• Welcome to Thousand Roads! You're welcome to view discussions or read our stories without registering, but you'll need an account to join in our events, interact with other members, or post one of your own fics. Why not become a member of our community? We'd love to have you!

    Join now!

Chapter 1: Wavering Emotions

Cresselia92

Gym Leader
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Partners
  1. ho-oh
  2. custom/sneasel-nyula
  3. custom/rayquaza-cress
the-meaning-of-ambition-cover.png


Two royals from different eras and with opposing ideologies,
both at just one step from accomplishing their ultimate goals.
However, when destiny has its say on the matter,
their determination and beliefs are pushed to the very limit.
This is how a warlord and a king met each other.

A crossover story of Pokémon Conquest and Pokémon Black & White,
featuring Nobunaga, Bianca, Cheren and N.


∗∗∗​

Rating: Teen

Content Warnings:

• Moderate Violence
Fighting scenes that will involve mauling and sparse amounts of blood will be present in future chapters.

• Mild Swearing

A couple of instances of characters dropping the "Damn!" bomb.

Table of contents:
  • Chapter 1: “Wavering Emotions” (this chapter)
  • Chapter 2: “Noblesse Oblige”
  • Chapter 3: "A Dragon Out of Den”
  • Chapter 4: “Illusions and Links”
  • Chapter 5: “Rallying the Allies”
  • Chapter 6: “Road to Conquest and Victory”
  • Chapter 7: “Truths, Ideals and Ambitions”
  • Epilogue
∗∗∗

The Meaning of Ambition


“Ambition is not what man does… but what man would do.”
– Robert Browning



Chapter 1: Wavering Emotions


☯ ☯ ☯

The moon glowed above the mountains, signaling the start of the dead of the night. Nary a cloud was in the sky, allowing a spectacular view of the cosmos and the infinite flickers that were the stars. A long silhouette obfuscated the moon, its yellow marks shining in the darkness and radiating great power and magnificence. Its black body blended perfectly with the night sky, permitting the entity to oversee the ground without being spotted.

No human was around at that late time, allowing the shadow to descend toward the ground without worry. It flew in loops around the main plaza of the Dragon Kingdom to survey the area, before stopping right in front of the enormous castle. The purple roofs reflected the warm glow of the torches surrounding the palace, making the sharp pinnacles glisten in the darkness. The appearance had the vague reminiscence of a giant maw of a dragon. Even though the shadow wasn’t particularly impressed by the architecture, it still appreciated the love and admiration that humans of that kingdom showed toward its brethren. It was a very flattering feeling.

Turning its back to the castle, the shadow flew through the foliage of Dragnorian mountain maples, raising a soft powdery musk and star-shaped leaves with its strong gusts. Many Duskull and Zubat began flying erratically when the entity trespassed their territory with impunity, the currents making it harder for them to stay airborne. Not too far from them, a colony of Dratini and Dragonair was resting peacefully by a nearby lake, when the entity glided above the surface of the water. Startled by the intrusion, the dragons immediately hid underwater. They stared curiously at the passing being from below the water veil, slowly emerging as soon as the shadow soared away.

Every single creature in the kingdom recognized the keeper of the skies when they saw it.


Dragnor Castle

Standing atop the highest balcony of Dragnor Castle, a man was staring at the moonlit sky. He had long black hair, tied tightly above his head with a cloth hairband, that matched perfectly with his short mustache and beard. He was wearing a purple and black hitatare, adorned with a set of black shoulder pieces and long gloves. His whole appearance was a symbol of his uppermost nobility and importance, with sharp eyes brimming with all the knowledge and experience obtained on the battlefield.

That man was none other than Lord Oda Nobunaga: Warlord of Dragnor, Master of Dragon-type Pokémon and the strongest Warrior of all the region of Ransei.

Right behind the man, a hulking black beast scrutinized their surroundings with its fierce red eyes, its whole physique giving it the aspect of a living gargoyle and its aura radiating a tremendous electric power — Zekrom. It stretched its sturdy wings outward and yawned, while electricity flowed within its generator tail and made it flicker with azure shimmers. It felt completely at peace, enjoying the fresh breezes and scents coming from distant lands.

Unfortunately, that moment didn’t last long.

“Lord Nobunaga, I’ve brought a message from our patrols.”

Both warlord and dragon turned to the voice: a young man with black hair and white clothes ran into the balcony, holding a rolled scroll in his hands. Besides him rushed a Lucario, his aura sensors rigid and upright. The narrowed stare and flickering aura in his paws matched his human partner’s restlessness. Those signs made Zekrom frown, but Nobunaga didn’t seem fazed at all.

“Ha. Ranmaru. Is there any news?” asked Nobunaga.

“…There is, my lord, but I am afraid it isn't good,” responded Ranmaru nervously, holding the scroll in his hands tightly. “It’s about… Lord Mitsuhide.”

Nobunaga looked at Ranmaru inquisitively, his eyes urging the page to tell more. “Hm? What about him?”

Ranmaru stayed silent for some time, fearing how his lord would react at the news. He felt his Lucario placing a paw on his shoulder, sending a reassuring wave through their auric link, which was enough to give him the courage to relay the message.

“He… He has been… defeated by the Warlord of Aurora,” he stammered, holding the scroll even tighter. “Nixtorm is now under Lord Hiro’s domain. Our kingdom… It’s the only one left.”

Silence fell on the balcony, as Nobunaga narrowed his eyes and assimilated the information. Lord Mitsuhide, the renowned Master of Ice-type Pokémon and the Warlord who had come the closest to defeating Nobunaga… had been defeated? This Lord Hiro was shaping himself to be quite the unstoppable threat, despite his tender age.

“Ha… How interesting.”

Everyone stared at Nobunaga in surprise: the warlord was smiling. No, more than that, he seemed almost elated by the news.

“Even Mitsuhide has fallen under the might of Lord Hiro.” A smug smirk appeared on the warlord’s face, as he started laughing. “Hehehe… Hahahaha!” He crossed his arms, appearing very intrigued. “So, this is it. We are now approaching the final battle.”

“Hm, Lord Nobunaga… Aren’t you worried about that?” asked Ranmaru in astonishment, staring at his lord with wide eyes. His Lucario seemed surprised as well, having sensed a wave of thrill radiating from the warlord’s aura.

“No. I had grown tired of waiting for some valid opponent, Ranmaru. Finally there is someone worthy of challenging Nobunaga,” replied Nobunaga, totally confident of his skills and itching at the idea of fighting someone of his caliber. “Besides, everything is going according to plans. Did you do as I have told?”

Ranmaru nodded. “Yes. Everyone is in place and just waiting for your orders.”

“Very well. Then you are dismissed,” responded the warlord, turning around to look again at the sky. “Nobunaga needs some time to reflect on the incoming battle for Dragnor.”

Ranmaru stayed in place for quite some time, wondering what his lord was pondering about. However, he simply bowed in respect, with Lucario doing the same. “…As you wish, my lord.”

As soon as the page and his Pokémon left, Nobunaga smirked at the firmament. He could feel his excitement pumping at the prospect of facing the Warlord of Aurora. Finally a true challenge!

“At long last, the day is nearing, Zekrom.”

Zekrom’s pupils darted toward the man, its head shifting slightly while the rest of the body stayed immobile, almost as if made of stone.

“The day in which Ransei will be finally united, and all fights for power will cease. I have been waiting for this moment all these years.” The man held his arms behind his back. “But Nobunaga cannot stop these conflicts alone. Your help will be required to succeed. To take the final step.”

Zekrom released a guttural growl in response, letting the warlord know that he had its support. The dragon could sense it very clearly — a great determination radiated from the man’s spirit, a powerful desire to change things for the better. The wish to give peace to all people and Pokémon, who were weary of all the fights and the darkness that had surrounded them for far too long.

That sheer willpower was all Zekrom needed to place its trust and lend its power to the Warlord of Dragnor. Together, they had the power to revolutionize Ransei. To rekindle hope in their world.

“And to bring all of Ransei under my domain, all that is left to do is defeat Lord Hiro…” Nobunaga narrowed his eyes as his voice suddenly soured. “And… Oichi.”

Zekrom turned completely to the warlord, studying its partner very closely. That grave voice, that tense posture, that storm in his heart… it had seen some humans behaving like that, centuries ago.

…Yes. It was sure of it. That was the same tension that surfaced between those two twin kings that reigned that faraway land many centuries ago. Zekrom could only wonder what kind of thoughts were plaguing the warlord’s mind. By what it could detect through their auric link, those were confusing and rampaging feelings, that were carefully hidden beneath a stoic mask.

Nobunaga shook his head, refusing to let his swirling emotions chip away at his determination.

“It does not make a difference, however. If I must fight my own flesh and blood to achieve my goal, then so be it.” He clenched his fists. “I will not let anyone get in my way. Not even my sister.”

Zekrom growled and leaned forward, wordlessly asking the warlord if he was willing to do that. Nobunaga just stared back at Zekrom, his eyes showing not a single ounce of doubt or hesitation — only unbridled resoluteness. He had worked so hard and for so long, he wouldn’t let all his efforts and sacrifices go to waste just because of two rebellious youngsters.

A soft gust blew on the balcony, and Nobunaga and Zekrom both looked upwards. They instantly recognized the yellow marks of the silhouette floating idly above them, its colossal body stopping the moonlight and its golden eyes fixated on the warlord. It descended toward the balcony until its head was on the same level as Zekrom’s. The latter regarded the shadow with a welcoming grunt, which was quickly reciprocated.

Nobunaga showed a smug smile. “…Rayquaza. There you are, you sly girl.”

Rayquaza replied with a happy growl, doing a few loops in the air and showing a cheerful gaze. She lowered her head toward Nobunaga, allowing the warlord to place a gloved hand on top of it. They instantly felt their auras pulsate and connect, allowing both warlord and dragon to read their respective spirits and emotions. Rayquaza narrowed her eyes, having detected the unpleasant residues of the thoughts that were swirling the warlord's mind just a minute ago. Meanwhile, Nobunaga sensed serenity coming from the dragon — not a single soul had trespassed his kingdom. And by taking Mitsuhide’s defeat in consideration, the Warlord of Aurora was probably camping somewhere down the mountains of Nixtorm. Hiro’s army wouldn’t have been able to reach and attempt to seize Dragnor until the following day.

Nobunaga lowered his hand and smiled at Rayquaza, appearing pleased. "Very fine job, Rayquaza. You did excellent, as always."

Rayquaza nodded subtly, but she didn’t seem too happy. She glanced briefly at Zekrom, who seemed to have had detected the same unrest in Nobunaga’s spirit, before staring at the warlord suspiciously. Soft hisses came from the depth of her throat and her tail began swaying in erratic patterns — an evident sign of unease.

Nobunaga seemed to have read the dragons’ minds and shook his head.

“I am aware of what you two are thinking. Rest assured, however, as I have everything under control.” He walked toward the door of the balcony, the dragons following every step with their stares. “This is what must be done. There is no other way. Soon, Ransei will be under one domain — Nobunaga’s domain.” He turned around, facing the dragons with eyes filled with determination. “We cannot afford to relent now. This is not the time for mercy or second thoughts. It is time for conquest.”

Rayquaza and Zekrom looked at each other, trading worried gazes, before both let out deep resigned grunts. They knew well they wouldn’t have been able to change the warlord’s mind, no matter what — it was pretty much made up, and he had a point regarding the situation in Ransei. Things needed to change, even if that meant resorting to drastic measures. So, the least they could do was giving him their full support.

However, Rayquaza knew that she could find a way to cheer her partner up and make him loosen up a bit. She pondered about what to do, before curling her mouth into a smile while her markings started glowing brightly. Smiling wasn’t something that her kin normally did, but she had learned how to do that by observing very closely humans and Pokémon throughout the centuries. Zekrom looked at the other dragon, immediately understanding what she was planning, and took a few steps backward, placing its tail on the border of the balcony.

Nobunaga stared at the electric dragon in puzzlement, and before he knew it, he let out a startled grunt when he was pinned to the floor by a great force. Rayquaza released many soft purrs, rubbing her muzzle delicately onto Nobunaga’s chest and giving him affectionate licks with the tip of her tongue. On the sidelines, Zekrom showed an amused smirk and produced something that resembled a heavy snicker, while the warlord found himself defenseless against the serpent’s shower of love.

Knowing that he couldn’t fight off the overly affectionate Rayquaza, Nobunaga just sighed in defeat, more resigned and embarrassed than anything.

“Pah. Of all Dragon-type Pokémon I had to have the perfect link with…” he grumbled to himself, struggling hard to maintain his stoic attitude.

Even if he didn’t want to admit it openly, the warlord actually enjoyed Rayquaza’s unique antics and personality, and both dragons knew it. If all, the tension and confusing emotions swirling in his spirit had greatly diminished thanks to her spontaneous gesture.

But suddenly, a white flash filled the night sky, so intense that it covered the whole kingdom with a faint glow. The event was so startling that Rayquaza immediately shot her hear upwards, her cuddles completely forgotten. She hissed loudly at the light, in part angry because it interrupted their beautiful moment and in part because she was concerned by what was happening. Zekrom turned its head toward the light, releasing a deep growl and its tail shining in alert, while Nobunaga slowly stood back up with confusion in his eyes.

“What is going on?” he wondered, holding a hand in front of his eyes to shield himself from the light. Neither dragon truly answered, aside from releasing some guttural growls.

After not too long, the light dimmed significantly, allowing the warlord to see once again with clarity. He walked toward the border of the balcony, before his eyes widened at what he saw: a massive pillar of light, shooting toward the sky with all its mystical splendor and revealing the presence of an ancient elusive building.

Infinite Tower, the mirage tower.

“It cannot be!” shouted Nobunaga in disbelief.

Rayquaza hissed at the distant pillar as her whole body produced frenzied several loops, while Zekrom growled and released countless blue sparks from its tail. Everyone knew what the appearance of that tower meant: the legendary Pokémon had returned.

“Rayquaza!” said Nobunaga with an authoritative tone, obtaining the instant attention of the serpent. “Take me to the ancient tower!”

Rayquaza nodded and lowered herself to the floor, allowing Nobunaga to climb on her neck. The warlord secured himself under the lower horns of the dragon while using the upper horns as a handle of sorts. Once he was comfortable on her neck, Rayquaza gained altitude, getting ready to fly away at any given second.

Nobunaga looked at the other dragon, scowling. “Zekrom, survey the entire perimeter. Nobody must infiltrate Dragnor in Nobunaga’s absence!”

Zekrom replied with a nod and an affirmative grunt, before spreading its wings and activating the engine in its tail. Both dragons took flight, a blue trail and a black blur directed toward their respective locations.


Infinite Tower

The journey toward Infinite Tower was as fast as it was silent. Rayquaza stared intently at the black building ahead of them, feeling anxious at the prospect of encountering whatever entity was waiting for them there, while Nobunaga was completely lost in his thoughts.

The tower was connected to both pleasant and unpleasant memories: It was there where Nobunaga had met and linked with his loyal partner Rayquaza, but it was also there where it had seen the other legendary Pokémon for the first time.

