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Pokémon Batty!

Author's Notes & Part One

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
Yes! I managed to get this posted in time after all. It took a sprint of over 1.3k words on the last day, but it was worth it.

So, this is that "vampire story" I've been talking about on Discord. It's another PMD-but-no-dungeons story, this time about a shy and insecure noivern... and vampires. Wanna know more? Read it.

I would rate this story roughly as teen as it does have vampires and therefore some guaranteed blood, but the content and tone are still well away from mature territory. Hunter, Haunted this is not. It does deal with some misogyny, though, mainly internalized. Language is mild.

That's about everything I have to say. I have no preferences for critique - any feedback given is greatly appreciated. Enjoy!

Noivern Nella (by me)
nellarecolor.png

Incineroar Leander (by me)
vampirehunter.png

Mismagius Teru (by me)
teru.png

---

BATTY!

Synopsis:
Nella is a shy, lonely noivern who works a waitress job by day and escapes to her romance novels by night - but everything changes after a fateful encounter with a wild zubat infected with vampirism plunges her into the hidden world of vampiric Pokémon.

Genre:
Drama, Horror, Romance

Started:
31 Oct 2021

Status:
Ongoing

Length:
Unknown

---

Part One

---​


Ding!

“Coming!” Nella shouted, rushing out of the kitchen, coins clinking inside the pouch on her belt. A sour-faced gumshoos sat behind the counter, untrimmed claws tapping impatiently on its wooden surface. Nella sighed under her breath, then forced a smile.

“Welcome to Martha’s,” the noivern said. “How may I serve you?”

“I wanna see some cod and potatoes and fast,” the gumshoos growled. “I’m starvin’.”

Nella nodded. “Right away, sir. Feel free to show yourself to a table if you’d like.”

“I just sat down. I ain’t gettin’ back up.”

Another stealthy sigh. “That’s alright. We’ll start working on your order right away.”

“And a beer!” the gumshoos shouted after her as she entered the heat and steam of the kitchen. “Hey, did ya hear me?”’

“Yes, sir!” Nella shouted back. She turned to the kitchen staff - Swampert Harvey and Ursaring Sophie on this current shift - and relayed the order of a plate of cod and potatoes.

“We ran out of cod,” responded Harvey, scooping up a pair of fried eggs off his pan and to a plate which another waitress, Golduck Daisy, took in her hands and rushed off to serve. “They’ll have to ask for something else.”

Nella blinked. Lovely.

She forced a smile onto her face once again and returned to the counter.

“I’m sorry, but we’re out of cod. Would you like something else instead?”

"Out of cod?" the gumshoos huffed - but shook his head and skimmed the menu again. "Berry mash, then."

"Alright, we'll get right on it!" said Nella and slipped back into the kitchen. "We need one bowl of berry mash!" she yelled.

"Can't make it," shouted back Sophie, inserting a meat pie into the oven. "Out of tamato."

Nella froze. "Oh, you can't be serious."

"'Fraid I am."

She clacked her claws together. "Can't we make it without tamato? It's just a little part of it, right?"

"Sorry, but you know how Martha feels about going off-recipe. Just ask them to get something else."

Nella's shoulders slumped in defeat.

But Martha was Martha. While she would yell even when you stuck to her orders, it would stay at that - try things your own way, though, and your job was on the line.

She took a deep breath, plastered that smile back on her face and finally returned to the counter.

"I'm sorry," she said, already seeing the annoyance flare up in the gumshoos' eyes, "but berry mash is also unavailable at the moment. Would you like so-"

A bang of the gumshoos' paw on the counter quieted her.

"Son of a muk!" the gumshoos spat. "Do you serve food here or not?"

On reflex, Nella shielded her body with her wings. Pressure built up in her ears.

No! She closed her eyes and flexed her toes, focusing on the wooden floor beneath her soles. Slowly, the pressure weakened.

"Hey! Are you listenin'?"

It strengthened again. It threatened to burst. She took deep breaths, focused, focused. She pictured a familiar blue face, black beady eyes, white beak and cheeks, and her mother saying those words in her sing-song voice:

"A good girl is a quiet girl."

She opened her eyes and the world was clear again.

She brought that smile back on her face.

"We truly apologize for the unavailability of those menu options," she said, voice bright, "but I'm sure we have other options available you would like. Please try choosing another item."

The gumshoos' eyes had widened at her sudden change in behavior, but they soon drooped back to half-closed. "Feh." He waved his arm lazily and turned around. "I'll find someplace else."

Nella watched as the gumshoos slouched out, his long tail dragging behind him, surely saving whoever was on cleaning duty that day some time. Only once the door had slammed shut on his wake could Nella let her forced vigor melt away.

Needing some time to feel presentable again, she slipped back in the kitchen, leaned against a wall and sighed.

It's alright. I'll be here for just a minute, then get back. There was no one in line. Surely they can't need me again so soon --

Ding!


She wanted to scream. But she didn't. A good girl was a quiet girl.

She took just a little more time to herself - a small delay a customer would surely see as being within reasonable response time - then walked back out. She wished this customer wouldn't be as rude, but accepted the possibility. She had no other option, anyway.

She raised her gaze to meet the ringer of the bell, preparing to stick that smile on her lips once again - but as her eyes met the mon behind the counter, she could not suppress her surprise.

A white, gold-striped incineroar dressed in brown leather stood behind the counter, posture proud but calm and face neutral. Nella's gaze flicked around his body, his blue eyes, his muscular arms, his grayish-brown chest peeking out from his open coat, his cheek tufts that were long enough to drape over his broad shoulders… with the exception of his colors, it was like Incineroar Arthur had leapt right off the pages of Lionhearted, ready to woo the plain little flower shop worker with his fierce strength but noble heart...

So men like him really did exist.

"Hello?"

Nella flinched, remembering where she was and what she was supposed to do. "Uh, welcome to Wart- I mean --" Blood rushed to her face, making her nose an even deeper red than usual. She spent half a second to pull herself together, then tried again. "Welcome to Martha's. Would you like… food…?"

"...Yes," the stranger answered, thankfully without any ire - or so Nella hoped, at least. He looked down at the menu on the counter. "I would like the cod and potatoes."

Nella's nose must have been glowing right then.

“We’re sorry,” she said, taking care to pronounce each word right, “but that option is currently unavailable.” She paused. “The berry mash is also unavailable. Please order some item other than those two.”

“Oh.” The incineroar eyed the menu again. “Is the beef stew available?”

She nodded, and hoped dearly that she would be right.

”That, then,” he said, “and… you wouldn’t happen to have any wine, would you?”

At least that one wasn’t on the menu to begin with. It made talking a bit easier, though her face was still burning. “Sorry, but we do not serve wine. We do serve beer, if you’d like that?”

“No, thank you. I’ll just have some milk, then.”

“Milk and beef stew,” Nella repeated to etch them in her mind. “Coming right up. Feel free to choose a table in the meantime.”

She curtsied - why did she curtsy? They didn’t do that there! But the stranger, he seemed so noble…

She escaped into the kitchen before she could do anything weirder. She took a deep breath, then shouted to the staff. “Beef stew for one!”

“Will do!” shouted back Harvey.

She sighed in relief. Finally something worked out.

She turned around to return, pausing briefly to let the butterfree in her belly settle, then stepped back out into the scene. But as soon as she spotted the stranger again, sitting by a nearby table, their eyes met and all those little bugs leapt aflutter again.

But she still had a job to do. She grabbed a glass from beneath the counter and fetched a jug of milk from the icebox. She brought both to the stranger and poured the glass full - with great caution, as she knew she'd never forgive herself if she spilled the milk right there and then.

"There you go," she said and forced herself to give the polite amount of eye contact. The stranger thanked her with a smile - he smiled at me! - which Nella acknowledged with a nod, then returned to the counter. She returned the jug to the icebox and then… and then… oh gosh, she didn't have anything to do, did she? She'd have to simply stand there, in full view of that handsome stranger, and stay presentable the whole time.

She glanced at the stranger. He wasn't drinking and showed no intentions to do so. He must have been the type to wait for his food before starting his drink. Should she have asked if he wanted the milk right away before giving it to him? Now it would sit there getting warmer for no reason. Oh, stupid, stupid.

Though maybe he'd change his mind. Maybe he'd start drinking and her mistake wouldn't have mattered so much. She stood still in wait until she realized how rude of her it was to stare. Her gaze hopped from that table to another, then another, another and another. She would check for any customers that may have finished - a reasonable activity for a waitress - but the answer was always no. As a result, more and more often her eyes lingered on the stranger, examining his unique looks and apparel.

Why did he wear all that leather? Was he cold? But if he was cold, why didn't his jacket have any sleeves? Was he hiding something he was ashamed of, like furless patches or scars? She did notice a nick in his ear. Perhaps he fought often. But he was clearly no ruffian, no, he must have been a professional. But he had no uniform - at least it didn't look like it. Was he someone for hire? Was he a bounty hunter? A mercenary? An assassin? But weren't assassins not supposed to draw attention to themselves? Or was he such a wanted mon that he felt it necessary to walk in protective wear out on the town? But then, again, why no sleeves? It made no sense --

Her thoughts shattered as the stranger returned her look. She'd been caught staring. She'd messed up yet again. Oh, why couldn't she do anything right?

"Nella!"

She jumped in her skin, then turned around. Harvey's wide head peeked out of the kitchen doorway.

"Sorry," Harvey grumbled, "but you didn't react when I tapped the wall."

Nella sighed. "Oh, I'm sorry. What is it?"

"Beef stew's ready. Been ready for a while."

Nella's face contorted to a grimace so intense it was Harvey's time to flinch.

"Whoa, you alright?"

Can't Daisy serve it? Nella wanted to say, but knew Harvey wouldn't ask her if the golduck was available. Her shift had probably ended. Closing time wasn't that far off.

Instead, Nella shook the expression off her face. "Oh, yes, sorry. There's nothing to worry about. Let's go."

She followed Harvey to the kitchen and soon spotted the bowl of stew on a tray ready to go. It was no longer steaming, but a quick wave of her hand above it confirmed it was still sufficiently warm to serve. She nodded her thanks to Harvey, picked up the tray and once again headed out into the cold.

Just get over there, give him the bowl and then get out, she told herself. But don't forget to be polite. Oh, just... do it the way you always do and you'll be as good as invisible.

Her stiff steps finally took her to the stranger's table. As he shifted his attention from studying the flowing patterns in the wood of the table to her, Nella remembered to smile. Always smile when looked at.

"Here's your beef stew," she said, setting the bowl on the table. "Enjoy your meal!"

She turned around to leave, her heartbeat slowly turning triumphant - she did it, it was over --

"Excuse me."

And the rhythm of her heart fell into chaos again.

She turned to the stranger, unable to look him in the eye and settling for his forehead. "Y-yes…?"

"Is it alright for me to pray here?"

"Pray?" It took a second to process the word. Why would he pray? Did he mean saying grace? She'd seen other customers do it and Martha had never said anything about it, so it must have been fine by her. "Sure?" she said, questioning tone unintentional, but a second try wasn't worth it.

"To be clear, it will not be in the name of Mew or Arceus or any other deity you've likely heard of," the incineroar said, pulling a necklace out from under his coat. It had a curious pendant - a round, blue, sparkling stone encircled by a brass ring with four spikes pointing up, down, left and right. "I am a follower of Solgaleo."

The stranger was right - Nella had never heard of a deity like that, not that her family was all that spiritual. She nearly said yes without much further thought, but then realized Martha likely wouldn't want any demon-worship taking place in her establishment.

"Well, um, that depends," started Nella. "What do you intend to pray for?"

"Not for anything, really," the stranger said. "Only to thank Him for the day."

Nella clicked her claws together in thought. "I… suppose that's alright. As long as you're not bothering anybody."

The stranger nodded. "You have my word. Thank you."

"Sure." Nella nodded back, sensing her cue to exit. "Enjoy your… meal."

She turned and walked away quickly before he could see her once again reddening face.

Having reached the relative safety of the counter, Nella dared to look back. The incineroar had his hands together and eyes closed, seemingly speaking something too quietly to hear over the other customers. A wave of relief washed over her, even if she never really expected the stranger to start trouble.

Her thoughts were soon interrupted by the opening of the door. A group of three new customers arrived. Nella brought that polite smile back onto her face again - though this time, it seemed a lot easier.

---​

"Thank you, have a good night!"

She waved the tangrowth, raichu and weavile goodbye with one hand with a pouch of coins in the other. The bar was now empty of customers save for one - the white-furred incineroar. On her way back to the counter, she stole yet another glimpse at the stranger to confirm it, and indeed, he was still there, at that moment watching the three mon leave.

Closing time was soon at hand, though. She'd have to ask him to leave. It didn't seem like he had any stew or milk left, so why was he still --

Nella blanched. He needed her to collect his payment for the meal!

As much as she wanted to just run away and hide, she knew that'd eliminate whatever was left of her chance to keep her job if Martha were to find out. And then Mother would find out. Another disappointment --

No, there was no time for that! A customer, likely a furious one, was waiting!

She ran - no, ladies do not run, she skipped - to the stranger, and as soon as he turned to her, she began her plea for forgiveness.

"A thousand apologies, Mr. Incineroar! I-I've neglected to serve you as fit. I'll collect your payment right away. O-or actually, it's on the house! I'll cover the expenses. Please don't think less of our establishment - the fault was purely mine. Is there anything else I can --"

She quieted as the stranger raised his palm. He doesn't want to hear my excuses. Oh, heavens, I'm finished --

"It's quite alright."

The absence of bile in his voice left Nella frozen. She hadn't thought of how to respond to a reaction like this.

"I was in no hurry to leave," the stranger continued, "so I wanted to stay a while longer, simply watching mon come and go. In my profession, respite is precious, and I welcome a moment of peace whenever one comes."

Nella brought her claws together, gaze dropping to the floor. "You don't have to downplay my mistake," she quietly said. "You can be upset."

"There's nothing to be upset about," he assured. "If I really wanted to leave, I simply would have called you."

Nella dared to look at the stranger’s face again. There was nothing but honesty in those sky-blue eyes. She felt like a fool, making such a scene, and blood quickly rushed to her face again.

“Th-thanks,” she could manage.

The stranger sat up straighter. “You know, I’ve never seen a noivern with wings pink on the underside.”

“Really?” Nella spread her left wing to display the hue. “Well, I guess I’ve only met a few other noivern so I guess I don’t really know how rare or common it is...”

“I’ve seen quite a few,” said the stranger. “They’ve had green, blue, teal, gray, white, even red under their wings - but never pink.” He smiled. “It’s a very nice color.”

Nella blinked, unsure how to take the compliment - it had been very long since the last time she received one, after all. “Um, thank you,” she peeped. “I… I like your colors, too.” She also liked everything else, but knew saying that would come off overbearing.

The stranger's smile widened, making his whiskers rise by just a bit. His face looked so soft. Nella's heart quickened. With each moment, he resembled Lionhearted's Arthur even more - but he was real.

"I'd be surprised if you'd seen other white incineroar," the stranger said. "We are very few, and live quite far from here."

“You come from far away?” asked Nella, immediately reconsidering her choice. With a question like that, she was really taking part in the conversation. Now she was responsible for being worth his time…

“Albaton,” he said. “Have you heard of it?”

Nella shook her head. “Not that I know much of anything...” she mumbled.

“No, that is the common response.”

He then slid back his chair and got up. She didn’t insult him, did she?

“You know, I don’t believe I’ve introduced myself yet,” he said and offered a hand. “Incineroar Leander.”

“N-Noivern Nella,” Nella responded and gingerly inserted her hand into his. It was much smaller, much more delicate - and much colder, she realized when the incineroar squeezed her hand, spreading warmth all the way up to her elbow. His grip was firm, but softened by his fur and paw pads. His claws weren’t sharp like those of four-legged felines - likely due to an inability to retract them, she deduced as she pondered the structure of his hand.

Then, the embrace broke, and the warmth disappeared. Nella drew her hand back to her chest. It was nowhere as warm.

Leander lowered his hand. “So, do you have plans for this evening?”

Nella’s ears twitched.

He asked for plans. That meant he liked her. Wanted to spend more time with her. Get to know her better. See her more times afterwards. Enter a relationship. Possibly, hopefully, marry.

No, she was getting ahead of herself. She couldn’t see him today, anyway, and she should say that…

“Actually, I have to go to bed early tonight,” she said. “To have the energy for tomorrow.”

“Oh, I see. What about tomorrow night, then?”

“Well...”

Technically, she had made no plans, but she had a feeling tomorrow would be tiring, too.

“I feel like it would be the same,” she said, defeated.

“Ah. Shame.”

She sighed. “Yes, it is...”

A silence hung in the air as Nella pondered whether there was any day that could work. There was Sunday with no work, but that was four days away - far too long to make a gentleman wait. Though if he suggested that, it would mean he was willing...

“Right,” said Leander, snapping Nella out of her thoughts. “I should pay.”

Pay. The incineroar dug a pouch out of his pocket. He was paying. This conversation was ending. He did not want to wait beyond tomorrow. Perhaps he wouldn’t even be in town anymore - it was clear he was a traveller.

“How much was it?”

”Um, one silver, four bronze.”

He picked out the necessary coins and handed them to Nella with a smile. “Here you are.”

She took just a second to admire that smile, that warmth, good intent, pressing it into her memory as a memento of what could have been. Leander, the white incineroar with golden stripes.

She took the coins and slid them to her pouch. “Thank you, have a good...night.”

The automatic phrase had ended the conversation for her.

Leander nodded. “Have a good night as well, Nella. And sleep well.”

