash out. I'm really liking what I'm seeing, and want to be added to the PM list. Great job!
    Yeah, I'm generally a comedy-drama person. I've only written horror briefly as moments that are kind of tonal variation from more comedy-drama centered stories. In fact (and this sounds absolutely bonkers now) when I originally got the idea for this as a oneshot, it was going to be a horror spoof. Obviously it completely took on a life of it's own.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed it and thank you so much for your wonderful comments! I'll put you on the newly christened PM list right away

  10. #10
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    "Do you think you could show me the rainbow Pokemon again?" I asked enthusiastically, my eyes shining with childlike greed to reclaim the experience.

    Does that sound better/clearer?
    That sounds more organic and clear to me.

    Hmm... that's a very interesting question and because I haven't delved into a lot of Pokemon fics from the reader's side, it was one I hadn't even thought of. I suppose I can answer it like this... Pokemon are both trusted partners and animals. I say this because Pokemon are help-mates in this fic and quite intelligent, but this is also a world where bad things happen and they happen every day. Baby birds die, flattened animal corpses end up at the side of the road, and Pokemon kill other Pokemon in the wild for food. The people in this fic are aware of that fact, and it's not like it doesn't make them sad. It makes me sad when I see an animal on the side of the road, but the fact is the sight is not uncommon. I think that's the real change in perspective here. Which is why Aunt Polly's horror comes less from the ruined nest and more from the fact that it was Morty who did it.
    That explanation really cleared it up for me, thanks

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

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the banner above, and Sworn Metalhead for the banner below -


    All Hail the Six Kings...
    Chapter One added (12-07-2014)

  11. #11
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    Chapter 4. Transfer.

    “You should’ve come to me from the very start,” a stern voice from the chair in front of us admonished.

    The two monks standing on either side of me winced. We were a bruised and broken group standing before the seated woman in front of us, like supplicants crowded before an oracle. Only Brother Kenji was unharmed, though you wouldn’t have thought so judging only the pained expression on his face. Brother Nico’s hand was sandwiched thickly in gauze with dried blood caked on the lower layers. Aunt Polly’s arm was set awkwardly in a sling. She didn’t make eye contact with the woman, glancing at the door every so often as though hoping for an escape. I stood in the middle of their group with old, bursting cuts all across my face and the Poke ball held so tightly in my hands that it hurt.

    “But Madam Antonella,” Brother Nico began, “we didn’t think—”

    “Obviously not,” Madam Antonella cut across him. Of course, she had to be a Madam. Miss or Missus wouldn’t have done the job. In the countryside someone like her might’ve received the honorary title of ‘Mother,’ whether she had offspring or not. But no… in the city someone like her was most definitely ‘Madam.’

    She was older than any woman I’d ever seen before, her dry, speckled skin filled with cracks and deep valleys between wrinkles. Sparse white hair shrouded her head, thin enough that her purpled scalp could easily be seen through it. A wreath of dried leaves and withering flowers crowned her head, with black, dribbling candles posted at each corner. Their flames flickered oddly, as though something unseen moved through them.

    She brought up to her lips a nearly depleted cigarette that she had squashed between her fingers. “You’re lucky that no one got killed,” she mused. After a moment’s thought she added: “Nobody did get killed, right?”

    Brother Nico looked tired. “The Master is still in and out,” he said gravely, “but the doctors think we got to him before he lost too much blood.”

    Madam Antonella smirked unkindly. “Kazuma always was a fool.”

    While Brother Nico bristled on behalf of his master, Brother Kenji saw this as an excuse to make his case. “It’s because of me that he’s alright at all,” he broke in shakily. “If I hadn’t left to get help then he—”

    “Yes, your pissing your pants and running away really saved the day,” Madam Antonella commented acerbically. “I’m sure Kazuma will appreciate you abandoning your Master and your fellow acolyte once he regains consciousness.”

    Brother Kenji’s expression changed, like one who’d taken a step forward on the stairs in the dark and found no step to land on.

    “I don’t understand it,” Brother Nico continued. “From the way the boy described it, the thing was just a Gastly. I don’t see how it could—”

    I must’ve told them what I saw, but I could barely remember doing so. Everything had felt so unreal after the Poke Ball closed and I picked it up. The paramedics had arrived and brought Brother Nico to, and patched him up. He and the returning Brother Kenji had gathered around me and asked some questions—what questions I cannot remember. All I can remember of that was that they were scared and without their master they didn’t know what to do. And that had led them here. To the dark and stony guild of the channelers.

    “Of course you don’t see,” Madam Antonella, the head channeler snapped. “You monks never see.” She twisted bad-naturedly in her simple wooden chair. “Monks!” she spat. “In times like these people always turn to holy men when they’d be better off with unholy women.” She glared from monk to monk. “You incompetents! ‘Just a Gastly?’ You call yourselves exorcists? You have no idea what you stand against. You have never,” she said, enunciating every word with cruel clarity, “never known what a spirit can do to a human host. You’ve never felt a spectral force moving through your mind and blending with your soul.”

    “But that’s exactly what the master said we didn’t want to happen,” Brother Nico protested. “If an evil spirit can wreak that much damage in a weak person’s body then imagine—”

    “And that’s why Kazuma’s a fool,” Madam Antonella said again. “He’ll never know his enemy until he becomes it.”

    Brother Nico was about to speak again, to argue some more, but the old woman held up a blue veined hand signaling that she was done with this particular conversation and no further input from him was necessary.

    “Now… you,” Madam Antonella accused, turning her black eyes to Aunt Polly, who nearly jumped out of her skin at the unexpected attention. “What do you know about this?”

    “Me?” Aunt Polly asked. “I… I don’t know what you—”

    “How did this start?” Madam Antonella asked. “How did the boy become possessed?”

    Brother Nico coughed, slightly annoyed with himself for falling silent before at the channeler’s command. “Apparently it started with an old Ouija Board,” he said. “The evil spirit must’ve begun contacting the boy through that.”

    Madam Antonella rubbed her twisted hand across her forehead. “The devil take those Ouija Boards,” she cursed.

    “I think he already has,” Brother Kenji quipped. Then he let out a high-pitched giggle—the hysterical kind of laughter of someone who knows he’s almost definitely going to lose his job.

    Madam Antonella glared at him, then rounded her gaze back at Aunt Polly. “And how did the boy get access to the Ouija Board in the first place?”

    I looked up at Aunt Polly, blustering around in her mind for an answer. “It was just an old thing a friend gave me when I was a teenager,” Aunt Polly murmured. “I put it up in the attic and hadn’t thought about it for years. It… it was nothing, really.”

    Nothing? I wonder if it was. But I’ve never been able to gather up the courage to ask Aunt Polly if there was anything more to the story. I doubt she would’ve answered me if I had.

    Madam Antonella’s nostrils flared up, but she let it be, turning back to the monks. “Well? What do you intend to do now? You’ve botched this entire thing so badly that now you’re in even worse trouble then you were before.”

    “Worse?” Brother Nico repeated. “The monster has been trapped. All we have to do is… is…” he trailed off.

    “Yes?”

    “Well, the boy caught it, so I suppose he could train it,” Brother Nico said, but there was doubt in his voice.

    “Ha!” Madam Antonella snorted. “Train it? You’ve traded one connection for another, and this one is subtle and runs deeper. Before the boy belonged to the spirit and now the spirit belongs to a boy. Only idiots like you think we’re better off now, when the connection between them has been made permanent.”

    “But if he trained it then he might get it under his control,” Brother Nico protested. “After all, he was strong enough to catch it, and—”

    “And doesn’t that strike you as suspicious?” Madam Antonella asked. “If you have more than a spoonful of brains it should. Unless, that is, you think you two and your master put together are weaker than one eight-year-old boy. This thing let itself be caught.”

    My stomach did a flip-flop. I ran my fingertips over the surface of the Poke Ball. The material suddenly felt strangely organic, and I swore I could feel it expand and contract slightly as though a breath went through it.

    “Then we’ll get rid of it!” Brother Kenji cut in, manically. “We’ll throw it into the ocean or something.”

    “And it’ll come back,” Madam Antonella concluded calmly, tossing her used cigarette onto the stone floor of the compound. “It has muddled itself within this boy’s soul and if you unchain it then it’ll come back. You can lock it up or try to destroy it, but it will break free—and it will always come back.”

    There was nothing but silent for a moment—a heavy silence that nearly bent me double with its weight.

    “…Then what should we do?” Brother Nico asked.

    Madam Antonella tapped her overgrown fingernails against the arm of her chair for a moment. Then, so suddenly we were afraid she would tip too far and knock the candles onto her lap and incinerate herself, she leaned forward. She got up, keeping her balance and not letting a single flame go out. She walked over to me, quicker than any woman her age should—but jerkily, like a spider.

    She stared at me, her black pupils darting all across my face, exposing a light blue film over parts of her eyes. She was barely any taller than me and her breath fell hot and rancid against my skin. She held out a hand to me and my first impulse was to back away.

    “I’ll keep it. It won’t be able to rise up against my hand. It won’t be able to get to the boy through me,” she said, each word engraved in stone. “Give me the Poke Ball.”

    I gripped the Poke Ball, terrified to let it go. I felt as though letting it leave my hand would be like cutting out a body part—a hand, a lung, a heart. It should always be in my possession.

    “Stupid boy,” Madam Antonella rebuked, her thin lip curling. “Let it go. Give it to me.”

    I moved slowly. Each stirring forward amplifying my desire to jerk back. I knew I couldn’t escape with it. I knew I shouldn’t have it, but yet…

    I placed the ball in her skinny hand, brushing against the calloused skin as I withdrew. She clamped her fingers around the surface and tucked it away into a pocket of her dress.

    My fingers tingled. I could still feel the phantom sense of the ball in my hand.

    *****

    It was like I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore. But in a way, that was okay. I found myself able to do nothing at all with much greater success than I ever had before. In the past, restlessness or boredom might have spurred me on to a new activity, but after everything that had happened… I could happily sit for hours on end, just staring at the wall.

    I learned to make my inactivity a little less obvious, however, in those weeks following the exorcism. A niggling worry that Aunt Polly might call someone if she saw me vacantly meditating from sunrise to sunset made me put on at least the slightest pretence of action. I slept as much as I could, and when I was awake I parked myself in front of the TV. I didn’t watch it.

    The colorful forms of Franklin Furret and the Rattata Retinue danced across the screen and reflected in my eyes. Occasionally I’d shift position and I’d feel my body scream that I hadn’t moved for hours.

    You could say I didn’t know what to do with myself because I didn’t know what “myself” was anymore.

    Brother Nico had assured Aunt Polly that I’d get back to normal if we were both patient. That I’d “come back to myself.” As though the hole that Gastly had carved out in me would eventually heal over.

    I didn’t feel like I’d ever get back to normal. Or rather, “normal” for me had changed so dramatically that I thought it would never feel right to be normal again. I felt like someone who’d just lost a lot of weight after a prolonged illness—wispy and faint. I hadn’t had to think when Gastly was with me. Now I had to. I was the one who was steering my body, and how unequal I was to the task had never been more clear to me.

    Back then I didn’t know that what I was going through was pretty normal. Disorders of excess, for example, are common among people who have survived possession. Binge eating, drinking problems, drug addiction, sex… some people who have been exorcized will do anything to fill the empty space that their invader has created.

    I might’ve gone that way too, if it weren’t for the fact that my case is rather… unique. I can’t know for sure.

    Aunt Polly approached me tentatively as I stared blankly at the television screen. Her arm was still in a cast, but like my cuts and bruises, it was healing.

    “Morty,” she said, “I’ve been thinking… You know you’re going to have to go back to school eventually, right?”

    I nodded. I wasn’t sure at all if I was up to it, and being around other people was not high on my priority list. But yet part of me that knew better wanted it, because it might finally be the thing to shake me out of my doldrums and convince me that my current “normal” was livable.

