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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Crossing Legends


Point Up
Greetings all! I've been a long time lurker of stories and was finally inspired to write one of my own. I've never tried something long form like this before so I hope to try my best and get great critiques and feedback from this great site of readers. I plan to update this story once a week on Thursdays. All feedback is welcomed and appreciated. Once I dig deeper into the formatting here I'll be sure to edit this post with better navigation for future chapters. Until then, enjoy the first chapter~

PMD: Crossing Legends
[1 :: The Magmortar]

Now, I don’t know about you, but if you’ve never gone from sleeping in your bed to waking up neck deep in a pool of molten lava, then quite frankly you haven’t been properly startled. Getting flung across the cosmos, between the cracks of dimensions, one might think they’re going to get something extraordinary out of the deal. Thankfully, “extraordinary” is subjective and we may call the events however we like, so when Liam, a young man of a ripe age and even riper aspirations, found himself nestled snuggly into the breadth of Mount Kukomungo’s volcanic activity, his mood, upon finally awaking, ended up being less than stellar.

Oh, there were the screams, the hyperventilating, the questions upon myriad of questions. It wasn’t even until three hours or so of panic and fainting spells (and getting back up only to faint again) that Liam eventually steeled his resolve and slithered out of the magma to begin bargaining with the magnitude of his situation. As expected, the poor lad had been struck rather violently over the head with the typical case of multiverse traveler’s amnesia. Only his name and that usual gripe about once being human and now being here (and let’s not forget, his fortunate yet uncanny encyclopedic knowledge of all Pokémon). Unfortunately for him, being “here” meant losing his human body and having all that was left of him stuffed into the form of a Slugma. Much to Liam’s displeasure.

Not even a pool of water or a tranquil lakeside for the lad to check his reflection. What glimpses of himself Liam could catch in the reflection of the glassy stalactites overhead nearly made him crash back to the floor, but he held himself strong and stared headlong into the reflection. He burned the fiery image of his magma slug form into his brain. He made mental remarks on his harvest moon eyes, on the twisted springs of flame-like hair that twirled out from his head, but other than that, he found himself rather unremarkable. As magma drenched and as sluggish as a Slugma like him could be. He inhaled, then exhaled.

Something about all this seemed off though. Even more off than getting his skin peeled away and his legs stolen for the prestigious honor of getting to crawl across the floor of an active volcano. With all the choices available, why Slugma?

Fortunately that question came and went like a breeze as an approaching local guild vanguard had just brute forced their way through the first few floors of Kukomungo’s ever changing landscape. Liam could already hear the bellowing laughter of the Magmortar leading the squad from around the corner before the enormous shadow she cast threw half of the chamber in darkness. Following close behind, a Braixen was busy scribbling down some notes while trying to keep his glasses in place. Liam especially noticed the matching pink and starry scarves the two wore around their necks. Every step the Magmortar took shook the room, the little Braixen struggling to keep his pencil straight amid the seismic jaunts of his superior. He kept his head down and tried to keep his paw steady as he rounded out the last of his notes, but hadn’t noticed the Magmortar had stopped and smacked into her like walking into a wall.

“Another dead end, Sumi,” groaned the Magmortar. “Weren’t you were tracking the pattern? This is the last room we haven’t checked.”

The Braixen straightened his glasses and hurriedly flipped through his pages. “Y-you’re right, miss Rolanna. This doesn’t match any model we tracked so far. I truly believed we had finally discovered a match, but then there should be a path straight ahead.”

“Is that right? Then you better get behind me. Don’t forget to cover your ears, too,” Rolanna chuckled as she raised an arm and aimed it at the wall. “Time to open up another shortcut!”

Sumi tried to protest, but was drowned out by the loud hum of energy gathering in Rolanna’s arm. She steadied it like cannon, a bright white orb forming at the mouth of it and growing larger with every second. Rolanna grit her teeth as her channeled power climbed higher and higher. She shifted her stance and braced herself while Sumi clung to Rolanna like he might fly away. Liam watched this all, wide eyed, yet barely peeking out from the safety of his lava. In a split second, a sound like lightning snapping a tree down the center peeled out in the chamber as the beam shot from Rolanna and collided with the wall, obliterating everything in its way.