With that, he turned around and headed for the door. The seconds it took for him to reach it felt more like minutes. Then, he opened the door, gave a final smile, stepped through and closed the door behind him.

She stood in silence.

Well, there was nothing more to do there. She should store away the coins.

She made her way to the counter, her claws producing hollow clicks against the wooden floor. She took out her key and opened the coin drawer. One by one, she took a coin from her pouch and dropped it to its container. Copper in the copper container, bronze in the bronze container, silver in the silver container, gold in the... just kidding. No one brought gold here.

She sighed as Mother’s voice came in uninvited again.

See, it doesn’t pay to be a working woman on her own. That’s just how the world works.

But you agreed it would give me experience,
thought Nella back.

I did, darling, four months ago. But frankly, dearie, I doubt these little odd jobs have anything to teach you anymore. And you’re not getting any younger.

I’m only nineteen!

Only, you say… Nelly, darling, I have seen noivern and I tell you they do not age with grace. That fur’s only going to get bristlier. Gray hairs start popping up here and there. And your teeth - they’ll keep growing. But if you charm a man now, he’ll be blinded for life - in his eyes, you’ll be young forever.


For a split second, she saw herself beside Leander.

Oh! Mother gasped. Who is this gentleman?

Nella squeezed her eyes shut. No one. He’s not real...

But one can never keep a secret from themselves.

You let him go?! the altaria screeched, throwing her wings in the air, plumage puffed. And she was the one demanding Nella be ladylike… What were you thinking?!

Mother, I have to think about my job! If I come in tired again and start messing up orders, e-even though I’m really trying --

You know I would give you anything you needed if it helped you find a man!


Nella paused. She was right. Mother would gladly support her… but what if she couldn’t make it work with him?

At least you’d have learned something - something that’d help you a lot more than anything you could possibly learn from running errands in that lousy pub!

She might actually say that.

And, darling - if a man really did show his interest, with you on the job nonetheless, you’ve cleared the hardest hurdle. You have a chance. After all this waiting, you have a chance. And you’re just going to throw it away?

Nella opened her eyes. She wouldn’t.

She shut the drawer and locked it, shoved the remaining coins in her pouch and ran for the door. Yes, ran. He fancied her already, she could run. She could even fly - well, actually, she couldn’t. This section of town was a no-fly zone for mon of her weight class, and she wouldn’t be able to meet him if she was arrested. She had to settle for running.

She bust out the door with enough force to make her wings ache. She looked right and she looked left - no sight of the stranger, but she’d search all night if she had to.

Where was the nearest inn? He may be on the way there if he’s a traveller. Trevor’s was closest, right? It was eastward - so she should go right at first. She dashed that way until the junction, where she took another right --

There, in the distance, a tall figure clad in brown leather, white fur, it's him, it's him!

But who was that standing beside him?

Tall, slim, green and white… a gardevoir.

She laughed.

He laughed.

Nella's heart sank.

The gardevoir's dress danced in the breeze. Her voice was bright, but not shrill, and her speech had the perfect tempo and enunciation. Whenever she laughed, she raised her hand to her mouth, and at all moments her posture stayed flawless.

No wonder he was captivated. She was perfect.

And Nella could never compete.

---​

Scrape, scrape, scrape. The broom's bristly hairs brushing against the floorboards was the only thing keeping the restaurant from dead silence.

The others had left long ago - even Amal, who was tasked with depositing the day's profits in Martha's stead, and she usually stayed the longest. But she was not the one who dreaded going back to her empty quarters. With all those books of silly stories of love and passion that would never come true.

Nella sighed, probably for the seventeenth time by now, and the cycle of thoughts began anew.

She should have said she was free. She should have realized sooner how valuable the opportunity was. She shouldn't have let him go. Even if it made her look desperate. She was desperate! She would've settled for much less, and yet she had the chance to catch the perfect man - or the best man she could ever get.

Could she, even? Maybe it was all a trick to begin with? Maybe that gardevoir was in on it? But what was there to gain from courting some dowdy little waitress? She wasn't rich - she barely got by. She wasn't important - her family was unremarkable. And she already knew she wasn’t pretty.

That incineroar must have had something wrong with him. He did belong to some weird religion. Maybe he was searching for a woman to sacrifice to his god in some dark, twisted ritual…

...no, she'd been reading too many books.

A clanking came from the door. Someone was trying to open the lock.

Nella's fur stood on end, bristlier than ever, and she grasped the broom tighter. "Wh-who's there?"

The door opened, and a familiar nidoqueen stepped through.

"Calm down, it's just me," said Martha, closing the door.

Nella sighed in relief. "What brings you here?” she then asked. “I thought you were going to be elsewhere until Thursday.”

“I thought so, too,” said Martha, marching right past Nella into the kitchen, “until I heard Greedent Gustav was coming.”

Nella followed her. “Um… who is that?”

“The mon who will make or break my career,” Martha said, opening cupboard after cupboard, checking all pouches and containers inside. “If he decides to drop by during his stay in Lepach, that is.”

“So… he’s a food critic?”

“He’s the food critic. In this backwater corner of the kingdom, anyway...” She dashed past Nella to another set of cupboards, blind to the noivern-tail that was in her way and would have tripped her had Nella not withdrawn it at the last moment. “I need to make sure we’re not running low on anything that can’t be bought at the market tomorrow morning.”

“Oh, I see."

Gradually, Martha's motions became more patient. "Okay, so far so good," she mumbled. "Everything seems to be in order…"

But on the next cupboard, she froze.

She turned to Nella with one pouch in her hand. "Is this all the bitterleaf we have?"

"Umm… I-I don't know, I don't work in the kitchen?"

Martha ignored her and checked the remaining cupboards. She then reached into one drawer, took out a slip of blank paper and began writing.

Nella began wondering if it'd be better for her to leave, but right then --

"Noivern!" the nidoqueen barked.

Nella yipped. "Y-yes?"

Martha folded the slip. "You've been to Zem's before, right?"

"Zem's?"

"Drowzee Zem's!" Martha snapped, and Nella cowered.

There's no need to yell… "I remember a drowzee… do you mean the potionmaker?"

"Of course I mean the potionmaker," Martha grumbled. "But you remember the way to his house?"

"Yes, I do." She thought so, at least.

Martha handed her the slip and the empty pouch of bitterleaf. "Go to him and ask for bitterleaf. The slip will tell him that I'll pay later, and handsomely."

Nella paused. "What, now?"

"Yes!"

Absolutely not, Nella thought at first. Don't argue with your employer, she thought right after. She wrestled that thought for control over her tongue, but eventually, she won. She opened her mouth --

"You'll get tomorrow off, obviously," said Martha. "I need to meet Mr. Greedent in person, anyway, and the best way to do that is to do some waitressing myself. I'll handle your shift."

Oh. That made it a lot more reasonable. And she supposed she still didn't want to go home, anyway…

The nidoqueen slammed her tail against the floor, impatient. "Well? Are you going or what?"

"I-I'm going," Nella stuttered. Oh boy, I suppose I'm going.

"Good."

Nella took the slip and the pouch and stored them in her bag. Martha quickly brought her a lantern and… another pouch? This one was much smaller and red in coloration.

"Spores of morelull," said Martha as she handed it over. "Throw 'em towards anyone or anything giving you trouble. A handful ought to put even a raging tauros to bed. Don't breathe 'em in yourself. That should go without saying," she muttered.

“Um… thanks?”

“Don’t mention it. Now go, go, go! The sooner you come back, the sooner we can both get some sleep.” The nidoqueen rushed Nella back to the dining space and to the front door.

“But wh-what if the drowzee isn’t home?” asked Nella while the nidoqueen lit her lantern. “Or he doesn’t have bitterleaf? Or he has some, but doesn’t want to share?”

“Well, then I guess we’re all screwed.”

Lantern lit, Martha opened the door and gave Nella one last shove. “Good luck,” she said, and with that, she slammed the door.

---​

Oh dear. Oh dear. Was this the right path? Should she have taken a right instead?

The wind strengthened, howling like a houndoom as it drained more warmth from her body. The lantern rattled, and the flame inside flickered. Don’t go out, don’t go out…

It did not. The wind calmed again. Nella sighed.

Though it wasn’t as if much relief could be felt in a scene like this. Layers and layers of cloud filled the sky, eliminating any chance of seeing the full moon Nella knew had to be there and shrouding the earth and all that stood upon it in darkness.

At least she had good hearing. All noivern did. Many times her mother had reprimanded her for eavesdropping when she brought up something that wasn’t intended for her to hear, but she’d never really tried to hear it - well, most of the time.

Even now, her ears would catch all sorts of sounds she didn’t need to hear. Rustling of leaves or calls of nightbirds were completely natural for a forest-flanking path like this, but it didn’t stop her from flinching each time. A constant weak pressure remained behind her ears, but she knew she could contain it.

At least those sounds were still relatively distant. Even if her first reaction was fear, whatever her imagination could cook up was still far enough away to fly away from in an emergency. How well she could fly in this wind was another question, but just knowing she wasn’t explicitly trapped calmed her mind just a little.

Though she probably shouldn’t fly away at the first sign of danger. She had the morelull spores. If she didn’t even try to rely on them, Martha would surely chew her out on abandoning her quest so easily. Not to mention that she could have --

No, she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t bellow.

In any case, it was unlikely for her to cross paths with anything all that dangerous. Houndoom and ursaring were the largest predators around Lepach, and both were quickly hunted down or chased away after sightings. They had become more wary of civilized mon, too, and seemed to know that bothering one would mean a whole lot more bothering them.

Far away, something let out a peep. Nella froze until she’d fully processed the sound.

Just a zubat, she thought. Probably out hunting. It does seem like the best time for it...

She continued to walk, and the zubat continued to peep. She thought about the little thing catching mosquitoes in the air and nibbling on them with its tiny teeth. She smiled. She couldn’t understand why Mother was afraid of them. They were harmless! Mother said they fluttered so quickly, that they were unpredictable, but that seemed no different than a bird of the same size to Nella. And they only ate insects. They would flee from anything larger than them, unless they were guarding a nest, defending their family, and who couldn’t relate to that…

She noticed the peeping was getting closer. Sure, why not. Perhaps she could catch a glimpse of it in action - though it felt more likely that it’d leave the moment it really noticed her.

It kept approaching, and she felt more at ease. Even if it would only last for a while, she wouldn’t be travelling alone. She began glancing over her shoulder for a chance to spot the zubat against the slightly-brighter sky.

There it was! It was coming her way. Strange. It must have been a particularly daring zubat to fly this close. Or maybe it hadn’t noticed her at all. That theory felt more likely by the second as the zubat glided closer, headed straight towards --

Nella ducked, and the zubat zoomed past right above her head.

“Hey, watch out!” said Nella. “I’m walking over h-”

The zubat turned in midair and dove at her with a screech. In the lantern’s faint light, she saw its fangs - double their usual size, curved, and sharp as needles.

There was something terribly wrong with this zubat.

She dodged the attack and opened her wings wide, then flapped them at the crazed mon. “G-go away!”

The zubat continued its assault, unfazed by the display. Nella shielded herself with a wing, though regretted it soon after as she felt a stinging pain in the membrane. The zubat had sank in its teeth.

Despite the pain it brought, she shook the zubat off. Pressure thumped in her ears, but no, no, she would not bellow, she had another weapon, she would use that. She scrambled for the red pouch in her bag, slipped in her hand and grabbed as much as she could, then folded her wing and threw the powder at the zubat.

The spores spread out like flour, but glowed in rainbow colors. The cloud enveloped the zubat, but its frantic flapping blew some of it back - and before Nella had even blinked, she’d breathed the spores in.

She ran away from the cloud, but the effects were too quick. The lantern slipped from her hand as her limbs became weak, and soon her body met the ground. As her conscious thoughts dispersed, one instinct finally gained control - but it was too late. The pressure in her ears had already deflated.

Beside her, she heard a thump. After that, nothing followed.

---​
 
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MintyMimix

Otherworldly Dessert
Location
Florida
Pronouns
They/Them
Partners
  1. custom/noivern-astrea
There's a lot of themes of grappling with a self-made Noivern versus traditional roles, and it's fascinating to read from the perspective of someone caught right in between her desires and what she's been taught (Nella's design is absolutely adorable, by the way)!

No wonder he was captivated. She was perfect.

And Nella could never compete.

This broke my heart. It was almost certainly a misunderstanding, but even so, seeing Nella jump to that conclusion just made me want to hold her and say "It's okay sweetie, it's okay..."

With all those books of silly stories of love and passion that would never come true.

She really has been thinking of romance for quite some time, huh?

She dashed past Nella to another set of cupboards, blind to the noivern-tail that was in her way and would have tripped her had Nella not withdrawn it at the last moment.

Really love this detail and many other details that really sells home that these are still Pokémon - especially in this case where it also adds to Martha and Nella's characters (Nella being considerate of others to an almost debilitating degree, while Martha is more focused on her own self).

Oh dear. Oh dear. Was this the right path? Should she have taken a right instead?

Again, the subtle worldbuilding is phenomenal - night isn't clear, paths aren't fully marked and mapped, and having spores of morelull for safety was considered necessary commonplace. Great way of making it feel raw yet fantastical.

Beside her, she heard a thump. After that, nothing followed.
Looks like she's going to be turned into a vampire, and considering that Leander praised a being of sunlight... This can only end in even more conflict and misunderstanding, hoo boy.

This is getting really juicy and I'm excited to see what's to come!
 

NebulaDreams

Ace Trainer
Partners
  1. luxray
  2. hypno
So, it’s been a while. I’ve come back for a minute and nothing else. Not because I like Pokemon or anything, baka, but I’m always down for more canis content and this delivered.

Nella immediately came across as sympathetic. I’m totally not biased because I’ve worked in a restaurant before. Totally. But Nella is a great protagonist because of how she deals with this situation she’s been thrust in (working with petty customers) and her implied backstory, which has loads of hints of emotional abuse. I really felt for her and I wanted to see her find the man she wants (even if that doesn’t solve her deeper self esteem issues), as well as find out about what happened in her past.

I’m especially excited to see how the story will progress once she becomes Nella Swan. Especially for such a gentle and flustered character such as her. And I’m also intrigued by the religious Incineroar (and also hoping he isn’t a cult leader/murderer considering your track record of overly religious villains).

I don’t have any complaints so far, this is solid stuff as ever. Looking forward to the next chapter.
 

BossCar

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
He/His
Yes! I managed to get this posted in time after all. It took a sprint of over 1.3k words on the last day, but it was worth it.

So, this is that "vampire story" I've been talking about on Discord. It's another PMD-but-no-dungeons story, this time about a shy and insecure noivern... and vampires. Wanna know more? Read it.

I would rate this story roughly as teen as it does have vampires and therefore some guaranteed blood, but the content and tone are still well away from mature territory. Hunter, Haunted this is not. It does deal with some misogyny, though, mainly internalized. Language is mild.

That's about everything I have to say. I have no preferences for critique - any feedback given is greatly appreciated. Enjoy!

Noivern Nella (by me)
View attachment 1727

---

BATTY!

Synopsis:
Nella is a shy, lonely noivern who works a waitress job by day and escapes to her romance novels by night - but everything changes after a fateful encounter with a wild zubat infected with vampirism plunges her into the hidden world of vampiric Pokémon.

Genre:
Drama, Horror, Romance

Started:
31 Oct 2021

Status:
Ongoing

Length:
Unknown

---

Part One

---​


Ding!

“Coming!” Nella shouted, rushing out of the kitchen, coins clinking inside the pouch on her belt. A sour-faced gumshoos sat behind the counter, untrimmed claws tapping impatiently on its wooden surface. Nella sighed under her breath, then forced a smile.

“Welcome to Martha’s,” the noivern said. “How may I serve you?”

“I wanna see some cod and potatoes and fast,” the gumshoos growled. “I’m starvin’.”

Nella nodded. “Right away, sir. Feel free to show yourself to a table if you’d like.”

“I just sat down. I ain’t gettin’ back up.”

Another stealthy sigh. “That’s alright. We’ll start working on your order right away.”

“And a beer!” the gumshoos shouted after her as she entered the heat and steam of the kitchen. “Hey, did ya hear me?”’

“Yes, sir!” Nella shouted back. She turned to the kitchen staff - Swampert Harvey and Ursaring Sophie on this current shift - and relayed the order of a plate of cod and potatoes.

“We ran out of cod,” responded Harvey, scooping up a pair of fried eggs off his pan and to a plate which another waitress, Golduck Daisy, took in her hands and rushed off to serve. “They’ll have to ask for something else.”

Nella blinked. Lovely.

She forced a smile onto her face once again and returned to the counter.

“I’m sorry, but we’re out of cod. Would you like something else instead?”

"Out of cod?" the gumshoos huffed - but shook his head and skimmed the menu again. "Berry mash, then."

"Alright, we'll get right on it!" said Nella and slipped back into the kitchen. "We need one bowl of berry mash!" she yelled.

"Can't make it," shouted back Sophie, inserting a meat pie into the oven. "Out of tamato."

Nella froze. "Oh, you can't be serious."

"'Fraid I am."

She clacked her claws together. "Can't we make it without tamato? It's just a little part of it, right?"

"Sorry, but you know how Martha feels about going off-recipe. Just ask them to get something else."

Nella's shoulders slumped in defeat.

But Martha was Martha. While she would yell even when you stuck to her orders, it would stay at that - try things your own way, though, and your job was on the line.

She took a deep breath, plastered that smile back on her face and finally returned to the counter.

