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Flying in the Dark

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by diamondpearl876, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    I figured that importance had to be established somewhat early on, but not too early. Glad it seemed well-placed? And well-written? XD

    Yes, you're meant to feel the same way Haley does. And we'll see how Kenneth goes - he wasn't in the original, and I'll be looking to make sure he's still pertinent and not shoved to the side just because he's not sending letters!

    Glad you thought so. That letter was actually very hard to write - couldn't tell you why, but it came along slower than what I had expected for a 5-page piece of work. Seems it was worth it, though!

    Yeah, did that based off your comments! I hope I can keep up with it :)

    Thanks for reviewing!
  2. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Hi! Just posting to confirm this fic is not, in fact, dead. I am about 75% of the way through Haley's next letter, and then Markus's are shorter and come more easily to me, so... Expect an update in 2 weeks or so? See you guys then!
  3. Hakajin

    Hakajin Obsessive Shipper

    Soooo... I read the first chapter months ago, was going to come back and review it... then kept putting it off until the point where it felt awkward. Eheheh... I tend to do that kind of thing. But, for whatever reason, here I am, finally getting around to it. So!

    I feel like Haley is better written this time around, definitely. She still has lots of thoughts about life and the world, but here she doesn't sound so much like she thinks she knows everything. Like, here:
    Rather than saying she knows better than her parents, she questions what they tell her. That makes a big difference. So far, too, I feel like the ideas she's talking about are more... down to earth. Like, it's been a while, but I remember before how Haley had this romanticized idea about Markus as a prisoner, thinking about him as someone who'd really lived, and was more real, or something. And I feel like what you've got here is better:
    I especially like that idea at the end about him appreciating descriptions of the outside world more than other people. That shows a desire for someone to really value her words, she wants her words to mean something to someone. That's very relatable.

    I'm also loving the way you're showing the relationship with the grandmother:
    That gives me a clear picture of their relationship. The grandmother is someone who understands that Haley needs to do her own thing, letting her stay up late and watch scary movies. You get the feeling that the parents are over-protective.

    As for Markus, he's still coming off as a little... impressed with himself? At least with his own intellect. Especially in the way he uses metaphor, like "if a glass of milk was spilled, the whole house was drowning." He's saying his mother was abusive, and she killed his siblings? Although he may not be remembering things right? To be honest, I wasn't quite clear on what he was saying; it's only because I've read the first incarnation of this fic that I know about his memory issues. And then he starts talking about culture... I feel like the cue for him to start talking about that was stronger in the first iteration. I'm not sure, because it's been a while, but it seems like it was Haley who first mentioned it? In any event, to me it seemed to me like she was just trying to learn about him as a person, about his experiences, rather than the broad implications he's talking about. I just felt like I wasn't really sure why he started talking about culture like that?

    Of course, mostly what I'm doing here is comparing this revised edition to the original. Markus is still an interesting character... I just feel like maybe he... You know what it is, I feel like the way he talked made more sense when Haley started off talking to him that way. That was interesting, because I couldn't tell if he was really taking her seriously, or just messing with her at first. Here, Haley feels more like a normal teenager, so when Markus starts talking so abstractly to her... it's not clear where that's coming from. Not saying that can't work; maybe he's trying to impress her, or mess with her head...

    Well, those are my impressions so far!
  4. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Hey, glad to see you back! I'm glad you're enjoying the improvements to Haley's character. Markus, hmm... I guess I was focusing too much on what I could keep for him, and not what I should've been changing. I'll definitely keep it in mind going forward.

    Also, due to getting a second job and getting all kinds of different sicknesses and infections, I'm probably gonna wait to continue writing in November for NaNoWriMo, when things calm down and/or I feel better. Sorry for the delay. I am alive, though.
  5. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    All right, so. I've been working on this letter since May. Even after cutting out an entire scene, it's amounted to about 6,000 words... without Markus's reply letter as well. Haley likes to talk. So, we're just going to have a Haley letter for now. Should the letters continue to be this long, I'll release one at a time consistently.

    [letter nine]


    June 25

    Oh, no, Markus...

    Where do I start with this letter? As usual, you leave me wondering about a lot of things I'd never have thought of on my own! My pokémon have been looking at me real confused-like, and Kenneth asks about your letters all the time. He's too observant, always pointing out when I'm distracted, when I forget to eat, and whatever else. He's convinced you might be influencing me so I'll hightail it back home, too afraid to confront the real world again. ...So, yeah, that means I told him about you. But I'm just taking his opinion at face value, since he doesn't know your story.

    I mean, I think I know enough about manipulative people to trust that you aren't one of them. For example, street vendors roaming around Anistar's Bottomford Bridge would ask trainers passing by to show their badges and pokéballs, claiming that they knew cool tips and tricks to keep them clean and intact. Then the liars would run off with the stuff! I mean, police are there to deal with this sort of thing, and pokédex data can prove that a trainer earned their badges, but still... If that's not an act of deception, I don't know what is.

    Oh, right. Pokéballs. What kind did Enmity have? Let me know and I'll ask Kenneth for more information about it. He says the type of ball makes a huge difference. If it's a friend ball, the pokémon goes to help people in rehabilitation centers, or a water-type in a lure ball might travel with sailors until the prisoner's sentence is carried out. ...Sorry, I wish I knew more about this kind of thing myself.

    Anyway, I've been meaning to bring up something you mentioned in your last letter, so now's as good a time as any:

    ...What can I say? I've left so many friends behind. I can't forget that. You know I can't forget that.

    What I did was cut out the last part of your letter and tape it onto mine. Then I scribbled out the words to the point where you'll have to strain your eyes to read them. Don't try to do that! I'm not so silly as to request the impossible from you, though. Instead I give you permission to move on and forgive yourself! Remember what I said about writing down facts from your life, then having them leave your mind forever. Seriously, how's that for an illusion? The mind forgets, but the body remembers... or whatever that saying is.

    I can't help but wonder if the saying rings true for psychic-types. A psychic-type's brain is way more advanced than a human's, and I'd find it hard to believe if someone told me they weren't capable of recalling memories pretty easy. When I think about that, though, I remember how I mistreated Ribbons by sending him so far away when he's still so little... What if he has nightmares, or what if he refuses to protect me because he doesn't respect me? I read that part of your letter and Kenneth asked me if I was all right. I told him yes! But he took my hand—gently, I promise—and showed me just how bad it was shaking.

    I looked Ribbons over to make sure he wasn't sick like you said I should, and I didn't see anything, but Kenneth suggested we take him to the Pokémon Center anyway if it'd make me feel better. He explained to the Nurse Joy on duty what happened for me and everything. She smiled sadly, feeling sorry more for me than Ribbons, I think.

    After a while of me walking up and down the hallways, refusing Kenneth’s efforts to get me to sit still, Nurse Joy brought Ribbons back to me. But he was in his pokéball, not out and flying to my shoulder so he could snuggle into the crook of my neck. I was more concerned than ever.

    “Your natu is very active,” Nurse Joy told me, smiling again, friendly this time, “but it'd be best to let him rest more often than not over the next few weeks.”

    Then she put his pokéball in my hand and demonstrated how I could gauge his health without releasing him. If the pokéball turned cold and darker in color, I should get another check-up done. And if it stayed warm and colored normally, I'd have nothing to worry about. Oh, the things you learn that you wish you had known sooner, right? I calmed down after that.

    I gotta tell you, though, that Ribbons is nothing like the hypno or claydol you met! I mean, when he fluffs his feathers his eyes squint so much you get shaky, like he's staring into your soul... Oh, and I guess he kinda confronts inanimate objects and attacks them if his telekinetic powers aren't working. And it's true that trained xatu can peer into the past and the future, which I suppose is disastrous in the wrong hands... But I swear, Ribbons is a good pokémon! I'll take care of him and make sure he doesn't cause trouble for anybody. Just give him a chance, okay? My grandmother wouldn't have given him to me if he was cruel.

    Ribbons isn't cruel, but Dendemille sure is. One step into that town and I knew my team would have a rough time of it. I saw the naked winter trees lining the entrance on Wyvernmere Avenue and the desolate streets beyond that, and I knew that we needed to buy a hotel room with a fireplace or make our visit quick. Searching for the hotel itself was no easy feat, either. No one wanted to be out in the cold, so we couldn't ask for directions! Knocking on doors didn't seem like an option, since all the houses had closed shutters, and the lights were off. Not a single resident had a balcony, or a fenced backyard, or anything that might suggest that they ever went outside. But shouldn't they be used to the cold? I'm getting worked up over this...

    Back to my main point. My pokémon aren't familiar with fast-changing weather patterns like that. Snug in his pokéball, Ribbons fared a little better in Dendemille. The climate in Johto is much different, or so my grandmother's told me. But Seybs has only traveled in the fall, and Kai, I assume, stayed in one place his whole life. My goal became to train them in the winter wonderland that was Dendemille. That way, I can travel without worrying about them too much.

