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Pokémon Death Is Lonely

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
Yveltal lives a quiet, sad life of killing only when ordered. Despite her benevolent intentions, her position in the pantheon is loathed, and the mortals shun her. Xerneas, who is always bothered by Yveltal's treatment and also beginning to loathe mortals himself, comes up with an idea that can make both of them happy.
Hi everyone! Every so often I have a story idea that doesn't tie directly into Hands of Creation, and even rarer, I have the time to actually write it! And I am proud to present a small, four-part story now that it's complete, which I will be trying to publish every Sunday that doesn't have a new HoC chapter published. It's only four parts, so it should be much easier to take on!

This story contains mild (but not gory or particularly violent) depictions of death, explores concepts of death, and probably has some mildly suggestive language here and there, and is a soft Teen.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
Part 1

The trail of blood was fresh.

Autumn leaves crackled under Yveltal’s massive talons. She ducked under a branch, careful not to touch the delicate wood, and scanned the ground ahead. A small tuft of white fur showed her the way, and she continued down the path. Another spatter barely stood out against the red, teardrop-shaped leaves on the ground, but Yveltal was very keen on that kind of color.

Under the evening sun, everything was quiet; too early for the nocturnal Pokémon to rise, but too late to hear the diurnals. Long, dreary shadows blanketed the cooling forest floor, and Yveltal wondered if she would find what she was looking for at all.

A spark of white-yellow light answered her silent plea. It was tiny—it would have gone unnoticed had it been any dimmer. She walked gingerly toward that spark of light, stopping only when a quiet whimper confirmed her suspicions.

A little Pachirisu; young, but not too young. Old enough that it left the nest, but perhaps only recently. On its side, Pachirisu let out another quiet whimper. Dim lights reflected off of its eyes, and Yveltal realized that it was staring right at her. She lowered her head in respect; poor thing. A shame it wasn’t lying in the opposite direction.

“It’s okay,” Yveltal said, her voice an ominous trill. With her words came a cruel, hollow breeze that kicked up dry leaves and dusted her body and blinded Pachirisu. Another whine, an arm reaching up to its face, but it was too weak.

Yveltal lowered her head—her beak was larger than the little thing—and brought a wing forward. Her tail’s claws flexed on the ground, digging into the dirt absently. Almost on reflex, it drew away life from the nearby trees, but she quickly stopped herself.

“Little Pachirisu…”

It whined back, not recognizing her words. A wild Pokémon, no doubt, yet that didn’t make it any less tragic to Yveltal. Life was draining from this one too early, and Yveltal wondered if she could bring this one to Xerneas. But not only was he too far away, but perhaps that would only lead to more suffering.

Morbid curiosity drove Yveltal to inspect Pachirisu closer. The wound was across its chest; some sort of slash. Must have gotten into a fight it simply couldn’t win, perhaps falling prey to a predator. Yet it still managed to escape. It was strong, but not strong enough to escape the aftermath. The little one was too small; these wounds were far too grave, and there were hints of poison coursing through it, too.

Yveltal sighed, making another ominous trill, and gently picked Pachirisu up. Then, she began to sing. The song had no words—it would be meaningless to Pachirisu, after all—but the tune was slow and became slower, notes rising and falling with Pachirisu’s chest. The harmony slowed the wind and settled the leaves; the sun set, making the sky just a little darker. Pachirisu relaxed in her claws, weakly snuggling against her massive wing.

On the final note, Yveltal gently ran her free wing’s claw under Pachirisu’s chin, then the cheek—it sparked, weakly, and Pachirisu smiled. Yveltal didn’t care much for the tingling sensation, but she didn’t stop her song. Finally, she moved it to Pachirisu’s forehead, where a small, dark aura collected at the tip of her claw. Pachirisu, still smiling, stiffened, and then went limp. It was gone.

Yveltal set Pachirisu down after that, and the leaves surrounded the lifeless body. Yveltal stared for a while until more little, gleaming eyes to her left caught her attention. Two pairs of them. Two more Pachirisu, the same age as one whose life had just been extinguished. They looked at Pachirisu with little recognition of what had happened; did they understand death? On a primal level, they at least recognized Yveltal as a threat, because when she looked at them, they immediately backed away.

Speaking to them would be no use. She turned, her tail dragging a trail through the ground, and left the body alone. When far enough away, she took to the sky.

<><><>​

Moonlight Village was a humble abode settled in the middle of a small valley. North of the country, the winds often became cold and harsh when the leaves turned red. A cobblestone path divided the town in two, piercing through its heart. There, in the center of town, a small crowd of Pokémon gathered around a great, blue Pokémon with multicolored horns. Under the morning sun, they shimmered, though the shine faded rapidly to the brightening sky.

“Everyone, quiet, quiet,” Xerneas said, stomping a hoof. “Now, from what I’ve been told, your village was recently hit by terrible rainfall, something you would have expected from Lugia’s wrath. Now, while I don’t agree with your decision to live in a valley where floods may happen… and while I also feel that my visit is completely needless… the Great Ancestor feels that I should at least give this town a proper rejuvenation.” He harrumphed, tapping a hoof again. “So, I will humor you.”

He looked down at them all, greedy eyes, eager for just a small taste of his power. Gods, he hated being out in public. He never had a moment to himself the second he left his dwellings. And even then, there was always some bold explorer…

They were still staring at him. Some of them had that usual, indignant expectance in their eyes, particularly of a Tyranitar that kept rubbing at his arm, like it was sore. Oh, Tyranitar, was your arm hurting? Sprained from carrying too much weight? Is it such a great inconvenience to you, then, that you would ask a god to heal it? Is that how important it is to this village that you’d hint so obviously at it?

Xerneas should leave. He really should. They had no respect for him; they were only being nice because of his power.

Something pink floated in the sky. Long tail, tiny body, watching from far away while resting atop a violet bubble of Psychic energy.

Xerneas suppressed a snarl and turned it into a sigh. “Near or far, it won’t matter; let me focus. One Geomancy for the town, just for you.”

His antlers brightened, outpacing the morning light. Energy flowed from his antlers into his hooves, and then into the ground, where—perhaps as a spiteful side-effect—grass broke through the gaps in the cobblestone floor and overgrew around the feet of the crowd. Nearby trees resembled their springtime days in seconds; all the Pokémon nearby glowed with power, their chests and shoulders visibly rising.

Some of the Pokémon glowed particularly brightly. While this was no surprise to Xerneas, a few Pokémon gasped and cried out in celebration; when the light faded, three Pokémon evolved from the sheer jolt of energy. Cheers and hugs over the monumental occasion—the miracle, as far as they were concerned—didn’t move Xerneas. After all, thanks to the miracle, they had completely forgotten about him, aside from a few in the crowd that gave him thankful nods and smiles.

To them, he at least smiled back. Because at least they knew to spare a few seconds to thank him. Looking up, Xerneas saw no pink Ancestor lording over him, so his job was done. Without another word, Xerneas left the town and its rejuvenated aura.

<><><>​

The chilling wind was calming after a long day. Without ceremony, Yveltal landed near her nest of dead leaves, prodded at a few perceived imperfections at the edges, and then hopped onto the center. It was large enough that, if desired, she could stretch out to her full wingspan and still have some nest to spare. The claws on her tail squeezed and gripped at a clump of the hay, then released it. She needed something harder to squeeze that didn’t simply give way. Maybe somewhere in town they would have a big stress ball, or a mossy rock. A big, mossy rock. Oh, but she’d just kill the moss… Fake moss? Did they make those?

Idle thoughts distracted her until she drifted away. No blankets as there was no need; the cold was cozy for her. She admired the dead trees that had grown over a ruined town long since abandoned. She remembered exploring one of those crumbling buildings. There was a little toy left behind by a Pokémon that had escaped before the fire that had claimed it. But that had decayed to time, too. Maybe she could buy another that resembled it. It was squishy. Maybe they had a bigger version…

After emitting a soft trill—which killed a few nearby flowers—she fell asleep.

Though, it didn’t last long. The sun had set recently, and based on the temperature and how her body still felt warm, it was not even close to the darkest point of night. But despite this, she heard something in the silence. She cracked one eye open and winced in preparation, wondering if it was some misguided Pokémon seeking revenge. She didn’t want to kill someone tonight; she’d done enough of that already. Maybe if she stayed asleep, they’d get cold feet and leave without a word…

What if it was a blighted Pokémon? That could be dangerous. Perhaps the only thing truly dangerous to a Pokémon like her, at least aside from something foolish like defying Arceus. But she didn’t feel any sort of corrupted aura in the air… No, it was just a bystander, perhaps, passing by on a nighttime stroll.

No, they were definitely getting closer, and this Pokémon was a lot larger than something she could ignore. She opened her eye more and focused, only to see, through the dark, the dimly glowing antlers of Xerneas. A mixture of relief and joy washed over her, and then a giggle.

“Xern,” Yveltal greeted. “Long day?”

“Can I sleep here tonight?” Xerneas said with a hint of desperation in his voice.

“Let me guess.” Yveltal lifted her wing, silently inviting Xerneas into her nest. “Eager visitors?”

He obliged with a relieved sigh, going around Yveltal, ducking under the wing, and then turning on his side. His body was so warm; smooth, soft blue fur trapped the heat even this far into the night.

“You don’t know the half of it,” Xerneas said, groaning and cuddling against the underside of Yveltal’s wings. “I went to this town, ugh, what was it called, Moonplate or something. Apparently, someone got on Mew’s good side because she insisted that I go there and take care of some of their villagers after some catastrophe, who cares what it was, you know how they are.”

Yveltal nodded understandingly, though with a small twinge of envy. Any time Xerneas was summoned, it was to see smiling and relieved faces, perhaps not unlike how Yveltal had greeted him tonight. And her? She saw nothing but fear in all those she met. Fear of what she could do to them if she wasn’t in the right mood, as they saw it. Fear of her power. Fear of death. Everyone was like that. Even that Pachirisu’s family, who saw how far gone the little one had been.

Xerneas let out one last groan and nipped at one of Yveltal’s claws. “I’ll get out of your nest in the morning.”

“Oh, it’s—you don’t have to if you need extra time.” Yveltal’s heart fluttered, and Xerneas smirked, even with his eyes closed.

“If I feel like it,” he said. “G’night, Yevvy.”

<><><>​

Ahem.”

Yveltal woke up with a start, accidentally squeezing Xerneas, though he didn’t stir. Golden hooves stood at the edge of her nest.

“A-Arceus!” Yveltal tried to get up, but she was trapped under Xerneas; at some point during her slumber, he had gone on top of her wing rather than beneath, and now she couldn’t move without getting Xerneas off—and, therefore, waking him up. She couldn’t do that.

Reduced to looking up at Arceus, Yveltal gave him a nervous smile. “Um, hello. Is everything well?”

“You have an assignment. I left the details here.” The god of gods tapped a large piece of paper next to her nest, kept down by a small rock. Primitive technology, but she was never good with those newfangled inventions anyway. Arceus probably felt the same.

“Tomorrow at the latest,” he said, “and preferably today.”

And you can’t just do that yourself? Yveltal thought idly, but she knew how it always was. Procedures, policies, delegations, traditions. She wouldn’t mind following Mew’s delegation now and then instead…

“Take care.” Arceus took two steps away, as he always did, and then disappeared in a flash of golden light. Fading orbs remained where he had stood before those, too, dissolved.

Yveltal didn’t like the cold anymore. Slowly, she tugged her wing out from under Xerneas, praying to—well, that would probably just irritate him. She merely hoped that Xerneas wouldn’t wake up.

Perhaps by a residual miracle from Arceus, she was able to break free unnoticed. She shuffled her wings, read over the assignment, and prepared for departure.

<><><>​

South, near the beach, there was a forest that hadn’t seen a fire in at least a generation. A worrying amount of time, particularly when the rains were becoming less and less frequent. Perhaps it was due for floods in a few decades, but for now, the dryness was becoming a concern for the lives within and nearby. The smoke alone from a fire would snuff out all crops that surrounded the forest.

So, Yveltal’s assignment was simple: Destroy the forest and let the overgrowth even itself out. No fire, no smoke, only dust and ash.

It was such a lush forest, filled with deep, full greens. Small Pokémon chirped in the branches—loud little creatures, even from so high up, eager to greet the morning sun. From the sky, her distinct shadow loomed over the trees.

Yveltal didn’t feel guilty for what she knew she was about to do. This was just her job, part of the work that had to be done to keep this world, a world of Pokémon where everyone was capable of so much, in balance. What caused this overgrowth? Yveltal wasn’t sure. But the Pokémon nearby had been neglectful of it and perhaps did not realize the doom they had caused themselves in the future; if anything, her arrival here was a blessing. She could let them start anew without the flames claiming them.

But she understood. Mortals were often short-sighted, and it was difficult and tiresome to teach them generation after generation, what with how often they died. A less involved god would leave them alone to fall to their own vices, but perhaps sometimes it was necessary to help them.

And so, Arceus had sent her here.

The morning dew atop the treetops didn’t deter Yveltal’s descent. She weaved through a large clearing and landed in the center with a firm whoosh. With loud spatters, the dewdrops on the heavy leaves rained down on her. She shook off most of it and outstretched her wings. Around her feet, grass already withered and wilted into nothing but gray mulch.

This part of the forest was already showing signs of overgrowth. Twisted vines competed with one another for sunlight. Flowers grew on top of and in between those. The tree trunks of some trees were completely covered in layers of moss so thick she could run her claws through them like fur.

This wasn’t a normal overgrowth. This was the result of Pokémon sparring too often there; life energy flowing without restraint in the roots, through the trees. Frenzy Plant, Magical Leaf—those techniques energized the plants, and sometimes contributed to it. This area must have a high population of Grass Pokémon, if she had to guess.

It was a shame that they had too much of a good thing.

Something creaked above her. The tree was dying. Withering and rotting right where it stood. Leisurely, Yveltal stepped to the side. A branch fell, splintering into countless dry pieces, which themselves turned to dusty ash moments later.

She was careful. She didn’t want to destroy the whole forest, after all. She walked slowly, one pace every five seconds, just like she’d practiced for so long for overgrowth containment. Ahead of her was a beautiful, grotesque collection of twisted flowers and struggling, damp vines. Behind her was rot and ash, the ends of a fire without any flames. Pokémon had fled from their dens shortly after her arrival, but she still saw a few scampering away from her presence.

A few were defensive, shooting Bullet Seeds and rocks her way, but they did nothing. Most of them turned to dust before they even had the chance to so much as dirty her feathers. And then, when she glanced at them, they shrieked and fled.

It wasn’t a large forest, and she slowly increased the distance of her influence, even while she walked. She didn’t know the full extent of the damage, now, aside from the general size, but that made it easier. By the time she was done with her assignment, the once circular forest would be more akin to a crescent moon.

The rot had outpaced her a while ago. Now, she only saw gray mud, though the horizon of the forest was still green, so her work was far from over. But there was something not ashen ahead. Out of caution, Yveltal folded her wings down and approached without any drain, though she clicked her beak worriedly once she got closer.

It was a Honchkrow, crumpled on the ground with a busted wing and leg. Feathers were messy and a few dewdrops were still intact. A gentle touch revealed the body was lukewarm beneath those badly kept feathers, and his eyes were still open, staring emptily at the sky.

She knew death well, and her pang of guilt left quickly. This one had been on death’s door recently, and her power may have sapped the last of his life… but even if it didn’t, she only cut short the suffering. The trail left behind suggested that he had tried to hobble away or fly, but failed each time.

Perhaps it was simply his time. Yveltal stepped around the body and continued along, but something caught her eye to her left, but she couldn’t see the specifics. Whatever it was, it ran away for a while, so she didn’t pay it any mind. Probably just some curious mortal; they didn’t really matter now. If they were smart, they’d get out of her draining range. If not, well… survival of the smartest.

Yveltal resumed her drain, expanding her aura slowly, and finished her route.

The final part of her work was always tedious, not to mention out of her element. From what remained of the forest, Yveltal tore through the vines and the flowers and the fruits, gathering them in her claws and letting them collect on her feathers. Like holding her breath, she made sure she didn’t drain the life from them. After feeling thoroughly filthy and heavy, she used some of her Legendary power to fly in the air—after all, her wings weren’t flight worthy on their own by any means—and shook her body over parts of the ruined forest.

Trees had collapsed and fell away, leaving behind nothing but desolate lands. In their place, seeds scattered through the air and landed in the nutrient-rich soil. Now all it needed was a spark of life and time.

She was finished by sundown, landing at the forest’s edge. The twilight cast long shadows over the dead forest, and it just occurred to Yveltal that these evergreens had shown no signs of autumn like the trees to the north. It was interesting how deceptive forests could be, showing nothing but health one decade, only for them to all go up in flames in the next… But those were slow patterns that normal Pokémon often ignored. Too gradual to care, at least, until it was too late.

One of the shadows was moving oddly. Yveltal suppressed a curious chirp and leaned to the left for a better look. Yes, that was definitely moving, but what—

The Honchkrow. Moving? No, it had been very definitely dead. She knew that more than anything.

No, there was something underneath it. A Murkrow was—

Oh.

At the same time that the thought had hit her, a rock went flying to the back of her head. Its sheer speed made a whistle through the air and it shattered on her skull. With an annoyed twitch of her right eye, Yveltal glanced back to see a Machamp with three more rocks, one in each hand. Behind him were several other Pokémon, and far in the distance, she saw huts of a small village.

“Go away, you blight!” Machamp roared.

“Blight?” Yveltal said with an offended chirp. “I just saved you from a fire that would’ve destroyed everything within a—”

“Saved us? You destroyed the forest!” Machamp clenched one of the rocks and it shattered in his hands. “What sort of game is Arceus playing? Where are we going to get our food?”

“Aren’t you near the ocean?” Yveltal waved dismissively, feeling too defensive to apologize. “The forest isn’t the only thing left for you. And besides, I—”

A sniffle caught her attention. Beside her, taking a wide circle, was that same Murkrow carrying the limp body of Honchkrow.

“Then why’d you kill him, huh?” Machamp said. “You… you killed his brother!”

