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Out In The Cold (FFQ Edition 3 CHALLENGE ACCEPTED)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Umbramatic, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    So. This is a silly oneshot I whipped up as a very last-minute answer to the December 2015 Fanfiction Quarterly prompt starring characters from a certain quasi-Shakespearean contest entry I actually haven't revised and published properly yet (but has a draft readable here for context) I wrote due to wanting to cheer myself up after a rough past couple of weeks. No much else to say right here other than that you can blame /tg/ and Ed Edd n' Eddy for how I answered the prompt. :p

    And with that bit of "wut" I present...

    Out In The Cold

    It was a typical winter in Icirrus City, which meant one thing: Snow. Inches and inches of it, piling up every year without fail.

    And it didn't stop a young man with ginger hair and bright blue eyes from staring out at it all in wonder from the window of a modest two bedroom apartment.

    From a bit further in the apartment, another young man with black hair and hazel eyes took a swig of his beer, then plopped the bottle down amidst a couple empty ones and glanced over at his fellow in annoyance.

    "...Tom, it's just snow. You don't have to stare at it for fifteen minutes."

    "But it's so pretty here, Roger!" Tom said. "There's just something about all the white everywhere that's so nice to look at!"

    Roger continued to stare at him irritably a bit and sighed.

    "Alright. If you wanna stare at all the fancy white ice go ahead. I don't give a damn."

    At that Tom's smile disappeared and he turned to Roger with concern.

    "...You're still sad you couldn't visit your family for the holidays, aren't you?"

    "...I'm not. Don't ask about it again."

    Tom gave a distinct pout and moved over to the table, sitting across from Roger.

    "Hey, c'mon. You can tell me if you're sad."

    Roger just stared to the side blankly.

    Off a ways, a Scrafty and Golurk, previously playing a video game, looked over at the two humans with similar concern.

    <Yo, Vladimir?> said the Scrafty. <I'm thinkin' your trainer needs some cheering up.>

    <I was about to note the same, Estragon,> said the Golurk.

    Together the two moved over and stood by the table, Vladmir in particular placing one of his massive hands atop Roger's shoulder reassuringly.

    Roger smiled slightly.

    "Heh... I guess it's still nice having you all around..."

    He quickly frowned and looked down again.

    "But... I dunno, I wanted to see my family for Christmas after all the shit from us joining Team Plasma and then all that promptly going down in flames... I mean, that's the whole fucking reason we had to lay low and hole up in the first place, but I... I..."

    He groaned and slumped his head on the table.

    Vladimir gave Roger a gentle pat. <The necessary evils of life are hard, to be sure...>

    <Yeah, ain't denying that's really rough,> said Estragon.

    Tom, meanwhile, stared anxiously at Roger and fidgeted nervously.

    "...I've always wondered... Where did Christmas come from anyway?"

    Roger looked up at Tom with a weary expression.

    "Honestly, no one fucking knows. Some say it started with some human avatar of Arceus whose birthday was supposedly around the time... Some say it started with something about Xerneas and that's why they call it X-Mas sometimes... We do know over the years all these other holidays got mixed in so that's why no one knows how it fucking started... And I dunno, sometimes I get the feeling it's some other world's holiday that got tacked onto ours for some weirdass cosmic reason..."

    He paused.

    "...I'm being weirdly existential again, aren't I?"

    Tom fidgeted more.

    "Um... I guess?"

    Roger shrugged.

    "Figured. I suppose it's the alcohol. I come up with the most insane bullshit when I'm drunk."

    He took another swig of his beer regardless.

    Tom looked off to the side nervously before his eyes lit up and he turned to Roger with an excited, if somewhat nervous, grin.

    "Hey! If it cheers you up I can tell you a story about a holiday we celebrated where I grew up!"

    Vladimir's lit-up eye flickered nervously.

    <...I do dearly hope it isn't like that Ugly Binacle sto->

    "It's not basically that Ugly Binacle story again, is it?" said Roger.

    "Nope!" said Tom, smirking.

    <Crisis averted! Mabye. I hope,> said Estragon.

    "Right..." said Roger. "You said you grew up in Lacunosa before moving to my hometown at age 14, right? What the fuck do they celebrate there?"

    "Well... You know about Lacunosa and Kyurem right?"