    So after we checked in with the Lock Haven Hotel's receptionist—who was sleeping at the desk and glaring at us angrily because we woke her up—we traipsed through Dendemille's winding grey brick terrace. A giant windmill towered over us and spun slow, seemingly turning faster the higher we went. Snowflakes drifted down from Frost Cavern in the north and onto the bare gardens and uneven soil patches behind the ground-level houses. I have no idea how the farmers grow anything at all, but I guess they'd know better than I would.

    We came across a bridge connecting the town to Frost Cavern... which, I assume, wasn't built when you visited, since you only mentioned the Halfpoint River. Anyway. With all its steel and cables, the bridge seemed safe enough, like it was built by the most skilled engineers, though the deserted atmosphere of the place in general might lead you to believe otherwise. I had a feeling that if Dendemille collapsed due to an earthquake or some other strong pokémon attack, the bridge would be spared and become the town's only namesake.

    I tried to go on ahead, putting my hands to my mouth and breathing on them to keep warm. (The Beartic Cave clothing store in Anistar advertised wrongly when their commercials said that, even if they were thin, these gloves would make winter bearable for the rest of my life.) Kenneth stopped me before I got too far across the bridge, and at first I couldn't figure out why. Actually, I didn't figure it out until he just told me flat out, but yeah. He gestured for me to shush and to stay shushed the whole way ahead. We only heard clumsy flapping noises from two of my cold, tired flying-types.

    Once we got to the other side, I was excited by the view of Frost Cavern. Kenneth certainly wasn't. He put a hand on my shoulder and turned me around, then asked me in a half-joking tone about whether or not I really live in Kalos. I told him I didn't know what he meant.

    “That bridge is more famous than the actual cave up there. I'm from Hoenn and even I know that, for crying out loud.”

    I looked back at the bridge, unimpressed. It was only covered in snow and foot tracks. “What's so special about it?” I asked.

    He sighed and explained. “Many people and pokémon have died trying to pass through Mamoswine Road and Brun Way. Sickness takes hold, accidents happen, or they freeze, or... Well, you get the point. The townspeople first realized this was an issue when a body was discovered floating down there”—he pointed toward Halfpoint River; I shivered—“and then they built this bridge to honor the dead. It's been a tradition, albeit an unspoken one, to cross the bridge in silence.”

    “I'm sorry. I didn't know.” I really didn't.

    “Pokémon training isn't all fun and games.”

    “Yes, I know.” Though I'm not sure if I know. I learned about world geography, but my father was my teacher and not once had he mentioned Dendemille's bridge of silence, or anything like it. I learned simple facts, town and city names, statistics about the industry... all of which meant little when compared to this. What else did he keep from me?

    I didn't have time to think about it. It was cold, very cold, Markus! I hugged myself and peered downward. Kenneth's eyes softened. We had to keep moving or we'd have been stuck there all night, and the money we spent on the Lock Haven Hotel would have gone to waste. Or worse, we might have frozen to death. Kenneth was determined not to make the first move, though. We kept looking back and forth at each other, him turning in circles and me taking half a step forward as if to head toward the cave. Eventually he laughed and said that neither of us seemed to want to call the other's bluff, and I figured all was well between us again.

    As we stepped inside the large, gaping mouth of Mt. Moretet, I saw how Frost Cavern lived up to its name, what with the icicles stuck to the steep ceiling and the melted water dripping and leaving wet marks on the snow. Kenneth rushed me ahead now, warning me how some of the icicles might be loose and how they could fall on us if we weren't careful. He didn't account for the loose pebbles scattered across the stone floor, though, and he almost made me trip over myself. He mumbled an apology.

    When we were in safer territory, he pulled out a plain pokéball with a strange engravement above the button. I couldn't make out what the symbol was right at that moment, and I couldn't think of any reason for him to want to bring out a pokémon other than to hurt me where no one could see. I didn't—don't—know much about him, and his entire team was still a mystery. My body tensed as he released a fat yellow pokémon with dull, deep-set eyes and a green hump on its back. A flurry of fake, hazy blue flames emerged as well, then quickly dissipated. I was torn between fleeing for my life in response to the makeshift fire or standing my ground, because this particular species of pokémon seemed harmless.

    The creature yawned, as if it, too, thought of itself as boring. “This,” Kenneth announced idly, petting it on the head, “is Donmel.”

    I blurted this out without meaning to: “And?”

    “Otherwise known as a numel in Kaloseux.”


    “He's a fire-type, Haley.”


    Donmel didn't look like a fire-type. Flames weren't gushing from its mouth. No smoke, either. I moved closer and—nope, no heat radiated from his body! At least the blue flame spectacle made some sense now. I just always thought fire-types were fierce, like Joey's talonflame. (Your fennekin probably wasn't too hostile, though, was she? I imagine she would've fought with Chespin about being the leader if she was, but you've never mentioned that.)

    Kenneth took a few steps forward and bent down to pick up Donmel's pokéball. Then he held it out to me, pointing toward its top, where a single blue flame was etched. “Not as hot to the touch as you might think,” he said, smirking. I gave him a blank stare. “...You must not know about pokéball seals. Am I right?”

    I continued to stare at him, one eyebrow raised in confusion. Donmel's round ears perked up at the sound of his name.

    “Why not orange flames? Red? Yellow? You know, typical colors,” I said, trying to keep my voice strong. I wouldn't dare admit that no, I didn't know about pokéball seals.

    “As you can see,” Kenneth said, smirking more than ever, “Donmel's a bit slow and lazy... which, I'm sure you know, isn't very practical when you're trying to travel.” I glanced at Seybs and nodded. Kenneth went on, “Sure, he could stay in his pokéball, but that's not ideal, either. That's where this seal comes in. Seals were designed to work hand in hand with a pokéball's mechanics, so that a pokémon can absorb a seal's energy when inside the pokéball, and maintain that energy for use when outside the pokéball. I chose blue flames because... Well, the blue flame seal utilizes the basics of physics. On the electromagnetic spectrum, visible blue light has shorter wavelengths than red, and thus the amount of available energy is higher.”

    He talked like he was confident, but his gaze shifted restlessly at the same time. His smirk faded by the end of his spiel, too. “Does the seal not work or what?” I asked, thinking I would have met Donmel much sooner if Kenneth felt as proud as he sounded.

    “No, it works. Donmel has more energy than he did when I first got him, believe me. And I don't have to feed him as much to make up for his lethargy.”

    I waited to see if he had anything else to add. He shrugged and said with a tone of finality, “I told you, the seal works. Sometimes it works too well, even. Blue flames are hotter than normal flames. Fire-types like that stuff...” he said, trailing off while balancing the ball on his fingertips, “but it can be dangerous.”

    Markus, it wasn't my naivety that was annoying him for once! I was being too persistent when he didn't want to tell me something for one reason or another. It was my turn to smirk at him, to hopefully make him feel more comfortable.

    “You couldn't have brought him out earlier?” I said, motioning to our wintry surroundings. The snow was so white it burned my eyes, and I'm sure there was so much of it that every nook and cranny in Frost Cavern was filled completely. It would have been nice for the little guy to use some of that energy to melt even some of the misery away.

    Kenneth waved his free hand at me. “Let's just start our training,” he said. “Things'll heat up before you know it.”

    We came up with a few training strategies that focused on our individual weaknesses and strengths. We also tried to plan out activities that used all of our pokémon (while keeping Ribbons's involvement limited). Originally I was hesitant to face Kenneth's team. What if his team could overpower mine, no problem? But if we were going to be traveling partners, I needed to know what I was dealing with. I asked him to introduce them to me, and he obliged without any hesitation whatsoever.

    I was surprised when Kenneth's, uh, starter was a species I recognized. The sableye's strange, diamond-shaped eyes transfixed on me with an intensity that made me shudder. It fiddled with the red jewel on its chest possessively. Because of these strange details, I barely noticed the cloud of black smoke that floated upward and vanished in response to the sableye's pokéball seal. The whole scene reminded me of Anistar's folklore about Diancie being mistaken for a gem and locked away in Terminus Cave by a horde of sableye.

    I made a joke about it, but I think Kenneth took me seriously because he gave me a list of all the reasons it was impossible for his particular sableye to have visited Terminus Cave and its surrounding areas. By the end of his argument I had spaced out and missed Kenneth explaining how sableye in Hoenn are called something different. (The species name in Hoennese, I was told again later, is Yamirami.)

    Kenneth's shroomish, which has the unfortunate Hoennese name of Kinococo, popped out along with a volley of glowing projectiles. One of them struck Kai's chest, causing him to drop the half-eaten banana in his claws. I expected him to fret over the incident. But he acted like the banana didn't exist anymore!

    I asked Kenneth what he had done, but he just claimed that it was Kinococo's secret power attack. After some prodding, Kenneth described what happened. He had utilized Kinococo's pokéball seal by requesting that she use her secret power attack before being released, a feat only made possible by the fact that pokémon can hear what's going on in the outside world when recalled. The pokéball seal absorbed the secret power and laced the attack with powders and a force that, when released, provided Kai with the extra boost of energy he was trying to gather by eating a crazy amount of calories.