“That’s not at all what happened,” Yveltal said instantly. “I found his body already dead—the dew was on his feathers! I wouldn’t just—”

Murkrow fell over, the weight too much. Yveltal leaned forward to help, claws outstretched—the villagers gasped and Machamp threw his third rock. That earned panicked pleas from the other villagers, and briefly, Yveltal wondered why she was humoring them. She was death. What insolent mind would try to drive her away when she was just doing her duty? Saving them?

No. No, mortals were short-sighted. And even then, some of them seemed to understand… But the circumstances of that Honchkrow… Of course they would think of it that way. But still, that gave them no right to throw rocks at her. Insolence…

Yveltal stepped away from the Murkrow, glaring at Machamp. His limbs tensed and his legs, try as he might to hide it, trembled.

“Just leave. You did what you had to do,” Machamp said. Behind him, a Chesnaught and a Venusaur nervously glanced at one another. Further behind, two Bellossom and a Lilligant murmured about something. The Machamp continued to hold his ground, and eventually, Yveltal stepped forward and past Murkrow. She took advantage of her height.

“Hey—HEY! Get back!” Machamp roared, squeezing at his final rock, but he was frozen in place. Even if he wanted to, he didn’t have the will to throw at her so close.

Yveltal reached a claw out to Machamp’s hand, to the rock within, and tapped it with black energy. Lightless sparks coursed through the rock, turning it into dust within his grip. It washed over his arm and to the ground.

Machamp’s face, up close, had a defiant snarl, but she saw in those bright eyes nothing but fear.

Good enough. She leaned close, her beak mere inches from his face. A few Pokémon behind him turned away, covering their eyes.

In her usual, ominous trill, she whispered to him, “Clean up after your forest. Too much overgrowth, and my arrival will be the least of your problems.”

Machamp clenched his jaw, saying nothing. She looked at the many Grass Pokémon behind him; some looked down in shame. Others were more fearful than anything. A few seemed more defiant, as if they couldn’t possibly have been to blame for the forest’s overgrowth.

Whatever. If they did it again, maybe she’d burn it instead to show them what…

Yveltal shook her head. “Goodbye, then,” she said, and did her best to ignore Murkrow when she took off.

<><><>​

Little, glowing lights, dewdrops filled with luminescent life energy, dripped from the leaves. The nighttime winds blew a few of the droplets off their leaves, where they spattered against the ground and trailed down small boulders like teardrops. Curled up on a bed of leaves, Xerneas heaved a sigh and tried to tune out the irritable thoughts of yet another day of tireless admirers.

His natural aura energizing those around him didn’t help; it was a feedback loop of endless followers. They walked more than they normally could, because he provided them with the energy and longevity to do so.

At least they had the decency to leave him alone tonight. Either that or that Substitute of himself had been good enough to flee. With a giddy sigh at a night’s silent sleep, he curled up a little tighter, only for a pang of dread to wash over him a second later.

Someone just landed. A big Pokémon, maybe some overeager dragon who happened to be the five hundredth “biggest fan” in the past decade. Maybe if he acted dead, they’d leave him alone. No, that was stupid, how could he die?

“Um—” whispered Yveltal. “Are you awake?”

The amount of relief that followed was enough for Xerneas to deflate. “Thank the light, it’s you,” he said, rolling. “You won’t believe the day I—”

Yveltal sniffled, but it looked like she had been trying to hide it.

“Yevvy?” Xerneas asked, suddenly on his feet. “What happened?”

Yveltal curled up next to Xerneas and squeezed her wings around him, sobbing a little louder.

Xerneas curled his head around, careful that his antlers didn’t prod Yveltal, and said again, “Yevvy, what’s wrong?”

“The world hates me,” Yveltal said between gasps. “I’m just a blight.”

“Yevvy, don’t say that,” Xerneas said, awkwardly rubbing a hoof on her back. “You get rid of blights. You’re essential to balance. Come on, you know what Ziggy always says, right? Life without death is suffering. The mortal realm isn’t geared toward eternity. We need you to balance things out.”

“Oh, enough,” Yveltal said, shoving Xerneas away, but she barely even moved him. She wiped her eyes and tried to dry her beak of the tears that had fallen, but it wasn’t working. Xerneas prodded her again, enough that Yveltal stopped pushing. “I’m sorry,” Yveltal said quietly. “You’re the only person who actually seems to care.”

“Nonsense,” Xerneas replied. “You know how it is. You’ve had your heroic moments, too, remember? When a real threat comes along, you’re always the one sent over to get rid of it, be it a true blight, or… Well, you know how it is. Arceus wouldn’t trust you with such a duty for nothing.”

“Oh, of course, eliminating threats,” Yveltal said. “that went wonderfully last time. I nearly killed an innocent Dunsparce…”

“L-let’s think about the other times,” Xerneas said quickly. “Remember Darkrai, how he asked for help against those odd Pokémon? Or, or, or how about all those times you’ve helped Pokémon die peacefully? Morbid, but…”

Yveltal loosened a little. “It doesn’t matter what I’ve done. I know what I do is right. I just… know that it’s never going to be appreciated.” She sighed. “I envy you, Xerneas, having Pokémon so thrilled to be with you. I don’t understand how you can detest them.”

“Believe me, after a while, you start to hate it.”

Yveltal laughed, leaning against him. “I wish I could have a day where they would like me.”

“Wish…” Xerneas said, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully.

“Xern?”

“I’m not tired anymore,” Xerneas said, standing up.

Yveltal chirped and hopped away. “What do you mean?”

“It’s not fair that you have to go through that, so maybe we can see if someone else can help,” Xerneas said. “Arceus is probably just gonna shrug and say it’s part of the duty—you know how he is. And I’m not talking to Mew. But you know who might be able to help?”

Yveltal frowned. “Who?”

<><><>​

Blue crystals embedded walls of solid obsidian in unnatural yet beautiful patterns. The sole inhabitant of these great depths often renovated with his powers, using his domain over desire to gently alter reality. It was often for petty, little things that did no harm or help one way or the other. After all, what was a little perk now and then for all the help and research he worked on?

Far to the southeast, the air was humid and salty with the nearby ocean. Yveltal didn’t care for the nighttime travel, but at least it wasn’t particularly far from Xerneas’ home down south. More importantly, she was surprised they were even able to sneak into Jirachi’s home at all. Perhaps they got lucky; it was nighttime, after all, and the barriers only kept mortals away when Jirachi wasn’t interested in socializing.

Would be nice if Xerneas got the same, but apparently he was supposed to be more on call than the Wishmaker. A pang of sympathy ran through her; perhaps Xerneas had a point. Still, having that kind of attention…

“Just ahead, there he is,” Xerneas said, pointing a hoof forward.

Floating in midair, curled in his own ribbons, was the star-headed Psychic. He rolled peacefully in his sleep, and Yveltal wondered if it would be rude to wake him.

Then again, he apparently enjoyed his naps too often, anyway.

“Jirachi?” Yveltal called.

No response.

“Jirachi, wake up,” Xerneas said. “You’ve been sleeping for five days. I checked.”

“How do you know that?” Yveltal asked.

“His assistant has a log that I took a peek at,” Xerneas whispered back. “Jirachi! Rise and shine!”

“But it’s night,” Yveltal whispered again.

“Just let me wake him up,” Xerneas growled back. He went closer and jabbed Jirachi with his horn, but nothing happened.

“Maybe we need to attack him,” Yveltal suggested. “I think I’ll try just a little strike.”

“With your death powers? Are you sure?” Xerneas replied. “Bad idea. Let me do it. Stand aside.”

Xerneas found his footing and crouched down. His antlers glowed with Bug energy, and with a dash and a thrust, he jammed his horns into Jirachi’s stomach.

Jirachi screamed in surprise and his eyes shot open—all three of them, including the giant one on his belly.

“Jirachi! Are you aw—”

A Psychic blast sent Xerneas skidding backward, though it didn’t seem to hurt him very much. He shook it off with an annoyed grunt, but then crouched down again for another strike. Jirachi’s belly-eye glowed again, but this time, no Psychic blast followed, and Jirachi yawned.

Xerneas skidded to a stop. “Is he awake?” he said with an unsteady breath. “Good. Then I don’t have to wake him as hard.”

Yveltal sighed. “That was reckless.”

“As if you had a better idea,” Xerneas said with a smirk. While Yveltal had no counter, she did smack him on the side with her wing, pushing him away. He stumbled, but his smirk didn’t waver. If anything, it grew.

“Mmmnn… How many days this time—oh.” Jirachi blinked to clear up his vision. “Wait, who—why are you two here? How did you sneak past—”

“Jirachi, can we ask a wish from you?”

“Excuse me? You come in here, wake me up, and then expect me to—”

“You were asleep for five days, by the way,” Xerneas said.

“F-FIVE DAYS?!” Jirachi floated several feet in the air until he was at eye-level with Xerneas. “Why? That’s far too long! When I took up this position I specifically asked that I wouldn’t sleep for that long, I—”

“Were you overworking yourself again?” Xerneas said. “Last I checked, if you work too hard, your body makes up for it by sleeping.”

“Okay, so maybe I made a few strong wishes to help things out, but—”

Suddenly, flashes of intense light shined around Xerneas, exploding all at once. He shrieked in pain and collapsed to a kneel, gasping for breath. His cross-shaped pupils were crossed themselves, unfocused. Yveltal rushed to his side to keep him held, and he was grateful, leaning against her.

“Whoops!” Jirachi said. “Sorry! Must’ve done Doom Desire when I woke up…”

“I’m filled… with so much hate…” Xerneas wheezed, finally standing again. Yveltal backed away, fearful that her natural powers would drain away more of Xerneas’ energy. “Thank you,” he said to her. “I’m fine.”

He slowly stood on his own while Jirachi floated there awkwardly.

“What do you want?” Jirachi said, finally breaking the silence. “And just because you guys are also Legends doesn’t mean I’m gonna listen to you!” He crossed his tiny arms and turned his head away. “I’ve got standards.”

“Didn’t you once wish for chocolate because you were too lazy to go to the market for some?” Xerneas questioned, narrowing his eyes.

That,” Jirachi said, holding up a hand with superiority, “was a reward for a job well done. It’s different if it’s my own wishes.”

“Irresponsible cretin,” Yveltal murmured under her breath.

“What was that?” Jirachi said.

“I said,” Yveltal said, “are you certain?”

“Certain about what?”

“That you’d be able to grant wishes after just waking up?” Yveltal asked.

Xerneas glanced at her, impressed. Nice save, said his eyes.

Hush, said hers.

“Hmm…” Jirachi twirled around. “Guess it depends on what you guys wish for. If you guys just want some items, I usually just do some Teleport trickery for it, but if you actually want something, you know, substantial…”

“Yveltal wanted to wish for mortals to like her more,” Xerneas said.

Jirachi blinked. “Look, I grant wishes, but I’m not a miracle w—AAH!” He dove out of the way, narrowly avoiding a beam of deadly energy from Yveltal.

“Choose your words carefully,” Yveltal growled. “I’ve had a very bad day.”

“Y-y-y-yes! Well—it’s just, mortals just naturally don’t like death, you know?! I may be Psychic and I may be the Wishmaker but I can’t just change people like that!”

“Rrgh, well, you owe us for that Doom Desire,” Xerneas said.

“Excuse me? You woke me up! That’s not a fair comparison!”

“Is—is there really nothing you can do?” Yveltal asked, the gravity of what Jirachi was implying finally catching up to her.

“Look, I’m sorry, but I meant what I said,” Jirachi said. “That’s such an abstract wish, so broad. I can’t just change how people feel. My wishes are usually more material than that, you know? The amount of power required to warp or even nudge reality for something like that is… it’s astronomical!” Jirachi shook his head and spread his arms wide. “Usually, with something like that, I say that their wish will be granted eventually, and maybe teleport a few things around or call in a few favors, you know? Fortune tellers do it all the time, making vague promises!”

“Rrgh… Then I suppose there’s no use,” Xerneas said. “I suppose I’ll just have to tell Arceus that you attacked me with Doom Desire.”

Jirachi blanched. “W-wait! Wait, um, you don’t have to do that! A-and if you do, I’ll just say you trespassed in my home and assaulted me! So, there!”

Xerneas tilted his head left and right leisurely. “I suppose I’ll also have to tell him about that little favor I did for you as well with my power, hm?”

“Noooo no no, there’s no need for that!” Jirachi said.

“Xern, what are you—”

“Nothing!” Jirachi said instantly. “Nothing! Just a small favor!”

“Jirachi needed a little pep for a little friend of his,” Xerneas said, “and asked if I could give him some help with… vitality. He wouldn’t want that getting out, would he?”

Jirachi froze, fiddling with his hands nervously, while Yveltal narrowed her eyes disapprovingly. For such petty needs… Shameful! Perhaps she should counteract that endurance of his…

“So, Jirachi, do you want the truth to come out… or will we be getting that favor of yours?”

Yveltal frowned, wondering if it was really worth it. This was essentially blackmail, wasn’t it? She was about to ask Xerneas to relent when Jirachi finally sighed.

“Okay, okay, I have one idea that might work. But I’m being honest when I say it’s beyond me. But… I don’t know, if you want to be liked a little more… How about I pull one favor for you guys?”

“Mhm.” Xerneas didn’t show it, but Yveltal could tell from his tone that he was pleased. “And the favor?”

“I’ll Teleport you over to Manaphy.”
 

Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Partners
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Ayy, it's been such a long time since I last read a fic from you, so it was nice to see you upload this Yveltal fic which I'd been really looking forward to in particular.

Right out the gate, I'd say your characterization game is as strong as ever. I loved the way you contrast the way Yveltal and Xerneas are viewed by the general inhabitants of their world, and how they both hate the treatment they get. You could really tell just how lonely and sad Yveltal's life truly is, and it reminds me of a personification of death character from a game who literally chopped himself in half with an axe to split in two so the two new entities would always have each other as friends.

Reading this fic also makes me kind of wish there were more active legendary pokemon back when I used to read HOC, but the guardians were sort of that already and well that's a separate discussion on its own. Either way, I liked the world building in this fic, both the ones shown to us and the ones alluded to. I wonder if the Mew and Arceus of this fic are also on bad terms, and this is just HOC before things went super south. Who knows? :)
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
Ha, glad to see you're enjoying yourself, Adam! Part 2 is right along here now, where we follow up on that initial proposal from Jirachi.

Part 2

Crashing waves and cruel winds filled Yveltal’s earholes. Bitter cold seeped into her feathers, and she weakly flopped her way through the water with an annoyed grunt. “Jirachi’s a real piece of work,” she said. “Teleporting us… out in the middle of the ocean… just because it happens to be where Manaphy rests…”

Xerneas did his best to tread water, leisurely continuing through the ocean currents. “At least he teleported us nearby. I can sense Manaphy’s life energy.”

“The sooner the better,” Yveltal grunted, beating her wings against the water again. A sudden rush swept Yveltal under. Irritably, she beat her wings to return to the surface, trying her best to ignore the salt in her beak. “Jirachi will be getting a visit from me later.”

A dim glow caught their attention and, seconds later, Manaphy flew out of the water with a flourish and a spin. “Hey, hey! I got word from Jirachi!”

“You’re awake?” Yveltal said, squinting in the darkness.

“Of course! The sun isn’t even out yet!”

“…You aren’t nocturnal, though,” Yveltal said, frowning.

“Yeah but today was a party day,” Manaphy explained, grinning while playing with one of her antennae. “Oh, oh! Right! So, Jirachi actually didn’t explain to me what you guys wanted.”

“Land. We need—” Yveltal plunged into the depths for a few seconds. She beat her wings and reemerged, spitting out salt water. “Land. Please.”

“Can’t you just use a little power to fly out?” Manaphy frowned.

“I don’t want to harm the sea life.”

“Hmm…” Manaphy turned around, floating just above the water’s surface. “There’s a sandbar just this way. Follow me!”

With groans, Yveltal and Xerneas continued their swim, occasionally bracing for an incoming wave.

“Can’t we… just use some Psychic energy, Xerneas?” Yveltal said. “Or maybe Gravity?”

“We don’t want to be spotted by Arceus, do we? We need a low profile here…” Xerneas glanced toward land, the dim glow of Destiny Tower just barely visible through the darkness. “This is already risky. Let’s keep going our own way. The less we use our powers, the less likely he’ll see something from up there.”

Sand brushed against the bottom of Yveltal’s talons. Finding her footing, she advanced to more stable ground and tried, futilely, to dry herself off. Xerneas followed, shaking off the water from his fine fur, and turned back to address Manaphy.

“Okay, princess of the sea,” Xerneas said with an irritated snort, “Thank you for answering Jirachi’s call. I think I understand why he sent us here.”

“You wanted swim lessons?” Manaphy asked, tilting her head. “Both of you were pretty bad at it…”

“I have wings,” Yveltal said, “meant for flight. I’m not meant to swim.”

“Well, what’s flying except swimming in the air?” Manaphy asked. “How about we start with the backstro—”

“Manaphy, how long does Heart Swap last?” Xerneas asked.

“Umm, a few days? A day?” She frowned and floated a little lower. The way her attitude suddenly changed, it seemed she figured out what they were about to request of her. “But… you guys want to do that? After all, did you, I dunno, get approval from Arceus for this? Swapping the spirits of the Lifebringer and the Deathbringer? Aren’t you guys, like, total opposites?”

“Excuse me?” Yveltal said, protectively wrapping a wing around Xerneas. “Not at all opposites. We’re perfectly fine working together.”

“But doesn’t Arceus not want you guys working together? You guys have to be one after the other, and stuff. He’s kind of a traditionalist like that.” Manaphy frowned, poking her flippers together. “I’m really not sure about this…”

And for just a moment, Yveltal felt the same doubts. Xerneas had gone on this in a rush of desperation to help her, but was this really what they needed? Sure, Xerneas got all the attention and love and appreciation for what he did. Yveltal, meanwhile, didn’t get any attention and people left her alone.

And yes, they were also familiar enough with each other and their powers that they could slip into their roles just fine.