The beam ripped through the stone and obsidian shelves like butter, leaving an oval shaped hole through the wall and out the side of the mountain, but eventually the energy petered off and melted away. Rolanna let her arm fall limp at her side, still managing a chuckle through her haggard breaths as she saw the blue sky outside through the hole she made. Sumi peeked out from behind her and went to inspect the hole, scrawling something down as he noted the damage.

“No path through besides outside, miss Rolanna,” Sumi called back from the hole, tucking his pencil into his tail. “It was a real dead end.”

Rolanna took a moment to catch her breath before speaking. “Well, that was a bust,” she said. As she regained her composure, she slowly turned towards a flowing pool of lava across the room. “Hey, kid, you know the way up?”

Liam shuddered. Was she talking to him? She was looking right at him, and they were talking, too! He couldn’t really understand them, but he knew they were speaking to him. He was sure they were speaking his language, even if it did sound muffled. He tried to sink deeper into the lava, but that Magmortar had already locked eyes with him. The Braixen now noticed him too! Liam tried to think, but his head still throbbed from whatever had happened to him. His vision started going blurry, panic setting in, no, he couldn’t get captured by a behemoth like that who just blew a hole through the wall so easily. Maybe they’d just go away if he stayed silent, or maybe they’d-

“Hey!” The Braixen threw a rock right between Liam’s eyes. “Miss Rolanna asked you a question. Or are you perhaps deaf? Oh, maybe." The Braixen put his pencil to his chin and thought on that. “Miss Rolanna, the Slugma might not have been covering its ears before you fired that Hyper Beam. Maybe it did go deaf?”

Rolanna just shook her head. “What ears?”

Liam still winced in pain from the rock, but he was able to open an eye and speak. “You’re talking to me!” Liam blurted out.

“Oh,” the Braixen said. “So you are just ignoring us?”

“Ignoring? No, just going from being a human to this...well, I’m still feeling out of it.” Liam let the words spill out like that, perhaps banking that this abrupt honesty might play in his favor.

Rolanna and Sumi had listened till they heard that word. “Human”. Then their faces went pale. Sumi backed away to Rolanna’s side. The two exchanged glances like the Slugma had just told them he was Mewthree. A mixture of laughter colored with genuine fear. The two excused themselves for a moment to discuss it in a huddle.

“There’s no way, miss Rolanna. It must have heard the rumors and is trying to trick us!”

“Hush, Sumi,” the Magmortar said, quickly checking back to make sure the Slugma was right where they left him. “So far he’s part of a short list of things in the dungeon not to assault us so far. You remember what Aurelia said? Leave nothing to chance with this one. And if he isn’t who we’re looking for then the guild can figure it out. I say bring him.”

“I say leave him,” huffed the Braixen. “I don’t mean to overstep, miss Rolanna, but it’s highly illogical that-! H-hey!”

But the Magmortar just chuckled as she lumbered over to Liam and scooped the Slugma up in her arms. “You’re in luck, little guy. We’ve decided to take you back to the guild. We’ll have one of the psychics there do a scan of your noggin and make sure your brain didn’t get scrambled after that Hyper Beam shot. Sound good?”

“What?” Liam asked.

“It will just be an easy check to make sure you’re-”

“What?!” Liam asked louder. “I think my hearing went bad after you shot that attack. Should my ears be ringing, miss talking Pokémon? My name is Liam...did you hear I was human? Crazy stuff...nice shot by the way.”

Liam kept babbling on, maybe his brain finding some meager solace in verbally dumping all he could remember about himself. As he babbled, Liam took one last look at the Magmortar cradling his lava dripping body, feeling the heat from her arm recharging, seeing the scars on her lips, the whites of her eyes, those up close and personal details, so unfiltered, and it struck Liam for a final time that this was all reality. His new reality. He said that to himself, but his brain couldn’t process it and demanded a reboot as Liam’s head slumped over into Rolanna’s biceps.