    Kenneth's last pokémon, a corphish—Heigani, I think?—could purify water with its pokéball seal. Not too useful for training, sorry to say.

    We started with an agility competition, with Yamirami’s shadow sneak attack versus Ribbons’s teleporting abilities… at least until Yamirami reached a part of the cavern where a shadow was too far to jump to. Ribbons chirped triumphantly nonstop after! No doubt he’ll be back to full strength soon!

    Then came Seybs’s turn. At the risk of sounding super conceited, he’d be the best battler if I put some real effort into training him! Of course, that’s assuming he’d go along with it. Pidgeotto are natural predators, right? You’d never guess, watching Seybs, but I’m pretty sure they are. Anyway, he flew around to practice maneuvering in a small space, carrying Kinococo on his back as the shroomish practiced his growth attack and increased the weight on Seybs’s back. Turns out Kinococo could only expand twice before having to call it quits.

    At that point, I assumed Kenneth would be screaming and pulling his hair out in anger, but he did no such thing. He squatted down, scratching his chin as he considered other options that might help his pokémon succeed. At least he gained the upper hand in the last training session between Kai and Heigani, where the two squared off to see who could carve a burrow into ice wall fastest. But if you ask me, it was a pretty close match.

    I didn't expect his team to be on the same level as mine or weaker, Markus. I told Kenneth this, which I shouldn't have told him, even if I did use more polite wording and an apologetic tone. I felt strong, much like Ribbons had, and I wanted to show it, but around Kenneth you get the feeling that you're not supposed to get too excited or else you appear selfish.

    “I wouldn't underestimate my team like that,” he said, shaking his head. “We're very different trainers, and categorizing our teams or limiting our knowledge of their capabilities based on one training session is useless.”

    “Different how?”

    “We come from entirely different backgrounds, and have distinctly unique personalities. Not to mention that our pokémon are from different regions. All that and more effects the battling styles and strategies we use.”

    I shrugged, unsure of what to say. I was curious to see if we could ever find a common ground between us. (Of course, it didn't take long for that to happen. I'll get to it later. The conversation we had, when I think about it, makes me sad and if I think about it now, I'll put the pen down and never get around to writing the rest of this letter.)

    There should’ve been one more competition. Kenneth had another contender, after all. I was out of usable pokémon, though. Donmel had been sitting on the sidelines the entire time, not even offering Kenneth or his teammates moral support. Kenneth seemed to view Donmel in a different light altogether, a sad, unnerving notion I didn't know how to bring up in a conversation.

    But I can't dwell on Kenneth's problems, Markus, just as I make every effort to not dwell on yours. I guess the important thing is that I succeeded in testing my team's skills in a town that is, as you know, wintry. Now I'm confident we'll be all right during the regular winter months and in Snowbelle City, should we ever travel south to the wintry-est region in Kalos. I mean, sure, birds wear down coats and produce oils in their glands to make their feathers waterproof... And they shiver sometimes to circulate heat in their bodies. All that's fine and dandy for a pet, or for a wild flying-type who adapts of its own accord. You just never know how much exertion you'll be using when traveling and battling.

    So, uh. This might be hard to believe, but I've only described a day's worth of events. And really, it had just begun to turn dark once we finished training. We knew it was time to leave when even the cave entrance wasn't providing us with much light anymore. Kenneth asked to stay another five or ten minutes, but I had no interest in wandering and accidentally getting lost. (Kenneth claims that your previous letter may have had something to do with that, Markus, although I think it’s pretty reasonable to not wanna backtrack and burn more daylight.)

    Walking back, I realized the hard way that starting a conversation with Kenneth is ridiculously difficult. Choosing a topic is impossible when you barely know someone, and, on top of that, I had to worry about making a fool of myself in front of him (again). With our pokémon in their balls, too, there wasn't a single distraction to break the silence. Eventually I asked him why he didn't have a traditional Hoenn starter. Ghost-types aren't the most popular species, after all. Not even for experienced trainers!

    Kenneth ignored me, head held low as we crossed the bridge once more. Desperate, I looked around, searching for any source of inspiration that might make the atmosphere less awkward. Snow, a slow-moving river, steel cables, trees with bare branches... Nope, nothing was coming to me.

    The last thing Kenneth had commented on with any emotion was your letters, so I'm sorry, Markus, but I kind of used you as bait. Maybe I thought this would be the ideal way to get him to sympathize with you, too, but if you were to ask me to be honest about it I would clam up and change the subject. I told him about your starters, all three of them. ...I'm hoping you don't mind. Kenneth, being the respectful guy he is, waited till we stepped off the bridge to reply. He didn't say anything mean, per se, but he was surprised that you had three, and then by the fact that they're, you know... gone.

    He made eye contact with me as I explained everything to him (sparing the more gruesome details, I promise), and I thought he would lecture me on how I was overstepping my boundaries. Instead he shrugged and said, “You should tell this Markus Samaras friend of yours that I know such personal information about him.”

    “Well, he knows you're traveling with me, so he knows you exist, and I guess that's a good start...” Whatever else I rambled on about isn't important. I wasn't keen on including this conversation in my letter, not at all, and, if it were up to me, I would've forgotten it took place completely.

    “Does he now?” Kenneth asked, eyebrow raised. “It's only fair, if you think about it.”

    I told him it was fair because he analyzes you, even from afar, even without you asking to be the center of attention and the target of intense scrutiny. The actual wording I used was hardly what I'd call elegant, but so it goes.

    “Am I like that?” he murmured softly, and then he turned quiet again, like he was reliving his childhood and trying to pinpoint the exact moment that determined he would be the way he is today. He surprised me when he said, “All right, then. Tell this Markus Samaras friend of yours that I'm not perfect, either. I told you Yamirami was my starter, right?”

    I nodded.

    “I lied about that. Donmel was my starter, not Yamirami.”

    ...Markus, this didn't make sense to me, and in some ways, it still doesn't, knowing the facts of Kenneth's life that I'll explain in a minute. It's always been commonplace for trainers to have strong bonds with their starters, and to... not favor them, or treat them special... What I'm trying to say is that trainers put their starters on a pedestal one step higher than other members of the team, but to me, it seemed that Donmel could disappear into thin air and Kenneth could replace him without a second thought.

    It was my turn to be silent. I had to listen if I wanted to begin to understand where he was coming from.

    Kenneth sighed. “Donmel was my starter,” he repeated. “He used to belong to my dad. My dad... had this silly dream as a kid. He wanted to study the stars, wanted to be an astronaut so he could travel to space and see them up close. I'm not aware of all the details, but before he graduated with his astrophysics degree, he lost hope and suddenly considered the goal unrealistic. Then he dropped out and did what everyone does when they don't know what else to do in life: he became a pokémon trainer. He didn't forget about the stars, though. His team consisted of species that reminded him of them. Donmel, as a fire-type, was a fitting choice. He experimented with all the elements, but fire was his favorite. At the dinner table he'd boast about whatever crazy attack combinations Donmel had performed that day. They were more for show than for battling purposes at the time, but he never allowed me and my mom a glimpse of his self-proclaimed brilliance.

    “He would have been good at contests if he pushed aside his pride, though I think he was planning on entering one in the near future, because one day he brought me to the place he'd always train with Donmel and his other pokémon. He needed to start accepting the idea of an audience if my guess was right. Or he finally woke up that morning and decided I was old enough to have a relationship with my father, I don't know.

    “...Haley, I told you about the seals earlier, didn't I? He introduced them to me, said he wanted to demonstrate how Donmel could breathe blue fire in a pattern that mimicked the hottest stars within the constellations. It was his biggest accomplishment as a trainer to date, he said. Donmel messed up, though. Or I walked too close. I can't say I remember for certain. But I got burned and had to be taken to the emergency room. After that, Dad disappeared. My mom gave Donmel to me when I registered my license years later. For all I know, she did it as a consolation or a way to feel closer to my father.”

    And Markus, what was I supposed to say to that? No thoughts were running through my mind. I only experienced what emotions washed over me: a twinge of loneliness intertwined with a sense of familiarity. My own father was a part of my life, more so than Kenneth's, but he was detached, and I'd argue that that's almost the same as being gone.

    I wanted to ask why he'd use seals for his whole team if such bad memories were associated with them. I wanted to ask if releasing Donmel from his pokéball ever made him apprehensive, or angry. I wanted to ask what he'd do if he found his father. But I could only mumble that I was sorry.

    “There's a lot that I don't know, but the scar is there,” Kenneth said, shrugging and, maybe unconsciously, holding his stomach. “I was near Anistar specifically to see if anyone knew about him visiting the sundial, given its connection to the most significant star out there. It seemed like somewhere he would go.”

    He treated his story like it wasn't a big deal, Markus. Don't be fooled, though, okay? He told me when he met that he didn't care where his father was, but he just admitted otherwise. He didn't lie for the fun of it; he lied to protect himself. When you feel the need to conjure up a lie to tell people you just met, you know something's seriously wrong. And I have no right asking you this, but please be kind in your response. He wanted you, a complete stranger, to know. Surprising, to be sure, but I can’t in good faith turn him down. So now you know.