"I'm sorry," she said, already seeing the annoyance flare up in the gumshoos' eyes, "but berry mash is also unavailable at the moment. Would you like so-"

A bang of the gumshoos' paw on the counter quieted her.

"Son of a muk!" the gumshoos spat. "Do you serve food here or not?"

On reflex, Nella shielded her body with her wings. Pressure built up in her ears.

No! She closed her eyes and flexed her toes, focusing on the wooden floor beneath her soles. Slowly, the pressure weakened.

"Hey! Are you listenin'?"

It strengthened again. It threatened to burst. She took deep breaths, focused, focused. She pictured a familiar blue face, black beady eyes, white beak and cheeks, and her mother saying those words in her sing-song voice:

"A good girl is a quiet girl."

She opened her eyes and the world was clear again.

She brought that smile back on her face.

"We truly apologize for the unavailability of those menu options," she said, voice bright, "but I'm sure we have other options available you would like. Please try choosing another item."

The gumshoos' eyes had widened at her sudden change in behavior, but they soon drooped back to half-closed. "Feh." He waved his arm lazily and turned around. "I'll find someplace else."

Nella watched as the gumshoos slouched out, his long tail dragging behind him, surely saving whoever was on cleaning duty that day some time. Only once the door had slammed shut on his wake could Nella let her forced vigor melt away.

Needing some time to feel presentable again, she slipped back in the kitchen, leaned against a wall and sighed.

It's alright. I'll be here for just a minute, then get back. There was no one in line. Surely they can't need me again so soon --

Ding!


She wanted to scream. But she didn't. A good girl was a quiet girl.

She took just a little more time to herself - a small delay a customer would surely see as being within reasonable response time - then walked back out. She wished this customer wouldn't be as rude, but accepted the possibility. She had no other option, anyway.

She raised her gaze to meet the ringer of the bell, preparing to stick that smile on her lips once again - but as her eyes met the mon behind the counter, she could not suppress her surprise.

A white, gold-striped incineroar dressed in brown leather stood behind the counter, posture proud but calm and face neutral. Nella's gaze flicked around his body, his blue eyes, his muscular arms, his grayish-brown chest peeking out from his open coat, his cheek tufts that were long enough to drape over his broad shoulders… with the exception of his colors, it was like Incineroar Arthur had leapt right off the pages of Lionhearted, ready to woo the plain little flower shop worker with his fierce strength but noble heart...

So men like him really did exist.

"Hello?"

Nella flinched, remembering where she was and what she was supposed to do. "Uh, welcome to Wart- I mean --" Blood rushed to her face, making her nose an even deeper red than usual. She spent half a second to pull herself together, then tried again. "Welcome to Martha's. Would you like… food…?"

"...Yes," the stranger answered, thankfully without any ire - or so Nella hoped, at least. He looked down at the menu on the counter. "I would like the cod and potatoes."

Nella's nose must have been glowing right then.

“We’re sorry,” she said, taking care to pronounce each word right, “but that option is currently unavailable.” She paused. “The berry mash is also unavailable. Please order some item other than those two.”

“Oh.” The incineroar eyed the menu again. “Is the beef stew available?”

She nodded, and hoped dearly that she would be right.

”That, then,” he said, “and… you wouldn’t happen to have any wine, would you?”

At least that one wasn’t on the menu to begin with. It made talking a bit easier, though her face was still burning. “Sorry, but we do not serve wine. We do serve beer, if you’d like that?”

“No, thank you. I’ll just have some milk, then.”

“Milk and beef stew,” Nella repeated to etch them in her mind. “Coming right up. Feel free to choose a table in the meantime.”

She curtsied - why did she curtsy? They didn’t do that there! But the stranger, he seemed so noble…

She escaped into the kitchen before she could do anything weirder. She took a deep breath, then shouted to the staff. “Beef stew for one!”

“Will do!” shouted back Harvey.

She sighed in relief. Finally something worked out.

She turned around to return, pausing briefly to let the butterfree in her belly settle, then stepped back out into the scene. But as soon as she spotted the stranger again, sitting by a nearby table, their eyes met and all those little bugs leapt aflutter again.

But she still had a job to do. She grabbed a glass from beneath the counter and fetched a jug of milk from the icebox. She brought both to the stranger and poured the glass full - with great caution, as she knew she'd never forgive herself if she spilled the milk right there and then.

"There you go," she said and forced herself to give the polite amount of eye contact. The stranger thanked her with a smile - he smiled at me! - which Nella acknowledged with a nod, then returned to the counter. She returned the jug to the icebox and then… and then… oh gosh, she didn't have anything to do, did she? She'd have to simply stand there, in full view of that handsome stranger, and stay presentable the whole time.

She glanced at the stranger. He wasn't drinking and showed no intentions to do so. He must have been the type to wait for his food before starting his drink. Should she have asked if he wanted the milk right away before giving it to him? Now it would sit there getting warmer for no reason. Oh, stupid, stupid.

Though maybe he'd change his mind. Maybe he'd start drinking and her mistake wouldn't have mattered so much. She stood still in wait until she realized how rude of her it was to stare. Her gaze hopped from that table to another, then another, another and another. She would check for any customers that may have finished - a reasonable activity for a waitress - but the answer was always no. As a result, more and more often her eyes lingered on the stranger, examining his unique looks and apparel.

Why did he wear all that leather? Was he cold? But if he was cold, why didn't his jacket have any sleeves? Was he hiding something he was ashamed of, like furless patches or scars? She did notice a nick in his ear. Perhaps he fought often. But he was clearly no ruffian, no, he must have been a professional. But he had no uniform - at least it didn't look like it. Was he someone for hire? Was he a bounty hunter? A mercenary? An assassin? But weren't assassins not supposed to draw attention to themselves? Or was he such a wanted mon that he felt it necessary to walk in protective wear out on the town? But then, again, why no sleeves? It made no sense --

Her thoughts shattered as the stranger returned her look. She'd been caught staring. She'd messed up yet again. Oh, why couldn't she do anything right?

"Nella!"

She jumped in her skin, then turned around. Harvey's wide head peeked out of the kitchen doorway.

"Sorry," Harvey grumbled, "but you didn't react when I tapped the wall."

Nella sighed. "Oh, I'm sorry. What is it?"

"Beef stew's ready. Been ready for a while."

Nella's face contorted to a grimace so intense it was Harvey's time to flinch.

"Whoa, you alright?"

Can't Daisy serve it? Nella wanted to say, but knew Harvey wouldn't ask her if the golduck was available. Her shift had probably ended. Closing time wasn't that far off.

Instead, Nella shook the expression off her face. "Oh, yes, sorry. There's nothing to worry about. Let's go."

She followed Harvey to the kitchen and soon spotted the bowl of stew on a tray ready to go. It was no longer steaming, but a quick wave of her hand above it confirmed it was still sufficiently warm to serve. She nodded her thanks to Harvey, picked up the tray and once again headed out into the cold.

Just get over there, give him the bowl and then get out, she told herself. But don't forget to be polite. Oh, just... do it the way you always do and you'll be as good as invisible.

Her stiff steps finally took her to the stranger's table. As he shifted his attention from studying the flowing patterns in the wood of the table to her, Nella remembered to smile. Always smile when looked at.

"Here's your beef stew," she said, setting the bowl on the table. "Enjoy your meal!"

She turned around to leave, her heartbeat slowly turning triumphant - she did it, it was over --

"Excuse me."

And the rhythm of her heart fell into chaos again.

She turned to the stranger, unable to look him in the eye and settling for his forehead. "Y-yes…?"

"Is it alright for me to pray here?"

"Pray?" It took a second to process the word. Why would he pray? Did he mean saying grace? She'd seen other customers do it and Martha had never said anything about it, so it must have been fine by her. "Sure?" she said, questioning tone unintentional, but a second try wasn't worth it.

"To be clear, it will not be in the name of Mew or Arceus or any other deity you've likely heard of," the incineroar said, pulling a necklace out from under his coat. It had a curious pendant - a round, blue, sparkling stone encircled by a brass ring with four spikes pointing up, down, left and right. "I am a follower of Solgaleo."

The stranger was right - Nella had never heard of a deity like that, not that her family was all that spiritual. She nearly said yes without much further thought, but then realized Martha likely wouldn't want any demon-worship taking place in her establishment.

"Well, um, that depends," started Nella. "What do you intend to pray for?"

"Not for anything, really," the stranger said. "Only to thank Him for the day."

Nella clicked her claws together in thought. "I… suppose that's alright. As long as you're not bothering anybody."

The stranger nodded. "You have my word. Thank you."

"Sure." Nella nodded back, sensing her cue to exit. "Enjoy your… meal."

She turned and walked away quickly before he could see her once again reddening face.

Having reached the relative safety of the counter, Nella dared to look back. The incineroar had his hands together and eyes closed, seemingly speaking something too quietly to hear over the other customers. A wave of relief washed over her, even if she never really expected the stranger to start trouble.

Her thoughts were soon interrupted by the opening of the door. A group of three new customers arrived. Nella brought that polite smile back onto her face again - though this time, it seemed a lot easier.

---​

"Thank you, have a good night!"

She waved the tangrowth, raichu and weavile goodbye with one hand with a pouch of coins in the other. The bar was now empty of customers save for one - the white-furred incineroar. On her way back to the counter, she stole yet another glimpse at the stranger to confirm it, and indeed, he was still there, at that moment watching the three mon leave.

Closing time was soon at hand, though. She'd have to ask him to leave. It didn't seem like he had any stew or milk left, so why was he still --

Nella blanched. He needed her to collect his payment for the meal!

As much as she wanted to just run away and hide, she knew that'd eliminate whatever was left of her chance to keep her job if Martha were to find out. And then Mother would find out. Another disappointment --

No, there was no time for that! A customer, likely a furious one, was waiting!

She ran - no, ladies do not run, she skipped - to the stranger, and as soon as he turned to her, she began her plea for forgiveness.

"A thousand apologies, Mr. Incineroar! I-I've neglected to serve you as fit. I'll collect your payment right away. O-or actually, it's on the house! I'll cover the expenses. Please don't think less of our establishment - the fault was purely mine. Is there anything else I can --"

She quieted as the stranger raised his palm. He doesn't want to hear my excuses. Oh, heavens, I'm finished --

"It's quite alright."

The absence of bile in his voice left Nella frozen. She hadn't thought of how to respond to a reaction like this.

"I was in no hurry to leave," the stranger continued, "so I wanted to stay a while longer, simply watching mon come and go. In my profession, respite is precious, and I welcome a moment of peace whenever one comes."

Nella brought her claws together, gaze dropping to the floor. "You don't have to downplay my mistake," she quietly said. "You can be upset."

"There's nothing to be upset about," he assured. "If I really wanted to leave, I simply would have called you."

Nella dared to look at the stranger’s face again. There was nothing but honesty in those sky-blue eyes. She felt like a fool, making such a scene, and blood quickly rushed to her face again.

“Th-thanks,” she could manage.

The stranger sat up straighter. “You know, I’ve never seen a noivern with wings pink on the underside.”

“Really?” Nella spread her left wing to display the hue. “Well, I guess I’ve only met a few other noivern so I guess I don’t really know how rare or common it is...”

“I’ve seen quite a few,” said the stranger. “They’ve had green, blue, teal, gray, white, even red under their wings - but never pink.” He smiled. “It’s a very nice color.”

Nella blinked, unsure how to take the compliment - it had been very long since the last time she received one, after all. “Um, thank you,” she peeped. “I… I like your colors, too.” She also liked everything else, but knew saying that would come off overbearing.

The stranger's smile widened, making his whiskers rise by just a bit. His face looked so soft. Nella's heart quickened. With each moment, he resembled Lionhearted's Arthur even more - but he was real.

"I'd be surprised if you'd seen other white incineroar," the stranger said. "We are very few, and live quite far from here."

“You come from far away?” asked Nella, immediately reconsidering her choice. With a question like that, she was really taking part in the conversation. Now she was responsible for being worth his time…

“Albaton,” he said. “Have you heard of it?”

Nella shook her head. “Not that I know much of anything...” she mumbled.

“No, that is the common response.”

He then slid back his chair and got up. She didn’t insult him, did she?

“You know, I don’t believe I’ve introduced myself yet,” he said and offered a hand. “Incineroar Leander.”

“N-Noivern Nella,” Nella responded and gingerly inserted her hand into his. It was much smaller, much more delicate - and much colder, she realized when the incineroar squeezed her hand, spreading warmth all the way up to her elbow. His grip was firm, but softened by his fur and paw pads. His claws weren’t sharp like those of four-legged felines - likely due to an inability to retract them, she deduced as she pondered the structure of his hand.

Then, the embrace broke, and the warmth disappeared. Nella drew her hand back to her chest. It was nowhere as warm.

Leander lowered his hand. “So, do you have plans for this evening?”

Nella’s ears twitched.

He asked for plans. That meant he liked her. Wanted to spend more time with her. Get to know her better. See her more times afterwards. Enter a relationship. Possibly, hopefully, marry.

No, she was getting ahead of herself. She couldn’t see him today, anyway, and she should say that…

“Actually, I have to go to bed early tonight,” she said. “To have the energy for tomorrow.”

“Oh, I see. What about tomorrow night, then?”

“Well...”

Technically, she had made no plans, but she had a feeling tomorrow would be tiring, too.

“I feel like it would be the same,” she said, defeated.

“Ah. Shame.”

She sighed. “Yes, it is...”

A silence hung in the air as Nella pondered whether there was any day that could work. There was Sunday with no work, but that was four days away - far too long to make a gentleman wait. Though if he suggested that, it would mean he was willing...

“Right,” said Leander, snapping Nella out of her thoughts. “I should pay.”

Pay. The incineroar dug a pouch out of his pocket. He was paying. This conversation was ending. He did not want to wait beyond tomorrow. Perhaps he wouldn’t even be in town anymore - it was clear he was a traveller.

“How much was it?”

”Um, one silver, four bronze.”

He picked out the necessary coins and handed them to Nella with a smile. “Here you are.”

She took just a second to admire that smile, that warmth, good intent, pressing it into her memory as a memento of what could have been. Leander, the white incineroar with golden stripes.

She took the coins and slid them to her pouch. “Thank you, have a good...night.”

The automatic phrase had ended the conversation for her.

Leander nodded. “Have a good night as well, Nella. And sleep well.”

With that, he turned around and headed for the door. The seconds it took for him to reach it felt more like minutes. Then, he opened the door, gave a final smile, stepped through and closed the door behind him.

She stood in silence.

Well, there was nothing more to do there. She should store away the coins.

She made her way to the counter, her claws producing hollow clicks against the wooden floor. She took out her key and opened the coin drawer. One by one, she took a coin from her pouch and dropped it to its container. Copper in the copper container, bronze in the bronze container, silver in the silver container, gold in the... just kidding. No one brought gold here.

She sighed as Mother’s voice came in uninvited again.

See, it doesn’t pay to be a working woman on her own. That’s just how the world works.

But you agreed it would give me experience,
thought Nella back.

I did, darling, four months ago. But frankly, dearie, I doubt these little odd jobs have anything to teach you anymore. And you’re not getting any younger.

I’m only nineteen!

Only, you say… Nelly, darling, I have seen noivern and I tell you they do not age with grace. That fur’s only going to get bristlier. Gray hairs start popping up here and there. And your teeth - they’ll keep growing. But if you charm a man now, he’ll be blinded for life - in his eyes, you’ll be young forever.


For a split second, she saw herself beside Leander.

Oh! Mother gasped. Who is this gentleman?

Nella squeezed her eyes shut. No one. He’s not real...

But one can never keep a secret from themselves.

You let him go?! the altaria screeched, throwing her wings in the air, plumage puffed. And she was the one demanding Nella be ladylike… What were you thinking?!

Mother, I have to think about my job! If I come in tired again and start messing up orders, e-even though I’m really trying --

You know I would give you anything you needed if it helped you find a man!


Nella paused. She was right. Mother would gladly support her… but what if she couldn’t make it work with him?

At least you’d have learned something - something that’d help you a lot more than anything you could possibly learn from running errands in that lousy pub!

She might actually say that.

And, darling - if a man really did show his interest, with you on the job nonetheless, you’ve cleared the hardest hurdle. You have a chance. After all this waiting, you have a chance. And you’re just going to throw it away?

Nella opened her eyes. She wouldn’t.

She shut the drawer and locked it, shoved the remaining coins in her pouch and ran for the door. Yes, ran. He fancied her already, she could run. She could even fly - well, actually, she couldn’t. This section of town was a no-fly zone for mon of her weight class, and she wouldn’t be able to meet him if she was arrested. She had to settle for running.

She bust out the door with enough force to make her wings ache. She looked right and she looked left - no sight of the stranger, but she’d search all night if she had to.

Where was the nearest inn? He may be on the way there if he’s a traveller. Trevor’s was closest, right? It was eastward - so she should go right at first. She dashed that way until the junction, where she took another right --

There, in the distance, a tall figure clad in brown leather, white fur, it's him, it's him!

But who was that standing beside him?

Tall, slim, green and white… a gardevoir.

She laughed.

He laughed.

Nella's heart sank.

The gardevoir's dress danced in the breeze. Her voice was bright, but not shrill, and her speech had the perfect tempo and enunciation. Whenever she laughed, she raised her hand to her mouth, and at all moments her posture stayed flawless.

No wonder he was captivated. She was perfect.

And Nella could never compete.

---​

Scrape, scrape, scrape. The broom's bristly hairs brushing against the floorboards was the only thing keeping the restaurant from dead silence.

