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The Ember Days


The Compromise
This ficlet is one that can be considered to be a refashioning of the Benandanti's 'night battles', an idea that just wouldn't leave me alone until I finally spat it out on paper. I am more than a little rusty, I'm afraid - it's been almost a year since I've written anything substantial (asides from essays, oh the horror), so this, as well as the oneshots that preceded this, will probably reflect that. Hopefully not, though. We will have to wait and see. :)

In any case, the pokemon elements should immediately make themselves clear - although the explanations will take a little longer in coming. It's all in the fun of it. ;D

On content: PG currently. :3 There's a graphic description, but that's about it. x3

This entire 'fic has pretty much been Beta'ed by the fantabulous ejunknown, by the way. <3 All kudos goes to her for her help smoothing out this writer's eccentricities, haha. x3

The Ember Days

[0] A Howl in the Night
[1] Bated Breath
[2] Foxgloves
[3] Wolfsbane
[4] Glaciers

PM list:


A Howl in the Night​

The glow of the crescent moon burned over the mountain range, gilding the tendrils of fog that curled through the forests with silver fire as it swept down the rocky slopes. Washing the surrounding foothills in monotone, it flooded the valleys and creeks, tasting their every crevice. It glanced over the small city nestled in their grasp before turning towards the plains. Trails of smog creeping from the its sprawling suburbs, the city slumbered on, the fumes twisting in the orange glow of the streetlights. Filtering out to the acres of surrounding farmland, the smog clawed at the walls of the surrounding forest and was sullenly drunk in.

A small boy crouched in the dust of one of untended fields at the forest edge. The flickering flames from a camp fire beside him slipped across his red straggles of hair as he scratched letters into the soil with a twig.


The child seemed enraptured by his work, his eyes, dark against his pale, dirt-smudged features, narrowed on the task. Minutes slipped past as he hovered over the patch of ground. A small breeze crept from the city and rifled through his dank locks, the matted fur of the emerging pointed ears shivering. Finishing the word – the name – with clear satisfaction, the child sat back on his heels with a soft huff and gazed down at it.

His voice, when he spoke, was thick with excitement.

“Two days left.”


Elizabeth awoke with a start, dark eyes flicking open, black curls of hair trickling across her pillow as she shifted in her blankets. The comforting sight of her bedroom greeted her, unchanged and determinedly pink since she’d first demanded a décor change four years ago, but she couldn't seem to focus on it. She blinked upwards. That was... weird. The dream had felt so real– the touch of the breeze on her back, shivering through her shirt, the bite of the grass beneath her feet as it pricked and tickled her ankles. Yet here she was, safe and cozy in her duvet. Just as she had been since she’d collapsed on her bed earlier that evening after another long, satisfying conversation with Julie. She frowned, the image of the little boy hunched above the dirt flickering through her thoughts. The taste of pine smoke seemed to linger on her tongue. He'd been so... young.

The crescent moon’s light played on the pocked paint of her ceiling, dancing through a gap in her curtains. She watched its flicker for a few second, entranced, before turning her gaze away.

There was no point worrying about dreams, really. In the end, they were just that - fantasies. She allowed her eyes to close, tucking herself deeper into her duvet, breaths already evening. It was way too early for this sort of thing anyway.

Her alarm clock, unnoticed, flashed the time on her bedside as she slipped into sleep, the digital screen sending a red glare across the worn wood of her side table.

It was exactly 3 AM in the morning.


Final comments: This has been posted before in a slightly different form by me under the pen name evil bunny king. <3 Recognise it from there, then prepare to be glomped. :3

Second point - this is not a pokemorph story, per se. ;3

Tomorrow should see the first chapter up. <3 The other instalments will be posted regularly, either weekly or fortnightly. Enjoy. ;3
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The Compromise
Author's note: Beta'ed by ejunknown. :D

Chapter One

Bated Breath

Sunlight oozed through the cracks in Elizabeth’s blinds, easing across her sheets in a warm spray that brushed her hands and painted stars and stripes across her eyelids. Groaning, the twenty-year-old stirred and frowned, tossing to her other side in her sleep in an attempt to escape it. Her alarm clock chose this moment to start its caterwauling, however, and with a sharp intake of breath Elizabeth threw herself into a sitting position. It was too early, way too early for her alarm to be going off. Someone must’ve reset it and opened her curtains, she knew it. Must've been Anthony; he'd known she hadn’t been sleeping well, the conniving-!

It took her a full five minutes before she was able to recognize the numbers that were being flashed in red across the digital screen.



8:30 in the morning. Her first lecture started at 9. Her alarm must’ve been sounding its ‘you’re in trouble’ notice every ten minutes since she’d first slept through it at 7:15.

She really was in trouble.

Yelping, the woman lunged out of bed and started dragging on the clothes she’d prepared the night before. At the same time, she called down to her mother in the sweetest, most imploring voice she could devise that if today she could, pretty please, ask a lift to her university. No response. Groaning, she bolted from her room, racing down the flight of stairs towards the front door and her bike. Her mother always left early for her spa trips on Wednesdays. She always forgot.

As the tittering girl slipped slowly into the distance, her hair billowing in a tangled weave behind her as she cut across the grass for time, a holly bush beside the house porch shivered, reducing itself in a wisp of smokeless flame into weed-clogged grass and a small pile of sweet smelling ashes.

Across town, a small boy smiled.


Sliding carefully behind the latter-most row of seats of the tiered hall for her second lecture of the day, a nice afternoon affair, Elizabeth slotted herself into an edge seat a flight down beside her friend Lily. The rest of the sociology undergraduate students roved past her in a murmuring herd to their respective seats. Fishing out her notepad and pencil case from her bag, she quickly noted the title of the lecture – thankfully unlinked to the one she may missed that morning - and turned to her best friend with a smile.

That smile faltered on her lips as she saw the expression on Lily's dainty features.

This did not bode well.

“You skipped this morning~!”

Lily's eyes were almost twinkling with mischief as she cocked an eyebrow at her companion, tapping the eraser of her pencil knowingly on her paper. A guilty blush immediately flushed Elizabeth’s cheeks as she dropped her eyes to her notepad. She hadn’t meant to ditch her class, it was just that after finally arriving, panting, at the gates of the University for her hour lecture, she’d just… thought through her options and decided to head to the library to study instead. She'd even promised herself to steal the notes from Lily later.