Arceus. The instigator of all the conflicts of the whole of Ransei and the catalyst behind the desires of power and greed corrupting his people.

Nobunaga hoped to be wrong, that the tower reappearing was nothing more than a fluke, a mere coincidence. However, if that wasn’t the case, he was ready to resort to some solution. A permanent solution.

Rayquaza began her descent toward the building, feeling her anxiety skyrocketing. A really powerful aura of unknown origins was radiating from the depths of the tower, a mystical force of such raw power that it was able to unnerve even a millenary Pokémon like her.

Nobunaga detected her turmoil through their link and rubbed her neck to give her confidence and courage. “Do not hesitate, Rayquaza. There is no alternative.” He glared at the tower. “We must do this. For the sake of all of Ransei.”

Rayquaza felt somewhat bolstered by Nobunaga’s determination and aura, but she could also detect something… off coming from the warlord. She couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was, but there was no doubt that it was tied to that tower. Still, she did her best to steel herself: surely the warlord knew what he was doing.

The duo reached the top of the tower, and Rayquaza allowed Nobunaga to disembark from her. The warlord started walking around, with the dragon floating closely behind him. They studied the area very cautiously, readying themselves for any possible assault.

Among the weirdest phenomena, they noticed how the normally pitch-black obsidian tiles were glowing with a mystical golden light. Nobunaga placed a hand on a wall, immediately feeling a surge of energy flowing through his arm. Surprised by that, the warlord hastily removed his hand from the wall and looked intently at it, seeing some faint sparks flickering on his glove.

He frowned, unsure of what to make off of that phenomenon. “Is this… the work of the legendary Pokémon?”

Rayquaza unleashed a deep growl and thumped her tail on the floor to attract her partner’s attention. The warlord looked at the dragon, seeing how her gaze was fixated on a spot. Upon following her stare, he saw that the center of the tower was still unleashing the beam of light toward the sky. By squinting his eyes, he spotted something hiding inside of it. That was… a golden wheel, with various Unown swirling around the beam.

Nobunaga froze. There was no doubt: the legendary Pokémon was right there. He could recognize that unique wheel among thousands.

“So, you are back…” growled Nobunaga, glaring at the entity with palpable fury and resentment. “Why are you back?!”

The entity didn’t reply. Green astral eyes shone from inside the pillar, their gaze so intense that they pierced through the warlord’s spirit like a Flamethrower through a Shedinja. A very soft hum resonated around the area, but whether that sound came from the Unown or the entity was unknown to both Nobunaga and Rayquaza.

While frustrated by the lack of a response, the gears in the warlord’s mind started spinning rapidly. The legendary Pokémon was there. He could end things in a fell swoop, end what he had left unfinished years ago. His goal was within his reach, and he wouldn’t waste this chance. Not at all.

“Rayquaza! Strike, black as night!”

With a sharp glare, Nobunaga motioned toward the entity with his head. Picking up the command through their auric link and throwing caution out of the window, Rayquaza unleashed a primordial roar, her markings glowing with a blood-red shimmer. She glared at her target and sped forward, propelled by strong currents and aiming at the entity like an invisible cannonball. A breakneck Extreme Speed.

But Rayquaza wasn’t fast enough.

Before the attack could even connect, the glowing entity and the Unown unleashed a massive explosion of light, so powerful that it made the whole tower shake violently. The tremors were of such magnitude that Nobunaga lost his balance, grunting when he found himself sprawling unceremoniously on the floor.

Caught off guard, Rayquaza crashed head-first into the white sphere. Her roars of shock steadily faded as the light overwhelmed and engulfed her. She cried out for Nobunaga, desperately urging him to run away, before vanishing into thin air. The light continued undeterred its race toward the downed warlord, growing in intensity and splendor with each second.

Too dignified to scramble and too proud to flee from battle, Nobunaga shielded his face with his arms, shutting his eyes to block the incoming light. He could feel a sudden warm sensation pervading his whole body, which was replaced by an immediate… sense of weariness and tiredness. If he wanted to open his eyes now, he wouldn’t have been able to — for some reason, they had become very heavy. Black and white flashes clouded his vision, while the noises of the shaking tower and the humming creatures grew more and more distant and distorted.

However, amid the cacophony of swirling whiteness and blackness, a dominating voice resonated in his mind, as clear as a bell.

Nobunaga.

I know you have been looking for me all this time. Fear not, you will get the chance to face me in a fair fight very soon.

Your heart is mostly in the right place. I can sense that you greatly care about Ransei and its inhabitants. All your hard work and your conquests have been done for everyone’s sake. And for that, you have my respect and gratitude.

But your spirit… I can detect many turbulent sensations and feelings you are refusing to acknowledge and elaborate on. So many things you still cannot grasp and must first witness and experience with your own eyes. So many important things that you have forgotten during all these years.

Also, is what you are envisioning the ideal world you are seeking? Is your will strong enough to face any truth lying ahead of you? What
is your ambition?

Allow me to aid you in the search of the answers you need… by showing you a glimpse of the future.


And with those words, Nobunaga’s world faded to nothingness.


☯ ☯ ☯​


Nobunaga grunted and stirred in his sleep, the daze slowly melting away and his senses starting to flow back to him. He tried to open his eyes, but was forced to shut them again when he was blinded by a downpour of intense light. He covered his face with an arm and squinted his eyes. Was he still in the middle of the mysterious attack?

…No, that didn’t seem to be the case. He didn’t feel that strange sensation of lethargy anymore. By judging the comforting warmth on his skin, it was sunlight from above that was pouring all over his face, while a pleasant gust blew gently through his hair.

Nobunaga blinked. It was daytime already? Had he really passed out for so long?

Confused by the lapse of time, Nobunaga sat up and took a glance around. To his horror, not only the entity was nowhere to be seen, but the same applied to the tower. The obsidian floor and walls were gone. In their place, a grassy field and woodland of an unknown location welcomed the warlord, while the happy squeaks of a group of Emolga playing together filled the air.

Where was he?

Suddenly, Nobunaga felt something flat brushing on his chest, before being dragged backward and against some smooth surface. This startled Nobunaga — had some wild Pokémon caught him? However, his shock was instantly replaced by relief when he looked downward: a familiar set of black and red fins was coiled around his torso, which was connected to a very long black tail. Following the tail with his gaze, Nobunaga spotted the sleeping figure of Rayquaza, appearing unscathed. Her whole body was sprawled across the grass, slightly curled up on herself in a peaceful doze. Despite the imposing aspect of the legendary, she looked almost… adorable, in that pose.

Nobunaga attempted to pry the tail off of himself, but the only thing he accomplished was making Rayquaza tighten the coil around his chest and curl up further, with her head brushing against his leg.

Nobunaga huffed and shook his head in annoyance. Luckily for him, nobody was around to see him in that condition, especially his subordinates. His reputation would be in shambles if someone witnessed the fearsome Rayquaza cuddling with the ruthless warlord like a Growlithe with its child.

“Rayquaza!” exclaimed Nobunaga, shaking the muzzle of the Pokémon. However, the only response he got was a soft snore on his face, which made him release a frustrated growl. “Will you not wake?”

Seeing that he was pretty much trapped in Rayquaza’s sleepy bind, Nobunaga decided to adopt another strategy. He took a deep calming breath, and once his mind had been cleared completely, he closed his eyes and focused on the auric link he shared with Rayquaza. He could feel his aura resonating with his partner’s power, and with another deep breath, he channeled his energy and sent it to Rayquaza in the form of a dark purple wave. The flame-like aura enveloped Rayquaza completely, who woke up instantly when she felt the surge of power. Growling darkly, she lifted her head and looked frantically around, searching for any nearby threat, and inadvertently tightening her grip on Nobunaga.

With his breath knocked out of him, Nobunaga tried once more to loosen the tail. “Ray… quaza…!” he wheezed, hoping to attract his partner’s attention.

Rayquaza blinked a few times at realizing that there was no threat, before looking down and noticing the struggling warlord. The dragon loosened her grip and yelped happily, glad to see that her partner was safe and sound, and her markings began shimmering with a warm yellow glow. She pulled the man toward herself and lowered her muzzle, giving him a gentle boop on his chest and growling softly to express her glee. Nobunaga just rolled his eyes in response, reluctant to reciprocate the affectionate gesture.

“Rayquaza… we have other concerns at the moment. Not now,” he said assertively, making it clear that it was no time for games.

Rayquaza pouted in disappointment, her tongue hanging down and her markings flickering like a dying light-bulb. However, she respected her partner’s boundaries and wishes and unwrapped her tail off the warlord. She slithered backward and slammed her tail on the grass, summoning a tiny twister to lift herself off the ground. Cuddles would have to wait.

“First things first. This place…” Nobunaga motioned toward the surrounding forest. “Does it look familiar to you?”

Rayquaza peered at the forest, then at the faraway mountains. That place certainly wasn’t the Infinite Tower anymore, nor did it look like Dragnor at all. The trees looked different, the mountains looked different, even the surroundings felt different. Some quick flickers of her tongue confirmed her suspicions: the air was slightly hotter and richer in oxygen, from what she could detect. Also, she spotted several flocks of Braviary flying in the sky, their proud cries reverberating through the ether. Perhaps the duo had been teleported in some area close to Avia? She couldn’t say for certain. The air didn’t quite taste like Avian air, either.

Nobunaga stared at the dragon, frowning upon realizing that his partner was as confused as he was. “So, even you do not know?”

Rayquaza released a soft hiss, while her tail whipped constantly the air. A clear negative answer.

“…I see.” Nobunaga looked up at the sky. “In this case… Rayquaza, reconnaissance.”

Rayquaza nodded, and with a burst of speed, she soared away and into the deep blue. Nobunaga stared as his partner faded in the sky, and while he waited for the dragon to return with some news, he deemed it productive to explore his surroundings. With a quick nod to himself, he marched through the woods.


???


It took Rayquaza mere seconds to reach the highest clouds, barely below the upper layer of the troposphere. While for humans it would have been impossible to breathe and withstand the pressure, Rayquaza could handle the rarefied air and radiations coming from space without any issue. However, as soon as she approached the ozone layer, she noticed something very off about the air. It was incredibly dry and hot, more so that she last remembered. Also, some rare embers of unknown origins danced in the air, giving to the winds a faint orange glow.

The unusual weather puzzled the black dragon, but she didn’t let that thought bother her too much. With a mighty swing of her tail, the dragon dispersed the hot air and embers, clearing the skies in an instant. Satisfied with her tail-work, she looked toward the ground to pinpoint the location. What the dragon saw took her by surprise.

Ransei was no longer there. In its place, there was a region whose name escaped her memory, no matter how much she tried to remember. For humans who lived there, that region was known with one name only: Unova. Rayquaza could very clearly discern the unique shape of the faraway coasts and the giant island-like strip of land in the center, with high and cold mountains surrounding the region.

Now really curious, Rayquaza memorized the location of the settlement where she left Nobunaga — which the dragon identified as 9th Road — and glided through Unovan skies. She descended at almost bird’s-eye altitude to study the landscape more accurately, flying through the darkest thunderclouds to avoid being spotted.

Thanks to her legendary prowess and speed, Rayquaza quickly reached Lacunosa Town. She could see how it was still surrounded by the great wall to keep a certain legendary Pokémon away. But had the whole area grown much colder…? Rayquaza slowed down when she was flying above the Giant Chasm, golden eyes peering through the snow-covered land. But as she didn’t see anything that piqued her interest — aside from an abnormal number of Absol packs, which were more common than usual — she decided to not waste more time than required and carried on with her task. Besides, she never really liked the cold.

Soon enough, she reached Lentimas Town, switching from thunderclouds to volcanic fumes and ashes as her camouflage. She gave a quick look at the desert, not noticing anything out of ordinary, when an unknown assailant with rigid wings rushed in her direction, not giving any sign of steering out of the way. The dragon dive-bombed hastily, shrieking in shock at the sudden attack. She turned to the fleeing being, hissing angrily. Did a Latios just try to attack her? Or was that a Latias?

Rayquaza chased the assailant for an explanation, mildly miffed by the scare, but halted in surprise upon seeing what it was — some kind of gigantic metal thing, roughly eight times bigger than she was, expecting streams of air from its wings. That strange… bird… left behind a mixture of white smoke and petroleum, which stunted Rayquaza’s senses momentarily and forced her to take some distance.

Just what was that thing?

Not knowing what to make of that encounter and not wanting to deal with a creature far bigger than her, Rayquaza put aside the issue and resumed her mission. She decided to fly a bit higher, in case there were more of those air-making demons.

Much to her relief, White Forest was as verdant as ever, if not even more widespread and beautiful. She descended toward the enormous white tree and relished in the fresh scents, waving a friendly paw at a flock of Pidgey and Starly roosting nearby. They chirped hesitantly at the dragon, afraid of enraging her by mistake, but she released a soft growl to let them know she meant no harm. This seemed to do the trick as the birds relaxed visibly, and once assured that the situation was stable, she turned to leave…

Until her attention was attracted by something not too far from the forest, which prompted her to investigate the new anomaly.

This time, the surprise was in the shape of blinding neon lights, outlining a city with tall towers made of black steel and obscured glass, and filling the place with clouds of stinky smoke. A very sharp contrast with the much cleaner White Forest.

The dragon sped toward the tallest tower, before taking a peek into one of the glass windows. She saw dozens of humans wearing identical clothes and sitting in front of some kind of… cubic boxes? A blue glow was projected from those cubes, right into the eyes of those humans. Those gazes made them look like they were in some sort of hypnotic trance. Also, their fingers were tapping constantly and rapidly on some flat things with buttons, making countless clicking sounds.

…Were they even humans? They looked like humans, but didn’t behave like humans. They resembled more… machines. Machines in human form. That was really creepy.

Unnerved by that scene, Rayquaza sped away from the tower as fast as she could, not even looking back. By then, several confusing thoughts were swirling inside Rayquaza’s mind, who was trying to piece everything together and make any sense of what was going on. All those changes were so drastic: did humans in Unova change the landscape and progress so much during those few years in Ransei? That was… impressive. Terrifying, but impressive.

But it was when the dragon reached Desert Resort that she got the biggest shock, strong enough to make her stare at the area in horror. The magnificent Resort Castle, one of the homes of her fellow dragon Zekrom and a dear place tied to its fondest memories… was now gone.

How was that possible? Did something happen while she was traveling around the world and helping out Nobunaga with his conquests? But… how? It’s been only a century or two since she last saw the desert. Perhaps even three centuries or four. She had never been good at keeping track of time.

Recovering from the initial stupor, Rayquaza decided to investigate the area at a much closer distance. She needed an answer.

As she descended toward a spot devoid of humans and Pokémon, she channeled her power on the currents to control the raging sandstorm. A dust twister surrounded the black dragon, who employed it as a protection from prying eyes. With this little setup, she flew in the direction where she recalled the castle used to be, but sand and a few Maractus were the only visible things that reigned in that place.