    She walked over to me and sunk down on the far end of the couch from me. I think it was the closest to me she’d gotten since we’d come back home after giving Gastly to his keeper. She fished around in the pocket of her dress with her good hand and pulled out a brochure. She was about to pass it to me when she hesitated.

    “I just thought that… well, after everything that happened,” she said, “that maybe a change of setting might be best for you. Best for everyone.”

    She handed me the brochure which I took wordlessly. A building with a steeple and a clock was on the cover, with squatter, more modern buildings behind it.

    “It’s a school in Violet City,” Aunt Polly explained hurriedly. “It’s a very nice facility and you’d be getting a better education than you would here. Plus it works in conjunction with the Pokemon Academy down there, so you could learn about being a trainer too.” She paused, having delivered this in one whole breath. “…It’s a boarding school,” she added, as though making a kind of confession.

    “You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” she added, a note of worry embroiled in her voice. “But it’s not far. And I think it would do you… good.”

    She wanted me gone. She’d do her duty alright, but she didn’t want me in her house.

    She looked at me, blinking her watery eyes. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Morty?” she asked, her voice nearly pleading.

    …But the thing of it was, that was all okay. I wanted to be gone too.

    “Yes, I would,” I answered.

    *****

    I was in my room—not as it was at the time, but as it was when I first walked into it, lost, lonely, and in shocked disbelief at my parent’s death. It bore none of the changes of the years—the Eevee comforter on the iron bed was still there, where I’d long ago switched it out for a neutral blue; the toys and childhood books that I had parted with were still there; the bookshelf was there and so was the picture of my parents. There were only two things that were different from the first time I’d stepped foot in it. The first was the set of six Poke Balls, which now only held five. The second was me. I seemed to loom like a giant in that space—off-scale.

    I reached out a hand to touch the photograph of my parents, which I was sure I’d taken with me. It was then that I noticed the thread. It was fine, clear and would’ve been invisible if it weren’t for the light that hit it with a nearly audible glint. Thin as it was, it was sturdy, like fishing-wire and it was tied around my wrist.

    I looked more closely around the room, and in the dim light peeking out from between the blinds I could see more glints in what should’ve been empty space. Something pulled.

    I moved, jerked forward by the tug at the end of the line. Every scrap of furniture, every item packed in that room moved with me. Stuffed animals were strangled in the line, the bed creaked as its weight was dragged across the floor, and the glass on the frame of the photograph shattered as the translucent noose around it tightened, eating away at the edges of the paper until it too was sliced in half. The wire around my wrist cut into the skin, leaving a bracelet of blood that was too red to be real.

    Everything in that line, everything that was caught, was pulled out the door and into the hall. The catch and I were dragged downward, down the stairs. I was smothered in the midst of my possessions, so I could not see what lay at the bottom of the stairs.

    But I heard a woman scream.

    *****

    “Was it about Suicune?”

    I let my eyes flutter open, and turned groggily to the figure standing on the ladder of my bunk, arms leaning against my mattress and a focused, nearly accusatory expression on his face.

    “W-what?” I managed to get out sleepily.

    “Your dream. Was it about Suicune?” Eusine asked again, a little bit testily this time.

    I rubbed my hand across my face, trying to ease back into reality. “No,” I muttered. “It wasn’t.”

    Eusine frowned, and then jumped down from the ladder and onto the dormitory floor. He finished tucking in his shirt and looked around for his gloves. The attitude he radiated into the room was that of annoyance, as though I was purposefully not dreaming about Suicune just to spite him.

    I sat up in bed, nearly bumping my head on the low-ceiling. No matter how disinterested Eusine might have been in any dream that didn’t involve Suicune, last night’s vision had left me with a peculiar mixture of fear and hope. These past nine years I mostly didn’t have dreams—not those kinds of dreams. Not the dreams that mean something. They’d never completely stopped, but they were much rarer and thinner and more colorless than the dreams I’d had when I was little. It was as though… when I was possessed there was a door to somewhere else that was wide open. Now that Gastly was gone it was as though the door had been nearly closed. But there was still a crack open for light to shine through. There was something of the other that my mind could still tap into.

    I scratched my head as Eusine and the other guys in the dormitory got dressed and ready for the day. Eusine had just finished putting on his bow tie. When I’d first come to Violet City and enrolled in classes, I’d assumed that the bow tie had to be something his mother forced him to wear every day, because no one in his right mind would wear such a thing of his own free will. But then I found out that he’d transferred in from Kanto, and his mom was in Celadon City—far out of nagging and coddling range. He wore that bow tie by choice. Of course, this was before he’d taken to wearing the cape that I’ve been trying to convince him for years is stupid looking, so I can’t complain too much about the bow tie.

    He threw on a purple jacket to complete his one-of-a-kind look and glared sharply at me. “Remember, you have to tell me if you have one of those dreams about Suicune again.”

    “Yeah, I know…” I answered.

    Those dreams. I often felt nagging regrets about ever letting him find out about those dreams, because there was always the worry that he’d find out how I managed to come by these strange, prophetic flashes. I didn’t want him to know about that. But then again, I had to admit with a certain amount of bitterness that if it wasn’t for the chance that I might psychically be visited with information about Suicune then Eusine might not have been as inclined to befriend me.

    I hadn’t even known before I met him that I’d dreamed about Suicune. I’d simply walked into the dorm and saw him with several illustrated books from the school library spread across the bunk below mine.

    “The Rainbow Pokemon,” I said quietly to myself, catching sight of one of the pictures as the memory of my vivid childhood dreams began to stir.

    He whipped around and looked sharply at me, but a moment later seemed to settle down. “Right. You’re from Ecruteak. You’ve probably gotten sick of hearing the legend by now.”

    It’s funny to think now how little I knew about my own hometown then. There had been stories when I was a child, yes, but I hadn’t paid much attention to them. Now, of course, things are different…

    “Legend?” I repeated, uncomprehendingly. “I was just going to say it looks like a dream I had.”

    Eusine narrowed his eyes at me suspiciously. We were both new at the academy and I’m sure he didn’t know what to make of me. “Are you trying to be funny?” he accused.

    “Why would that be funny?” I asked, unaware that I was treading into a territory he felt very strongly about. I peered over at one of the other books. “Hey, I’ve seen those before too. What are they?”

    He stared at me as though I’d grown a second head.

    “You’re telling me,” he said slowly, “that you dreamed about Suicune, Entei, and Raikou too?”

    “Yeah,” I said. “But I didn’t know those were their names.”

    I can’t tell you how thrilled I was. The dream I had with the rainbow bird was perhaps the most cherished memory I had from after my parents died. And here it was… coming up again in the real world. As if to say that maybe it wasn’t all just a dream.

    “And when I saw them they were shaped just like in that picture, but black,” I chattered on. “They came out of these burnt rock thingies and ran at me. They moved so fast that I could hardly—”

    Eusine held up a hand. “You’re saying, that you don’t know anything about Ho-Oh, Suicune, Entei, and Raikou… but you dreamt about them anyway?”

    I nodded emphatically.

    There was a brief silence as the gears began turning in Eusine’s head. And then he exploded with questions.

    …And I probably answered too many of them. He never found out about Gastly, but he did find out about some of my other dreams and about the strange glimpses into the future I’d occasionally get. My correct prediction of a fire breaking out in Violet Gym during my second year had him convinced. And since then whenever I so much as mumbled in my sleep I’d wake up to a terse: “Was it about Suicune?” Up until that point, I’m afraid I had disappointed him.

    “I’m going to the library,” Eusine said, snapping me out of my remembrance. “You coming?”

    I tilted my head, trying to get a nasty kink out of my spine. “I’ll catch up,” I said.

    The library—on a Saturday. Well, it seemed like we did nothing but research. But research was why Eusine had transferred out here in the first place. After all, Kanto had decent schools. But it was Johto’s legends that drove him. He wanted to see Suicune.

    I tagged along because… ambition is a catchy thing. And besides that, now I knew that I wanted something to. I wanted to see Ho-Oh… and not just in a dream this time.

  12. #12
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    “Ha!” Madam Antonella snorted. “Train it? You’ve traded one connection for another, and this one is subtle and runs deeper. Before the boy belonged to the spirit and now the spirit belongs to a boy. Only idiots like you think we’re better off now, when the connection between them has been made permanent.”
    I liked that bit an awful lot. It spoke volumes to how wise and somewhat cunning this woman is. I like her quite a bit. My opinion on the pokemon/trainer relationship has always been of the persuasion as well. With your story though, you come to this point where the connection runs so deep that its hard to pry Morty and Gastly apart. Like four pairs of interlocked fingers that you say belong to one person at random. You've really set the stage for alot of the Fic with the line that she said. Awesome writing

    and I swore I could feel it expand and contract slightly as though a breath went through it.
    Great imagery there as well.

    It was like I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore. But in a way, that was okay. I found myself able to do nothing at all with much greater success than I ever had before. In the past, restlessness or boredom might have spurred me on to a new activity, but after everything that had happened… I could happily sit for hours on end, just staring at the wall.
    I'm sorry to keep harping on your writing, but that portion there was really great as well. You have a real knack for describing feelings, and that passage is just one of many examples. When I read that portion, For some reason I kept thinkin of Morty sitting in this open white void with his legs crossed. Obviously with Gastly gone now it's hard for hime to make much of himself, and and earlier passage where you said that it felt like his lung was ripped out proved that even more. One thing that struck me as odd though is Morty's motivation without Gastly. He's at a point where Gastly is so different from him, yet at the same time wholly the same, but Morty isn't thinking of getting him back at all. I can see him being frightened of the possibility, but with the connection they had wouldn't it be really unbearable to be still living in the same city as Gastly?

    “I just thought that… well, after everything that happened,” she said, “that maybe a change of setting might be best for you. Best for everyone.”
    Hah, nevermind

    Anyway, I liked the boarding school idea quite a bit, and I have to tell you that I liked the years passing by to be introduced to a teenaged Morty. As intricate and odd as his thoughts were as a child, I'm really looking forward to how complex they may become now that he's older and probably more mature.

    Eusine was a nice touch as well, along with Morty's thoughts on his cape and bowtie which really made me laugh. It's been so long since I've been through Johto in the games that I can't remember if Morty and Eusine are partial to one another. I keep thinking they have some actual interaction in the games but I can't remember for sure. Good job staying true to the character, and for some reason I feel like I have a theory on what those three statues were in the previous chapters.

    All in all, another awesome job. Chapter length was perfect for the situation, and as always, your grammar is wonderful and extremely well done. I'm eager to see what Morty does with himself now and what exactly this is leading to.

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

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the banner above, and Sworn Metalhead for the banner below -


    All Hail the Six Kings...
    Chapter One added (12-07-2014)

  13. #13
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    Thanks so much for your review! I'm glad you liked Madam Antonella because I'm quite fond of her as well. I was worried that this chapter might seem a little off from the others because of Madam Antonella's quipping and some fun being poked at Eusine. Since I primarily write things that are at least one-part comedy I was a little bit afraid that this would be a backslide into that.

    As for Morty and Eusine, I *think* they might interact, but like you it's been awhile since I played and I can't remember for sure--and a lot of that might be colored by Eusine's anime appearance in which they're friends, which is what I'm basing a lot of Eusine's bits on.

    If I had to bet, I'd say your theory about the three statues is probably correct

    Once again, thanks so much for your thoughts of this chapter--I really appreciate it!

  14. #14
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    Well...I wrote this up for the review game but then got ninja'd by Zibdas (not really ninja'd since it was about a half hour earlier than mine, but that's what happens when posts take a while to write.) Figured I'd might as well post my review for you anyway, though. :P
    It began with… a close. The fastening of the casket lids, encasing my parents’ made-up bodies within their dark, airless beds; the click of the hearse door, black and sleek as it slammed shut; the soft piling on of dirt on mahogany as the earth healed the breach the gravediggers had made; and finally the slow close as Aunt Polly shut the door to her house in lower Ecruteak City behind me, staring at me as though not sure what to do.
    Well then... That was a powerful opening paragraph. The imagery was intense and evocative and instantly succeeded in getting me to pay attention to whatever the narration has to say.
    “Okay,” I said again, turning from her and setting my eyes back on the stairs in front of me. I don’t think I’d said more than two words in a row since the burial. My mouth was too dry to be talkative and I couldn’t think of much to say anyway—nothing at least that I could say to anyone living.
    I'm already liking Morty's narration, as his perception of others and what's going on around him is subtle, but already filled with a lot of character, imo. And then we get this last line, which already starts to hint more at his connection to ghosts. I've always been fond of expansion on game characters, so I think I'll enjoy this.

