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PMD: Old Ashes

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Agent Tectonic, Jan 23, 2015.

  1. Agent Tectonic

    Agent Tectonic From Ashes, I Come

    After a long, long time, I'm pleased to announce that this is the revised and improved version of A Returning Darkness. I've also decided that I am going to rate this as a PMD story with a rating of PG 13 for violence, occasional bad language, dark themes, and sprinkled horror moments. As always, read, critique, and most importantly, enjoy.



    Prologue: Among the Dust and Echoes

    Journal Entry 1

    I told my dad that I was gonna go to the Hidden Lands to explore the ruins therein. He seemed rather pleased that I decided to put my Officer job on hiatus for a while and return to exploration. I wish I could tell him the truth, though. He’d never understand. He knows my history inside and out after he took me in. Most of the time, he’s the smartest Pokémon I know, but that Sceptile is stuck in his ways at times. It’s like he’s adopted these thousands of year old habits.

    ...Maybe that was what that note meant…

    I leave tomorrow, heading for Treasure Town. I’m glad I evolved into a Flygon a month ago and adjusted to my new body. I feel powerful, strong. I hope Laav notices. I can’t risk telling her despite her recluse ways and general sense of trustworthiness.

    Ugh, my mind strays again. I can’t seem to think straight when I should. If anyone sees these journals, don’t ever tell my dad, Leafblade. At least not until either he understands the truth or gets dragged in.

    If you do happen to read this, Dad, please understand that I had no choice in this. I must know your secret. Something pulls me to know what it is and why all of a sudden I feel as if it’s no longer safe.

    ~Dustshade


    The Flygon folded the notebook, droplets of blood and tears splattering onto the dusty, wrinkled pages. His body convulsed at the small movement of placing the torn diary back into his rescue bag. His other hand clutched his right hip where a deep slash of a Dragonite’s claws had raked over his delicate scales. Flying on, he left the shredded body of an unconscious Dragonite behind him. Looking away from the nauseating sight of his wounds, he saw his destination rising up before him. Just above the ever climbing Highlands, a large, rocky structure stood ominously against the rather peaceful-looking realm of Dialga’s hidden island. Columns of crumbling rocks held the obelisk up. His weary body begged to simply fly to it and take shelter in the darkened refuge, but his barely conscious mind reminded him he had a dungeon to finish traversing.

    A twinge of fiery agony coursed through his side. He needed to rest, but the exit was still too far away to risk chomping down on his last Oran. Driving himself forward through sheer will, he reached the last room of the dungeon, only finding a sleeping Tropius with a sparkling Oran right next to it and the exit of the dungeon itself shimmering against the back wall. Saliva gathered in his maw as he contemplated the risk.

    Greed and necessity overthrew his caution as he summoned his draconic flames and spat them at the dinosaur. His aim was true, like usual, and he engulfed the Tropius’s back legs in purple flames. He breathed another volley and the creature fell over, whining pitifully as it slumped back into unconsciousness. He hated attacking ferals without fully knowing if they were passive or not, but not at the moment. Despite the guilt that built up in him, he couldn’t take a chance in his bleeding state to make that judgement as he snatched the berry up in his claws. A roar from behind pierced the air and rattled his sensitive ears.

    Dashing through the barrier and returning to the realities outside of the dungeon, he turned to find a bright star crashing into the spot he once hovered over. The bloody Dragonite he thought he had beat fumed steam from his nostrils, murder blazing in his eyes.

    Knowing the other dragon wouldn’t dare leave the dungeon he called its home, Dustshade flew towards the towering structure. Green and brown moss covered the the ancient texts and drawings scrawled along the walls. The black markings of ancient Pokemon that once lived here were remarkably well preserved: no doubt “frozen” by Father Time.

    Light was quickly fading away inside the antechamber as Dustshade realized just how much time had passed since he entered the Hidden Highlands. Dropping his bag gently on the ground, he fished around for the sturdy branch he had procured from a Parasect in Treasure Town and a large bottle labeled “Wonder Amber.” Coating the branch with the resin, he breathed a small flame on the soaked bark and watched as the room lit up from his makeshift torch. The smell from the burning amber always bothered him, but it was his best fuel source for the money he made.

    Despite telling himself at the start of his journey he wouldn’t let his curiosity and attention difficulties better him, he found himself lazily flying by and reading the old texts. Each story was written in the primitive footprint language, and he stopped to read over a story that suggested how Groudon was the clever of the two Nature beasts, waiting for his brother to show up first to incite torrents of rain before emerging to cast the desert sun over the water deity. It was from his craftiness that drove the old Pokémon and humans on land to be more intellectual than the sea brethren. It was an old fable that had managed to be passed down to this day, but here, other details were given and further explained.

    Moving on to another wall, he read through the various myths that adorned the aged stones: the creation of Reshiram and Zekrom, the birth of the universe, and others he read over in great detail. The Flygon had learned of all of these stories during his life, finding them fascinating and cryptic. Yet here, so much more was given and even stories he hadn’t read about and canvases he never seen before dominated the few rooms that followed. How Rayquaza was actually Palkia’s servant before becoming the Sky Guardian. Another spoke of the possibility of the Legendaries being mortal after all. Another...