Just when she was starting to think the glorious castle was gone forever, she spotted many blue statues on the northern region of the desert — Darmanitan, who used to guard the entrance to the castle in ancient times, according to Zekrom’s stories. Could it mean…?

Rayquaza swooped toward the location of the statues, quickly finding a hole surrounded by stone walls. That was it, the entrance! So the castle had simply vanished underground.

Probably once humans and Pokémon left the kingdom, for reasons she didn’t know, the sandstorm buried the whole building. Speaking of that sandstorm, upon thinking about it, that too was unusually powerful: it was almost like the weather of the whole region had gone wack. She started wondering if that was the work of some legendary Pokémon — she knew from experience that some of them were very grumpy, or bored, or both.

Curious to see how the castle looked like, she stirred up a massive dust devil and sent it into the entrance. The wind seeped through the numerous underground holes, blowing away copious amounts of sand and uncovering more and more of the ancient building.

Rayquaza looked inquisitively at the castle, thrilled at the idea of seeing her companion’s old home, before blinking in surprise. Did she see… burns and electrical damage on the walls? That was odd, didn’t Zekrom love that kingdom? There were also some signs of something having rammed into the walls and having made big dents. Probably it was the work of some powerful Pokémon, like a Warrior Pokémon from a rival kingdom. Though, there was no way for her to confirm that.

She descended to check out more of the castle and try to uncover it further, when…

“Hey! What’s going on?”

“Agh! Who has thrown sand in my eyes?!”

“Quick! Everyone out of here!”

Humans. Rayquaza didn’t want to face the humans who surely had suffered the effects of her dust devil, and soared upwards to avoid being yelled at. With a swift glance behind, she saw some puzzled people exiting the castle and looking wildly around them. Among the group, a young boy with dark hair rushed out of the building, cleaning up his sand-covered glasses with a handkerchief. Everyone began shaking the sand off of their clothes, but before they could even spot the dragon, she had already disappeared in the sandstorm.
 
Last edited:

Negrek

Whole of the Moon
Staff
I've seen the art and discussion you've had for this fic on Discord, so I'm glad to finally be able to read it! I think this is the first Conquest fic I've read, which is pretty cool. I haven't actually played Conquest, which I hope won't matter too much, but one way or another I'm sure I'll have fun with this.

I do at least know who Nobunaga is! I'm curious about how your portrayal of him here relates to the one we get in the games... I kind of got the idea that he was the ruthless warlord type, as the final boss (or nearly) of the game, but he seems a whole lot cuddlier here! Certainly around his pokémon; we don't see a whole lot of him before he's whisked away to Unova. Meanwhile, I guess the warlord from Aurora is the player character, although it's not clear here what significance their presence here might have. Are we going to be coming back to the Conquest-verse for any substantial period of time, or most of the action going to take place in Unova? It would be kind of neat if we had a swap, with N ending up Conquest times while Nobunaga goes forward into the future, and the warlord from Aurora is actually him, but at this point I'm guessing that it's just Nobunaga who got flung forward in time.

Like I said, your portrayal of Nobunaga here is quite different from what I expected. The way he and Rayquaza interact is adorable, and overall I thought it was fun how much focus there is on the pokémon here, despite the story focusing pretty heavily on human characters like Nobunaga and Bianca. It'll be fun to see how the relationship between humans and pokémon has changed from Nobunaga's time to the present, since there's been a lot of focus on the aura connection between Nobunaga and Rayquaza, which isn't something that may be as common in the modern-day world, where trainers handle bigger teams using pokéballs. If anything, I could see Nobunaga rejecting the modern world to some extent and having more sympathy for N's ideas than the average trainer, so I'm definitely excited to see what'll happen when they meet.

One of my favorite moments in this first chapter was this one:

Smiling wasn’t something that her kin normally did, but she had learned how to do that by observing very closely humans and Pokémon throughout the centuries.
This is a great detail! Always great to see human and pokémon partners learning from each other, and a lot of people have pokémon smiling without thinking about the fact that it's a very human-specific expression.

All in all, the emphasis on the relationship between Nobunaga and Rayquaza makes a lot of thematic sense for a story that's going to send the two of them to Unova, where there's so much conflict over how humans and pokémon interact.

I was a little confused about how Rayquaza picked up on the fact that she and Nobunaga had been sent a couple centuries into the future. Like, Arceus said it was sending them to the future, but then Rayquaza was thinking about how much humans had changed in such a brief period, and I didn't know how she'd figured out how long it had actually been. There were also some grammar/wording issues I noticed, under the spoiler so they don't overwhelm the rest of this review:

A giant maw of a dragon, this is how it looked like.
This sentence seems a little muddled. "It looked like the giant maw of a dragon" would read more naturally.

A very flattering, but not necessarily uncomfortable, feeling.
Hmm, this implies that flattery feels uncomfortable, but I don't know that that's really the case. I'd either find something to replace "uncomfortable" with or just cut out the contrast part entirely ("A very flattering feeling.").

He had long corvine hair, tied tightly above his head with a cloth hairband, that matched perfectly with his short mustache and beard.
Describing characters' hair in relation to crows/ravens is a huge cliché (along the lines of "emerald orbs") and rather melodramatic. I think it's better to call black hair black, or black and glossy if you wanted to emphasize the latter.

“…There are, my lord, but I am afraid they aren’t good,” responded Ranmaru, sounding nervous and holding the scroll in his hands tightly.
The dialogue reads odd because "news" is singular, despite ending in "s." Should be, "There is, my lord, but I am afraid it isn't good."

You use "irradiate" throughout this chapter when the word you want is "radiate." "Radiate" indicates something emanating from a person or a thing, while "irradiate" talks about something being exposed to radiation. So here:

His Lucario seemed surprised as well, sensing a wave of thrill and intrigue irradiating from the warlord’s aura.
should be "thrill and intrigue radiating from the warlord's aura"

The dragon could sense it very clearly — a great determination irradiated from the man’s spirit, a powerful desire to change things for the better.
should be "a great determination radiated..."

A really powerful aura of unknown origins was irradiating from the depths of the tower, a mystical force of such raw power that it was able to unnerve even a millenary legendary Pokémon like her.
And here, "was radiating from the depths." As a side note, "millenary legendary pokémon"... is that a special tier for particularly powerful pokémon? Like people tend to portray legendaries like Rayquaza as more powerful than, say, Entei or Manaphy. Curious if we're going to learn more about what that might mean.

“And to claim all of Ransei under Nobunaga’s domain, all it is left to do is defeating Lord Hiro…” Nobunaga narrowed his eyes as his voice suddenly soured.
Nobunaga's dialogue sounds kind of muddled here. Part of it is the fact that he's referring to himself in the third person, part of it is a couple grammar issues in the second half of the sentence. Something like "And to claim all of Ransei under my domain, all that is left to do is defeat Lord Hiro" would sound better, and I think "bring" instead of "claim" would read more natural yet.

You also use "squaring" oddly in a few places. One character can stand squarely in front of another, or one character can square up to another, but one character "squaring" another sounds very strange. I'm not totally sure what you're going for when you use the word that way, since the constructions don't seem to fit, but I think you might want to rephrase the sentences that deal with "squaring," like these two:

Zekrom turned completely to the warlord, squaring its partner very closely.

She glanced briefly at Zekrom, who seemed to have had detected the same unrest in Nobunaga’s spirit, before squaring the warlord suspiciously.

It was there where Nobunaga had met and linked with his loyal partner Rayquaza, but it was also there where it had seen as the other legendary Pokémon for the first time.
Seen as the other legendary pokémon?

In their place, a grassy field and woodland of an unknown location welcomed the warlord, while the happy squeaks of a group of Emolgas playing together filled the air.
The singular and plural forms of pokémon species names are the same, so one emolga, many emolga, etc.

This startled Nobunaga — Had some wild Pokémon caught him?
When you use an em dash like this, the word that comes after the dash isn't capitalized, and there are no spaces between the words and the dash, like so: "This startled Nobunaga--had some wild Pokémon caught him?"

Nobunaga stared as his partner faded in the sky, and while he waited for the dragon to return with some news, he deemed productive to explore his surroundings.
I think you're missing an "it" after "productive."

All those changes were so drastic: did humans change the landscape and progressed so much in such a short time?
Should be "progress so much" rather than "progressed."

Probably once humans and Pokémon left the kingdom, for reasons she didn’t know, the sandstorm burrowed the whole building.
You want something like "buried" here, not "burrowed"--that makes it sound like the castle dug its way underground on its own!

From the embers Rayquaza noticed in the air, I'm guessing we'll be hearing from Reshiram before too long... and it sounds like Cheren nearly caught sight of Rayquaza at the end there. I'm guessing that means we'll be properly meeting up with some of the Unova characters next chapter, and I think that's where the story will really start to take off. Should be fun! Good luck with your next chapters... Not clear on if you've written them yet or are still working, but I hope they're coming along okay! Also, the way Nobunaga and Rayquaza interacted reminded me a lot of how pokémon relate to humans in a Umbramatic's stories (any of them, but Heroes After All also happens to deal with a canon character from the past), and the more medieval feel of the Conquest elements reminds me of Alira's Pokémon Sword: Reflections from the Past to the Future, so if you're looking for anything to read, you might enjoy those!
 

Cresselia92

Gym Leader
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Partners
  1. ho-oh
  2. custom/sneasel-nyula
  3. custom/rayquaza-cress
Oi there, Negrek! Thanks for checking out my story, I really appreciate it. :D

Now, to answer your very detailed review...

I've seen the art and discussion you've had for this fic on Discord, so I'm glad to finally be able to read it! I think this is the first Conquest fic I've read, which is pretty cool. I haven't actually played Conquest, which I hope won't matter too much, but one way or another I'm sure I'll have fun with this.

Glad to hear that. Hopefully I'll manage to bring out the uniqueness of Conquest with this story, in a way or another. :3

Speaking of that, knowledge of Conquest won't be necessary for this story since I know how utterly unknown the plot of that game is, and a lot of Conquest elements will be explained in-universe. So, any blind user can read the story without too many troubles.

I do at least know who Nobunaga is! I'm curious about how your portrayal of him here relates to the one we get in the games... I kind of got the idea that he was the ruthless warlord type, as the final boss (or nearly) of the game, but he seems a whole lot cuddlier here! Certainly around his pokémon; we don't see a whole lot of him before he's whisked away to Unova.

Yeah, in the game he is pretty much portrayed as the "unreachable, unbeatable final edgelord", while I preferred to explore the more human and positive side of his character. Though, he will be far from a goody-two-shoes, and will still show how ruthless he can be when his buttons are pushed. He has yet to reach that phase in the story, that's all.

Meanwhile, I guess the warlord from Aurora is the player character, although it's not clear here what significance their presence here might have.

Yes, the Warlord of Aurora is player character. His reference serves as an element to determine the timeline of the story -- in this case, the endgame of Conquest. He may get a proper appearance at a later point, but right now he acts more as an obstacle and "rival" to Nobunaga than anything.

Are we going to be coming back to the Conquest-verse for any substantial period of time, or most of the action going to take place in Unova? It would be kind of neat if we had a swap, with N ending up Conquest times while Nobunaga goes forward into the future, and the warlord from Aurora is actually him, but at this point I'm guessing that it's just Nobunaga who got flung forward in time.

Hmm! That would be an amusing scenario, but N is just "King N of Team Plasma", and Lord Hiro is his own character. It could be an interesting idea for a random spin-off, however. :3

The story will take place mostly in Unova, but there will be many flashbacks and references to Ransei and the Conquest times. And who knows, maybe Arceus will pull another trick out of his nonexistent sleeve?

Like I said, your portrayal of Nobunaga here is quite different from what I expected. The way he and Rayquaza interact is adorable, and overall I thought it was fun how much focus there is on the pokémon here, despite the story focusing pretty heavily on human characters like Nobunaga and Bianca. It'll be fun to see how the relationship between humans and pokémon has changed from Nobunaga's time to the present, since there's been a lot of focus on the aura connection between Nobunaga and Rayquaza, which isn't something that may be as common in the modern-day world, where trainers handle bigger teams using pokéballs.

Pokémon will have a quite big role, actually. Black & White explored a lot how human characters (would) react to the idea of being separated from their Pokémon friends, but the Pokémon themselves didn't quite express their thoughts about the whole issue (excluding what we hear from N, that's it). So, while the story will still lean very heavily on the human characters, I'm also planning to explore the Pokémon angle a bit more, which will be possible thanks to Nobunaga's aura-related abilities, N's ability to hear Pokémon voices and also some scenes where Pokémon will be under the spotlight.

If anything, I could see Nobunaga rejecting the modern world to some extent and having more sympathy for N's ideas than the average trainer, so I'm definitely excited to see what'll happen when they meet.

That is definitely the part I'm the most hyped to write about. Nobunaga and N are so similar, yet so different. I'll do my best to make sure that their meeting will be memorable. ^^

This is a great detail! Always great to see human and pokémon partners learning from each other, and a lot of people have pokémon smiling without thinking about the fact that it's a very human-specific expression.

Indeed! I always make sure that all Pokémon have very animalistic behaviors and body languages, because... well, they are animals. :p In fact, Rayquaza went beyond that and learned some body signs from other Pokémon as well, with her learning how to purr and lick as a way to express affection. Humans aren't the only one who like to watch dogs and cats, hehe.

All in all, the emphasis on the relationship between Nobunaga and Rayquaza makes a lot of thematic sense for a story that's going to send the two of them to Unova, where there's so much conflict over how humans and pokémon interact.

Yep! Relationship between humans and Pokémon will be a pivotal element in the story. Just wait until Nobunaga will have to deal with "impure" humans.

I was a little confused about how Rayquaza picked up on the fact that she and Nobunaga had been sent a couple centuries into the future. Like, Arceus said it was sending them to the future, but then Rayquaza was thinking about how much humans had changed in such a brief period, and I didn't know how she'd figured out how long it had actually been.

That's... not actually what happened. Rayquaza doesn't know yet that they have been sent forward in time, which is why she is so confused by the drastic changes and why she doesn't know what an airplane is. The "two centuries" is related to the time that has passed between Rayquaza last seeing Castle Resort (aka, Relic Castle) and her meeting Nobunaga.

I'll try to clarify that detail with a quick revision.

There were also some grammar/wording issues I noticed, under the spoiler so they don't overwhelm the rest of this review:

Noted them all, and fixed. Thanks for the check. :3

And the whole "irradiate" vs "radiate", that's a bit of a derp part from me. I didn't even know that "radiate" was an actual verb, haha. XP I'll keep that in mind for future parts, so thanks for letting me know.

As a side note, "millenary legendary pokémon"... is that a special tier for particularly powerful pokémon? Like people tend to portray legendaries like Rayquaza as more powerful than, say, Entei or Manaphy. Curious if we're going to learn more about what that might mean.

Millenary Pokémon are essentially "Kami-like" Pokémon, or ancient Pokémon that have been around from even before the start of human history. There will be a dialog involving Rayquaza where this topic will be tackled.