When thought that way, maybe swapping experiences would be a nice vacation for both of them.

But still

The waves tickled their shins and Manaphy’s dim glow continued to tempt Yveltal into accepting anyway. They did have a lot of precautions in place, but…

“Xerneas, you know not to abuse my powers, right?” Yveltal said. “I know I won’t for yours. It’s—it’s against our very natures, after all. I doubt we’d be that eager to…”

“There, is that enough?” Xerneas said. “Please, Manaphy. Yveltal is dying with how lonely things are for her—it’s not fair, and Arceus isn’t acknowledging it. Just for a few days, can’t she enjoy what it’s like to have some love?”

“I thought you gave her that,” Manaphy said in a whisper.

“You know what I mean,” Xerneas hissed.

Manaphy still looked uncertain, but nodded anyway and brought her flippers up. “Okay, fine. Hold still so I can get to work.”

Yveltal and Xerneas closed their eyes and took steady breaths. Yveltal expected that in a few moments, she won’t be looking through the same pair of eyes. Oh, gods, what would that mean for her name? Would she still go by Yveltal? Or would she have to think of herself as Xerneas? No, even beyond that—would she be a he? This was starting to feel needlessly complicated. It was only temporary anyway. She’ll just… work by the same name. Yes. That would do.

“Um, what are you guys doing?” Manaphy asked.

Yveltal opened her eyes and looked herself over. Still her proper body. “What?”

“Why are you guys closing your eyes? That’s weird. Just let me focus for a second.”

Yveltal and Xerneas exchanged looks then tittered to one another.

“Sorry,” Xerneas said. “I guess we thought it would be something more on the mystical side. You know, like you’d have a chant, and then—”

Everything went dark. And then Yveltal tried to flap her wings, only to realize that not only did she not have wings, but she fell forward when she tried to move the corresponding limb. She yelped, sputtering on sandy saltwater, and wobbled back on her new, four legs.

“Oh… Oh, my voice!” That was going to take some getting used to.

Xerneas was even worse, flapping his new wings before toppling on his side. He flailed on the ground, trying to use his wings like legs, but he sank back into the sand and dirtied his front. Yveltal winced, wondering if she was going to feel that when they returned back to normal.

Manaphy giggled, holding her flippers over her mouth. “Have fun! This should wear off in two days or so. If you guys want to undo the swap early, just hit me up! Or Arceus finds out and does it himself, buuut you probably don’t want that.”

“Thank you,” Xerneas said, wincing when his beak accidentally nipped at his tongue. Yveltal, meanwhile, struggled with this new concept of lips of any sort.

“One problem,” said Xerneas, finally able to stand. “There is… no way that I’m going to be able to fly home like this. I’ll have to spend tonight practicing how to fly a little.”

“I should try out four legs,” Yveltal said, taking a few tentative steps forward. “We really should have practiced this…”

“I can swap you guys back, if you want,” Manaphy offered. “Starting to regret your impulsive decision?”

“No! I’ll—I don’t want to back out now,” Yveltal said, stomping a foot in the wet sand. “I’ll probably never try this again if I do. So… Just two days.”

Manaphy rolled her eyes and said, “Okay, hang on. I’ll get you guys a way home.”

She dove into the water and her dim glow faded.

Xerneas looked to his old body and tried to grin. Yveltal recognized it in his eyes, but it was just as surreal to see her own body controlled by someone else. She tilted her head and suddenly realized the new weight and the strength of her neck muscles, the powerful antlers that adorned her new head. Xerneas, meanwhile, looked like he just noticed that his tail could grab things, and was grasping at a clump of wet sand.

“Quite handy, isn’t it?” Yveltal asked.

Xerneas lobbed the sand her way. Yveltal yelped and tried to deflect it with a small blast of darkness, but what came out instead was a plume of life energy. The sand erupted in seaweed and became a flourishing clump on the sandbar, which further expanded into a small patch.

“A-ah… I’ll need to be careful.”

“Back!” Manaphy erupted from the water in a flourish and a twirl, a strange device in her flippers. “I just called Hoopa! He’ll be able to get you home in no time. Just give him a little bit to wake up.”

“What is that?” Yveltal asked, pointing at the small device. It was circular and glowed very brightly in the dark. Despite how far away they were, she had an irrational worry that Arceus would see it from Destiny Tower.

“Um… What, do you live under a rock? It’s called a badge.” Manaphy raised her flippers in the air. “Get with the times.”

“I might be too big for one,” Yveltal said.

“They’ve got bigger models.”

Something landed on Yveltal’s head, between her horns. She tried to look up, spotting a wispy tail in her face.

“Hi, hi!” Hoopa said, floating off of Yveltal. His mouth was full with the final few bites of a jelly donut. “Xerneas and Yveltal got lost at sea? What, were they on a quiet getaway and got lost?”

Yveltal flushed. “N-nothing of the sort,” she said, stomping her hoof. “We were just going for a swim, and, well, and nothing more than that. We just got tired.”

“Tired! Immortals like you? I doubt it! You just wore each other out.” Hoopa winked at the two of them. “Don’t worry, I’ll never tell. Okay! I know where you live. Two portals for the Luvdisc, right away!”

“That’s not—”

They fell through the portals, and Yveltal landed in Xerneas’ usual bed with a grunt. The soft leaves and vibrant colors unnerved her at first, especially without Xerneas there with her. In the back of her mind, she feared whether she would accidentally destroy it all.

Yet, that was definitely not the case, now. If anything, she could have livened the place up even more, but… That was probably a bad idea. She had to use her powers conservatively for now. Too much and she might draw suspicion. But, too little, and she might get the same…

She drifted off, the fatigue of the swim finally getting to her. It must have been just as much trouble for Xerneas as it had been for her after all. The morning was a new day…

<><><>​

The cold, autumn air; the dreary silence; the complete emptiness that came with the morning sun in the abandoned village… Nobody was there to greet Xerneas that morning. He was completely and utterly alone.

And he loved it.

Xerneas stretched his wings and rolled onto his back, kicking his legs without a care. He giggled and settled back in a tight curl, giddily looking to his left and right to see absolutely nobody there. How peaceful had his sleep been? Never disturbed once! And even better, there was nobody watching him.

It was like a dream. And at first, he thought it had been; Yveltal showing up in his abode, his spontaneous decision to seek out Jirachi, the swap—had all that spontaneity really happened? Yes. It did! It really did!

He didn’t even want to stay in bed any longer. It was time to start killing things for once!

Oh, but he had to wait for an assignment. And he probably also shouldn’t mentally phrase it that way, either. Clearing his throat and getting into a more relaxed, dignified position, Xerneas reminded himself instead to take this early rise as a means of practicing how to fly.

With careful wingbeats, Xerneas took his first ascent to the air.

<><><>​

There was something under her left foreleg.

Yveltal opened her eyes and her X-shaped pupils refocused in the morning light. She squinted, looking around to see that while nobody was around, she still felt some kind of presence nearby, and her head felt a little heavier, too.

Suddenly aware of all the life forces around her, her heart skipped a beat. No! Had she killed them all? They should have known better than to—no, no, she wasn’t ‘Yveltal’ anymore. No, she was, by name, but her body was of Xerneas.

Oh, this was going to take some getting used to.

What was on her?

She tilted her head forward and a Pidgey flopped down, squawking in surprise. Yveltal breathed in sharply—a bird landed on her? Why?

“I’m sorry, Xerneas!” the Pidgey said, struggling to his feet. “I—I just wanted to see you, and, um, ummm…”

He seemed very young. Wandered away from his parents? They must be worried sick. It was a miracle her powers didn’t kill—no, wrong powers. This was probably a daily occurrence for Xerneas.

“It’s okay,” Yveltal said, then lifted her left foreleg to see that a Bidoof and a Salandit had made their little beds under her. She frowned and tried to move past them, only to feel the hard, tough body of a Salamence curled up next to her. Had he been there the whole time?! So silent, too… “It’s very… I am not used to so many visitors at once,” Yveltal let slip, not realizing that this was probably anything but the case for Xerneas.

“Really? I think Shelgon over there—I mean, Salamence over there was visiting you every day!”

“Shelgon?” She glanced at the curled-up Salamence again.

“Well, he was one last night.”

A thought occurred to Yveltal as she scanned her bed to see the various Pokémon that had made their temporary sleeping arrangements around Xerneas. There was no way Mew would enforce this. Why didn’t Xerneas just make his home restricted at night? The Tree of Life was sacred, after all.

Xerneas’ gaze trailed over to the tree that towered over them all, frowning pensively. The Tree was brimming with power as always, but making it some destination for anybody to visit… let alone at night, in his very abode—Xerneas could surely and reasonably expect privacy then, wouldn’t he?

Maybe Yveltal could ask about that later. It seemed like such a simple solution. Was there more to it?

“Xerneas?” Pidgey asked.

Yveltal looked around for the Lifebringer, realizing seconds later— “Yes?” Yveltal answered.

“Are you okay? You seem kinda funny.”

Not good, not good—she couldn’t already blow their cover! “No, I’m just waking up,” Yveltal said. “Sorry if you’re worried. You all should probably get going, though. It’s not safe here.”

That got an even more puzzled look from Pidgey, and even Bidoof, groggy, looked up and tilted her head.

“Not safe?” Bidoof asked. “Isn’t this one of the safest places in the world?”

Why do I keep slipping up? “No, I’m sorry, I misspoke. Your friends and family might think you’re in danger.”

“Oh.” Pidgey seemed to understand that much, and nodded. “Okay. I guess I should go back before they ground me again…”

Again. Yveltal wasn’t surprised. Hiding her disappointment, she merely nodded and let them depart. Salamence was still in a deep slumber, but before she could figure out how to wake him, she felt a new presence behind her.

“Yo, Xerneas,” Mew said. “How’s it?”

The tiny Creator, leaning against a Psychic bubble with her arms behind her head, grinned and flicked her tail in Yveltal’s general direction.

“Hello, Mew,” Yveltal greeted, her chest suddenly feeling tight. She just had to be careful and resist any sort of Psychic readings from her. Xerneas was always a private Pokémon, right? He’d probably be very offended if Mew tried reading his mind, so she just had to keep that act up.

“So, just came in for your assignment today. I know, I know, you had one yesterday, but this one is kinda high priority.” Mew held up her tiny paws disarmingly, eyes closed. She did a flip and landed belly-down on her violet bubble. “You know that forest down south, Evergreen Jungle?”

Why did that name sound familiar? Wasn’t that—

“It’s the one that Yveltal just destroyed yesterday. Well, some of the locals there got pretty peeved, so I think better sooner than later on doing step two of the whole life cycle ceremony.”

Surreal. But also understandable. She was going to bring back what she had killed the day before. Hopefully this time she’d be able to see their happy faces rather than their angry scowls.

“I understand,” Yveltal said. “Thank you, Mew.”

“Sweet. Need a zap there? I’ve got a few other folks to check up on but just bringing you there is easy. By the way, do you, like, want a badge or something? I know you don’t like the whole new age tech stuff, but it’s really useful to have for, you know, communicating.”

“I’ll consider it,” Yveltal said. It was still strange and foreign to her and she didn’t want to impose something on Xerneas while in his body, but at least leaving the option open could be nice. After all, wouldn’t that let them communicate with each other at night? Perhaps even talk to each other… Yveltal wouldn’t mind hearing Xerneas at night, even if he wasn’t physically there, now that she thought about it. Maybe something like that wouldn’t be so bad after all…

<><><>​

Flying came naturally. It must have come with the instincts in this new Yveltal brain of his. But in no time at all, Xerneas used his wings of death to fly over the desolate landscape of Yveltal’s abode in gleeful flips and spins.

“Perfect!” he said, landing on his feet with grace that he’d practiced just slightly. “And how was that?” Xerneas asked, turning around to puff out his chest.

But nobody was there to see him. A hollow feeling radiated from his core just then—something he tried to suppress into a cough.

“R-right. Nobody shows up here. Perfectly alone.”

Something about it was starting to get old. Being able to wake up without anybody bugging him was nice, but how did Yveltal deal with all this quietness?

That same silence helped Xerneas hear the new arrival right in front of Yveltal’s nest. The Alpha himself, though this time Xerneas imagined he’d be less disappointed in seeing two of his gods sleeping together.

“You’re awake early,” Arceus remarked, turning back.

“Had some energy from yesterday,” Xerneas said as he had mentally practiced. “To what do I owe your arrival today?”

“Another assignment.” A small paper floated down to the side of his nest. “Take care.”

Xerneas flinched. He had always seen Arceus act that way to Yveltal, but did it always feel that curt and professional? Nothing at all like Mew’s assignments. She always tried to go for a friendly chat, or at least a more casual air. But was Arceus really like that even when it was just Yveltal? Talk about uptight.

“Is something wrong?” Arceus asked. The pressure Arceus naturally gave off was suffocating, like the golden light was a blanket that stifled the air around him.

“No, nothing. I just remembered something.”

“Mm. Then I will be on my way.”

“Goodbye.”

Arceus disappeared in a golden flash, and Yveltal read through the assignment. A wave of dread followed: Apparently, he had over-healed that town from before, and he had to clean up some overgrowth.

Now he could finally see how they treat Yveltal firsthand.
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
Part 3

Perhaps worse than death itself was the aftermath that it left behind. That was one thing that Yveltal often tried to avoid; she was guilty enough of their sad faces, and so sick of their misdirected anger. Wasn’t she supposed to be some kind of necessary evil? It’s what she told herself, at least.

From what she recalled, Xerneas had always talked about visiting the village first and making a little spectacle of his arrival. He had to boost their morale, give them a lecture about being more careful with the gifts they are given, and to make sure they didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes twice. Yveltal imagined that was the polite way of saying, ‘You don’t want Yveltal coming again, now do you?’ Because she wouldn’t be surprised if that was what Xerneas actually told them. She wouldn’t blame him.

And so, she stood, horns radiant and body gleaming. She didn’t even have to call out to them; the villagers in their more primitive homes—simple clay and stone—emerged to marvel at her blue form. She knew Xerneas’ stance, and she mimicked it to the best of her ability, and it was enough to fool them. They were distracted by her radiance anyway.

She recited what Xerneas often told them. He’d said it to her to satiate her curiosity time and time again, and sometimes also to vent about the parts they clearly didn’t listen to, or often forgot, or simply ignored out of convenience and thinking in the present instead of the future. But she couldn’t really tell when she told them the same things: they were all so attentive and so eager. Perhaps Xerneas was just tired.

By the time her throat was tired from talking, Yveltal reached the end of her lecture and turned around for the forest adjacent to their village. The mulch and seeds had mixed together well. Gray ash and the recent rainfall that had blessed the previous night made for the perfect atmosphere to regrow the forest. Less overgrowth this time, and perhaps with the trees more sparsely populated, too. Would give room for less close-quarters fighting, and would probably lead to less upkeep by Xerneas and herself in the future.

Radiant light flowed from her horns, into her legs, and then outward through the soil. She felt all of their presences around her, and a few of the younger Pokémon stepped away out of caution. Their parents told them, while still awestruck, that they should avoid getting too much exposure to her light. That much was fair; spikes in energy sometimes led to premature and involuntary evolution. No reversing that.

Little saplings pushed through the soil in controlled and scattered patches, rapidly maturing into small trees. The crowd murmured to one another in awe. A nearby Venusaur stepped a little closer to Xerneas, but then a Meganium held her back. Yveltal smiled regardless; it was so surreal, having others hold one another back from approaching not out of anger, but admiration.

Xerneas, how spoiled you were.

“It’s like Yveltal was never even here,” Meganium said in awe.

“Good riddance,” Ludicolo muttered back, followed by bitter grunts and nods from the others.

Okay, that was going to be awkward.

Refocusing her efforts, she channeled more energy into the trees ahead, knowing that she would have to do several more of these rounds all throughout the wastes to complete the process. It would be all day.

“Did you know that we were only given, like, one warning for that?” another Pokémon said—this one a Leafeon. “And not even through the news, either. A verbal announcement. Talk about old-fashioned!”

“Who, from Arceus? Or Yveltal?”

“Pfft, as if Yveltal would ever show up to not destroy something, just warn us. They throw that beast at us and the rest doesn’t matter.”

“Well, the forest was overgrown… And Xerneas said that if Yveltal didn’t do that, the fire could’ve spread all the way to town! Not to mention all the smoke and haze…”

At least some of them were reasonable. Yveltal stepped forward, hoping that they would be harder to hear while she worked. Unfortunately, they ended up trying to follow her—well, most of them did. Some were already losing interest and leaving for town, and, briefly, she felt as relieved as Xerneas probably would have.

But they kept talking.

“Well, just use Yveltal as a deterrent, then,” Meganium said. “If we don’t want to see that thing again, we just have to take care of what Xerneas makes for us. Simple, right? Just like he told us!”

She didn’t tell them that. She said that they might not come back to fix their mistake a second time if they didn’t learn. Nothing about Big Bad Yveltal coming in to destroy their homes…

That was just how the world worked. Life without death was… imbalanced! Just because she had to be the part that the living didn’t appreciate didn’t mean she was… Was she unwelcome? No, of course she was. Because that’s how the living reacted to death. Xerneas got to enjoy all of this praise, and—

How often did Xerneas hear them badmouthing her? Did he never tell her?

One of the trees suddenly exploded in height, shooting high above all the others. Its thickness, too, was doubled in size, and Yveltal cut her powers short to make sure she didn’t have it grow further.

“Wow!”

“Amazing!”

“It’s huge!”

Yveltal smiled bitterly, but said nothing more. Until—

“Let’s see Yveltal destroy that!

For some reason—a reason Yveltal wasn’t entirely sure herself—that earned a vocalized response. “You know that… Yveltal and I are two sides of the same coin, right?” She glanced back, doing her absolute best to keep her voice even. “You can’t really have me without her or everything will fall out of balance.”

“Well, yeah, we know that,” Meganium said casually, though it was clear a bit of their wind had been taken away from their wings. “It’s just, even if we need her, doesn’t mean we have to like it. I mean, who in their right mind would like death?”