    A clatter of rocks sounded back from the entrance along with the faint sound of pages flipping. Turning back, he saw that he was quite a ways from the entrance. Rushing back to the front, whatever intruder was gone, but his journal was open. Hovering over it, he found it open to yesterday’s journal.

    Journal entry 30

    I fear I’m being followed. Cielliene assures me that only Empyr, herself, or anyone they deem worthy may enter Dialga’s land, but I remain unconvinced. I don’t vocally raise my fears, but I feel a presence dogging me since we made camp outside the Highlands. I feel the presence most at night… It’s hard to explain. The sudden chill, the echo of footstep, the small wisp of a flowing gown. I’d blame my already fragile mind, but I know I can’t hear anything. Cielliene has been on edge since we made camp. More so than the standard dungeon crawling. Whatever it is, I can only hope it’s friendly or just a trick of the mind.

    At least Cielliene was agreeable when I asked her to leave me be after we reached the Highlands. She seems quite nice.

    ~Dustshade


    As he was closing the book, he saw the faint trace of red on the page after his entry. Gingerly turning the page, he gasped and toppled to the ground, in shock enough to fall out of the air. On it was his exact handwriting scrawled in blood. The header at the top of the page with what looked like the outline of him on the ground, his journal open in front of him; in almost every way, it was the exact tableau of how he looked right now. And just behind him was a shadowy form, also outlined in red with eyes staring soullessly at him.

    A deathly cold chilled his body from head to tail. Clutching his torch tightly, he got up and spun around, seeing nothing in the darkness beyond his torch’s bright light. On the ground though, he gazed at a small, edged stone, covered in fresh, sticky blood. Looking around, he didn’t see anything that suggested another presence. Fluttering backwards, he snatched his bag and journal and passed through another long hallway of glyphs. The instant he left the opening antechamber, a horrible shriek echoed throughout the ancient structure, rattling the rocks and floor. Dropping his torch in pure terror, he zoomed to what looked like a small chamber that lay at the end of the natural hallway.

    His breath went ragged as the very walls pulsed an eerie, maroon red. Terror gripped his heart as wings practically froze from a sudden and very real blast of chilling air. Getting back up, he half crawled, half flew around the corner before another blast clattered against the walls. His heart nearly stopped as he looked up at a gold door, humming with malevolent energy and rapidly pulsing red like the walls around him. On it, in clear, common language was:

    Come no further, child of the leaves and ruler of the dust. You are not welcome here.

    A wind billowed through the halls behind them as a chorus of moans echoed through the air. His heart racing and a cold sweat dripping down his body, he dashed for the safety behind the door, uncaring of the words that warned against it. It opened quite easily, revealing a well-lit room. Books and old, rolled-up tomes were shoved into bookcases. Closing and locking the door behind him, he heard the scraping sound of claws against the door followed by the constant and loud moans of whatever it was that stalked him, but for now, he was safe.

    Hoping the door would bar whatever was out there, he nearly retreated to the farthest corner possible but stopped. Above the door was the very myth he had come searching for. Slumping to the ground in mesmorized awe, he pulled out his journal. His serpentine neck rested against the back, dusty wall as he wrote this day’s real journal, skipping many pages from the bloody picture that was written.

    Journal Entry 31

    … My fears are realized. I have been followed, but for reasons I don’t yet realize. Maybe it’s for what I see before me. One of the myths I’ve sought has finally bore fruit. Before me is a primitive drawing of Arceus and Giratina. Yet, despite the stories before, I see the two conjoined in a kiss as if they were lovers. Around the drawing, there is a text that even I don’t know, but it looks remarkably similar to Unown. Various pieces I recognize though. It frightens me. It speaks of a war, one that has been waged between these two on at least two occasions. A war driven by deception. I will have details on my next journal… I hope. From the moans echoing beyond the shelter of a lone door, I swear the dead themselves guard this abomination of a place. For weeks I dreamed of finding this, and now nightmares will surely be my companions until death claims me. I am trapped, with no other avenues of escape except my best friend: the Golden Door. I only hope it thinks me a friend in return...

    If I don’t make it out… I love you, Dad.

    ~Dustshade
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
  2. PhalanxSigil

    PhalanxSigil BONK!

    I most certainly plan to.

    Let's go over a few very small nitpicks I have with grammar and such.

    I think it would sound better if you said, "Ugh, my mind's straying again."

    "Necessity" would be a good replacement for "need" in this phrase, as "need" almost implies greed again, while "necessity" implies that the Oran is imperative for Dustshade's survival.

    Also, on the whole, the journal entries reminded me slightly of period-piece movie dialogue. By that, I mean it sounds very formal, almost stately. Are the journal entries meant to come off as such, or are they meant to be more informal jottings? If it's the former, that's fine, but if it's the latter, then I'd suggest taking another look at them and evaluating whether or not the character actually would write like that. This is especially true with the last one, where he's in a state of panic. Even the most formal of writers would be too on edge to write that formally.