From the embers Rayquaza noticed in the air, I'm guessing we'll be hearing from Reshiram before too long... and it sounds like Cheren nearly caught sight of Rayquaza at the end there. I'm guessing that means we'll be properly meeting up with some of the Unova characters next chapter, and I think that's where the story will really start to take off. Should be fun! Good luck with your next chapters... Not clear on if you've written them yet or are still working, but I hope they're coming along okay!

Heck, yes! Next chapter will be where things will start getting very interesting. Things are progressing very nicely, and now that my attention isn't split between this and the one-shot, hopefully I'll manage to post the next chapter by the next week or so. :D

Also, the way Nobunaga and Rayquaza interacted reminded me a lot of how pokémon relate to humans in a Umbramatic's stories (any of them, but Heroes After All also happens to deal with a canon character from the past), and the more medieval feel of the Conquest elements reminds me of Alira's Pokémon Sword: Reflections from the Past to the Future, so if you're looking for anything to read, you might enjoy those!

Hmm! I'll take a look at those, thanks for the recs. ^^

Well, this is all for now. Once again, I really appreciate this review, and hopefully I'll see you around for the next chapter. Cheers! :3
 

Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Partners
  1. custom/mew-adam
  2. custom/celebi-shiny
  3. custom/roserade-adam
I read this fic yesterday, so here's my review on it. When I read the name Nobunaga, I at first thought he'd be like a cold heartless baddie at first, him being a warlord and everything. Though me having not played the XD games as well as only knowing Nobunaga as a bad guy from a sengoku video game didn't help. He already struck me as an interesting multifaceted character, so thank you for alleviating my ungrounded concerns.

You've also done the impossible by making Rayquaza of all pokemon seem absolutely adorable lmao. The opening paragraphs made me assume Rayray was on its way to make an attack or consult humans for some offerings. That aside, the concept of aura links here is pretty interesting and could work as a way to explain how humans manage to tame creatures that could kill them at a moment's notice.

With Nobunagas undeterred spirit, and Arceus trying to teach him some kind of lesson by yeeting him to the distant future, I wonder what will await our protagonist. I look forward to seeing more big green cuddle noodle from you. :3
 

Cresselia92

Gym Leader
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Partners
  1. ho-oh
  2. custom/sneasel-nyula
  3. custom/rayquaza-cress
Oi, Adam! Sorry for the late reply, but I wanted to let you know that I really appreciated your review. :3

Now, for some quick answers…

I read this fic yesterday, so here's my review on it. When I read the name Nobunaga, I at first thought he'd be like a cold heartless baddie at first, him being a warlord and everything. Though me having not played the XD games as well as only knowing Nobunaga as a bad guy from a sengoku video game didn't help. He already struck me as an interesting multifaceted character, so thank you for alleviating my ungrounded concerns.

Yeah, Demon King Nobunaga is a fairly common trope, and that was the very first thing I wanted to axe and avert. I’m aiming to show the more human side of his character, which is rarely depicted in fiction as people prefer to focus on his more antagonistic role. So, I'm glad to have made him come across as a multifaceted character. :3

You've also done the impossible by making Rayquaza of all pokemon seem absolutely adorable lmao. The opening paragraphs made me assume Rayray was on its way to make an attack or consult humans for some offerings.

Something like that. It's mostly that Rayquaza is a free spirit who loves to explore and soar the skies, but she helps with military tasks and whatnot. She was in the middle of one of those tasks.

That aside, the concept of aura links here is pretty interesting and could work as a way to explain how humans manage to tame creatures that could kill them at a moment's notice.

Yeah, auric linking has a major role in the story. While not all humans are capable of harnessing its full power -- in the way Warlords from Nobunaga's era could -- it still helps people and Pokémon grow stronger together. From an in-game perspective, we could say that the reason trained Pokémon tend to grow stronger than wild Pokémon is partially because of auric links. This is more or less the gist of that power, but it goes much deeper than that.

With Nobunagas undeterred spirit, and Arceus trying to teach him some kind of lesson by yeeting him to the distant future, I wonder what will await our protagonist. I look forward to seeing more big green cuddle noodle from you. :3

Hahaha! You'll be up for some nice treats, because I'm planning many more Rayquaza's moments. Just wait and see! ;3
 
Chapter 2: Noblesse Oblige

Cresselia92

Gym Leader
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Partners
  1. ho-oh
  2. custom/sneasel-nyula
  3. custom/rayquaza-cress
Chapter 2: Noblesse Oblige


☯☯☯​


A herd of Whimsicott was floating lazily in the air, carried above Lostlorn Forest by a pleasant breeze. In the middle of the herd, there was a group of young Cottonee huddled together, kept safe from wild winds by their bigger and stronger parents. Soft giggles came from the flock of wind-riding fae, who were scattering their balls of fluff and spores above the trees while thinking about their next mischiefs.

Suddenly, a strong gale blew through the herd, separating one of the smallest Cottonee from the rest. The small Cottonee squealed in fright, finding itself unable to fly against the current and heading straight toward the fast-approaching trees. It covered its eyes with its leaves, terrified by what was to come.

Just when it thought it would hit some sharp branch, something caught it in midair, holding tightly onto it and its fluff. Cottonee cried out, its voice a mix between shock and uncertainty, as it didn’t know just who or what was holding it.

“Are you alright?”

That voice… that was a human, no doubt. Cottonee uncovered its eyes and looked up to see who had rescued it. Who it saw was a young man with green hair, wearing a dark gray beret and a white shirt. Pale green eyes looked intently at the little Pokémon, with all the innocence and kindness of a human much younger than his age. Still jittery about the whole event, Cottonee just released a short series of coos, expressing its gratitude and relief.

The man showed a warm smile, his eyes becoming brighter and more expressive. “You’re welcome. I’m glad to hear you are feeling fine.”

Cottonee just stared at the man in puzzlement. Did he just understand what it had said? That was strange, it had never heard of humans understanding Pokémon language.

“Now, what do you think if I get you back to your family? They must be so worried about you,” said the man, before looking ahead of him. “Reshiram, follow those Whimsicott and Cottonee floating above us.”

A loud growl was the response, and Cottonee wiggled in the man’s grasp to follow his gaze. It was then that it realized that they were on the back of an enormous wyvern-like Pokémon, its entire body covered in white dawn and feathers. Reshiram turned its head, exchanging quick glances with the man, before its gaze fell on Cottonee. The little fairy felt even smaller under those imposing blue pupils, but the dragon released a soft whistle and gazed at its passenger with gentle and reassuring eyes. Cottonee began feeling more at ease, but still pressed against the man for comfort.

In just a few seconds, Reshiram reached the rest of the flock, reducing its wingbeats to a minimum to avoid scattering the smaller and much lighter creatures around. The herd let out a series of surprised squeals, mildly unnerved by the enormous dragon.

The man looked at the Cottonee in his arms, smiling brightly. “There. Rejoin your family, little friend,” he said, lifting the creature in his arms and toward the others. “Everyone is waiting for you.”

The Cottonee released a grateful squeal before jumping off of his hands and catching a ride on a nearby updraft. It floated toward the rest of the flock, releasing many happy coos. Upon seeing that the Cottonee was safe and sound and understanding that the man and the dragon meant no harm, the herd began releasing many happy cries in response and floated toward the approaching Cottonee. A Whimsicott floated faster than the others toward the Cottonee, before hugging the smaller Pokémon with its stubby arms and sharing many overjoyed squeals and cuddles.

Touched by the reunion, the entire herd began scattering around a fine pink powder from their fluff. The powdery mist began glimmering in the air, before being arranged by the whirlwinds into a shapeless cloud and with a texture that resembled cotton candy. After this show of happiness, the herd floated into a new air current and resumed their migration toward distant lands.

The man watched silently as the pink cloud faded away and the floating Pokémon disappeared in the horizon, his heart overflowing with joy and relief. Nothing made that young man happier than seeing Pokémon being happy.

“See, Reshiram? Pokémon being free and happy… This is the world I am envisioning. The future I would like to turn into our present,” said the man, running his hand on Reshiram’s neck. “And with your help, I’m sure that will be possible. Can I count on you?”

Reshiram turned its head to the man, showing a serene expression. He released a series of growls, indecipherable for any common human… except for that unique man.

«Of course, N. I will help you in any way I can,» said Reshiram, showing a neutral smile. «I had promised to help you and I shall hold to that promise until the bitter end. This much I can assure you.»

N nodded in gratitude, before rubbing the dragon’s neck and ruffling slightly its feathers. Reshiram reacted to the caress by releasing many pleased murmurs, while the wisps on its head began glowing with a faint orange light. With a powerful wingbeat, Reshiram adjusted its body and aimed at the trees, before ejecting a stream of hot air from its tail and gliding toward the woodland below them.

N closed his eyes, enjoying the pleasant breeze blowing on his face and this fleeting moment of peace. This sensation of freedom, coupled with the reawakening and bond with the legendary Pokémon, was doing wonders to his spirit and state of mind. All those accomplishments gave him great hopes and confidence for the future; a future where Pokémon would be free from the control of humans and be able to return to their original roots. Finally, they would become perfect beings.

That sounded like the perfect scenario. But then, the memory of what happened in Accumula Town flashed vividly in his mind…


Memory Link: “A Big Crowd, A Small Voice” ☯​


N was standing among the crowd, watching as Ghetsis — his father — recited the carefully crafted speech to the inhabitants of Accumula Town, with some members of Team Plasma standing diligently behind him. Father’s voice was an excellent balance between timbre and vocal resonation, with a calculated, persuasive and mildly admonishing tone. A voice worthy of a teacher, a leader, an inspiration, compelling people to dedicate their entire attention on him.

The young man had heard Father rehearsing those same words so many times he knew them by heart, so he mostly focused on studying analytically the reactions of the humans.

Most of those reactions were what he expected to see: confusion, puzzlement, wonder, shock, disbelief… and scorn, the most despicable of them. N couldn’t help but feel indignant toward those humans in particular, as they surely cared more about their selfish and greedy interests than what was in the best interest of their Pokémon. The simple notion made his stomach twist and churn in painful ways, but he tried to ignore that sensation. Soon enough, that wouldn’t have been a problem anymore.

As soon as Father concluded his speech and left the plaza with the rest of Team Plasma, he observed how the humans’ expressions and moods shifted in different ways. A few of them seemed to understand Father’s message and were even considering his words, but most of the others were incredibly quick at dismissing his entire speech.

“Liberate Pokémon? That’s not even possible!”

“What a load of nonsense!”

“We’ve just wasted our time! Let’s go!”

“They don’t know what stupid propaganda to invent nowadays…”

N felt disheartened by what he was hearing, as a tiny part of him hoped that humans would have been open to new ideas and perspectives.

However, what he saw proved that Father was right: humans are unreasonable. They don’t care about Pokémon; they care only about themselves and their glory, treating their Pokémon like their personal servants and tools that could just be broken and replaced ad libitum. And whenever someone points that out to them, they refuse to listen and keep doing as they please.

N shook his head in disappointment and prepared himself to leave, refusing to stay among those monsters and feeling utterly disgusted to belong to their same species. But then, he heard a little voice in the middle of that heartless cacophony, which got his instant attention.

«Liberate…? Does that mean that I’ll be separated from you, Hilda? Is that what it means?»

N turned to the voice, his eyes ignoring the irrelevant shapes of walking humans and laser-focusing on the speaker. What he saw was a Tepig looking at the spot where Team Plasma was standing mere seconds ago, held in the arms of a female teenager with dark brown hair and blue eyes. A Trainer, by judging her attire, who was talking to a boy with dark hair. They were surely talking about the speech, but he heeded them no attention as he focused entirely on the Pokémon.

The Tepig snorted out a small column of black smoke and began nudging Hilda’s face with his snout—a clear sign of sadness and distress.

Why was it sad? Didn’t it hear that it would be free soon? Or was it sad because that Hilda refused to let go of it?

Hilda blinked and looked at the Tepig in her arms, her face showing a confused expression when he squealed loudly at her. However, she tilted her head and smiled brightly at the Tepig, before holding it closer to her chest. “Don’t worry, Emil. I won’t let them take you away from me,” she said, before winking reassuringly. “I promise!”

The Tepig named Emil looked intently at Hilda, becoming instantly calmer as he saw her serene and confident smile. His ears lifted slightly, and he snorted again. This time, a small puff of white smoke exited from his nostrils, which surprised N. That new sign meant…
happiness and relief?

Why was he happy and relieved? She had just told him they wouldn’t take him away from her. That he wouldn’t be free!

«Good. I trust you, Hilda!»

N kept staring at the scene, unable to fathom and comprehend what was going on, his beliefs too ingrained into his mind to even consider the possibility of a Pokémon trusting a human. Not without being back-stabbed at a later point, that’s it.

«Because I want to stay with you!»

Emil… wanted to stay with her? Why? Wasn’t he repulsed at the thought of being forced to stay with that human, maybe for all his life?

… It didn’t seem to be the case. He began huffing on Hilda’s face, squealing happily and his tail wagging subtly, while the Trainer giggled in amusement. That was a sign of upmost trust and happiness, a silent desire to stay with that human. There was no mistake about that: body language didn’t lie.

But… Why? He didn’t understand!

N couldn’t keep his curiosity in check anymore and walked toward the Trainers, stopping at a fair distance from them while staring at the happy Tepig. What was so special about that girl? He needed answers, and there was just one way to find them.

“Your Pokémon… Just now, it was saying…”



☯☯☯​


Emil.

The Tepig—no, the Emboar who wanted to stay with his Trainer. The one who had a human as his best friend and who displayed an unparalleled level of loyalty toward her.

At the beginning, N believed that it was just a glaring case of capture-bonding, a terrifying psychological condition. According to Father, that was the result of a manipulation from the Trainer toward their Pokémon, which made the Pokémon develop positive and empathetic feelings toward its captor as a coping mechanism to defend itself emotionally.

But those feelings weren’t sincere. They were irrational. Unnatural. Paradoxical. Toxic.

N knew that Pokémon’s hearts were brimming with empathetic power and they were incredibly easy to manipulate and subjugate, so he believed that Father was saying the truth and Emil was just one more victim of that odious business surrounding Trainers and Poké Balls.

However, the more he met and fought against Emil, and the more that theory lost more and more credibility. In fact, that theory began shattering when N met Emil for the second time…


Memory Link: “About Battles and Syncs” ☯​


N was studying the most important exhibit of the Nacrene Museum, as suggested by the Seven Sages: a giant skeleton of a mysterious Dragon-type Pokémon, rumored to have braved against raging waters to traverse the world. Some rumors said that there was a connection between the Fossil and the legendary Pokémon, and that it hid some clue about their whereabouts. Though, whatever this clue was, nobody knew for certain.

N sighed sadly as he stared at those lifeless bones. He wondered what kind of magnificent creature they used to be centuries ago, back when Pokémon were still connected with nature. It would have been lovely if he was born in that period and got the chance to talk to it when it was still alive…

But that was not the time and place to ponder about such infeasible scenarios. Pushing those thoughts aside, N crossed his arms and walked around the fossilized skeleton. Nothing about it stood out to him, aside from its impressive size and the unique horn on its skull. He diverted his gaze from the Fossil, and his sight lingered curiously on a black round stone collocated on a nearby exhibit. An ordinary stone found in a desert, or so said the assistant director of the museum.