The others had left long ago - even Amal, who was tasked with depositing the day's profits in Martha's stead, and she usually stayed the longest. But she was not the one who dreaded going back to her empty quarters. With all those books of silly stories of love and passion that would never come true.

Nella sighed, probably for the seventeenth time by now, and the cycle of thoughts began anew.

She should have said she was free. She should have realized sooner how valuable the opportunity was. She shouldn't have let him go. Even if it made her look desperate. She was desperate! She would've settled for much less, and yet she had the chance to catch the perfect man - or the best man she could ever get.

Could she, even? Maybe it was all a trick to begin with? Maybe that gardevoir was in on it? But what was there to gain from courting some dowdy little waitress? She wasn't rich - she barely got by. She wasn't important - her family was unremarkable. And she already knew she wasn’t pretty.

That incineroar must have had something wrong with him. He did belong to some weird religion. Maybe he was searching for a woman to sacrifice to his god in some dark, twisted ritual…

...no, she'd been reading too many books.

A clanking came from the door. Someone was trying to open the lock.

Nella's fur stood on end, bristlier than ever, and she grasped the broom tighter. "Wh-who's there?"

The door opened, and a familiar nidoqueen stepped through.

"Calm down, it's just me," said Martha, closing the door.

Nella sighed in relief. "What brings you here?” she then asked. “I thought you were going to be elsewhere until Thursday.”

“I thought to, soo,” said Martha, marching right past Nella into the kitchen, “until I heard Greedent Gustav was coming.”

Nella followed her. “Um… who is that?”

“The mon who will make or break my career,” Martha said, opening cupboard after cupboard, checking all pouches and containers inside. “If he decides to drop by during his stay in Lepach, that is.”

“So… he’s a food critic?”

“He’s the food critic. In this backwater corner of the kingdom, anyway...” She dashed past Nella to another set of cupboards, blind to the noivern-tail that was in her way and would have tripped her had Nella not withdrawn it at the last moment. “I need to make sure we’re not running low on anything that can’t be bought at the market tomorrow morning.”

“Oh, I see."

Gradually, Martha's motions became more patient. "Okay, so far so good," she mumbled. "Everything seems to be in order…"

But on the next cupboard, she froze.

She turned to Nella with one pouch in her hand. "Is this all the bitterleaf we have?"

"Umm… I-I don't know, I don't work in the kitchen?"

Martha ignored her and checked the remaining cupboards. She then reached into one drawer, took out a slip of blank paper and began writing.

Nella began wondering if it'd be better for her to leave, but right then --

"Noivern!" the nidoqueen barked.

Nella yipped. "Y-yes?"

Martha folded the slip. "You've been to Zem's before, right?"

"Zem's?"

"Drowzee Zem's!" Martha snapped, and Nella cowered.

There's no need to yell… "I remember a drowzee… do you mean the potionmaker?"

"Of course I mean the potionmaker," Martha grumbled. "But you remember the way to his house?"

"Yes, I do." She thought so, at least.

Martha handed her the slip and the empty pouch of bitterleaf. "Go to him and ask for bitterleaf. The slip will tell him that I'll pay later, and handsomely."

Nella paused. "What, now?"

"Yes!"

Absolutely not, Nella thought at first. Don't argue with your employer, she thought right after. She wrestled that thought for control over her tongue, but eventually, she won. She opened her mouth --

"You'll get tomorrow off, obviously," said Martha. "I need to meet Mr. Greedent in person, anyway, and the best way to do that is to do some waitressing myself. I'll handle your shift."

Oh. That made it a lot more reasonable. And she supposed she still didn't want to go home, anyway…

The nidoqueen slammed her tail against the floor, impatient. "Well? Are you going or what?"

"I-I'm going," Nella stuttered. Oh boy, I suppose I'm going.

"Good."

Nella took the slip and the pouch and stored them in her bag. Martha quickly brought her a lantern and… another pouch? This one was much smaller and red in coloration.

"Spores of morelull," said Martha as she handed it over. "Throw 'em towards anyone or anything giving you trouble. A handful ought to put even a raging tauros to bed. Don't breathe 'em in yourself. That should go without saying," she muttered.

“Um… thanks?”

“Don’t mention it. Now go, go, go! The sooner you come back, the sooner we can both get some sleep.” The nidoqueen rushed Nella back to the dining space and to the front door.

“But wh-what if the drowzee isn’t home?” asked Nella while the nidoqueen lit her lantern. “Or he doesn’t have bitterleaf? Or he has some, but doesn’t want to share?”

“Well, then I guess we’re all screwed.”

Lantern lit, Martha opened the door and gave Nella one last shove. “Good luck,” she said, and with that, she slammed the door.

---​

Oh dear. Oh dear. Was this the right path? Should she have taken a right instead?

The wind strengthened, howling like a houndoom as it drained more warmth from her body. The lantern rattled, and the flame inside flickered. Don’t go out, don’t go out…

It did not. The wind calmed again. Nella sighed.

Though it wasn’t as if much relief could be felt in a scene like this. Layers and layers of cloud filled the sky, eliminating any chance of seeing the full moon Nella knew had to be there and shrouding the earth and all that stood upon it in darkness.

At least she had good hearing. All noivern did. Many times her mother had reprimanded her for eavesdropping when she brought up something that wasn’t intended for her to hear, but she’d never really tried to hear it - well, most of the time.

Even now, her ears would catch all sorts of sounds she didn’t need to hear. Rustling of leaves or calls of nightbirds were completely natural for a forest-flanking path like this, but it didn’t stop her from flinching each time. A constant weak pressure remained behind her ears, but she knew she could contain it.

At least those sounds were still relatively distant. Even if her first reaction was fear, whatever her imagination could cook up was still far enough away to fly away from in an emergency. How well she could fly in this wind was another question, but just knowing she wasn’t explicitly trapped calmed her mind just a little.

Though she probably shouldn’t fly away at the first sign of danger. She had the morelull spores. If she didn’t even try to rely on them, Martha would surely chew her out on abandoning her quest so easily. Not to mention that she could have --

No, she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t bellow.

In any case, it was unlikely for her to cross paths with anything all that dangerous. Houndoom and ursaring were the largest predators around Lepach, and both were quickly hunted down or chased away after sightings. They had become more wary of civilized mon, too, and seemed to know that bothering one would mean a whole lot more bothering them.

Far away, something let out a peep. Nella froze until she’d fully processed the sound.

Just a zubat, she thought. Probably out hunting. It does seem like the best time for it...

She continued to walk, and the zubat continued to peep. She thought about the little thing catching mosquitoes in the air and nibbling on them with its tiny teeth. She smiled. She couldn’t understand why Mother was afraid of them. They were harmless! Mother said they fluttered so quickly, that they were unpredictable, but that seemed no different than a bird of the same size to Nella. And they only ate insects. They would flee from anything larger than them, unless they were guarding a nest, defending their family, and who couldn’t relate to that…

She noticed the peeping was getting closer. Sure, why not. Perhaps she could catch a glimpse of it in action - though it felt more likely that it’d leave the moment it really noticed her.

It kept approaching, and she felt more at ease. Even if it would only last for a while, she wouldn’t be travelling alone. She began glancing over her shoulder for a chance to spot the zubat against the slightly-brighter sky.

There it was! It was coming her way. Strange. It must have been a particularly daring zubat to fly this close. Or maybe it hadn’t noticed her at all. That theory felt more likely by the second as the zubat glided closer, headed straight towards --

Nella ducked, and the zubat zoomed past right above her head.

“Hey, watch out!” said Nella. “I’m walking over h-”

The zubat turned in midair and dove at her with a screech. In the lantern’s faint light, she saw its fangs - double their usual size, curved, and sharp as needles.

There was something terribly wrong with this zubat.

She dodged the attack and opened her wings wide, then flapped them at the crazed mon. “G-go away!”

The zubat continued its assault, unfazed by the display. Nella shielded herself with a wing, though regretted it soon after as she felt a stinging pain in the membrane. The zubat had sank in its teeth.

Despite the pain it brought, she shook the zubat off. Pressure thumped in her ears, but no, no, she would not bellow, she had another weapon, she would use that. She scrambled for the red pouch in her bag, slipped in her hand and grabbed as much as she could, then folded her wing and threw the powder at the zubat.

The spores spread out like flour, but glowed in rainbow colors. The cloud enveloped the zubat, but its frantic flapping blew some of it back - and before Nella had even blinked, she’d breathed the spores in.

She ran away from the cloud, but the effects were too quick. The lantern slipped from her hand as her limbs became weak, and soon her body met the ground. As her conscious thoughts dispersed, one instinct finally gained control - but it was too late. The pressure in her ears had already deflated.

Beside her, she heard a thump. After that, nothing followed.

---​
Hi there, here for catnip!

First off, this is quite the interesting take on a PMD-like fic. Don't see this kind of thing everyday. The dymaics are interesting. It seems Nella's been wanting a "Prince Charming" to come into her life for sometime, eh?

She took just a little more time to herself - a small delay a customer would surely see as being within reasonable response time - then walked back out. She wished this customer wouldn't be as rude, but accepted the possibility. She had no other option, anyway.

She raised her gaze to meet the ringer of the bell, preparing to stick that smile on her lips once again - but as her eyes met the mon behind the counter, she could not suppress her surprise.

A white, gold-striped incineroar dressed in brown leather stood behind the counter, posture proud but calm and face neutral. Nella's gaze flicked around his body, his blue eyes, his muscular arms, his grayish-brown chest peeking out from his open coat, his cheek tufts that were long enough to drape over his broad shoulders… with the exception of his colors, it was like Incineroar Arthur had leapt right off the pages of Lionhearted, ready to woo the plain little flower shop worker with his fierce strength but noble heart...

So men like him really did exist.

"Hello?"

Nella flinched, remembering where she was and what she was supposed to do. "Uh, welcome to Wart- I mean --" Blood rushed to her face, making her nose an even deeper red than usual. She spent half a second to pull herself together, then tried again. "Welcome to Martha's. Would you like… food…?"

"...Yes," the stranger answered, thankfully without any ire - or so Nella hoped, at least. He looked down at the menu on the counter. "I would like the cod and potatoes."

I like this bit a lot, and she must've been reading those romance books a lot. You can tell that she's captivated by the description given from her perspective. She's taken by him right from the start, and her dialogue shows that too.

There, in the distance, a tall figure clad in brown leather, white fur, it's him, it's him!

But who was that standing beside him?

Tall, slim, green and white… a gardevoir.

She laughed.

He laughed.

Nella's heart sank.

The gardevoir's dress danced in the breeze. Her voice was bright, but not shrill, and her speech had the perfect tempo and enunciation. Whenever she laughed, she raised her hand to her mouth, and at all moments her posture stayed flawless.

No wonder he was captivated. She was perfect.

And Nella could never compete.
Also a good description from her perspective. But oof, that must've shattered her heart to see someone that she was so taken by engaging with somebody else. But it could all be just a misunderstanding. I kinda sense some sort of societal pressure behind the curtians, but maybe that's just me.

The zubat continued its assault, unfazed by the display. Nella shielded herself with a wing, though regretted it soon after as she felt a stinging pain in the membrane. The zubat had sank in its teeth.

Despite the pain it brought, she shook the zubat off. Pressure thumped in her ears, but no, no, she would not bellow, she had another weapon, she would use that. She scrambled for the red pouch in her bag, slipped in her hand and grabbed as much as she could, then folded her wing and threw the powder at the zubat.

The spores spread out like flour, but glowed in rainbow colors. The cloud enveloped the zubat, but its frantic flapping blew some of it back - and before Nella had even blinked, she’d breathed the spores in.

She ran away from the cloud, but the effects were too quick. The lantern slipped from her hand as her limbs became weak, and soon her body met the ground. As her conscious thoughts dispersed, one instinct finally gained control - but it was too late. The pressure in her ears had already deflated.

Beside her, she heard a thump. After that, nothing followed.
Another good description here, and I like how this ended. Something is defitenly very wrong with this Zubat, and the way it's written gives off a sense of suspense and mystery.

I do wonder about the Incineroar, though. Seems a little too good to be true that she had that encounter prior, you know what I mean?

I'm not too familiar with PMD or PMD-like stories, so I don't think there's any critique I can give. I'm not even good at giving crit beyond minor things, and I don't see anything like that here. But in any case, I think you've got a good thing going on here, and you're defitenly a good writer. I'm still thankful that you crit helped to boost Chapter 1, as those earlier chapters of mine were really weak.

Keep up the good work!
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
Ah, this was a charming first chapter. I enjoyed the quick sense of place--the establishment comes off as very lived-in, with details like the cook's finnicky-ness about sticking to the berry mash recipe and established procedures like tapping the wall. The use of humor was particularly effective in the opening gag with the dishes not being available on the menu--it's funny precisely because it's predictable. The struggle of customer service is an easily relatable one and I felt immersed in Nella's life and concerns right away. I don't know if you've seen Aggretsuko, but I got some Aggretsuko vibes from the moment where Nella almost snaps and then forces her self to be calm and pleasant. Her anxious character voice was a lot of fun and made the mundane happenings feel significant, because they are to Nella. That sort of anxious series of questions and descriptions, like when she's staring at the incineror, is something you always do well. You did a nice job translating irl mysogynistic tropes into the pokeverse with the stuff about her fur only growing bristlier. It's interesting that she has all these fantasies, but when the incineroar seems to be making a move to ask her out, she refuses with a pretty weak excuse. Maybe her interest is more fantasy and other people's projected desires than her own. The worldbuilding hints around religion were also intriguing to me. Solgeo correlates with the sun, which would make the most obvious conclusion here that the incineror is some sort of vampire hunter (leading to inevitable conflict now that Nella's bitten). It was a fun, breezy read, and I will happily read more when another part comes out!

"Welcome to Martha's. Would you like… food…?"
So smooth.

She nearly said yes without much further thought, but then realized Martha likely wouldn't want any demon-worship taking place in her establishment.
Lmao.

That meant he liked her. Wanted to spend more time with her. Get to know her better. See her more times afterwards. Enter a relationship. Possibly, hopefully, marry.
Sloooow down, girl.

Maybe he was searching for a woman to sacrifice to his god in some dark, twisted ritual…
In a canis fic? Never!

“But wh-what if the drowzee isn’t home?” asked Nella while the nidoqueen lit her lantern. “Or he doesn’t have bitterleaf? Or he has some, but doesn’t want to share?”

“Well, then I guess we’re all screwed.”
Heh. Loved the clash of these two very different personalities here.
 

Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. swampert
  3. ho-oh
  4. crobat
  5. orbeetle
I have to admit, I was rather uncertain about this story as a contains a lot of elements that don't appeal to me personally: vampires, romance, naive girl character who swoons, hot buff dude, non-traditional PMD, etc (which, none of these are inherently bad just not my flavor)

But I have to say, I found myself drawn in by your prose and characters! While Nella is usually the archetype of character that might bother me, I felt drawn to her struggle here. Very early on we are given strong characterization for her, and her motivations and desires, as well as behavior. The simple use of the lines such as 'a good girl is a quite girl' from her apparently Altaria mother give good context.

Nella is used to being constantly suppressed by her mother, who (if I had to wager a guess), doesn't know a lot about Noiverns. To me Nella feels caged in her current life, and escapes via these books she reads, dreaming of finding what she's missing in a romance. (Relief from her mother, acceptance, or maybe both?)

The dialogue between her and Incineroar was great. It was an excellent balance of Nella being lovestruck, without veering too far into unbelievability. Also, there's a wonderful level of awareness with which this story is written - clearly you know of the pitfalls of these sorts of stories, but to me this reads as intentionally utilizing the tropes but exploring them in a much more interesting way.

As a whole I don't have any criticisms to say here, as I felt engaged and interested the whole time. Good stuff! And heavy agree, big Aggretsuko vibes wow

"Can't make it," shouted back Sophie, inserting a meat pie into the oven. "Out of tamato."
:pain: Okay but freal this is how it always is, I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me, working in restaurants. I think this was the moment I decided I was hooked lol. Details!

Just a zubat, she thought.
10/10, cause there's a Zubat in your story.
 
Part Two

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
two months seems like a long time but its actually pretty good for a chapter the author had 0 plans for at the end of the previous. anyway! batty continues, at last. and i kind of have an outline for the story now also so that takes like what, two years of the projected finish date.

rating for this chapter (yeah i know theyre called parts but theyre basically chapters shut up) is teen for description of blood (without injury or violence), description of burning and burns as well as body dysmorphia from said burns. enjoy!

---

Part Two

---​

Voices. There were voices around her. They were talking about something, but she couldn’t tell what…

She tried to move, but the blanket on her seemed to weigh a ton. It tried to push her back down into the sea of slumber, but she had just enough willpower to keep herself from sinking.

Her eyes were closed, but she guessed she wasn’t in her bedroom. The air smelled different, with a faint scent of manure to it, and she could hear quacking in the background. A farm, she guessed, but what was she doing there?

At least the mattress was softer than her own. The blanket was thicker, too. Whoever had brought her here owned some good beds. Who had brought her here? Had it been the people the voices belonged to?

She tried to speak, but her mouth barely moved, and no sound would come from her throat. Still, the voices seemed to notice - they became more alert, more focused, and soon one of them spoke directly to her. She still couldn't tell what he'd said, but he clearly wanted her attention. As both her eyelids and lips were still sealed with molasses, she tried to twitch her ear instead.

The voice reacted, thank the heavens. The pillow under her head began to rise, lifting her head, though she felt no hand underneath. The motion efficiently shooed away her slumber, leaving simple fatigue in its place.