    But other than those nitpicks...this is really good!

    First of all, I think it's very cool that this story is set in the same world as the Explorers games. Not only do you have interesting lore to work off of, but the use of the Hidden Lands was a very smart move.

    I also thought that you did a fantastic job in giving Dustshade a real sense of urgency. I really felt like he was in trouble, and that he would really do whatever it took to survive in this extremely harsh environment. If you can match the tone of the journal entries with the rest of the chapter, the effect would be even better.

    My one overarching complaint with the prologue is that I didn't feel like the relationships between Dustshade and his peers (Laav and his father), were fleshed out enough. You mention his father quite a few times, but I can't get a read on their relationship. Do they get along, or are they estranged. I got twinges of both, and it left me confused. As for Laav, she's only mentioned once in the whole prologue, and I think that it's as a crush that Dustshade has. I would appreciate it if you could expand on her a little bit.

    It may seem like I'm ragging on this story, but the things I mentioned are relatively minor fixes. Overall, I'm very, very intrigued by this fic, and I'd love to see where you take this. If there's a PM list for this fic, put me on it.

    -Phalanx, out.
     
  3. Akiyama

    Akiyama Awake me if Ash wins

    I see a good use of adopted father to son relationship problem in the journal entry (more on that at end of post).

    In addition to some stress, the journal implies a motive in the flygon.

    This part of the scene is good action and drama, but I like seeing his moral conflict because that shows some moral compass. Not like it's needed, but I figure it's okay to have since he's alone in the dungeon. (Later on, this does make sense.)

    A small plot hole is why he's reading this journal after a battle and before a rush to get out. I can understand that he's picking it up after having it knocked out of the bag from a battle, but I bet the flygon read the journal because he was recovering and padding his wounds. It's just that I didn't see that.

    The description with the runes and history was interesting, although how necessary this was for the moment may be seen later. Still, it's kind of creepy that someone opened his journal.

    Obviously. The journal entry here is beautiful and good for describing his stress.

    That bloody drawing of him afterward was beautiful, a good way to mess with someone while foreshadowing death.

    Awesome use of scenery, too. It's interesting to see that an ice blast of some kind is implied to have been fired at him instead of flames, but it adds to the freezing stress.

    It may be a good idea to note that this ice blast should have a specific threat to a dragon-type like him. It doesn't seem like you used that here, but you're welcome to if it would improve the fear he feels.

    Sort of cliché. I might be bugged by the lack of dialogue by this point, and I'm not sure if things are described the best they can here. It's possible for him to be swearing and yelling and gnashing his teeth. For example, "What do you want!" is one such line, but probably would be done by running away and not looking behind.

    Emotional moments like seeing his death painted in blood, or the sight of the bloody dragonite returning don't see such dialogue either. Maybe just three lines of dialogue in total could add a lot to the character during such tense scenes. It feels unnatural to skip dialogue completely and rely on description and journal entries alone though.

    Job well done to complete some happy ending to the scene, but the warning on the door still makes this a good cliffhanger. Also, nice message he left for dad.


    Here's a note about my agreement with PhalanxSigil:

    Yes, that would work, but it may be good to remove "greed and need" and replace with "necessity."

    The panic with the final journal entry could be fixed by letting him relax and calm down in the safe room. However, the current version of the scene doesn't give the character enough time to take a breath, so it's a little bit surprising to see him writing so well.

    The line about Dustshade's father and Laav not being explained well isn't too big of a problem. However, I think you were trying to explain his father as a loving but dismissive of exploring. Some people may assume that Dustshade and his dad don't get along. This isn't a problem for me unless it's a clear contradiction (he loves and hates Dust's explorations) in descriptions and journals. Hopefully that'll be improved on with time.

    Overall, I liked it, and it was a good start to the story.

    No idea what to expect next, really, so have at it and good luck.
     
  4. TheCharredDragon

    TheCharredDragon The Noble Thief

    I just finished reading it, really, and so my thoights will be very, very short as I'm in a rush, but my God... That was intense... Personally, I don't mind the lack of dialogue, but I guess he has a point. However, I'd like to say that I think the relationship between his adopted dad and him is that his dad is happy with him but Dustshade has grown wary of him because of something he might've found prior to this. For some reason I think his dad is a former human... But the big kick was the description of Arceus and Giratina... I mean, whuuu? I'm not unfamiliar with the paring, but never have I seen it blatantly stated in a PMD... Seriously, big mind blower.

    I agree with much of what Akiyama said in thoughts (not critiqued although he has a point) and I seriously wonder what's happening next... Put me on the PM list if you make one. XP

    And I finally reviewed one of your fics, yay!
     
  5. Agent Tectonic

    Agent Tectonic From Ashes, I Come

    My, my, my. Time has flown farther than I cared to admit. But, after nearly two years of silence, this story's voice shall be heard again. First off, though, a long overdue reply while I continue working on the recently started and next chapters.