And yet, there was something peculiar about that stone. It looked so… alluring, almost as if it was trying to reach out for him. Which he found very odd: it was just a stone with beautiful patterns, right? However, N felt compelled to approach it and began walking in its direction…

Loud ringing; vibration; from his pocket.

N gave out a startled gasp, before reaching out for the item tucked inside his pocket. He produced a pager, which displayed a simple message:


«Meeting with Team Plasma at hiding spot in Castelia City. Rood»

Attached to the message was a series of instructions about how to reach their current location, with a blinking Poké Ball-shaped dot showing N's position.

N nodded to himself after memorizing the directions and stored the pager away, before marching out of the museum. He looked back at the black stone, staring intently at it on his way out, when he bumped into someone who was rushing into the museum. He winced in fright, not appreciating the sudden physical contact, while the person who bumped into him released a loud gasp.

“Ah! I-I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to—” said the other person, before pausing and taking a few steps back, still staring at him with a shocked expression. “Oh! It’s you! N, was it?”

That person was none other than Hilda, the one who kept Emil hostage. The Tepig was there, too, showing some concern toward the young Trainer. A misplaced concern.

Hilda smiled sheepishly at N, but he stared back at her with a distant glare. That Trainer was just like the others who aimed to complete the Pokédex and confine many creatures in Poké Balls. She deserved nothing more than a cold reception.

“Sorry for bumping into you like that! I just got a bit too excited about my incoming battle against the Gym Leader and didn’t see where I was going, haha!” exclaimed Hilda amicably, holding her hands on her hips. “And you? Are you here for some research at the museum or you came here to battle the Gym Leader as well?”

N didn’t respond at first, unwilling to talk to a human that trapped innocent Pokémon in those dastardly Poké Balls. However, he had learned from the Seven Sages that it was rude to disregard others when they asked you a question, so he forced himself to walk forward and respond. At least, he would have showed to be better than other humans in that regard.

“I... want to see things no one can see. The truths of Pokémon inside Poké Balls. The ideals of how Trainers should be. And a future where Pokémon have become perfect... Do you feel the same?”

Hilda showed a puzzled expression at his response and traded gazes with Emil. He seemed equally confused by that statement, and they both looked back at the young man.

“Hmm… Yes?”

What a predictable and false response. If N was some other person, he would have sneered at her.

“That so? I think my friends and I should test you to see if you can see this future, too.”

“Oh? So you wanna battle?” asked Hilda in surprise, before smirking at the young man. “Sure! I’m always up for a nice fight!”

And so the battle started.

Everything happened in front of N like a big blur, similar to a fast-forwarded movie. He commanded his friend Pidove to attack Emil with a series of Gusts, but Emil proved to be stronger that the bird and took it down with a couple of Embers.

As water beats fire, he sent out Tympole, who released a loud war cry. However, Hilda recalled Emil and sent out a Pansage, which she had nicknamed Simon. He thrilled in excitement and hopped on his spot, doing a few somersaults before clapping his hands excitedly.

Another victim of hers… N’s expression grew darker.

It was another easy victory for Hilda—a Scratch and a well-aimed Vine Whip from Simon was all it took to defeat Tympole.

Growing slightly frustrated, N sent out his last friend: Timburr, who flipped his plank with a single hand as a testament of his sheer force. Hilda recalled Simon and sent out Emil once more, who snorted out some bright embers as a sign of challenge, before he and Timburr charged at each other.

N shouted various commands, his whole intent being overpowering Emil and eventually free him from the Trainer’s clutches. Hilda, however, wasn’t fazed by his strategies and easily countered most of his moves.

N shot a fleeting gaze toward Hilda, noticing something about her that he would never forget: an intense expression on her face, the sheer determination and focus of a Pokémon Trainer. Those blue eyes were so fierce that they looked almost… angry, making N feel somewhat nervous and, surprisingly, quite intrigued.

However, when he focused again on the battle, he noticed another peculiarity that shocked him even more: Emil showed that exact look, expressing the same determination, confidence and desire to win the battle.

The pair looked almost… like they were in perfect sync. There was no other way for N to describe the impression he was getting from seeing the coordination of his opponents’ attacks and strategies, especially when compared to his own. He may have forged strong bonds with all his Pokémon friends, but they had yet to reach that level of sync.

And then, he got another clue of their bond when Timburr unleashed a strong Bide, which had been powered up by a couple of Embers. Timburr sent the big wave toward Emil, striking him with all its power and sending the Tepig flying across the plaza with a sharp squeal. However, before it could hit anything, Hilda rushed forward and caught Emil in her arms, ending up tumbling on the floor with a pained gasp.

N froze when he witnessed that, while Timburr began apologizing profusely to the other duo, feeling guilty about that accident. The young man would have never expected that Trainer—or any human, for that matter—to risk themselves to protect their Pokémon like that. He observed in stunned silence as Hilda sat down, wincing and wrapping her arm around her chest. Emil looked at her in concern, squealing frantic and rapid-fire sentences.

«Are you okay, Hilda!? Oh my gosh! Why did you do that!? You’re hurt! I’m so sorry, Hilda! I’m sorry! I didn’t want to to end up hurt! It’s my fault! I should have dodged that move! Why didn’t I dodge that move!?”

Despite being in pain, Hilda mustered a faint smile and patted Emil on his head to reassure him. “I-I’m fine, Emil. Don’t worry about me. You know I’ve gotten worse injuries than that,” she responded, releasing a soft chuckle for good measure and hugging Emil tightly with her free arm. “At least
you’re alright…”

N couldn’t believe his own eyes. What he had just seen was… an act of selflessness. From a
human toward a Pokémon. Were his eyes tricking him?… No, he was very lucid, this much he could say for certain.

So, that meant… that Emil’s and Hilda’s bond was the real deal. There was no capture-bonding in play. Hilda loved Emil unconditionally, just as Emil loved her in the same way.

Hilda placed Emil back to the ground and stood back up, albeit a bit shakingly. She didn’t let that hamper her enthusiasm, however, and she reached out for the brim of her hat, showing a confident smirk. “So, where were we?” she taunted, while Emil added to her defiance by showing a smirk of his own and blowing out strong embers from his nostrils.

N couldn't say for certain, but he got the strange sensation that something powerful pulsated deep into the Trainer and her Pokémon.

Was that… their aura?

It was then that N realized something that blew his mind: not
all humans were irredeemable and unreasonable. Hilda had just proved that humans could be true friends and partners with Pokémon, which he didn’t believe was possible… until then.

Timburr seemed reassured by their challenging stances, and got ready to resume the battle, feeling pumped and eager to keep fighting against such strong opponents. N allowed himself to show a thin smile and nodded at Hilda and the Pokémon, signaling them to continue the battle despite his mind being elsewhere.

Maybe, just maybe, there could have been a way to convince Hilda and many other Trainers, and make them join his cause. And who knows? Perhaps they could even become… friends.

Now, there was a faint glimpse of hope for things to potentially and realistically change for the better. All N needed was to apply a little extra push to make sure that humans veered in the right direction, and he just knew what he needed to accomplish the task.

Trainers and other humans understand things better through battles and shows of power, he figured out… Then N would have gotten a power so immense that every single human would have been able to understand and follow him.

The power… of a legendary Pokémon.



☯☯☯​


N sighed with nostalgia as he recalled that memory, before looking at Reshiram with a fond smile.

He had succeeded. He had received the power and blessing of the legendary Reshiram. He had received the mark of a hero and was at just one step from accomplishing his goal. He could lead Pokémon and humans alike toward a brighter future, where black and white are distinct and separated.

… But then, why did everything feel so wrong?

If he took that final step and ordered all humans to liberate their Pokémon, what would happen to Emil? And to Hilda?

The answer was as obvious as it was painful. If Emil was forced to leave his beloved Trainer, and Hilda was forced to leave her beloved Pokémon, they both would become so unhappy and heartbroken, and so would many more Pokémon and humans who live happily and in harmony with each other. The thought of having to shatter those beautiful bonds, the friendships that gave him some faith toward humanity, broke N’s heart in little pieces.

Reshiram sensed his nagging doubt through their auric link and turned its head to look at the young man. «Is there something troubling you, N?»

“… Yes. Quite a lot, actually,” was N’s despondent response.

«Do you want to talk about that?» asked Reshiram, looking at the man with a frown on its face. The myriads of saddened feelings that its link was picking up were worrisome for the dragon.

“Well, a lot of contrasting thoughts have been plaguing my mind recently, especially thoughts about my role of king and Team Plasma’s goal,” admitted N, his eyes obscured by the brim of his cap. “I have been wondering: Is ordering all Trainers to release their Pokémon the right thing to do? I know that there are many humans who treat Pokémon like tools and many Pokémon who are suffering because of them. But during my journey, I have met so many Pokémon and people happy to be with each other. Pokémon and people who have become friends. Emil and Hilda are proof of that.” N looked toward the forest, spotting a pair of humans with orange and black clothes sharing some berries with a Trubbish and an Emolga. Pokémon Rangers, or guardians of the environment and wild Pokémon, as he had learned during his travels. “If I were to become the Champion and give my command as the king and hero of Unova, then I would end up hurting those Pokémon, instead.” He sighed and shook his head. “I’m so close to seeing my future realized, after so many years of work. And yet, I can’t help but wonder if that future is the correct one…”

Reshiram nodded, understanding the man’s dilemma. «So, you are afraid of hurting those Pokémon.»

“Yes, that’s my main concern. How can I consider myself a hero if I hurt the creatures I’m aiming to save and protect?”

«… I understand your plight.» Reshiram closed its eyes as it evaluated the issue at hand, relying on its years of experience as a royal adviser to help its chosen hero in his time of need. «So, there are two choices here: Either you keep things as they are and leave those hurting Pokémon to suffer because of bad humans, or you go until the very end with your goal and break the hearts of those Pokémon who live in harmony with good humans. Is that what you’re saying?»

“Yes. It doesn’t matter what I choose, there will be someone who will suffer because of me and my choice.” N sighed and shook his head again. “I’m so torn.”

«Hmm… Well, there is something I have been told by my previous two partners, many centuries ago.» Reshiram stared at N with a serious gaze. «When you can't satisfy opposing sides simultaneously, you must choose which side should take the fall for the benefit of the other. As displeasing as this may sound, at times sacrifices are necessary.»

“But… I don’t want to sacrifice anyone…” murmured N nervously, not appreciating the implications.

«I’m aware of that. Notwithstanding, if you truly have only two choices, then you should focus on one thing only—the choice that would benefit the majority,» replied the dragon, before looking ahead. «How many bad humans are in Unova compared to good humans? How many Pokémon are suffering because of humans compared to Pokémon not suffering because of humans?»

“… Well, according to the Seven Sages, there are far more Pokémon suffering under human control,” responded N, rethinking about his lessons.

«And where does that knowledge lead you?»

“To… liberation.” N frowned, starting to feel less and less adamant about this scenario. “I don’t want to separate those Pokémon who live in good terms with humans, but I suppose separating them would be a necessary casualty. Right?”

«Whether that is right or wrong, it would be the unfortunate consequence if you choose to do so,» responded Reshiram flatly.

“… I’m not sure if I’m strong and resolute enough to take this decision. It’s a huge responsibility.” N paused, unconsciously clutching his necklace. “This is in part why I would like to confront Hilda again, as soon as she awakens Zekrom.” N looked again at Reshiram, his eyes showing faint traces of hope. “She seems a good human with her heart in the right place. If she proves herself and awakens the other dragon, she could show me her convictions as a Pokémon Trainer. And then, perhaps, everything would become clearer to me. She might be the last variable that could help solve this unresolved equation.»

Reshiram stared at N in silent thought, before looking ahead of them and gaining altitude to avoid some trees. «That’s fair. If facing that Trainer once more is the help you need to clear your mind and take a decision, then I’ll gladly fight alongside you and against my sibling.»

“Even if that meant that you and my friends would get hurt? Maybe even gravely?” asked N, his voice unable to mask his nervousness and concern.

«As I have said, at times sacrifices are necessary. If being hurt now means that nobody will get hurt later, then so be it.» The dragon looked again at N and showed a tiny smile, exposing its fangs. «You have your friends and all those members of Team Plasma willing to fight by your side. Don’t let your doubts make you falter and lose focus of what truly matters. I know you have a good heart and the power to change the world, N, and I trust you will take the right decision. We all have faith in you, all you need it’s having more faith in yourself.»

“… Thank you, Reshiram. That’s what I needed to hear.” N showed a small smile and rubbed Reshiram’s neck once more, earning a joyful coo. “I can’t say to be happy at the prospect of potentially hurting my friends or other Pokémon, but we must do what we have to do. For our future and for the sake of all Pokémon in the world.”

Reshiram didn’t reply to that, aside from giving to the man a supportive nod. Feeling reassured and more at ease, now that the man’s doubts had been laid to rest, the dragon ejected some flames from its tail and increased the flight speed, directed toward their destination.


Lostlorn Forest ☯​


«Lostlorn Forest. The forest of a thousand tricks, where many unwary travelers ended up lost because of the deceiving nature of these woods. King Albus told me many stories about this place…» commented Reshiram, staying airborne above a plain clearing in the middle of the forest. «So, this is where you grew up as a child, am I correct?»

N sighed nostalgically, his gaze and mind going far off as he recalled his life in the woods. “Yes. I have so many fond memories of my life among Pokémon. We were—no, we are family.”

He closed his eyes as he recalled those peaceful days, still as clear as if they had happened just a few days ago.

The days spent with Zorua and other wild Pokémon playing many games, especially hide-and-seek. Despite losing often because of his sense of smell being worse than his Pokémon friends and giving him more trouble looking for the others, he still enjoyed playing that game as he got more and more creative with his hiding spots and became more clever at following the traces left behind by the wild Pokémon.

And then, the afternoons spent by restocking the supplies with Woobat, who always found the freshest berries thanks to his sonar while N carried the food around in his arms. He always loved when Woobat gave him ripe Pecha berries, his personal favorites. No matter how many Pecha berries he had tasted from different places and towns in Unova, the ones cultivated by humans paled when compared to the Pecha berries found by Woobat, the ones who grew up wild and free.

And last, the nights spent in Darmanitan’s warm and welcoming embraces, shielding him from both the cold and the winds. While Team Plasma had given him a soft and cozy bed and a small Darumaka doll to make him feel more comfortable in the castle, even the warmest bed and the squishiest plushies felt cold compared to Darmanitan’s cuddles.

N opened his eyes once more, the memories and happy expressions of his friends fading from his sight. He held onto Reshiram tighter as the dragon descended toward the clearing, having found a suitable landing spot.

«And did you want me to take you back to your childhood home, or…?»

“It’s in part that, but what I’d like the most is visiting some good friends of mine.” N looked downward, narrowing his eyes as he scrutinized the forest beneath them. “Their den should be around here.”