"Mh...hh…" she tried, frustrated by her inability to form words but thrilled to at least be able to make a noise. Slowly but surely, she could open her eyes. Her vision was blurry and dark, but she could make out a large bowl filled with something red right before her face. It had a curious smell, but a delicious one, and her mouth began to water. She realized how thirsty she was.

The voice spoke again, likely belonging to the dark shape behind the bowl, and this time she could understand it. "Here, drink this."

She gladly accepted. As the edge of the bowl pressed against her lower lip and the fluid within flowed into her mouth, she drew in as much as she could as fast as she could.

She hadn't stopped to analyze the flavor, but it fortunately wasn't bad - it was the same as its smell, but naturally stronger. It resembled the juices of beef, but with the added sweetness and flavors of many berries - razz, pecha, cheri. Still, she was somehow certain this contained none of them, but was a flavor all on its own. A very good flavor. One she couldn't get enough of. But the bowl eventually emptied - wait, she'd really drunk the whole thing?

"I'll get you some more," said the voice as it withdrew the bowl. The pillow lowered back down, and she was lying comfortably again.

But much of the fatigue was already gone. Whatever that soup was, it worked quickly. She could open her eyes wider, and her sight slowly began to sharpen.

She seemed to be in some kind of log cabin. Her mattress was in no bed frame, but directly on the floor, which did make sense as the room looked like a combined kitchen and living room rather than a bedroom. Not too far from her was a table on which perched some mon covered in pale gray fuzz and a large pink nose on its face. A woobat, it seemed.

The mon noticed her staring, spread its wings and flitted to her side. "Hey," it whispered. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired…" Nella managed.

"Oh, don't worry, that's normal at this stage."

Stage…?

"What's your name?" the woobat asked, barely giving her time to think.

"Nel...la."

"Nella?" the mon repeated, and Nella gave a weak nod. The mon smiled. "Nice to meet you, Nella! I'm Paige! Like a page in a book, but an 'I' in the middle. Paige!"

Nella seemed to process all her words at a significant delay, which was especially unlucky when this Paige spoke a mile a minute. But Nella was still a lady, and a lady would respond. "Nice… to meet you, too."

Paige's smile widened, flapping her wings in excitement and lifting herself off the ground. Nella could now spot the little, beady eyes among and mostly covered by the fur on Paige's face. They glinted with joy. She really was happy to make her acquaintance. Nella couldn't see why, but she couldn't deny that the mon's energy was rubbing off on her.

In fact, she began to feel much more strength in her limbs, enough to try sitting up.

"Hey, hey, easy," she heard from further away, and soon the dark figure was back. A mismagius. His glowing blue eyes helped Nella realize he was supporting her body with telekinesis.

"Are you sure you're alright to sit?" the mismagius asked once she'd fully sat up. "You shouldn't exert yourself too much."

"I'm good," said Nella, words no longer slurred. "I think that soup you gave me really helped. What was in that, may I ask?"

The ghost flinched. "Ah, err… we'll get to that in a bit. Before that, I'd like you to tell me what you remember from before you passed out."

Right. That was a reasonable question. "Well, I think I was… on my way to Drowzee Zem's late at night, running an errand for my employer. Then there was… a wild zubat. I tried to befriend it, but it attacked me, and..." Her eyes widened as she remembered the horrid sight she'd witnessed. "Yes, there was something very wrong with it - it had these huge, sharp fangs! And it bit me --"

She pushed the blanket off her and checked the membrane of her left wing, but it seemed the kind mon had already noticed the wound and patched it up. She only felt a weak ache from it. Maybe the mismagius had cooked up some salve for pain relief, too.

"And after it bit you?" the mismagius urged her to finish.

"I, um… right! I took out some of the morelull spores my employer had given me and threw them, but I guess I breathed them in too and fainted." She held a brief pause. "How did you find me?"

"We were simply out and about when we spotted you lying there," said the mismagius. "And it's a good thing we did. That zubat…" He bit his ethereal lip. "It carried something that most doctors would not be familiar with."

She froze. That did not sound good. "What… do you mean?"

"Well…" the mismagius brought his tendrils together. "It is a certain type of ailment - not deadly, mind you - that causes the affected to… have a particular reaction to strong light. It is, uh, somewhat painful, so light should be avoided, but I assure you, you can still freely walk around at nighttime. There is also the matter of diet…"

The mismagius stopped to gauge the noivern's reaction, but since her swirling thoughts had paralyzed her to the point of all external motion ceasing, he continued.

"Ahem, well, the diet is… different from what you're likely used to, and it may sound strange, but what your body now requires as its main source of energy and nutrients is…"

He stopped again. No reaction. He would simply have to spit it out.

"Blood."

The maelstrom that churned in Nella's mind now flipped direction.

An infection that made her sensitive to light. Okay. That part she could believe. There were plants that did something like that to the skin when touched, and that's why they were better off avoided.

A change in diet could make sense, too. There were illnesses caused by the lack of one substance or the excess of another, so the intake of that substance would have to be changed, which often reflected as a change in the things one ate.

But blood. Consumption of blood, and an aversion to the sun. This was a combination everyone knew could mean only one thing.

Finally, she spoke.

"This isn't funny."

The mismagius flinched. "Pardon me?"

"This is not a funny prank," Nella said, voice eerily calm. "It's just cruel. Please tell me what really happened."

The ghost's shoulders slumped, and he sighed. "I'm sorry, miss," he said, "but we are telling the truth."

"Yeah!" said Paige, flapping her wings again, this time in determination. "We would never lie about something like this! I swear it, Nella!"

Nella wanted to tell the fuzzball she had no right to speak her name, but she knew getting visibly mad was not the answer. A strong reaction was just what most pranksters wanted, and she would not give it to them. She was better than that.

She continued. "I appreciate your rescuing me very much, I truly do, but please, please do not lie to me like this."

The mismagius sighed again, glancing away with a pained expression. Nella's pulse quickened. Pressure formed behind her ears.

"No," she said, voice beginning to waver. "I have not become a vampire. Vampires are not real. They --"

"They are real!" interrupted Paige, fluttering off the floor and right in front of Nella. "Look!"

She opened her mouth wide and showed two large, needle-like fangs - just like the ones the zubat had had.

Nella screamed, recoiling back. Her pulse jumped from slowly quickening to record speed. Her ears locked from a massive influx of pressure, muffling all external sounds. Would she have to do it now? Would she die if she did not bellow?

A light blue glow enveloped the woobat and shoved it back. The misdreavus' eyes matched the glow, and he seemed to scold Paige, who then cast an apologetic look towards Nella and fluttered out of the room with a guilty face.

The misdreavus turned to Nella and spoke something to her, but she could not make it out. Instead, her thoughts returned onto their track. She just wanted to get out. Out of this room, out of this house, away from these strange mon. Relax somewhere to get rid of this pressure. Of course, bellowing would let it all out, but chances were that it wouldn’t even work on a ghost and the misdreavus would simply get mad… or, possibly worse, it’d work on him and everyone else in the house and shatter their eardrums and ruin their lives just because she got a bit freaked out. They’d recoil and they’d show those pained, horrified faces, just like back then --

No, there was no time to pick at that old wound. She had to come up with a way to get out.

She looked around the room, masking her attempt to find the exit as simple curiosity. To her luck, she discovered a promising candidate quickly - light leaked in from the crevice of a door to the right.

“...ello? Can you hear me?”

She looked back to the misdreavus whose words had become intelligible. It seemed the pressure in her ears had let up just enough for her to be able to hear speech. That was good. It meant she’d become calmer, more in control - and that she could put her plan in action.

“Um, excuse me,” she began, getting up on her feet, “may I use the restroom, please?”

“Oh, certainly,” said the misdreavus and floated a bit ahead. “Follow me.”

She followed the ghost as he moved onward. She expected him to lead her through the door on the right, but he took her to the room ahead instead. To her relief, there was another door through which some light shined as well, though not as brightly. As the mismagius opened it and led her through, it became clear why.

They had entered a sort of walkway with a wooden skeleton covered with fabric. At the end of it appeared to be a regular outhouse. She supposed this structure was here to allow dry passage during the rain… and probably, for this house of loonies, dim passage during the day.

She studied the structure more carefully. The curtain-like covers fluttered slightly in the breeze that kept this space ventilated, catching only to the thin wooden pillars supporting the roof. She may be able to run or rip through and escape. That seemed to be her only option, so she'd have to go for it.

She slowed down an imperceptible amount to widen the distance between her and the ghost. Then she dove under the curtain.

"Wha-" the mismagius began, but Nella had already gotten through --

It was bright, it was hot, it was roasting her skin, what was this? It was like she'd run right up to a huge, blazing bonfire! She shielded herself with her wings, but folded them right back as the membranes hurt ten times as much, it had to be the lack of fur, ow, ow, ow! She had to get to some shade, instinct told her that, but how could she when she couldn't see, it was too bright even with her eyes closed! She whimpered in pain, running blindly, praying for a shadow to shroud her in its cooling, calming embrace, but none came! There was only an endless burning desert --

Something pulled at her tail. It yanked her off her feet and dragged her backwards, deaf to her protesting screams. But maybe it would drag her back into the shade? But it'd take her back to those crazy people! She had to flee, but where could she flee when there was nothing but fiery death around? And her limbs would not move, they'd become so weak, so drained. Was she dying? This felt like dying. But was death better than whatever she was being dragged into?

A shadow slid over her. The burning sensation began to fade. The white that had shined through her eyelids dimmed to a bearable red. She heard a voice yell something - the mismagius' voice - but she couldn't tell what. She couldn't hazard a guess, either, as within the next few seconds, her consciousness had left her.

---​

Soft…

It was soft where she lay, but she couldn't say she was comfortable. Most of her skin was covered in a thin layer of something cool and slimy, sharply contrasted by the dull heat right underneath. The membranes of her wings felt the hottest, but it did feel like the slime was keeping it from being even worse. She guessed it was some kind of salve.

She opened her eyes. She was in some kind of log cabin, likely a farmhouse, given the faint smell of manure and sounds of quacking in the background. Why did it feel so familiar…

She froze up as the memories rushed back - the woobat, the mismagius, the outhouse, the burning --

She looked down at herself.

Large patches of her fur had gone missing. The skin underneath was red and swollen.

A panicked sob escaped her throat. Tears came soon after. Even they burned. Her face was burned. And bald, probably. It had to look as hideous as the rest of her body. She was hideous…

More sobs. She knew it would mean someone would come, but she didn't care. What point was there in caring anymore? Her life was over. Good manners would get her nowhere with an ugly, ugly body like this. At best, she could be a beggar. But would such a sad life even be worth perpetuating?

Something fluttered on her right. She turned to see the woobat land next to her on the floor. The memory of the fangs she'd seen made her flinch - but seeing the guilty expression on the woobat’s face and remembering how nice the mon had been brought Nella just a little bit of comfort.

"...Hi," started Paige.

"Hi…" breathed Nella, halting her sobs.

"I'm sorry I scared you before," Paige said. "I'm not great with people."

"...That's okay." Nella wasn't really sure if it was, but she couldn't bring herself to give any other answer.

"Thanks."

A brief silence followed. It let Nella's thoughts and gaze return to her injuries. She cried quietly.

"Are you crying because you're afraid of us?"

"Huh?" Nella turned to Paige.

"We're not mean," Paige said. "I swear. Teru is really nice. And I think I'm nice. Cole isn't very friendly, but he's not mean. You don't have to be afraid."

"I…" Nella needed a moment to process what the woobat had said. "No, it's not that. I'm crying because…" She sniffled. "Because I look like this now…"

"Oh."

Nella turned back and resumed her crying, but only for a few seconds before Paige spoke again.

"It's gonna heal."

"Huh?" She turned to Paige again. She somewhat wished she didn't keep interrupting...

"It's gonna heal," Paige repeated. "Your skin. And your fur will grow back. Don't worry."

In silence, Nella looked back to her skin. It did not seem likely. She let out a heavy, wavering sigh. "You're just saying that to make me feel better."

"No!" Paige contested, startling Nella, but hopping back as she realized her mistake. "I mean, no, that's not true. I know it's gonna heal, and I don't lie. I don't like lying."

Nella stared at Paige for a little while. It really seemed like she believed in what she was saying. But...

"How can you know that, though?" Nella asked, her voice gradually stabilizing.

"It happened to me, too. Twice!"

Nella tilted her head. "Really?"

Paige nodded fervently. "Yeah! First time was soon after I was turned, too. Second was just me being clumsy. But both times, the burns went away in a day! The fur took a few days longer to get back to normal.." She prodded at her shaggy coat with a wing. "But my fur is pretty long. For you, it might just be two or three days!"

The idea made Nella's heart dance - but how could that be true? She'd seen other mon with burns. Those spots stayed hairless even after years… but maybe her burns weren't as bad? Maybe noivern healed better? Or maybe Paige's species did, and she just wasn't taking that into consideration…

Paige suddenly hopped into flight. "Right! I should tell Teru you're awake. I'll be right back!"

With that, she flew out of the room, leaving Nella behind in silence. She didn't have to wait long, however, as the mon soon returned with the ghost from before. So Teru was his name…

The mismagius floated towards her, slowly so as not to alarm her. "Nella, was it?"

Nella nodded, though kept her eyes on the floor. She braced herself for a possible scolding.

"How are you feeling?"

The dull, aching heat rose to the front of her mind again. She glanced at her burnt skin. "Not very good."

Teru lowered himself onto the floor beside her. Paige did the same on her other side.

"I'm sorry about what happened,” Teru said. “I should have made sure you understood your condition before letting you so close to sunlight."

She looked at him, head tilted. He was apologizing? She was the one that had disobeyed… but he was the one with shame on his face.

"It's… alright," Nella mumbled. What was his plan?

Teru sighed. "Listen, I know all this is scary to you and you'd probably want nothing more than to go back home and figure things out there, but that just isn't something you can do right now. The sun is shining hard, and you're injured and confused. You need to stay indoors, at least until nightfall. Okay?"

Nella looked away from his turquoise eyes and gave a defeated nod. She still didn’t trust these people, but she had no choice but to comply for now.

“Alright, good.” Teru began to hover again. “You should eat. I’ll get you another bowl.”

"Ooh!" Paige hopped into flight and fluttered towards the kitchen. "Pour me one, too!"

A bowl… Nella thought back to the soup she’d been fed while Teru floated off to the kitchen to fetch something from the icebox. Two and two added together, and she blanched.

“W-was it, um…” she began, catching Teru and Paige's attention. “Was… the fluid in that bowl… what I think it was?”

Teru flinched, his tendrils curling up. “Oh, well… that depends,” he said. “It is blood, but it comes from livestock. Slowpoke, to be exact. No people are hurt in the making, not that the slowpoke really are, either.”

"They don't even flinch when Teru draws their blood," Paige added, perching on top of a cupboard.

“Slowpoke… blood." Nella's nose wrinkled, but then she remembered how good it had tasted. “How was it so sweet? Is slowpoke blood just like that?”

Teru shook his head. “Not regularly, no - it tastes like any other blood. But once a mon becomes vampiric, blood begins to taste different than it did as a mortal. Much sweeter, more desirable. It makes sense, as that's the main thing they'll be eating from then on.”

He lifted a large jug of red liquid from the icebox, fetched a bowl and a deep plate from the cupboard and began to pour. “It’s fortunate that the change in taste comes quickly for a new, transitioning vampire. What’s not so fortunate is that sensitivity to light also arrives quite fast. In a way, you were lucky to experience the adverse effects while you were still early in the transition. Had you waited a few more days before trying, I doubt you would’ve survived that stroll.”

Finished with the bowl, he filled the deep plate to the brim. Paige eagerly watched as he moved it from the counter to the table. Once it was down, she flitted down beside it. Nella expected her to lap it up with her tongue like any customer lacking hands at the restaurant would, but instead, she extended her fangs - Nella still shivered at the sight - and somehow began to suck the fluid through them.

She cast her gaze downward to avoid seeing it, but seeing her burnt body again, she couldn't help but wince.

"Oh, that will heal, I promise you."

She looked up at Teru, who'd arrived by her side with the bowl in telekinetic tow. The glow in his eyes was eerie, but the look they gave was gentle.

"Sunlight may do nasty things to a vampire, but in the dark, their regenerative abilities are astounding," he continued. "The pain and redness may be fully gone by nightfall already."

"Told you," Paige piped in, the fur around her mouth stained red.

"Until then, there's the salve I applied," Teru said. "Do you feel that it's helping?"

"Somewhat," said Nella. Now that she'd been told twice that it would heal, the sight of her skin became easier to bear. They could still be lying, but she couldn't think of a good reason why. If they wanted to keep her here against her will, they'd sooner convince her that she was in great peril and needed treatment for an indefinite period of time… unless they just wanted her to be quiet.

No, it started to seem more and more likely that these mon were really just trying to help. Help her now that she was…

She sighed, shoulders drooping. "Am I really a vampire?"

Teru gave a sad smile as he handed her the bowl. "I'm afraid so."

Nella took the bowl in her claws. Her mouth watered. She hated that. She didn't want to drink blood… no, she wanted to drink it - but she didn't want to want to drink blood. But she was hungry… or thirsty? Were those two supposed to be distinct feelings anymore?

In an effort to delay the decision to drink it or not, she looked back to Teru. "So… are you a vampire, too?"

Teru shook his head. "No, just a regular ghost. But neither ghosts nor vampires like the sun, nor do they get old or eat the way regular mon do, so I sympathise."

"That's why he runs this vampire shelter!" Paige added.

"Vampire shelter?" Nella repeated.