    @Everyone

    Thank you all for taking the time to have read over this, and even if you don't see this response, I do truly enjoy the fact I touched your interested in merely a few pages.

    @PhalanxSigil:

    Need/ Necessity has been fixed. When thinking over who's version of it was better, I still clung to my rhyme as necessity doesn't have as great of a ring to it when in this context. However, after repeating each way enough to hear it in my sleep, I did find necessity was the better of the two. As such, it has been fixed.

    As for your other main point, about the relationships between Dust and his family and Laav, this was an attempt to find a perfect middle ground between teasing more to come and not sounding too info dump when in the context of a journal. Especially with how Dust is clearly spacey in his writing.

    @Akiyama

    Thank you for all the points you made on where the prose was written excellently in your eyes. I certainly tried to make sure that, with this being the pilot of the story, that the prologue made the best impression it could and more. As for the cold sweat and fear part, yes, it might be cliche, and you do bring up points that could certainly spruce this up better, for now, it shall remain as such. But! Glad you liked what this offered as there will be more to come in this descent into the darker dimensions of dungeon exploring.

    @TheCharredDragon

    I'll let you all debate that relationship as this progresses, but as I said before, glad you've enjoyed this opener. And yes, there is a PM list which you shall be on.


    Now, for a quick note for Chapter 1:

    On the back which carries my past failures, I plow forward once more. An old life, an old purpose, an old path, and old ashes laid at my feet. My destiny inscribed in the forge I created to vanquish my enemy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2016
  6. Agent Tectonic

    Agent Tectonic From Ashes, I Come

    Finally. Finally! Got this up and running once more. Anyway, prologue still there from years ago. Read, comment, enjoy.

    Chapter 1: The Bottom of the Glass

    The stench of alcohol and berries blanketed the air, cloaking the inhabitants of the Oran Aura with sweaty musk and fermented drinks. Seats were filled with chatting citizens of Sunrise City as rescue teams of all badges relaxed within those oaken walls. Faded, historical tapestries clung to the wall, weighted by the alcoholic musk in the air. Behind the bar, a lively Larvitar danced from shelf to shelf, joining the chorus of drunken ‘mon with their heartful songs all while mixing tonics for patrons requesting to ease the burdens of the stress and fatigue.

    Stopping at one customer, he slides a filled glass of Sitrus Cider to a hulking Typhlosion. Muscle and fat warred over the motley body, a clash of seasoned adventurer with drunken laziness of recent years. The fire-type proceeded to catch the sloshing glass as it was skimmed across the stone counter. In one swift action, the Typhlosion tipped the vibrant yellow contents into his mouth and slammed the cup back down, muttering, “Anoth- hic- ther.”

    “Of course, Zix. How many does that make tonight? Eight?” the Larvitar said as he checked the other patrons at the bar and found that the rest were still sipping their drinks. Grabbing a towel, he swiped Zix’s glass and started wiping down the insides first before grabbing the appropriate bottles to refill. “At this rate, you could be my only patron and drink enough to pay for monthly upkeep. What’s got you down tonight?”

    “Nothing, Victor.” Looking down, Zix ran a finger along the bar lazily while his head buzzed from the alcohol. “Jusht needing something good to drink is all. Lotsh… lots of it.”

    “Ah. Issues close to heart. Guess that shouldn’t surpr-- Ooh. Is that today?” Victor asked, frowning as he gently set the refilled glass in front of Zix. “Sixteen years, if my returning memory is correct? I apologize for not remembering until now.”

    Nodding, Zix set a paw on the top of the glass and lifted it, idly swirling the contents inside before shifting his paw to the side and gulped the liquor down in one gulp once more. “Yeeeeup… Shixteen years t’ th’ day now.”

    Once more, the Larvitar holds out a paw, the Typhlosion hesitating briefly before placing the glass in the rock-type’s paw and repeating what he had done nine times over now. This time, though, he grabs a smaller glass and pours the same cider into his own. Lifting the drink, he smiles and taps the glasses. “To a wonderful partner. May she hopefully welcome you with open arms on the next stage of life. Until then,” Downing the drink together, they slam the cups down in unison. “I suppose you are my patron for the rest of this life, it seems.”

    When Zix doesn’t answer any requests for a new glass, Victor simply nods and proceeds to attend to his other patrons, returning to the bellowing tavern-songs and leaving the drunk Typhlosion to his thoughts. Staring down at the at his empty glass, the brute of a badger sighs and runs a paw lazily along the rim. Burping once, he places a paw to his mouth in case another came while he looked down at his abused, faded leather rescue bag to fish out the coin to pay for Victor’s service before staggering out of the inn and into the streets of Sunrise.

