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Pokémon A Glimpse Across the Threshold (2021 Bingo Prompts)

Phoenixsong

the world's scariest violinist
Partners
  1. custom/skiddo-steplively
  2. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong2
  3. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong3
  4. custom/skiddo-iametrine
Yo, it a me, doin' a bingo. Because dangling another potential recruit for the Skiddo Army in front of me is apparently the only way to get me to actually write actual fiction word-having stories.

Breadcrumb TrailTaunting LightsPoisoned Fruit
The Stolen ChildOtherworldly ArchitectureHappily Ever After
Beauty of the CourtEnchanted WoodOtherworldly Procession

The two teensy flash-fics are... not what I was originally working on for those prompts, but unfortunately this was a busy week and I'm out of town at the moment (literally posting this from my hotel room), so I had to pause those ideas and throw together some tiny alternatives because seriously, you don't understand, I need more companions, y'all. At least they touch on some additional angles that I would like to mess with, though! I intend to finish the "proper" versions of those prompt fills as soon as I'm able.

Content Warnings:

I don't believe any should be needed? The biggest thing that happens here are some surreal creature descriptions, little hints of otherworldly strangeness, but they're brief and quite vague. If you did find something upsetting, however, I'm happy to amend these warnings.

Feedback:

Always welcome! I don't care overmuch about the two tinyfics because they're rushed and they weren't what I'd really wanted to do, so don't feel like you need to go out of your way to sink your claws in for my sake. But if they inspire you to say something all the same, by all means, I'm happy to hear it! If you're at all inclined to give constructive feedback (not necessary, either, but hey), I'd prefer it go toward "Breadcrumb Trail" and/or the other pieces that will hopefully cross the threshold and appear in this thread later.

This is stuff that's at least loosely associated with the PMD-meets-fae-realm-inspired setting that Skara (my Blacklight Eternal character—don't worry if you don't know who that is) is meant to be from. I say "loosely" because I still have no blessed idea what exactly I'm doing with any of this! The things that happen or are implied in these pieces may or may not remain "canon" by the time I've actually decided on anything. Hell, Skara herself and whatever the heckle is going on with her in Blacklight might change dramatically or disappear! Consider these more... testing the waters of style and flavor and concept, I suppose. An opportunity to take my weird, silly fairy ideas and see how well I like them in practice. Who knows how any "proper" "final products" might turn out?

But in the meantime, I'm glad that I finally had a little push to actually take a peek through the fairy ring and try a few things out, however ephemeral—like the presence of the mistfolk in mortal lands—some of them might be.
 
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Phoenixsong

the world's scariest violinist
Partners
  1. custom/skiddo-steplively
  2. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong2
  3. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong3
  4. custom/skiddo-iametrine
Otherworldly(-Accessible) Architecture

Troops of mistfolk didn't take kindly to obstructions on their routes, to the tune of stolen things and blighted gardens and, sometimes, damaged walls. Molka knew this because they were currently sitting out in front of their new house, admiring the second doorway that had been smashed into the left side of the facade. It even came complete with a lovely view of the matching one in the rear. How they'd slept through that, they had no idea. The holes had to be the size of beartic.

The other townsfolk helpfully suggested that they give up, tear down, and rebuild someplace else. But Molka liked this spot, damn it, and would not be so easily deterred. So the scrafty squinted at the breach, tweaked a sketch, and, satisfied, headed back to the bibarel lodge.

The renovations took a little while, sure, but when Molka finally moved back in they were plenty pleased enough to wake up not sprinkled with splinters. A scrafty's head with a beartic-sized scoop out of the left side didn't look much like them anymore, but it was good enough if they got to keep their home. Good enough for the mistfolk, too, if the little scrap of parchment half-frozen to the ground nearby was any indication:

"Thanks, neighbor."
 