    "Yeah... Kyurem showed up one day and started using the locals as midnight snacks, so they made a bigass wall like in that one gory and depressing cartoon about the giant man-eating Mr. Mime and have locked themselves in every night since. Right?"

    "Yep! But they say in the winter months, Kyurem gets extra-hungry, so we take preemptive measures!"

    "...Like what?"

    "The Great Feast of Kyurimek!"

    Roger raised a concerned eyebrow. "Please tell me this doesn't involve fattening up select human sacrifices to be ice dragon abomination food."

    "Don't worry, it doesn't! It does involve making sure Kyurem's belly is too stuffed to want to eat anybody!"

    "Reassuring. For now. But go on?"

    "Well... Every year on Kyurimek the people of Lacunosa set out food! Loads and loads of food everyone in town chips in to prepare to be as tasty as possible, so Kyurem can make it into a stew that will delight its icy tastebuds and keep it full all winter - and leave Lacunosa alone!"

    Tom's eyes sparkled in delight at fond memories rushing through his mind.

    "And when the clock strikes midnight on Kyurimek, Kyurem emerges from its lair in the middle of the Giant Chasm and walks through the streets of town gathering up all the food! If it's particularly pleased with the offering, it makes the winters less harsh and blesses the people of Lacunosa with good fortune and well-wishes, especially good girls and boys that offer their favorite snacks and treats!"

    His expression became somber and serious.

    "...We don't talk about what happens to the bad little girls and boys who only give the vegetables they don't want to eat."

    Roger gave Tom a bemused look.

    "About as bizarre and nonsensical as expected... But that's all just bullshit, right?"

    Tom grinned.

    "Nope! Kyurem actually does that! I've seen them myself!"

    Vladmir's eye flickered again.

    <He's encountered... The Shell?>

    <OK, now this is getting really interesting!> said Estragon, pumping his paws excitedly.

    Roger, on the other hand, merely raised an eyebrow skeptically.

    "OK... Go on. Tell me how the hell you'd know Kyurem's holiday shtick isn't as much of a fairy tale as Santa Claus is for my holiday."

    Tom put a hand to his chin.

    "Well..."

    ***

    On a cold winter's night years ago, the townspeople and Pokemon of Lacunosa were in a frenetic rush, piling all sorts of fine and freshly prepared food in the middle of street crossings, in front of their houses, in any place they could. All the while they sang, with a universal air of joy, hope, and... more than a tinge of fear.

    Deep within the chasm dark

    There lives the dragon god of old

    Whose appetite is bigger than

    Its power over bitter cold. Hey!

    Great Kyurem who fell from the sky


    And with wings of ice desperate to fly!

    Great Kyurem who craves the meat

    And should have something less morbid to eat!


    Great Kyurem who calms the ice

    Especially if its meals are nice!

    Great Kyurem who hides away


    To hopefully stalk another day!

    But should your meal be ill-prepared

    Your feeble dish too weak in flavor

    Great Kyurem will surely come

    And make sure you're the one to savor!

    Great Kyurem who curls up in its hole


    And roars its wishes to be more whole!

    Great Kyurem who can't ever feel

    The greater power of truth or ideal!

    Great Kyurem, forever incomplete

    And tried to fix that with our meat!

    Great Kyurem, take our gifts instead


    And spend the winter away and well-fed!

    Amidst it all, a young boy with ginger hair and blue eyes was carrying an armful of various bagged snacks and candy bars.

    "Kyurem's gonna love these! Especially the carmelly ones! Those are my favorite!"

    He suddenly blinked as something crossed his mind.

    "Wait, I've got some fruity candy it'll like too!"

    He attempted to fish some out of a bag he was carrying to the side, only to spill the rest all around him.

    "Oh no! Kyurem's gotta have some good snacks!"

    He scrambled to pick up the assorted scattered junk food.

    As he did so, however, a clock chimed eleven and echoed through the town, and the townspeople all immediately rushed to dump their food wherever they cold and sped back to their houses to lock the doors behind them. In the mayhem they didn't notice the boy, and in turn the boy didn't notice them in his frenzied attempt to gather his treats...

    ...Until he finally finished his task and looked up to find himself alone, in a cold, dark, silent town.

    "...Oh no."

    He rushed around, desperate to find his own house but lost in the darkness and silence. He banged on doors, only to hear yells from inside about Kyurem's coming. He ran more, panicked, desperate, scared...