    The night was brisk with autumn hanging in the air, seeping with the chill of the fast approaching dead season. However, the cold was hardly the Typhlosion’s concern as he stumbled along the illuminated street. With the moon as his guide, he wanders the streets, paying little mind to anything while the drowsiness started creeping like a weed into his befuddled head. By the time the full, silver orb in the sky crested over the houses, Zix found himself at the entrance of Sunrise City’s cemetery, an apparent blending of human influence on their flourishing city. In his drunken stupor, the Typhlosion’s eyes drifted to the sparse trees that dotted the minefield of headstones, envisioning the trees as mothers caring for their children, bent over and wrapping their branches around the souls that rested in their shadow.

    “I miss you, sweetheart…” He whispers to the wind as it stirred the leaves and grass around him. His eyes wander from headstone to headstone until finally resting his gaze on one lonely tree to the west side of the cemetery, seeing someone kneeling over a particular grave. From the back, he watched the midnight-blue fur along the backside ripple with the wind, disturbing small patches of unkempt fur along both sides of the little badger’s ears. Walking over, he sits, head drooped. Seeing the vents of the young Quilava glow an angry bright blue, he tries to ignore the coming storm from his daughter by focusing on the headstone in front of them.

    “Finally decided to show up. Pay your ‘respects?’” The female Quilava mutters, making Zix wince from her biting words. “When was the last time you even bathed yourself? Could smell you from the gates.”

    Zix remained quiet, head bowed as a few tears dripped down his cheek. When he finally decided to talk, he took a deep breath and whispers. “Can we not do this? Not tonight.”

    The immediate response was a snort of exaggerated amusement. The smaller ‘mon snaps in retort and waves a paw up and down, “You would say that. Still snivelling over your failures of being much of anything to Mother after sixteen years of this.”

    “Laav! I asked you once already to drop it. We’re not arguing about our problems here.” He slurs, glaring at his angry daughter. His own tearful, bloodshot stare meets hers before she finally falls silent. “Thank you.”

    A paw goes to her neck, rubbing at a triangular stone that hung by a simple band of Steelix-grade iron. “You’re hardly welcome.”

    Not having much energy to reprimand Laav again, he casts his gaze to the gravestone before them. Selena Typhlosion it read. A trickle of tears dripped down his fur as Zix mutters, “I shouldn’t have let her go exploring with me. She wasn’t cut out for that kind of life.”

    A growl pulled his gaze from the stone tablet, seeing his daughter bristling in anger. However, her gaze still lay on the grave as she snarls out, “I swear by every feather on Moltres wings, if you even start this ****, I’m gonna puke.”

    “Laav, please, I said to not…” The Typhlosion was immediately silenced by another spout from his daughter.

    “She was my family too. And heavens know that she certainly didn’t wallow in misery over every thing that went wrong in her life. Did she ever shed a tear when she found out what you and I carry? That I have to wear this damn stone around my neck to keep me alive? Grow up. She’s been gone a long time.”

    “LAAV! ENOUGH!” Steam flared from his nose as he pounced atop the girl, laying Laav out on her back while his vents flared brightly along his neck. “No matter what, I am still your father, and you will not talk to me that way. And don’t you dare disrespect her memory like that again!”

    When she simply glared back at him, unfazed entirely despite being pinned, he get off and goes back to sitting in front of the gravestone and closes his eyes, losing himself to his grief as more salty tears drip off his cheeks and onto the soft earth below. Laav, on the other hand, dusted her arms and stomach and muttered she had paid enough of respects and walked away without another word. Alone, Zix creeps closer to the engraved stone and lays down before it, whimpering between heaving sobs, “I’ve tried, dear… I’ve tried. I miss you so much. I-I-I… I should have seen it coming…”

    As his words failed him, the wind continued its hollow, mourning song as it swept over the site once more, a small whistle through the tree above to add to his steady rhythm of sobs while the moon continuing its ascent along the open, starry sky.

    ~~~~~

    Along the far edge of town, beyond the windswept hills of the Haunting Holes, rested Sunrise’s most acclaimed Rescuer Operations. A once glistening hut shaped like a Treecko’s head stood against the open sky, green leather having faded over years from sun and rain. The light of the full moon shone through the open eyes that pointed to the heavens. Within, a once sleeping lizard rested. Scales as deep a green as the jungle canopy, a tail of fern-leaves cleanly brushed and trimmed of any wayward growth, lay a Sceptile.

    One yellow eye open, he gazed up at the moon as it passed over the right window, slowly following its path. After several minutes lying there, one leg raised and bent at the knee, the other leg resting atop it, the lone lizard let out a sigh. Turning over, arms under him, he squeezes his eyes shut as he gets himself up into a kneeling position. Chest flaring in agony, he nearly crashes back onto the flower bedding below him. Catching his balance, though, the lizard lets out one final snarl before finally getting up on his knees, then stands up.

    Clutching his burning chest, his hand comes away sticky and red, apparently having moved in just the wrong way to open the wound once more. “That Aggron got me good.” He says as he reaches behind him with the same bloody hand.

    Grabbing a nodule on his back, his final one, he pops it off his body, briefly cringing from the painful pinch before crushing the orb with a squelch and splattering the juices along two gashes that were openly bleeding once more on his chest. Sighing in relief, the numbness set in as the wind and juice mixed, hardening the sap into a makeshift clotting agent to prevent further injury. Long as the night didn’t hold any rainstorms, that should hold so long as he didn’t do any serious lifting or fighting.