    I like how you use a lot of Morty's offhand comments to himself to both color his personality, his opinion on what's happening, and little bits of his relationship with his family. Your narrative multitasks very effectively. The only thing a bit iffy about it is the fact that I assume Morty is quite young, and sometimes his narration and perceptions are a bit too mature and analytical (I know, of course, that that's how he's being characterized, but it occasionally slips into phrasing and wording that seems over his age.)

    However, the general spirit of the narration is consistently well done. For instance, I really like his thought process on his parents' death. He knows what it is, but yet can't grasp it. I can say I know that is exactly how young children are with death--they'll understand it, sure, but still have a hard time getting it.
    I thought that she did it to avoid talking to me about… about anything that might’ve mattered—anything more emotionally draining then, “why don’t you go outside and play with your friends?”
    Yet again, I'm loving the subtlety of the narration. We can very clearly tell the negative perceptions he has of her, even though it never comes off that she's mean or unpleasant or anything.

    I felt like the Ouija board scene could have used more set up. Like--he sees the board and then immediately tries it without any real thought as to why he's trying it or even what he hopes will happen. But then, that could have been what you were going for--that it was completely subconscious and he was trying it without any real thought behind it. If that's the case, usually an offhand line establishing that fact can help as a lead-in to spur-or-the-moment decisions/actions.


    I love how completely and delightfully awkward the card game with his aunt is. You managed to capture that awkward air completely and totally without ever actually calling attention to that fact. Well done, there. x3

    And damn...that following bit with his premonition was just completely and totally creepy. Though I would have liked a little bit more out of the first-person narration with how he really had no idea how he was knowing or saying any of this (the offhand mention at the end of the scene felt a bit late and not quite effective enough.)


    Overall, I really love your narration and the general subtle manner it colors both Morty and the world around him. It's also very light and easy to read, which is always good. I might have to stop by again and read some more later. ^^

    ~Chibi~


    Ever wondered what would happen if humans had the power to overthrow the Legendaries? To either use them for their own ends, or eliminate them altogether? One thing is for certain...the balance between human and Legendary is unstable.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    8/30/12: CHAPTER 7: “Into the Fire” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 8 progress: 9/12 pages


  15. #15
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    It must be frustrating to do all that work only to get beat to the punch. But thank you so much for reviewing this anyway!

    I'm glad you liked the opener. It got a great deal of work out of me.

    I've always liked Morty, but even though I've written him before, this story is the deepest I've dug into his psyche. I'm glad he's coming off well and consistent. On the age thing--yeah, I know he definitely doesn't sound eight. Others have pointed this out too. For me, I always intended the narrator's voice to be of an older Morty that's telling his story--a story that begins for him at age eight.

    The Aunt Polly (who I wish to God I'd named differently, by the way) stuff only gets more pronounced as the story goes on, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't all too much at once, so I'm glad that came off subtle.

    Hmm... I hadn't thought that way about the Oujia board scene. See, from my perspective, it does get a decent amount of set-up. I mean, his parents have died and he's already made comments about wanting to talk to the dead and wanting to go to his parents, so it seems like what he's after isn't a mystery. I'm not sure how I could state that without being too obvious.

    I know awkward because I am awkward XD

    With the premonition scene I was kind of drawing from the "You're gonna die up there" premonition from The Exorcist (the inspiration for this piece at large). Which is I suppose why Morty comes off as very detached from the premonition. I didn't really want to make too much of it because Morty isn't alarmed yet. He's being lulled into a false sense of security by his new friend, and he doesn't really understand that the information he's receiving is horrifying. I was trying to play up the casualness of it to amplify that effect, so that might be why it's rather sparse.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it and I'd of course love it if you wanted to read more (no pressure!) Once again, thanks so much for taking the time to give your thoughts on this!

    Chapter five is actually more than halfway done, so it should end up getting posted not too long from now.

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    As promised, here's chapter 5.

    Chapter 5. Towers.

    I tried to concentrate on the page in front of me, but it was proving difficult. It wasn’t that what I was reading was uninteresting, you understand. Quite the contrary. It was an article some thirty years old about an archaeological dig along Route 37. The bulk of the article was concerned with the civilization that probably lived there, and questions about whether they were an offshoot of ancient Goldenrod or not. That part wasn’t for me. The thing that grabbed me was a tablet they’d unearth. It was nearly crumbled away, but there was very definitely a carving of a bird there—a massive bird, a stupendous bird. The tablet was brown, but the drawing screamed out for color.

    I was trying to find out more about this discovery, but I kept tripping up and had to read sentences over again. Eusine’s continuous mumbling as his eyes skipped across the book he was looking through didn’t help, but I was used to that. No, my gaze kept breaking away from the page to look up at the group of students whispering at the table across from us. Every time I looked at them, they suddenly stooped over and quieted, as though suddenly fascinated by the books they’d pulled off the shelves.

    “Eusine,” I finally said softly, watching the residents of the table—by the looks of them, several years younger than us—out of the corner of my eye. “Can you hear anything those guys are saying?”

    “Hmm?” Eusine said, not even looking up from his book. “Who cares what they’re saying?”

    “…I think I heard them say ‘Violet Gym,’” I said uneasily.

    “So?” Eusine asked, getting annoyed now—he knew full well what track this conversation was turning to. “Maybe they’re just thinking about challenging the leader. They wouldn’t be the first to drop out and go for the league.”

    “I don’t think so,” I said. I sank down in my chair, my shoulders hunched together. I wanted to hide my face behind my book. “They keep looking at me.”

    Eusine didn’t say anything. I knew it was a sign that I was supposed to shut up and let him read, but I ignored it.

    “Why won’t that story die already?” I murmured.

    “What, the story that you set the fire or the one where you’re just some spooky weirdo who can see the future?” he asked, purposefully employing no tact at all.

    “Both!” I whisper-shouted at him.

    He turned a page with a gloved hand. “But isn’t that second one technically true?”

    I cradled my arms close to my body, each hand gripping an elbow. “That doesn’t mean I want people talking about it.”

    “Then you shouldn’t have let everyone find out that you knew about it,” he reasoned, only half there.

    “Was I suppose to just let him burn to death?” I demanded.

    He shrugged. “It wouldn’t have been a major loss.”

    “You don’t mean that,” I said, hoping it was true more than I actually believed it.

    The fire. It had been seven years and people were still talking about it. I supposed that it only made sense. Gyms are always important to their cities—sometimes vitally. Violet City wasn’t so small and inactive that it couldn’t have lived without a gym—it had its superior school system and its holy men and their tower to fall back on, but still, the gym had tremendous value. For some it was the first stop in their league challenge, for others it was the last, but it was, undeniably a part of the path to so many young people’s dreams. The academy fed into that dream as well, with its mission to… well, train the trainers. When the gym burned it ate away at ambition, at familiarity, at hope. Fire can lead to death or rebirth, but without exception, it always hurts.

    But more than just leaving a scar on the city that might’ve been otherwise forgotten in the wake of the rebuilding, the fire furnished the city and more specifically the school with something irresistibly enduring: an urban legend.

    It might’ve never started if I kept my mouth shut. I knew about the fire, or at least thought I did, a week before it happened. But that was a dream. Sure, it was one of those dreams, but you could never tell with them. Certainly I felt that the smoldering architecture that I could see and smell and even taste was real. But besides that, I could make no distinctions. Was it real in the past? The future? Some alternate timeline? Some hellish dimension beyond our own?

    I told Eusine—only Eusine. He wasn’t sure whether to believe me or not back then, but was curious enough to want to know. If there hadn’t been a complication then the incident might’ve passed without anyone but him knowing that I’d predicted rightly.

    But when the day came and the building caught fire, I knew. It didn’t matter that the volunteer firefighters had started a bucket chain. It didn’t matter that the gym leader and his trainers were in Goldenrod for a conference. It didn’t matter that every adult there assured me over and over again that the gym had been locked when its leader had left and that the gym was empty. I knew. There was someone in there. There was someone in there.

    They caved in to my claims, uncertainty winning them over, and finally sent a man in. A few tense minutes later, the man emerged with an unconscious boy in his arms. A boy who shouldn’t have been in there—he wasn’t a trainer. He was younger even than Eusine and I, and at that point trainer’s licenses were still out of our reach. He wasn’t supposed to be there; he was supposed to be in a Social Studies class marking up maps of Johto with basic cartographical symbols. But yet he would have a key, wouldn’t he? And couldn’t you just imagine the rascal sneaking into the gym while his father was away?

    I nearly was in a great deal of trouble. As soon as it was determined that Falkner was safe, all eyes turned to me. How had I known that Falkner was in there? Was I in league with him? Was this some childish pact we’d made to break into the gym that had gone sour? Or, as the conversation darkly turned, had I set the fire myself? Falkner and I didn’t get along. Or rather, as I might distinguish further, Falkner didn’t get along with me. Our years occasionally got together for mock battles with the rentals the pre-license training class provided. I’d made the mistake of beating him. He wasn’t used to being beaten—not even by an older kid. He was, after all, the son of a gym leader.

    If I could’ve found my tongue I might’ve appealed to them. I might’ve said that despite Falkner’s public dislike of me, I had no reason to return that feeling. I might’ve asked why, if I were really trying to do him in, would I have told anyone that he was inside the building? But I couldn’t give their questions any real answers. I couldn’t explain how I knew the building would catch on fire with Falkner inside.

    But the evidence saved me even in my silence. The Jennies found the cause—a lighting fixture that had broken on the flammable mats; no foul play whatsoever. When Falkner woke he confirmed this. He’d snuck in while his Dad was out of town to check out the gym he someday hoped to run and knocked down the light with one of the Pokemon his dad left behind in a mock battle. The Pidgey flew the coop, but Falkner’s way out got blocked and he soon passed out from smoke inhalation. I was exonerated, but no one forgot that day, least of all Falkner. I’m sure it’s not lost on him that I not only saved his life, but changed what people remembered about that day from “the gym leader’s stupid kid set the gym on fire and nearly killed himself” to “how’d that spooky Morty kid know what was gonna happen? Pretty weird if you ask me.”

    “I just wish they’d stop talking about me,” I said softly, eyeing the table of nonchalant gossipers.

    “They’re just jealous,” Eusine answered vacantly, less an encouragement and more a gesture to end the conversation. Eusine wasn’t really one for soothing the human soul.

    I sighed, realizing that that was the extent of the empathy I was going to receive. I closed my book and got up. That, at least, got his attention.

    “Where are you going now?” he asked, eyes narrowed.

    “To the computer lab,” I explained. “I haven’t even started Miss Keaton’s ecocriticism essay and I’ve got to study for finals. Time’s running out, you know.”

    He looked like he barely managed to resist rolling his eyes at me. “Your priorities,” he informed me, “are completely screwed up.”

    “Don’t give me that,” I responded. “I don’t think you’ve even started on it. It’s twelve pages—that’s not gonna come at the last minute.”

    He set his book down on the table, open so that the yellowing page featuring a woodcut of three beastlike creatures was in full view. His gloved hand fell forcefully over it. “This is what we should be working on. All the rest is just distraction.”

    I somehow felt that his parents, who were paying for his tuition, wouldn’t feel quite the same way. “But we’re almost done,” I pointed out. “Once finals are over then we can really focus on finding Ho-Oh and Suicune.”

    “Can we?” He raised an eyebrow suspiciously. “So… you’re saying that after finals are done you’re gonna go back to Ecruteak?”