Teru waved a tendril. "Well, shelter makes it sound like something much bigger… but the idea is there." He pointed to Paige. "Paige here was once in roughly the same situation as you. I happened to pass her by when she'd been bitten, realized what was going on and brought her here before the sunrise could get her."

"I freaked out when I woke up and busted outside," Paige added, frowning. "Not fun. But Teru was really nice and understanding! I think he's the nicest person I've ever met, really."

"Oh, shush," Teru hummed with a smile. "But, yes, I ended up taking Paige in since she didn't really have anywhere else to."

"I'm glad he did, too. Otherwise those creepy cultists could've gotten me."

The few hairs Nella still had stood on end. "C-cultists?"

Teru shot Paige a disapproving glance, at which she flinched, then looked away in shame. He sighed. "It's not something you need to worry about now," he said, turning back to Nella. "We can talk about that later once you've had some time to rest and calm down."

"...Alright," said Nella. She looked at her bowl. She probably should drink it. But it was so weird…

"Um, Teru?"

Both Nella and Teru turned to Paige. Her bowl was empty.

"Does Nella have to drink blood right now?" Paige asked. "I know it's probably good for her, but it doesn't look like she wants to do that. Can't she still eat something normal for a while?"

Teru looked back to Nella, raising a tendril to his chin. "Hmm… Nella, does your mouth feel normal?"

"Huh?" She tilted her head. "What do you mean?"

"Do you feel like your upper canines are loose, or that something solid would be forming above or behind them?"

"Loose…?" A confused frown rose to Nella's face, but it was soon replaced by terror. "Wait, do you mean… do you mean they're going to come off and be replaced by those…" She could barely form words with the image in her mind. "Those fangs?"

"Ah…" Teru's tendrils curled up again, and he glanced away. "I'm afraid so."

Nella shivered. Well, of course. Something like that would be expected of the process of turning into a vampire. But what would it really mean? Would she have to keep her mouth closed or covered in public at all times to make sure no one would notice those horrid fangs? Was she even able to go out in public anymore? She had to stay inside during daylight, but even during the night, wherever there were people, there were bound to be lights…

“But,” Teru piped up, interrupting her thoughts, “back to the point: your mouth. Does it still feel normal?”

Nella felt her teeth and the roof of her mouth with her tongue. “I think so…”

“In that case, it’s very likely that you can still process regular foods at this time. There may be some late eggs in the farfetch’d-house if that’s something you’d be more comfortable eating.”

“Oh, I… I would very much like that, actually.” She gave both mon an appreciative look. “Thank you.”

Teru nodded and lifted the bowl away from Nella. He brought it to the kitchen, but before he could return the fluid to the jug, Paige chirped at him. Sighing, Teru poured a bit of the fluid into Paige’s bowl. Paige grinned.

A small smile appeared on Nella’s face, too.

---​

As soon as Teru had left the room to check the coop for eggs, Paige had begun questioning Nella about each aspect of her life - her hometown, her occupation, her family, her friends and more. With every answer Nella gave, she tried her best to hint that she was not comfortable with this level of interrogation, but these messages seemed only to go in one ear and out the other... wherever they may have been hidden under all that fuzz.

Thankfully, the woobat seemed to be tiring herself out. Once Teru arrived, he saw the sluggishness in Paige’s movements and suggested she go to bed - she was awake at a very unusual hour for a vampire, after all. At first, Paige resisted, but as she noticed the slurring of her own words, she relented and bid the two goodnight. Though it was daytime. It was something else Nella would have to get used to.

“Sorry about Paige,” Teru said once the woobat had withdrawn to her quarters, levitating two pale eggs in front of himself. “She’s just very excited to meet new people. As a vampire, she can’t exactly just go to town to make friends.”

Nella’s ears drew back. “The same’s going to apply to me, isn’t it?”

Teru sighed, placing the eggs on the kitchen counter. “I’m sorry. The life of a vampire is not an easy one.” He sat next to Nella, forming a faint smile on his face. “But I promise to help you. The same way I helped Paige and Cole. You’re free to stay here as long as you like.”

Nella looked into the mismagius’ now-dimmed eyes, finding no insincerity. “Do you mean it?”

Teru nodded.

Her claws rose to her mouth to partially conceal her widening smile. “You are so kind…” She frowned. “Oh, I wish I could repay you, but I have very little…” She grimaced. ”And it’s all back at the town.”

Teru raised a tendril to his chin. “You live in Lepach, right?”

“That’s right.”

He floated off his seat. “You probably have some possessions there that you would like to have with you, right?”

“Well…” Nella thought about her belongings. “I suppose toiletries, at least, are a good idea…” She blushed. “A-and perhaps some books…”

“You ought to take as much as you can carry. The more you have that’s familiar, the more at home you can feel here.”

Nella blinked. “Take? But I… I thought I couldn’t go in town anymore.”

Teru brought his tendrils behind his back. “I believe you’re still early enough in your transition that a visit to gather your belongings is possible - with some precautions taken, of course. You’ll wear something very covering to shield you from the lights of the city at night, and I’ll be there with you in case something goes wrong. But to keep both of us safe, we ought to be quick. Ghosts like me tend to… put people on edge in most places.”

Nella got up herself. “H-hold on, you’re really planning this?”

“We don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” Teru said, “but I imagine you’d much prefer to have your items rather than not. And, unfortunately, time is of the essence - this is only possible while your transition is still ongoing.”

Nella closed her hands into fists, staring at the floor in thought. A moment later, she looked back up. “I’ll do it.”

Teru smiled. “Splendid. We’ll leave once night falls. In the meantime…”

He floated to the kitchen and began to heat the stove. “Two fried eggs coming up.”

---​

After having her dinner, Teru advised Nella to return to resting - she’d need to be awake and alert for the visit in town, not to mention she was still healing from her bout with the sun. Nella had no protests, feeling tired herself, and the house soon went quiet as the two last mon up lay down to bed. Well, the house itself did - the quacking of the farfetch’d and the occasional yawn of a slowpoke still persisted in the background. Thankfully, though, they were quiet enough for Nella to soon fall asleep.

Some dreamless hours later, she awoke to Teru gently calling her name. She opened her eyes to see the dim room illuminated by a teal glow coming from further away.

“Mmm… morning,” she said. “Or do I say ‘evening’?”

“We tend to say ‘morning’ here,” Teru replied. “How are you feeling?”

Nella paused to look down at her body. She couldn’t tell how red her skin still was under this particular light, but the sensation of heat had faded considerably, and she felt less tender overall. I really am recovering… she thought.

“Better than before,” she answered, sitting up. She squinted at the light source. “What’s that blue light? Is it some kind of ghost flame?”

Teru chuckled as he fetched the source of the glow, which looked like an oil lamp. “No, it’s regular fire. The glass is just dyed.”

Nella inspected the lamp as Teru held it closer. “Huh.”

“Vampires are only affected by light with warm components, like red or yellow,” Teru said. “Or that’s what my experiences seem to suggest. In any case, blue light like this is safe for vampires.”

“Oh!” Nella’s ears perked with intrigue. “That’s interesting. And a good thing, too, that we can still use some kind of light.”

Teru nodded. “Now, you ought to start getting ready. I’m almost finished myself.”

Nella got up. She actually felt some coolness on her skin as the air streamed past. It meant her fur still had more growing to do, but at least she could sense temperature past her burns now.

The room brightened with the glow of Teru’s telekinesis as he floated a dark cloak into Nella’s arms. “Try that on,” he prompted.

Nella complied. “Seems the right size,” she said while Teru put on a cloak of his own. “Comfortable, too.”

“Glad to hear.”

Another glow lit up, and a bag floated to Nella. Her eyes widened in recognition. “My bag!” she gasped. “I’d completely forgotten…” She checked the inside. There were her usual items, and then there was a familiar letter and two pouches…

She sighed. She’d definitely failed that job. She only hoped Martha had managed through the day just fine without her bitterleaf.

“What’s wrong?” Teru asked. “Is your key not there?”

“O-oh, no, it’s there. It’s just that my employer tasked me with something the night you found me… and now I’ve let her down.”

Teru floated to her, nearly placing a tendril on her shoulder before realizing the cold touch would likely not be appreciated. “I’d hazard a guess that whatever happened to them isn’t as serious as what happened to you,” he said. “You shouldn’t feel guilty about something that wasn’t your fault, anyway.”

But what if it was my fault? Nella thought, brow furrowed. What if I could have dodged that zubat? Thrown those spores correctly? Or maybe I even should’ve… She winced at the thought.

“Nella?”

She turned to Teru. He looked worried. Oh, she shouldn’t make people worry on her behalf. Though wasn’t she already causing that, having disappeared without a trace? Maybe she could write some kind of letter to Mother. Come up with some story that didn’t involve vampires - that’d only make her more worried.

“Nella.”

Nella flinched. “Right, yes. I’m ready to go.”

Teru floated more bags to view - five large ones. “Do you think this’ll be enough to carry what you need?”

The noivern’s face heat up. “Th-that is all too much,” she said. “I don’t even own enough things to fill all those bags.”

“Oh. Two, then?”

“Two is good, I think.” Nella reached for them, but they hovered away.

“Oh, no, I insist,” said Teru, a wide smile on his face. “You are still healing, you know.”

Nella brought her claws together. “Right.”

Bags in tow, Teru floated past her and opened the door. A moonlit landscape awaited beyond the frame.

"Should I be worried about that light?" asked Nella.

Teru shook his head. "This amount of light will only tingle," he said, "and that's for a fully transitioned vampire. You'll be alright."

She took his word and stepped out into the light. As promised, it did not hurt - though she did not like to look directly at the moon. Compared to the darkness, it was all too bright.

Just as soon as her nerves had calmed, however, a shadow swooped past the moon. She yipped and stepped closer to Teru, but the mismagius touched her reassuringly with a cloak-covered tendril.

"That's only Cole," he said. "One of us. He's going to keep a lookout from the skies while we walk and warn us if there's anything to worry about."

Teru raised a tendril and waved. The shadow returned near the moon, perched atop a tree and waved back. Nella could now recognize the silhouette.

"A crobat?" she asked, and Teru hummed an affirmation. She pouted. "Crobat, woobat, noivern… I guess vampirism only affects bat pokémon?"

"Correct," Teru said. "As far as I've seen, anyway."

The crobat waved again, though this time it seemed different. More forceful.

"What's he trying to say?" asked Nella.

"I think he just wants us to get going."

Nella blushed. "R-right."

Once Teru had locked the door, the two grounded mon began their journey. The crobat hopped off his perch and ascended much higher into the sky. The large circles he glided in reminded Nella of the mandibuzz in Kiss Me at High Noon. Oh, that was one book she ought to take with her...

She sank further into her thoughts, dividing all the belongings she could remember into ones to take and ones to leave. Mainly books. She hoped she wouldn’t be teased for reading in her new home…

She stole a glance at Teru. The mismagius appeared to be deep in thoughts of his own, but his expression remained tranquil.

Nella smiled to herself.

No, I think these people are nice.

---
 
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Torchic W. Pip

~ Utterly glorious ~
Location
Sootopolis City
Pronouns
they/he
Partners
  1. torchic
  2. custom/torchic-blue
Hello there, good friend Canis!

Voices. There were voices around her. They were talking about something, but she couldn’t tell what…
"I'm telling you, Paige. Rick and Morty literally increased my IQ. Just one minute of Rick and Morty will increase it by 90%."
A farm, she guessed, but what was she doing there?
ARE WE GOING TO GET FARMER VAMPIRES???? HELL FUCKING YEAH
The misdreavus turned to Nella and spoke something to her, but she could not make it out. Instead, her thoughts returned onto their track. She just wanted to get out. Out of this room, out of this house, away from these strange mon. Relax somewhere to get rid of this pressure. Of course, bellowing would let it all out, but chances were that it wouldn’t even work on a ghost and the misdreavus would simply get mad… or, possibly worse, it’d work on him and everyone else in the house and shatter their eardrums and ruin their lives just because she got a bit freaked out. They’d recoil and they’d show those pained, horrified faces, just like back then --
This is a very good use of prose. You can feel the anxiety and chaos as Nella's thoughts spiral out of control. Good stuff. Teach me your ways, senpai.
It was soft where she lay, but she couldn't say she was comfortable. Most of her skin was covered in a thin layer of something cool and slimy, sharply contrasted by the dull heat right underneath. The membranes of her wings felt the hottest, but it did feel like the slime was keeping it from being even worse. She guessed it was some kind of salve.
It's the slime pool thing from those Nickelodeon awards.
Nella looked away from his turquoise eyes and gave a defeated nod.
I was going to make a "Me when someone mentions turquoise eyes: is this Wallace?" joke, but that would make me look like a loser and yeah I made the joke didn't I.
“Oh, well… that depends,” he said. “It is blood, but it comes from livestock. Slowpoke, to be exact. No people are hurt in the making, not that the slowpoke really are, either.”
No Pokémon were harmed in the writing of this fic.
“We don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” Teru said, “but I imagine you’d much prefer to have your items rather than not. And, unfortunately, time is of the essence - this is only possible while your transition is still ongoing.”
Gonna be really interesting what parts of the varied vampire lore you use in this fic. There's a lot of obscure stuff—things about a cat jumping over a dead body and turning it into a vampire, or other things like vampires being unable to enter residential buildings or something unless they're invited in. Granted, I'm not an expert on vampires, but I did a lot of research into the various folktales and stories about vampires for my own fic, and there's a lot of interesting elements to choose from.

I bring this up at this point because, assuming you do go with the "vampires are unable to enter residential buildings or something unless they're invited in" angle, it will be fun to see how Nella gets her stuff (or doesn't).
“Vampires are only affected by light with warm components, like red or yellow,” Teru said. “Or that’s what my experiences seem to suggest. In any case, blue light like this is safe for vampires.”
Blue light glasses
Teru floated to her, nearly placing a tendril on her shoulder before realizing the cold touch would likely not be appreciated. “I’d hazard a guess that whatever happened to them isn’t as serious as what happened to you,” he said. “You shouldn’t feel guilty about something that wasn’t your fault, anyway.”

But what if it was my fault? Nella thought, brow furrowed. What if I could have dodged that zubat? Thrown those spores correctly? Or maybe I even should’ve… She winced at the thought.
This thing! This thing about blaming yourself for other people's actions! A very good theme to explore! People can tell you how it wasn't your fault all they want or can, but will that do anything if you don't believe it?
"A crobat?" she asked, and Teru hummed an affirmation. She pouted. "Crobat, woobat, noivern… I guess vampirism only affects bat pokémon?"

"Correct," Teru said. "As far as I've seen, anyway."
Watch there be a vampire Marill.

Good stuff so far. I'm guessing this is a modern era fic? But I could be wrong. I bring this up because, when I read the first chapter, I imagined the diner to be similar to this one ice cream chain I used to go to, and we have mentions of things like outhouses. That's probably just because of the farm, and it's not a criticism or anything, just a "my brain is reading this fic in a weird way" comment. I'm interested to see how Nella's transformation plays out!
 

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
I was going to make a "Me when someone mentions turquoise eyes: is this Wallace?" joke, but that would make me look like a loser and yeah I made the joke didn't I.
I'd be a damned hypocrite if I stopped anyone from self-shitposting. Keep Wallaceposting, queen.
Blue light glasses
damn! Glasses with blue-tinted lenses would actually help them not be blinded by lights as much. I guess I'll just say they can't get dyed glass that thin and clear easily.
Good stuff so far. I'm guessing this is a modern era fic? But I could be wrong. I bring this up because, when I read the first chapter, I imagined the diner to be similar to this one ice cream chain I used to go to, and we have mentions of things like outhouses. That's probably just because of the farm, and it's not a criticism or anything, just a "my brain is reading this fic in a weird way" comment.
Depends on what exactly "modern era" entails - I'm going for a roughly 1800s time period, though I'm kind of terrible at history. Luckily historical accuracy isn't as important in fantasy settings, especially ones with magical monsters in place of humans.

Thanks for the read and review! I hope chapter 3 can come out faster than this one, lol.
 

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 Cani! Finally read this! It was very worth it, enough to put a rec in the blitz hype thread. I've read a little of your PMD fic before, and while they all have horror elements, this was the gentlest and slice of life-y of them by some margin. It's nice. I found it charming and funny and thoroughly enjoyable.

The character art is, as always, absolutely excellent. I adore your style and wish to consume you and absorb your powers.

Nella is good and cute and likeable basically instantly. We establish that she's constantly anxious and self-restraining, expects to be constantly berated, and is prone to flights of escapist fantasy. Later on when we see her self-policing for reasons of etiquette and professionalism, I can't help but be deeply sympathetic to her. Especially when she gets pushes around by the clientele and her boss, and then whumped hard by all the vampirism and burn stuff. Ouch! I'm very interested in the way she tries so hard not to scream – I bet she can she be Loud As Fuck when she does, excited for that to finally matter later on!

The way Nella fixates on Leander is actually adorable. It's something of a meet cute for sure, even if I find myself reluctant to root for the pairing this early on and how certain I am that it's gonna be star-crossed as hell. She makes him seem very charming, by way of your prose. I like that he wants milk, cat that he is. And she's such an anxious bean, bless her. It breaks my heart that she's run so ragged that she expects recrimination for every tiny thing, and again over her feeling crushed by LEander's interaction with Gardevoir. Genuinely laughed at her interpreting "do you have plans" as enough interest to constitute a potential path to marriage, and I've laughed several times at her habit of letting her mind wander into fantasy. It's very believable that she'd think this way, given the excerpts about her mother.