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Phoenixsong

the world's scariest violinist
Partners
  1. custom/skiddo-steplively
  2. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong2
  3. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong3
  4. custom/skiddo-iametrine
Otherworldly Procession

There was nothing but rain and then they were there, the storm-shrouded clearing suddenly awash with amber light traced with white. Bright, golden mist-shapes darted out of the trees, then across, then vanished when they reached the clearing's edge: indistinct, quick as lightning, and yet with a crackling, sizzling presence that she felt even as she pressed herself further into her barely-dry alcove. A long creature swam sharp zig-zags through the air, back-forth-back-forth-back-forth-back, like an eelektrik made of angles. Another hulking figure loped past with its massive arms swinging, many sparking, snapping tails waving on its back. She almost wanted to lean out of her tiny shelter, see where the procession of storms would strike next, but the wet grass seemed to burn beneath their feet and her fur was already standing on end. If she got too close—if they saw that she was watching—she'd likely end up more than thunderstruck.

So she made herself as tiny as she could, telling herself that she really ought to shut her eyes but unable to tear them away as a pack of shining almost-boltund crossed the clearing with jagged leaps and bounds, as a graveler-shape rumbled past, a literal roll of thunder. Not a one stopped or slowed. As the last leaping raichu flashed by, the amber light dimmed and she remembered how to breathe. She'd just about managed to unfold herself when the clearing went pure white.

Something towered above her alcove, blazing like a lightning bolt that struck and refused to stop burning. Its shape never quite resolved, always sizzling and shifting, something almost tall and catlike with arcs of electricity striped around it, then snapping back to buzzing white. Two searing blue lights gazed down, locked with her eyes, held there, she could almost smell the smoke rising from her back as it glared, blue points stabbing down like bolts, and then—

The clearing went white. She sank back down, panting, shaking, staring wide-eyed out of the alcove.

It was there, and then there was nothing but rain.
 
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Phoenixsong

the world's scariest violinist
Partners
  1. custom/skiddo-steplively
  2. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong2
  3. custom/skiddo-phoenixsong3
  4. custom/skiddo-iametrine
Breadcrumb Trail

Papa told Ruri that she'd get lost, that the ley lines in the forest were shifting and mistfolk might be waiting to snatch pokémon who wander too long, but Ruri is far too clever for that. "Getting lost" just means not knowing how to find her way home; all she has to do, then, is make sure that she knows. The mistfolk can't catch her if she doesn't linger, and she can't linger if she isn't lost.

So the marill gathers up her satchel, takes the little loaf of bread Papa had baked and, when his paws are full kneading dough for the next, she bounces through the fields and into the cool, green shade of the treeline beyond. And then—this is the clever bit—every so often she plucks a smooth, white river-stone from the satchel and drops it to the forest floor behind her. (Stones rather than breadcrumbs, of course, because the birds would eat those up, and that wouldn't be very clever at all. It would also be a terrible waste of Papa's nanab bread.)

With the trail of pebbles leading straight back home, Ruri is free to marvel at the colors of the forest flowers, try to guess how far away the tops of the trees really are, chase shadows and butterflies around the roots and fallen trunks until she has to stop from laughing. As she takes a break and nibbles at the bread—and places another pebble, for she is far too clever to forget—she catches the whispering and burbling of water over stone. A stream! A little secret stream, running through a clearing just ahead!

Ruri springs forward, casts her things aside the moment she breaks through the trees, and rolls down the bank and into the stream. Now this is a discovery! A whole stream, all to herself, full of pretty speckled rocks and little silver fish that glitter every time they dart away from her splashing. She spins around, giggling with surprise, when a frog sings out from the shallows. Ruri doesn't get to see many frogs in the river by the village; the current runs too fast for them. Her eyes twinkle as she watches it. How far can this frog jump, she wonders? She puffs herself up, blue energy shimmers around her, and she blows a playful stream of bubbles in its direction—

—and stops, dead still, breath caught, eyes wide, the only sounds the murmuring stream and the pip-pip-pop of the last few bubbles. She shouldn't have done that, she remembers. The ley lines in the forest are shifting, the elders had warned. The magic flowing through the lines rises up to reach for the magic in pokémon and amplifies, changes, opens doors. It might be flowing right under her feet, right now.

Ruri whirls around again, and again, splashing frantic circles in the shallows as she scans the trees for signs of something wrong. Is she still alone? Still in the forest? Are there any bursts of power, any flowers sprouting up in rings, any signs of watching things that hadn't been there before? There's a sudden, dazzling flare somewhere off to her side. Ruri shrieks, but then relaxes. There's nothing there behind her but the stream, late-afternoon sunlight flashing on the water as a cloud scuds away.