“Woah! Hey, kid!” cried Rolanna, trying to jostle the Slugma awake. She held him out in front of her and shook Liam like an Etch A Sketch(wait, scratch that, I’m sure the Pokémon don’t know what that is. Pretend it’s like those driftwood paintings they sell in Prism Town, but instead of the Octillery scrubbing them clean, you can just shake them to reset the picture.) The point is that Rolanna shook the everloving crap out of Liam, and as she held Liam’s limp body in her hands, she wondered if she just accidentally killed him. She quickly put what she assumed was his chest or underbelly or whatever to her ear, trying to find a pulse. It was faint, but Liam’s heart was still pumping, so Rolanna set him back in her arms (gently, this time) and sighed in relief.

“Is that why lady Aurlelia says you shouldn’t have kids?” asked Sumi.

Sumi giggled to himself, but Rolanna just used her free arm and swiped the Braixen over the head. “Hush up, Sumi. If the guild proves that this kid really was a human, then you’re buying me breakfast for the next week.”

“There’s absolutely no way that Slugma was a human! It makes no sense,” Sumi said. “Whoever heard of a human turning into something like a Slugma? All the legends and stories talk about humans being dragons or some other really strong Pokémon. A Slugma is so lame. Besides, didn’t they say we’re supposed to be looking for a Charmander?”

“Wouldn’t be the first time some mumbo jumbo thousand year prophecy turned out to be wrong,” said Rolanna. “We’re taking him back.”

“We haven’t even grabbed any samples yet, though.”

Rolanna helped adjust Liam, letting him sleep soundly in her arms, even going so far as to delicately stroke him like a pet. “What do you think Liam is? I’m sure we can scrape some science off of him for Nichi.”

“You already named him?” Sumi asked.

“He told me his name. And if he’s the real deal then he’s about to join the guild, too, so don’t you be talking like he’s some wild thing.”

“If you say so, miss Rolanna,” Sumi said, taking note of the update, sure to write down Liam’s name followed by a frowny face.

“Then we’ll call this mission complete. Do we still have that Escape Orb?”

“No, miss Rolanna,” Sumi said. “You used it to bash that Camerupt’s head in on the fourth floor.”

“Oh, heh, you’re right.” Rolanna thought for a moment, then looked back to the convenient gaping hole in the wall. “Well, looks like we’re hoofing it.”

Sumi’s heart sank. “But miss Rolanna! We’ve been walking all day through the volcano. And if we go back to the guild on foot, we won’t make it back by dinner!”

“Don’t whine, Sumi,” said Rolanna. “I’ll make sure we get fed when we get back, and if you’re good, I’ll even let you ride on my shoulders.”

Sumi’s eyes lit up and his bushy tail began to wag, but he caught himself and huffed. “I haven’t done that since before I evolved. If I want to be a full fledged explorer, I need to be strong enough to make my way back on my ow-”

Rolanna was never much for listening, especially with Sumi who had a tendency to dramatize his points into excess. She just chuckled and picked up the Braixen boy, setting him down behind her head and let his legs hang down over her shoulders. “Hush, Sumi. You settled?”

Sumi relented and adjusted himself, scooting forward a bit and crossing his ankles. “Ready, miss Rolanna.”

“Good. Hang on, and duck down as we go through the cave. Don’t need you bumping your head and bleeding on me, you troublemaker. Want me to run?”

“Run?! Miss Rolanna…” but then Sumi just sighed, tightening his legs and wrapping his arms around Rolanna’s head. “You’re going to do it anyway, aren’t you?”

“Finally you’re catching on, Sumi. Hang on tight!”

In a flash, the volcanic chamber disappeared as Rolanna broke off into a sprint down the cave towards the outside world. Sumi kept his head down and eyes screwed shut, hanging on for dear life, feeling the fur on the top of his head brushing past the cave ceiling, keeping himself compressed as much as possible. Rolanna just kept looking straight ahead, measuring how close she was to the edge, timing herself, then as her foot reached the mouth of the cave, she squatted her legs down like a spring before vaulting herself off the side of the cliff. Sumi started screaming as he felt gravity fall away, but from the sound of it, one might think he was enjoying the ride. As the trio traveled through the air, approaching the canopy of Charcoal Forest, Liam managed to stir from his fainting spell and weakly open his eyes. The site he was met with, that being the Magmortar he had seen before pictured against the sky like she was flying, snapped that delicate thread of his mind again. Before they even landed and Rolanna began a new sprint down the forest path, Liam fainted again.