“Just because she has powers over death,” Yveltal said coldly, “doesn’t mean she’s evil or unpleasant. Death is release. Death is peace after struggle. Death is something you can prepare for.”

“Yeah, but sometimes it’d probably be better without it, if you ask me,” Meganium said, frowning. “I mean… look at you guys. You don’t have to worry about getting old, or food, or dying, or any of that. No offense, sorry, um, Xerneas.”

There were so many things that Yveltal wished to say in return, but in Xerneas’ body, she could not. Instead, she turned away and continued to tend to the forest.

“Well, I suppose that’s something to consider,” Yveltal eventually said. “I have to get to working. But I don’t want to hear you badmouthing Yveltal like that, understand?”

Reluctantly, the villagers nodded, and Yveltal returned to her work. Suddenly, giving life to the forest in front of all those cheerful faces was starting to sour. Why Xerneas didn’t enjoy their unconditional love for him was beyond her.

<><><>​

Xerneas had no trouble ignoring the scornful looks the other villagers gave him while disintegrating the excess vines that had overgrown in the foundation. If anything, he was far too focused on how he had clearly overdone himself the day before when he had restored the town. How… sloppy!

He brushed his left wing over a small patch of flowers in front of one of the building’s windows. Almost instantly, someone shrieked behind him.

“Nooo! My—my flower garden! You killed my flower garden!” A Scyther raised her scythes to her face in horror.

Xerneas blinked, looking under his wing to see the wilting Oran Berry bushes. He had been spending so much time culling the foliage that it was all starting to look the same.

“Hm, sorry,” Xerneas said, lifting his wing completely. The plants were a dusty pile of gray ash. “Plant some more. This soil is pretty nutrient-rich with, you know, the stuff that used to be alive.”

“I can’t believe you’d even do that… just kill things because you can…”

“It’s part of Yv—it’s part of my job. Unless you want to deal with that yourself?”

Scyther tensed, looking ready to fight. Xerneas wasn’t, and in fact was still incredibly thrown off by how hostile everybody was to him now. All because he had a different appearance? And maybe death powers?

“I’d clean this up myself if I could!” Scyther glanced left and saw a nearby vine. She sliced cleanly through it; prismatic liquid gushed from the vine as two more sprouted from the spot that had been cut open, and then the entire vine itself grew several feet in length.

Xerneas winced. He had really overdone it yesterday…

“Well, there you go,” Xerneas said. “You need me to nullify it. So, leave me be and I’ll be out of your chitin.”

Scyther snarled, her blades scraping against one another for a threatening sharpen, but Xerneas was unmoved. He brushed his wings over a few more vines, wilting them instantly as their life energy flowed into him. He wondered if Yveltal always had that dull hunger that he was currently feeling—that satisfaction of filling that hollow void in his core with life energy.

He still felt her stare, and it just occurred to him that Yveltal was going to probably have to deal with even more rumors this way. But was there anything he could do to rectify that? At all?

“Er,” Xerneas said, looking for the next words he was supposed to say. None came.

Scyther kept staring, blades ready for a battle that Xerneas had zero interest in pursuing.

“I’m sorry if my powers frighten you. But it’s as you said: I’m needed to take care of the mess Xerneas left behind, so I’ll—”

“It’s not a mess,” Scyther said immediately. “It’s just too much of a good thing.”

“Well, yes, but it’s still a mess,” Xerneas debated back. “Now, let me continue with my work and I’ll be gone, okay? Sorry about your berries. Just plant more.”

“Just plant more… Hmph.” Scyther didn’t say anything after that, walking away while muttering incomprehensible statements to herself.

Finally, some peace.

It lasted three seconds.

“You really have some nerve, you know that?”

Xerneas closed his eyes, took a breath, held it, and still felt his rage building. “Yes, what is it?”

He recognized that voice from before and addressed the Tyranitar with as little contempt as he could muster. Whatever he’d tried, it wasn’t enough, because his expression made Tyranitar even more hostile.

“You don’t have a single ounce of respect for mortals, do you? You know, we’ve been at this for generations, hearing words about you, and you know what happens any time we ask about it to Arceus? He says that while your work is unpleasant, it’s necessary. Well, you know what? Maybe if we have to deal with you, having Xerneas come along isn’t worth it!”

Oh! Were they actually learning, or were they just being insufferable again? The world was unstable with the rampant powers that Pokémon were naturally capable of, not to mention the blights that occasionally disrupted the typically peaceful countryside. Their work was needed from time to time, but in this era of peace, some of their assignments did feel like needless busywork.

Xerneas was glad that his beak didn’t show any sort of smirk, at least not easily, compared to his typical form. Instead, he let his ire show through his tone. “I suppose I can just go and leave this overgrowth for you to deal with, then. Would you prefer that?”

Tyranitar snarled. “Don’t toy with us. You… You haven’t killed anyone yet, have you? Like last time?”

“Last time, what do you mean, last time?” Xerneas said, incredulous. “I’ve never—” Wait, Yveltal may have.

“You don’t even remember!” Tyranitar shouted, his voice a deep snap that caught the attention of Pokémon several houses away. He swung his itching arm to the right, pointing at some distant hillside. Xerneas followed it and saw that part of the mountaintop seemed practically carved out. A longer look—the distinct lack of plant life, not even little dying shrubs—and it was clear that Yveltal had blasted there.

“It was only five years ago, so that should be no time at all to someone like you unless we’re that inconsequential. Ever since that blast, this village has been dying, like all the life here had simply refused to grow. Only when Xerneas came here did we see it bounce back at all. Five years too late, if you ask me…”

Apparently, Xerneas had been staring pensively for too long, because Tyranitar stomped his foot on the ground even harder.

“You killed my father in cold blood and then left the village to rot!”

“I did what?” Xerneas shouted, feathers puffing out. “I don’t kill for no reason!”

Gods, why did Yveltal have to kill someone here? Was he some kind of menace to society?

Tyranitar rubbed his arm again, like some old pain was coming back. “I’m not gonna take something like that,” he said, his voice shaking. And his body, too. And his eyes… Xerneas didn’t like those eyes. There was some kind of lost, primal rage brewing inside—and while he could understand that to an extent… No. There was more to it. Crazed. Five years of dwelling on this, would that be enough to cause this?

The other villagers were gathering around, forming a curious wall on both sides of the tanned autumn streets. Leaves crunched under their many feet, and a few had to shield themselves from a dusty wind that picked up.

Tyranitar snarled and shifted his footing. His arm crackled with reddish energy, and then prismatic energy, and Xerneas suddenly recognized that last part as his own. What? Did Tyranitar somehow acquire some of his own power? No, that wasn’t possible, unless—

Pitch darkness emerged in tiny cracks on Tyranitar’s arm like ink-black blood.

Blight.

Normal Pokémon attacks had no effect on the likes of Xerneas… but not if they were blighted. And Xerneas reacted too slowly when a sharp pillar of rock jutted from beneath him, sending him flying through the air. Up felt like down, and when he tried to beat his wings to stabilize, he only hastened his fall to the overgrown soil. A few vines wrapped around him when he smashed against them, but a simple wingbeat was enough to rot them away. The residual life energy inside gave him the strength to get to his feet quickly.

A second Stone Edge smashed into his back, sending him careening forward with a wail. These weren’t normal attacks. Mortals weren’t capable of this kind of damage; it was the blight. How long had it been festering inside of him, undetected? It was too late. He didn’t have a choice.

When Xerneas landed on the ground again—hoping that he hadn’t accidentally crushed his wing at his angle—he scrambled to his feet and threw open his one good wing. Dark energy coursed through it—sending shivers through Xerneas’ spirit—and he beat once. At the same time, the ground under his feet shifted; he jumped out of the way, narrowly avoiding the third spire of rocks.

The dark blast struck Tyranitar, knocking him backwards several feet in a rough skid. He clutched at his chest, wheezing, snarling. While his attacks were strong, his body was frail; he fell to the ground, held up by the arm that didn’t ache and itch.

“Nngooh…” Tyranitar tried to stand, but his body didn’t respond, and the soil under Xerneas didn’t shift. It was over.

But he was still blighted, wasn’t he?

Xerneas stretched his wings and readied another Oblivion Wing. It was only halfway there, his other wing feeling sprained, but it would be enough.

The beam of darkness went for the same area as before, and Xerneas knew that his strike would hit true.

Something dark shuffled from the corner of his vision to the center, directly in the beam’s path. Xerneas couldn’t halt the attack; instead, a gout of fire tried, and failed, to intercept the beam in a head-on collision. Instead, the flames diverted in all directions, scorching the ground and the grass. Someone shrieked, and then the crowd echoed the same sound tens of times over.

Xerneas had feeling in his other wing again; the absorbed life energy was more than enough to bring him back to perfect condition. He beat them to blow out the flames like candles; when the dust settled, he saw Tyranitar, still on the ground, and the defiant statue of a Salazzle.

The crowd murmured around Xerneas, too shocked to speak any louder. Tyranitar crawled to the statue, reaching toward the arm weakly. Xerneas was a split-second away from readying another attack when the black, crackling energy in Tyranitar’s arm suddenly dissipated. When it faded, so did Tyranitar’s consciousness. He collapsed at Salazzle’s feet.

Xerneas’ first instinct was to heal them, but the shouts from the crowd to get away, and the creeping darkness that flowed through his feathers when he tried to channel his power, reminded him that such things were well beyond his ability.

Despite their fears, several Pokémon tried to get to Tyranitar to inspect him. Xerneas couldn’t hear properly anymore; they said something about Tyranitar still breathing, and another said something about his poor mate. He saw some of them give uneasy, fearful glances at Yveltal, and others carrying Tyranitar away. Some of the others stared at Salazzle, her expression frozen in a mixture of fear, anger, and hope.

He finally came to his senses and muttered, “Keep her there. I’ll be—I need to find Xerneas, I need to…” He stepped, turned around, and flew away.

<><><>​

It was finally over; every tree, every bush, the whole, tiny forest was back and tidier than ever. No overgrowth; just the right amount of power. Yveltal was used to that kind of controlled output; she had to be very careful about her powers over death, after all. Being able to monitor how much life she gave to the trees, by comparison, had so much leeway that she planned to tease Xerneas about how easy he had it.

She did miss her wings, though.

The villagers had invited her to town for some sort of celebration. The request was so surreal and unexpected that she accepted without thinking, and now she was walking toward her first party with mortals since…

She didn’t remember.

The village bustled with happy faces and enthusiastic singing—something that was also a surprising change for Yveltal. Singing. She sang to herself sometimes, but only rarely, and often just to comfort the dying before claiming them. And yet, this time, it was cheerful and beautiful in its own way…

“Er, what do you need from me here?” Yveltal asked nervously. “I’ve already done my part. Just keep the forest healthy and you’ll—”

“No, no, we know!” said Meganium. “We just need to thank you after everything. That’s all!”

And that was enough. She wasn’t about to deny a little thank-you that Xerneas always got to enjoy. And, to be fair, she was a little tired after all her restoration efforts. She had a weak instinct to give it all out, like a building power and need to throw it out somewhere… The complete opposite of her usual instincts to consume. It was an interesting change, but it also felt oddly burdensome.

Their food was humble but hearty: a potato stew mixed with some of the berries and herbs that had been harvested from the very forest that she had destroyed yesterday.

A pang of guilt plagued Yveltal at that thought, so she tried to shake it away with a remark, “This is amazing, you know,” she said. “I, er, that is, the food. And the little celebration.”

She scanned the room and admired all the happy partygoers in the square. The night was no match for the torches that lit the streets and the further, artificial lights lining the streets to accompany them, the white bulbs mixing with the orange flames.

Yveltal didn’t realize that she had laughed until it escaped her, and the other villagers beamed. “Wow, Xerneas,” said Meganium. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this happy.”

“Oh! I’m sorry,” Yveltal said. “I was just thinking about how, er—well, how lively this place is.”

“Oh, of course! All thanks to you,” Meganium said. “And, to be honest, we were doing some thinking, and, about Yveltal…”

She struggled to maintain her smile.

“We understand. It was wrong of us to badmouth your opposite so strongly. In the end, we need both of you. So… I guess, even if we don’t like when Yveltal comes around, we can at least respect what her purpose is.”

Yveltal didn’t want to be silent afterward, but she didn’t know how to respond to that while staying in character. It was, at least, an improvement. Rather than hate her, they would at least tolerate her… right? Or was that just to satisfy him? How many times did they tell Xerneas this just to win him over?

She was paranoid at this point—no use bringing down the mood for everyone else. “That’s good,” she said. “I—”

“E-excuse me.”

The tiny voice was nearly drowned out by the crowd, but something about it stood out to her. It was the little Murkrow, and the densest, coldest pit in her chest returned the moment she saw his red, tired eyes. In an instant, a thousand realizations hit her, and the fact that she could see her blue legs didn’t help.

Keeping her voice as even as possible, she said, “Yes, little one?”

“Can I talk to you?” Murkrow asked, his voice cracking near the middle. “Ab-about m-my brother?”

She obviously couldn’t say no, but what would follow—she saw the whole conversation ahead of time, and she wanted nothing more than in that moment for the Heart Swap to wear off. But it had been far less than a day; they had seen Manaphy in the dead of night. The last traces of twilight still taunted her.

“Please?” Murkrow asked again, breaking Yveltal out of her trance.

“Yes, you may,” she said quickly. “What is it that you wanted to ask me?”

Murkrow stepped back, sniffling. “Y-Yveltal killed him,” he said. “And… a-and he would have lived if Yveltal didn’t show up! Please!”

“I can’t revive someone just like that,” Xerneas said a little too quickly. “It’s already been a whole day, hasn’t it? The body must be…”

“Well, it’s buried already,” admitted Meganium, nearby. “But you’ve performed miracles like those before!”

“No, it’s… not that simple. I can’t just bring people back like that. First of all, th-they would have to want to return, hypothetically speaking, otherwise it would all be pointless, and—”

“Of course he’d want to return!” Murkrow said.

“And—I can’t just do it by mortals’ requests, either. You know that.” Yveltal bowed his head apologetically, and this time it was genuine.

“Unless,” Meganium said with a hopeful lilt to his voice, “you’re undoing the mistake of another god. Right?”

“Exactly!” Murkrow said. “Please! Yveltal killed him wrongly, so you can bring him back! That’s part of—of your policy, right? Legend against Legend!” His voice kept cracking and tears were starting to stain his feathers. Yveltal couldn’t ignore it anymore.

“If we brought you to his grave,” Meganium said, “would you be able to tell if he was truly killed by Yveltal?”

She would. But she couldn’t say that out loud. Because it would just give them false hope. Honchkrow had been killed by natural causes, and she just happened to be there. That had to have been it, because there was no way she would have missed his energy flowing into her. She had always been very careful about that. She didn’t—no, she couldn’t have possibly done it. So, there was no point in her checking.

“I don’t know if I could still be able to tell,” Yveltal lied. “I… don’t know if…” She couldn’t look away from Murkrow’s face, those desperate eyes. How did Xerneas deal with this all the time? Did he just tune it out? It’s not often that Pokémon approach her wishing for death, but Xerneas must get this daily. This was too much. If Arceus found out she used Xerneas’ powers improperly…

“Please,” Murkrow begged again, beak quivering, and Yveltal simply couldn’t say no.

“I’ll… check.” She bowed her head. “Show me the way.”

The walk was a lot longer than Yveltal thought was possible, every single building passing in slow motion like she was being walked to her own death. A whole crowd gathered behind her, waiting and watching for the next and final miracle of the night to be performed. Her stomach was in knots and it was a mystery how she wasn’t losing the dinner she’d been treated to.

It was just at the edge of the village in a small field. Little stones marked the graves and their names were etched in each one, and Murkrow went to one of the latest, freshest entries in the dirt.

“R-right here,” Murkrow said. “This should be enough, right? Right?”

The body was already being reclaimed by the earth, but it had also only been a day. If she wanted, she could channel a great deal of energy into the ground and return him, should he answer the call. But only, and absolutely only, if Yveltal sensed her own touch upon his deceased person. She had a very clear signature; usually, it took at least three days for it to fade, sometimes longer.

“Move aside,” Yveltal said softly, hoping that the fact that she could barely speak would be more a testament to her compassion for the dead than her fear of what she would find.

No, why was she afraid? She wasn’t going to find anything. She still remembered it. She didn’t kill that Pokémon. She didn’t. Natural causes. Nothing more. He had no hope to begin with. Perhaps he had a bad run-in with some other Pokémon, or fell ill and wandered off—anything could have happened in an overgrown forest, he—

“Xerneas? Are you okay?”

“Yes. I’m fine.” Yveltal had to get it over with. She placed a hoof on the gravesite and closed her eyes, and for a single instant that felt like an eternity, she realized that she could have killed him after all, just by chance. Unlucky chance, a life cut short. And that happened. That was how the world worked.

They all held their breath, including Yveltal. Her sense of life redoubled, and she felt all the forces around her, the whole crowd, their hearts, their minds, their very spirits. The energies flowed around her like water, and she was aware of every current. And eventually, she was able to focus on the weak, residual energy left behind in the body underground. There, she knew she would find nothing abnormal, because there was no way she had killed him.

Silence, and then more silence, as the currents flowed through her. And then, she found…

Nothing.

No trace of her deadly power plagued the bones of the Pokémon under her hoof. She had been right all along; her power didn’t kill him! And she doubted herself!

Murkrow gasped, beating his wings. “You sensed it! You can revive him!” Happy caws and a flurry of black feathers—as if the stress of loss was literally falling off of him—turned Yveltal’s immense relief into redoubled dread.

She had smiled. And now they were all smiling back.

And even though her smile was gone, now, all the others still looked at her eagerly, reverently, and expectantly.

“So Yveltal really did kill him?” Murkrow said, wiping his eyes with his wings. He sniffled a few times, then laughed, and then his wet, shiny eyes met Yveltal’s—looking down had been a big mistake for her. “St-stupid god powers… d-death… w-we didn’t need her to do any of that…”

She had to say no. She had to say no because it was against policy. She didn’t kill him; it wasn’t a divine accident. But… but would she ever, ever be able to get the opportunity to bring life back to the departed, ever again? Ever?