    - Haley
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
  6. Sike Saner

    Sike Saner Peace to the Mountain

    Well that's a neat lil feature.

    Oh my gosh that's cute...

    Sableye! You're in public!

    Pfffff wow. What impeccable manners he has.

    Well that's creepy as ****. I like it.

    Of course, with all this talk of seals... well. There's a question I'm going to ask, because of course I'm going to. Okay, so: Kenneth suffered a burn connected to the pretty blue fire seal, yeah? What might have happened if he'd been on the receving end of some of those seals that make letters appear?

    Or, to put it another way: has anyone ever been hospitalized by a swear word materializing out of thin air?
  7. Praxiteles

    Praxiteles Friendly POKéMON.

    It's revised Flying in the Dark! In other words, exciting stuff. It looks like it would be a better idea to read it fresh, without trying to compare it to the original draft, since it's been a long time since I've read the story. What do you think?

    Also like. I went back to my review from last year and I'm really embarrassed. Sorry for subjecting you to such a show-offy, belligerent reviewing style! I don't believe now in the nitpickyness of how I used to read, but hopefully this time I should still be able to engage with your story in ways that are helpful.

    What I think before starting is that Haley is totally, to the bone, a poet kind of person. It's endearing to see because she's so colored by it down to her way of living and her interaction with people! When I say 'poet', I probably mean someone who is always observing the world looking for spiritual engagement, trying to find out what would be her 'metaphorical' struggles and battles, her 'soulful' ambitions and desires from her life, and usually resorting to shreds of poetry to cast the world in the right light. A life will literally always end up being constructed somehow, but 'understanding why you're alive', etc -- that's more rare. She might be more satisfied by 'knowing her desires', than getting concrete and definable things out of life. At least it feels that way. In other words, she reaches out to people because she's looking for an interesting/'productive' entanglement between their hearts.

    What are the images that she thinks of when she imagines the outside world? To me that seems like a telling question...

    (I even glossed over the real hook in this paragraph -- everyone just wants to have a real journey after a childhood of dreaming, but she's already impatient to tell what she's going to experience! She doesn't trust reality, she would rather corroborate with narration!! A poet thru and thru!!)

    Now this man, who I still don't understand and who isn't any type (what kind of a type is a prisoner). What does he even have? How was he fated to correspond with this trainer? Why write him??

    I don't even begin to get

    He is a wise old NPC at the shore of a port city. We read his text half a decade after buying and enjoying the game, and are thankful for him.

    One thing about Haley is that she's not at all embarrassed of her personal, domestic life, and says everything about it, even the events that must be presently painful to think about. She has no insecurity at all about trying to seem worldly. Is it possible that she doesn't think a secret divulged to a stranger in prison is as consequential, like a secret poured into a diary? Anyway I feel a pretty earnest goodwill about how she describes it, as though she's happy to pile it in if it'll kindle the conversational fire.

    Everybody here understands that going out and plucking knowledge from the world, or even telling the other person something they don't know, is not the point... In the letter, the only way you can put anything is through recording, narrating/compiling -- rehashing an already common text, even. Both of them are sitting through and hearing something they probably already know, performing the process of knowledge.

    Luv it

    In my opinion, all the content that wasn't there in the original is even better. New ground for the story.

    She's so pragmatic. She doesn't let the coin hover from its own magic. I'm sure it would be hard to live in a decently sized city and romanticise it a lot. Anyway, the result is that the coin gets to touch a lot closer to her heart because it's practical.

    it's obvious, despite what I just airily said at the beginning, that she is so bold as to want a lot of things from the world. She definitely dreams all over it.

    He's the most open minded when he gets engrossed in himself. Haley, keep him focused on himself.

    This is a much bolder turn! I wonder if they possibility of them meeting would be a climax, or if it would mean the jig is up! (both probably)

    Right now the things I enjoy the most are those that force you to read them unconsciously, as if you're sleeping on the page. Markus's letters are unconscious simply because you can't say if he's really saying anything true from directly looking, and also. I. Don't. Understand. This man even a little bit! It always feels like later on we'll get perspective that'll organize everything he says now, but even if that happens, I'm sure you made him a riddle to make him a riddle.

    Anyway, when you read unconsciously, the things that are unconsciously important make themselves clear. For instance, I don't know if he really killed his starters. But I do know the death in this letter is real. Something important is scrabbling at the surface.


    She's so good at empathy.

    Okay, I suppose I believe that his starters did die... If there was any death, it would have been there.

    What I like is that these two people basically do rely on each other being who they are; they both have a clear notion of each other that they held even before they got to know each other. Both of them are, clear, reliable presences in each others' lives. It's as though they were expecting a figure like that in their lives so surely that they just worked to make it happen.

    I love the hard integrity of your narraiton of Markus's prison sentence; while before my impression of him had been more like a folk tale, more like a mythic story involving poverty, now it really feels like a person's real struggle with the way life is.

    He might be accessing his life suffering to dissuade Haley from the prison route; Haley offered her problems to get them to a closer understanding.

    This is adorable...

    Oh. Well if you want to be like that...

    This is the cliffhanger 'thing that Olympia did to her' where I left last time. This time around you can barely see her hurt from it, although what I can tell, is that Olympia did something unfair to her. And it shows in the disturbed and protective way she leaves after that..

    Nice sound use!

    Haha.. Grumpy, pessimistic Markus...

    The Hypno, you know. Only strengthns my feelings about Markus's life and the sleeping world.

    Actually, my feelings about her being a poet are mostly fading away. I think they were relics from the last revision. She can be, but it's obvious that the second she stepped out, she involved herself in the real world.

    I feel like both correspondents are wandering in the snow together. Like, Haley is implicated in the dreams and puppetry now too, even though that happened in Markus's life. Death is sort of threatening around her, even if you wouldn't have expected any death around the fresh trainer. Also she has a wintertime boyfriend Haley and Markus have different outlooks, but they're standing against the same extremity. Something like that?

    Keep talking about cultural studies, 'Markus'. You're just a sore loser

    I luve her. Just wanted t say

    All in all, it's really so good now, and I also think I'm a better reader to accompany it. I don't feel confident offering any advice because I don't know where you're planning to go with it, and there are a lot of mysteries for the reader. But I'm glad this fic is updating/out there.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2015
  8. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.


    I liked it too. ;) *is biased*

    Do those exist? WHAT? I thought of a good use for musical note seals but it didn't quite make the final cut in this letter.

    I think I'm really glad you're back! Thanks so much for reading (again) and commenting!

    And hey, no need to apologize, haha. I never thought of your reviews as nitpicky or anything else.

    You said these thoughts mostly disappeared as you kept reading on, but there's still a lot of truth to them, I think. Perhaps the journey just isn't what she was expecting and she'll realize that later on down the road.

    I lol'd.

    This is also really funny in ways I can't describe.

    It is very possible. And yes, that's exactly why she does it.

    I believe that's the case for a lot of people, actually. XD Don't have to be weird like Markus to relate.

    The idea of them meeting was always in my mind, but in the original version, reviewers never really questioned the possibility. Definitely glad you took the time to point that passage out.

    Usually I write characters without knowing a lot about them, and I figure out the gaps later. Markus is an exception in the sense that he already revealed everything about himself before I started writing the story. So I suppose it makes sense that it seems like I created him as a riddle intentionally.

    Yes, yes, yes. This is the most single greatest thing anyone's said about Markus's letters.

    Sometimes you says things so eloquent like this, I wish I could include the comment in the story itself somehow. XD

    My goal is to balance how it seems like a folk tale with the way it seems like a "real life" struggle. We'll see how that goes.

    Thanks again for reading/commenting! Hope to see you around.
  9. Interesting that you chose to expand on Kenneth here. I found it a bit odd at first that you were dedicating quite a lot of Haley's letter to describing what Kenneth was doing or to putting in his (sometimes nerdy, sometimes condescending) explanations. But then you get to that final bit about his dad, and suddenly I'm thrown into this whole realization that the whole letter's been building up to that reveal. I thought the whole training montage was a bit quirky and felt that it was just to show that training isn't all about battling, but then there's that connection of how Kenneth's dad had prioritized pizzazz over battling. I thought the way Kenneth was treating Donmel was questionable, and at first I thought it was this waving flag saying that Kenneth's a character I should be wary of, but then you get to how Donmel was significant to his dad, and it just suddenly makes a lot of sense. So I think you did a very good job with that reveal, and while I admit it came a bit sudden to me, I felt that that was what you were going for, so awesome job.

    There were two particular passages in this letter that I really liked:

    Really like this part. It's a whole other dimension of letter-writing I never even realized could be a good plotpoint for the story, and how you use it here is really good.

    I liked the writing in this paragraph. It described Seybs's strength really well. And the image of several Shroomish-shaped holes in the snow is pretty amusing.