Only a few miles or so down the trail leading away from Mount Kukomungo did Rolanna start to get a headache from Sumi and decided to slow down to a brisk walk. Kukomungo’s smoking brim drifted further and further away on the horizon as the ash caked treetops of Charcoal Forest began to grow in thick and shield off the sky. Rolanna kept on guard for eyes hidden among the tall black grass and Rawst berry bushes that lined the trail. Sumi, on the other hand, took the time to doodle the trunks of the aspen trees Rolanna walked past, replacing the notches of the trees with eyeballs since he thought it looked cool. Finally, Liam still remained as unconscious as ever, even drooling a bit of magma occasionally onto Rolanna’s arm, but all Rolanna did was chuckle at it.

“He’s not burning you, is he?” Sumi asked, peering down at the sleeping Slugma.

“Honey, I’ve been hit by every fire attack under the sun. When I teach Fire Blast to recruits, I make them try it on me with everything they got. Ain’t nothing ever gonna burn me, so holding this little guy is nothing.”

“You never taught me Fire Blast.”

“Cuz you spend all your time doing all your Psybeams and mind reading. You know the old saying: you gotta’ Ember before you can Fire Blast.”

“I can do Ember easily!”

Rolanna chuckled. “I’ve seen your Ember. I’d get more heat off a sneeze. You need to keep up with your practicing.”

“Yes, miss Rolanna,” said Sumi. On the bottom of his notes, he made sure to write down “practice Ember more” and put a big star beside it. “Oh, don’t forget to make sure Liam stays warm,” Sumi added.

“He’s staying pretty warm on his own,” said Rolanna.

“Yeah, but it was something that Nichi told me about Slugma. Why they hardly ever leave the volcano. They have to sleep near lava or they get too cold and break apart. Something to that effect.”

“Is that right? Well, I’ll make sure he stays nice and toasty. Glad to see you’re warming up to Liam, too.”

“Well, if he’s going to join the guild, then I have to. Still, we’ll see how he does when he takes the entrance exam. I wonder how well he can hold a pencil without hands.”

“Probably about as well as you did as a Fennekin,” Rolanna said, using her free hand to ruffle the fur on Sumi’s head.

“Hey, my handwriting was still pretty good for using my mou...miss Rolanna, someone is up ahead on the trail.”

Rolanna tensed up. “Really? I don’t see anyone.”

“Me neither, but I sensed someone else for a second. Maybe they ran off.”

“Or they’re just blocking you, now,” Rolanna said. “Probably didn’t think you could notice them.”

“What do you want to do?” Sumi asked.

“You stay quiet and try to get another feel on them. I’ll handle it.”

Sumi nodded and tried to focus again on the trail ahead. Rolanna cleared her throat before addressing anyone who might have been spying on them. “We know you’re out there. If you need something, come out. If you’re wanting to rob us, well, you sure can try.”

Time passed in silence. Rolanna kept on walking and Sumi kept his head on a swivel as he tested every direction for a sign. After a few more moments, Sumi tapped Rolanna on the shoulder and whispered, “I sense it again. They’re coming out from behind the trees up ahead.

As Sumi said, a figure emerged from the dense collection of trees and started walking down the trail towards them. A transparent figure, not completely invisible, but with clever enough and ever adapting camouflage that the less observant would never notice its presence. Rolanna knew the type all too well. As she guessed, the legs of the figure were first visible, then a mint green body marked by a red stripe, then finally the head as the camouflage dissipated.

Sumi held on to Rolanna tighter as his ears drooped. He was having trouble breathing now. Rolanna just patted his leg and whispered to him not to worry, but to stay quiet.

“Hello!” Greeted the stranger. “Do I have the pleasure of addressing Rolanna of the Arcanine Guild? I am with the Kecleon company, you see. I wish to speak with you for a moment.”