If she was honest, the thought of the embarrassment she’d have faced as she’d slipped in almost half an hour late might of have played a small hand in it as well.

“I didn’t mean to, I swear!” she protested, fiddling with her pencil. She looked up into her friend’s green eyes imploringly. “I just, I haven’t been sleeping well and I slept straight through my alarm...”

Lily's eyes widened and, to Elizabeth’s surprise, she shuffled immediately closer, nudging her with her elbow. She even winked.

“Who’s the guy?”

Who’s the…? Elizabeth blinked at her, uncomprehending - she hardly understood half the things her friend said these days - before Lily's insinuation clicked. Wait- “N-no! It’s not like that-“ Cutting herself off as the lecturer walked in, a balding Kantoan in his late fifties, she turned to face the front. Nevertheless, she dropped her voice to a whisper to continue defending her honour. “I really haven’t been sleeping well, I keep on waking up in the middle of the night. I swear! I think it’s because of some dream or the other, you know, because when I wake up I’m covered in sweat, and…”

Her voice trailed off as Lily slowly leaned away from her, eyebrows disappearing in the sweep of her black fringe.


“Oh. Ohhhh. Those kind of dreams.”


Lily's expression morphed into one of kindness as she patted Elizabeth on the shoulder in reassurance, although for what she couldn’t fathom.

“Don’t worry hun, it happens to all of us – although I must admit, I never thought you were one for them. That doesn’t matter at all, though – although it does mean that… well…?”

Elizabeth just stared at her, ignoring the silence that was falling over the hall as the lecturer began to speak. Her friend's sanity had definiteiy been slipping of late. “What?”

Lily waved her hand impatiently, mindful, at least, to keep the movement to a mere flap, opening her notebook with her free hand. “Your dreams are obviously a cry for help, girl. Go get yourself laid already!”

The lecturer – Guest Speaker A. Hickory, delivering a talk on social stigma and sexism in the early Orreon church – chose that moment to switch on his presentation with a burst of fanfare, and Elizaveth was therefore forced to swallow her further protests. Turning, stiffly, towards the front, her cheeks burned once more as Lily giggled beside her.

Lily was dead.


The evening was drawing to a close when Elizabeth finally stumbled to her bedside, tossing her purse and coat carelessly on the floor before slumping into her mattress. She sank gratefully into her pinstriped sheets. The night had been long: after finishing up the first draft of an essay due in a week, she’d allowed herself to be dragged by her ever persistent friends out on the town, where they’d proceeded to hit every tourist spot in a ten-mile radius before hunting for a bar.

There really was a limit to how many hours you can sing Karaoke.

She coughed as her sore throat flared at the reminder, a smile breaking through her wince nevertheless. Julie sang like a drowned dog.

Sighing contentedly, she wormed her way under the covers, shedding her clothing at the same time until she was left in nothing but her leggings and her white tank top, her chilled blankets sapping at her warmth. She could already feel herself sinking into her duvet. Tomorrow she started late (she always looked forward to thursday) and that meant that she could, blissfully, sleep in. Screw her initial intentions to proof read the essay draft, of course. You only lived once, after all.

Sighing once more, she allowed her eyes to shut, sleep swamping through her senses as she huddled into a warming ball in the center of her sheets.


An uncountable number of hours had slipped past before she found herself stirring once more.


Shifting in her sleep, Elizabeth shivered as a chill seemed to creep across her arms, sinking into her muscles and bones until every inch of her seemed to be tingling with it, her breath coiling in a thin mist across her cheeks. A small frown crumpling her forehead, she delved deeper into her duvet, her teeth beginning to chatter.


A warm, heavy weight settled on her wrist.

She jerked awake instantly, breathing hard and scuttling up in her bed until her back was pressed against the headboard, clutching her arm to herself protectively. Drawing the covers and her knees closer, despite the childish allusions, she scoured the room, heartbeat humming in her chest.

What-what was that?

She continued her search with bleary eyes, frowning as she saw nothing out of the ordinary. Her eyes strained to pierce the shadows as a new shiver crept over her skin. She huffed out a shaky breath. She was freezing.

Her eyes caught hold of her billowing curtains, her dazed mind focusing on their movements, and understanding dawned.

Her window was open.

But she was certain- positively, positively so, that it had been closed when she’d fallen asleep.

Her clock gleamed the time from the corner of her eye, the display flashing the time as it did every night.

3 AM on the dot.

A/N: Reposted as I ended up revising it completely. xD
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Well-Known Member
A small boy crouched in the dust of an untended field, the light of the half moon and the flickering flames from the camp fire beside him slipping across his red straggles of hair as he scratched at the cracked soil with a twig, working the set of letters he’d just spelled out loud into the dirt.
I thought this sentence was never-ending for a minute. o_O There's something really wordy about it, and it doesn't flow entirely well for me. I would consider breaking it up, but I'm not sure where you could without it being choppy.

The child seemed enraptured by his work, his eyes, dark against his pale, dirt-smudged features, narrowed on the task, and minutes slipped past as he hovered over the patch of ground, the small breeze that crept from a nearby bank of trees rifling through his dank locks and the matted fur of the emerging pointed ears.
This one was unnecessarily long too, I feel; you could have easily full-stopped after "task" and the same tone would have been achieved.

Despite the undisturbed warmth of her bed, though and the comforting sight of her bedroom, unchanged and determinedly pink since she’d first demanded a décor change four years ago, a sense of expectation seemed to hover over her as she stared at the ceiling, still lost in the dream, her heart drumming in her chest as she remembered the smell of burnt pine that seemed to linger on her tongue.
I'm going to say the "though" isn't suppose to be there as it kind of made your sentence spiral into syntax confusion.

The image of the little boy hunched against the dirt flickered through her thoughts as she blinked upwards at the play of the crescent moon’s light on the pocked paint of her ceiling.
"Hunched against" and "hunched above" as two completely different images. I think you're going for the latter (that's what I imagined anyway lol). Also, you already said she was staring at the ceiling in the previous paragraph; it makes no sense to say it here, not unless there's a ceiling then a higher ceiling.