Her gaze flits back and forth for a few moments longer, but the thunder of her racing heart is settling now. Were there even any ley lines here, in this clearing? Surely not, if nothing's different. The elders said the lines were shifting, but they could just as easily have shifted away, couldn't they? They didn't know for sure, not really. It wasn't like anyone was brave enough—or clever enough—to spend any time in the woods actually checking the specifics.

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Nothing has happened; nothing has changed. She is herself, Ruri, enjoying a cool, gold-tinged afternoon in a clearing with a chorus of frogs and the scent of fresh-baked nanab bread.

Ruri huffs and shakes her head, supposing that she's had enough adventure for one day. She really mustn't linger, after all. She finishes the little loaf, retrieves her satchel, and takes her leave of the clearing. A clever marill knows to head home while it's still light enough to see.

The trail of river-stones is just as she left it: bright white against the loam, spaced out just so, leading back through the roots and trunks and the tall, tall trees and the flowers slowly curling up to sleep, until at last she sees the sun setting behind the fields and the village rooftops. Her ears twitch at the sound of her father's distant voice, calling her name. There's a note of worry in it, as she'd sort of expected. He needn't be so concerned, of course. His daughter is very clever.

Papa is worried, whatever she may think, and he gives Ruri a thorough dressing-down as he shepherds her through the door. There'll be no wandering tomorrow, he insists; she won't have time for it with all the sweeping and scrubbing the bakery needs. Ruri pouts, and sighs, and yes-Papas, but as she cleans up for dinner she finds she isn't really that upset. At least she'll have the memory of her secret stream to keep her spirits high through all the chores. Her clever trail should still be there in a few days' time, anyway, ready to lead her back to another wondrous afternoon.

As she watches the stars from her window that night, imagining that their twinkling is just like the little silver fish, Ruri catches a rustling at the edges of the fields. Three shapes—dark, hazy blue, indistinct, as though their silhouettes are fading into curls of mist—emerge from the stalks, drawing closer and closer to the village's lantern lights. A huge, fishlike shape swims through the air, long whiskers snaking out toward houses as though reaching for them. A tangle of legs, too swift and erratic for Ruri to count, skitters off toward the village square. A four-legged shape, covered in waving fins from head to tail, lopes forward, nose to the ground like a rockruff with a scent, then stops. It raises its head, revealing blazing sapphire points of light where eyes should be. It fixes those points right on the bakery.

The fin-folk grins at Ruri, the edges of its smile curling back behind the blinking pinpricks in its head. It holds up a paw, as if to show her what it has. There, pinched between its long, webbed claws, a smooth, white river-stone winks cheerfully in the lantern light.
 
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unrepentantAuthor

A cat that writes stories.
Location
UK
Pronouns
they/she
Partners
  1. custom/purrloin-salem
  2. custom/sneasel-dusk
  3. custom/luz-companion
  4. custom/brisa-companion
Hey, Phoenix! I was assigned your drabbles for Catnip Circle courtesy of Negrek submitting them. Sorry for the delay.

I enjoyed these! Your prose style is a good read. I've chosen to give you specific thoughts on each drabble as a whole:

Otherworldly(-Accessible) Architecture

I found this one super cute! It's very in keeping with the fae vibe, what with very serious, unbreakable traditions that are incomprehensible to the mundane. I love that the solution here is to literally leave a path running through the house, it's adorable. The idea of this being an accessibility issue and the fae leavng a thank-you note leaves me with such joy, I can't even tell you.

Otherworldly Procession

Pretty eerie stuff! Again nailing a fae vibe, albeit a different one this time. Fun, ominous descriptions and a good emotional tone of fearfulness, but I was unclear at first that the descriptions indicated mistfolk versions of specific electric-types, and I spent a moment trying to think what the not-eelektrik was if it wasn't an eelektrik (it was an eelektrik). I'm also not sure what the 'mon with many snapping tails was. All the same, it was good stuff.