    Don't really have much to say in terms of criticism since I feel it was a very strong letter. Pretty much turned around how I felt about Kenneth - motivation sure has a big effect on a character! If anything I think you can tone down the suddenness of the reveal by a bit if Haley reacted to the relationship between Kenneth and Donmel a bit earlier. We only get to hear about it near the end when she notices that Donmel was just watching the entire thing. We could get a stronger sense of the distance between Kenneth and Donmel through more observations from Haley. Really small nitpick though, since I think the letter is very successful as is. Great job with it :)
  10. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    [letter ten]


    July 10

    To Haley,

    When the guard handed me your most recent letter, I noticed immediately how unusually thick the envelope was. I would be lying if I said I weren’t eager to find out whether some great discovery or revelation had come to you early on in your journey. I could not imagine you devoting so much time writing to me for any other reason.

    It wasn't possible to give your words my undivided attention at that moment, however. Imagine showing too much enthusiasm when you're among a large crowd that has little to do except remind you of life's more prominent miseries. I can forgo the details and simply say that your initial enthusiasm gives way to disappointment. If you're especially vulnerable, hopelessness finds its way to you as well. So I waited until the guard had gone, and because I couldn't avoid the prisoners’ prying eyes just yet I waited longer, past lunch, past dinner, and finally, past nightfall. Lying on the bunk bed's top cot, I used the light of the moon spilling in through the barred window to read.

    You had promised to tell me about your visit to Frost Cavern... and so you did. I had expected anecdotes about your training, with a few unrelated but engaging tangents sprinkled throughout. But there were no tangents, only carefully constructed thoughts that led to the solid conclusions you came to about Kenneth Chitenay.

    Kenneth Chitenay, it seems, has trusted people who were not worthy of his trust. Now he is certain that anyone is guaranteed to let him down, causing him to withdraw from others. Him being outspoken does not appear to be a facade, but I suspect that he still asserts himself with some reserve. Once you completely cease taking what he says at face value, he may grow scared and attempt to flee.

    I know, Haley, that you believe he wanted me to know this truth about him. Let me cease taking what he says at face value and clarify that resolute statement of his: it is not my awareness that matters, for I am a harmless man locked away in a cell. You, on the other hand, are putting him in a very vulnerable situation with your presence alone. You have the power to notice when his physical demeanor contradicts his words, and you have the power to question him about such inconsistencies. In fact, you seem to have already observed such behavior. He has handled your latest predicaments with a surprisingly gentle touch, has he not? It was his harsh, bitter lectures toward you about your lack of cultural knowledge that convinced you he would act in a different manner. Whether you confront him and demand he be genuine is your choice. I daresay you have not been acquainted with him long enough for that conversation to end satisfactorily, but you might rightfully argue that your forwardness with me has brought about no ill consequences as of yet.

    Yes, I suppose that means that I hold no grudge against you for returning to me and crossing out the emotional remark I made after ruminating on the disorientation I felt inside Frost Cavern. When I re-read my own words, however, it occurred to me that I had written them less than a month ago. The memory of doing so is vague, and when I attempt to visualize that day's events, I start to consider the notion that what happened to me, actually happened to someone else. The images blur together and no amount of focus makes them clearer. Because I acquired my literacy skills at a young age, the sensation of holding a pen and participating in the process of putting thoughts down on paper should be familiar. I seem to have forgotten how to hold on to the familiar. And can you blame me?

    You tell this Kenneth Chitenay that he has every right to be as cautious as he is. You tell this Kenneth Chitenay that his warnings to you are not baseless. Arceus knows I have nothing to lose and nothing to prove, which is a strange combination that can yield unpredictable results. Think rationally, think slowly... and you will come to your own solid conclusions about me.

    After that... Well, I suppose these letters would become a test of sorts. One of loyalty. (Yes, this is me assuming you will realize the worst possible conclusion.) Will you continue to trust me for no reason other than not knowing what else to do? Or will you be like Kenneth Chitenay, and approach things more skeptically? Perhaps I should take back my own skepticism regarding him. You could learn much from a man who chooses to be distant when for some, solitude is inescapable.

    I wonder, Haley. What do you think is Ribbons's view on the matter? You have expressed numerous times thus far about how he will carry your team in the face of danger, if only because of his psychic abilities. Danger itself is the test, and how Ribbons reacts when it arrives is a test of loyalty as well. It may be as you claim, that he is not like the hypno and claydol I had the misfortune of dealing with. While I maintain my suspicions toward psychic-types in general, I am in no position to argue against Ribbon specifically. But like everyone else, Ribbons has the capacity to change drastically, whether it's for better or for worse.

    What do you think? What drives pokémon to remain loyal to their trainers? How do pokémon determine which trainers deserve the assurance of protection that you yourself seek? Pokémon are so much more gifted than humans... How the idea of keeping pokémon captive came to be is a mystery, I must say. Should you ever break the language barrier between you and your team, you will realize that they are just like us, only with different body forms that allow them to make use of the elemental/supernatural powers they possess.

    You might disagree with me when you look at... Kai, for instance. All living creatures consume food to survive, but you describe Kai to have an obsessive love of fruit. It's all he seems to care about. But what would he say to you about it, if he could? What does he already say to you, only to watch you wave him off with a hand because what you hear is mere gibberish? He might one day recite to you the history of his species and why it is they thrive best with fruit. He might even share memories with you, happy ones depicting special traditions upheld in Terminus Cave, or sad ones about how fruit was scarce for a while and his family was scared for the future. Until you know, his strange behavior will seem nothing but quirky to you.

    If history hadn't taken the course it did... Why, it's not too hard to believe that pokémon could have been the ones to hold humans captive instead. That notion scares some trainers, and rightly so. I have known many that, upon encountering the truth, offered their pokémon not only an apology, but the chance to be released back into the wild, free to live the kind of life they wanted before circumstances swept them in the opposite direction. It sounds heartbreaking, but part of the truth is knowing that pokémon in general are more than capable of taking care of themselves, no matter how accustomed they grew to being dependent. There is some solace in that.

    This is all irrelevant, however, when the statistics claim that a captive pokémon nearly always decides to stay. Statistics don’t numerate how long the pokémon takes to decide, but I would bet all I have and say the decision is made rather hastily.

    Berate my pessimism if you must, but the bond between humans and pokémon is not as pure and unbreakable as the League would have you believe. Since the League was created, researchers and professors have been looking for ways to prevent pokémon from overturning the current hierarchy society relies on.

    As an example: while trainers believe that berries are grown and genetically modified for the sole purpose of boosting a pokémon's energy, most of the research, in actuality, is devoted to reducing behaviors such as aggression and disobedience. Medicines—all of them, ranging from the low-grade potions to the potent elixirs—have ingredients that act the same way as a psychotropic drug might on a human. In other words, a pokémon's mind is quite clouded by all the substances we cram into their bodies after a battle. We all justify it by claiming we're healing them from the wounds they've sustained in battle, but we are only harming them further. We participate in battles at every given opportunity, and we justify that by claiming our pokémon will be stronger for it. But that is only true in the physical sense. A pokémon's mental clarity is forgotten for the sake of the sport. That is not a bond I’d wish to partake in, myself.

    Simply put, captive pokémon are deceived in countless ways. The premise upon which the League was built is deceiving enough. The League promotes the idea that a pokémon’s power comes solely from the trainer. The trainer fights for and earns the badges; the trainer enters the competitions and claims the prizes. The trainer is the focus, no matter the context.

    Again, I’ll mention releasing pokémon back into the wild. Did you know the League has no set procedure to follow in that situation? There’s a clear-cut explanation for that: they don’t need one. With every badge and competition won, a trainer is granted the opportunity to buy better, stronger items that diminishes a pokémon’s capacity to care, let alone retaliate. There’s trading systems, computer storage systems, and laboratories to utilize if needed. But once in captivity, it’s too difficult to turn away. It’s not difficult to understand why, when you know the facts.

    All of this is why I don’t regret taking Professor Sycamore’s three starters. Or stealing them, or threatening him for them. Whatever I did, I’ve justified it by believing they were better off with me than they would have been with anyone else. Obviously, this was not the case. Humans involving themselves with drugs, medication, any self-harm method… is just as daunting a concept.

    …I have written about this topic far more than I intended to. I derailed completely and took the focus away from Ribbons. I don’t suppose you’ll forgive me? Often that’s a strategy implemented in battle when the opponent is a psychic-type, anyway. If you haven’t attempted this strategy yourself, I highly recommend it, should you find yourself in a position where you no longer limit your participation in battles.

    On the matter of sending these letters, you might also consider chain teleportation. He can use his teleport attack several times in a row to travel small distances. This is me assuming he still knows the attack from when he was a hatchling, of course. If his breeder was unskilled at honing psychic-type abilities, then he may need a refresher or two. And as a side note, I wouldn’t discourage flying entirely. He will have to discover his limits and balance the two methods so that he does not wear himself out physically, or mentally.

    I may have mentioned this before, but do let me know if Ribbons is sent my way again. I would like to watch for him. He might not know I am awaiting his arrival, so it is a selfish thing to ask… though if one day I am able to speak to him, perhaps he can teach me how to master balancing the mind and the body. Perhaps my bitterness toward psychics will fade by then, or because of him. At the very least, watching would give me something purposeful to do. And I do miss witnessing sunrises and sunsets, dawn and dusk.