It was a nice setup. What I liked the most so far in your story is that you have a good sense of senses.

he touch of the breeze on her back, shivering through her shirt, the bite of the grass beneath her feet as it pricked and tickled her ankles
I especially liked the description on this bit. You're meticulous in your word choice to illustrate a certain sensation. The morning scene was also nicely illustrated to show a somewhat lazy, warm awakening where all you want to do is hide your head under the covers and fall back asleep. =3

My only concern is the overall formatting. I've pointed out some of your more major syntax "problems" where you tend to go on and on and on and on. Likewise, I don't really get some of the paragraph formatting on your scene with Elizabeth. Looking back over it, I get the reason why you did it, but it still felt a little choppy for me, though maybe you were trying to a snappier delivery.

Onto chapter one!

~ ~ ~

Chapter One

Baited Breath
I should probably read the rest of the chapter to see if this is a pun, but the idiom is spelled "bated breath."

Groaning, the freshly twenty young woman stirred and frowned
While I admire the cuteness of your phrasing (and it does speak of Elizabeth's character), it's a little wonky to read plus can be easily misread. I read it once as "twenty young women" instead of "twenty-young-woman", so you might want to consider hyphenating. I actually don't get why you had to put the "freshly" in there either considering it contrasts with the awakening imagery you're trying to depict.

It was too early –way too early for her alarm to be going off - someone had reset it and opened her curtains, she knew it. She knew it. Anthony. Must’ve been him. Had to be, he knew she hadn’t been sleeping well, the conniving-! He must’ve done it yesterday. In revenge for the pussycat joke.
The dashes don't really work here. I would consider replacing the second dash with a period instead. The repetition of "She knew it" doesn't really make sense; it doesn't give more emphasis on anything. It just seems ... well, repetitive. =P I do get your choice of the choppy sentence structure, but it is a little awkward to read, especially since the last sentence is glaringly incomplete and would make more sense if it were in par with the sentence before it (they're related strongly enough).

It took her a full five minutes before she was able to recognize the numbers that were being proclaimed in flashing red across the small digital screen.



8:30 in the morning. Her first lecture started at 9. Her alarm must’ve been sounding its ‘you’re in trouble’ notice every ten minutes since she’d first slept through it at 7:15.

She really was in trouble.
I love this bit. It's rather accurate on how most people react to when they wake up almost late, and how it slowly comes to the sense ... then PANIC.

As Elizabeth slipped slowly into the distance, her hair billowing in a tangled weave behind her as she cut across the grass to avoid having to take the driveway-detour, a holly bush beside the house porch shivered, reducing itself in a wisp of smokeless flame into weed-clogged grass and a small pile of sweet smelling ashes.
I also appreciate the longer sentence structure here for once. =P It flowed together nicely in par with the actual imagery. But then, suddenly, there's this really bizarre thing going on, but you write it like it's no big deal.

Sliding carefully behind the lattermost row of seats of the auditorium for her second lecture of the day, a nice afternoon affair, Elizabeth meandered towards the stairs that marched down to the small, central stage, slotting herself into an edge seat a flight down beside her friend Lily as the rest of the sociology undergraduate students wandered slowly to their seats.
I don't get what's going on here. She slid behind the last row of seats of the auditorium for her second lecture and then went to the stairs? (Meandering doesn't really work here either as it usually means "winding course" or "wandering aimlessly".)

Fishing out her notepad and pencil case from her bag as she quickly noted the title of the lecture
What you're saying here is that she is fishing out her notepad and pencil at the same time she's writing the title of the lecture instead of one following the other.

Lily's eyes were almost twinkling with mischief as she cocked an eyebrow at her companion, a guilty blush immediately flushing Elizabeth's cheeks as she dropped her eyes to her notepad.
The perspective switch mid-sentence is a little off-putting.

She hadn’t meant to ditch her class. After finally arriving, panting, at the gates of the University at 9:20 AM, a full fifteen minutes, at best, into her lecture, she’d just… considered the situation and chosen to head to the library to study instead, with the promise to herself to steal and study the notes from Lily later to make up for the lost work.
"Chosen" sounds a little odd here. Maybe "chose" instead? You also have "study" twice in a short space of time.

Sighing contentedly, she wormed her way under the covers, steadily shedding her clothing at the same time until she was left in nothing but her leggings and her white tank top, what little remained of her energy draining out of her with her body warmth as her frosty blankets stole her heat.
You start to lose me where the bold begins; I feel you could rephrase it better or just make it an entirely new sentence.

It would only be the once, after all…
Omit "the".

The movements of her chest evened out, she was drawn into oblivion, descending into a world without dreams, where time slipped away in an abstract hush of silence.
The comma in red is committing a comma splice. Change it into a semicolon or period instead.

Frowning her confusion, she drew her knees closer to herself and huddled in to them, despite its childish allusions, grabbing her knees tightly.
The section in bold isn't needed as you already illustrated that she's huddling into them.

Okie dokie. What I liked about this chapter was the buildup. The interactions between Elizabeth and Lily was amusing and refreshing; it was a nice counter to the prior creepiness of the earlier chapter and the later creepiness of the scene following. (Plus Lily sounds like a fun character. Most of the sociology majors I know amounted all problems to sex -- or lack thereof. Haha.) Again, I admire your word choices; you're very precise in what sort of imagery/feeling you want to project, though admittedly I found some of the choices a little odd at times. Likewise, you want to make sure the word you're choosing is correctly illustrating what you have in mind (e.g. using "meandering" for what appeared to be a straight staircase). The narrative is also decent; I like that you get into Elizabeth's head and have her directly use the narrative to speak of her thoughts. Some of the choices there were a little awkward as well. For example --

... And I just refreshed your story, and apparently you edited the section I was going to critique. XD I was going to say that sometimes Elizabeth's narrative seemed randomly thrown into the description, but you took care of that by italicizing her thoughts and starting a new paragraph. I lol'd.

I also like the reference back to specific times. I figure time is a major motif. =P

Overall, an interesting story and well-paced. Hopefully I'll be around for the next chapter. And apologies if my quotes for chapter one are outdated. =X Did you just change Lily's name to Julie (and Julie's name to Emily)?