…She’d ruin how the public saw Xerneas if she refused now…

“Okay,” Yveltal finally said, her thoughts suddenly feeling clouded. She brought her hoof forward and over the grave, closing her eyes. “Everyone, back away. I don’t want you getting this energy, too. It takes a lot of power to bring anybody back after this much time. And—again, I need time, and we need to make sure that he even wants to return. If he does not want to… then it is beyond my power.”

They all backed away, Murkrow showing no fear that Murkrow could refuse, because why would he?

…What if she faked it, and said he would rather remain deceased? Perhaps she could say that she sensed no will to live from his spirit, and that he was content with the peace and stillness of death that he’d been granted.

No. That wasn’t going to work.

And so, even though she knew this wasn’t going to be a good idea, she channeled her power into the grave, a bright, prismatic light flowing from her horns and into the ground. The soil stirred, white, see-through petals shining from beneath the dirt. The crowd had to avert their eyes for part of it, and even Yveltal had to shut them, not used to that brilliance herself.

Something underground forced her hoof up, and she backed away. That was more than enough power. From the soil came a bright, crystal flower several times Murkrow’s size. It twisted its way out of the ground, thick, solid petals brightening the entire graveyard as if it was daytime. And then, when the light finally settled to just a dim glow, they all saw a dark lump somewhere inside the flower’s petals. Murkrow held his breath; Yveltal did, too. It had only occurred to her just then that she could have done something wrong. After all, she hadn’t seen Xerneas perform such a miracle that often.

But then the crystal petals blossomed and evaporated at the very tips. A fine, sparkling mist drifted into the air, leaving behind a Honchkrow, curled up like he was still inside an egg. He did not stir for several eternal seconds until he blinked himself awake. He stretched, his beak chattered in the cool air, greeting it like he’d been asleep for a long, long time. And then, with a satisfied sigh, he seemed to remember where he was and jerked upwards.

“What? Where—I was… What happened?” Honchkrow groaned and wobbled, trying to regain his footing. “Did I pass out?” He scanned the crowd. “Er, I’m okay, guys. Don’t worry about it.”

Murkrow wailed and flew into Honchkrow’s chest, earning a surprised caw from the elder brother. He curled his wings around the smaller Murkrow and preened at the little one on reflex. Several Pokémon in the crowd held back their tears; others were much less modest.

“You died,” Murkrow said. “You died in the forest because Yveltal killed you, and—a-and… and I…” The rest was lost to his sobs, and Yveltal knew that this was one lie she had to allow to persist.

Honchkrow was ushered over to the village, and while they wanted to check on him to make sure he was okay, he claimed that he never felt better. Yveltal wasn’t surprised. With how much energy he had flowing through him, he’d probably need to spend a day or two burning it all off. Little murmurs echoed from the last of the crowd, all still admiring Yveltal for just being there.

She looked down at the hooves that were not her own, and then listened to what some of them were saying, if only out of morbid curiosity.

“I knew it,” said a Bulbasaur with a wide grin. “Of course Yveltal would be that careless. Killing a random Pokémon because she’s probably too lazy to wait or something, right? Hah!”

Just ignore it. Was this really something to be so bothered with? She had said it herself. The Honchkrow had been killed by Yveltal; the lie that she had to make just for the sake of seeing a smiling face for once. Not just smiling. Tearful, completely elated, beside themselves…

“Knew she was a killer. She doesn’t care about normal Pokémon at all,” Bulbasaur said, and a few of the other Pokémon around the youngster nodded. “Maybe she just got caught this time. I bet now she’ll get in huge trouble with Arceus!”

“You think he’ll smite her for it?” asked another.

“I hope so. She’s awful!”

“You know,” Yveltal said, suddenly turning and trying her best to dispel the red in her vision, “I don’t think that’s a very fair comparison to make for Yveltal, when you think about it.”

Bulbasaur looked at the others, but then smirked at Yveltal. “Aw, c’mon, you don’t like her either, do you? You guys are opposites! I bet Yveltal gets annoyed when you undo her work.”

“No, she doesn’t,” Yveltal said. “In fact, she’s relieved that there’s someone like—me to help, just as she’s there to help when I give too much life.”

Bulbasaur didn’t look convinced, but it seemed that the other villagers were perceptive enough to drop the subject. They stepped away and shuffled back for the village, all except for Bulbasaur. And Yveltal felt her hooves plant firmly in place. She couldn’t let this go. The lie was already spiraling horribly out of control and she had to at least stop this one, insignificant Bulbasaur from spreading the rumor through the whole village.

“That’s not at all how it is,” Yveltal finally said, stepping forward. This is a bad idea. Just let it drop. How is this child’s opinion going to mean anything? Let it go. “Yveltal isn’t like that.”

“How do you know?” the insolent Bulbasaur said. “Like, you don’t know what’s in her head. Maybe it actually feels good to her to kill people. I heard from Mom that there are some Pokémon that are broken like that, and they like to kill others.”

“Yveltal hates killing needlessly,” Yveltal said. “She—she isn’t someone who enjoys it. She does it because it’s her duty, just as I do mine.” Just because it felt good to satiate that emptiness inside her whenever she absorbed life energy didn’t mean she liked killing. It was—it was different.

Bulbasaur rolled his eyes. “Meh, whatever,” he said. “Nobody likes her anyway. Maybe this mistake will be enough that she’s gone for good, huh? The world would be way better without her.”

“That’s… that’s not true,” Yveltal said slowly, eyes clouding with something between pain and rage. Her breathing was uneven and her chest felt tight. Something was growing around her hooves but she didn’t care. “You don’t know a thing about Yveltal.”

Bulbasaur blinked, glancing around, and then looked at Yveltal. He seemed to realize, then, that it was just the two of them. “Yeah, so? We know what she does and what she is, so… so that’s just how it is! That’s what she told us! She thinks she’s all high and mighty because she’s supposed to be around, but you know what? I think everyone else just tolerates her because she thinks she’s needed, and—”

“ENOUGH!” Yveltal slammed her hoof on the ground.

“O-okay, okay, I—”

“NO.” Yveltal advanced, grass overgrowing around her. A dim glow radiated off of her horns like a beacon, and other Pokémon looked at them. The plants were glowing with the grass in outward ripples that originated from Xerneas’ body. Vines overgrew where she stood, writhing in random directions. Some of that light channeled into Bulbasaur’s body, giving him a dim, ethereal glow that made him seize up.

Yveltal went on, horns blazing with power. “Yveltal has nothing but love for mortals every time she tries to help them, and what does she get in response? Nothing but scathing hatred and anger because of the mortals’ own irresponsibility. They know nothing about how horrible this world would be if there was no Yveltal, no death, to balance out life.”

Yveltal stepped toward the frightened Ivysaur, huffing again as the vines continued to twist and turn around them both. She didn’t care. She didn’t even care when the other villagers came running out, shouting something that she didn’t care to hear.

“Stop!” Ivysaur squealed, trying to back away, but the vines were getting caught around his body. He clumsily tried to slice through the vines with a Razor Leaf. Luminous fluid spurted out of the vines and blinded him; he screamed and flailed as more of the vines grew where they had been cut, further entangling him.

Yveltal suddenly gasped and snapped back to her senses. The vines—what was happening? She tried to channel some of her energy into it to wilt them, but that wasn’t her power anymore, and now the vines were growing even more. Out in the village, a Venusaur—strongly resembling the Venusaur child ensnared in the vines—readied another set of sharp leaves.

“No, don’t!” Yveltal shouted. “It won’t—”

She launched them, slicing through several of the vines that now covered half of the gravesite.

Crystal flowers bloomed along nearby gravestones and the vines continued to immobilize and squeeze around the new Venusaur’s body.

Yveltal broke free of the vines that grew around her own hooves, but Venusaur was too unfamiliar with his bulky body to do the same. Thick vines of his own flopped around and weakly pushed at the thorns that were starting to dig into him; panicking, he screamed and flailed, which only made them dig deeper.

“No, stop, STOP!” Yveltal begged, trying to pull the vines away delicately, but every time Venusaur struggled, more kept piling on. “No, calm down, calm down! I can’t help you if you keep—”

Venusaur’s screams etched themselves into Yveltal’s memories. She could only stare, helpless, as the vines wrapped layer upon layer around Venusaur, his muffled screams the only thing able to break through.

He was going to die there, except he wouldn’t. The energy would sustain him, and yet the vines would cut him, and then he would keep dying.

Yveltal couldn’t do anything to stop it. He would be buried in that agony. And it was all her fault.

“Yveltal!” She heard her own voice, and then she stared up just in time to see a beam of darkness wash over the vines. They broke apart just enough that, while he was still wounded, Venusaur scrambled out of the vines and toward the villagers, who all stared in horror.

Xerneas—in Yveltal’s body—descended upon them with his wings stretched wide. The vines halted in their growth, and Yveltal stepped away in an effort to not contribute to their plague.

“I—I’m sorry,” Yveltal said. “I used your powers incorrectly, I lost control, I—”

“I did, too,” Xerneas said. “I need you to help me revive someone where I messed up.”

“What?”

Someone landed on Yveltal’s back; she struggled to look, but then the source floated in front of her.

“Hey,” Jirachi said. “I, uh, er, sorry about all this. I probably shouldn’t have listened to you in the first place if you guys wound up messing up this badly…”

Yveltal blinked, then looked at Xerneas.

“I had to call his assistant to wake him up again, but I needed to teleport to you quickly,” Xerneas explained.

“…Call?” Yveltal asked. “How did you—”

“With those badges. Everyone apparently knows his public contact information since he’s the go-through for any wishes Jirachi could grant.” Xerneas nodded and motioned to Jirachi. “Come on. Is anything else here broken?”

“No, I—well, yes, the—” Yveltal looked back at the revived Pokémon that were staring confusedly at one another at the graveyard. Xerneas counted seven of them in total—a mercifully small number compared to what could have happened, but…

“You brought them all back from the dead, huh?” Xerneas said, grunting. “Great. Well, look, that’s a gray area, we—I’ll handle it, we’ll handle it later. I have something more important back at the village I had been at yesterday. Accidentally killed someone when trying to take out a blight.”

“A bl—”

“I don’t know, either, but the blight disappeared from the target, but I killed the wrong person. I need you to undo it.”

“You—you what?”

“I know, I’m sorry!” Xerneas bowed his head, nearly losing his balance thanks to his bipedal form. “Ugh—no offense, Yveltal, but your body is really hard to keep balanced. How do you even work this tail?”

“Er—well, practice, I suppose,” Yveltal glanced at Jirachi. “Can you take me to—”

“Right, I’ll get to that.” Jirachi raised his hands. “One Teleport, coming right up!”

<><><>​

Xerneas led the way through the dying village and motioned to some of the vines that had been left over. Yveltal shuddered, thinking back to the damage they’d left behind in the southern village. All because of some overgrowth—compared to that, what Xerneas had done here during his routine healing was nothing…

And then she saw the damage that had been done with her own, deadly power. Still in the middle of the street, the statue of a Salazzle—a corpse, as far as they were concerned—stood, still with those defiant, yet fearful eyes. And a blighted Pokémon had been there? She understood why Xerneas would feel the need to fight back against something like that, but to accidentally kill a mortal…

Yveltal thought back to Honchkrow and suppressed another shudder.

“Xerneas… and Yveltal? Together? What?”

“I’ve never seen them together when on duty like this…”

“But why? Don’t their powers cancel out?”

“It’s not right…”

Xerneas growled. “Is something wrong?” he asked, wings glowing with dark aura.

“N-no, Xerneas, don’t do that.”

“What?” Xerneas balked. “After how they treat you? I could do a whole lot more if I had the—”

“No, no, please,” Yveltal begged. “Not with my body, not with my power, they’re a-already so afraid of me.”

“That’s—” Xerneas flinched again, but then relented with an annoyed grunt. “Fine. For you.”

They approached the statue in solemn silence, and Yveltal asked Xerneas, “How do I use your power on stone?”

“It’s the same. Easier, actually, especially since this is a recent death and the body is still completely intact. The stone will undo itself after just a little work.”

Yveltal nodded and approached, already knowing that feeling of revival. Xerneas commented on that idly, but Yveltal evasively said that she’d just seen him do it a few times as a demonstration. Which was true—just omitting the fact that she’d already done a proper and controlled revival a little while ago.

Energy flowed from her horns and into her hooves again, and then to the statue in front of her in a gentle pulse. Right before Xerneas’ eyes, the gray stone regained its color; solid rock turned to smooth scales; life returned to her eyes, and she continued her defensive stance like nothing had happened.

The disorientation hit her moments later, and she dropped her stance to rub her eyes. “What?” She looked at Yveltal, then Xerneas. She glanced at the sky, certainly surprised that it had suddenly become nighttime, and that Xerneas had also appeared out of nowhere. Seconds later, the realization arrived, and she took a few shaking steps away from Yveltal. “You… y-you killed me.”

“You defended a blighted Pokémon,” Xerneas replied coolly. “Consider yourself lucky I—”

“Xerneas, please,” Yveltal said, but then clamped her beak tight. Did she just—

“What? Xerneas?” Salazzle eyed Yveltal, in Xerneas’ body, and then at the other. “Are you sure?”

“Err, well.” Jirachi floated out from behind Yveltal. “It’s sort of a long story, but—hey, is everything else okay here? What happened to that blighted Pokémon?”

“What do you mean?” Salazzle said.

“He’s this way,” called another, this one a Fraxure. He ran to another home, where Xerneas and Yveltal both followed him inside to see Tyranitar on his back, looking relaxed. When he saw Yveltal, he quickly turned his head away, a mixture of anger and resignation on his face.

“Hang on,” Jirachi said, flying forward to hover over Tyranitar. After closing his eyes, he ran a ribbon along Tyranitar’s arm, then over his chest, and then on his forehead; all the while, Tyranitar held still, looking almost afraid.

“A-am I… am I—”

“…No, he’s not,” Jirachi said, floating back. “You fought off the blight. How about that.”

He deflated with relief, but then rubbed his arm as the phantom pain came back. “I’m… I nearly killed you with that power,” he said to Xerneas. “I’m sorry. I… I know what you did was necessary. My father was blighted beyond repair, and none of us saw it in time to help. I only hope he now has peace.”

Yveltal remembered that day, but she, as Xerneas, could not bring it up. Instead, she said, “I’m sure he does. But… take care of yourself.”

“Maybe now you understand why Yveltal—why I’m necessary,” Xerneas said. “What would you guys do if I wasn’t here to take care of these blights? What will Xerneas do, life them to death?”

The villagers didn’t look at Xerneas directly, but instead at Yveltal, like they were waiting for a retort. But after what had happened in the south, Yveltal wondered if that was possible after all. If Venusaur hadn’t been rescued by Xerneas, would her powers over life have actually killed him, or would it have kept him alive within those vines, even as they dug into his body?

She shuddered. No. She was done with this power. This was all one big mistake; everything was better off when she was just alone and nobody wanted her to do anything.

Something radiating golden light illuminated the village behind them. With cold chills running down their spines, Xerneas, Jirachi, and Yveltal all turned around to see the Creator himself.

“A-Arceus,” Xerneas greeted, stepping forward. “Listen, today wasn’t the best day for any of us, but—”

Arceus wordlessly tapped his hoof on the ground. Xerneas and Yveltal both blacked out.
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
Part 4

Cold, white marble chilled Yveltal’s wings. The only sense of warmth she had was from the blue, furry body cozied up against her back. With a weak breath, she tried to lift her head, expecting to be stiff and groggy. Something felt correct, yet wrong, like there was a disconnect in what had happened earlier.

She was in the right body again. And, therefore…

“Urgh…” Xerneas tried to move his legs, but they were underneath Yveltal.

She rolled away and helped him up, and then a golden gleam caught her eye. She sprang upright and took on a more dignified posture. “Arceus. I—”

“Arceus?” Xerneas said, trying and failing to stand with some form of grace, but his legs were asleep. The most he could manage was a wobbly kneel. “Hello, Arceus—it’s an honor to see you.”

“I wish I could say the same.”

Yveltal shuddered. That tone was something she hadn’t heard from him in a very, very long time. Cold, harsh, yet still contained and level. But it was clear that the amount of irritation Arceus chose to display here was intentionally less than his true ire.

When Yveltal and Xerneas said nothing in reply, Arceus continued. “I know everything. After I spoke with Jirachi and reversed your Heart Swap, I spoke to Manaphy, and then returned you to the Hall of Origin.”

Yveltal only now realized their surroundings. Aside from the pristine, marble flooring, they were within a great, ethereal hall of light with pillars of the same divine material. Everything was bright, aside from the dark glare given by Arceus’ green and red eyes.

“Explain yourselves,” Arceus said, “or I will strip your spirits of power and make better candidates for Life and Death.”

Yveltal bowed her head again, shivering. Explain herself? How was she supposed to explain this? That she was lonely, and that her occupation—which generally required dabbling with things inherently unpleasant to mortals—was leaving her mentally unwell? How was Arceus supposed to take that?

He wouldn’t. Everything she’d done was shameful, and now… Now, Yveltal didn’t know what was going to become of her. It was all her fault for being so careless, so weak. She used to be so strong and proud of what she’d done, and yet the moment she brought some of that old pride back, she’d misused Xerneas’ powers and traumatized a—

“There’s a Venusaur,” Yveltal said, looking up. “I—is he okay? He was just a young Bulbasaur, and I…”

Arceus shook his head. “He is still adjusting to his new body, and I do not know if reverting it is worth the trouble.”

“A-and—and the ones that were revived, the ones during my… m-my outburst.” Yveltal looked down. “I—that was an incorrect use of Xerneas’ power. Therefore, it would have… h-have to be undone by me. They shouldn’t be alive.”

“Is that how you feel?” Arceus said.

“It was a mistake. Under the rules, I… it would be proper if the mistake of one divine act is undone by another. Divine to divine.”

Silence followed, and then he said, “Do you feel that if you undid this mistake, it would absolve you of your crimes?”