    I froze. “I…”

    “The Burned Tower and the Bell Tower,” he said impatiently, having repeated this to me many times in the past. “You know that’s where we have to start. There’s no way you can keep avoiding it.”

    “I’m not—”

    “We should’ve gone already,” he said crossly. “Summer vacation, spring break—every time we had the chance to go there and explore you always had an excuse.”

    It was true. By all rights I should’ve gone back to Ecruteak by this time and invited him along, but there was so much to avoid. It wasn’t about either of the towers, it was about my Aunt, it was about keeping what had happened to me from Eusine, it was about… him.

    “So what are you really planning to do after graduation?” Eusine demanded, as though I’d been hiding my true intentions from him. “Go back to Ecruteak or split?”

    “I’m… not sure,” I answered. It wasn’t what he wanted to hear.

    He closed his book with a loud snap, got up and tucked it under his arm. “You know, maybe this is just an academic exercise for you,” he said in a low voice, “but for me, it’s serious.” He pointed at me, his hand bobbing up and down in indignation. “I don’t care what your problem is—it’s not gonna keep me away from those towers or Suicune!”

    “I’m not trying to—” I began helplessly, but he’d already turned on his heel and left.

    He was right. I knew he was right. There was no way I could keep Eusine away forever. Not from Ecruteak, the birthplace of all my secrets.

    *****

    I pinched the bridge of my nose and tried to ease the soreness from my eyes. I was ostensibly writing my essay on ecocriticsm, but any focus I had on the small group of poets from Viridian City who had gone to live in the forest among the grass and bug type Pokemon evaporated as my mind drifted to the events of the day. I knew that I could mope or work on my essay and not both, but I kept leaning toward the former instead of the latter. Library computers were always at a premium, and with finals just over the horizon this was even truer. I knew it was selfish of me to park myself at one if I was just going to stare at the screen and think.

    But still… what to do about Eusine? What to do about Ecruteak? I wanted to see Ho-Oh, and I knew that Ecruteak would be the place to start. But could I really go back there? Or would that be like an addict strolling into a bar? Could I really be that close to him again and still stay away? It was easier in Violet City… easier in all those places I’d studied abroad over the summer so I wouldn’t have to go back to my Aunt’s house. I was removed there. I was safe. …But I was not home.

    “Hey.”

    I looked up to see Eusine, leaning against the desk and looking off to his left, arms crossed. He still seemed annoyed, but not as though he was there to start another fight.

    “How far are you?” he asked, giving a sidelong nod toward the computer.

    I didn’t know what to say at first. “...Only eleven and a half pages to go,” I answered weakly, knowing that the answer couldn’t possibly interest him.

    He nodded. Then he took a deep, reluctant breath and said: “So maybe I was a little…” He looked as though the words he was speaking tasted sour. “…harsh. We’ll get to Ecruteak eventually. I know you just don’t want to be around that bitch anymore.”

    Aunt Polly was a wonderful excuse not to go back to Ecruteak, and I used her unfairly at almost every opportunity. But what was more, I realized that what I’d received from Eusine was, very nearly, an apology.

    “…Yeah,” I said, sort of in awe of that fact. Back then it meant a lot to me. Now I wonder if it was sincere or just a sacrifice ploy to retain access to me and my sporadic psychic gifts.

    “Anyway,” Eusine said abruptly, having had enough of this quasi-contrition, “talking about graduation got me thinking… you’re gonna be a trainer, right?”

    I hadn’t really thought about it. Or rather, when I did think about a future catching Pokemon, I was forced to think about my past. I couldn’t get very far with that in my way.

    “It’d be a complete waste if you didn’t,” Eusine snapped, as always delivering compliments with all the benevolence of a punch to the face. “Everyone knows it.”

    “I guess,” I said. The battle classes were my place to shine, but I never liked to talk about it that much. Most of the student body was already suspicious of me, no need to actually develop self-esteem and give them a reason to knock me down a peg.

    “Right,” Eusine continued as though I’d responded with an absolute affirmative. “And if you’re ever going to find Ho-Oh, you’re going to need Pokemon. Honestly, it’s pretty ridiculous that you don’t have one by now. I mean, I’ve got my Voltorb and Falkner’s got his dad’s birds. But you’ve got nothing.”

    “…I have a Pokemon…” I said quietly, staring past Eusine—northward, I realized. Toward Ecruteak and the channel’s guild and…

    “So, I was thinking we should get you one,” Eusine went on, too far along in his own script to care what I said. “And I know the perfect place we can go to get one.”

    I sighed. “Where?” I asked.

    “Sprout Tower,” he said, trying to play this off as casually as he could. “There’s a lot of folklore attached to it, so we might find something interesting. It’s probably a long shot, but it’s worth a try.”

    I raised an eyebrow. We’d just had a fight about him wanting to go to the Burned Tower and the Bell Tower and now he was bringing up Sprout Tower? “…Are you… looking for something specific there?” I asked slowly.

    “Hey, this whole thing is for you,” he retorted, one hand on his hip and generally looking at me as though I was the most ungrateful friend in the history of the universe. He straightened himself up and looked haughty. “I was even thinking about inviting Falkner along,” he added, as though this absolutely cleared him of any selfishness in the matter.

    “…Really?” I asked skeptically. “You?

    “Sure,” he said. “…He can probably get us some beer or something,” he added, completely spoiling his holier-than-thou guise.

    It was sort of pathetic for the two of us to be relying on someone younger than us to score alcohol, but Violet was a strictly dry city. Falkner knew some people in Goldenrod. Falkner knew people everywhere.

    “…And why would he do that for you?” I asked.

    “He wouldn’t,” Eusine said simply. “But he’d do it for you.”

    I sighed. “…That’s really not fair to him Eusine,” I said.

    Eusine tugged at the wristline of his glove and snapped it tighter over his fingertips, in full-on watch-me-not-give-a-shit mode.

    “Anyway,” I said, “I doubt the monks are gonna be thrilled with us illegally drinking in their temple.”

    Eusine shrugged as though this was a minor detail. “Who says they have to find out? I’m not gonna deal with those glorified tour guides anyway. We’ll sneak in at night.”

    The law-breaking, the tower, the acquisition of a Pokemon… I could see it lining up for him. For all he knew I objected to going to the Burned Tower and Bell Tower because I was afraid of breaking the law or for my safety. Those were certainly excuses I’d offered up before to keep him away. So here he was… presenting me a situation with training wheels. A sleepy tourist attraction with negligible folkloric value—easy enough to slip into and out of with only a collection of out-of-shape holy men as guards. And, of course, the promise of my own Pokemon.

    To use an expression that Falkner absolutely loathes, my friend Eusine was all about killing birds—but very stingy when it came to stones.

  17. #17
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    The tablet was brown, but the drawing screamed out for color.
    That sentence really stood out for me. Wow, I don't even really know how to describe how I responded to that, but it was wonderfully written lol

    He turned a page with a gloved hand. “But isn’t that second one technically true?”
    First off, I love that you're keeping to Eusine's character by casually mentioning bits of his clothing. Secondly, the future? Maybe its been awhile since I've read the last chapter but is this a new devlopment that's been casually touched on that's going to be touched on later in the chapter, or did I miss the bit where it was explained that Morty can sometimes see the future?

    Gyms are always important to their cities—sometimes vitally.
    I liked that touch as well. I live in a small town that's completely dedicated to football. The whole town responds to every play like their lives depend on it. These people live and breathe this game and it holds a huge part of the spirit of this city so I can completely understand where you're coming from with this. Nicely done!

    Fire can lead to death or rebirth, but without exception, it always hurts.
    I really responded to that portion as well. So nicely written and true to point. I feel like I liked this bit because my fiance lost her home to fire when she was eighteen, which was almost five years ago, and it still afeects her. She describes the experience as very depressing, but liberating and welcome at the same time. It's this weird mix of reverance/awfulness that I really find kind of sadly beautiful.

    But still… what to do about Eusine? What to do about Ecruteak?
    This almost makes me think that Morty has replaced Ghastly with Eusine until they encounter each other again. I hope that doesn't sound dense, but I feel like Morty had such a connection with Ghastly that he doesn't even feel like himself unless he's connected with someone else or some thing. To me, Morty fed off Ghastly, and vice versa. From what you have down so far, Morty isn't self-centered or anything, but he gives Eusine more attention than he did his own Aunt, which makes me think that Eusine is a bigger part of this than I realize.

    I pinched the bridge of my nose and tried to ease the soreness from my eyes.
    That doesn't make sense to me. That sentence makes me think there's a correlation between his nose and eyes. If that's what you're saying, then nevermind, but it just read weird to me

    northward, I realized. Toward Ecruteak and the channel’s guild and…
    You're so talented at those subtle little hints. Nicely done.

    To use an expression that Falkner absolutely loathes, my friend Eusine was all about killing birds—but very stingy when it came to stones.
    I actually lol'd t that...nicely done

    As a whole, I really enjoyed this chapter. To be honest, this chapter and the last didn't hook me as much as the previous, mainly because I enjoyed the portions with Ghastly so much. I know that this portion and the last are necessary to progress the story and now that Eusine has the idea to go back to what Morty is avoiding I'm really excited, but I really want to get back to his interractions with Ghastly. Don't get me wrong, I like the chapters without him (Ghastly seems male to me), but you have such a powerful dynamic going with those two that I'm extremely excited for the next chapter and posibly seeing them together again.

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

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the banner above, and Sworn Metalhead for the banner below -


    All Hail the Six Kings...
    Chapter One added (12-07-2014)

  18. #18
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    Thanks so much for the review!

    First off, I love that you're keeping to Eusine's character by casually mentioning bits of his clothing. Secondly, the future? Maybe its been awhile since I've read the last chapter but is this a new devlopment that's been casually touched on that's going to be touched on later in the chapter, or did I miss the bit where it was explained that Morty can sometimes see the future?
    Well, his predicting the fire in the Violet City gym was mentioned in the last chapter. Plus back in the first chapter he predicted the disappearance/death of his other aunt.

    This almost makes me think that Morty has replaced Ghastly with Eusine until they encounter each other again. I hope that doesn't sound dense, but I feel like Morty had such a connection with Ghastly that he doesn't even feel like himself unless he's connected with someone else or some thing. To me, Morty fed off Ghastly, and vice versa. From what you have down so far, Morty isn't self-centered or anything, but he gives Eusine more attention than he did his own Aunt, which makes me think that Eusine is a bigger part of this than I realize.
    It doesn't sound dense at all. I think it's a very savvy observation.

    That doesn't make sense to me. That sentence makes me think there's a correlation between his nose and eyes. If that's what you're saying, then nevermind, but it just read weird to me
    You've never had a tension headache and rubbed the bridge of your nose or your temples to ease the pain away? I have, and I know I've seen others do it so it can't just be me.

    As a whole, I really enjoyed this chapter. To be honest, this chapter and the last didn't hook me as much as the previous, mainly because I enjoyed the portions with Ghastly so much. I know that this portion and the last are necessary to progress the story and now that Eusine has the idea to go back to what Morty is avoiding I'm really excited, but I really want to get back to his interractions with Ghastly. Don't get me wrong, I like the chapters without him (Ghastly seems male to me), but you have such a powerful dynamic going with those two that I'm extremely excited for the next chapter and posibly seeing them together again.
    I can see that and I definitely agree. Even though I was, as a writer, looking forward to having more humans for Morty to interact with because it makes my job less ethereal and weird, I know it's hard to compete with Gastly. I'm just going to have to do my best for the period in which he's gone.

  19. #19
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    A/N: I'm probably going to be putting Possession on the backburner for awhile, since it's leading to a lot of delays with my other fics and I really want to give more focus to Diary of a Dragon. Doesn't mean I'm going to stop working on this, just that I'm not going to revolve between writing chapters of this and Diary. If you want to stay up-to-date on my progress on writing this story, my Twitter @Llybian is the best place to do that.

    Chapter 6. Foolish Fire.