Breadcrumb Trail

Being familiar with fairytale tropes, I naturally expected something to go terribly wrong from go, with this one. The feeling of dread worsened with every hubristic reference to how clever Ruri is. Ruri's experience of being abruptly, briefly terrified was easy to empathise with given the context. I like the pacing here, in which you take a moment to relax the tension with mundanity and relief, before ramping up the sense of foreboding once again with a description of aquatic spirits hunting for Ruri that put me in mind of Avatar: the Last Airbender and the Love, Death & Robots short, Fish Night. The drabble leaves me with an intense sense of anticipation and uncertainty. Delightful.

Nice work writing these, they serve as a pretty promising teaser for your fic, to be honest. Wonderfully atmospheric~
 

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partners
  1. custom/sneasel-nip
  2. bidoof
  3. absol
  4. kirlia
As a disclaimer, I'm reading these in a complete vaccum and do not know if there's any context beyond what's presented, so please take all critique with that in mind and with a grain of salt.

Otherworldly(-Accessible) Architecture
There are some things about this snippet that I really like, and other things that I feel fell a little flat. On the positive side, you manage to cram in a lot about the world in a very small space, though, I admittedly had to read over the story twice for some of the details to click. As this is such a short story, that's not really an issue, but it might be worth keeping in mind in the future. I think the prose is really good. Probably my strongest critique is that I had a bit of trouble connecting with the main character at first, and I'm not toally sure why. It was a bit easier in the second readthrough, though.

Otherworldly Procession
The prose in this one was really good. It was the first thing that stood out to me. As for the story itself... it's difficult to put into words. I think the title describes it best. There's something breathtaking and terrifying and otherworldly, all at once, that's there one second and gone the next. It gives off strong vibes of something you'd see in a deep, mysterious forest, far away from civilization. And I think the prose helps with that feeling. Very strong fairytale vibes, from this one, even moreso than the one that (I think) had literal fae. Nothing critical to say about this one.

Breadcrumb Trail
My feelings on this one are very similar to Jackies. I was expecting something to go terribly wrong. Being familiar with the use of ley lines in PMD, I was almost expecting her to be in a mystery dungeon and for it to shift and throw off her trail back home. And then... nope, she's back home safe! Only for that ending to happen. It feels like you left the spirit's intentions a little up to interpretation, usuing relatively neutral language beyond the description of something that just feels... wrong or out of place to us. But at the same time, the way the spirits are built up over the course of the story heavily suggests that nothing good is about to come out of this.

These were very enjoyable reads! I think my favorite was the second one, particularly because of prose and tone, but overall I enjoyed all three! Glad I read them!
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
Breadcrumb Trail

I have a soft spot for small children who absolutely have everything under control as well as spooky but enchanting magic forests and this delivered! Ruri's joy in exploring the forest pulsed right through the page. I love that she knows her fairytale tropes (as if she'd be silly enough to leave breadcrumbs!) and her delight in the stream of silver fish. The moment where she puffs up to bubble and play, and then remembers that's not a good idea felt very realistic. The mistfolk and ley-lines are drawn in broad strokes--enough to be tantalizing and dangerous, and in a way that makes sense with the limits of Ruri's perspective. The reversal at the end is nicely ominous. Ruri did indeed make a clear trail leading out of the forest--and, oops, she's not the only one who can follow it. I like how the the image of the silver fish--this bit of private, beautiful magic in Ruri's mind--is transformed into the finfolk emerging from the forest, and how you emphasize the brightness and visibility of the rock trail. The final image is very striking: the curling grin, the rock winking as if to say the joke's on you, kid.

Papa told Ruri that she'd get lost, that the ley lines in the forest were shifting and mistfolk might be waiting to snatch pokémon who wander too long, but Ruri is far too clever for that. "Getting lost" just means not knowing how to find her way home; all she has to do, then, is make sure that she knows. The mistfolk can't catch her if she doesn't linger, and she can't linger if she isn't lost.
This opening paragraph does so much work gracefully. The train of child logic is very fun and sets the tone for the rest of it.

chase shadows and butterflies around the roots and fallen trunks until she has to stop from laughing.
I get what you mean here, but "stop" felt a little sparse. Is she doubling over laughing, or has she just tired herself out with all the laughing?

There's nothing there behind her but the stream, late-afternoon sunlight flashing on the water as a cloud scuds away.
Scud is such a great verb!
 
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