Well-Known Member
This is very good! :p

You don't seem rusty at all, because this is high quality stuff. I really like your writing style; it is so smooth and descriptive, it reminds me of a calm, flowing river, if you don't mind the simile! XD

No typos whatsoever, but I thought your imagery could use some work. You do have some very good adjectives to describe your nouns, but for some reason, the imagery isn't there. I can't quite figure it out after reading through a couple times, and I am sorry if this is disappointing. I am in no way saying the story was bad, however.

This is looking like a great little ficlet, and I am looking forward to more chapters.



The Compromise
Breezy: You caught me! xD I knew I'd gotten the names wrong the second time... I think I prefer Lily, haha. :x All fixed. Thanks for your review, I really appreciated it. :3 I've been through and edited both parts again - Run-on sentences and I have too long a history, haha. Hopefully I've tackled them at least a bit now. :3

:x Time does a bit, indeed. x3 <3

Shiny: Haha, thanks! Mmm, no imagery? Huh - I've reworked the prologue, is this the sort of thing that you meant? I did go on a culling spree, attempting to get rid of superflous descriptions (I wanted to smooth out my delivery a bit, I have a tendency of making my writing so thick it's slow moving and difficult to get through) and adjectives, maybe I cut out too much? The next chapter, in any case, should be rife with it- drama brings out that side of me. ;x


Katieeekiteen! Yay, a new story from you! I miss your writing. <3

Okay, onto the review. I admit I don't have much to say as Breezy and Shinymokey8 already said my thoughts over this story. XD I do like the setup going on here and love how both endings of Chapter 0 and 1 have Elizabeth wake up at 3am. Also, haha Lily's comment there is great.

There are a couple things that made me stop and think. There's one mention of a smiling boy after Elizabeth left, which I'm assuming he's the one from the dreams. If that's the case then I'm looking forward to his role in the story. Also, I have to wonder how this relates to Pokemon, but like you said it'll come, so I'll be patient. XD

Overall off to a great start. I admit, I never heard of the Benandanti legend. o_O Still though, can't wait for the next part of the story! :3


The Compromise
*snugs* BAAAAAY <3! x3 Haha, thanks- and you're right, it's him indeed. ;3 And it's /direct/ relation will be explained in two chapters - the next one ties it a bit closer, but it's all rather implied, haha. x3 *snugs*

The benandanti cult was a little belief system in a part of rural italy :x I shouldn't say legend, really - it was real enough, haha, its members were persecuted by the inquisition. I've taken their beliefs and muddled around with them a bit xD


The Compromise
A/N: This was a fun chapter to write. x3333 I'll say more at the end. On a completely different note, the forum swallowed my paragraph formatting. :(

I will probably still be editing it for a while though, haha. xD <3 Not fond of the beginning right now - will look at it again in the morning. Felt like it needed to be fleshed out a little more and now I need to get the paragraphs to work. x3

Beta'd by ejunknown, as ever. x33

Chapter Two


Shuffling herself cautiously forward, Elizabeth bundled herself firmly in her duvet before slipping her feet to the carpet and darting to the window. She dragged it shut with a little snap and turned to slump back into her bed, her teeth still chattering a discordant tune. It wasn’t much warmer with the window closed, but the gesture, at least, was comforting.

The sound of scrambling claws pulled her up short.

What was that?

She fixed the dark room with a nervous eye, her fingers twisting themselves in knots before her. The rest of the household was soundly asleep, bundled away in their respective rooms, and apart from their cat Smudge (who stayed, without fail, locked in and curled around Anthony’s feet for the night) they had no other pets.

Another tumble of movement.

She smothered a small shriek, shuffling backwards frantically against the windowsill as the sound of scrambling and snuffling rose from the direction of her bed. Hands rising to grasp at her heart, Elizabeth reckoned, as her own breath caught, that she could hear the pants of small, slightly wheezed breaths.

An animal must have crawled in when the window was open, she realised numbly. Some creature must’ve tottered on in and crawled, wonder of wonders, under her bed, taking advantage of the darkness to make itself a nice, cosy nest.

After a moment the noise stopped again, a final sniff marking its end, but she remained as she was, poised. Her heart skittered as (she swore) the faint smell of musk, earth and dead leaves finally reached her. After a further minute of being frozen in the same position, however, she allowed herself to relax.

It must’ve fallen asleep. Even rabid raccoons needed to sleep.

Mustering up her courage, she stepped carefully towards her door and the light switch beside it, circling wide to keep the bed and its new inhabitant as far from her as physically possible.

Another shuffle, a strange clicking noise that made the hair on the back of her neck rise, and suddenly a high, boyish voice piped up from her bed, curiosity lifting the end of the light tone.

“Elizabeth, what are you doing?”

Elizabeth screamed and bolted for the door, all earlier pretences forgotten. There was an intruder in her house, in her room, and all she could think of was all of the horror stories of women kidnapped from their family homes, dragged into an alley and raped and murdered in the silence of the city streets. Those stories of entire households slaughtered for their petty jewelry, men, women and children together. Oh Anthony, grandfather-! she thought, and cleared the distance in two inhuman steps. Shaking, she grasped forward for the door handle... only to feel two small hands already clinging to the knob firmly. A small shadow the height of her midriff braced in front of her only escape route.

“El-Elizabeth, wait, wait…”

Withdrawing her hand as if bitten - why was the rapist so small? - Elizabeth recoiled, reaching out blindly with her other hand for the light switch on the wall.

There was a delicate click, and then the entire room was illuminated, the stark light revealing a small boy in a torn, mud-splattered shirt clinging desperately to her door. A mop of russet hair flopping untidily across his eyes, he fixed her with an imploring look. His pointed features were tightened in an expression of misery.

“Now just wait,” the boy panted out, releasing the door to hold up out his palms soothingly, nevertheless remaining where he stood. She swore each finger ended in a blunted claw. “ I need to explain a few things, alright, Elizabeth? I have this big speech I get to say and all - you’ll see - it’s really cool - I just gotta, gotta remember it. You’ll really like it, I promise- cross my heart.”

He also sported, Elizabeth noted dimly, an equally-red tail that drooped down between his legs to his bare, dirtied feet. It brushed against the dark-stained wood of her door with a faint rasp, its cream tip flicking occasionally from side to side.