    It wasn’t at all far from our dormitory to Sprout Tower, but we’d elected to take the long way there, going around the lake and through the forest to the back of the building. Going by the more direct bridge-route might’ve tipped off any of the straggling tourists enjoying the lantern light reflected on the lake that we were planning to sneak into the closed building.

    We tromped through the forest, muddy from the latest rain. Eusine griped mildly about his white shoes getting scuffed. His love for exploration and his insistence on a high quality wardrobe have always struck me as somewhat at odds. It was a long walk, but his starch white dress shirt bore no signs of it. I don’t think Eusine is capable of sweating.

    When we finally reached the back of building there was already a pile of boulders pulled over to the outside wall to allow a person to climb up and hoist themselves in through the open windows. The tower was a common venue for Violet City’s curfew-breaking teenagers and the various activities that they indulged in. By daylight, the monks of the tower preached a message of cooperation; by night the teenagers practiced a more horizontal form of cooperation in the dark, semi-privacy of the closed tower.

    …Or at least, that’s what I’d heard. I had no firsthand knowledge in the matter.

    It wasn’t surprising that the tower had acquired that nighttime purpose. Violet was a city suffocated by rules and ordinances, most of which were aimed at keeping the reputation of its lauded school system as clean as possible, and therefore attempted to keep its youth in check. But every social group needs a release valve. Sprout Tower, otherwise nothing more than a tourist trap, had become just that whenever darkness fell.

    Still, you had to feel sorry for the monks. Raking away beer cans and cigarette butts and used condoms every morning before the tourists came couldn’t have helped them much in their quest for inner peace.

    “Can you see anyone in there?” Eusine asked from the ground, as I clung to the window, my sneakers scraping against the rocks below me. I could hear him make an annoyed little groan. “I swear to Arceus, if there’s anyone fucking in there I’m going to get Voltorb to shock them.”

    “What if they like that?” I asked.

    “Just answer the question,” Eusine said impatiently. He never laughed at my jokes.

    “I don’t see anyone, but it’s kind of dark,” I said. I pricked up my ears for the tell-tale sounds of a monk’s sandals sliding across the wooden floor, or the crumpling of aluminum as a frat boy crushed a beer can against his head, or the giggling of an amorous couple. I heard nothing. “…I don’t think anyone’s here.”

    “Good. Then get in there already. I’m sick of just standing around here,” Eusine ordered.

    I obeyed, hoisting myself through the small gap and jumping heavily down to the wood paneled floor below. I hastily got out of the way for Eusine to do the same. After he’d landed and dusted himself off, he fiddled around in his jacket for a moment. “It’s so dark in here,” he groused.

    “I don’t know…” I said, looking around speculatively. Before I could hardly see, but I was beginning to be able to make out the outlines of things in a sort of twilight. First Eusine, then the wobbling column in the middle of the room, and then the Bellsprout statues that decorated the room. “It’s not so bad now that my eyes have adjusted.”

    “Are you kidding me?” Eusine said, taking something cylinder-shaped out of his pocket. “It’s pitch black in here—there,” he said as he flicked on his flashlight. “Much better,” he added, as he held the light aloft and passed it over the room.

    When he’d shone the light into every corner he finally seemed satisfied. “You were right,” he said. “No one’s here.”

    I could see Eusine, but not the details of his face in the gloom. Yet… it was strange, but I felt that he was frowning. His silhouette seemed oddly tinged with a dark, dirty red color. It was slight, but yet it was there. I didn’t know what to make of it since nothing else in the room had that effect to it.

    “Where’s Falkner?” he asked, shining the light in jerky movement across the room for a second time. “I told him to meet us here. He better not have—”

    Clank.

    We both froze at the sound. It was too sharp, too distinct to have been just the groan of the building contracting in the cooling night. No. Somebody had to be…

    Click. Click.

    There was a low, long whine as the big front door swung forward. As it opened, it let in a rapidly widening shaft of… not light, but a lighter shade of darkness than the suffocating gloom within the building. It was still darkness, but it was open and free darkness, not trapped and stale.

    Amidst the lighter-darkness there was the shape of a person—relatively short and clad in traditional looking clothes. He appeared to be carrying something.

    “Couldn’t you have come in another way?” Eusine hissed, shining a light on the interloper. “Who knows who might’ve seen you come in?”

    Falkner stepped into the building, shutting the door behind him. “Why would I bother climbing through a window when I have a key?” he asked in a confident voice that might’ve convinced someone in the dark that he was older than us.

    Eusine shifted stance, causing the light beam to wobble fractionally. “Not that anyone would actually do anything if they saw you breaking in, I suppose,” he muttered to himself.

    Falkner ignored this barb, instead turning his focus on me. “Morty,” he said, nodding respectfully toward me.

    “Falkner,” I returned, doing the same.

    Eusine stepped forward, as though to stop any small talk before it could possibly begin. “Did you bring the beer?” he asked Falkner sharply—a reminder that, as far as Eusine was concerned, that was the only reason he was there with us that night.

    “Of course I did,” Falkner returned, a little irritation rising in his voice, but bitten back. He hefted the item he’d been carrying so that it was visible in the flashlight beam—a six-pack of Goldfield, a cheap beer that was the choice option for poor teens smuggling into Violet City. Falkner could certainly afford better, but I didn’t blame him for not wanting to waste money on us.

    He disentangled a can from the plastic rings that held the package together, walked over, and handed one to me. “Thanks,” I said, taking it. He wasn’t so gentle with Eusine’s, instead lobbing it in his general direction. Luckily, Eusine had fairly good reflexes and managed to catch it. I heard an incensed sniff in the darkness, followed by the click and hiss of a can opening.

    Looking back, I have to think that the only reason we bothered with the beer at all was because we weren’t supposed to. I don’t think I even liked the taste and I certainly hated the smell. It was the fact that it was forbidden—the fact that, close to graduation or not, we’d be kicked out of school if we were caught, that sparked my adrenaline and really made the drink refreshing. I think it must’ve been the same for Eusine. After all, these days I never see him drink anything alcoholic that isn’t presented to him in a glass of fluted crystal.

    It must’ve been different for Falkner, who I seemed to recall only picked up a drink after a moment’s hesitation, as though for want of anything better to do. If there was anyone in Violet City that the school board, or really anyone at all, would look the other way for, it was Falkner. The cheap, watery beer that tasted more of the can than anything couldn’t have been nearly as interesting to him. At most it represented perhaps a stern word or two from his father if he were caught.

    Falkner lifted up a hand to wipe his lip after taking a drink. “So what are we doing here anyway?” he asked. “Please don’t tell me this is some kind of graduation party for you two. I could’ve pointed you to better ones.”

    Eusine dragged the flashlight over to the place where the wall met the floor. “We’re looking for a Pokemon for Morty,” he said, as though he hardly thought that Falkner needed that information.

    “And you came here?” Falkner asked quizzically. “You’re not really going to saddle him with a Rattata, are you?” He turned to me. “You could’ve gone some place better,” he said, dropping the accusatory tone—instead sounding more like he was making an offer than anything.

    “Where else in this do-nothing town?” Eusine asked derisively.

    Falkner did not answer but… there again was that glow… that tinge of red, like the one I’d seen around Eusine. Though it seemed slightly different on Falkner. Cooler in texture, where the glow around Eusine had seemed to sizzle.

    Falkner’s dad wasn’t only the gym leader, but he had invested interest in both the school board and the board of tourism. Falkner’s father’s interests were Falkner’s interests.

    “Anyway,” Eusine went on, “we’re hoping there’s some historical element here that might be connected to Suicune or Ho-Oh.”

    “What would make you think that?” Falkner asked flatly.

    Eusine just sort of glowered in the darkness. He ignored Falkner and shined his light toward me. “Hey Morty,” he said, giving the light a vague gesture. “Does this place remind you any of the Bell Tower?”

    …And we had arrived at the real reason for this scheme. I gave it some thought. “Well… I’ve never been inside the Bell Tower, but I suppose they have a similar sort of construction… but the Bell Tower is much, much taller.”

    Eusine nodded. “So if we can break into here then we can probably get in there without a problem.”

    “I’m sure a temple dedicated to Ho-Oh has better security than a temple dedicated to Bellsprout,” Falkner observed.

    I could practically hear Eusine’s teeth gnashing together from where I stood. “We’ll get in anyway. …Maybe into the Burned Tower first. It’s condemned, so there probably won’t be as many people around. …And then we’ll find a clue to where Suicune is…”

    “And Ho-Oh,” I said quietly.

    “I’m with you on that, Morty,” Falkner commented. “I’d much rather see Ho-Oh then Suicune.”

    Eusine made a scoffing noise. “As if either Ho-Oh or Suicune would present themselves to you.”

    “…What do you mean by that?” Falkner asked, his voice getting lower, more dangerous.

    “Legends like them are only going to reveal themselves to accomplished, highly gifted and noble trainers,” Eusine said in a high-and-mighty tone. “…Not someone who gets around riding his father’s coattails.”

    “I do not ride dad’s coattails,” Falkner shot back, the red glow around him getting more pronounced. “Do you think Suicune is really going to appear to some smug, prissy novice like you? If so, then it can’t be that great of a legend after all.”

    There was nearly a flare of red around Eusine at this point, convincing me that the glow wasn’t something I’d imagined. He lunged forward, hand reaching toward his waist. “You want to settle this right now? We’ll see which trainer is worthy of seeing a legendary Pokemon after all.”

    “Fine by me,” Falkner spat, oblivious to his birds’ obvious disadvantage against Eusine’s Voltorb.

    “Guys!” I shouted, stepping between them, wishing, not for the first time, that the only people I could call “friends” were actually friendly toward each other. I breathed in long, heavy breaths, highly audible in the silence as the fight was stopped—or merely delayed.

    “We… none of us have actually seen a legendary Pokemon,” I said, slowly, almost regretfully. “…So I think that means that… we all still have some work to do.”

    There was a long, tense pause before the two finally eased back. Eusine straightened up and dusted some imaginary lint off of his shoulders. “Have it your way,” he grumbled.

    “I guess you’re right,” Falkner said, still eyeing Eusine warily. “We should find you a Pokemon before the two of us even consider settling anything.”

    “Yeah,” I said. I’d nearly forgotten the reason—the ostensible reason why we were there in the first place.

    I felt bad thinking it then, as I do now. But I’ve often wondered how things might’ve been different if I’d befriended them in reverse order. If Falkner had made his peace with me as a rival before I’d even met Eusine. …Being Eusine’s friend first… I really couldn’t have hung out with Falkner without feeling like I was betraying Eusine—I’d have been choosing someone who had a whole network of friendships over one who operated on the outskirts of groups; someone who liked me, but didn’t need me over someone who had no one else to rely on. It pained me that I realized that Falkner was probably the more logical choice for a friend all along. I couldn’t break with Eusine, though. I wouldn’t have.

    …But I still wonder if somewhere in the myriad of dimensions, if there’s a Morty out there with a supportive group of friends to turn to when he’s in need—a more well-adjusted Morty who doesn’t so readily let himself be used. If there is, I hope he’s happy.

    “Cheer up,” Falkner said, having sensed that I was troubled, but misinterpreting why. “You might not get stuck with a Rattata after all. I hear at night there’s—”

    The small beam of light in Eusine’s hand dropped to the ground and was extinguished with a dull thud. “What the—” he began, before burying his face in the crook of his arm and coughing incessantly.

    “Where did this come from?!” Falkner exclaimed, seized by the same hacking coughs that had affected Eusine.

    “Where did what come from?” I asked, eyes darting around the blackened space in the hopes of finding out what had startled them. I saw nothing.

    I felt Eusine race past me and toward the door. “There’s no time!” he yelled. “This place is going to go up like a tinderbox!” I heard a groan as he pulled on the door handle. The door didn’t budge.

    Eusine whipped around. “Falkner! Don’t tell me you locked the door on us?!”

    “From the inside?!” Falkner asked, incredulity rising in his voice. He grabbed hold of my arm. “We have to get out of here,” he insisted, trying to pull me toward the door.

    “I don’t understand,” I said, staring at him. “What are the both of you talking about?”