“Even a fool could guess that, you damn Kecleon,” Rolanna muttered under her breath. The Kecleon waited up ahead on the trail for them, but Rolanna walked right past him. “You want to talk? You can walk with me, but we ain’t stopping.”

“Fair enough,” he said, catching up to Rolanna. “Sorry to bother you ladies like this. I truly hope I didn’t startle you. I’m doing some reconnaissance work for my area manager, since he got some pretty scary news about mount Kukomungo. Quite specifically, I’m searching for a Charmander. Did you ladies happen to see any over there?”

Rolanna scoffed. “Who said we were at Kukomungo?”

“Your guild master. I just came from inquiring if she sent any teams there today, and she said you two were the only ones,” he said with a shrug. “Honestly, there’s no reason to be mysterious about it. I mean, the fact that you’re carrying a Slugma pretty much screams that you came from the volcano. Is he a client you were rescuing? Or perhaps a thieving criminal?”

“Nope. He saw us fighting at the volcano and was inspired enough to tag along. Poor kid got tuckered out though, so we’re bringing him back to apply to the guild.”

The Kecleon clasped his hands together and smiled a wide, yellow lipped smile. “How swell! If he’s good enough to get a recommendation from the famous Arcanine Guild officer Rolanna herself, then I’m sure he’s a guaranteed success. Thought it seems odd for a Slugma to behave that way, if you ask me. They’re pretty dim witted and hive minded types. Often living their entire lives in the volcanoes they’re born in without ever once considering leaving,” he said, staring at the sleeping Slugma. “So for this one to want to abandon his clan and join a guild? I’d just be cautious if I was you.”

“No need to be cautious if your fists can pick up the slack,” chuckled Rolanna. “Just earlier today, we had a Camerupt try to ambush us. Now, I could have been cautious and avoid it all together, or face the danger head on anyway. Cost me an orb, but that’s my style.”

“Sounds quite daring,”the Kecleon said. “What type of orb was it?”

“Nothing special. Just an Escape Orb. Those ones are especially durable as long as you’re being creative with them. Takes a lot of blows before they start to crack. In fact, if you have an orb on you now, I can show you exactly what I mean.”

His smile faded. “N-no need for that. But if you could be so kind as to answer the question I posed earlier: did you see any Charmander at the volcano?”

“Not a one. Last I checked, their kind flocked in canyons, not volcanoes.”

“I figured as much, but my manager asked me to specifically check out the volcano. Top to bottom. There’s said to be a small tribe of their kind living near the base, you see. Well, at any rate, I shan't keep you ladies any longer. I already left my information with your guild master, so if I find anything at Kukomungo tonight, I’ll send a copy of my report to the guild within five to nine business days.”

“And what name did you leave with them?”

The Kecleon shook his head. “The name of a Kecleon isn’t important. Any Kecleon will do.”

“Of course,” said Rolanna. “Now run along, little Kecleon. It’s dangerous out here so close to sunset, especially all alone.”

The Kecleon just grinned again. “Don’t worry, ma’am. We’re never alone. You ladies stay safe, now.” With a hasty wave, the Kecleon turned and followed the trail the opposite way. Sumi could hear the faintest sounds of other little feet rustling behind the trees, but the footsteps went back towards the volcano. Rolanna looked back, catching the final glimpse of the Kecleon before he camouflaged himself again and vanished into the darkness.

The trio kept steady on the trail, letting a few minutes pass, letting the sounds of the trees swaying in the evening wind fill the silence, waiting till they could see the lights of the top of the Arcanine Guild as they neared Garnet Town.

“They should be gone now, Sumi,” Rolanna said. “You okay?”

It had taken Sumi a while, but he was breathing fine again. “Yes, miss Rolanna. Sorry I got so spooked.”

“I don’t blame you a bit. Never thought they’d get this far south so soon,” Rolanna said, looking down at Liam. His eyes were still shut and he was still drooling in his sleep. “I’ll talk to Aurelia tonight about it.” Then Rolanna grabbed Sumi’s paw in her hand and squeezed it. “Not a single word about this to anyone that isn’t your superior. Understand?”

“Yes, miss Rolanna. I understand.”