She was dreaming. She had to be. She had screamed loud enough to raise a cremated corpse, as her throat supported with a well-timed throb of pain, yet a calm silence filled the house, the hum of crickets and the roar of the occasional car below continuing, uninterrupted. Where was her family? Her grandfather, in the least, was a notoriously light sleeper, woken up by the slightest misstep on the squeaky floorboards of the stairs, and more often then not it was Anthony, before anything else, that woke her from a nightmare due to "all the noise you’d been making, sis."

Opening suddenly dry lips, she tried to clarify her thoughts out loud, the movement catching the attention of the boy, who turned his attention back towards her eagerly.

“This is a dream, isn’t it?”

The boy’s face brightened considerably at her words, and he provided her with a huge grin, his two canines standing out in particular from where they hung slightly over his bottom lip. She felt faint at the sight. “Yeah! Well, not quite, more of an adventure, but you are sleeping! In a sense! How did you guess, do you know a bit already?”

The confirmation seemed to lift a weight off of her shoulders, and she found herself relaxing. The boy’s age, in any case, swept the rapist equation out of the window.

He… was just a kid.

Elizabeth attempted to understand the boy’s question but gave up after puzzling over his use of the word ‘adventure’.

Her thoughts felt like they were sloshing around in treacle.

“Know… what?”

“About how spirit goes wanderin - nahh, don’t worry, I’ll just start from the beginning.” He flapped one of his hands dismissively and approached her with a grin, abandoning his post without a second thought. Her gaze flicked immediately to it, her exit temptingly close, but for reasons unbeknownst to her, her fear and anxiety were fading. It no longer seemed important. “But for that, it’d be much, much better if we were outside – come on, it’s alright, the meadow is really close, and we’re not going to be doing anything tonight, anyway.”

He had an honest smile.

Relieved grin still plastered across his features, the boy slipped his hand in hers in an action that was so akin to Anthony’s that it felt that she like she could just blink and see her brother standing there, impatiently tugging her towards the arcade an excited gleam in his eyes. That image clinging to her mind, she yielded to the boy’s encouragements, following him to the door.

It couldn’t hurt.

“You’ll understand in a little bit, Elizabeth – no more screaming, though, alright, that was really freaky...”

The easiness with which he used her name struck her nevertheless, as it had the entire evening, and she voiced her confusion, her hand remaining, limp, in the child’s hot grip. The cold still lingered, her breath hissing out in chattering cloud, but he, for some reason, seemed immune.

“How do you know my name?"

The boy just simply shrugged.

“Just knew – was told I had to meet you to get you all initiated and stuff…”

He tugged open the door and pulled her along with him down the paneled hall, past the chipped, painted doors that led to her slumbering family. She still couldn’t find it in herself to resist.

“Who are you?”

He looked back with a crooked smile, brown eyes barely visible in the light of the moon that flooded through the wide window above the staircase. Something about that image triggered a faint wisp of memory, and Elizabeth frowned, grasping at the feeling. “I’m Nathaniel, of course!”

They’d reached the stairs by this point, and the kid- Nathaniel – flounced down each one, bare feet slapping lightly on the polished oak and managing to hit every single creak in the steps in the process. The sound of their descent echoing throughout the house. Elizabeth smiled wryly at this renewed testament to the unreality of the situation. In the world she remembered, her grandfather would be on them in a second flat.

She almost tumbled into Nathaniel as the boy skidded to a halt in her shadowed entrance hall, and she waved her free arm for balance, grasping at the banister. Her movements slowed as her eyes found the flashes of red that poked out of his hair, uncovered by his uninhibited, joyful descent.

Twin canine ears.

She struggled to comprehend this alongside the tail and the teeth, sorting the new information into a mental compartment she aptly decided to name dog boy.

What are you?”

Nathaniel drew to a stop at her last question, turning around to face her. His expression was only just visible in the reflected moonlight that slithered through the front windows, a strange emotion twisting his features, and he gazed at her with those large eyes, tail coiling around his tattered jean leg.

His voice sounded slightly altered when he responded, something darker, sadder, tempering his usually light tone.

“I’m me, like you are you.”

The emotion flickering out of his eyes, he straightened and tightened his grip, a feral smile of renewed excitement creasing his lips.

“You ready?”

He had his free hand on the handle of the front door, clawed fingers curled tightly around it. She nodded mutely, despite the questions that still mulled in her mind, enraptured by his childish enthusiasm.

His grin cracked wider.

“Then let’s go.”

A/N: The next chapter, however, has been a pain in the jacksee to write. xD Fun, but a pain. A note about her reaction: her shock begins to wear off in the next chapter and she begins to properly react to this all, completely forgetting that this is [strike]supposed to be[/strike] a dream. If there are still problems with her reaction, though, please let me know - this was an interesting scene to write on that level. xD;

Nat is not as young as he looks, either. :x
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Fall Apart.
This is very good! :p

You don't seem rusty at all, because this is high quality stuff. I really like your writing style; it is so smooth and descriptive, it reminds me of a calm, flowing river, if you don't mind the simile! XD

No typos whatsoever, but I thought your imagery could use some work. You do have some very good adjectives to describe your nouns, but for some reason, the imagery isn't there. I can't quite figure it out after reading through a couple times, and I am sorry if this is disappointing. I am in no way saying the story was bad, however.

This is looking like a great little ficlet, and I am looking forward to more chapters.

The bolded part is what I also think of this Fan Fic as. I'm loving your on story so far. ^_^

Your story is brilliant. You have good Vocabulary, a good imagination (for the story plan). I think you should just try to get in to the story plan more, in the nexy chapter ofcourse.

Good Fan Fic. I'll be reading the next chapter. Keep up the good work.


The Compromise
x3 Thanks Bacon! I'm glad you're enjoying it, and the next chapter should bound the plot along - it's going to be much longer because of that as well. x3 Sorry for the late response, by the way. D:


Fall Apart.
x3 Thanks Bacon! I'm glad you're enjoying it, and the next chapter should bound the plot along - it's going to be much longer because of that as well. x3 Sorry for the late response, by the way. D:
I'm looking forward to it. ^.^

It's good that your adding more of the plot because I still don't know what this fic is about. Guess the secret's out the next chapter.