    Stepping outside, the Sceptile hobbles over to his mailbox, pushing the Treecko tail back as the lid flopped down. Grabbing his nightly mail, he sifts through the various job requests that had been asked of him along with the daily and nightly news. One such paper caught his eye, making him shake his head and sigh as he reads.

    Once he was back inside, the lizard sits at his desk, tossing the mail to the corner before folding his hands together atop the oak slab and resting his head on top of them. Another day of this. Yet another day of the widening rift between the common-folk and rescuers. Raising his head, he leans back on his chair and sighs once more. It was becoming increasingly harder for him to do his job when bandits were quickly taking advantage of the wedge like this within the walls of Sunrise.

    His thoughts were shaken when there was a knock at the door. Bolting up and immediately clutching his chest, he stares at the open entrance where his partner stood. Judging by the silhouette’s half stooped posture, he was clearly drunk, or coming off the effects of being drunk. Then again, when wasn’t he?

    “I see you got the mail. That’s good. I um, forgot on my way out this morning. We got some gold from my small little rescue this morning. I’d give you your share but…”

    “You wasted it all on Victor’s drinks. I can smell the apology from over here, Zix.” The Sceptile finished. Rubbing his eyes, he gets up and helps his partner over to the bed of flowers in the back of the room. “Just lay down and rest. I’ll go get you a pot of water for your head and another for you to drink. Just make sure you don’t light this place on fire.”

    “Suppose that would be a good idea. And I’ll try n-ungh...” The Typhlosion stops mid sentence as the strong urge to turn over and hurl nearly overwhelmed him. But when only a small cough came of it, he returns to laying on his back and just closes his eyes. “Please hurry on that.”

    Nodding, Leaf leaves without another word. Not exactly able to run, he grabs two clay pots at the side of house, both standing about two feet high, before following the dirt road to the east towards the Serpent’s Tail River.

    Thankfully it wasn’t a long walk, and upon hearing the soft sounds of the creek, he breathes a sigh of relief as he sets the mildly heavy urns down, his chest pulsing a steady throb. A small breeze rustled the leaves of the the trees across the river, joining the orchestra of the ambient calls of nature. However, when the sound of a Lycanroc’s howl pierced the air, Leaf scanned the banks of the river, searching for the predator that was nearby. Not wanting to tangle with a feral, he got down on all fours, ready to scurry up an oak if need be. When nothing happened, he scooped one pot up with his tail and holds it above his head like a scorpion. Crawling to the river’s edge, he carefully turned around to lower his leafy tail into the water. Hearing the cool liquid flow and collide against the walls, he waited until the sounds die down before lifting the pottery up and heading back to the empty one, making sure to tilt the brown urn upward slightly to not lose any water.

    Halfway between the river’s edge and his remaining empty urn, another howl, this one closer than before and enough to scatter a few Starly on the other side of the creek. Someone, hopefully not him, likely stumbled into its territory, and the dog was on the hunt for it. A little more rushed, he set the first one down, foregoing stealth in favor of speed as he gets back up on his feet and hurriedly grabs the second container, his other hand on his scar as if to pinch the wounds closed. Kneeling at the river, he plunges the urn into the water with a loud release of suction as water spatters around the bank. Muttering to himself in disdain, he says aloud, "Of all the nights I have to be out here, gotta be the night a feral’s near,” as a third howl sounded. This time though, right after, the heavy footfalls against thick bushes with twigs snapping reached his ears, only climbing in pitch at whatever was across the river was coming this way.

    Eyes alert, his head scans the opposite shoreline for the incoming intruder, reasoning a lost or broken urn was a much better sacrifice than his life. His wrist blades thrummed with energy as the partially wilted petals slowly curled out and straightened, now sharp enough to rend flesh from any attacker if need be.

    For now, though, he quietly hauls the mostly-full pottery back onto land and slowly drags it through the grass. Eyes on the other bank, he freezes as a Nidorino bursts through the treeline, in full sprint to the river. The poison type stops in his tracks when he sees Leaf, however, both waiting on the other to make any sudden moves. In the few short seconds of silence, they were interrupted as the shadow of a bipedal wolf bursts from an overhanging branch, crashing down with enough force the Nido onto his stomach.

    Thinking he was about to watch a gory display of nature, he was shocked to see the bipedal wolf actually yelp and leap off the Nidorino, clutching its chest as in the moonlight, glimmers of some liquid oozed from its fur. In that small aftermath, the Nidorino turns to Leaf and yells. “You mind helping! Or you gonna watch in silence?”