I also really like the names you've chosen for all the characters, by the way.

Also:

"AH'M WALKIN' 'ERE!"
NYvern used Boomburst

The whole last section was a massive oof, I feel so sorry for the poor gal, holy shit.

Chapter 2

Oh, Nella. Her reaction to her ordeal continues to be deeply sympathetic! Her plight is considerable and she is ill-equipped to deal with it, but still trying hard to be polite and to deal. That was definitely blood lmao. Very much expected a freakout about having drunk it, later. And those burns, yikes! They're well-described and I like that she immediately fucks herself up even worse in her poor mental state. Oof. And oh boy, her mundane life is fucking gone, and she hasn't even had a chance to process that yet! And oh boy, Leander is definitely a 'creepy cultist' and they are definitely vampire hunters, if that wasn't clear enough already!

Okay so, we've got a couple new characters this chapter, and like everyone else so far, they have good distinct voices. Actually, everything/everyone in this fic is pretty charming and well-described (though by 'charming' I mean that each scene has an enjoyable quality. The rude customer and Martha are not charmers!)

I particularly like Nella's progression from polite, distressed confusion, to suspicion and contempt, to begrudging fondness and sympathy. It feels appropriately paced, staggered out by the feed of information about her condition and their identities, with the knowledge of who they are making them more likeable characters for both Nella and the reader.

good fic pls update
 

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Partners
  1. leafeon
It's a review of chapter 1 and 2. I switched to googledocs for no particular reason for the second chapter.

"Welcome to Martha's. Would you like… food…?"

lmao

“I’ve seen quite a few,” said the stranger. “They’ve had green, blue, teal, gray, white, even red under their wings - but never pink.” He smiled. “It’s a very nice color.”

Now that I'm reading this again, with knowledge from discord, I realize this probably foreshadows that he is a vampire hunter.

Also, I wonder why he asked about the prayer—is he fishing for some kind of reaction? I can't imagine there'd actually be any issue with it, given that he's not being conspicuous. I doubt anyone would even know he's praying to Solgaleo specifically.

The spores spread out like flour, but glowed in rainbow colors.

No comma here. I don't think a but is needed either ("The spores spread out like flour, glowing rainbow colors.")

Nella may be different from Red, but you still did a good job getting me into her head. The internalized misogyny is readily apparent, as is its harm—poor Nella suppresses a lot of feelings, and it really pains me that she feels compelled to rush into a romantic relationship even if she doesn't feel ready.

As crummy as all of that is, we also see the utility of her mindset. It wouldn't do her much good to lose her cool with an angry customer, especially given Martha's strictness. She's hard on herself, but so is everyone else. But is her mother right that it doesn't pay to be a working woman on her own in this story's world? Probably not entirely; after all, Martha runs a restaurant without a man's help, even if said restaurant doesn't always stock up on as much berry mash and cod as it should.

Given how others treat Nella, Leander being halfway decent is a breath of fresh air. Plus he's apparently hot, so it's understandable that she would be attracted to him.

The ending of chapter 1 really hammers home how deeply Nella has internalized the good = quiet thing and how, hm, maybe it's not always such a good principle to live by.

Anyway, I really want to give Nella a hug and look forward to her turn to the dark side.

Now I have read chapter 2. I'm sure something will go wrong on the way to grabbing Nella's stuff. Maybe they'll run into Leander? Only time will tell.

More chapter 2 comments/line edits can be found on this googledoc
 
Part Three

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
hey new chapter here or part or whatever. im gonna be honest and say that the next part is probably gonna take even longer to write since i dont even know what its gonna have. lol

rating for this chapter is teen for an emotionally abusive mother and not really anything else i think. enjoy

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Part Three

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While Nella had the luxury of not just one but two travel companions, the journey to Lepach still wasn’t easy on her nerves. She felt as jumpy as she had the previous night, flinching at each murkrow flying by or cawing. While there was moonlight to light her way this time, the earth and the trees were still largely dim, their shadows even moreso. Something could have easily been hiding in the darkest nooks, ready to jump out the moment she got too close...

“Are you alright?”

She yipped at the sudden break in silence, only to blush as she realized it had only been Teru.

"S-sorry," she said, then sighed. “I'm just a bit… nervous.”

“Oh, you don’t need to apologize,” Teru said. “It’s perfectly understandable after what happened on your last walk. But I assure you that there’s nothing you need to worry about. If anything or anyone tries to give us trouble, Cole and I will send them running.”

Nella clasped her claws. “Are you strong?”

Teru smiled, gesturing to the two empty backpacks levitating after him with seemingly no effort on his part, only a constant blue glow in his eyes to show that he was the one keeping them up. “I’m no spring duck, but for us ghosts that means little. I say we only get better with age.”

“And Cole?”

“He is a crobat,” Teru said. “Not just any golbat becomes one. It takes a skilled fighter.”

“Oh, I see.” Nella looked at her feet, then bit her lip. “Should I have… known that?”

Teru tilted his head. “Hm? No, I wouldn’t say so. Not unless you were some kind of special expert on the zubat family. Then it’d probably be important to know.”

Nella clacked her claws together. “Sorry. I’m just… not always sure when it’s normal not to know things and when it isn’t.”

“Oh.” Teru brought a tendril to his chin. “Well, you’re free to ask me anything if you’re not sure. Of course, there’ll be plenty of things I don’t know, either.”

Nella gave a small smile. “Thanks.” She returned her gaze to the path ahead --

SKREEE-O-RO-RO-RO-RO-RO!

Nella jumped at the warbling screech with an alarmed yelp. Her wings flapped on their own, wanting to flee from the possible danger - but Teru’s calming shushes let Nella regain control over her body.

“What was that?” Nella whispered, looking in the direction of the noise, trying to estimate how far away it had come from. It didn’t seem to be near, at least…

“You don’t recognize it?”

Nella turned to Teru, her expression just as confused as his. “What do you mean?”

“That noise just now…” Teru gestured towards the direction of the screech. “That was a noivern’s bellow.”

Nella blinked, then looked where he had pointed. Somewhere out there was another noivern…

But that spark of curiosity was quickly overridden by dread. Was that what a noivern’s bellow sounded like? That horrible, ear-piercing warbled screech? She thought of that noise coming from her own mouth and ears, and her stomach sank. Mother really knew best...

“Have you never heard a noivern’s bellow before?” Teru asked, frowning in concern. “Have you never bellowed before?”

“No,” said Nella. “Or no, I have bellowed before - but only as a noibat. Not once since I evolved.”

And I’ll never do it again, she thought, but she already sensed that Teru thought she was odd for not bellowing. She didn’t want to be any weirder.

“...Huh.” Teru blinked. “I see.”

Nella breathed in tensely. “W-we should keep moving.”

“Right.” Teru nodded, and the two continued on their way.

Much to Nella's relief, no further bellows sounded during the rest of the walk. After having heard such a horrible noise, the caws of the murkrow no longer unnerved her as much, either. Eventually, they scaled the last hill, and the town of Lepach came to view.

I'm home, she instinctively thought, only to have to remind herself that it was no longer her home.

Before she could wallow too long in that melancholy, however, Teru stopped. He lowered the backpacks onto the ground next to him, and the glow in his eyes disappeared.

"Cole's coming down," he said.

Indeed, wingbeats quickly approached, and soon the crobat landed behind them.

“So,” the crobat began, “usual protocol?” His voice was more monotone than Nella would have expected based on his fierce, angry-looking eyes, but she supposed that was simply how crobat faces looked.

“I was thinking so,” Teru responded, “but Nella wouldn’t know about that. We should explain to her what we mean.”

Cole nodded and turned to Nella. “I’ll be flying above the city and looking out for trouble the way I’ve been doing on the way here, but how I’ll warn you of any danger will be different. If I simply shouted, people would realize I was present and part of your crew.

“Instead, I’ll mimic the sounds of a feral crobat - chirps for caution and a screech for immediate danger. Feral crobat are quite rare, so I doubt there’ll be an actual one flying around this town, but in case that happens, Teru should still recognize my voice. So look at him for a nod or something before you start fleeing.”

Nella clasped her claws. “Is it really so bad for vampires that I may have to run for my life?”

“You should fly instead of running,” Cole remarked.

Teru shot him a disapproving glare, then turned to Nella. “It’s better to play it safe,” he said. “But I’ll be there with you, and I’ll make sure we’ll get out of town safely if the need to flee comes.”

She crossed her wings, nervous, but the mismagius’ persistent gentle gaze forced the tension out of her shoulders. “Alright,” she said. “Thank you.”

“I guess that’s everything, then,” said Cole, taking steps backwards. “Good luck.”

“Good luck,” Teru said back, and the crobat took off, flying off into the gray sky.

"Alright," he then said, picking up one of the backpacks with his tendrils and slipping it on. "You carry the other one," he said to Nella. "I'll give this one to you when we get to your house."

Nella nodded and picked up the other backpack, but stopped to wonder how exactly she'd carry it - wings and a sleeveless cloak didn't mesh with a backpack. After a short assessment of different options, she chose to slip her handbag around her neck, resting the bag on her back. She then took the backpack into her arms, cradling it like a baby. A baby… no, now was not the time to think about such things.

"Well, if that's everything, we ought to get going," Teru said. Nella nodded, and the two set off on their way.

It wasn't long before they reached the city gates. The light of the lanterns made Nella's eyes squint and her skin tingle, but it wasn't particularly painful, and she had a feeling she'd get used to it. She looked to Teru to see if the ghost was feeling any effects, but froze in shock as she saw something under his cloak that had not been there before - legs.

"S-since when, uh, sorry -" she cleared her throat, pointing to Teru's new limbs with her tail - "since when have you had… those?"

Teru looked down, then chuckled. "Oh, right - I guess I forgot to warn you." He raised one leg and showed it off. It was slim and pointy like the leg of a gardevoir, only dark blue to match the rest of his body. "These legs are not real. They're only a small illusion I'm creating to appear less ghostly. I find that it tends to put a lot of mon more at ease."

"You can make illusions?" Nella asked, eyeing the leg - it seemed very real to her.

"Most ghosts have the ability to some extent," Teru answered, setting his leg back down. "But I only have the capacity for simple, small-scale illusions like these. A master gengar, on the other hand, could create an entire room filled with fake mon. I've seen something like that once, years ago. Very impressive, but very haunting."

"Oh! That's interesting..." Nella looked around, but saw no one else in the streets. "I guess you like to play it safe in case someone shows up."

Teru nodded, beginning to walk again. "It's too late to create the illusion after someone notices you. It's better to have it on constantly. It's not like it takes much effort."

"I see."

Right as Nella resumed walking, a townsmon emerged from behind a corner in an upcoming intersection - a ledian. Nella flinched and her fur raised on end, but Teru's calming voice took the edge off her fright.

"Just keep walking," he murmured. "We're not doing anything wrong."

Nella did as asked, though her heart pounded faster and faster as the mon approached. But that's all the ledian did, wings emitting a monotone buzz as they hovered on forward and, finally, past them.

Nella let out a sigh of relief, though she knew she couldn't be sure until they'd disappeared from sight. But looking over her shoulder would surely make her seem more suspicious. She had to press on, simply hoping that the buzzing wouldn't suddenly start getting closer instead of farther…

Eventually, though, it faded away. She wanted to look to make sure, but what if they were still there and had only stopped to look closer at these two very suspicious mon --

"They left," Teru said.

"Oh," she exhaled, "thank goodness."

Teru hummed. "It's a good thing we're only doing this once. This doesn't seem like it's good for your heart."

Nella tensed up again. "D-do I have to worry about heart problems? Or -- i-is my heart even gonna keep beating?"

"Oh, no, it'll keep beating," Teru replied, raising a tendril to calm her. "Just a figure of speech."

"I thought vam-" She stopped before she said the word - she shouldn't say it out loud here. "I mean, I thought, um, my kind weren't supposed to have their hearts beat anymore."

Teru shook his head. "That part's just a myth. As well as the mirror thing. Stories don't always get things right."

"I see…" She lowered her head. "I can ask you about anything related to v… my kind if I get a question, right?"

Teru smiled. "Of course. I already said so before, didn't I?"

Nella thought back, and yes, he had. She blushed, but smiled nonetheless. "Thanks."

They continued on their way through the town, Nella now slightly ahead to lead the way. As they gradually got closer to where she lived, they encountered a few other townsmon - some of them threw suspicious glances their way, but none stopped to stare or, heavens forbid, approach them. Still, it was nervewracking, and a little pressure kept up constantly at the back of Nella's ears.

Eventually, they reached Martha's. The familiar sight released some tension from Nella's shoulders, though it also twisted her gut - she still had the items from her failed quest in her little bag. She felt like she should return them, but knew it was simply too risky. Perhaps she could leave them at home along with some note to instruct whoever came by to return them. She should leave a note in general, explaining to anyone that came looking after her that she'd left… though maybe there wasn't time for that, either, and she was better off sending a letter sometime later. She decided to do that.

Fortunately, it was not a long walk from her workplace to her apartment, and soon enough they reached the right building. A smile appeared on Nella's face, but a frown quickly overwrote it. She stopped and turned to Teru. "Oh my goodness, this may be bad…"

"What is it?" Teru asked, worry in his voice.

Nella hugged the backpack in her arms. "I-I don't have the key… I mean, no tenant has the key. We're supposed to knock for the keymaster…"

She expected Teru to be shocked, but to her surprise, she instead received a smirk.

"Oh, we don't need the keymaster," he said, though Nella had no idea what he was suggesting. "Watch this."

He promptly raised a tendril and inserted it into the keyhole. Nella watched in bewilderment as quiet clacks sounded from the lock - and in a matter of seconds, the door opened.

Teru floated into the darkness inside and held the door for Nella, grinning. "Come on in."

Nella stepped in, jaw hanging. "How'd you… do that?"

"Just one of a few tricks I've taken up along the decades," Teru said, closing the door behind them. "Now…" He looked up the stairway. "Which floor?"

"Oh, it's only the second floor."

"That's good," Teru said, taking off his backpack. "I think I should stay in watch down here. I'll call you if anything suspicious starts to transpire."

Nella nodded. She transferred her backpack to one arm, grasping its handle instead, and took Teru's backpack in the other. These will be a lot to carry if I fill both to the brim, she thought. I hope I can manage it.

She then climbed a flight of stairs and arrived by the door to her apartment. She remembered the countless times she'd walked these same steps on her way home after a long day of work. But this would be the last. She'd never come here again…

She shook her head. She shouldn't get stuck in her thoughts. She was still on a tight schedule.

She lowered the backpacks to dig her key out of her handbag and unlock the door. Keeping her gaze on the bags, she grabbed them again and pushed her way in sideways in order to fit through the narrow doorway. Once through, she closed the door again in the case of some other tenant leaving their own apartment. She considered lighting her lamp to see in the dark, but realized that she actually didn’t need it. It probably wouldn’t be good for her, either, with her new condition --

A shriek from behind yanked every hair of her body on end. An indigo glow flooded the room - a draconic aura.

“Who are you?” the shrieker demanded. Nella’s heart pounded and her thoughts raced. Had her apartment already been leased to someone else? Was she intruding? But wait - that voice…

“Turn around,” the voice ordered, and she became sure of whose voice it was. Her stomach sank, sank, sank, but she knew she had to turn around, and she did…

She met the fiery gaze of an older altaria lying on her bed, cloaked in indigo energy. As the mon recognized her back, the altaria’s expression lost its fury, keeping only its shock.

“Nella?” she breathed. Her glow dimmed, but stayed bright enough to let her see in the dark. “Is that you?”

“Y-yes, Mother, it’s me…” Nella replied. “What, um, what are you doing here?”

“I was told that you’d gone missing,” Mother said, climbing out of the bed. “I came here to find out if it was true, and I stayed here for the night in case you came back…” She turned to the nightstand where Nella kept an oil lantern. “Hold on, let me light the lantern so that I can see you better.”

Nella’s heart jumped. She was still healing from her accident with the sun - there was no telling how Mother would react. “No, please, don’t!” she pleaded. “I-I mean, you really don’t have to --”

But it was too late. Her mother had grabbed a match and lit it and now she raised the globe and now she lit the wick…

“There we go”, Mother said, lowered the globe and turned around - and shrieked again. Nella tried to cover her face with her claws and her body with her wings, but then remembered her wings didn’t look any better --

“What happened to you?” Mother gasped, rushing up close - oh, there was no hiding it now. “Wh-wh-what happened to your skin? Your fur? Your wings?”

Nella’s throat tightened. So she really did look that horrible. Patchy fur, burnt skin… and those other mon in town had seen her, how ugly she was…

Tears rose to her eyes. A sob escaped her throat. Who was she kidding? She’d never look presentable again, if she’d even looked presentable before…

“You must tell me what happened,” Mother demanded. Nella thought of it -- no, no, she couldn’t! Her looks were bad enough, she couldn’t let her know she was now a bloodsucking monster, too! Oh, she wanted just to run away, run into the woods and hide in a cave for the rest of her days so that no one would have to look at her. But she couldn’t. She had to --

Right. She was here for a reason. She had to get a grip on herself and do what she came here to do. She’d disappointed enough people already. She didn’t want to disappoint Teru.

Sniffling, she opened the backpacks. “I-I need to pack.”

“What do you mean? Why do you need to pack? Talk to your mother, Nella!”

Nella bit her lip. She had to come up with an excuse. “I n-need to move,” she said, “because… I…”

She glanced around the apartment. It wasn’t the newest. Paint had started to peel…

“Mold!” she said. “There’s mold here. I can’t live here anymore.”