The Compromise
*snugs* BOY IS IT xD I may have just finished writing it. Will sit on it for a couple days to make sure it's all spiffy, I'm too tired to go through it properly now, but I'd like to think we move a nice distance in this one. That, and it's just under double the length of the previous chapter. Much fun in the future. x3


be creative
...two things.

First: why haven't I commented on this before now after you went through all that effort on dragging me back to Serebii?

Second: why has this not gotten more reviews? ;u;

So. As I've been saying, I love the ease and somehow friendliness of your writing style. Your characterisation and characters are adorable, even your imagery (when I find it. x'D) makes me crack a smile. This has such an interesting plot so far, with that adorable, strange little boy! I want to squish him, I hope you know that. From the snippets of plot you've been throwing at me over fb, this all looks to be a thrilling an interesting ride. o___o



The Compromise
*squishes eju to oblivion* Love you, m'dear. :3 :3 Thank you!

Authors note: I couldn't wait any longer. :x I'm fond of this chapter. I will happily admit it. Well, I'm fond of parts of it. xD Elizabeth gave me a heck of difficulty (she refused to go where I wanted her to xD) but I believe I successfully fenangled it in the end. :3 In any case, like before, please let me know if you have any qualms!

Beta'ed by the amazing ejunknown~! :D

Song list:

Coyote - The Lonely Forest
Your Rocky Spine - Great Lake Swimmers

Chapter Three


The night air was chilled as Elizabeth and Nathaniel emerged onto her porch, a faint breeze flitting across her arms and sparking another shiver as she blinked in the faint light. Shreds of cloud blocked out the stars above them, their shadows winding across her unkempt lawn. She huddled into herself, realising as she began to shiver anew that she hadn’t changed from her nightclothes before she’d left. Then again, she remembered, she hadn’t even thought before agreeing to follow Nathaniel out here, had she? Let alone about what she’d need for a trip.

She cast an eye on the boy that stood poised beside her, examining the stars as they fluttered into view through the patches of clear sky.

Now outside, the ridiculousness of her decision, dream or not, was beginning to hit her.

There was a faint tug as Nathaniel pulled lightly at her hand, and she turned towards him, the hot, firm pressure of the boy’s grip comfortable against her palm. Naive trust clear in his eyes, he offered her another grin. The sight almost made her cave to his request to follow him again, if only to ensure he got back home safely.

Lily was right: Elizabeth really did have a soft heart.

“It’s just this way,” he told her excitedly, pointing out towards the forest that encroached on her grandfather’s land. The pines he highlighted leant low over an orchard her mother kept, their thick branches overshadowing the olive trees. Elizabeth nodded, a small frown crumpling her forehead nevertheless. The way he pointed led out only to the lower, uninhabited slopes of the mountains, she was certain of it. “We just need to head up through that little bundle of trees, and then we’ll run straight into it.”

“Run straight into… what?”

“The meadow, of course! Remember?” He pulled her gently down the stairs, his strength surprising her. She cast a lingering glance behind her as they marched across the grass, eyes catching her bedroom window, the one that was impossible to reach from the outside. “The ceremony starts there, you see – wait, you still don’t know, do you? Well, have you’ve heard about old man Wotan, or Odin? There are a huge number of myths and stuff about these guys, but in Norse mythology, Odin was said to go out on these hunts on his eight legged-horse, joined by the dead and… what’s wrong?”

She’d finally stopped in her tracks, her shock from the ordeal faded enough to allow her to comprehend the situation, leaving her thoughts clearer as she pulled her hand free from the boy’s grasp.

What was she doing?

“A ceremony.” Her tone was flat, expression hardening as she crossed her arms. She’d been forgetting herself, she realised. She’d been letting herself get carried away as if this was just another game she was playing with Anthony. “Nathaniel, just what is going on here? Why are you out here, alone, in the middle of the night?”

“I told you, I was sent to come get you. The ceremony- it’s, it’s this traditional thing that’s been going on for centuries, between people like me, and people like you. Between the wild hunt and the caul bearers.”

They were in the middle of her garden by this point, the tangled weeds brushing against their calves. Nathaniel hunched his shoulders defensively as he spoke, drawing back his hands to jam them in his pockets.

“It’s the re-enactment of a truce, of sorts, the peace treaty that first allowed the hunt and humanity to co-exist. It’s pretty much just a show now, but both sides are supposed to appear, at least for their first one, it’s their duty- it’ll make a lot more sense when we get there, I promise-”

“The hunt? Caul bearers?” He flinched at the sharpness in her voice, a tremble noticeable in his shoulders. She softened her voice at that, gaze softening somewhat. He was just like all kids, all too fond of fairy tales. “Nathaniel, this isn’t a game. Where are your parents, and why do you have the… the…”

She gave up her final line of questioning about his genetic abnormalities as her mind began to roll back onto itself again.

“You were born with the caul,” Nathaniel repeated, voice sounding strained. His hands appeared to be clenched into fists in his pockets. “It means that when you were born, you still had the ‘birth’… stuff on your head, or something like that. You did, didn’t you?”

He tilted his chin up in a slight challenge, and her mouth snapped shut.

“You mean… the amniotic sack.” It wasn’t a question.

Nathaniel nodded, a tight grin ripping across his lips, his shoulders continuing to shake nevertheless. She stared at him in shock.

Her mother had been telling her since she’d been a child about how she’d been born with the amniotic sack still covering her head and shoulders; the tale was one of her family’s great ‘near-death-experiences’.

But… how did he know?

Nathaniel, how-?”

“I told you, that’s how I knew who you were.” He was stepping closer, she realised through her shock, but she didn’t move, still staring at him. The chill from earlier was scraping deeper into her skin. “It’s what allows your soul to go walking like this, don’t you get it? It’s what will allow you to travel with the hunt, with me.”

There was a strange, almost feral light in his eyes as he said the last words, and she met his gaze, trying to figure out his expression.

“It means more than you can imagine, Elizabeth, really, it does! It means you can be one of us, in a way, if only to keep an eye, yeah-“

He cut himself off with a huff of a laugh and gripped her hand, raising it until it was level with his eyes.