Everything felt cold and tight and dark, even with all the warm light around her. Yveltal couldn’t breathe. She hated how powerless she felt against Arceus, but there was nothing she could do.

“Speak.”

“N-no,” Yveltal said. “It wouldn’t. But I…”

Arceus waited.

“But I don’t think this is very fair, either.”

“Fair?” Arceus said, narrowing his eyes. “What isn’t fair?”

“I’ve… I’ve seen nothing but hatred and disdain for my power despite how necessary I am to balance in this world. I go to my empty nest, alone, and wake up in my nest, alone. I go to the villages and perform my duties, where I feel like I would rather be alone in the cold. Sacrificing one horrible situation for another, slightly more tolerable emptiness. And not once did you consider how I felt about that!” The cold was fading, replaced by a small fire in her voice. “If you perhaps cared about how I felt instead of what I did, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so unstable and foolish!”

“You’re blaming me for your mistakes?”

“No,” Yveltal snarled, biting her tongue. It came as a reflex, and she’d caught herself. It wouldn’t be proper to cast blame on Arceus entirely. “I blame myself for trying to suppress it instead of speak my grievances to you sooner.”

Arceus said nothing, staring with that same, stony expression.

And the silence ate away at her, particularly when Xerneas, whatever he was thinking, was equally quiet. So, she continued. “I am death. I am supposed to be indifferent and decisive. I am the end. I am inevitable. And I… can’t uphold that.” She looked down. “Not when I also need companionship.”

“Then you are saying that your will is not enough to uphold the power and title of Deathbringer?”

Her will? Her will was strong. Iron-clad. She doubted anybody else could handle the same duty the same way she had for ages. To think that anybody else would be able to perform the same duty was… foolish.

Yet she couldn’t find her voice. She only stared at Arceus’ golden hooves, even as the ground around the Creator grew brighter. Yveltal screwed her eyes shut and held her breath.

“It’s my fault,” Xerneas said.

Her head whirled toward him, incredulous. Xerneas had his head down in a bow, but it was his turn to be tense.

“It was my idea from the start. Yveltal was lonely. She had a bad day during one of her assignments and I had a moment of weakness when I saw that. I had an idea and I followed it through to give her some sense of companionship. I’m bothered constantly by admirers and bright eyes. I wanted some peace and quiet. It seemed like the perfect change for the two of us to swap jobs. And that was obviously impossible unless we also swapped powers. So, therefore…”

“You thought to grant access to one another, unauthorized by me?”

“Yes.”

“Yveltal agreed to it,” Arceus said. “You are both at fault.”

“She only agreed because I took advantage of how lonely she was,” Xerneas said, and Yveltal knew that wasn’t at all true.

“No,” Yveltal said. “You also wanted to be alone. We both wanted what the other had, and…”

“I was wrong,” Xerneas said immediately. “I—I thought I wanted to be alone, but…”

By now, Arceus was just watching them in silence, but Yveltal and Xerneas forgot about Arceus then. Instead, Yveltal stopped and stared at the Lifebringer, taken aback. “You hate them, though,” Yveltal said breathlessly. “How could you—”

“I know I did, I thought I did, I mean,” Xerneas said, biting his lip. “But… I think I actually do like their company, in some… twisted way. At least, after the way you felt, there was… there was this emptiness.”

“I’m always empty, though,” Yveltal said. “That comes with the job.”

Arceus shifted his weight ever so slightly, and that was enough for Yveltal to take notice. He usually had a completely stoic stance; any sort of shift was odd.

“Isn’t it?” Yveltal confirmed.

“It’s not,” Xerneas answered for Arceus. “If you ask me, that emptiness is just because nobody understands you. Because I think the same’s true for me, too. It’s all… fake, all the—the way everyone appreciates me, but doesn’t understand you? That’s just because they want my power and don’t want yours. Because they’re mortals, so of course they’d love life. Who doesn’t love life?”

Yveltal was ready to answer the question on reflex, but the answer frightened her enough that she couldn’t say it at all.

“So that is your answer,” Arceus said.

Yveltal felt a harsh tingling on her body at the same time that Arceus’ body brightened. She saw filaments of light sprouting from his back, and in an instant, she both lowered her head again and felt her heart beating out of her chest.

She didn’t want to know when it would happen. Based on Xerneas’ silence, he didn’t want to, either. They knew it would be useless to fight against him.

It was so bright that even with her eyes closed, she could still see the light. For a fleeting moment, she felt defiant rage, and her wings darkened with her horrible power. The moment she felt something electric coursing around her body, she panicked—and in her panic, she fought. Her Oblivion Wing blasted forward, and she felt it connect with a loud hiss. Stones crackled and upturn as vines grew from the very ground, breaking through the marble. They tightened around Arceus’ legs and torso, and Yveltal stared in horror at Xerneas, who intended to fight him in the same way.

Arceus stood unmoved, a scorch mark on his chest, while countless filaments of light spread around his back like wings. With a weak pulse of light, the burn mark was gone, and the vines disintegrated into nothing.

Arceus finally showed some emotion—an annoyed snort. “That was rude.”

Xerneas and Yveltal didn’t know how to react, so they only stood their ground. Their attacks had done nothing. Now came the Judgement…

Arceus turned around. “I am done for today. Your punishments have been administered.”

Yveltal and Xerneas stood in tense silence for a while until the words actually registered.

“What?” Xerneas said, looking himself over. Then at Yveltal, who had checked her feathers. She tested her Oblivion Wing’s aura, but she had just used it. Nothing changed.

“You clearly cannot be trusted with your own powers unless you’re able to regulate one another,” Arceus said. “I have linked your auras. So long as you are separated, your powers will not work. From here on, you have no choice but to perform your assignments together. Now, leave. I will be giving you another assignment tomorrow to make up for the mess you caused today.”

Arceus tapped a hoof on the ground; behind Xerneas and Yveltal was a portal that led to Xerneas’ home. Yveltal at first wondered if she had to go to her nest to get any of her things, but then realized that very few of those things were worth bringing. That last bit of emptiness was enough for her to come back to her senses.

“We—what do you mean?” Yveltal said. “We have to be together?”

“Perhaps in the future I will allow you two to separate,” Arceus said, turning his head back to look at them with the corner of his eye. “But for now, these will be your new arrangements. I do not like breaking tradition, but if it is for the betterment of the world, I have no choice. Now, go. I am very busy.”

Xerneas blinked and looked to Yveltal, but she shared the same expression. Xerneas left first, stepping through the portal and onto the grass. He stared back, waiting for Yveltal to do the same, but she watched Arceus for a little longer. Because she saw something in his eyes. The way they gleamed a little, that weak, dull shine.

Yveltal cleared her throat. “Thank you,” she said, and her eyes added, I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused.

“Mm,” Arceus said, but his eyes said more: I, as well.

<><><>​

It had rained again.

Xerneas and Yveltal had slept soundly that night, together in the former’s usual abode. They weren’t sure who did it, but the few belongings that Yveltal had at her old home had been transported near their bedding. Yveltal had forgotten about a few of them. One was a small trinket from Xerneas some decades ago that stood the test of time. Though, she wasn’t sure what it was supposed to resemble; it only mattered because it wasn’t dust by now.

Their assignment was also near their bedside, and it was a simple one. While they had cleared up the mess in the northern village, that southern village still had some loose ends to clear up—particularly the graveyard, which was still overgrown with plants that could not be cut away. Aside from that, it did not specify anything in particular, and only to check for substantial damage and to reverse it.

And so, they returned, greeted by the sunlight glistening off of the grass in an orange shimmer.

“The sunrise is always pretty, isn’t it?” Yveltal commented. “Dawn of a new day, and so on.”

“I prefer the sunset,” Xerneas said, though he’d said the same to her so many times. “But the sunrise is nice, too.”

Not many Pokémon bothered nor greeted them while they cleared up the overgrown plants and disturbed graves.

“They might be hiding from us, you know,” Xerneas said, watching Yveltal get to work. “I don’t blame them. How many did we revive? Seven?”

“Seven,” Yveltal said, sighing. “Not counting Honchkrow.”

“You aren’t going to reverse them, are you?” Xerneas asked, the hesitance in his voice suggesting the answer he wanted to hear.

Yveltal sighed. “By our rules, we are supposed to remove divine mistakes,” she said. “Those seven… perhaps even those eight…”

“Well, by our same rules,” Xerneas said, “we don’t tamper with something that the mortals can take care of themselves, unless they request it of us. And then, well, refer to the other rules. I don’t think the mortals are requesting us to un-revive them.”

“Un-revive.” Yveltal stifled a laugh. “Right. I suppose that’s true.”

The sun’s rays casted shorter and shorter shadows. A few Pokémon peeked out from their doorways and windows and then quickly hid away any time either of the Legends made so much as a glance in their general direction. Eventually, Xerneas sighed and said, “How about we test out how far we can go before Arceus’ new rule comes into effect?”

“Where are you going?” Yveltal asked.

“To talk with the villagers,” Xerneas said. “I want to smooth things over for both of us while you actually do the fixing.”

But before he could even make his way to the village, there was already a lone Sawsbuck staggering toward Xerneas. He suppressed an annoyed wince; he had to be in a good mood this time, and he had to show it. If this was some elderly Pokémon, he couldn’t just do something like return their youth. That would just further their improper use of—where was he going?

Sawsbuck moved past Xerneas and toward Yveltal. Several other Pokémon emerged from their homes next, and while a few were facing their ‘new-age’ badges at him, likely to take pictures of him up close—they loved doing that, after all—many were more interested in following Sawsbuck.

“What’s going on?” Xerneas had to ask.

They stared at Xerneas uneasily, then at Yveltal.

“…Right, you probably found out,” Xerneas said. “It’s really me this time.”

He scanned the crowd and saw two Venusaur near the back. He locked eyes with the smaller one—his eyes were incredibly young—and immediately recognized him from the story Yveltal had told. He bowed apologetically to him, and the younger one nodded back, albeit hesitantly. Then, he went back to his steps; they were careful and deliberate, like he was trying to learn how to walk for the first time.

Still, he was learning quickly, and it seemed that all the cuts from the night before had healed. He decided not to bother them.

“How has everything been going?” Xerneas asked. “Where are the seven Pokémon—er, eight, that had been revived?”

The villagers suddenly looked worried and defensive.

He should have phrased that better. “Don’t worry, we—don’t worry. Yveltal isn’t here for them. We just wanted to make sure things were going well. Venusaur, too.”

“Well, they’re doing fine,” Meganium said, stepping forward. “Er, sorry. I don’t believe we’ve properly met… Xerneas, for real, right? Venusaur’s son is getting special treatment to learn how to adjust to his new body. He evolved very early, so it might be a little awkward with the kids… but it happens. It’s nothing we aren’t prepared for.”

“That’s good to hear,” Xerneas said, sighing. “Can we say the same for Honchkrow and the others?”

“His brother is elated,” Meganium said, smiling. “And we think it was very big of Yveltal to own up to her own mistake. We can’t imagine how difficult it—”

“It was actually a lie,” Xerneas said immediately. “Yveltal hadn’t sensed any of her energy behind Honchkrow’s death.”

This earned surprised murmurs from the others in the crowd, and eventually they turned their attention to Yveltal, finally finished with all of the cleanup. Sawsbuck was still staggering toward her, and Yveltal, thinking he was mistaken, tried to point him in Xerneas’ direction. But Sawsbuck only shook his head.

“What do you mean?” Meganium said.

“He must have gotten injured some other way and succumbed to his wounds. Yveltal was not the one to deal the finishing blow.”

“But—but then why did she revive him?” Meganium said. “You don’t mean to say we have to bring him to Yveltal and—”

“I just said that’s not why we’re here,” Xerneas said with a scowl. “I came here to just set the record straight: Yveltal revived Honchkrow because she saw Murkrow’s hopeful little face and she never had the power to bring someone back to life before.” He shook his head. “She’s never wanted anything more than for someone to thank her. It was a moment of weakness… But it’s one that we shouldn’t undo.”

They all looked at one another again and Xerneas, growing impatient, turned around to address the Deathbringer directly. “Okay, I straightened—Yveltal?”

She was leaning forward, so close to the face of that frail Sawsbuck, with her head tilted to the side. A crowd was gathering around them both, and Xerneas joined in.

“Oh—Xerneas.” Yveltal stood up. “I’m sorry. I was just helping him not strain his voice. He’s… one of the Pokémon that I had revived.”

“Oh, one of the eight?”

“I am.”

Xerneas suppressed a shudder; the voice was so wobbly and weak that he was worried that the noise itself would crumble to the slightest breeze.

“It seems that I had been revived… at the same state that I had fallen away,” explained Sawsbuck. “All the others were more recent. Accidents here, perhaps a disease there… But I… lived a long life. I got to see my children and grandchildren one last time, one last nap, and it all went to a… cozy little darkness.” He smiled with a serenity that Xerneas had trouble understanding.

And then, that smile transitioned to a tired frown. “And then I woke up. Checked the year… I’ve been asleep for a long, long time. There ain’t anything here for me anymore. I… don’t think I have much time to begin with.” He looked down. “Is it wrong for me to ask for an early rest… considering I shouldn’t be awake at all?”

A solemn silence followed, Yveltal staring at this tired Pokémon, and then at all the others who were watching. This sort of event was very rare—and even rarer was it one that she could accept so publicly.

“Well, I…” Yveltal looked at the others. Uncomfortable stares, but none of them glared. Some looked away; others seemed to know what was coming and left. But many stayed.

“Are you sure?” Meganium asked. “You…”

“How many days do I have?” Sawsbuck said. “Died once before… was real peaceful. Don’t wanna ruin that.”

That was enough to silence Meganium.

“Y’all have a lot to live for,” Sawsbuck said. “But I had my time. The real blessing here is Yveltal… I belong to her. Ain’t that right?” He looked up, but it was hard, so he settled for staring at her talons. He puffed a little more, and then knelt down. “Ah, sorry for all the disrespect. I gotta… take a breather on my side.”

Yveltal quickly descended upon him, sweeping her wing under his side before he hit the hard dirt. A few villagers flinched, but then Sawsbuck’s head gently nestled against her feathers.

Yveltal’s tail-claws twitched against the dirt, then relaxed at the same time that the villagers did.

“How kind.” His voice was barely a whisper; only Yveltal heard him. “Here I thought death would be cold…”

With his eyes closed, he breathed steadily.

Yveltal looked at Xerneas, then at Sawsbuck, but he didn’t look back. And finally, at the villagers, like she needed their approval.

Perhaps they recognized it, or perhaps they accepted it. She wasn’t sure which. But some of them smiled, and others nodded, and the wind blew. A stray cloud cast a shadow over the graveyard.

Yveltal sang a wordless song. One understood by Pokémon in the wilds, Pokémon of the cities, and everything in between. It was just loud enough for Sawsbuck to hear, but just soft enough that he did not stir. To Yveltal, it was night again, in a quiet forest, where nobody else mattered.

A black haze collected around her wings like morning dew.

She sighed her final note; the stray cloud faded from the sky.

End
 

zion of arcadia

too much of my own quietness is with me
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. marowak-alola
I’m trying a slightly new style for Catnip. IDK if I’ll stick to it but you get to be my guinea pig. >:]

The trail of blood was fresh.

Strong opening line. Good hook.

She ducked under a branch, careful not to touch the delicate wood, and scanned the ground ahead. A small tuft of white fur showed her the way, and she continued down the path. Another spatter barely stood out against the red, teardrop-shaped leaves on the ground, but Yveltal was very keen on that kind of color.

I might’ve swapped out ‘touch’ for ‘brush’ since it’s alliterative with ‘branch’ and starts with a softer consonant than a hard ‘T’; sounds cleaner when paired with ‘delicate wood’ (snicker).

Also the final sentence, and the noun spatter, seem to refer to the blood trail, but I thought at first you meant the ‘small tuft of white fur’ and was slightly confused. Might want a sentence inbetween to clarify the subject unless it’s meant to be intentionally ambiguous.

Under the evening sun, everything was quiet; too early for the nocturnal Pokémon to rise, but too late to hear the diurnals. Long, dreary shadows blanketed the cooling forest floor, and Yveltal wondered if she would find what she was looking for at all.

Like the time you chose for the setting (at least to start off with). There’s something naturally melancholic about dusk--another day drawing to a close. Fits well with themes of death.

She walked gingerly toward that spark of light, stopping only when a quiet whimper confirmed her suspicions.

I wonder if you could’ve incorporated Yveltal’s biology into the walking scene more. I imagine her a bit like an owl (often associated with death), resting on trees and drifting from branch to branch. Or if you want her grounded maybe make use a more awkward verb like waddled.

“It’s okay,” Yveltal said, her voice an ominous trill. With her words came a cruel, hollow breeze that kicked up dry leaves and dusted her body and blinded Pachirisu. Another whine, an arm reaching up to its face, but it was too weak.

You’ve always had a compassionate, hopeful view of death and personifications of death that I enjoy. Maybe because my takes on death tend to be much more cynical, making the change of pace refreshing. Also, now I really wish you’d watch The Good Place, haha.

So far your characterization of Yveltal reminds me of Hades from classical Greek mythos, who was given the underworld because he essentially drew the short straw, not because he’s evil incarnate (even if he does have some rather sus ways of wooing women). As an interesting side note, his name is often translated as “the unseen one” although Socrates argues that “knowledge of all noble things” is more accurate.

Creating a dichotomy between Yveltal’s words and her presence is a clever little character moment. Even the phrase ‘ominous trill’ seems to suggest the curious disparity.

Yveltal lowered her head—her beak was larger than the little thing—and brought a wing forward.

Always like feeling a sense of scale and size disparity between Pokémon and this is no exception. You could’ve changed ‘was larger than’ to ‘dwarfed’ for a stronger verb, however.

But not only was he too far away, but perhaps that would only lead to more suffering.

The parallelism clunks a little here.

The wound was across its chest; some sort of slash. Must have gotten into a fight it simply couldn’t win, perhaps falling prey to a predator. Yet it still managed to escape. It was strong, but not strong enough to escape the aftermath. The little one was too small; these wounds were far too grave, and there were hints of poison coursing through it, too.