“I know you do, Sumi,” she said, letting Sumi’s paw go. Rolanna heaved a heavy sigh as they approached the Garnet Town gate. She stroked Liam’s head again. “Let’s hope Aurelia’s plan worked.”


Winter can't come soon enough
Hiya. Bold of you to jump into a long-form chapter fic straight out of the gate. we are fools of the same breed, apparently XP

Going with an original setting for PMD gives you plenty of creative freedom in everything from characters to worldbuilding and lore. Everyone seems to approach things differently. This isn't the slowest opening I've ever read, to be sure. You've got a few plot points in there that indicate how your PMD world is meant to be different from what we're familiar. Like how most of the starting cast here are fire-types! A slugma is an unusual protag choice, for sure, but I also like how you subvert the standard cliché of the big, burly, muscular 'mon being the suspicious type by having Rolanna be far more accepting and enthusiastic about Liam than the more-timid Sumi is. And then there's mention of an Arcanine guild, too. Is this a community of fire-type 'mons they're heading for? That'd be my guess, but only you know for certain.

I think the biggest drawback of what I've read so far is, unfortunately, your narrator. I say narrator instead of narration because, from the opening paragraph, you're trying to set up a lemony narrator character that's separate from everyone else in the story. However, you don't entirely commit to it. The lemony narrator only seems to show up during moments of exposition and, the way this reads, seems to be a stand-in for actually showing us what's happening. It's the old "show, don't tell," convention. You're trying to use the narrator's jokes to make the exposition more entertaining, but for me that just makes it more obvious you're glossing over stuff. The biggest example is, of course, the opening. Namely because you flip from present to past tense in the same paragraph, which is quite jarring, but you also skip over describing what's actually going through Liam's mind as he wakes up.

When things are actually happening and the characters are interacting, however, the narrator fades away as a character and I think the fic flows a lot better. Obviously, this is your story. I can't force you to ditch the narrator in favor of more traditional prose. But if you do plan on sticking with it, you would be wise to take asides like this:
(wait, scratch that, I’m sure the Pokémon don’t know what that is. Pretend it’s like those driftwood paintings they sell in Prism Town, but instead of the Octillery scrubbing them clean, you can just shake them to reset the picture.)
... and place them into their own separate paragraphs. Otherwise, it gets a bit jumbled up and sucks the reader out of the moment.

Aside from that, a few extra comments...

What glimpses of himself Liam could catch in the reflection of the glassy stalactites overhead nearly made him crash back to the floor,
"Crashing to the floor" is not really a good description to give a slugma, who has no legs and, thus, cannot collapse in surprise like a human or animal.

Fortunately that question came and went like a breeze as an approaching local guild vanguard had just brute forced their way through the first few floors of Kukomungo’s ever changing landscape
This is another example of telling instead of showing. Right now, we're in Liam's POV. He has no way of knowing the approaching 'mons are with the guild. If this is meant to be a POV shift, you need to put a scene divider in. Also, if dungeon landscapes are ever-changing like in the games, how is Rolanna able to blast open her own exit? It seems silly, but when going with an original world, it's good to have a consistent set of rules for how your dungeons will work.

His vision started going blurry, panic setting in, no, he couldn’t get captured by a behemoth like that who just blew a hole through the wall so easily.
So, this is something that popped up several times in the chapter: comma splices. That is, using commas to separate things that should be separate sentences. This part would read smoother if it looked something like this:
His vision blurred. Panic set in. No, he couldn't get captured by a behemoth who had just blown a hole through the wall so easily.

Liam let the words spill out like that, perhaps banking that this abrupt honesty might play in his favor.
I'm, uh, not really sure what the first half of this sentence is going for. ^^;

Liam kept babbling on, maybe his brain finding some meager solace in verbally dumping all he could remember about himself.
especially with Sumi who had a tendency to dramatize his points into excess
Two more examples of moments where, again, it might've been better to show these character traits instead of just having the narrator describe them.

Lastly, 'Miss Rolanna' should always be capitalized in this case, because it's the title Sumi uses for Rolanna. Like how in school, with teachers, you always write 'Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss/Dr. Something."

Hopefully this helps. Best of luck!