    Realizing this was not some feral territory dispute and actually a citizen in danger, Leaf nods and gets up. While most other times he would have happily fought claws to claws, with his injury, he couldn’t risk a lucky shot from the wolf ending him. Raising his arms, his body glows and pulses a deep green, the earth rumbling at his silent call as thick vines sprouted out of the around him. As they twisted up to the heavens, each tendril’s tip aimed itself against the wolf and proceeded to slam into the ground, getting ever closer to the feral. Realizing it was about to be crushed, the midnight dog stumbled back into the forest while the Frenzy Plant finally slammed at the spot it once was occupying.

    Dirt and grass rained from the sky around the impact area, and the Nidorino took the opportunity to plunge into the river and swim over to safety. As the poison type got out and shook his body free of water, he collapsed into a panting mess when no further threat came and grunts. “Thanks. I owe you my life on that one. Thought I snuck by the thing an hour ago. Nearly caught me in the neck when I stopped to enjoy a berry. Despite that, the dog wasn’t very smart when he laid squarely on my spikes.”

    After a few moments, the Nidorino’s head lifts up and sees the two pots of water. Pointing a paw at one, he asks. “Seems like a lot to be moving around on your own. Need any help… once I’ve caught my breath?”

    “Certainly not going to say ‘no’ after all of that. You owe me anyway.” Both of them sat there quietly for a moment before a frown crossed the Sceptile’s face. “Although, how do you plan on helping?” Leaf asks, not exactly sure how the four legged ‘mon would be able to hold either container.

    “Mm, guess you have a point. If you feel trusting enough, you could run one back instead of lugging both. Likely be easier on you anyway. That scar looks awful.” The Nidorino cocked his head to the side, attention on the Sceptile’s chest with eyes running from top to bottom of it with a mixture of wonder and curiosity.

    Not having any room to argue on the matter, as he knew he’d be winded lugging both back and at risk of tearing his makeshift seal, he nods and wraps his arms around one, getting a steady hold on the much heavier pot before taking off at a brisk trot back up the path to his home. Not ten minutes later, he returned for the second one, finding the Nidorino lounging by the river, cautiously lapping up something to drink while keeping an eye out for the midnight Lycanroc. Hearing the Sceptile panting, he turns his head and walks over.

    “Name’s Mark, by the way. And thank you for earlier, now that we both are a little more calm.”

    Bowing his head, Leaf returned the pleasantry with, “Leaf. Have a hut just up the road if you need a place to stay. Or I can provide you a room at one of the shelters in Sunrise if you’d prefer.”

    The Nidorino seemed to enjoy that, tail wagging at the prospect of lying in a bed again. “I’d like that, a room at least. Actually was on my way to Sunrise anyway when I thought I could get through the night without complications.”

    Taking the lead, Leaf beckons for Mark to follow beside him. “Got business in Sunrise? Not exactly the best of times to be visiting our small city. Between bandits and the politics, we don’t get many visitors anymore.”

    “Business. And I’m very much aware of your squabbles. Everywhere on this continent is feeling the capital’s issues.”

    “Regardless, I still needed to come. Meeting an acquaintance of mine who found something old and reached out to me for my assistance. I’m not much of an Explorer or Rescuer, but I do enjoy research and history, particularly objects from the Mists era.”

    “The... Mists? Not sure I follow.” Leaf asked, staring down at his current companion. He looks him over, trying to gauge just how old the guy was anyway. He didn’t look any older than an adolescent, given by the lack of any scars of experience along him, yet he sounded as if he was clearly well into adulthood.

    The poison type chuckled, bobbing his head as if he wasn’t surprised. “Not many know the times before are called that, seeing as you know, that was before writing. But, that’s hardly a point these days. The Mists were the times when we, Pokémon as a whole were still in our infancy years of intellectual evolution. Not long after the gods had pulled many of us from humanity and dumped us onto this world, actually. Still feral, many Pokémon relied on their upbringing around humans to progress our species. Crafting, hunting with mixed species, forming villages, even setting aside our prey and predator ways… that was the byproduct of our time with humans and learning from them. But… how can I best put it. Ah, think of it like the bottom of a glass.” He says before pausing, looking up at Leaf and stopping in their walk.

    His hut was just up the road, but fascinated by the conversation, he sets down the pot and leans against it, intrigued completely and lets Mark continue.

    “At the bottom of the glass, when nothing is in it yet, whatever lies beyond it, whatever it is sitting on, is clear to the eye. Even magnified a bit. Interestingly enough, that is nearly the same for what happened as Pokémon evolved into more intelligent beings. The magics of this world, and those the gods use, were made clear after having seen for our own eyes something like mass teleportation or maybe a bit more notable, Exploration Town’s discovery and crafting of Species Items. For instance...”

    He stops and spits out a small gobe onto the ground. Staring at the orb, Leaf realized the thing was barely larger than a pebble while a mosaic of purple and pink swirls curled within it. “My prized treasure and my best reference in studying the past. Keeps the mud and earthquakes away from harming me. Anyway,” He laps up the globe, giving Leaf a brief glimpse of seeing it disappear under the poison type’s tongue. “back to what I was discussing.”