    ...Until overwhelmed from exhaustion he collapsed amid a food pile.

    --------------

    The first thing he noticed as he started to come to was the even greater cold.

    His still-waking body was already shuddering at it, and as he gained more consciousness he curled up into a ball to keep warm.

    It was then he noticed the cold shift somewhat. It became more concentrated somehow, specifically around his face.

    Despite the shock from that he managed to pry his eyes open...

    ...And became much more fully awake seeing a massive pair of blank yellow eyes staring back into his.

    He immediately screamed in utter terror and pedaled backward. The massive, gray dragon with much of their body encased in ice immediately mirrored his actions, backing themself into a corner and letting out a staticky buzz vaguely akin to a cat's terrified hiss.

    "P-Please, Great Kyurem, d-don't eat me, I probably t-taste terrible..."

    At this Kyurem paused, before warily gesturing to another corner of the chasm they were in.

    The boy looked over to find a massive pile of all the food the Lacunosans had left out.

    "Wait... I... I'm not food?"

    Kyurem hesitated for a second before slinking over to the food pile and shoveling some of it into their maw, chewing and swallowing it before gesturing to the food pile again, in a way the boy read as... concerned?

    "Oh, s-so you're happy with all the food? Th-that's good..."

    Kyurem raised their haunches slightly and gave another buzz. At that, however, the boy furrowed his brow.

    "Weird... You don't make any growls and such and say bits of your name like most Pokemon do... You make those weird buzzes, like a broken machine..."

    At the word "broken" Kyurem shrunk back again and hung their head in an ashamed fashion.

    "Ah! D-Did I upset you? I-I hope not, you r-really will eat me then..."

    Kyurem backed away further, letting out a small, faint buzz.

    "I-I'm sorry! Wait!"

    The boy hurriedly got to his feet and rushed to the food pile, hastily digging through it until he found a small bag of fruity licorice. From there he steadily, carefully approached Kyurem with it.

    "Um... If it makes you less likely to eat me, I got these especially for you..."

    Kyurem eyed the boy carefully themself before steadily standing upright, inspecting the bag of licorice.

    "Um... H-here, you probably can't open it very well with your claws..."

    He ripped open the bag and scattered the contents in front of Kyurem. Kyurem immediately sniffed one of the fruity pieces of candy before lapping it up with their tongue and chewing lightly. Their eyes widened and they gave an ecstatic buzz before gobbling up the rest quickly and then giving the boy an expectant look, at which the boy waved his hands in panic.

    "Ah! I-If you need me to get more I can..."

    Kyurem stared at him, then the food pile, then back at him, tilting its head.

    The boy blinked.

    "You don't want any more food?"

    Kyurem stared at the boy blankly, shifting nervously.

    "Um..."

    His expression suddenly brightened.

    "Hey! If you can understand me... Here's a human thingy! Shake your head up and down for yes - that's nodding - and shake your head side-to-side for no - that doesn't have a name, it's silly. But got it?"

    Kyurem hesitated before nodding.

    "Good! Now do you want any more food?"

    Kyurem looked to the food pile and then back at the boy before shaking their head side to side.

    "Um... What do you want, then?"

    Kyurem regards him quizzically again before sitting down the best their anatomy could allow it.

    The boy stared back in confusion.

    "...Huh?"

    Kyurem made a loud series of buzzes. The boy blinked again before he realized something.

    "Do you...Want to talk?"

    Kyurem's expression brightened as they nodded.

    "Oh, OK! Um..."

    He thought a bit to himself before responding.

    "Um... I'm Tom. Tom Rosencrantz! Do you know how human names work?"

    Kyurem nodded.

    "Yay! I already know your name is Kyurem..."

    Tom's brow furrowed.

    "Were you always called Kyurem?"

    Kyurem hesitated before shaking their head.

    "What was your name, then?"

    Kyurem attempted to respond with another buzz, only to realize their own incomprehensibility and hang their head in shame again.

    Tom responded waving his hands defensively again.

    "I-It's OK... I can just call you Kyurem..."

    An awkward silence ensued. Tom eventually looked around the chasm out of curiosity.

    "So this is that big ol' giant chasm where you live, huh?"

    Kyurem nodded.

    Tom looked off to the side in thought for a bit before looking back at Kyurem.