    Eusine tried the handle on the door again. “It’s unlocked—It must be jammed or something! Can we get out a window?”

    Falkner gazed around. “No good!” he called. “There’s too much fire in the way—we’d never make it! That door is our only way out!”

    Eusine slammed his gloved fists against the door. “Help! Help! Somebody!” he shouted, voice nearly breaking. “We’re trapped in here!”

    I felt the blood drain in my face. “Are you crazy?” I demanded, my thoughts on the trespass and the illegal drinking anyone could discover if my crazed companion alerted them to our presence. “We’ll get expelled if someone finds us!” The forbiddance had been enticing when I knew we weren’t going to get caught—when the threat was real, it scared me. Though I could see I wasn’t nearly as scared as Falkner or Eusine.

    “What’s worse: getting expelled or burning to death?” Falkner asked, jerking me toward the exit and joining Eusine to pound on the door.

    I stared at them—banging on the door and shouting for attention as though their lives depended on it. “Have you two lost it?” I asked. “There’s no fire!”

    But suddenly I felt… a chill. Or I suppose you could say my body suddenly braced itself. It was the feeling of dreadful anticipation a mended bone might feel as a hammer rushes toward it. The sense of a remembered fracture about to be revisited.

    I looked into the darkness. That’s all it was—darkness. Not a trace of flame or smoke. But yet… could I hear something?

    Yes… it began as just an unintelligible susurration. Beyond my friends’ shouts for help there was a static whisper in the air. It was so blurred, so strange, that I couldn’t be totally sure of any words in it. But there were fragments that began to get clearer that sounded like “little rats,” “let them go?” and “the marked one.”

    As those rustling, silken murmurs filled my ears—louder with every passing second—I became sure that there was something out there in the darkness. Something… familiar.

    And that was when I started being able to make out the core—a pit of blackness darker than that which surrounded it. Around the core was… it was faint, but I could see the clouds of dull purple swirling manically around it. White eyes, punctured with black dots stared at me in shock—as though spooked and exposed.

    My heart shuddered as though it might collapse in on itself. “No…” I breathed out in disbelief. Cold sweat poured down from the top of my head as I beheld the being in front of me.

    But as the creature materialized more clearly, my panic abated. “You’re… you’re not…” I murmured. It was a Gastly. A Gastly. Not the Gastly. Not my Gastly…

    Behind me, it seemed as though Eusine and Falkner were coming to their senses—loudly asking what happened and wondering who put out the fire. As they turned it seemed that even they could see the Gastly now.

    “An illusion?” I heard Eusine ask, still sounding frazzled.

    For my part, I ignored all this and kept my eyes locked on the Gastly’s. I don’t know what made me do it in that moment, but I reached up my hand toward the floating mass of gas, to the familiar stranger above me. I spread my fingertips. I don’t know what I expected to happen.

    “What are you doing?” Falkner asked from behind me. “It might attack!”

    But it didn’t. In fact, as it stared at me it seemed to grow less surprised, less agitated. Its tiny pupils dilated, making the Pokemon almost look drugged, or as though it was in some deep state of hypnosis. The purple fog spinning around its core seemed to slow—its revolutions calm and balanced.

    I don’t know how long we stood there, staring at each other. I felt almost as sleepy, almost as hypnotized by it as it did by me. We might’ve stood there forever if we hadn’t been disturbed.

    An orb shot out from behind me, making impact directly on the ghost’s forehead. It winced for a moment, suddenly shaken from its trance, as it dissolved into a glow that lit the entire room for the brief second before it disappeared into the ball and dropped to the floor. There were five red blinks before the light stopped.

    I was just as jolted by the interruption as the Gastly had been. I turned to see the outline of Eusine walking forward, picking up the ball, dusting it off, and putting it into a side pocket.

    Falkner found his voice first. “I don’t believe you!” he exclaimed. “We came here to get Morty a Pokemon—not you.”

    “Well, he wasn’t exactly quick to do anything,” Eusine shot back, turning around. “If he’d wanted it then he would’ve already captured it—no sense in letting a strong Pokemon go to waste.”

    “You could’ve asked him first—he was the one that subdued it, so it should’ve been his,” Falkner replied. His voice was low and annoyed, but too resigned to try to change anything. Instead he turned to me and asked, in a curious voice: “How did you manage to calm it down, anyway? And you weren’t affected by its illusion either, were you? How come?”

    “Yes, Morty,” Eusine went on in a sharper, more careful tone. “Just how did you do it?” There was a barb there—a definite note of suspicion.

    “I…” I began, taking an unconscious step back. “I don’t…”

    “Is someone hurt in there?” a muffled voice called from outside.

    We turned around just as the doors, now free of whatever grip the ghosts of the tower had on them, opened. In the moonlight a figure stood, clothed in long robes and wearing sandals. He held a lantern up high, searching for the source of the panicked cries he must’ve heard.

    When the spotlight fell on me, he recoiled. He touched the hand holding the lantern and yelped as though some horrible pain had just shot through it. When the pain receded, he made a sign in the air with his left hand—a sign to ward off evil.

    When he finished, he held the lantern close to him, so that it finally illuminated his face—a grim, determined face that I’d never expected to see again.

    “So…” the monk said, “it’s… you."

  20. #20
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    I don’t think Eusine is capable of sweating.
    I lol'd at that. And at the earlier sentence about his white shoes and the mud. You have a neat talent about describing these little characteristics that I seriously doubt I would have usually thought of. I just don't think about things like that, and the fact that you do really make for a fun read.

    We both froze at the sound.
    It's so funny when I read things along those lines. If you're in a dark room and hear a sound like that, my first thought is to run, or attack, or at least something to get myself out of the way of whatever might be making it.

    As it opened, it let in a rapidly widening shaft of… not light, but a lighter shade of darkness than the suffocating gloom within the building. It was still darkness, but it was open and free darkness, not trapped and stale.
    First off, the description here played out in my mind very well. I pictured what you were trying to convey very easily and it really got me in the mood to try and put myself in that situation. However, the fact that the word darkness was used three times in pretty rapid succession kinda bothered me. It didn't take away from the imagery at all, but I find myself stumbling over the word for a moment. I might replace one of the darkness's with blackness, but besides that I don't have a suggestion for anything to replace it with.

    I don’t think I even liked the taste and I certainly hated the smell. It was the fact that it was forbidden—the fact that, close to graduation or not, we’d be kicked out of school if we were caught, that sparked my adrenaline and really made the drink refreshing. I think it must’ve been the same for Eusine
    That may be one of the best explanations for underage drinking that I have ever read. Like speeding up when the light turns yellow instead of slowing down. To be honest I'm still enamored with Morty as a child, more so than I am with him in the later years that we're seeing now. However, these casual observations like these make me like him more and more. There's tis weird line on how we perceive things when we are children compared to how we think of things when we're older that has always fascinated me. I doubt younger Morty would have examined a situation like this as deeply if at all, but at the same time he had thoughts and opinions that were much more advanced than what I had at his age. lmao, I'm really loving watching his evolution. Nicely done

    It was a Gastly. A Gastly. Not the Gastly. Not my Gastly…
    That was some nice wordplay there. It's pretty basic, but what I highlighted there shows me personally how involved I am with Morty to the point where even the quoted portion makes me really feel for him and feel the almost terror/pleasure he's going thought at this moment. You've really made me like him lol

    Wow, I have to say that this has been my favorite chapter so far. I'm not sure if it was the teen angst that Morty was experiencing (that I myself have been privy too), the wonderful dialogue and witty observations, or even the inclusion of Falkner (which I enjoyed) It ran the right length, was well written (as always), and opened up more about Morty than I thought I would have been capable of seeing. Not only that but the way you've painted Eusine turns him into pretty much a huge pompous *** with good intentions. Obviously I'll be around for the next installment, and I hope it comes soon

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    All Hail the Six Kings...
    Chapter One added (12-07-2014)

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    Thanks so much for the comments! That chapter was really hard to write and I'm not sure if it was the content or more my state of mind, but I basically had to chain myself to my chair to finish it XD So I was very interested to see if I managed to keep that from coming across.

    I lol'd at that. And at the earlier sentence about his white shoes and the mud. You have a neat talent about describing these little characteristics that I seriously doubt I would have usually thought of. I just don't think about things like that, and the fact that you do really make for a fun read.
    Eusine's been a very enjoyable character for me to include here. I definitely want to work with him more.

    However, the fact that the word darkness was used three times in pretty rapid succession kinda bothered me. It didn't take away from the imagery at all, but I find myself stumbling over the word for a moment. I might replace one of the darkness's with blackness, but besides that I don't have a suggestion for anything to replace it with.
    Hmmm. You know I don't like umm... I guess you could call it non-purposeful repeatition when a synonym could be used, but in this case, I'm going to have to defend this, because it is purposeful repetition and because it's refering to the same thing again to give more information about it. So it would feel weird to me to switch one for a synonym like blackness. I'm probably not really explaining myself well X_x sorry.

    That may be one of the best explanations for underage drinking that I have ever read. Like speeding up when the light turns yellow instead of slowing down.
    I'm really glad to hear that bit worked out because I'm a non-drinker and I don't have a great frame of reference for drinking in general, let alone underaged drinking.

    Wow, I have to say that this has been my favorite chapter so far. I'm not sure if it was the teen angst that Morty was experiencing (that I myself have been privy too), the wonderful dialogue and witty observations, or even the inclusion of Falkner (which I enjoyed) It ran the right length, was well written (as always), and opened up more about Morty than I thought I would have been capable of seeing. Not only that but the way you've painted Eusine turns him into pretty much a huge pompous *** with good intentions. Obviously I'll be around for the next installment, and I hope it comes soon
    I'm glad it's remaining interesting even though Gastly's not around. I was really looking forward to being able to work with characters like Eusine and Falkner, and it's a bit of a relief from the ghost stuff, which won't be gone for very long.

    I really do want to get back to working on this thing. I think I just let it slip away from me for a minute there because I was frustrated with it. I have to work on something else first, but I'll probably have the next chapter of this out before I work on anything for any other Pokemon fics. ...Probably XD

    Thanks so much for reading!

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    Hmmm. You know I don't like umm... I guess you could call it non-purposeful repeatition when a synonym could be used, but in this case, I'm going to have to defend this, because it is purposeful repetition and because it's refering to the same thing again to give more information about it. So it would feel weird to me to switch one for a synonym like blackness. I'm probably not really explaining myself well X_x sorry.
    Ah okay. Actually, you explained your position very well. It makes sense to me now. I feel like repeatition is something I have trobule for in my own fic, so when I see it I make sure to brint it up to others. Obviously you know what you're doing so I retract what I said earlier lol. It works

    I'm really glad to hear that bit worked out because I'm a non-drinker and I don't have a great frame of reference for drinking in general, let alone underaged drinking.
    Yeah you hit it right on. And I say that from my own personal experience as a former underage drinker, and from now as an adult drinker lol

    I really do want to get back to working on this thing. I think I just let it slip away from me for a minute there because I was frustrated with it. I have to work on something else first, but I'll probably have the next chapter of this out before I work on anything for any other Pokemon fics. ...Probably XD
    I hope so. I've checked out some of your other stuff, and while they too are superbly written, this is my favorite of your work

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    Chapter One added (12-07-2014)

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    A/N: Got some extra writing done so I'm fairly certain that, even though there are a lot of other (Halloweeny!) things I want to write this month, that there won't be too long a break between this chapter and the next one.

    Chapter 7. Séance.

    “I never thought I’d see you again,” the monk said warily, looking up at me as though I was unavoidable.

    I’d lingered. He seemed to know I would after he told us to run on back home and not try this kind of stunt again. I told Eusine and Falkner I’d catch up with them, trying to ignore the questioning looks on their faces as they headed back to the dormitories.

    “I suppose it makes sense that you’d leave Ecruteak. But to be honest, I thought you’d end up locked away in some kind of hospital.” He must’ve seen the shiver cross my face even in the dark. “I mean… I could get barely anything out of you after it happened. You were practically catatonic.”