Reshiram leaned back and began beating its wings faster, getting ready to land close to a nearby river. A Pansage, a Pansear and a Panpour were relaxing beside the water, enjoying the clear and warm weather and chittering with each other. They became alert immediately when they noticed the enormous shadow projected above them, and they looked upwards. When they saw the descending dragon approaching them, they reacted by releasing a soft scent, small embers, and drops of water, respectively. Intimidated by the unknown Pokémon, they ran into the depths of the forest, not looking back even once.

Reshiram landed beside the stream with a loud thump, raising a small cloud of dust, blades of grass and mist. The dragon lowered its neck to allow N to disembark from it, before spreading its wings and tail for a nice stretch. It moved a wing toward its head and started licking it, readjusting the feathers to their original position and cleaning them of any filth stuck in-between. Much to its chagrin and annoyance, the air of the modern era was slightly dirtier compared to five centuries ago and clung to its feathers in the shape of greyish disgusting spots, turning a normally pleasant maintenance activity into something far less enjoyable.

While Reshiram groomed itself, N took a longing look at the forest that used to be his home. He grinned when he detected the sweet scent of yellow lilies, the thick aroma of wild geraniums and the delicate fragrance of violets, mixed in a delicate floral harmony.

Harmony. Harmonia. How ironic that surname sounded to him now. His feelings and thoughts were anything but harmonious.

But that wasn’t his concern at the moment. A good visit to his old friends would have surely helped clear out his mind off of his new responsibilities. At least temporarily.

However, there was one last thing he needed to do before going toward the den…

N knelt down, before slowly and carefully taking off one of his shoes. He placed his bare foot on the grass, smiling in delight when he felt the fresh grass tickling his skin. “Ah, what a wonderful sensation. Feeling the blades of the grass touching your skin and being more in contact with nature… Why must humans sacrifice the most simple yet beautiful things?”

Reshiram growled contentedly as it looked at its clean wings, before flapping them slowly to test them. «Well, from what I've heard, shoes and boots are fashionable and useful. You can walk on uneven terrains and sharp hazards without worry by wearing those things,» replied Reshiram, looking at the young man.

N shook his head, taking off the other shoe. “I never really got into or understood fashion. If it was for me, I would have never invented clothing. Or at least, I would have never invented shoes.”

«Now that would be a tad excessive, don’t you think? You humans lack fur on most of your bodies and don’t have claws, pads, and hooves. Your ancestors invented clothing to compensate for those shortcomings, from my understanding,» pointed out Reshiram, while folding its wings close to its chest.

N mulled over that response for a while, before giving a quick nod. “I suppose that’s fair. Still, I think humans could walk around without the need of shoes. Our feet aren’t that weak, I know that from experience. Besides, there are some humans who walk barefoot on a regular basis, like a certain… Huh, Maylene from Sinnoh, was it? I think that was her name…” N stood back up, holding his shoes in one hand. “I wish I could just walk around without shoes, especially when I have to walk through forests or at the beach.”

«Then why don’t you just do that?» asked Reshiram, tilting its head in confusion. «What’s stopping you?»

“Father…» responded N flatly, his eyes becoming downcast in an instant. «He says other humans wouldn’t take me seriously if I never wore shoes. They would consider me… Um, what was that term?… Ah, a savage or a hippie.” N sighed sadly, clutching his necklace with his free hand. “It would ruin Team Plasma’s reputation if people saw their ‘king’ going barefoot. We are very close to accomplishing our goal, and any little wrong action would just jeopardize things. So I have to… tolerate wearing shoes for now, at least publicly.”

Reshiram had to suppress a growl at the mention of ‘Father’. The dragon had met the leader of the Seven Sages only once, but that single meeting was enough to give it a faint idea of what human he was: An ambitious individual with a very distorted and confusing aura, very reminiscent of the dark aura radiated by King Albus’s descendants. There was something wrong about that man, it was sure of it.

«Hmmrg… I see,» muttered Reshiram, shaking itself as it felt its feathers bristling and its wisps burning. «Why am I not surprised?»

“… I know you don’t like Father much, but give him some time. He’s a nice man, who has taught many important things and took great care of me and my sisters, with the help of the Seven Sages. For that, they have my gratitude.”

Reshiram had high reserves about the goodwill of ‘Father’, but it didn’t voice them aloud. N had a very high esteem of that man and seemed totally sold on his lies and manipulations. The dragon could have tried crushing that esteem in all its entirety by spelling out the blunt truth, but the human psyche wasn’t its forte. It didn’t know what kind of impact its truth could have on an innocent soul like N.

How could it free N from that Galvantula-web without hurting him in the process? That was the big unresolved question.

While it worked on some plan to accomplish the task, Reshiram gave itself the mental note of monitoring both N and ‘Father’ constantly. Nobody knew what ‘Father’ would be willing to do, nor to what extent.

«I… shall try…» grumbled Reshiram halfheartedly. It looked at the surrounding trees, reminding itself why they had traveled to Lostlorn Forest. «So, where are those friends of yours?»

“Ah, they live deep in the forest. We only need to follow this river,” responded N, motioning toward the stream, “as the den is in its proximity.”

«… Deep in the forest? That means… we have to walk?» said Reshiram, furrowing its nonexistent brows.

“Yes, but it’s not too far. It’s at only a few minutes from here,” replied N, before turning to the dragon and beaming a smile. “I know this side of the forest like the back of my hand. Just follow me,” he concluded and began walking toward the woods, feeling in very good spirits.

Reshiram looked at the trees ahead of them. It could see dark shadows projected on the shrubs and underbrush of the forest, which was a clear indicator that hardly any light filtered through the foliage. That meant that it would have been difficult to follow N from above tree level by resorting to sight alone, unless it flew at a lower altitude and crashed into multiple trees and branches to follow the young man, or it burned down the whole forest. Needless to say, none of those options were workable.

The dragon grunted with displeasure, staring at its slightly bent legs. Between itself and its sibling, the wyvern was the one who had received the short end of the stick in terms of structure of the legs. It always felt very uncomfortable walking on them, as they weren’t built for that purpose. They served only to stand upright while having its enormous tail as a counterweight.

… But it had no choice. The woods were very thick, and flying was out of the question. So walking it was.

Reshiram bent slightly its wings, keeping them both close to its chest and almost parallel to the ground. In this way, they occupied less space and it would have been easier for the dragon to maneuver among the various trees and bushes. After that, it leaned slightly forward, to keep its center of gravity to the middle. The tail was very heavy; it needed to push as much weight forward as it could.

With this setup, it was time to walk after N and into the woods. Reshiram lifted slightly one leg and stretched it forward while keeping the other leg rooted to the floor. It touched the grass gingerly with its claws and talon, before stomping the floor with its foot. Reshiram felt itself losing some balance as the tail almost bumped into it, but it held its ground by leaning slightly back. It repeated the process, slower and more carefully, and this time it endured the recoil of the tail without a hitch.

Awkward step after awkward step, it finally found its footing, even if it didn’t appreciate having to wag its hips and tail so much. Doing so ruined its mystical aura, and it knew Zekrom would chuckle loudly if it saw that ridiculous waddle.

… It was a good thing that its sibling wasn’t there.

Reshiram’s wisps and tail began glowing with a warm light to clear away some darkness, before it looked down at the young man leading him, who was marching through the woods with uncanny confidence and having some fun at walking in the fresh water of the river. From the dragon's knowledge, N had always been terrible at navigating, so seeing him traveling without a guide — like his inseparable pager — was almost startling for the dragon. But again, the forest used to be his home, so it made perfect sense that he could navigate through it with no issue.

«So, if you dislike shoes, you must utterly dislike Pokémon footwear, I suppose,» said Reshiram, as its gaze fell on its partner’s bare feet.

N nodded furiously, perhaps a bit too furiously. “Oh, absolutely! Clothing, footwear and other accessories for Pokémon will be one if the first things I’ll outlaw as the new king, alongside Poké Balls and training,” declared N, looking back at Reshiram with a displeased stare. “You Pokémon already have your magnificent and unique pelts, why must humans ruin your natural beauty with those tasteless clothes?”

«… In all fairness, I have seen a cape and shoes worn by a Golurk during a court ballet that looked… quite dazzling,» commented Reshiram as its eyes shone in admiration and its wisps glowed with a warmer light. It lifted one of its feet and looked at it, opening and closing its claws and talon. «I wonder if they would fit…»

N narrowed his eyes for a long time, before gawking at the dragon with eyes filled with shock and disbelief as soon as everything clicked. “Don’t tell me you would wear a cape and shoes!”

Reshiram stared at N in awkward silence, before tilting its head and releasing a soft coo. It imagined itself wearing a bowtie, a cape and fancy boots, with elegant blue flames dancing around and some energetic music playing in the background. Everything sounded so tantalizing and fascinating. «… Would your opinion of me change if I gave an affirmative answer?»

“Are you serious, Reshiram?” N blinked repeatedly in dumbfound, struggling to believe what he had just heard. His eyes widened further when Reshiram gave him a sheepish nod. “I… Just why?”

«I love them! What can I say? I’ve always loved watching theatrical shows with Lord Hideyoshi, and marveling at all those colorful costumes and spectacular choreographies of humans and Pokémon alike,» retorted Reshiram with a sharp squeal, spreading slightly its wings while its tail glowed brightly—a sign of happiness. «That was one of my partner’s favorite hobbies, alongside collecting rare purslain teapots created with noborigama kilns. We would often drink some freshly brewed tea and eat Ponigiri while watching those shows. It was so much fun!»

N lowered an eyebrow, appearing confused. “Noborigama…?”

«That’s a type of dragon kiln, used by potters to create refined ceramics,» explained Reshiram.

N lowered his other eyebrow, still confused. “… And that is?”

Reshiram sighed, exhaling a small jet of hot air from its mouth. «… An oven used to create pottery.»

“Aah…” N snapped his fingers, having finally grasped the concept. “You mean like the appliance used to bake bread and cookies?”

«Well…» Reshiram ran a claw across its cheek as it pondered about the question. «Huh… Yes, sort of.»

“Ah, I get it. But what are Ponigiri?”

«They are a specialty in Ransei. A food made of rice and berry jam, which was great to refill some energy after a successful conquest. Warriors and Warlords often gathered by a Ponigiri Shop to discuss different matters and spend some nice time together. It was almost like a tradition for all of us.»

“That sounds lovely. Having some fun together, I mean,” said N, smiling at the dragon. However, he soon diverted his gaze, while his voice became more serious. “Reshiram… Do you miss your previous partners? You seem to enjoy talking about them a lot, I’ve noticed.”

Reshiram stayed silent for a moment, as the glow of its wisps and tail dimmed significantly. «… I sure do. Learning so many things about astronomy and tactics from King Albus… Challenging Lord Hiro and his army alongside Lord Hideyoshi to become stronger and stronger… Those were moments and experiences that I’ll never forget. And… there are times I wish I could talk to them again…» The dragon closed its eyes in reminiscence, before shaking its head. «But the past stays in the past. The limited lifespan of humans is something I have to deal with, regardless of what I think about the matter.»

“So, that means… You will suffer because of me? As soon as… I…” N trailed off, not wanting to finish the sentence, before looking away. “… Maybe this is further evidence that Pokémon and humans shouldn’t stay together. Probably it would have been for the best if we never met each other, so you wouldn’t suffer from another heartbreak…”

«Absolutely no! I don’t regret meeting you, and you shouldn’t regret it, either!» yelled Reshiram, its wisps and tail shining bright red and with renewed fervor.

“But—”

Reshiram placed its claws on N's mouth, shushing him instantly, and showed an empathetic smile.

«Listen, N. Life and death are both fundamental parts of existence. We can’t do anything about them, they have always existed and will always exist. Xerneas and Yveltal can vouch for me on that,» started explaining Reshiram, its glow going back to a more subdued pale orange. «Is it sad that I always have to part ways with my partners someday? Yes, definitely. And I will be sad that we will have to take different paths at some point, too. However,» it said as it smiled reassuringly, holding a wing on top of N’s head and running its feathers on his hair to comfort him, «we shouldn’t let that ruin our future moments. We ought to be happy about the things that happen day after day and appreciate every single moment of our friendship. I’m so glad I’ve got to meet you, N, and it would hurt me way more if we spent all of our limited time moping about an inevitability that won’t happen for the next several years. We would arrive at the end of our journey with nothing more than sad memories and past regrets.»

Reshiram paused and let everything sink in. N didn't respond, his gaze transfixed on the dragon as he silently urged it to go on.

«Besides, it wouldn’t have made a difference if you were a Pokémon instead of human; even by swapping that variable, the result wouldn’t have changed.» Reshiram lowered its head, before purring and licking N’s across his face. «I don't want you to worry about that, N! Let’s reach the end of our travel and be happy about the experiences we have shared and we will share, rather than be sad about things ending when the time will come. That will make living through everything so much worth it.»

N stayed completely motionless for a few minutes, astonished by what Reshiram had just said and unable to find words to respond to all of that. Then, some tears of joy started cascading from his eyes and he hugged the dragon tightly around his neck, relishing in the pleasant feeling of soft feathers and dawn tickling his cheeks. Reshiram purred louder, reciprocating the hug by wrapping its massive wings around the young man while its feathers glowed more brightly.

“I’m… so happy I've got to meet you, too…” whispered N with a soft voice, enjoying the comforting warmth of the dragon. He felt very lucky and grateful to have found such an amazing friend. “Really, I am! You’re… my best friend, Reshiram.”

«And you are my best friend, N.»

The duo stayed locked in the warm embrace for several minutes, with only the quiet shaking of trees and the glow of Reshiram’s feathers as their witnesses and company.

If only all humans knew the joy of forming that kind of bond with Pokémon and treated each other as equals, there wouldn’t be any reason to separate them. Everyone would live in the ideal world.

If only there was a way to make that utopia become true while hurting no one.

If only…


☯☯☯​


“Well, we've arrived,” declared N, stopping at what seemed to be their destination.

Reshiram halted behind the young man, narrowing its eyes and scrutinizing their surroundings. In front of them was a dead end of trees and vines, so thick and intertwined with each other that it would have been impossible for either of them to squeeze through the vegetation. It could also hear the cries of some distant Pokémon, but to its surprise they were nowhere to be seen.

«Hmmm… Do I have to clear the path with my claws?» asked Reshiram, holding its wings toward its face and its claws starting shining with teal draconian energy. «I can do that with just a few swipes.»

N gasped and rushed in front of Reshiram, waving his hands in front of his face. “Oh, no! That won’t be necessary,” he responded hurriedly, flashing a small smile. “We only need to walk forward and on a straight line.”

Reshiram dispersed the energy in its claws and stared oddly at N, almost as if it had just heard the words of a rambling madman. «… Pardon me?»

“It’s very simple. We just do this.”

N walked toward the trees, not stopping even when he was about to collide into on them. Reshiram was about to reach out for N to grab him, when it saw the young man phasing through the trees in a pinkish glow and disappearing from sight, like a ghost through a wall. The dragon took a step back, its feathers bristling slightly in surprise.