    "...You know, you don't seem like the kind of Pokemon who would eat people... At least not anymore... You actually seem really nice! Why don't you go to my town and show them that so they're not afraid of you anymore?"

    Kyurem stared awkwardly at Tom before shifting uncomfortably.

    "...What's wrong?"

    Kyurem hesitates before turning to give Tom a better view of their left leg, at which point Tom notices a large scar.

    "Wha..."

    Kyurem turned again to show another scar on their arm. Then opened their mouth to show a broken tooth. Then various parts of their icy bits that seemed cracked and worn before something finally clicked for Tom.

    "They... Did all that to you?"

    Kyurem stayed still a long while before finally nodding.

    "Oh... I... I'm sorry..."

    Kyurem immediately shook their head.

    "Huh?"

    Kyurem gestured to Tom, then to one of their scars, before shaking their head again.

    "Oh... It's not my fault?"

    Kyurem nodded and buzzed in a reassuring way, and Tom smiled.

    "That's good to hear, at least..."

    He suddenly approached Kyurem with arms outstretched, at which Kyurem cowered away again and gave another hiss-y buzz.

    "D-Don't worry! I know you think I am, but I'm not gonna hurt you! I'm gonna do, like, the opposite!"

    Kyurem tilted their head warily.

    "I'm gonna give you a hug! Humans give each other and their Pokemon hugs to make them feel better! I'm gonna do that to you!"

    Kyurem stared at him a bit longer before hesitantly righting itself.

    Tom slowly approached Kyurem before getting close enough to quickly hug their leg, only for both to recoil in shock.

    "Ah! You really are cold..."

    Kyurem shifted warily again.

    "Don't worry, there's gotta be a warm spot on you somewhere..."

    He held a hand close to Kyurem's body without actually touching it and used it to scan, Kyurem noticeably nervous but still allowing Tom to do so.

    Eventually, Tom's hand reached the un-iced part of Kyurem's chest, and he suddenly stopped and smiled.

    "Wait a minute!"

    He carefully touched Kyurem's chest. Kyurem flinched noticeably, but stopped when Tom just felt their chest gently.

    "Your heart... I can feel it beating! And it's so warm!"

    He slowly pressed his head and other hand against Kyurem's chest and closed his eyes.

    "It feels so nice..."

    Kyurem looked down in shock before gently clutching Tom with their claws.

    They stayed that way a good while before Tom moved away and smiled up at Kyurem.

    "Glad you liked that..."

    He looked back at the food pile and then to Kyurem again.

    "You already got lots of good food... But after tonight I wanna give you something extra-special that's not food!"

    Kyurem tilted their head again as Tom dug into his bag and pulled out a figurine of a woman with bright red hair in even brighter red full armor.

    "This is a Crimson Lady action figure! It's from a TV show I like where great heroes from the past team up to fight bad guys! And she's my favorite!"

    He handed the action figure to Kyurem.

    "...So I want you to have her!"

    Kyurem stared at Tom in shock before clutching the action figure gently in their claws and inspecting it carefully.

    "I dunno... Everyone back home thinks you're this big scary monster who eats people and really you're just hurt and scared and want to be alone so you don't hurt people or other Pokemon and they don't hurt you back... So I know she's a toy and not the real person, but maybe she'll make you feel less alone?"

    Kyurem looked down at the action figure then back at Tom before nodding vigorously with a contented buzz. Tom smiled brightly back.

    "Yay! That's great!"

    He then frowned.

    "...Sorry, I gotta get home... Everybody probably thinks you ate me..."

    He looked around the chasm nervously.

    "Though... I don't know my way out of here..."

    Kyurem looked to the side in thought a bit before looking back at Tom, hunching down, and gesturing to a non-icy part of their back. Tom grinned in response.

    "You'll give me a ride?"

    Kyurem nodded and buzzed contentedly again.

    Tom immediately went to Kyurem and climbed onto their back, flinching again from the cold at first but then getting to a position where he could ride comfortably enough.

    "Alright... Let's go!"

    Kyurem gave a triumphant buzz before stomping out, Tom astride his back.

    ------------

    It was early morning in Lacunosa, and the whole town was searching desperately for a certain someone in panic - a man and woman in particular.

    "I... I can't believe we just left him out there..."

    "Relax, honey, Tom's a resourceful boy, I'm sure he found a way to hide from that thing..."

    "Yes... Just... The thought of it eating our child alive... I... I can't..."