    I guess I speak as if I haven’t cared to notice the time of day in a long while. Not true. In fact, I have been more attentive as of late. An interesting program for prisoners is being funded by Laverre’s gym leader, starting as soon as possible. I should explain it before I forget. I do think you will find it interesting, if only because I am suspicious as to what will come of it.

    For your benefit only, I feel compelled to outline the situation’s background. I have my own opinion on this already, after all. Telling you the situation’s origins perhaps will help you understand my suspicion. Or… knowing you, you will adopt a perspective I had never even thought to consider. No doubt I will hear about it if that is the case.

    To start with, you have to know about the nature trail that lies just south of Laverre. Laverre is currently responsible for taking care of the area, but this responsibility was only recently assigned by the League.

    When you hear of a nature trail, you might think of taking a peaceful stroll in which you can admire all the prospering plants while experiencing the wind, the sun, the sounds of birds and bugs chirping. For Laverre, the nature trail was, in actuality, more of a hunting ground. There was a weapons shop somewhere along the trail, closer to Lumiose. It was not uncommon to hear of trainers or residents from either city applying for a hunter’s license.

    Business was slow for the shop last winter. Laverre and Lumiose are not used to seeing extreme changes in temperature like Dendemille, so when the cold set in unexpectedly and brutally, everyone became preoccupied with figuring out how to survive the next few months. The nature trail was an afterthought, along with the weapons shop owner. No one thought to check on him.

    Once winter gave way to warmer temperatures, hunters began showing up at the shop again to buy equipment, but the owner could not be found. He was eventually discovered by a concerned customer in the shop’s basement, huddled in the corner with a crazed expression on his face. He told the customer to flee for their life, or else they’d see the horde of faceless men like he had and wish they’d never been born.

    Later, investigators would reveal that the “horde of faceless men” was a fake image created by a group of haunter that frequently roamed the trail at night. Surely the shop owner knew of the haunter population, but I suppose he had prepared inadequately for winter and paid the consequences. The lack of food and appropriate shelter had taken a toll on his well-being—especially his ability to think clearly. Even when he was no longer malnourished or a victim to the winter’s cold, however, the shop owner felt distressed beyond belief. Reluctantly he began working again, but intense paranoia gripped him at all hours of the day. Only when Laverre’s renowned gym leader approached him to discuss his trauma did he begin to feel more at ease.

    Our gym leader, Valerie, had been trying for years to bring the nature trail under local jurisdiction so she could eliminate hunting as a sport there. With Lumiose being a popular tourist area on the other side of the trail, the League has chosen to decline her request each time. But because of the shop owner incident along with related concerns I don’t know the full details of, the government’s security agents investigated and decided that it would be in the League’s best interest to grant Valerie her request. The League, I’m sure, acquiesced to avoid worse repercussions.

    Now, let’s see… I know I spoke ill of the League earlier in this letter. And I believe I told you once that Laverre was an ideal location for me to stay in when I was unsure of where else to turn. It is actually this nature trail I was referring to. Do not jump to conclusions yet. I am not trying to dishearten you about being a trainer or dwelling in self-deprecation here. Think rationally and slowly, as I wrote earlier too.

    I had no money in Laverre, and I’ve never been interested in hunting. Seeing the wild pokémon roam about with their bodies always tense even in the absence of gunshots seemed like torture. Why would I go there? After the meetings with the city’s move tutor that escalated into late night talks about recreational drug use, I couldn’t resist going. Under the influence I could walk the trail feeling safe despite all the obvious tension surrounding me. I could see my three starters mingling freely with the other pokémon, living the lives I should have given them from the beginning. It was… nice. It was very, very nice. When the weight of my pain started suffocating me and I left to start over with Enmity in Lumiose, I vowed not to come back unless I could turn the hallucinations into a reality. Funny, how I ended up all the way back here regardless, and under the most unfortunate of circumstances.

    If you did not know yet, our gym leader is a fairy-type specialist. Fairies are notorious for their superior defensive and offensive build compared to other types of pokémon, and there’s been folklore depicting them as rather deceptive creatures prone to bearing grudges. But a fairy also has abilities allowing them to alter others’ emotions, thinking patterns and the like.

    You can probably see where I’m going with this now.

    Valerie wishes to bring fairy-types into the prison as a form of rehabilitation. Here in the cells, there’s not much kindness, and very few of us know how to calm ourselves when emotions run high, a problem that has led to many fights and relapses. It is not uncommon to see prisoners released, and then convicted again awhile later because we are not prepared to deal with the outside world, nor do we have any motivation to try. The negativity inside the cells cannot be shaken off so easily without help. And it is not often we receive help, or know of anywhere we can find it.

    One more thing, as I’m not sure I’ve connected all these ideas as coherently as I should have from the beginning. Several fairy-types live on the nature trail, or a bit off the trail, closer to the swamps that few visit unless trying to capture a specific species. I wish I could recall which species I saw, as that would give me a better idea of what to expect. Spritzee and aromatisse would be particularly useful for preventing negative mental states from overwhelming us with their aroma veil ability, while the togepi line is said to spread joy to others with its presence alone. Wouldn’t it be nice if the two could replace these intrusive thoughts of mine with pleasant ones? Memories wouldn’t seem so terrifying, then. Yet I see the irony in them living amidst a hunting ground. Kill them, and you simultaneously kill ‘mon with the most capacity for compassion and, by extension, the possibility of exposing your demons to another.

    Of course, there’s always the possibility of the fairy-types refusing to cooperate, given the hunting dilemma they’ve had to live with up until now. I can’t know for sure what will happen, but with Valerie’s specialty, rehabilitation appears to at least be a possibility. Last I heard, she succeeded in helping the weapons shop owner recover from his trauma, and now he is pursuing another line of work.

    I will keep you up to date with how the project proceeds, provided that you have no objections to me doing so.

    Part of me knows you will not object. Part of me knows this letter should stop here or I risk never sending it at all. I have made myself far too anxious by telling you more than what was necessary about quite a lot of topics, which isn’t unusual, but this time I find my writing excessively… excessive, for lack of a better word. I am not sad or hopeful or angry or anything, yet something is holding me back from setting the pen down.

    I suppose there is a simple question of yours I left unanswered: what kind of pokéball did Enmity have? But there is not a simple answer to that. Delaying the answer already brings up another question: why do I always delay talking about him? You spent but a small paragraph wondering, and I have spent pages and pages trying to forget that you were wondering.

    Enmity’s was just a plain pokéball. When I bought his egg from a Unovan breeder, I was also given a pokéball and told step-by-step how to catch a newly hatched pokémon safely. Normally when you own an egg and know what species you are hatching—or at least its type—the kind of pokéball doesn’t matter. I used the plain one anyway because the egg was a hefty price to begin with, and anything leftover was dedicated to food or drugs.

    So there is nothing for Kenneth Chitenay to analyze. He can tell you all about how breeders usually capture their hatchlings when they’re unconscious, since taking care of the hatchling’s basic needs comes first and the baby has no memories that will affect their perceived world in the pokéball anyway. But in the end, there’s no clue that will hint at where Enmity and his pokéball might be. And that’s fine for now. I am sure he is safe, wherever he is.

    It would be natural for you to assume I delayed this answer because I wanted to avoid the truth, that discovering Enmity’s location is more likely than not a lost cause at this point. Well, I’ll say this: Enmity was mute. You know that much. Even if he wasn’t, I never did learn how to interact with pokémon speech. With him being my sole partner, and with me being who I am, I very easily became accustomed to silence. With drugs especially, your mind races and exaggerates the smallest of details and all you want is silence.

    I do not want to be accustomed to silence, Haley. It seems you do not want me to be, either.

    I will try to be as clear and concise as I can. But I want to talk, so if I deviate from the main topic again, I’m sure you’ll forgive me.

    It's disconcerting, to say the least, having not just one, but two innocent people now becoming entangled in the convoluted wreck that is my life. Perhaps the most unnerving fact is that I did not put forth any amount of effort to make this happen. Kenneth Chitenay continually asks about me for reasons I cannot fathom, and you sought me out on your own time—for reasons I believe I am beginning to understand. I've considered concepts such as fate and destiny, but using them as an explanation for your presence in my life seems unfair, if only because it took you eighteen years to decide the kind of connections you want with others and to develop the confidence needed to write me at all. Yet when I dwell on the way society in general treats prisoners, I am thoroughly convinced that solitude for me would be justified and having mostly avoided it thus far must mean something.

    The truth is beyond my reach. I am not sure I want to know the truth, assuming that discovering it is a possibility. Even with your very first letter, and especially with each one thereafter, you've been particularly intent on helping me envision the outside world as I used to know it, simultaneously presenting to me the opportunity to form new opinions and perspectives. I give you credit for trying, and succeeding, but when I say I am beginning to understand your motives, I believe that your goal has changed slightly in that now, you also wish to assist me with learning about myself. Or, at the very least, you aim to have me forgive my own faults and build some semblance of self-esteem.