    “…Brother Nico, wasn’t it?” I asked, watching for the confirmation on his face. “What are you doing at Sprout Tower?”

    “I work here,” Brother Nico answered simply. But simplicity didn’t seem to do the job for him, so he went on: “My master… the man who you—the man who the evil spirit nearly killed,” he corrected himself, “never fully recovered after what happened. So they…” he paused here, trying to find the right words, “sort of tucked him away. He doesn’t really work anymore. They replaced him.”

    He stared up at the night sky. “I couldn’t stay on after that—so I transferred here. It’s quieter.”

    I tried to remember that day, those lives that I… that he… that we joined forces to destroy. “There was another monk with you… what happened to him?”

    Brother Nico shrugged. “He got demoted and ran off from kitchen duty one night. I suppose he didn’t want to climb the ranks of the order a second time.”

    His adjusted his grip on the lantern he was holding and, just for a moment, I could see the flash of white scars along the back of his hand. “Say…” he began, with some trepidation, “as long as we’re asking about people… Madam Antonella still has the… the creature under her control, right?”

    His uncertainty shook me. Was there reason to doubt that? “I… I don’t know,” I admitted. “I haven’t been back to Ecruteak since then.” I jogged up closer to him. “But she can control him, right? I mean, that’s why I gave him to her—because you said—because you brought me to her.”

    Brother Nico let out a long sigh. “Look… don’t think we brought you to her because we wanted to. We just didn’t have any other choice.” The reflection from the lantern drifted out of his eyes. “They get up to some weird things at the Channelers’ Guild.”

    “Weird things?” I repeated. “Like what?”

    He shook his head. “Strange, sinful rituals… at least that’s what I always heard. But I don’t know if I should repeat any of it to…” he trailed off and gave me a sort of appraising look, as though deciding whether I was old enough or not.

    “It might help to understand that ‘Madam’ Antonella was a madam,” Nico repeated, having made his decision. “That’s how the story goes, anyway. The Channelers Guild used to be her brothel, but when she and her… ‘co-workers’ got too old...” he trailed off. “Well, she was always quite a bit more than just a dabbler in the occult and her ‘business’ changed.”

    I turned my gaze toward the ground, not particularly wanting to image the shrunken, ancient creature I had met at age eight with that kind of backstory.

    “Now who knows what they get up to?” Brother Nico said grimly. “Them in their compound that they lock up so tight that no one can see what they’re doing. The point of exorcism is to get an evil spirit out—but to hear them talk, you’d think it was the opposite.” He grimaced, a sour look on his face too mean-spirited to belong to a holy man. “It figures, for a bunch of ex-prostitutes, don’t you think?”

    I couldn’t answer, but I wondered then, as someone who hadn’t yet come to truly know the Channelers Guild or the mediums that call it their own, how much of this talk was actually true. Madam Antonella had described her channelers as “unholy women” in contrast to the holy men of the temple. In what way had she meant that?

    I couldn’t help but think that such dark and sensuous rumors were just the sort of thing that a bunch of cloistered, celibate men would whisper in the cause of hate and lust. Yes, what would these strange and powerful women—not all old, these days, some of them newer, younger—do in their secret rituals? Would they undress in the moonlight and stand in circles on mountaintops, chanting darkly to summon some unholy being? Would there be demonic, sexual rites? They might ask, what do these mysterious, forbidden women who claim parity with us do? What is their secret?

    It was the kind of line a mind could run wild with—particularly a mind to which such things are the most verboten and therefore the most attractive. Would the old men whisper such things out of spite and the young men repeat them out of interest? Perhaps, perhaps not. Neither I nor Nico, though he passed on the tale, could authentically say that the guild was once a brothel, or that it is now run by faded women of ill-fame. The only ones who could say for sure what that guild was before it was a guild, would be the people of its time.

    “I… don’t know why the master told us to go there as a last resort if anything happened to him,” Brother Nico mused, fidgeting slightly as he shifted his lantern from one hand to the other. There was a hollowness in his voice—a quality of shaken faith. “But he did.”

    I could offer him no assurances—no explanation for why Madam Antonella was his master’s trusted second and not another monk of his order, no benevolent reason why she should be on a first name basis with the holy man. Back then, my future interested me far more than his master’s past.

    “…What do you think I should do now?” I asked.

    He turned to me, slightly caught off guard. “What?”

    “I’m graduating soon,” I explained. “A… well, a friend of mine wants me to take him to Ecruteak, but I’m not sure. If you can’t trust Madam Antonella… then is it even safe for me to go back? And even if it is safe…” I gulped. “…Should I?”

    He looked at me very carefully. He lifted his hand for a moment as though to put it on my shoulder, but then caught sight of the ring of scars in his flesh. He pulled his hand back.

    “If you want my advice,” he said, “don’t ever go back to that city again.”

    With that statement, he lifted his lantern and head down the path toward the monks’ dormitories, but before he’d gotten too far he turned back to face me.

    “And for God’s sake, get some religion,” he added, before turning back once more and leaving me in the dark.

    …Religion. As I took the lonely path back to my dormitory, I felt certain that I would fail in taking that last bit of advice. How could I be God-fearing, when there was something out there that I was much more terrified of?

    *****

    I think Eusine was attempting to lift me by the lapels and slam me against the wall, but all he managed to do was grip my collar angrily as he hissed, “Why didn’t you tell me?!”

    “Tell you what?” I choked out, caught off-guard by him jumping out at me just outside our dormitory.

    The strange red glow around him was back and brighter than ever. He made a sound, like a word only partially spoken, so flabbergasted was he that I would dare to not know what this random bit of assault was about. “That you can talk to ghosts, of course!” he finally managed to get out.

    I tried to keep the grimace off my face, hoping Eusine would put any fluctuation in my expression down to him cutting off my oxygen. “I… can’t,” I protested.

    “Are you kidding me?” he asked incredulously. “I saw you with that Gastly early—you were controlling it somehow!”

    He narrowed his eyes at me, finally letting go of my collar. “You knew, didn’t you? Even before tonight—you knew that you could talk to ghosts and you didn’t tell me,” he accused icily.

    I rubbed a hand across my neck. “I… didn’t actually know that before tonight,” I tried. I took refuge in the fact that it wasn’t a lie—it was just almost a lie. Before that evening, I’d known that I could communicate with a ghost… singular.

    He glared at me. “You expect me to believe that?” he asked, straightening his bowtie. “Then what were you talking to that monk about?”

    The night air felt wintry for a moment as I wondered whether or not Eusine had stayed behind—listened in to my conversation with Brother Nico. I took a deep breath and steeled myself against such a thought. No… no he probably would’ve tried, but I doubted Falkner would’ve sat idly by and let him. Not to mention Eusine had obviously gotten back to the dormitory before I had. He would’ve had much bigger questions to ask me if he’d listened in.

    “Just… nothing really,” I answered as nonchalantly as I could. “He used to live in Ecruteak so I thought I’d say hi and see how he was doing.”

    Eusine raised an eyebrow. “That’s it?” he asked.

    “Honest,” I breathed. “But hey, about this ghost thing,” I said, willing to shift to any topic, even a dangerous one, if it kept Eusine from thinking any further about Brother Nico. If he’d thought to ask the monk for information himself… I’d like to think Brother Nico, wouldn’t have said anything. But who could really say? “Does it even really matter? I mean, I wasn’t even talking to it, really. Just sort of… I don’t know. Anyway, it’s not important,” I said, trying to blow the whole thing off.

    “Not important?” Eusine repeated. He ran a hand through his hair furiously. “Do you honestly not get it? Are we trying to find Suicune and Ho-Oh or not?” he demanded.

    “I don’t see what that has to do with any—”

    “We’ve been digging up books in the library for ages and don’t have much to show for it,” Eusine cut over me. “But imagine what we could find out… if we could ask the dead about it.”

    I pulled my sleeves as far as I could over my hands to ward off the chill. “No,” I said.

    “We’re talking about ancient secrets—the kind that mortals don’t have access to,” Eusine went on, ignoring me. “But with you… there’s something about you that the Gastly responded to—and you could see through their illusions too. I know we can find what we’re looking for if we just use you to communicate with them. It’s better than sitting around waiting for a prophetic dream that just isn’t going to come. We have to take initiative here.”

    “No,” I said again, more forcefully this time.

    He stared at me for a long, painful moment—mouth open as though poised to deliver a retort, but too angry to take it any further. He closed his mouth and walked passed me, bumping my shoulder along the way. When he made it to the door to our dormitory, he turned around again.

    “I can’t believe you,” he said. “You know that I can’t do this—only you. If I had your gifts,” he began, turning up his nose in judgment, “I wouldn’t waste them.”

    *****

    All I wanted was to lose myself that night—to ignore everything that had happened over the last few days in an incomprehensible blur of alcohol, music and people. Finals were done and the school shook with celebration. Falkner, perhaps moved to pity by the threadbare get-together with me and Eusine at Sprout Tower, had invited me to an off-campus party his upperclassmen friends were throwing. “You can even bring Eusine if you absolutely insist,” he’d added, somewhat bitterly.

    I wasn’t going to insist—a fact that pricked at my conscious every time I saw Eusine leading up to that night. I’d barely spoken to him, though, so there wouldn’t have been much of a chance to make the offer anyway. Well, I suppose it’s more correct to say that he’d barely spoken to me.

    None of it was meant to be anyway. I met Eusine on the way out of my dormitory.

    “Come on,” he’d said, already making his way down the hall and outside.

    I hesitated. “I’m kind of going somewhere,” I said, wondering if I should lie if he asked where or if I should make a last minute effort to include him in an event for which he had no interest.

    “Forget that,” Eusine said dismissively, grabbing at my arm. “Let’s go.

    “Where?” I asked, letting myself be dragged along.

    He didn’t answer, but in time I found that “where” was the library—lying fallow in the wake of finals, now that there was no longer any need to crack a book. I followed him down to the basement, through the stacks of old, uncategorized manuscripts and over to a long table resting on a moldering carpet.

    I cough as I inhaled the decaying scent of worm-digested paper and centuries old printer’s glue. “What are we doing down here?” I asked. Eusine and I had been to the stacks many times before—it was where the oldest manuscripts in the school were housed—but we’d gone through it so many times that I doubted that some tome that held all the answers we were looking for had been overlooked.

    “Just looking for a little privacy,” Eusine said, stalking toward the table where several boxes were already stacked. “I thought the library would be the last place anyone would be tonight. Last thing I want is a bunch of partying morons interrupting.”

    I neglected to mention my desire to join the ranks of aforesaid morons. “Interrupting what?” I asked.

    He turned to face me and put a hand into his pocket. “…I want you to try talking to my Gastly,” he finally said.

    I felt my shoulders droop. “Eusine, we’ve been over this. I already told you—”

    “I don’t see how it would hurt to just try communicating with my Gastly,” Eusine snapped. “You two already seemed like you were getting along pretty well at Sprout Tower, so it’s not like you’ve never seen it before or anything. And it’s not wild—I can bring it back into my Poke ball whenever I like, so there’s no need to worry about it going crazy or anything.”

    “Eusine…”

    “Look,” he said, taking out the Poke Ball and enlarging it to its full size, “I already tried talking to it myself, but I’m just not one of those clairvoyant types, like you. If the world of the dead can actually provide me with information about Suicune, then that’s something I have to know.”

    I’d opened my mouth to respond, but he’d already let the little ghost out. And it was little. It was probably closer to a PokeDex description of a Gastly than my Gastly. Which of course meant it looked wrong to me.

    It gazed around, surprised to have been let out of its ball. Then, immediately upon accepting that it was out in the world, it dived into Eusine’s breast pocket, shrinking in size as it did so.

    “Hey! I told you not to do that anymore!” Eusine yelled, slapping at his pocket. “Get out of there this instant!”

    The Gastly obeyed, sliding out of its purple prison. “Sttttly,” it said, brows tilted upward in a mildly sheepish expression.