    "Hey Mom! Hey Dad!"

    The pair turned immediately to see an unharmed, if weary-looking, Tom standing before them. They both immediately embraced him and sobbed as the other townspeople and their Pokemon looked on happily with murmurs of relief.

    "Honey, we- we're so happy you're OK..."

    "Yeah, I'm fine... Kyurem helped me out!"

    "...What?"

    "Yeah! It was actually really nice to me!"

    "Honey... A night out all alone must be addling your brain... You need rest!"

    "But Mom, Dad, I'm telling the truth! Really!"

    He was promptly ignored as his parents hauled him back to his house, despite his protests the whole way.

    ***

    "...So yeah! I got to be friends with Kyurem!" said Tom, puffing his chest out proudly.

    He promptly deflates a bit and frowns.

    "...Even though no one believed me. Still bitter."

    Roger, Vladimir, and Estragon, meanwhile, were all staring aghast.

    <...Well, that certainly went in a bunch of crazy directions,> said Estragon.

    <The Shell... So different from what I thought...> whispered Vladimir.

    "Tom, you... You really made friends with the one being your hometown feared the most?"

    "Yep!"

    Roger smiled softly.

    "...You know what? I believe you, man. If only because I know you're the one person crazy enough to pull it off."

    "Thanks!"

    Tom shifts a bit.

    "And... I told you because it's a lot like what you're worried about."

    "...Oh?"

    Tom frowns.

    "Well... Kyurem was all scared and alone and hurt and had nowhere to go, right? That's kinda us right now, after what happened in Plasma. After we... W-we failed N... And that's why we have to hide away here and we can't see our families..."

    He smiles.

    "But... Kyurem was just so happy I kept them company then... So... I figure sticking with each other now will help too, right?"

    Roger smiles brightly back.

    "...You're damn well right, Tom. You're damn well right."

    Vladimir and Estragon looked on fondly before the latter nudged the former.

    <Yo, Vladdy! Bet these two would appreciate being in on the vidya.>

    <Some friendly competition would be good, yes...>

    Vladimir nudged Roger, who looked up at him as he gestured to the TV and video game console.

    <Would you be interested in virtual kart racing, Trainer?>

    Roger smiled. "I'm assuming those beeps and that 'lurk' mean you guys are up for four-player?"

    Tom pumped his fists. "Dibs on first player!"

    Roger glared in response."Tom, what did I fucking tell you about that?"

    "Hey! Remember who brought the console here."

    "Remember who's being kinda stupid and rude."

    "I'm rude? You-"

    The two descended into incomprehensible prattling as their Pokemon looked on and sighed.

    ---------

    Deep within the Giant Chasm, Kyurem tossed the last of the food gathered from Lacunosa's streets into that year's pile. After doing so and pondering a bit they decided they weren't ready to help themself just yet.

    Instead, they walked over to a corner of the chasm, where a Crimson Lady action figure was set upright on a small outcrop, Kyurem gazing at it fondly.

    <Merry Kyurimek, Tom... Wherever you've gone...>

    ~~~
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  2. DarkerShining

    DarkerShining Well-Known Member

    Hi Umbra! I decided to check out this thing you wrote!

    I thought it was a sweet little tale, and I like the idea of Lacunosa having a holiday dedicated to Kyurem, or rather, making sure Kyurem doesn't try to eat anyone. Of course, as Tom finds out, Kyurem isn't quite the monster that the legends make it out to be. I really like the whole angle of Kyurem just wanting to be complete once more, but not quite knowing what to do. At least they made a friend that winter.
     
  3. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    :D

    :D :D :D

    8D

    Thank you, DS! The fact you stopped by to review this little thing I wrote on a whim even when I've been feeling bad about having a hard time finding the time to catch up on Reflecting Balance when you've been plugging away at it so hard means a lot to me!

    And haha, yeah, I had fun with giving Laucnosa a "Kyurem Please Don't Eat Us" day then promptly veering to a far different portrayal of Kyurem themself, and glad you found it entertaining and endearing overall.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2016
  4. That was really cute! (Definitely not the adjective I expected to use to describe a fic about Kyurem eating people but okay!) I liked how you integrated the Kyurem-Lacunosa myth into the fic and how you made a whole holiday out of it. I think it definitely succeeds in fulfilling the FFQ prompt - very creative to go down the “Distract the monster with food so it doesn’t eat us!” route.