    “As the Grass Continent was where most Pokémon were dropped off at, the ones that remained there had time to combine their experiences with humans and the magics used by the gods to craft such things as those items. There’s more research on this matter, but it appears we are nearing the end of this walk if that’s your house up ahead. So, back on your original question”

    The Sceptile shivers as a gust of wind passed over the area, rustling the trees and making some old vines in the trees groan. Mark even stopped and looked around. Never liked the wind around here. Last time I was here, it was even worse than this and much windier than this simple breeze.” After a brief moment, they take a few steps up the path until they were about a hundred feet from Leaf’s home. “I’ll be happy when I get to leave. Anyway, an old acquaintance of mine that lives in Sunrise sent me a letter two week ago that he found something that dates to those times when those artifacts were made or maybe even before those times, believe it or not. I aim to see what this treasure is and find out more about it. That, and my benefactor needs to know that this discovery won’t change with the nature order, whatever this is.”

    Having listening quietly and patiently, Leaf found himself more than a little curious. If everything was to be believed at face value, Mark certainly knew a lot about the subject. Most knew the stories about Pokémon living on their own without humans on this world, but the level of detail this Nidorino seem to know, it is astonishing.

    Looking back at his hut and then returning his gaze to his new acquaintance, he asks. “Mind if I join you? As you can see, not a good Rescuer right now until this heals. And once I get these pots to my partner, we can set off. You’ve certainly piqued my interest. My son actually is much like yourself, and when he gets excited over his own discoveries, I try and make it a point to go see for myself what he finds. Would be remiss of me to not continue such a trend; maybe even tell him what I found out for once.”

    “Of course. I would be honored. Besides, might even need a helping hand as sadly, until I evolve, I fear I won’t be able to touch and examine things on my own with the level of detail required. I’ll wait here for now. You do what you need to do.”

    “Let me get this water to my friend, and I’ll be back shortly.” Picking up the pottery once more, Leaf lugs it back and sets it beside the previous one: right up against the left side of the entrance. Stretching out his back as he walked in, he sees Zix was seemingly asleep already. Glad it was that and not him gone to get more liquor, he walks over to the desk and grabs a piece of refined charcoal.

    Using of the useless bits of mail he got, he writes out, Water’s outside by the door. Help yourself to however much of it you need. Just please stay away from the liquor today. We still have to save up money and food for the coming winter.

    Laying the note beside his friend, he stops and stares down at the Typhlosion, looking so serene. If only he could be like this when awake too. But, if Zix could find any modicum of peace, he was happy for him. Bending down, he presses his cheek to the fire badger’s and nuzzles it softly before getting up, whispering a final, “Sleep well, Zix. May tomorrow bring you good fortune.”

    Heading out into the now partially cloudy skies, Leaf looks up at the midnight sky and sighs. “Sixteen years is enough time to pay for his sins. Whoever may be listening, please guide him back to happier days again.” He had made that request for the last five years, and every year since, it felt like an empty request. The gods didn’t listen, least not for him anymore. His time had come and gone many, many years ago.

    Jogging back to the Nidorino, he found the researcher staring at the half-rotten lamppost that lead from the city up to his humble abode. “That’s been needing replaced for several years now, but by some luck it’s still standing.”

    “Indeed. Certainly curious that despite the appearance, it stands firm. Guessing you know a few things about appearances? “The Nidorino says with a smile. Caught off guard by the question, Leaf doesn’t say anything for a moment, only shrugging as his words seemed to have left him.

    With that single question, something now bothered him about this newcomer. But, maybe it was just the fatigue of moving that water and the remnants of his exhaustion from his fight the previous night, Leaf lets the thought pass by. “So, this acquaintance of yours. Shall we go see him?

    “Yes, we can go see him. Follow me, good Leaf.”
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
  7. lucarioknight56

    lucarioknight56 Recorder of Tales

    Might seem like I'm a newbie, but I've actually had quite a bit of experience over at Bulbagarden. I'll be happy to review this work!

    Grammar/Style:
    Little wrong here, but I notice that the dialogue slightly...off. It just feels a little unnatural, probably because it feels more formal than how one usually speaks. It seems more prevalent with Mark, but given his obviously educated nature, its understandable.

    Plot/Story:

    This seems to take place after the events of Explorers and Rescue Team, the former because of the prologue, and the latter because of the Treecko-shaped house mentioned in Chapter 1. So far you've done a good job translating the PMD world into text, even if there are some things such as the alcohol reference I know weren't there before. Still, it feels fitting for the tone, and I'm curious to see how you tie together the two games.

    Characters:
    Ah, the downtrodden explorers of the Rescue Team games, all grown up and definitely not for the better. I assume that's where they're from, but you never know. Regardless, you definitely catch their personalities well, and you can't help but feel bad for both given their experience with death. Little wrong here, and I look forward to see how they develop.

    Setting:
    Well done, no issues here. It definitely feels natural, and while it doesn't take place directly near Pokemon Square, it seems to be close to it. Or is Sunrise City the same place?

    Overall:

    A well-written work that, despite your absence, still transitions well from the Prologue to Chapter 1. I look forward to reading more!
     

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