«What…?» murmured Reshiram, before looking again at the trees. They were wobbling in bizarre ways, similar to a weird a mix between gelatin and a distorted reflection of an object on water, while glowing with a dark pink hue. It suddenly dawned to it what was happening. «Ah. That's an illusion. Impressive, I had never seen one so well-crafted.»

N poked his head out of the illusion, looking at Reshiram with a happy grin. “C’mon, Reshiram! Let’s go!”

Reshiram snapped out of its marvel and nodded at the young man. «Oh, yes. I’m coming,» it said, starting walking after N.

However, the dragon froze when it sensed something strange in the air. It looked toward the sky and peered through the clouds, having detected an unusual, albeit familiar, powerful aura.

Then it spotted something bizarre: A rapid black line zipping across the skies, rearranging the positions and shapes of the thunderclouds with its high speed. Strong gusts blew through the woods, making the foliage of the trees shake with unusual vigor. Reshiram’s eyes widened as it instantly recognized the power of its aura.

«Could it be…?» whispered Reshiram to itself.

N turned around, appearing confused by the dragon’s behavior. “Reshiram? Is there some problem?”

«… It’s nothing,» responded Reshiram, before looking again at the young man and showing a thin smile. «Let’s go forward.»

N nodded and disappeared again through the illusion, prompting Reshiram to follow him into the fake dead end. As it walked through the illusory woodland, Reshiram thought again about that aura. The dragon knew who that presence was.

Unukahlai.
 
Last edited:

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
  5. custom/meowth-laura
  6. custom/delphox-jesse
Hi Cress, sorry to take so long in getting round to this! Let's go~

First off, as I've been saying on Discord for a while now, I wish you'd have some more confidence and pride in your own writing. Your prose demonstrates real proficiency as a writer, and you are on equal footing with any improving fanfic writer. Certainly there is room for improvement, but the technical accuracy is good, you've got some great imagery and ideas about pokémon behaviour, and delightful vocab, stuff like 'obfuscate' and 'disembark', that's actually worth including. I especially liked Ray mistaking a jet aircraft for a lati@s.

Regarding the narrative:
What I enjoyed most about the opening chapter was the oil and water characterisation of Nobunaga and Rayquaza. He's the dramatic, domineering conquerer played perfectly straight, to the point of speaking of himself in the third person, and she... is playful, mischievous, and irreverant. A downright cutie! The contrast is delightful. I did feel that I was missing a lot of context for the tower and the relationship between Arceus and Ransei/Nobunaga, but it didn't stop me enjoying the fic.

Regarding the prose:
The main thing I notice about the technical writing in this is your tendency to "tell" of the inner thoughts and feelings of multiple characters. Nothing terribly wrong with that, but I reckon the best writing allows the reader to make connections and conclusions from character dialogue and expression without spelling it out for them. Sometimes you indicate restlessness in a character through description of their countenance only to spell out that it means they're restless. It's unnecessary.
Another thing I noticed was some word bloat. here's a good example: "gave her a couple of rubs on her neck" could easily be "rubbed her neck" without losing any meaning. Tighter sentences like this are good to aim for whenever possible, in my opinion.

Minor points:
I'd describe Ray as a "silhouette" against the moon, rather than a shadow.
Dialogue generally requires a paragraph break immediately prior.
You've got a very few little lexical oddities, like the castle being "run aground" (a term usually applied to ships becoming stranded on land, not fortifications), but nothing huge or frequent.

All in all, a diverting read for the evening. As you well know, I've got a massive reading list, but I'm confident I'll return to read more of this at some point. See you then!
 

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partners
  1. custom/sneasel-nip
  2. bidoof
  3. absol
  4. kirlia
  5. custom/windskull-bidoof
It is time for conquest.”
A Pokemon Conquest, you might say! 8P

Hey there, Cress! I’m here for a Catnip Circle review. It’s been a very long time since I last played conquest, so hopefully I remember enough about the game that it shouldn’t be an issue. Let’s jump right in.

So to start off, I’ll say that you have a very interesting, intriguing concept, and that the first chapter does a pretty good job of being a plot hook. I have a soft spot for fics that focus on antagonistic characters, so the decision to focus on Nobunanga and sort of… humanize him, I guess, is interesting. You see him get to be this softer person that cares for his dragons.

For the most part, the prose worked for me, but I had a couple things I wanted to point out.

No human was around at that late time, allowing the shadow to descend toward the ground without worry.
I feel like this could be worded more eloquently? “No human was around this late at night” would get the same point across and feel less clunky.

It stretched its sturdy wings outward and yawned, while blue electricity flowed within its generator tail and made it flicker with several azure shimmers.
I think this would read better without the world “several,” leaving it at just “made it flicker with azure shimmers.”

Unfortunately, the truce didn’t last long.
I don’t think truce is the word you’re looking for here. Maybe peace or silence?

If all, the tension and confusing emotions swirling in his spirit had greatly diminished thanks to her spontaneous gesture.
If anything, instead of if all.

A really powerful aura of unknown origins was radiating from the depths of the tower, a mystical force of such raw power that it was able to unnerve even a millenary Pokémon like her.
I would remove the word “really”. Sometimes it’s useful, but here it’s a filler word here that doesn’t really help the sentence.

Rayquaza chased the assailant for an explanation, mildly miffed by the scare, but halted in surprise upon seeing what it was — some kind of gigantic metal thing, roughly eight times bigger than she was, expecting streams of air from its wings.
I feel like this would have worked just as well or better if you replaced “roughly eight times bigger” with “far larger” or something similar. It feels kind of weird for a pokemon to compare something with strict numerical values in this setting.

What else… I touched on pacing briefly at the beginning. I think you did a good job of quickly setting up the premise of your fic, which is great. The first chapter already introduces our main character with a problem, which is likely only going to build further up once N is introduced. You also do a good job of establishing where in the timeline of the game's events this starts from: basically Nobunanga’s darkest hour, iirc. When his back is up against the wall and he has nothing but his kingdom left, with invasion imminent.

Hm… I think that’s all I have to say here? I feel like to form more of an opinion, I would have to read more. But this is off to a promising start, and maybe I’ll come back to check out more at some point in the future.
 

canisaries

you should've known the price of evil
Location
Stovokor
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. custom/inkay-shirlee
  2. custom/houndoom-elliot
  3. custom/yamask-joanna
Hello! I'm here from the Catnip Circle as agreed, and I've looked at the first chapter. Here are my thoughts.

So as I hadn't played Conquest myself and knew only little about it, I went and skimmed the Bulbapedia article on it, and I'm glad I did since it now makes a lot more sense why Nobunaga and N would be juxtaposed like this and it makes me appreciate this clever idea of a fic based around their common desire to have Pokémon be treated well, but also how they differ. It also gave useful context on the world and characters, but I do think I would have managed just fine without that knowledge as well, meaning this fic is well accessible to readers unfamiliar with Conquest as well - and Conquest being one of the more niche games, this is a very good quality to have.

Onto the fic proper, first some quote-specific commentary:

The Meaning of Ambition

“Ambition is not what man does… but what man would do.”
– Robert Browning

oh okay, i guess that's the meaning of ambition then. fic's over, let's all go home. i'm sure i'm the first person to make this joke

The moon glowed above the mountains, signaling the start of the dead of the night. Nary a cloud was in the sky, allowing a spectacular view of the cosmos and the infinite flickers that were the stars. A long silhouette obfuscated the moon, its yellow marks shining in the darkness and radiating great power and magnificence. Its black body blended perfectly with the night sky, permitting the entity to oversee the ground without being spotted.

No human was around at that late time, allowing the shadow to descend toward the ground without worry.

I think the description here is wonderful and evocative in terms of painting a view, but I should also point out that the sentences have a similar structure four times in a row (<event>, <verb>ing <another event>), which is somewhat clunky to read. Adding some variation would do wonders.

It flew in loops around the main plaza of the Dragon Kingdom to survey the area, before stopping right in front of the enormous castle.

I noticed that in a few places the word "before" has a comma before it, which I think is incorrect or at least very uncommon in writing (when it comes to a sentence structure like this - there are surely examples where "before" is correctly preceded by a comma for other reasons). I unfortunately couldn't find a proper source online to link with this (just random ask & answer forums), but I'm pretty sure most English-speaking writers will agree with this if you ask them.

“Lord Nobunaga, I’ve brought a message from our patrols.”

[...]

“Ha. Ranmaru. Is there any news?” asked Nobunaga.

This is kind of a weird thing to say, as a message feels like it inherently implies there are news, especially from patrols that likely won't be simple love letters. It's possible he meant it more like, "Is there anything I don't already know?" but it didn't really come across as such. I could also buy it if Nobunaga had been lost in thought and missed the messengers first line but that doesn't seem to be the case... okay, okay, overanalyzing at this point, moving on.

“Even Mitsuhide has fallen under the might of Lord Hiro.” A smug smirk appeared on the warlord’s face, as he started laughing. “Hehehe… Hahahaha!” He crossed his arms, appearing very intrigued. “So, this is it. We are now approaching the final battle.”

Writing down laughter when it's the only thing in the line of dialogue dialogue is kind of strange. I think it'd be better to leave it unwritten and describe the laughter in narration instead if there's need to be more specific about it sounds.

Besides, everything is going according to plans.

I think the phrase is "according to plan", though there's also the option of using "according to his plans" instead.

Ranmaru stayed in place for quite some time, wondering what his lord was pondering about.

Pondering I think is rarely used with "about" even if "wondering" is. Pondering is usually by itself without a pre/postposition, though it can also be used with "over." (And this I actually have a source for!)

The event was so startling that Rayquaza immediately shot her hear upwards,

*head?

A really powerful aura of unknown origins

"Really" doesn't really fit in narration (that isn't mirroring a character's thoughts) as it sounds colloquial, I suggest replacing it with "very" or "supremely" or other adjectives of the like.

“Rayquaza! Strike, black as night!”

This line confused me a bit, though now I think this is maybe some proto-move name he's calling out? Maybe it's a Conquest thing I missed, not sure.

Also, is what you are envisioning the ideal world you are seeking?

Starting a sentence with "also" feels kind of colloquial or mundane, so it sticks out when used by a divine being. A "fancier" word would be "furthermore", but I think this would also work with going directly to "is what you are envisioning the ideal world you are seeking".

a familiar set of black and red fins was coiled around his torso, which was connected to a very long black tail.

The word "which" currently refers to "torso" here. An alternative could be "a familiar set of black and red fins was coiled around his torso, and connected to it was a very long black tail". Technically the "it" there could still be read as referring to the torso, but it's much less likely to be read that way than with the proper meaning.

This part also made me unsure how big Rayquaza actually is. Based on her descriptions before this point, I'd imagined her to be too large to comfortably coil around a human while brushing her head against their leg. I think it was largely because of Nobunaga riding her.

Rayquaza released a soft hiss, while her tail whipped constantly the air. A clear negative answer.

I think you want "whipped the air constantly" or "whipped constantly in the air", though "constantly" is somewhat of an odd word choice to begin with - "continuously" might be closer to what you wanted.

Also, this is a pretty subtle thing, but the comma before the while actually makes it seem like the two connected events are conflicting or happening regardless of each other, and the answer being "clear" in the next sentence tells me this likely isn't a wanted effect. But it's basically like

"Rayquaza released a soft hiss, while her tail continuously whipped the air"
sounds equivalent to "Rayquaza released a soft hiss even though her tail continuously whipped the air"
while
"Rayquaza released a soft hiss while her tail continuously whipped the air"
sounds equivalent to "Rayquaza released a soft hiss at the same time her tail continuously whipped the air".

Ransei was no longer there. In its place, there was a region whose name escaped her memory, no matter how much she tried to remember. For humans who lived there, that region was known with one name only: Unova.

The jump outside Rayquaza's perspective here to give the name of the region is somewhat jarring. I think it can simply be removed since she goes on to visit known Unovan towns right after either way - and, well, it's also reasonable to assume that this is Unova when N is the second protagonist.

She saw dozens of humans wearing identical clothes and sitting in front of some kind of… cubic boxes?

Boxes are generally thought of as cube-shaped by default, so cubic is an odd descriptor in this context. Also possibly strange to have boxy computer monitors be in use at the same time as smartphones, but I don't actually know how eager these people are to get newer monitors that would be flat.

“Agh! Who has thrown sand in my eyes?!”

This phrasing is kind of strange for something said in response to something very sudden - I think "who threw sand in my eyes" would work better.

The magnificent Resort Castle, one of the homes of her fellow dragon Zekrom and a dear place tied to its fondest memories… was now gone.

Only at this point did I realize how strange it is that Zekrom is an it and Rayquaza is a she, when the two seem to have the same level of intelligence. I imagine this is perhaps because of Zekrom's genderlessness, but "it" has a dehumanizing tone to it, and so the gender neutral pronoun "they" would be better if gender is not there or not wanted to be given. Additionally, with more and more people identifying with said pronoun, I think it's good to get used to it in writing even if it's linguistically strange, from one ESL to another.

---

General comments:

I enjoyed reading this! I think it's a good start to the story and establishes what needs to be from Nobunaga's side to introduce him and Rayquaza as characters. I did leave me wondering what Nobunaga's issues really are, but not in the sense where I feel like I wasn't given enough to understand him. In fact, it does work as a hook to make one read onward to find out (I mean, assuming it isn't all told in Conquest, as then it's not specifically a hook for the Conquest-savvy readers).

I love the contrast between Rayquaza's first appearance as this majestic and terrifying beast and the reveal of her being essentially a big ol' doggie. She still retains clearly serpentine traits, though, like tasting the air for information, which was a detail I appreciated. It was a bit odd to me, though, to have the final scene of the chapter be Rayquaza touring the land by herself, as the rest of the chapter had been from Nobunaga's perspective save for the very first scene which did have Rayquaza but more observed her from afar than following her perspective.

That's it for me this time. Sorry for getting to this kind of late, lol, stuff happened. Anyway, if you want to ask for elaboration, feel free to hit me up on the Discord. See ya.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
Here for Catnip Circle! I read the two posted chapters.

Crossovers are a tricky genre--you have to worry about giving readers coming from one side enough background to follow along, without spending too much time on what people familiar with that side already know. Coming in knowing nothing about Pokemon Conquest, I definitely got a sense of the world--ancient times, feuding warlords--and of Nobunaga's character. The first chapter was very effective at giving a glimpse of that universe. In contrast, I'm very familiar with N and the Black/White plot, so the second chapter did feel a little slow to me--the flashbacks were mainly game moments, and it felt a bit like we were killing time until Nobunaga arrives. The later part of the chapter, where N and Reshiram discuss his dilemma and doubts felt like the most crucial bit. I wonder if, instead of using flashbacks, that information could have been integrated into N's internal monologue and discussions with Reshiram. But that may be my bias as someone already very familiar with that plot-line. As I said, crossovers are tricky!