    At first I was a bit put off at how tell-y that last part was where Tom was basically stating the moral of his story, but then I realized that it was part of how this is a holiday fic, which pretty much sets out to make sure that its moral is ingrained to your brain. And it does fit in well with Tom’s more happy-go-lucky outlook with life, so in the end I thought it was effective. I do think it could’ve been a bit subtler, but that’s just being nitpicky.

    On that same note, though, some of your dialogue seems a bit too heavy on the exposition, such as this one:

    I know it’s a way for the reader to find out where Tom came from, but how Roger says it is a bit unrealistic. There’s a lot of facts to swallow here, and I think it would be better if that was spread out to other dialogue. As it is, though, it sounds a bit like the exposition was forced into Roger’s dialogue, which made it sound odd.

    That doesn’t apply to all of it, of course - right after this, Roger explains that bit about Kyurem and Lacunosa, and that seems much more realistic even if it was a pretty long answer. So given the right context, explanatory dialogue like this is all right, but I feel that it could be a bit subtler in other cases.

    Grammar was sound, but there were a couple of times where you switched between past and present tense, so I suggest you read it over again to catch those sentences and make them consistent with the rest of the story..

    And one other thing:

    I took a deep breath after reading this because Tom seemed like he’d need it after such a continuous explanation. XD I think it’s intentional, though, since Tom seems like quite a talker, but if it wasn’t, I think this could use a few commas.
    .
    Overall this was a neat little story, and an interesting look at the Kyurem-Lacunosa myth. Tom and Roger are very memorable characters, and that only makes me even more excited to read your contest entry. Great job! :)
     
  5. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    Woo! Another bonus non-mod review!

    Kendall: -sads at bold bit bup perks up at the rest-

    (Yes, I have officially dubbed Yangverse!Kyurem Kendall as of this fic. Sue me.)

    Glad you found my take on the prompt interesting! As you can probably tell, I had fun weaving the Tarrasqemas jokes and Rolf's bizarre holiday into an existing piece of Pokemon lore for this. :p

    Duly noted on all counts, thanks; If I go with my plan of posting a revised version of this thing next holiday season after the fic it's an interquel of is properly revised and published, I might tone it down a bit - though, Tom's not really one for being subtle. :p

    Hrm, yeah, gonna have to spread that out more naturally, thanks.

    -shakes fist in the air-

    TENSES! MY MORTAL NEMESIS!

    But yeah, saw I kept switching between them as I was writing it and tried to keep it consistent as I went along, but of course I still missed some. Will fix.

    Will add those too. XD
    .
    Oh, you wanted to read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Plasbad? Sweet! I've been meaning to properly put it up within the next few months, so hopefully you'll get to see more of these two and their wider story before long.

    But glad you enjoyed this story, especially even without context of the tale Tom and Roger sprung from!
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016
  6. Spiteful Murkrow

    Spiteful Murkrow Early Game Encounter

    So this is a wee bit late, but I figured that now was as good a time as any to leave a review on this.

    Your opening sums up what I feel is the biggest weakness of your fic at the moment. Namely that it's really sparse on description at times. For instance, here, we don't really know all that much about the apartment and the snow relative to it. Is it a snowed-in ground level? Second story? Basement? Is the heater working properly?

    It was also something which I felt was a bit noticeable in Tom's exchange with Kyurem. A couple extra sentences here or there I think would help the readers get a firmer visualization of how different moments play out.

    Tom doesn't take sudden career changes well, and clever use of size changes there.

    Considering the influence that pagan winter festivals have had on Christmas as we know it, the whole notion of Christmas in the Pokéworld having origins from a fête related to Xerneas actually makes a shocking amount of sense.

    And now I'm curious. What is the Ugly Binacle story?

    Be mindful of plurals and italics. I also noticed that some of your rhyming stanzas had different syllable lengths, but I wasn't sure whether or not that was a design choice.

    That said, I thought this was a really cute ditty. And am a bit envious at how long you managed to make it while staying topical to Kyurimek.

    For a second, I read the "Its power over bitter cold" line as "Its power over Bittercold". Which I thought was a cute coincidence if that wasn't deliberate.

    While the format of this exchange makes sense given the language barrier. Something about it seemed kinda repetitive, though not fully sure what to suggest to smooth it out. Perhaps mix up the way the lines with Kyurem's lines start and add a little more body language?