    Eusine thrust a hand out toward his Gastly and gave me an exasperated look. “Please don’t tell me that you’re honestly going to be scared of talking to that.

    I had to admit, even in my vast reticence to make any sort of communication with a ghost… it was very, very hard to actually take the little ball of purple smoke looking nervously around the room seriously. Even its fangs seemed rounded and non-threatening.

    “Umm… hello there,” I began, bending over and watching the ghost uncertainly. It turned to focus on me as I spoke.

    Eusine rolled his eyes. “This isn’t just some social exercise. Ask it what it knows about Suicune.”

    I felt intensely stupid as I turned back to the ghost and asked: “So… what do you know about Suicune?”

    The Gastly blinked its overlarge eyes at me twice before answering, “…Gas gastly?”

    “Well, what did he say?” Eusine asked, as I straightened up.

    It was like reaching out to some old forgotten skill—some language half-remembered. Though… no, not a language. Language would imply that some kind of direct translation could be had. But yet there was something there—something understandable.

    “I’m not really sure what it’s saying, but it’s more like… I get a feeling from it,” I answered.

    “And what does that feeling translate to?” Eusine asked, impatient to get to the bottom line.

    “Well,” I said, scratching at the back of my neck, “if I had to paraphrase it would probably be something like ‘what’s a Suicune?’”

    There was a cold silence before Eusine swiftly withdrew his Gastly. “We’ll talk about this later,” he promised the Pokemon in a low voice before he returned it to his pocket.

    I actually almost felt like laughing. It was a wonderful and so rare emotion that I would’ve happily indulged in it if it weren’t for the fact that Eusine would’ve been even more annoyed. It wasn’t that the moment was particularly funny—it was relief that drove the impulse.

    “So, we’re done, right?” I asked. “No more trying to get secrets from ghosts? I mean, they obviously don’t know.”

    “Mine doesn’t know,” Eusine corrected. “That doesn’t mean anything.”

    He turned back to the table and picked up a long, flat box from the bottom of the stack. “If we really want to find the answers we need, we should ask the spirit world at large. …I know it seems a little stupid, but we might as well try it. It’s called a Ouijia b—” He turned around and frowned as he saw me back away. “…What’s your problem?”

    “I’m not going near that thing,” I insisted, the acid in my gut churning as I saw the familiar game board.

    He furrowed his brow. “Don’t tell me you believe the crock that this summons demons or something? I borrowed this from the sophomore girls’ dorm… it’s the opposite of threatening.”

    I’m sure my face disagreed. In fact, I’m sure every bone in my body disagreed.

    “There’s no need to freak out about it. It’s not like you even have to do much,” Eusine argued. “Just put your hand on the little game piece and—”

    “I know how to use it, but I’m not going to,” I responded, freaking out, in my opinion, quite needfully. “It doesn’t matter what you say to me. I’m not doing it.”

    Eusine let out a groan. “…I suppose there’s no chance of talking you into trying to channel a ghost then, is there?” he asked with little hope in his voice.

    “No!” I exclaimed, looking at him in horror. “Would you agree to that?”

    Eusine crossed his arms. “I’d do anything if it meant finding Suicune. I’m the one that actually takes this thing seriously, remember? Not like your little Ho-Oh thing that’s apparently just a hobby to you.”

    That last barb might’ve stung me if the situation wasn’t quite so extreme. As it was, I knew that even Ho-Oh wasn’t worth what he was asking. Not by a long shot.

    Eusine sighed. “Look… I get not wanting to actually summon a ghost from the start,” he said, as though we were at the beginning of many séance sessions to come, “but… how about just looking? You don’t have to interact with the spirit world in any way—just look at it.”

    “…What do you mean?” I asked, not quite sure where he was going with this.

    “I mean crystal gazing,” Eusine clarified, though he seemed to find the phrase slightly embarrassing.

    “…You actually got a crystal ball?” I asked, bemusement breaking through the fight-or-flight responses my body had had to the channeling portion of our conversation.

    “Of course not; those things are ridiculously expensive,” Eusine answered. “But I read that a basin or water can be used instead.” He shrugged. “I mean, it’s just about looking for patterns in things to figure out what’s going to happen. Like with tea leaves.”

    I hesitated for the moment. I’d wanted to draw a hard line after the “channeler” comment. Eusine had no idea the kind of thing he was casually suggesting getting into. But yet… what he was suggesting now seemed as harmless as looking for shapes in the clouds.

    “Literally all I’m asking you to do is sit in a room and look in a basin of water for five minutes and tell me if you see anything that could mean something about Suicune,” Eusine summed up. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

    I drew in a breath. “…If I do this,” I said, “you have to promise me that this is the end of it. No more… séances or whatever these are. This is it.”

    “I promise,” Eusine said—too easily. Far too easily. A promise from him without any thought put into it was no promise at all.

    I shouldn’t have taken him at his word; shouldn’t have gone forward with this gambit just to appease him. But I did.

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    “I suppose it makes sense that you’d leave Ecruteak. But to be honest, I thought you’d end up locked away in some kind of hospital.
    Lmao that's pretty honest and direct. Though I am pretty surprised that the assembled group that managed to rip him and Gastly apart didn't keep better tabs on him. It seemed to me that they were quite worried about him before. When I say worried I mean possible ramifications, not actual care. For all they knew he could have been plotting day by day to get back to Gastly, and it's obviously in their best interest to not let that happen. Hmm

    “Say…” he began, with some trepidation, “as long as we’re asking about people… Madam Antonella still has the… the creature under her control, right?”
    That's actually a question I was really surprised he asked. Though at the same time it makes sense if he's never been back since the incident happened. I'm really kinda digging the disconnectedness going on here

    “It figures, for a bunch of ex-prostitutes, don’t you think?”
    That was rather inventive on your part. And the way you explained it made sense. The Madam privileged enough to be blessed with looks and allure in her youth, to enjoy that power that she had over the sexual dynamic between people, only to have it taken away as they got older. Hell, I'm surprised more prostitutes don't turn to the occult haha. Anyway, just wanted to comment on that bit because I thought you did a spectacular job.

    “And for God’s sake, get some religion,” he added, before turning back once more and leaving me in the dark.
    I actually lol'd at that haha.

    “You can even bring Eusine if you absolutely insist,” he’d added, somewhat bitterly.
    LMAO, I love how you portray Falkner. Not only is he so grandiose and kind of socially lethargic is such a way that he almost inspires people, but his dialogue is downright hilarious

    I cough as I inhaled the decaying scent of worm-digested paper and centuries old printer’s glue.
    Do you care to elaborate on the bolded portion? It doesn't really make sense to me

    so there’s no need to worry about it going crazy or anything.”
    It surprises me that Eusine doesn't know his Gastly's gender. I just feel that someone like him would actually know.

    “if I had to paraphrase it would probably be something like ‘what’s a Suicune?’
    Lol, I keep underestimating you when it comes to your flair for comedy. These little moment between the seriousness of what's happening keep me guessing in a good way

    Well, if there's one thing I have to gripe out about, which is rare for me with your story, it's about the Pokemon. I feel like you've addressed this before but to be honest my heart leapt when Eusine brought out his Gastly. Besides seeing Pokemon inspired items around your universe, and the portions with with Morty's Gastly (who I wish had his own name because I feel like he's deserving of one), we haven't really seen any Pokemon at all. Not that I'm trying to tell you how to write, believe me, you're amazing, but since this is a story set in the Pokemon universe I'm just surprised that there haven't been more so far. You may have more planned, or maybe have more of the same, either way I'm still loving the story and am on board either way.

    This is something I've been thinking about for awhile now, and I'm sure you have a handle on this. It's more just of a passing observation than anything else. Great chapter as always, and I look forward for more.

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

    -Thanks to PopPrincess_Lyra for the banner above, and Sworn Metalhead for the banner below -


    All Hail the Six Kings...
    Chapter One added (12-07-2014)

  25. #25
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    Lmao that's pretty honest and direct. Though I am pretty surprised that the assembled group that managed to rip him and Gastly apart didn't keep better tabs on him. It seemed to me that they were quite worried about him before. When I say worried I mean possible ramifications, not actual care. For all they knew he could have been plotting day by day to get back to Gastly, and it's obviously in their best interest to not let that happen. Hmm
    I'd like to think the temple itself probably has a better idea of what's going on, but that Nico's simple out of the loop because he quit.

    That was rather inventive on your part. And the way you explained it made sense. The Madam privileged enough to be blessed with looks and allure in her youth, to enjoy that power that she had over the sexual dynamic between people, only to have it taken away as they got older. Hell, I'm surprised more prostitutes don't turn to the occult haha. Anyway, just wanted to comment on that bit because I thought you did a spectacular job.
    Thanks! I wondered how that idea would play... it was sort of a late addition but I'm very happy with it since I think it gets at some of the themes in this story.

    LMAO, I love how you portray Falkner. Not only is he so grandiose and kind of socially lethargic is such a way that he almost inspires people, but his dialogue is downright hilarious
    Thanks! I've been loving dealing with Falkner and Eusine, which is probably why this school segment involving them has gone on longer than I thought it would

    Do you care to elaborate on the bolded portion? It doesn't really make sense to me
    Well... the section has a lot of antique books in it and the glue used in book bindings can start to smell over the years. I'm not sure if it's because it simply gets old or if it's because of the material they used to use for it. The fact that book-devouring bugs have been eating and... erm... excreting the remains probably doesn't help.

    It surprises me that Eusine doesn't know his Gastly's gender. I just feel that someone like him would actually know.
    Hmm. Not sure about that. I guess it depends on if we're following anime or game logic. In the games, you pretty much know right off the bat. But in the anime they seem to need to take time to figure out the gender. I'm not even sure where you'd check on a Gastly for that kind of thing XD But Eusine hasn't had the Gastly for very long, so I don't think it's that surprising that he doesn't know yet which it is.

    Lol, I keep underestimating you when it comes to your flair for comedy. These little moment between the seriousness of what's happening keep me guessing in a good way
    I'm glad to hear it! Really comedy is what I mainly write, so I'm trying not to go too overboard with it since this is a more serious piece. I don't want to squeeze it all out of the process because I think it helps to balance out the tension in places, but I worry about the amount of levity in this chapter... mainly because I'd intended it to cover more and what does get covered here is the lighter stuff.

    Well, if there's one thing I have to gripe out about, which is rare for me with your story, it's about the Pokemon. I feel like you've addressed this before but to be honest my heart leapt when Eusine brought out his Gastly. Besides seeing Pokemon inspired items around your universe, and the portions with with Morty's Gastly (who I wish had his own name because I feel like he's deserving of one), we haven't really seen any Pokemon at all. Not that I'm trying to tell you how to write, believe me, you're amazing, but since this is a story set in the Pokemon universe I'm just surprised that there haven't been more so far. You may have more planned, or maybe have more of the same, either way I'm still loving the story and am on board either way.

    This is something I've been thinking about for awhile now, and I'm sure you have a handle on this. It's more just of a passing observation than anything else. Great chapter as always, and I look forward for more.
    You're right to point this out. Part of the problem is that in most of my Pokemon writing, Pokemon themselves are pretty peripheral. Just as a matter of my own proclivities, I tend to be more interested in the humans than the Pokemon, so that's what I write about. I don't think that's generally a bad thing, to be honest, but in this case... yeah, it's a problem here, because this fic is about, at its core, the relationship between Morty and Gastly.

    I think a lot of this is to blame on the fact that I grossly miscalcuated how long this period of seperation between the two would take. All this school stuff has stretched way longer than I thought it would. For example, if this chapter had covered all the material I thought it would end up being able to cover, it would've been more than twice as long as it ended up.

    Thankfully the seperation will be ending soon (I probably said that several chapters ago... but this time I really mean it!) and hopefully that'll solve some of the problem. Perhaps in the future I'll be able to go back and cut out some of the unnecessary bits that extended the seperation, but right now I just want to make sure I'm not rushing through important things to get there.

    As always, thanks so much for reading and for your comments! I hope to have a (more horror-appropriate) new chapter up before Halloween!

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