    But I must admit that I am not quite as eager to welcome new found information pertaining to the topic of myself. My own personal truth is this: I would be regarded best as a concept... which, if I may be so brash, is not too far from what I actually am. You see me as mere words on a page, crafted from the mind of a man you trust to not only be honest and receptive to what you have to say, but also real. Philosophy is certainly not my forte, so I will not argue about the logistics of reality. But your expectations for this written exchange require me to remind you of your limitations.

    You may recall an important observation I briefly explained to you not long ago, that it is the night hours you spend awake which shape you into the person you will be for the rest of your life. When morning comes, you inevitably realize how the sun will rise each morning for eternity... with or without you. While I cannot relay this message to you the exact same way as before—you have the letter in your possession, if I remember right, and you are free to take a glance at it if that is true—I can tell you that I will always, in some way, encompass the desperation of the man that wrote those words to you. You cannot force the sun to rise and illuminate the darkness engrained in someone else.

    …As a side note, I do not mind if you use me as the main topic of conversation with Kenneth Chitenay. You are not the only one who speaks of other people’s suffering to pass the time. It is just one subtle way in which humans tend to relieve themselves of their own burdens, and if I can help you in that small way I will do that.

    I will stop now, truly. I don’t know if my words have sounded rude. What I am trying to say is that you are trying very hard to help me, and though you can’t cure me and it’s only been a mere three months since we started communicating, you are succeeding. There is no accurate, satisfactory way to prove that to you. This letter will have to be enough somehow.

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
  11. Okay so there really is no reason for this review to be this late aside from laziness so I apologize D:

    I think this is the first time I felt like Markus's present story is getting development, and it's making the whole project very exciting. Much of Markus's previous letters (as well as this one) have been about his past, so it's interesting that it took this long for him to share about what's happening to him now. I think that was a good decision character-wise, though, as it does provide a nice contrast of how open he's willing to be as compared to Haley.

    His letter was...all over the place, but I mean that in a good way! How it jumped from one subject to another was interesting, and how he was aware of it made it even more. His criticism about the human-Pokemon dynamic reminds me a lot of Team Plasma, only his arguments are much more concrete, though I have doubts on the authenticity given that he could be using it just to justify his stealing. I do wonder if you're gonna go back to this in future letters, though!

    But like I said above, the one that really caught my attention was the introduction of Valerie. It seems like it's gonna have a huge effect on how Markus proceeds with his letters from hereon, and it's gonna be interesting seeing how this all plays out, seeing as it seems that he's passing some of the burden of the decision to Haley. I really like how you prelude this to the self-aware section at the end as well, and I think this is the most raw Markus has been for a long time. I'm excited to see how Haley reacts to all of this.

    And one last thing:

    I really like the image here. Thought I'd point it out.

    I missed reading your writing, and this was a great way to get back into it. Great work! :)
  12. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Heh, no worries. As you can see, there's been no updates in three months, so the writer is also being lazy. XD

    I figured it was about time Markus went in a different direction. XD On one hand, we're only one letter 10. And most of the letters have been fairly short, so length-wise I can say we're not too far into the fic just yet. On the other hand, well... doting on the past too much can be jarring to read, and I don't think Markus himself really enjoys thinking about the past. The past is confusing for him and not very clear.

    Awareness is not something we'll see from Markus a whole lot. I was trying to show how aware he was in the letter without overdoing the constant jumping from one subject to another, also while showing the distress he felt from feeling so aware. And lol, I'm glad you thought the arguments made sense - I know my writing isn't always the clearest. XD The human-pokemon dynamic will definitely be brought up again, also. :D

    Glad it seemed to work out. I was kind of unsure with introducing the idea... There was an awful lot to say and given how Markus doesn't usually say much, it was a challenge trying to pin down everything in a way that didn't seem out of character.

    Thanks! I liked that line too. :D Here's to hoping I can update soon so we can see Haley's reactions.
  13. Hakajin

    Hakajin Obsessive Shipper

    So, I'm trying to get back into reviewing before I start working on another chapter, and since I was already in the middle of this one... I'm probably not going to be briefer than usual while I get caught up.

    Letter 3

    From the way Haley calls Markus something other than what he wants to be called, it seems like she's being selfish with him. Like she prefers to see him as she wants to see him, rather than really getting to know him, as she claims. She may be unaware of it, but... Anyway, that's great short-hand, especially when you follow it up with her talking about how she needs someone wise. It's like she's assigning him a role.

    Interesting background stuff about her parents and their history... though I feel it may be a little too detailed. I think a more general summary might work better, with more specific information spread throughout the story. Haley obviously likes to tell stories to explain why things are the way they are, but... it feels like a digression.

    This is even more true with the story about Anistar's history. I get the feeling that it's going to be important to the plot, but as it is, it feels unrelated to everything else that Haley's talking about. And because of that, I didn't have much interest in it. It's not that it's a boring plot, but the characters in that part are little more than names, so I don't have any concern for what happens. And it's a little hard to keep up with... I feel like this is something you can introduce here, and get into more detail on as the fic progresses. If it's going to affect Haley and Markus, that's what's going to make me care.

    But I like Haley's story about the coin; that does say something about who she is. The fact that she's still carrying the coin with her shows that she hasn't changed much since she was a child; excellent use of an object there. You use the epistillary format well when Haley lays out her plans; that tells me what I can expect, generally...

    And you do a great job showing her personality when she talks about why she likes bird Pokemon. It seems what she wants is to connect with other people, and that's probably because it's something she struggles with. After all, if it weren't, she wouldn't think about it so much. I like how she tries to consider things from the birds' perspective; that shows that Haley tries to be considerate, even if she is selfish sometimes. She's trying to be a kind person. It's interesting that she doesn't really care about getting all the badges, and that what she really wants is to live a happy and peaceful life with her Pokemon in a city she loves. I like that she's a more laid-back person.

    Letter 4

    Markus is still a hard character for me to figure out. He comes off as a sociopath when he talks about stealing Pokemon without much thought... and not even knowing when his Pokemon died... and also when he talks about popping his knee back into place like it was no big deal... It seems like he wanted to understand his Pokemon, but couldn't. But if he were really a sociopath, it seems like he wouldn't care about having a connection with Haley, or Enmity. I do like his connection with Enmity; I get the impression that they got along well because they were similar, that is, Markus is really a shy person who fears others. And I like the idea of him trying to live vicariously through Haley's letters.

    Overall, you do a good job of differentiating Haley and Markus' voices; he sounds older than her, and more experienced. At the same time, he does seem to think about things, like her, sometimes in a sophomoric way... I've got a good sense of what both of them want out of writing the letters, too. So, yeah, the one piece of advice I'd give you on these letters is just that Haley's letter needs more focus, like I already said.
  14. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    Welcome back! I appreciate the feedback. I was just working a bit on the next letter before checking Serebii, so I found it amusing that you brought up some stuff I'll be reintroducing, even the seemingly little stuff like the fact that she disregards how he likes his name shortened. You're right in that she's not too self-aware, and that she has good intentions but is still selfish.

    And I agree with the Anistar story and parent background... I didn't introduce either in the original version of this fic, and then when I wanted them in the rewrite, I thought it'd make sense to introduce them while she was still in Anistar. But since she leaves Anistar pretty much right away, in hindsight it was a bad plan. I'll keep future little tangents like that in mind.

    As for Markus, he's certainly not your typical character. Anddd he does seem to have borderline sociopathic traits, but it looks like I'm doing good at showing that he still has some compassion and interest in other people.

    Thanks for commenting! Again, it was good timing - I wasn't too confident about writing earlier, but this helped a lot.
  15. Hakajin

    Hakajin Obsessive Shipper

    Oh, good, glad I could help! That makes me feel better about pointing out areas for improvement, which I really don't like doing.

    Let's see, for the next part...

    Letter 5

    I wonder why Markus' story would've made Haley hesitate about starting on her journey? Does she really think she'd be anything like him? Seems a little callous of her to talk about how she might've ended up in jail herself... Because it seems like the cop was just trying to scare her, or, if she were older, she might've spent a night in jail, nothing serious... That's not a criticism, because it fits her character for her to say stuff like that. I wonder how she thinks raising a starter would help Markus feel better? It wouldn't help the Pokemon he lost. I mean, I can see how it'd make sense to Haley, but I don't think it'd really make up for anything.

    Good scene with Haley catching the Noibat; seems like he was manipulating the other Pokemon into getting food for him? But yeah, that and what followed was a very active, fun scene. Interesting stuff about the world inside the Pokeball, too... I enjoy Haley's relationship with Kai, how he's kinda cautious with her but starts to trust her. And that he gets what he wants out of her.

    Also like the vivid imagery at the gym, the description of how disorienting it is. I can almost imagine being there. And it's interesting that the other trainers might be treating Haley differently because she's a local; I like that dynamic where, she feels like she's being patronized, but she's not sure if she's just imagining it. That's realistic; I know that feeling.