    And as always, there are downsides to being feared. Can't help but feel sorry for the guy there, and it makes its wariness around Tom seem more believable.

    Did it also grow three sizes?

    Part of me now wants to see what happens after the events of B2W2 when Tom finds out about Kyurem being used as the world's most powerful icemaker.

    It's not quite the holidays in the Pokéworld until you get trounced by your own pets in party games.

    Really, really lovely closer there.

    While there were some things that I felt could have been done better, all-in-all I felt that this was a really cute one-shot. Also, kudos for making an extended reference to Tarresquemas and having it feel at-home in the Pokéworld.

    Good luck with writing, and I'll be looking forward to your Plasma Grunts' appearances in the future.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  7. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me

    I'm here with your mod review, finally! (In my defense, a lot of the time I would have spent working on this went into writing PMs to you instead.)

    That should either be a period or a lowercase d.

    Slipping into present tense here.

    Ahaha, that's pretty great.

    Hi there, fourth wall.

    I'm not quite sure how I feel about Roger proceeding to indicate that this kind of "weird existentialism" is something he does a lot - it seems to turn the fourth-wall-leaning joke into an aspect of his character, which invites some fridge logic for a character who is generally to be taken reasonably seriously. But I may just be overthinking this.

    Present tense again.

    The word "of" isn't capitalized in titles.

    You're missing a closing quote there.

    All of this narration is also present tense.

    Not all these lines, by the way, need to be their own paragraph. I think you lean a bit too heavily on the pragraph breaks throughout; usually, an action performed by a character and dialogue said by the same character can be grouped in the same paragraph, and it sounds a bit more natural that way and saves space. It's not a serious distraction, but your lines tend to be quite short and this'd make them less so and probably make sections of dialogue and actions flow a little better.

    I'm not sure Vladimir and Estragon's speaking roles are contributing very much to the story as it is. The comments that they make are for the most part kind of detached; they don't tell us anything new or affect the following dialogue or events in any way, instead just serving as fairly meaningless extra commentary that could easily be cut out without losing anything of worth. That said, there is one really interesting, powerful and deeply revealing line from Vladimir, and it is this one:

    Bam. By having him call Kyurem "The Shell", you say magnitudes about how Kyurem is generally perceived as incomplete, broken, just the husk that was left behind when the dragon split apart. It's a really good line setting up context for Tom's encounter with Kyurem, and on the strength of its effectiveness alone I'm inclined to recommend expanding their role rather than removing it - if Vladimir and Estragon had more relevant and interesting things to say leading up to this part, I think their presence would feel more natural. (Alternatively, it might also work if that was the only time the Pokémon spoke, but it might be jarring to have non-speaking characters suddenly speak for one line; you'd have to weigh the possibilities and see how well they actually work out.)

    Aww. It's sad none of these people sing this and sympathize with Kyurem. But sadly, I can also completely believe it. When you think of something as a monstrous abomination, it rarely occurs to you to consider how it feels.

    More present tense.

    It strikes me as a bit weird that Tom doesn't notice everyone going inside because he's trying to pick up his candy. People not noticing him in their hurry, sure, but it's hard not to notice a clock chiming and an entire crowd of people making their way indoors. It wouldn't be hard to make this feel more plausible - even if Tom has noticed everyone's going inside, maybe he's worried he'll incur Kyurem's wrath if he doesn't finish gathering all his food and placing it nicely where Kyurem can get it, and surely just staying a minute more won't hurt, or something like that.

    On the other hand, it is pretty hard to swallow that people wouldn't let in a child banging on their doors because Kyurem is coming. Yes, Kyurem is coming; that's exactly why you should let the kid in right now! So long as Kyurem is only coming and not there right now, opening the door for two seconds to let him in poses no reasonable danger - certainly not enough of one to justify leaving him there to be eaten. The image of him finding himself abandoned with the people refusing to help him is nicely heartbreaking and contributes to how scared he is, but I just don't think it makes sense the people would all be so selfish. You might get the right effect in a more sensible way if, say, the people have all fled to their cellars, or they pad their houses to keep out the cold, and as a result they simply can't hear him no matter how hard he tries, or if Tom just trips and falls and hurts himself and that's how he falls unconscious until Kendall gets there.