I think you could’ve condensed the first sentence into one clause: “The wound slashed across its chest.”

Also, using escape twice in quick succession thuds repetitively. I could see it being intentional but perhaps paralleling the syntax as well would let it hit harder.

The harmony slowed the wind and settled the leaves; the sun set, making the sky just a little darker.

Nice use of imagery. The following portion with the other Pachirisu reminds me of the second stanza to Maya Angelou’s poem When Great Trees Fall:

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/when-great-trees-fall-by-maya-angelou

The opening scene does a good job establishing Yveltal’s primary character motivations. I’ve come to believe the best character driven stories all revolve around the struggle with identity in some fashion or another. Identity as an individual and identity a member within a community (or, perhaps, identity vs setting?).

Here we see numerous instances of Yveltal being motivated mostly by duty. She kills the Pachirisu not because she wants to but because she has to. This creates a natural internal conflict for her to come to terms with, and a number of resolutions that could all be satisfying depending on how they’re set up and paid off. I could either see her coming to terms with her position in the universe or finding some way to transcend it.

There’s also a minor touch of superiority at play, as she seems to consider herself enlightened vs the “dumb beasts” that are the Pachirisu. I don’t know if that’s an intentional character flaw or just a world building beat, but I do find the former more intriguing in concept than the latter.

North of the country, the winds often became cold and harsh when the leaves turned red.

Nice job tying the shifting of seasons to a clear image. Also enjoy how you’ve now used the color red multiple times in relation to tree leaves. It establishes the mood well. Setting the story in autumn (from what I can tell) seems to be another deliberate atmospheric choice. I enjoy those sorts of minor details.

“Everyone, quiet, quiet,” Xerneas said, stomping a hoof. “Now, from what I’ve been told, your village was recently hit by terrible rainfall, something you would have expected from Lugia’s wrath. Now, while I don’t agree with your decision to live in a valley where floods may happen… and while I also feel that my visit is completely needless… the Great Ancestor feels that I should at least give this town a proper rejuvenation.” He harrumphed, tapping a hoof again. “So, I will humor you.”

Interesting contrast to the introduction of both legendaries. I’m pretty much always going to have a negative reaction to anyone who lectures people on where to live (rude!), and his opening speech generally comes off as antagonistic and condescending. Again reminds me of Zeus as the primary god in the Greek pantheon, but he does a lot more awful things than Hades despite having a much more esteemed position.

Another thing I noted is how Yveltal is introduced in isolation away from society, while Xerneas is introduced in a village surrounded by others.

After all, thanks to the miracle, they had completely forgotten about him, aside from a few in the crowd that gave him thankful nods and smiles.

Damn, that’s quite a narcissistic viewpoint.

The second introduction feels more playful and humorous, poking fun at both Xerneas and the villagers (as viewed through the lens of Xerneas’s POV anyway). Arguably the tonal shift is somewhat jarring, but I think the way it eases into it with the description of the village works. It’s closer to a tonal transition than a straight shift.

Also like how Xerneas and Yveltal echo each other in their undercurrent of superiority toward mortals. Although with Xerneas it’s more explicit and played straight while with Yveltal it’s mostly subtext.

After emitting a soft trill—which killed a few nearby flowers—she fell asleep.

The second Yveltal segment definitely seems a lot more humorous as well.

She cracked one eye open and winced in preparation, wondering if it was some misguided Pokémon seeking revenge.

Good use of subtle exposition.

Also another subtle parallel with Yveltal living near a ruined village while Xerneas returns after visiting a village full of life.

It struck me as a convoluted means to build tension that she took so long to recognize Xerneas, though. You’d think they’d have some way of identifying one another so as not to scare her. Although given his self-absorbed tendencies, maybe he’s never noticed her fears.

Definitely feels like a friendship (relationship?) where one side mostly gives and the other side does a lot of taking. Guess we’ll see. It might expand beyond that as the chapter/s develop.

Yveltal nodded understandingly, though with a small twinge of envy. Any time Xerneas was summoned, it was to see smiling and relieved faces, perhaps not unlike how Yveltal had greeted him tonight. And her? She saw nothing but fear in all those she met. Fear of what she could do to them if she wasn’t in the right mood, as they saw it. Fear of her power. Fear of death. Everyone was like that. Even that Pachirisu’s family, who saw how far gone the little one had been.

I think this paragraph is potentially too on the nose. All of this is already made explicit via the text itself.

… and, therefore, waking him up. She couldn’t do that.

Yveltal is something of a people pleaser huh.

Procedures, policies, delegations, traditions.

This reminds me of a really funny take on the afterlife I once read in another fandom, where everything was unnecessarily corporate and bureaucratic. Made for some amusing satire. Given how naturalistic much of the descriptions of both Xerneas and Yveltal have been, however, it feels a little tonally jarring. She does admit to being technologically illiterate though.

Yveltal didn’t like the cold anymore. Slowly, she tugged her wing out from under Xerneas, praying to—well, that would probably just irritate him.

The first sentence is a little confusing due to its vagueness. She doesn’t like the cold anymore ever? Or like she’s comfortable snuggling with Xerneas?

Second sentence is quite witty. I approve.

But she understood. Mortals were often short-sighted, and it was difficult and tiresome to teach them generation after generation, what with how often they died. A less involved god would leave them alone to fall to their own vices, but perhaps sometimes it was necessary to help them.

Interesting extrapolation of blue and orange morality.

This also expands on Yveltal’s powers in a much more chilling way. The POV shifts display individual (Pachirisu), communal (village), and then communal again (forest) uses of the legendary ‘mons abilities. Maybe end on an individual note again to draw the chapter to a close?

It was a shame that they had too much of a good thing.

Feels yin and yang in philosophy, as does the concept of balance.

The descriptions of Yveltal culling the forest are very clinical. Distant, even, as she’s viewing the events outside herself. I like it. Maybe could’ve used shorter, jagged sentence structures to emphasize that fact, instead of elongating clauses with commas.

Good enough. She leaned close, her beak mere inches from his face. A few Pokémon behind him turned away, covering their eyes.

Nice pivot to show the darker aspects of her personality.

Come on, you know what Ziggy always says, right? Life without death is suffering.

I really want this to be a David Bowie reference, even though I know it probably isn't lmao.

Xerneas comforting Yveltal was a good role reversal. He needed a likable moment, I think, beyond having a strongly defined voice.

“Wish…” Xerneas said, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully.

Ah, the external conflict? And a clean transition out of the inciting incident, too. This all flows very smoothly from a structural standpoint. The only potential criticism I can think of is that she’s surely done this before, so it’s a little convenient that Xerneas just thinks of a solution now. But eh, minor nitpick. I wonder if this will mimic a Princess and the Pauper style of storytelling.

The segment where Jirachi woke up was very silly. I’m assuming it’s partially a reference to Super.

Hush, said hers.

Okay, I’m starting to dig the chemistry between Yveltal and Xerneas. They’ve had a couple good back and forths in the Jirachi segment now. Oh, also, technically the pattern I noted before did end on an individual note. So that’s nice. I like when patterns align like that.

Jirachi blinked. “Look, I grant wishes, but I’m not a miracle w—AAH!” He dove out of the way, narrowly avoiding a beam of deadly energy from Yveltal.

This comes across very strongly as slapstick comedy. I’m not sure it jives well with the rest of the story. When Yveltal or Xerneas make a humorous comment it feels rooted in character. Not sold on that as much for this. Or, well, I suppose you can argue it plays off Jirachi’s character, but I’m not sure ‘comic relief’ has a whole lot of value going for it. At the very least, it weakens the end of the chapter compared to how strong the other sections were.

And we wrap up with a teleportation to Manaphy? Cool. Does Heart Swap do what I think it does? *checks* Aha! We’ll probably be getting a body swap, then. Sounds like fun shenanigans. Excellent first chapter. I’ll try to get the rest done for review blitz, although I may just finish and wrap up with the final chapter instead of going through them individually.
 
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Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
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  1. dratini
Hey Namo, been meaning to check this one out for a while. I am a huge fan of fics that do anything with Yveltal other than "evil harbinger of doom." The reversal you've got going on here is really fun, and you build it up well. Yveltal's kind personality and love for nature shine through, as does Xerneas' seething discontent with his place in the world. I enjoyed their closeness--Life and Death at odds creates good tension, but I liked seeing Yveltal and Xerneas being mutually supportive.

I found the general relationship between gods and mortals here interesting. There's definitely a disconnect when you live for so long and see people making the same mistakes over and over. People don't quite seem to worship the legendaries--it seems like they're almost equivalent to the government in your world. Sometimes they come in and give you good stuff, sometimes they come in and do stuff you don't want, but you can't do anything about. In another story, I could see Yveltal hiring a public relations manager!

One place I was a bit confused on the worldbuilding--what exactly is Yveltal's relationship toward death itself? Obviously she doesn't cause it, but is she necessary in some way to it? I wasn't sure why she needed to track down the pachirisu--she didn't seem to do anything except ease its passing. It's also interesting that her power drains plants much more easily, it seems, than pokemon. Perhaps it's a difference in auras? Pokemon in this world probably have a lot more inherent energy than plants.

I'll definitely be circling back to see how well the body-swap shenanigans goes! (Or, um, not well, as the case probably is.)

Another spatter barely stood out against the red, teardrop-shaped leaves on the ground, but Yveltal was very keen on that kind of color.
Is keen the right word here? Makes it sound like Yveltal is really into blood, but that doesn't mesh with her general unease about her work. Maybe, "Another spatter barely stood out against the red, teardrop-shaped leaves on the ground, but Yveltal was very adept at picking out that color."

Under the evening sun, everything was quiet; too early for the nocturnal Pokémon to rise, but too late to hear the diurnals.
A little Pachirisu; young, but not too young.
She lowered her head in respect; poor thing.
The wound was across its chest; some sort of slash.
Semicolons connect two independent clauses, usually ones that are parallel in some way. In the sections quoted above you don't have two independent clauses.

Long, dreary shadows blanketed the cooling forest floor, and Yveltal wondered if she would find what she was looking for at all.
This confused me a bit. Would she not be able to find the pachirisu because it's too dark? Does she really not have some death spidey-sense? Or just the ability to see in the dark?

Old enough that it left the nest, but perhaps only recently.
"Had left the nest"

Dim lights reflected off of its eyes,
What lights were these supposed to be?

A shame it wasn’t lying in the opposite direction.
Wasn't sure what this meant. Is the idea that Yveltal doesn't want it looking at her?

“It’s okay,” Yveltal said, her voice an ominous trill. With her words came a cruel, hollow breeze that kicked up dry leaves and dusted her body and blinded Pachirisu.
Oof, she comes with special effects. I wonder if you want to have some language here to show the ominous trill isn't intentional? Like, "It's okaym" Yveltal said. She tried to gentle her voice, but it came out as the same ominous trill as always."

Her tail’s claws flexed on the ground, digging into the dirt absently. Almost on reflex, it drew away life from the nearby trees, but she quickly stopped herself.
The tail's feeling a bit too personified here.

Life was draining from this one too early, and Yveltal wondered if she could bring this one to Xerneas. But not only was he too far away, but perhaps that would only lead to more suffering.
The repeated "this one" is a little clunky. I kind of want more specificity here. What suffering would that lead to? Is there some karmic balance it would disrupt?

The wound was across its chest; some sort of slash. Must have gotten into a fight it simply couldn’t win, perhaps falling prey to a predator. Yet it still managed to escape. It was strong, but not strong enough to escape the aftermath. The little one was too small; these wounds were far too grave, and there were hints of poison coursing through it, too.
Feels like a lot of words here to get across a pretty straight-forward idea.

Maybe, "There was a slash across its chest. Must have gotten into a fight it simply couldn’t win. It had strength enough to escape, but not enough to survive the aftermath. The wounds were too grave and the pachirisu too small."

Then, she began to sing. The song had no words—it would be meaningless to Pachirisu, after all—but the tune was slow and became slower, notes rising and falling with Pachirisu’s chest. The harmony slowed the wind and settled the leaves; the sun set, making the sky just a little darker. Pachirisu relaxed in her claws, weakly snuggling against her massive wing.
Aw, I love that she takes the time to sing to it.

Two more Pachirisu, the same age as one whose life had just been extinguished.
Missing word: the one whose

Moonlight Village was a humble abode
An abode refers to a single dwelling, not a collection of dwellings.

A cobblestone path divided the town in two, piercing through its heart.
Hm, a path that divides a town doesn't really sound like it's piercing it.

There, in the center of town, a small crowd of Pokémon gathered around a great, blue Pokémon with multicolored horns. Under the morning sun, they shimmered, though the shine faded rapidly to the brightening sky.
It's a little unclear at first that the second sentence refers to the horns.

Now, while I don’t agree with your decision to live in a valley where floods may happen…
Oh my! Xerneas has quite the attitude. Very Coase theorem, "can't have crop damage without crops, ya know" galaxy brain here.

They had no respect for him; they were only being nice because of his power.
Not sure nice is the word? Perhaps, "They didn't respect him, only his power."

Long tail, tiny body, watching from far away while resting atop a violet bubble of Psychic energy.
Mew as the supervisor from hell, lol.

Energy flowed from his antlers into his hooves, and then into the ground, where—perhaps as a spiteful side-effect—grass broke through the gaps in the cobblestone floor and overgrew around the feet of the crowd.
Oof, Xerneas is really seeing the worst in everything. Quite a contrast to Yveltal's appreciation of natural beauty.


No blankets as there was no need; the cold was cozy for her.
Maybe, "She found the cold cozy."

After emitting a soft trill—which killed a few nearby flowers—she fell asleep.
Love this aside! Poor Yveltal.

What if it was a blighted Pokémon? That could be dangerous. Perhaps the only thing truly dangerous to a Pokémon like her, at least aside from something foolish like defying Arceus. But she didn’t feel any sort of corrupted aura in the air…
Blighted pokemon? I'm not sure if that's a background concept I'm unfamiliar with or something that's going to be a plot point here.

No, it was just a bystander, perhaps, passing by on a nighttime stroll.

No, they were definitely getting closer,
The double nos is jerky. Maybe, "It was probably just a bystander, perhaps, passing by on a nighttime stroll.

No, they were definitely getting closer,"

A mixture of relief and joy washed over her, and then a giggle.
This makes it sound like the giggle washed over her?

“Can I sleep here tonight?” Xerneas said with a hint of desperation in his voice.

“Let me guess.” Yveltal lifted her wing, silently inviting Xerneas into her nest. “Eager visitors?”

He obliged with a relieved sigh, going around Yveltal, ducking under the wing, and then turning on his side. His body was so warm; smooth, soft blue fur trapped the heat even this far into the night.

“You don’t know the half of it,” Xerneas said, groaning and cuddling against the underside of Yveltal’s wings.
Aw, they're friends! Adorable.

The god of gods tapped a large piece of paper next to her nest, kept down by a small rock. Primitive technology, but she was never good with those newfangled inventions anyway.
Can't they just transmit the instructions psychically or with god power or something?

So, Yveltal’s assignment was simple: Destroy the forest and let the overgrowth even itself out.
Nice choice for something that requires some active destruction in order to preserve the balance.

But the Pokémon nearby had been neglectful of it and perhaps did not realize the doom they had caused themselves in the future; if anything, her arrival here was a blessing. She could let them start anew without the flames claiming them.
This wandered into language that's more archaic than your general tone: doom, anew.

This wasn’t a normal overgrowth. This was the result of Pokémon sparring too often there; life energy flowing without restraint in the roots, through the trees. Frenzy Plant, Magical Leaf—those techniques energized the plants, and sometimes contributed to it. This area must have a high population of Grass Pokémon, if she had to guess.
Oh, very interesting! So there's some irresponsible land use going on.

She walked slowly, one pace every five seconds, just like she’d practiced for so long for overgrowth containment. Ahead of her was a beautiful, grotesque collection of twisted flowers and struggling, damp vines. Behind her was rot and ash, the ends of a fire without any flames.
This was a vivid, though poignant image: Yveltal tracing her lonely way, the forest crumbling around her.

The trail left behind suggested that he had tried to hobble away or fly, but failed each time.

Perhaps it was simply his time.
Double "time" here. But failed at each attempt, maybe?

Machamp clenched his jaw, saying nothing. She looked at the many Grass Pokémon behind him; some looked down in shame. Others were more fearful than anything. A few seemed more defiant, as if they couldn’t possibly have been to blame for the forest’s overgrowth.

Whatever. If they did it again, maybe she’d burn it instead to show them what…
So Yveltal is also capable of getting pissed off.

“Oh, of course, eliminating threats,” Yveltal said. “that went wonderfully last time. I nearly killed an innocent Dunsparce…”

“L-let’s think about the other times,” Xerneas said quickly.
Oops!

“That you’d be able to grant wishes after just waking up?” Yveltal asked.

Xerneas glanced at her, impressed. Nice save, said his eyes.

Hush, said hers.
Aw, they have a nice dynamic.

“Mhm.” Xerneas didn’t show it, but Yveltal could tell from his tone that he was pleased. “And the favor?”

“I’ll Teleport you over to Manaphy.”
Why is teleport capitalized?

Yay body swap, but this ending feels a bit abrupt.
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
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  1. charizard
Thanks to you both for the reviews, and I'm glad that you've enjoyed the first chapter! I was actually a little worried about this one because it felt like a slow start, but I think the focus on characterization really helped things out. Glad the gamble paid off! If I had to make predictions, I'd say the second chapter might start off weaker based on the feedback here, but I hope it will pick up after that.

I wonder if you could’ve incorporated Yveltal’s biology into the walking scene more. I imagine her a bit like an owl (often associated with death), resting on trees and drifting from branch to branch. Or if you want her grounded maybe make use a more awkward verb like waddled.

When I envisioned Yveltal perching on a branch like an owl I subsequently imagined the branch snapping, so waddling on the ground would probably work better here.

Also, now I really wish you’d watch The Good Place, haha.