    Pretty good battle, and I like that Haley won using Kai's ability... but she didn't know he had it. She did have an advantage, but at the same time, she was too inexperienced to even know about it. And that keeps her from seeming too skilled for the level she's at.

    Letter 6

    I really understand what Markus means about feeling lonely after reading Haley's letters. I have kind of this love/hate relationship with fiction, where, I love the experience, but then I get sad because it's not real (not in the way I want it to be, anyway). Especially with the characters I love. It's not as much of an issue as it used to be, but it's still there, hovering at the edges of my mind.

    I like how the dull routine of prison life contrasts the excitement Haley's been experiencing. She doesn't have to conform to a schedule, she gets to make her own decisions... It's been a long time, but if I remember correctly, didn't Markus originally just sit in his cell all day? If so, this is definitely more realistic and more interesting. Markus does sound conceited, like the only person he thinks of as an individual is himself. That's the point, though, right? That probably has something to do with why he has so much trouble relating to others-- he thinks of them more as objects than as people with their own interiority. Kinda makes me think of the movie Anomalisa; I wonder if you've seen it? I mean, you wrote the first draft of this fic before that came out, but it might interest you.

    Anyway, that's what I've got for now!
  16. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    It would make her hesitate if she thought anything terrible would happen to her or her pokemon, whether it was her fault or not. She knows her sheltered upbringing could cause her to do something she wasn't supposed to or vice versa.

    But yeah, Haley's logic is very naive in the sense that she thinks she's helping when she's being insensitive at the same time. In her mind, she thought that raising a Kalos starter and retelling about her run-in with the cops would make Markus feel less alone somehow.

    Yeah. XD He's a mischievous little guy.

    Same here. Not a good feeling.

    I wondered if it might be unbelievable for her to win since Olympia's later in the traditional game gym circuit, so most people might assume you'd need more badges to fight Olympia, but... Well, looks like I did all right there without going into the specifics of how the gym circuit actually works in the fic (because it's not that important right now, really).

    Yeah. :( Every time I think about my characters, I feel terrible because I realize I like my characters way more than most of the people I know in real life. And then I ask why fiction can't be real.

    I don't know if I explicitly said he sat in his cell all day -- if I did, though, I'd like to delete that chapter off the internet forever lol -- but I didn't really go into details or get to incorporate other parts of the routine into the original version before starting the revision, no. XD

    And I have not seen that movie. Sounds like it's something I should check out, though!
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2016
  17. Hakajin

    Hakajin Obsessive Shipper

    Oh, ok, I get it, I can see what she's thinking.

    Right?! I've thought about it for a long, long time. I wrote a long Tumblr post about it, but the gist was, we relate differently to fictional characters (and real people, too, when it's through writing or television) than with people in real life. We have access to their most private thoughts and feelings, and... When you're talking to a real person, you're also thinking about yourself and your relationship with that person-- what they're trying to say to you, how to respond... But when you're watching or reading about characters, you kinda forget yourself and get wrapped up in their story. You're seeing the world through their eyes, thinking their way, seeing why they feel the way they do... And I think we internalize them more easily as a result. They occupy this weird space between self and other, where, they appear to be other, but their thoughts and feelings are really yours-- their mind in your mind. So it's really more self. Our relationships with real people are like this, too... It doesn't really matter; as long as we're experiencing the same thoughts and feelings, that's connection and communication; the method is irrelevant... So I guess the boundary between self and other is blurry in real life, too. Other people can get in your head like characters, but since it's a different kind of relationship... well, it's just easier with characters, for some people (I get the feeling that it tends to be that way for introverts with active imaginations).

    But anyway, yeah, when you think about a character all the time, they become part of yourself, so they're real in that way. My sense of self changes when I'm thinking about Satsumi; I've been her in dreams, forgotten me for a while. I mean, I guess I didn't completely forget, but the rest of me wasn't present in my mind... if that makes any sense. That makes me feel better about it. Oh! And I read somewhere that people take on aspects of the characters in their lives, so that's got to have an effect on us. I don't know how good a thing that is for me, sinse Satsumi has so much trouble dealing... But it makes me happy, if it makes her more real.

    Well, like I said, it's been a long time since I read it, so I'm not at all sure it was like that. Yeah, you should, it's really good! It's kinda... unsettling, though, and sad (also rated R for a realistic but tasteful sex scene). Tell me if you watch it; I want to see if you got the same thing out of it I did.

    Anyway! I'll edit it a review for the next chapter later, if it's going to be a double post.
  18. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    I'll have to work on making her thoughts a bit more clear, I think. XD

    It makes a lot of sense. It's easier for me to connect with characters as an introvert myself, though I do have random bouts of wanting to socialize and be with people all the time. When those bouts come about, it's always hard for me to accept that they're not usually fulfilling. It's usually a disappointment and I consider it a waste of time afterwards. Then I go right back to writing and feel better again in my own little world.

    That makes sense, yeah, and it's actually a feeling Markus himself could relate to. XD And heh, I've always heard it was the other way around -- that characters are based off of the person writing them, or at least they're based on someone the writer knows.

    Heh. I don't really like watching movies by myself so I'll have to find someone who'll watch it with me. XD
  19. Hakajin

    Hakajin Obsessive Shipper

    Right?! I don't know about you, but I'm primarily a shipper. So while I identify more strongly with one character, there are two characters involved, and I get so emotinally involved on their relationship... And then I don't have a person like that myself. It's like having it and not having it, and that can get really lonely. For years, I worried that I couldn't fall in love for real, not because of shipping, but, you know, same root cause. Turns out that's not true, but... Yeah, still hasn't worked out for me yet. It's kinda been one of the defining struggles of my life.

    Oh, well it doesn't just work for characters you wrote yourself, but also for ones written by other people. For me, I need to be able to understand a character's personality to write them; I need to be able to relate to their motivations, fears, etc. So while I don't always start with myself, the driving force or conflict of a character is usually something I identify in myself. Even if it doesn't start out that way, in the end, after thinking about them a long time, I'm usually like, oh, yeah, that makes sense, I can see where they're coming from.

    Anyway, onto the review!

    Letter 7

    It's obvious that Haley has this romanticized view of Markus, which isn't good... But I think it really is meaningful when she tells him that she doesn't think he's awful. I think most people would tell Markus he's a bad person, but Haley's the kind of person who's able to look at what someone's like and what they've been through, how they got to where they are. I think it can really help someone dealing with guilt to hear from someone else that they're not a bad person. Haley still oversimplifies things, but still.

    Olympia's... lesson is still interesting, and I felt like I got a better idea of what she was trying to say with it this time, maybe? Seems like it has to do with life after death, that kind of thing. I figure it has something to do with the war so long ago. Anyway, if I remember correctly, Haley took it a lot harder in the first version... It works better this way, because it doesn't seem so mean-spirited. Still not nice, but...

    I'm interested in Kenneth (looks like it's time for another game of "Am I Supposed to Ship This?"). His backstory with Devon company is interesting; I wonder how that's going go come into play. We don't know a whole lot about him, so I can't say too much yet... just that I'm interested to find out how honest he is, what he's holding back.

    Letter 8

    Strange story about the cave... I wasn't clear on whether the Hypno and Claydol were really there or not; was that intentional? Stuff like that, about how easily people change and how unstable perception is, is really unnerving. Interesting comparison between drugs and hallucination... And it's interesting to find out that Markus' Pokemon really did care about him... that makes his story sadder.
  20. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 → follow your fire.

    I used to enjoy shipping a lot more than I do now, but I never got too into it. It doesn't help that I generally jump from fandom to fandom, with Pokemon and Ace Attorney being the only real exceptions. And I think ever since I started writing more consistently, I feel more connected to my characters than to other fictional characters anyway. Oops. :p

    But I do know what you mean - I've had a special someone for a while now, but there was a time where I wondered if I did not/could not love him the way I wanted to for some unknown reason... I did a lot of stupid things because of it, and I figured out there were a lot of factors, the main one being that I was just at a low point in life in general.

    Makes sense. ^^ I learned an awful lot about myself after writing my first ever fic. Couldn't believe how much of myself I had put in the fic without noticing until way later, but... I think characterization is my strong suit, mostly because my character interactions are an attempt to make peace with different traits I have and, well, I know myself best. ...If that makes sense at all.

    I think it can help, but also cast a lot of doubt. Markus is pretty skeptical of Haley deep down, and only in part because of how young she is and how she oversimplifies things. He's just used to being given evidence that he is awful.

    Yep, life after death would be about right. And no, it's not nice, but it's an important lesson for Haley for down the road.

    Heh. I didn't have Kenneth in the original at all, and I'm kind of finding it a bit difficult to portray a real in-depth character without having him actually writing himself. So I'm interested to see what you'll think later on. XD

    The confusion was intentional. Markus has a lot of difficulty deciding what's real and what's fantasy in general. I guess you could argue that the hypno and claydol had to be there, otherwise his pokemon wouldn't have had a reason to defend him. But then you could argue that his pokemon defending him was part of the fantasy. *shrug*

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