    This is a comma splice - the bits before and after the first comma are both complete sentences. You'll want either a period or a semicolon or a rewording with a conjunction, such as "It was then he noticed the cold shift and become more concentrated, specifically around his face" or something like that.

    Kendall is already adorable.

    Since the ellipsis is indicating a pause within a single sentence, you shouldn't be capitalizing the word that comes after it. You do this several more times here; I'm not going to point out the others so as not to repeat myself, but yeah, the general rule is that you only capitalize what comes after an ellipsis if you would have capitalized it if the ellipsis weren't there.

    In general I think you do a great job on Kendall's body language, and in particular on the way they attempt to communicate (often people make that sort of body language communication far more precise and on-the-nose than what would be realistic, having the character somehow construct elaborate clever pantomime for entire sentences on the fly, but you avoid that and have Kendall use nothing but vague gestures until Tom teaches them to nod and shake their head). And I really like that Kendall is sensitive about being called broken - I'm pretty sure this made me awww out loud when I first read this. But I think this may be a bit unsubtle here - it would be plenty just to say that Kendall shrank back, hanging their head, without pointing out that it's specifically the word 'broken' that triggered it (we can guess that that's the gist of it) or that they seem ashamed (you're already saying that with the body language).

    Yeah, you're really nailing conveying Kendall's character with only body language and noncommunicative buzzing. It's really hard not to feel sorry for them and want to give them a hug immediately, even though they haven't actually gotten to say a word and are a huge scary dragon.

    First, this is adorable, but dismissively? I don't think that's the word you're looking for.

    Aww. Kendall's lack of proper communication ability is heartbreaking! They're so lonely and isolated, and being unable to actually express themself comprehensibly can only add to that isolation.

    Usually you refer to Kendall as "they", but here you use "it".

    Present tense again. (But yeah, Kendall needs all of the hugs.)

    Sounds like it just was reassuring to Tom, not "almost". I think this is a bit oddly worded generally, though; "at which the latter smiled" sounds strangely formal and stiff. I'd just say something like "Kyurem nodded and buzzed in a reassuring way, and Tom smiled."

    This is the cutest.

    More tense errors.

    Tom giving Kendall the action figure to make them feel less alone is the most adorablest.

    It's a little awkward to have two lines of dialogue in a row start with "Though..."

    Looks like you accidentally called Kendall "him" here.

    I don't think the word "promptly" quite makes sense here, and you also use it again just a couple of paragraphs later.

    Present tense again.

    Aww, Roger.

    That should presumably be Tom.

    And a bit more present tense.

    Adorable, but the ellipses after every word make it sound kind of weird and mechanical in a way that I think takes away from it a bit.

    So, overall, this is incredibly sweet and I really like how you take Kyurem, a Pokémon most people consider the opposite of cute, and write it in such a way as to make the reader want to give it all of the hugs. It's not just that you tell us Kendall is misunderstood and unfairly maligned - everything about the way they behave, their guardedness, their tense and fearful body language and their clumsy attempts at communication shows a creature who feels small and insecure even though they're a massive, intimidating dragon. It's impossible not to care about them and want them to be happy, and that forms the emotional core of this story.

    Kid Tom is pretty adorable as well and sounds believably like a kid version of himself, and the resolution with him giving Kendall the action figure is nice - he doesn't magically, singlehandedly solve all of Kyurem's problems, but he makes a sweet little gesture that helps, and that makes the end satisfying.

    Kyurimek is a nice Pokémon-world holiday - I like that it revolves around actual local legends in a canonical place. It also sounds just like the kind of thing that would spring up as a holiday tradition - I'm from Iceland and half of our holiday folklore revolves around various monsters and creatures that will kill or eat you unless you X, so it rings very true to me. All in all, as a response to the Quarterly Challenge, this is a solid entry, and the inclusion of a holiday song is a nice treat as well.

    The biggest issues with this story, I think, are the tense fluctuations and the unrealism of the Lacunosans actively choosing to leave a child outside to die. Your style remains pretty sparse, but I don't think this story is in any great need of more description - more detail and narration could enhance the atmosphere, but you get the point across perfectly well with what you have. I do think it'd help it feel less so if you combined more of your paragraphs, though, as I discussed above - like so:

    I think it's solid overall, though, simply because on an emotional level it just works. You make the reader care and then you melt their heart. Good job.
     

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