Regarding prose, I'll echo uA about over-telling. One place that stood out to me was 'She hissed loudly at the light, in part angry because it interrupted their beautiful moment and in part because she was concerned by what was happening.' The act of hissing already clues us in that Raquaza is upset and angry. Both the reasons the narrative gives are so intuitive as to not need mention, and the explanation has the effect of dulling the impact of the action Rayquaza's taking and also taking the reader a little out of the moment. Another place is 'Nobunaga, totally confident of his skills and itching at the idea of fighting someone of his caliber.' This narrative line basically echoes what we already just learned from his dialogue: dude is a confident warlord and raring to go. If you want to emphasize his confidence and eagerness more, a physical action could do that, like his hand falling to his sword (does he have a sword? I always default to imagining people with them in fics set in the distant past.)

Seems like these first two chapters are set-up and getting readers familiar with the problems of both characters, and that the meat will start in the third chapter, when they meet. I'm not sure I entirely understand Nobunaga's dilemma in the way I do N's. He's reluctant to fight his sibling, is that it? But beyond that he seems pretty firm in his convictions. N, in contrast, seems a lot more wavering on if what he's doing is even right in principle. I suspect Nobunaga could give him a rousing lecture about the need to make sacrifices. I also wonder what Nobunaga's relationship with Arcues is--he seems to view Arceus with a lot of emnity, but Arceus seems to be trying to help? In a very roundabout way? I'm also curious whether the events of this crossover will ultimately lead to an AU or will turn out to be the catalyst for events that happen in the canon. Looking forward to seeing where you take it!

(Cover art is so cute, btw!)

Line-by-lines:

The moon glowed above the mountains, signaling the start of the dead of the night.
This was a little wordy and as a first sentence tripped me up a bit--do moons signal the start of the dead of night?

A long silhouette obfuscated the moon, its yellow marks shining in the darkness and radiating great power and magnificence. Its black body blended perfectly with the night sky, permitting the entity to oversee the ground without being spotted.
Rayquaza would have to be quite large to block out the entire moon, I think, and if she's not blocking it out completely, flying in front of it would make her backlit and very, very visible. I just had a bit of a hard time fitting both these lines into one mental image.

The purple roofs reflected the warm glow of the torches surrounding the palace, making the sharp pinnacles glisten in the darkness.
I'm a little confused here as to what's actually being described--does 'pinnacles' refer to the roof or to some other feature of the architecture?

One tip for condensing descriptions -- rewording so that the thing actually doing the action is the subject can help avoid unnecessarily winding sentence constructions. Here, the torches are the ones creating light, so you could say, "The torches surrounding the palace cast a warm glow on the purple roof."

The appearance had the vague reminiscence of a giant maw of a dragon.
Another way to trim word bloat can be to convert a noun-based description to a verb. So, "Its appearance resembled a dragon's giant maw."

raising a soft powdery musk and star-shaped leaves with its strong gusts.
Curious how you're using musk here. I think of musk as a smell--not sure how it can be powdery?

Not too far from them, a colony of Dratini and Dragonair was resting peacefully by a nearby lake, when the entity glided above the surface of the water. Startled by the intrusion, the dragons immediately hid underwater. They stared curiously at the passing being from below the water veil, slowly emerging as soon as the shadow soared away.

Every single creature in the kingdom recognized the keeper of the skies when they saw it.
This was a really nice moment.

The narrative does seem to slightly contradicts itself, though. 'Stared curiously' makes it sound like the dragons don't recognize rayquaza?

Dragnor Castle
Standing atop the highest balcony of Dragnor Castle, a man was staring at the moonlit sky.
Hm, I don't think you need to name the places when you do these scene switches. It becomes clear rapidly from the context.

He had long black hair, tied tightly above his head with a cloth hairband, that matched perfectly with his short mustache and beard.
I'm a little confused as to what is perfectly matching with what here, and in what way? Color? Style?

His whole appearance was a symbol of his uppermost nobility and importance
Not sure "was a symbol" quite expresses what you mean here. Maybe, "His whole appearance exuded nobility and importance."

Ranmaru stayed in place for quite some time, wondering what his lord was pondering about. However, he simply bowed in respect, with Lucario doing the same.
These two lines contradict slightly--the first makes it sound like he stays there some time, while the second makes it sound like he bows and leaves quickly. If he stays for a bit and then bows, I think the transition needs to be slightly more involved. Like, "Ranmaru stayed in place for quite some time, wondering what his lord was pondering about. At last he remembered himself and made a hasty bow, the Lucario doing the same."

As soon as the page and his Pokémon left, Nobunaga smirked at the firmament.
Firmament is an odd choice here, and does feel a bit "thesaurus syndrome." Even though firmament is technically a synonym to sky, it's really only seen in very archaic and elevated diction, and contrasts jarringly with "smirked."

That was the same tension that surfaced between those two twin kings that reigned that faraway land many centuries ago.
Enjoyed this nod to the legend of the two heroes!

Nobunaga shook his head, refusing to let his swirling emotions chip away at his determination.
One thing I find helpful in the realm of figurative uses of language is to pay attention to the concrete implications of that language. "Swirling emotions" evokes something fluid to me, like air or sea. "Chip away" doesn't fit with that image. Something like "refusing to let his swirling emotions erode his determination" would read more smoothly to me.

The latter regarded the shadow with a welcoming grunt, which was quickly reciprocated.
'To regard' is visual, so to regard with a grunt doesn't hang together for me.

Nobunaga showed a smug smile.
showing a cheerful gaze.
On the sidelines, Zekrom showed an amused smirk
The man showed a warm smile
This phrase turns up a fair amount--it's not grammatically wrong or anything, but it does read strangely to me, and is certainly unidiomatic. More idiomatic would be 'Nobunaga gave a smug smile.' That works for smirk as well. 'Show a cheerful gaze' is trickier--I'm not exactly sure what that means. Usually a gaze is directed at something, but here it doesn't appear to be. Maybe, "wearing a cheerful expression" would be closest.

She lowered her head toward Nobunaga, allowing the warlord to place a gloved hand on top of it. They instantly felt their auras pulsate and connect, allowing both warlord and dragon to read their respective spirits and emotions.
Dropping 'they felt' would make this moment feel more immediate. Like, "Instantly, their auras pulsated and connected."

Nobunaga seemed to have read the dragons’ minds and shook his head.
The narrative voice has been pretty omniscient so far, so "seemed to have read" struck me as odd. He has read their minds, right? They have an aura connection.

he had a point regarding the situation in Ransei. Things needed to change, even if that meant resorting to drastic measures.
I'm curious what these things are, though I suspect I'll learn more once he gets to talking with N!

Rayquaza released many soft purrs, rubbing her muzzle delicately onto Nobunaga’s chest and giving him affectionate licks with the tip of her tongue.
! cat-snake!

If all, the tension and confusing emotions swirling in his spirit had greatly diminished thanks to her spontaneous gesture.
Not sure what's going on with "If all"? Think you may have dropped a few words or something.

so intense that it covered the whole kingdom with a faint glow.
I think I see what you mean, but 'faint glow' is an odd way to describe an 'intense' light.

The event was so startling that Rayquaza immediately shot her hear upwards, her cuddles completely forgotten.
Typo! "hear" instead of "head"

Arceus. The instigator of all the conflicts of the whole of Ransei and the catalyst behind the desires of power and greed corrupting his people.
Oh my! There's definitely some backstory there.

A really powerful aura of unknown origins was radiating from the depths of the tower, a mystical force of such raw power that it was able to unnerve even a millenary Pokémon like her.
A little confused here. I thought it said Nobunaga met Rayquaza at this tower? But that had nothing to do with a separate time he met Arceus at this tower?

Still, she did her best to steel herself: surely the warlord knew what he was doing.
I mean . . . she's got the millennia of experience, not him, so . . .

He could recognize that unique wheel among thousands.
I was lost here--what wheel? I don't think of Arceus resembling a wheel at all?

their gaze so intense that they pierced through the warlord’s spirit like a Flamethrower through a Shedinja.
Huh, I like the in-world simile--but flamethrower through a shedinja evokes the image of something that gets entirely burned through in an instant--not really akin to a gaze that pierces.

A very soft hum resonated around the area, but whether that sound came from the Unown or the entity was unknown to both Nobunaga and Rayquaza.
The repetition of unknown as first the pokemon and then the actual word threw me the first time I read the sentence.

A breakneck Extreme Speed.
Not sure why this is italicized?

By judging the comforting warmth on his skin, it was sunlight from above that was pouring all over his face
Should be "Judging by . . ."

Her whole body was sprawled across the grass, slightly curled up on herself in a peaceful doze. Despite the imposing aspect of the legendary, she looked almost… adorable, in that pose.
very good snek

Rayquaza pouted in disappointment, her tongue hanging down and her markings flickering like a dying light-bulb.
The incongruity of the simile is fun! It's also a simile that's a bit jarringly modern, strange in a chapter that's emphasizing the culture shock for Rayquaza and Nobunaga

She slithered backward and slammed her tail on the grass, summoning a tiny twister to lift herself off the ground. Cuddles would have to wait.
The juxtaposition of Rayquaza's massive power and desire for cuddles is charming.

radiations coming from space
The plural looks strange to me here. Just "radiation" I think.

It was incredibly dry and hot, more so that she last remembered. Also, some rare embers of unknown origins danced in the air, giving to the winds a faint orange glow.

The unusual weather puzzled the black dragon, but she didn’t let that thought bother her too much. With a mighty swing of her tail, the dragon dispersed the hot air and embers, clearing the skies in an instant.
Global warming?!

Rayquaza chased the assailant for an explanation, mildly miffed by the scare, but halted in surprise upon seeing what it was — some kind of gigantic metal thing, roughly eight times bigger than she was, expecting streams of air from its wings. That strange… bird… left behind a mixture of white smoke and petroleum, which stunted Rayquaza’s senses momentarily and forced her to take some distance.
Great scene! Love the image of Rayquaza getting ready to scold an impolite latias/os and then "oh my what is this metal monster."

She decided to fly a bit higher, in case there were more of those air-making demons.
Air-making sounds a bit strange to me. If she thinks it's a pokemon, maybe she'd interpret it as a smokescreen attack?

Also, their fingers were tapping constantly and rapidly on some flat things with buttons, making countless clicking sounds.

…Were they even humans? They looked like humans, but didn’t behave like humans. They resembled more… machines. Machines in human form. That was really creepy.
Wow Rayquaza here with the social commentary!

progress so much during those few years in Ransei? That was… impressive.
I'm surprised she labels it as progress--haven't gotten the sense she conceptualizes it that way, from her confusion and disapproval of what she's seen so far.

Soft giggles came from the flock of wind-riding fae, who were scattering their balls of fluff and spores above the trees while thinking about their next mischiefs.
When I saw mischiefs my mind flashed right to Finding Mahoun :veelove:

Touched by the reunion, the entire herd began scattering around a fine pink powder from their fluff. The powdery mist began glimmering in the air, before being arranged by the whirlwinds into a shapeless cloud and with a texture that resembled cotton candy.
This was really sweet and I liked the insight into cottonee behavior.

“They don’t know what stupid propaganda to invent nowadays…”
Couldn't parse this sentence.

Emil… wanted to stay with her? Why? Wasn’t he repulsed at the thought of being forced to stay with that human, maybe for all his life?

… It didn’t seem to be the case. He began huffing on Hilda’s face, squealing happily and his tail wagging subtly, while the Trainer giggled in amusement. That was a sign of upmost trust and happiness, a silent desire to stay with that human. There was no mistake about that: body language didn’t lie.

But… Why? He didn’t understand!
His confusion seems a little over the top, considering he has pokemon friends who enjoy his company and want to stay with him?

Are you okay, Hilda!? Oh my gosh! Why did you do that!? You’re hurt! I’m so sorry, Hilda! I’m sorry! I didn’t want to to end up hurt! It’s my fault! I should have dodged that move! Why didn’t I dodge that move!?”
I know this scene is meant to show Hilda's care for her pokemon, but I found Emil's dialogue here kind of disturbing and heart-breaking. He's apologizing for getting hurt in a battle she sent him into. That does seem a little messed up psyche-wise.

(There's also a double "to")

All N needed was to apply a little extra push to make sure that humans veered in the right direction, and he just knew what he needed to accomplish the task.

Trainers and other humans understand things better through battles and shows of power, he figured out… Then N would have gotten a power so immense that every single human would have been able to understand and follow him.
The tenses are a little wonky in this second paragraph. Should be, "Trainers and other humans understood things better through battles and shows of power, he had figured out… Then N would have to get a power so immense that every single human would be able to understand and follow him."

The answer was as obvious as it was painful. If Emil was forced to leave his beloved Trainer, and Hilda was forced to leave her beloved Pokémon, they both would become so unhappy and heartbroken, and so would many more Pokémon and humans who live happily and in harmony with each other. The thought of having to shatter those beautiful bonds, the friendships that gave him some faith toward humanity, broke N’s heart in little pieces.
What about N himself? He seems to only be considering the consequences of pokemon seperation for other people, but considers Reshiram his best friend. Presumably full pokemon separation would involve N being forced to part with his own pokemon friends too?

«So, there are two choices here: Either you keep things as they are and leave those hurting Pokémon to suffer because of bad humans, or you go until the very end with your goal and break the hearts of those Pokémon who live in harmony with good humans. Is that what you’re saying?»
Yes, there are only ever two options, and no other alternatives . . .

(Seems like a pretty obvious third option is to end capturing/battling without actually completely separating humans and pokemon?)

No matter how many Pecha berries he had tasted from different places and towns in Unova, the ones cultivated by humans paled when compared to the Pecha berries found by Woobat, the ones who grew up wild and free.
Aw, I like this.

It moved a wing toward its head and started licking it, readjusting the feathers to their original position and cleaning them of any filth stuck in-between. Much to its chagrin and annoyance, the air of the modern era was slightly dirtier compared to five centuries ago and clung to its feathers in the shape of greyish disgusting spots, turning a normally pleasant maintenance activity into something far less enjoyable.
oh no! Poor mythic floof-bird! I appreciate how much attention you're paying to the physicality of the different pokemon.

“Father…» responded N flatly, his eyes becoming downcast in an instant. «He says other humans wouldn’t take me seriously if I never wore shoes. They would consider me… Um, what was that term?… Ah, a savage or a hippie.” N sighed sadly, clutching his necklace with his free hand. “It would ruin Team Plasma’s reputation if people saw their ‘king’ going barefoot. We are very close to accomplishing our goal, and any little wrong action would just jeopardize things. So I have to… tolerate wearing shoes for now, at least publicly.”
Hah this whole exchange was funny. N the hippie is a great mental image.

«… Deep in the forest? That means… we have to walk?» said Reshiram, furrowing its nonexistent brows.
The line about nonexistent brows felt a little out-of-place--more fitting for a satirical story.

«Listen, N. Life and death are both fundamental parts of existence. We can’t do anything about them, they have always existed and will always exist. Xerneas and Yveltal can vouch for me on that,»
ooh yes, I love when death isn't treated as an enemy!
 
Top Bottom