“Just watch this, alright? Don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing.”

He smiled crookedly, excited once more, and before Elizabeth had a chance to draw a breath, blue flames roared from their clasped hands, tearing up both of their arms in a cackle of sparks.

There was no time to think.

Elizabeth screamed. Throwing herself backwards, she tried to pull them both out of the flames, beating at her burning arm, but somehow Nathaniel held on to her, his continued smile momentarily visible before he was swallowed by the fireball. She fell to her knees, tears creasing down her cheeks. The flames were crawling over her skin, biting up her chest and licking at her neck in an icy caress. Within moments it would be all over.

Then, as quickly as they came, the flames were gone.

Eyes clenched tightly closed, she felt a small hand on her head, burying itself in the charred remnants of her hair, Nathaniel’s breathy, excited tone reaching the bloody mess of blistered skin that used to be her ears.

“You- see what I mean?”

She cracked her eyes open slowly as she felt Nathaniel move to crouch before her, anticipating the onslaught of pain as her body became aware of her burns - and gazed down at her unmarked skin in confusion, raising her hands to run her fingers through her untouched hair.

She was completely unharmed, and so was he.

…What just happened?

Nathaniel poked at her tears with a failing smile, the dangerous light that had fluttered in his eyes replaced with a nervous glimmer. Breathing raggedly, he offered her an apologetic smile.

“Eheh, I didn’t mean- to scare you, I swear! Smile, eh, Elizabeth? It was just a lil bit- of fun, and it didn’t hurt- at all, did it? And wasn’t it cool!” He smudged the tear tracks gently away as she blinked at him uncomprehendingly, briefly stricken mute. “You wouldn’t been able to do- that with me unless you hadn’t been- born with the caul, see? And that’s just- a midget bit of it all, I swear.”

“I’m not dead,” she whispered, struggling to comprehend. She was blinking at her hands, twisting them back and forth, bending each finger in turn.

Why wasn’t she?

The fact defied all of her logic, frustrated her reason, confusing her.

“What- what did you do?”

Nathaniel let out a little laugh at that, reaching out to rustle her hair. She flinched instinctively away from it, thinking of the flames, and a streak of pain crossed his features. Squatting before her with his hands tucked firmly into his armpits, he regarded her quietly, despair in his eyes.

“It was just a little- magic, alright? Fox fire. It couldn’t hurt you, not at all and I wouldn’t, anyway – not ever. Not ever.” He reached forward again, and this time she didn’t flinch, remaining as she was as he crept forward, expression imploring. Despite herself, she was reminded once more of her brother. “It was just- just to show you, nothing more, I swear... Come on, Elizabeth, please?”

He gently grabbed her shoulders after that and, straightening, pulled and encouraged her upright, once more surprising her with his strength. His grip shook. “Just… come with me. It won’t take long. But I- we have to go, now.”

But- why should she listen, and why should she go? The small voice persisted in the back of her mind, arguing her back, reminded her of her reason, her doubts. It was subdued by something else, however, a force that swallowed her fear and smothered her doubts. Her thoughts were just too thick, too clumsy. He gazed down at her with those bright, trusting eyes, his nervousness so clearly painted on his features, the trembling weakening his grip. There was pain, too, she realised, physical pain in the sharp twist to his mouth, and it was that, more than anything that dissuaded her from fear.

“Please.” His voice was heavy, pleading.

She allowed herself to be coaxed upright, taking a few steps with him towards the orchard.

“Nathaniel,” she murmured quietly, acting on one of the questions that had managed to break from the tangle the filled her brain. He glanced up at her, eyebrow quirking, eyes alight. “What’s wrong with you?”

He gave her a strangely wry smile, hiding his hands in his pockets as they continued forward. “I’m fine, I swear, it’s just… I just have to get home.”

She regarded him quietly as they staggered forward. “Is home this way, then?”

He blinked, and then grinned wolfishly. “Yeah, it is.”

She ignored the sudden switch, too wrapped up in her sluggish thoughts. “And you’re… you’re not human, either, right?”

Nathaniel hesitated as he did before, but he answered her question this time after a breath, his smile fading slightly. “No, I’m not. I’m… part of the hunt. We’re not really human at all, I guess.”

He tugged her into a faster pace, and they jogged towards the forest, reaching the orchard in a matter of minutes and slipping beneath their well-kept branches. Ripened olives tumbled around them as they brushed past the laden leaves, pattering to the floor like fat rain drops, bouncing off of his back. Inhuman.

“And what is… the hunt?”

He shrugged, not looking at her as he shimmied to the end of the grove, his tail swishing behind him, his claws scratching faintly against the tree trunks as he swung past. “I guess you can say we are… we are like spirits, a mix between men and animals. You used to call us gods, you know. We were more than you deserved”


They had reached the final barrier between them and the wild of the forest, the aged fence seeming almost fragile as it bent under the weight of a lazily cast pine limb, its faint smell of vanilla filtering through the air. Not waiting a moment, Nathaniel clambered onto the branch with an air of experience, rising to his feet immediately and padding across it with arms outstretched. “Then again,” he called back as he reached the end, spinning around regardless of the height and beckoning. “You started calling us demons and stuff after that!”


It was with numerous little cuts and bruises that the two of them finally emerged from the arm of forest onto the lower slopes of a grassy knoll crested with orange light, the breath of a breeze sighing past them, sending a shiver across her bare arms. Drawing in on herself, all too aware, once more, of her ill-chosen clothing, she cast an inquisitive glance at the boy beside her. This, she realised, must be where Nathaniel had been aiming all this time. If she concentrated, she could just hear a clamour of sound coming from over the ridge, the sound of voices raised in excitement or anger, she wasn’t certain which, threaded with the warmer tones of music. What waited for her up there, however, she was still uncertain of.

What she did know was that Nathaniel’s affliction seemed to have been growing all the worse. The boy in mention’s eyes seemed to be fixed on the sight, a twitch flicking his tail from side to side as he examined the slope. A dull glaze had coated them since they’d entered the forest, but nevertheless he turned to her practically shimmering brightness, excitement bursting from every inch of him.

“We’re here!” he confirmed, a grin splitting his lips.