Mother’s eyes widened. She covered her beak with a wing. “Mold?” she repeated, disgusted. “There is mold here? Oh, how horrid!”

“Uh-huh,” Nella confirmed, dashing to her bedside drawer to take out her toiletry bag and money stash. She shoved them into one of the backpacks. What else did she want? Her books, right. Oh, but her clothes… no, clothes wouldn't do her any good. She wouldn't be going out in public anymore. But her books - her books would still serve her, even more so now that her life had become so terrible. She needed the fantasy. The escape. And she’d worked hard and saved up for many of them. She couldn’t let them go to waste.

“I-Is that why your skin is like that?” Mother asked. Right, she was still here. “Is the mold doing that to you?”

She had no better lie. “Yes, and that’s why I really have to leave,” she said, shoving her favorite books in the backpack. A Dragon’s Kiss, In The Heat of Passion, The Ice Prince, Love at High Noon, Lionhearted… that one she hadn’t even finished yet, good call. At least she could look forward to reading more of that later.

“Then we must leave here as soon as we can," Mother said, then moved to the closet and opened it. "I'll help you pack."

Nella grimaced. Mother was going to start packing her clothes, but they'd only slow her down.

"Mother, no…" she said. "There's no time. I-I have to leave soon."

The altaria turned to her. Nella's confidence fell the moment she saw those judging beady eyes again. They always made her feel so small, like she was still a noibat.

"What are you talking about?" Mother said. "You have to leave? You're coming home with me!"

Nella's heart jumped in her throat. Oh no. Oh no, but of course, of course she'd say that. Nella brought her claws to her forehead. Of course she'd want her to come with…

"And you'd pack your books instead of your clothes?" Mother muttered, nabbing a scarf and beginning to fold it. "It's a mystery how you've made it this long on your own…"

"No, no, Mother…" Nella skittered to Mother and tried to set her claws on her wings, but the altaria recoiled in alarm, as if Nella's burns were contagious. It wrenched the noivern's heart, but she still had to speak.

"I-I can't come home with you," Nella said.

Mother frowned. "Why not?"

"Because, um, the doctor said I had to stay at this specific place," Nella said. It was kind of true. "I-it has just the right temperature and hygiene and l-lighting conditions for helping me heal."

Mother waved a wing. "Oh, nonsense - that quack's just trying to squeeze more money out of you. No place is better than home! Come on, now, help me pack."

Nella clenched her teeth, feeling the pressure behind her ears grow again. As always, Mother didn't want to listen… but this time, Nella knew she was right. She still had to get Mother to leave her alone somehow…

"A-actually, Mother," Nella started, "why don't you go on ahead and let me pack? I wouldn't want you to catch the same thing as me."

"It really won't take that long, dear," Mother only said, "Especially if you'd stop bickering and help!"

Nella clenched a fist, increasingly desperate. "No, Mother, I insist."

Mother stopped. She turned to Nella again, irritation joined by a new partner on her face - suspicion. Nella's ears flattened back.

"You seem awfully determined to get me to leave," Mother spoke, putting her wings on her hips. Her words were slow but sharp. "Are you hiding something from me?"

Nella froze up. “N-no…”

As expected, Mother wasn’t convinced. She leaned in. “Be a good girl, now, and tell the truth.”

Nella’s heart pounded all too hard for her frail body. Mother’s eyes bore into her soul. She could never tell a convincing lie like this, not that she was any good at lying to begin with.

But she couldn’t tell Mother the truth, either. There was no way she would believe her. If Nella tried to explain that she was a vampire now, Mother would only get angrier, thinking Nella was spinning another lie, and a very stupid lie at that. If Nella still stuck with her claim no matter how Mother raged, Mother would force her to prove her story by marching her her out into the sun and she’d -- she’d burn again, she might not even survive --

Tears filled her eyes again. She covered her face and sniffled. Oh, she was so helpless…

“Crying won’t help you here, little missy!” Mother snapped, her voice sharp as a knife. “Tell me the truth!”

Nella grimaced at Mother's words. She shouldn’t be crying, she knew that, but she didn’t know what else to do. Oh, Gods. Story of her life. She just didn’t know what to do. Everybody else knew, but she was just stupid. Or lazy, not paying enough attention. Maybe she should have planned ahead for this. She definitely should have planned ahead for this. That was the least she could have done! Instead, she let Teru do all the work, Teru and Cole. She was mooching off others’ goodwill again…

“Nella!”

“Leave me alone!” Nella snapped, spreading her wings - but she quickly folded them back and covered her mouth.

Mother's eyes were as wide as they could physically be. Her plumage was puffed, and her tail was raised. Nella could already tell what was about to come next.

“Don’t talk to your mother that way!” Mother exclaimed. “I came here, sick with worry, and this is how you repay my concern?”

Nella couldn’t bear to look at Mother, instead staring at the floorboards. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, “I didn’t mean…”

“Well, clearly you meant something!” Mother snapped back. “If that’s how you react to your dear mother trying to help, surely you must think --”

Mother shrieked.

Nella flinched and uncovered her face. She followed Mother’s shocked gaze to a new presence in the room - Teru.

His cloak was gone, and so were his illusory legs. His turquoise eyes glared at the altaria with stern defiance. “She told you to leave her alone.”

“Wh-wh-who are you?” Mother screamed. “What do you want?”

“I want nothing but for you to stop terrorizing this kind young woman,” Teru said, gesturing to Nella. “And, please, do try to keep your voice down. You’ll wake up all the other residents at this rate.”

It was clear from Mother’s face that she took great offense at being told to pipe down, but she did not protest - it seemed that, even in a situation like this, etiquette came first.

Instead, she turned to Nella. “Do you know this… person?” she hissed.

Nella trembled, sniffling. “I, uhh…”

Teru floated to her side. “I’m her doctor,” he said, “and she needs to stay at our premises until her allergic reaction to the mold has subsided.”

Nella looked to Teru, who gave a knowing look back. He must have overheard their conversation.

“You don’t look like a doctor,” Mother said, voice wavering. She looked back to Nella. “You can’t trust this person, Nella. He’s got something nefarious on the mind.”

Teru frowned, folding his tendrils across his chest. “That’s quite a rude accusation.”

As Mother’s eyes stayed on Nella, she felt the pressure to speak up. “H-he helped me, Mother - free of charge, too,” Nella said. “He has been very kind.”

Mother shook her head. "Oh, darling, no, you cannot be this naive, going along with shady strangers like this…"

"He is not a shady stranger!" Nella said back, but recoiled at Mother's indignant glare. This was the second time she’d shouted at Mother already…

"You're awfully quick to defend him," said Mother. "Almost as if you're…" She gasped, eyes
widening. "I see what's going on here now. You're trying to elope!"

Nella’s face distorted with bewilderment. “Huh?”

“You’re trying to run off with this man to who knows where and leave your job and responsibilities behind!”

“Oh, please,” Teru remarked, rolling his eyes.

Nella’s fists clenched. She tried her best not to raise her voice as she spoke - she wouldn’t do that a third time. “That… is an absurd accusation, Mother,” she said as patiently as she could.

“Is it?” Mother replied, craning her neck. “I asked around your workplace, and they all talked about how tired you had seemed. How you’d been making more mistakes than usual.”

Nella flinched, her blood running cold. So they’d noticed.

“It sounds to me that you were struggling to make it on your own, just like I said you would - but no, you were too proud to come back home and admit your mistake, so you pressed on in that sinking ship.”

Her heart beat even faster. She didn’t think it was possible.

And Mother still continued. “Then, in waltzes a mysterious foreigner with gentlemanly wiles, offering to take you away into a life of thrill and romance, and you decide to leave it all, run off, and leave your mother to pick up the pieces!”

Teru covered his face with a tendril. "We do not have time for this," he said, then turned to Nella. "Nella, are you done packing yet?"

But Nella didn't respond. Her stare was blank, focusing on nothing in particular, and her mouth hung ajar.

Sure, Mother was wrong about Teru. She was wrong about Nella eloping. But what she wasn't wrong about was practically everything else.

She was struggling. Every day was tiring, and every night was lonely. She tried and tried, but was a decent waitress at best, forgetting or misremembering orders and getting lost in daydreams. She was the last candidate for promotion - not that she could even handle the responsibility of anything more. She just didn't have it in her to be a working woman, which was precisely what Mother had told her, but she simply couldn’t admit it. But it wasn’t really pride that made her unable to do that. It was the fact that if she was unable to work and unable to be a lady… she was dead weight.

And she’d never be anything but a…

Hold on.

Nella snapped back to reality, her eyes on her apartment and her feet on the floorboards.

She was a vampire now.

She was a blood-sucking, undead monster, and she had no future either way.

There was no future. There was only the present.

Her fists clenched, claws digging into her palms, and she stepped past her mother.

“Wh-wha-?” left Mother’s beak, but it had no effect on Nella. The noivern reached the bookshelf, took five books from the end of one shelf and marched back to the second backpack. Only once the noivern shoved the books in did Mother speak again.

“Hey! I told you to pack clo-”

“Teru.”

Nella’s voice was eerily calm. She turned to the mismagius, eyes reddened from crying, but determined.

“Do you know any tricks that would get her out of the way?” she asked.

Teru blinked, stupefied, but soon shook himself out of his daze. “Uh, is hypnosis alright?”

Nella paused, but soon nodded. “Yes.”

Mother’s eyes widened. “H-how dare you!” she shouted. “I-I will not stand for th…”

In less than a second, her eyes drooped shut and her body went limp. Before she hit the floor, a blue glow enveloped her, stopping her fall and instead gently lifting her onto the bed.

Nella promptly picked up the backpack and fetched the other one as well. She turned to Teru. “I’m done.”

Teru nodded with some hesitation. “We ought to hurry,” he then said. “Your neighbors might get curious.”

Nella nodded back and carried the bags out into the hallway. Behind her back, the light of the lamp went out. Teru floated out of the room and closed the door, then picked up his crumpled coat off the floor of the hallway. It seemed that he’d left it behind before in order to phase through the wall.

Nella headed for the stairs, but Teru grabbed the bags with his telekinesis and quickly floated them downstairs by themselves. Nella gave Teru a brief look.

“An acceptable shortcut,” the mismagius whispered.

The two mon then made their way downstairs in silence. At the door, Teru slipped his coat back on, recreated his illusory legs and took one of the bags for himself. The two exchanged a nod and stepped outside.

Only once the door had closed behind them could Nella let herself sigh.

“It’s alright,” said Teru. “It’s over. All we have to do now is get home.”

Home.

Nella squeezed her eyes shut.

Yes, this place was no longer her home.

SKREEEEE-EEEEE-EEEE!

Nella’s eyes snapped open. She looked up to the sky and saw a crobat rapidly approaching.

“Cole,” Teru said.

Cole swerved down to the main road flanking them and stopped his plummet with rapid wingbeats, kicking up dust off the ground.

“What is it?” Teru asked, and he’d barely finished his sentence when the crobat answered.

“White Tiger!”

Nella’s heart jumped. She didn’t know what that meant, but the upset and urgency in Cole’s normally monotone voice told her it was something very bad.

She looked to Teru. The expression on the mismagius’ face was one of sheer terror.

Less than a second later, Teru gave his full response in two words.

“We’re going.”

---​
 
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SparklingEspeon

Resident Nosy Person
Location
*teleports behind you*
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
Review of chapters 1 – 3

Hello! I’ve heard some things about Batty here and there, but it kind of just floated around in the back of my head for a while. Then I was idly browsing the forums one night, clicked on it by complete accident, and was like “…okay, why not”

And then I got sucked in, and now I’m here to publish several hundred words of me screeching about it like a gremlin,

Mixing vampires and pokemon in a serious sense is something that I’ve never actually… seen anywhere, so immediately you get originality points from me. I also appreciate that you aren’t going out of your way to make it particularly dark or brutal; seeing a Tokyo-ghoul type of scenario might have been cool but would also be very super heavy and would change the story a lot. In general I get a sense of “flipped script” here, with probably Leander being referred to as a cultist and the vampires being much more ethical and harmless than they appear.

From these few chapters, I’m already picking up a vibe of social regressiveness themes. There’s the way that the vampires are misunderstood, which I assume Leander plays into from his dialogue at the start and the mention of “White Tiger” at the end. (I think it’s also a really fun plot to have her be super totally into this guy, and then whoops, he wants to kill her actually! Nothing bad will come of this) But there’s also Mother, who by far takes the spotlight for dysfunctional and controlling. She’s ingrained several very conforming ideals in her child, which I guess isn’t abusive depending on the culture you were raised from, but she is also… extremely controlling. And very dead-set on the idea that you ARE going to come back with me, you ARE going to get married, no matter what, and don’t you dare disobey me, I control every aspect of your life forever. Which, when your kid is an adult and you’re dictating their life decisions… >.> I don’t like her much, and it’s clear as day to see how much her parenting techniques have messed Nella up. I guess if you’ve made a character people love to hate, it’s a sign of a good job :p

(I’ll also admit I wasn’t sure if you were trying to mimic a specific time period or if you’re just going for a timeless/stock “Pokemon-only world”—I get the feel most of this is set in a pre-industrial town setting, but I also got hard 1950’s diner vibes from the place Nella worked at and had initially assumed it would be much higher-tech. Just something that registered on my radar some of the way through; it’s valid to have a timeless world! But it did occur to me, especially given the origin of the modern vampire in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.)

It's kind of harsh that vamps literally can’t touch slower-wavelength light at all, or they get burned. It must really suck to be one when even firelight can hurt you, that’s basically a life in isolation forever unless you find others like you :/ It does have me wondering what the nature of their affliction is, and how it can be cured. I assume you’re not looking to get into the science-y bits, but I do wonder if there’ll be a plot relevant idea of a cure at some point… or at least, something that makes it so they can walk in the sun without being burned.

On that note, I wonder if there’s actually like, a secret society of vampires or something. Paige, Neru, and Cole all feel like a small group, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s more that they know about. Neru in particular seems savvy, so even if they’re in hiding I feel like he would know where to find more vamps.

The only thing that really made me wonder was like… at one point, Nella concludes that this malady affects only bat pokemon, so assuming Neru is also a vampire… hmm. I guess I never saw mismagius as bats. But it does make me wonder if that’s meant to be a hint at a twist of some kind, or if you’re just counting them as bats for the purpose of this. I could see it going either way.

For plot hopes…

  • I really hope we go hard on the whole Leander/Nella thing. It’s a super subversive twist on the “love at first sight” trope, in part due to how she’s been raised, and I’m super here for it.
  • I think it would be interesting to see more vampires hanging around. We see five altogether including Nella, but I imagine there are more hanging around?
  • It would be interesting to see Mother get in on the story more. I feel like there’s more of the story to tell between her and Nella, and it would create a great sense of pressure tearing her between the vampire/pokemon lives. Not sure how you’d get her back in though—maybe Leander talks to her?
Overall, I’d say this is a strong beginning! As it is with most of my first-time reviews, I’ve not got too much to say, but I hope this served well enough for the three chapters that are out there. You said that you weren’t really sure where to take the story from here; I think that you’ve got all the components of a good beginning laid out in front of you. All you need is a good direction.

~SparklingEspeon
 

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
big review i quag :quag:

(I’ll also admit I wasn’t sure if you were trying to mimic a specific time period or if you’re just going for a timeless/stock “Pokemon-only world”—I get the feel most of this is set in a pre-industrial town setting, but I also got hard 1950’s diner vibes from the place Nella worked at and had initially assumed it would be much higher-tech. Just something that registered on my radar some of the way through; it’s valid to have a timeless world! But it did occur to me, especially given the origin of the modern vampire in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.)

I'm pretty poor at history generally, but I'm trying to go for a roughly 1800s setting. Dracula by Bram Stoker was written in 1897, it seems, though I chose 1800s more on a vibe and the vague knowledge that it's when the literary genre of horror began.

On that note, I wonder if there’s actually like, a secret society of vampires or something. Paige, Neru, and Cole all feel like a small group, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s more that they know about. Neru in particular seems savvy, so even if they’re in hiding I feel like he would know where to find more vamps.

Oh, you'll see :)

The only thing that really made me wonder was like… at one point, Nella concludes that this malady affects only bat pokemon, so assuming Neru is also a vampire… hmm. I guess I never saw mismagius as bats. But it does make me wonder if that’s meant to be a hint at a twist of some kind, or if you’re just counting them as bats for the purpose of this. I could see it going either way.

Oh - Teru was never meant to be a vampire but rather a ghost that sympathizes with vampires due to ghosts also needing to shy away from the light and being feared by the general populace. There's this bit in Part 2:
In an effort to delay the decision to drink it or not, she looked back to Teru. "So… are you a vampire, too?"

Teru shook his head. "No, just a regular ghost. But neither ghosts nor vampires like the sun, nor do they get old or eat the way regular mon do, so I sympathise."

Thanks for the review and checking this fic out in general! While Part 4 is still in the outlining phase, I can say that I do at least have a smidgen more of an idea what it should contain, so I suppose progress has been made.
 

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Partners
  1. leafeon
I read chapter 3 a bit ago but did not take notes. But I think it's nice to see Nella assert herself, with some help from Teru. I feel like having a friend almost might change her life as much as the vampirism, and I look forward to seeing how their relationship develops.

Anyway, Nella's mom really is something else. The fact that Nella isn't, like, immediately pissed that she's just chilling in her apartment speaks to her submissiveness. Her shame about not making it in the "real world" is relatable, but she's in the vampire world now, I guess, so she can find liberation. That is, if she can evade the clutches of the white tiger...
 
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