An answering smile attempted to twitch up the corners of her mouth, unbidden, and she regarded the hilltop once more, examining the flickers of light that speared above it. The glow seemed to claw at the surrounding darkness, plumes of grey rising from it to blot the stars – they must’ve lit bonfire, she guessed – and the sight seemed almost alien to her, terrifying in the sullen silence of the night. She huddled further into herself.

“Don’t worry.” Nathaniel’s voice cut into her thoughts almost as if he’d read them, a comforting, yet trembling hand resting on her forearm. “We can just slip in through the back, no one should notice us at all. From the sounds of it, we’ve only missed a bit of food, anyways.”

It was the reminder of his weakness as much as his words that pressed her onwards.

They ascended the hill slowly, crouching as they neared the top, Nathaniel’s body warm beside her against the chill of the grass. The sounds of a celebration grew steadily louder, the outline of actual flames now visible against the clouded sky. They were very, very close now. Every fibre of her was aware of it. Her stomach was flipping, but she kept her breathing steady and her feet moving. She could feel Nathaniel’s shaking growing beside her, occasionally wrenching through the young boy until all he could do was collapse and wait for his breath to return.

She would see him home. No-one deserved to suffer alone.

It was with her heart in her mouth that they finally made it that final couple of meters up the slope, only a stone’s throw separating them from the loud revelling going on beyond. At their proximity she could almost make out human voices, words, intermingled with a chorus of what she could only describe as howling and barks, as a string quartet and a drummer trilled out a tune in the background. Nathaniel turned to face her, ears twitching, excitement dancing in his eyes.

“Now, wait here a sec’, alright? I’m just gonna pop my head up and see where everyone’s at, and then we can skedoodle up there, kapish?”

She nodded, a newly formed lump in her throat preventing her from speaking, and he cast her a smile, before turning to crawl up the slope. Before he could make it more than a few step, however, another series of trembles wracked his frame, twitching through his limbs. Arching his back with a wordless cry, the boy began to jerk uncontrollably. He ground his forehead into the grass, his shoulders straining as he attempted to brace his arms against the slope. Crying out his name, Elizabeth leapt to her feet and staggered forward- only to leap back with a whisper of a shriek as icy cold blue flames burst into life along his arms, tearing across his body with a soundless, smokeless roar as it consumed every inch of him.

She stumbled backwards, only able to grasp at the air as Nathaniel writhed into a foetal position, his cries deepening into guttural growls, falling once more to her knees as the boy she knew as Nathaniel shuddered from view. Shock rendering her speechless, she watched as the flames quickly consumed the boy she’d gotten to know and care about, the one who reminded her so much of her little brother.

Like the earlier time, the flames faded suddenly, petering out with a final spark.

Robbed of its light, the hill’s slope returned to darkness, a great shadow hiding the space where Nathaniel once lay. She could just make out a soft crooning reaching out from its depths, the sound almost swallowed by the cacophony above. Catching her breath, she took a careful step closer, blinking the light spots from her sight. The form of a tawny dog curled where Nathaniel was just visible in the darkness, it’s small ribcage rising and falling in the jagged rhythm of its pants. Fixing her with large, golden eyes, the creature gave a dwindling whine, a familiar taint of sadness in its eyes, before it staggering to its feet, shirking the cover of a now over-large shirt and scrambling up the slope.

Leaping to her feet, Elizabeth bolted after it, its- his name tearing from her mouth before she realised it as they burst into the outskirts of a huge campsite, where a menagerie of different beasts and humans creatures frolicking in the light of a collection of bonfires that roared at the sky in the center of the clearing, their collected cries and roars swallowing her call whole.


In the warmth of a bonfire at the opposite corner of the clearing, a stir of cobalt shifted in the firelight, watching the otherwise unnoticed new comers with a vivid, ochre eye. A plume of white fur tumbled across his chest, flicking at the spiked, amber tufts that followed the lines of his shoulder blades. Lazily running his tongue across his glistening teeth, the great stag watched as the woman tore after the growlithe cub, her ebony hair whipping out behind her, swallowing the amber light of the flames.

The Cobalion's jaw quivered, his lip curling.

So the boy was back.
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be creative

[/stating the obvious]

Your art.

....I don't know why I drew it for you though. You monster.




Amazing start to the main plot of this. You have tossed ideas with me, but honestly, I have no idea where you are taking this past the vague histories and theories of the Benandanti you threw at me. And from what you've implied, you tossed it up further then that. A fascinating AU, and so realistic with that brutal description of foxy-loves transformation, it was physically painful to read that. I hate you. I will draw for you, and I will hate you.

Hope you are happy.
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The Compromise
asudgakk Thank you!! :D And thank you for the banner, as well - You are too awesome. :3 I'm really glad you like Nathaniel! I thought you would. <3

Aaaaaand as the next chapter isn't going to be here for a little while, have an outtake. xD It can pretty much fit in anywhere after the third chapter. :3

It was all for the woman.

Tobias watched, perplexed, as the pup scrambled through the knee-high grass, struggling to maintain his human form, hands trembling as he thrust a path through the field. Faltering a few steps from the river’s edge, the boy collapsed with a yelp, his limbs twitching and jerking as he subsided back into the form of a growlithe, blue flashes of flame claiming his human flesh.

The great beast curled his lips back in distaste as the sour scent of the boy’s pain flooded the breeze, tainting the evening air.

The boy was a fool.
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The magic of Pokemon
Okay--my main question is if Elizabeth waking at 3 AM is symbolic or serves a greater purpose.

I'm also interested in your source material--I'm not familiar with the legend, so you may want to give those not familiar with it an explanation


The Compromise
x3 The constant reference to 3 AM does serve a greater purpose- it's part of the integral plot, one of the elements of this folk lore that's coming to life around her. :x

Ah, the thing was I was hoping to forego providing a direct explanation and allow the story to tell us itself? I know Nathaniel's explanations were useless - I've tried to keep it so we're in the same boat as the character, and Nathaniel is a fool when it comes to explanations. He screwed up his task as much as he could, haha. We know as much as she does. I was planning on clearing it all up in the next couple of chapters, though, from another source.

I can give you a little help, though - I know this story is going slowly. I do have a question, though, does it make sense nevertheless as it is?
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