This is like the fifth time I was told this, so I probably have to put it on my list now.

There’s also a minor touch of superiority at play, as she seems to consider herself enlightened vs the “dumb beasts” that are the Pachirisu. I don’t know if that’s an intentional character flaw or just a world building beat, but I do find the former more intriguing in concept than the latter.

This is indeed, to an extent, intentionally a character flaw or aspect. It's part of the world building, but also a flaw in how Legends view mortals simply due to the massive power difference between them. Though Yveltal does seem to hold more respect toward mortals.

Also like how Xerneas and Yveltal echo each other in their undercurrent of superiority toward mortals. Although with Xerneas it’s more explicit and played straight while with Yveltal it’s mostly subtext.

Yeah, as mentioned above, Xerneas is definitely more... uh, overt about his feelings. Yveltal meanwhile is probably trying to hide her feelings from herself.

Yveltal is something of a people pleaser huh.

Yveltal is rarely given so much as a thanks for her work, so I imagine that would come up with a few maladaptations.

The only potential criticism I can think of is that she’s surely done this before, so it’s a little convenient that Xerneas just thinks of a solution now. But eh, minor nitpick.

Yeah, I get that. I think when coming up with this premise, it was more along the lines of snapping the temporal camera to the moment when they first came up with it, so to speak, or just so happened to.

I wasn't sure why she needed to track down the pachirisu--she didn't seem to do anything except ease its passing.

I think this is mentioned later, and I probably could have been clearer about it now, but Yveltal doesn't actually embody the force of death for every living thing. She is strongly associated with death and has powers over life energy opposite to Xerneas, but she isn't literally Death. I think you see later that her role in practice is more one of regulation rather than embodiment. As for Pachirisu... Yveltal just happened to sense it, and using her power here was actually against regulations, even if it was a common-sense application for her.

It's also interesting that her power drains plants much more easily, it seems, than pokemon. Perhaps it's a difference in auras? Pokemon in this world probably have a lot more inherent energy than plants.

Bingo! If something doesn't have the life energy of a Pokemon or something derived from it (which is naturally stronger and more resistant to supernatural phenomena) then they crumple like paper to Yveltal. Plants fall under this category.

Blighted pokemon? I'm not sure if that's a background concept I'm unfamiliar with or something that's going to be a plot point here.

Back when this was in beta, this was one of my primary concerns. It's a side element of the story that I tried to weave in for later, but hopefully will get a few tidbits later. Blighted Pokemon are one reason Yveltal is needed as well.


Fun fact, this is actually a reference to The Great Dunsparce Apocalypse!

Why is teleport capitalized?

I'm not really sure if it's a good or bad habit of mine, but it's because it refers to the use of the actual, named technique called Teleport, which I try to consistently capitalize. Jury's out on whether using it as a verb when referring to using the technique counts, though.
 

zion of arcadia

too much of my own quietness is with me
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. marowak-alola
Hello again, Namo! I have returned after finishing the entire short story. It was a lot of fun. Let’s dig in:

Crashing waves and cruel winds filled Yveltal’s earholes. Bitter cold seeped into her feathers, and she weakly flopped her way through the water with an annoyed grunt.

I had a hard time picturing them in the ocean from this description. When I think of what the word seeped means, I think of someone slowly getting wet. Such as, ‘the water seeped through the sole of my shoe.’ Here it would make more sense for them to be soaked, or dunked, or something more along those lines.

It’s a cool display of their casual strength, though, that they tread water in the ocean.

The way the gods act around each other versus the way they act around mortals is interesting. Manaphy and Jirachi almost come off as children, while the relationship between Arceus and our dynamic duo is that of a boss and his workers. Which would make Manaphy and Jirachi co workers, I guess, if we extend the metaphor? Or, maybe, same building, different departments. Heh.

Arceus’s characterization is really interesting here. He’s mostly distant, discussed with bated breath, and when he shows up in the finale, it’s a study in contrast to see two powerful beings in Yveltal and Xerneas kowtow before him. In retrospect, maybe you shouldn’t have revealed him in the first chapter, or the lead up, to give his appearance at the end more impact.

While I was reading through this, I did have the idle thought that Xerneas might end up enjoying the role as deathbringer in a bit of a twist. You might want to tone back some of his eccentricities, as I spent large chunks of this story half-expecting him to become a villain, haha.

“I thought you gave her that,” Manaphy said in a whisper.

“You know what I mean,” Xerneas hissed.

lol

I wish Xerneas and Yveltal had discussed their relationship a bit more. Much of the conflict was between mortals and gods, but outside of internal musings, and a line of dialogue from Yveltal, they never really consider the way they treat each other. It would’ve been nice to see some sort of communication in that respect.

You mentioned I might not like the start of the second chapter, but I thought it was good. Maybe because Manaphy isn’t quite as, uh, extra as Jirachi, despite also being a mostly humorous character. And the Heart Swap scene itself was pretty funny; I always appreciate gender shenanigans.

I didn’t quite get the point of the badges or why their explanation was necessary. And even when the payoff came it felt a touch underwhelming. I don’t really consider knowing how Xerneas got in contact with Jirachi all that important in the grand scheme of things. It just slowed down the pacing unnecessarily for some minor exposition.

The only thing I could think of was that it was meant to allude to how reliant legendary pokemon have become on technology? And emphasize again how behind the times Yveltal and Xerneas are in comparison. That makes sense, although I still found it mostly extraneous.

... had all that spontaneity really happened?

Found this to be a neat aside. Since they’re immortal, spontaneity is no doubt very rare. And the talk about Arceus being traditional also reinforces the idea that change happens very slowly for the gods.

I wish we’d gone on a flight of fancy with Xerneas instead of cutting away right at that moment. It could’ve symbolized that death, for all its drawbacks, is also its own sort of freedom. Would tie in nicely with the story ending. We do come back to him eventually, but the actual flying was mostly summarized, while the focus is more on Xerneas feeling lonely. That was fast, heh.

Xerneas, how spoiled you were.

Might want to write this in present tense. Unless he’s no longer spoiled, I guess, not that Yveltal would have any way of knowing that.

Unfortunately, they ended up trying to follow her—well, most of them did.

How did they try to follow her? Was the overgrowth in the way or something?

“It’s just, even if we need her, doesn’t mean we have to like it. I mean, who in their right mind would like death?”

Sometimes the dialogue and the narration got a little repetitive. Like Xerneas always talking about how Yvetal was lonely, or Yveltal always thinking about how her job was necessary, the living just naturally didn’t like it.

I do have a soft spot for the whole ‘freaky friday body switch’ storytelling, where two opposing personalities learn how the other side lives. Or Prince in the Pauper, which I mentioned before. It’s a very satisfying narrative. A drawback is that it’s not all that surprising, but I’ve never minded not being surprised. Always more of an execution (pun not intended, lol) type of gal.

Contrasting Xerneas’s struggles with Yveltal’s successes was fun. Nice bit of schadenfreude, too.

Are blighted Pokemon a reference to Shadow Pokemon? Or maybe a being like Dark Matter? Cool detail either way, as well as Yeveltal’s importance in subduing the blight.

The village bustled with happy faces and enthusiastic singing—something that was also a surprising change for Yveltal. Singing. She sang to herself sometimes, but only rarely, and often just to comfort the dying before claiming them. And yet, this time, it was cheerful and beautiful in its own way…

Aw. It was nice to see Yveltal appreciated for once. I like how singing is a repeated motif throughout the chapters, too. Joyous chants of celebration in contrast with the mournful dirge

I loved the scene where Yveltal revives Honchkrow. It’s very spiritual, very peaceful. And her decision to pretend she killed Honchkrow is a great moment of empathy and character agency.

I do kind of wish we’d left it off there. Yes, there’s build up to Yveltal’s meltdown, what with the villagers picking at her duties. And the scene where Yveltal’s powers go wrong is very creative, very chilling, in how far it takes the adage ‘too much of a good thing’. But I found it more poignant that her kindness would ultimately lead to her undoing, not her resentment. Life is cruel; death is peace. Freedom from the mortal coil. The back half of this segment somewhat undercuts that.

They all backed away, Murkrow showing no fear that Murkrow could refuse, because why would he?

Honchkrow, I assume.

Yveltal was ready to answer the question on reflex, but the answer frightened her enough that she couldn’t say it at all.

Interesting that even now, Yveltal shields Xerneas from the darker aspects of her job. It shows how he’s almost innocent, too, in his own, strange way. Or maybe naive.

“You clearly cannot be trusted with your own powers unless you’re able to regulate one another,” Arceus said. “I have linked your auras. So long as you are separated, your powers will not work. From here on, you have no choice but to perform your assignments together. Now, leave. I will be giving you another assignment tomorrow to make up for the mess you caused today.”

I like this conflict resolution. There’s a decent chunk of lines that allude to it as a possibility in the lead up, too. And the touch of humor from Arceus was a funny little juxtaposition, too.

“Mm,” Arceus said, but his eyes said more: I, as well.

Aw. Cute.

I kind of wish the story ended there. I’m not sure we needed more. The final portion with the village felt like it unnecessarily tied up loose ends, almost to the point where it was too pat, y’know?

Like with Tyranitar, for example. The way he forgave them was, I mean, yeah, sure, it was a feel good moment, but it also seemed almost too clean, too understanding. Not really earned. A bit of messiness, a bit of anger at being used while the gods played freaky friday wouldn’t have gone amiss.

But maybe that’s just my thirst for tragedy speaking; I may or may not have been hoping the Pokemon raised from the dead would have to be laid to rest lmfao. I know that’s not your style, though.

He locked eyes with the smaller one—his eyes were incredibly young—and immediately recognized him from the story Yveltal had told.

Really liked this line.

“How kind.” His voice was barely a whisper; only Yveltal heard him. “Here I thought death would be cold…”

Really liked this line, too. The whole final sequence with the Sawsbuck was an understated, bittersweet moment. Quite lovely. And the last few sentences were very pretty. I do have a question though, I thought Pokemon wouldn’t be revived if they didn’t want to come back? So how come Sawsbuck returned?

Enjoyable short story. Thanks for the pleasant read. Here’s a poem about loneliness:

It was at a wine party—
I lay in a drowse, knowing it not.
The blown flowers fell and filled my lap.
When I arose, still drunken,
The birds had all gone to their nests,
And there remained but few of my comrades.
I went along the river—alone in the moonlight.

--The Solitude of Night
By Li Bai
 
Location
Etherium
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. silvally-dragon
  2. necrozma-ultra
Merry reviewmas

Part 1: FRESH BLOOD FOR THE BACON GOD
-Obvious comment about subverting the god ‘mon gender stereotypes with male Xern and female Yveltal. [cough] Anyway, opening bit mixes some of Yveltal’s dex logic with an actual grim reaper job of sorts. Or, perhaps, in the context of the greater HoC-verse, it’d be more accurate to say that Yveltal has the job of sending spirits from the mortal plane to the spirit realm so they can travel to the aural sea or some nonsense like that. A variant of a ferrier across this equivalent of the Styx, with Zygarde as an overseer of sorts.
-Wasn’t surprised to see Xerneas taking orders from Star given her belief in micromanaging mingling with mortals compared to Arceus’ hands-off approach.
-Also like the little tidbits that Yveltal kills plant life she touches. Grim Reaper does that, too.
-I also like the jaded angle you go for with Xerneas. It’s usually written as a very poised and elegant ‘mon, so to see him just casually trash talk mortals like this gets a chuckle. Also adds to HoC’s idea of gods being incredibly flawed if some are this flippant about their responsibilities. Eon’s a jerk, but unfortunately this lends him a point or two.
-Ah, so Yveltal serves under Arceus. That’s actually intriguing that you’d take two of a canon “trio” and place them under different factions so to speak. In some respects, you can even see their bosses’ respective behavior patterns have rubbed off on them. Yveltal is the more reserved, Xerneas the more animated.
-I want to say that the minimal dialogue here — compared to HoC, anyway — is a stylistic decision to, well, play up the title of this thing. Even when accosted by villagers, Yveltal says very little.
-The dark-type god doesn’t care for nighttime travel. Ow, the irony.
-Oh, hey, this is Explorers/Super Jirachi. [smirk] Who Owen’s working for, natch.
-Okay, I think I remember this being labeled as dark comedy but the shift from the dramatic inner monologues of Yveltal to this anime-esque slapstick between these three gods is… something else.
-... e-excuse me, sir, did you just make a viagra joke? <_<

Part 2: I showed you my Heart Swap, pls respond
-pfbt, gods needing swim lessons. As a former competitive swimmer, this hurts to read.
-oh my god, please tell me you took at least some inspiration from GL’s Hoopa. Minus the third-person schtick, anyway.
-The Tree of Life exists, huh? Good to know. Also, Xerneas has groupies. That’s… I’m not sure how I feel about that. But I suppose it’s hilarious in some respects.
-So, I know it’s a short story and all, but Freaky Friday body-swap participants returning to somewhere they’d previously been to in their original body is… well, I feel like it’s a bit on the unoriginal side. The fic’s done, so I’m not going to fault you for it since it is a convenient way to show the experiences of the other side. It just feels like something that’s very conservative compared to your usual plot decisions.

Part 3: “Uh, would you believe me if I told you it’s my first day?”
-I’ll applaud you for not going with the obvious idea of Yveltal not being good at controlling Xerneas’ powers. Though I do think that involves a bit more suspension of disbelief to think she’d already understand how to use the abilities properly. I guess the “two sides of one coin” thing can play into that?
-Disagreements breaking out because of things the original bodies died is also not new to the whole Freaky Friday concept, though I suppose your original twist comes in that brief blighting incident. I wouldn’t describe things as completely going out of control, which I guess I might’ve liked to see a bit more of, if only to contrast with how calm Yveltal’s side of things is. If that makes sense, of course.
-I will say, even if the issues aren’t the most original out there, I do like the contrast between Xerneas’ issue being something mostly beyond his control (a blight appearance) while Yveltal’s issue was mostly one of her own creation, with her own psyche unable to take the badmouthing from a kid. Again, her reaction to it all lends a lot of credence to certain HoC characters’ beliefs in the gods being irrevocably flawed. (Also obligatory “I feel like I’ve seen this somewhere before” lol.)
-I suppose it’s only fair, though, that since they’re gods and everything they could undo the problems they caused fairly easily.

Part 4: In which Dad scolds the kids for being spoiled brats
-“I am inevitable.” God damn it, Thanos, you’re in the wrong fan fiction.
-Not gonna lie, I expected Arceus’ stoic routine despite the narration trying to convince us that that was not the case. Perhaps, again, that’s because I know HoC proper and that he is a god of few words with an extremely blunted affect. His silence basically leads Xerneas and Yveltal to babble a lot, brushing on a moral of sorts with “You can’t expect someone to work at their best if they don’t feel their best.” In some respects I think that got through to Arceus with the “punishment” he chooses for them. Some of the tropes are familiar, but I feel like they’re stitched together in a way that makes it feel novel enough.
-And then there’s the final scene. I echo zion’s confusion about pokémon getting revived with no intention of returning. If it’s a side effect of Yveltal going overboard with Xerneas’ powers, then a line or two to that effect should’ve been slipped in there somewhere. Regardless, I do think it’s a good book end of sorts. The opening scene showing Yveltal taking the life of someone fearing death and how the world seems to fear her. Sawsbuck accepting death as the short story has hammered in that death is necessary and, at least for the mortals in this village, them coming to accept Yveltal even if they don’t necessarily like what she stands for. Solid full circle finish.

Overall, it was fun, though I stand by what I said. Your gods behave like mortals, which makes me question if your greater world should really have gods in the first place. >:3
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
Thanks for the reviews, both of you! I think I'm going to answer a question that both of you had right off before I go forward, since it looks like I didn't make that clear at all. And for you, Amby, I think I'll outline something a little more thoroughly since your knowledge of HoC is actually obscuring another line.

I thought Pokemon wouldn’t be revived if they didn’t want to come back? So how come Sawsbuck returned?

You are correct. A spirit has to be willing to return for them to return. However...

I got to see my children and grandchildren one last time, one last nap, and it all went to a… cozy little darkness.” He smiled with a serenity that Xerneas had trouble understanding.

And then, that smile transitioned to a tired frown. “And then I woke up.

It seems that the dead do not perceive the passage of time here. If a spirit wants to return, it is how they felt at the time that they died--so Sawsbuck, for example, may have wanted to wake up again to see his children for one more day, as an example. That's all that's really needed to get a willing spirit. But a lot more than a day had passed, and suddenly all the things he wanted to return to are no longer there. It's its own little mini-tragedy, if you need a taste for that, Zion, heh. Though I definitely could have made that more clear.

You mentioned I might not like the start of the second chapter, but I thought it was good. Maybe because Manaphy isn’t quite as, uh, extra as Jirachi, despite also being a mostly humorous character. And the Heart Swap scene itself was pretty funny; I always appreciate gender shenanigans.

Ah, good to know. Yes, I was worried that it would be a little too silly, but I guess following up on Jirachi dulled it.

I didn’t quite get the point of the badges or why their explanation was necessary. And even when the payoff came it felt a touch underwhelming.

This is a stylistic flaw on my part. Due to almost all of my stories being tied to one another, there are some aspects of the setting that are difficult for me to entirely phase out even if they're irrelevant to the short story at hand.

Are blighted Pokemon a reference to Shadow Pokemon? Or maybe a being like Dark Matter? Cool detail either way, as well as Yeveltal’s importance in subduing the blight.

See above, but also, the narrative purpose of mentioning blighted Pokemon here indeed has to do with giving a reason for Legends like Yveltal to be present in this world, and have an active role. Blighted Pokemon are typically the only things, aside from other Legends, that can so much as scratch a Legend.

The final portion with the village felt like it unnecessarily tied up loose ends, almost to the point where it was too pat, y’know?

Certainly a style choice here. "Unnecessarily" and "tied up loose ends" typically don't find themselves in the same sentence for me~

The way he forgave them was, I mean, yeah, sure, it was a feel good moment, but it also seemed almost too clean, too understanding. Not really earned. A bit of messiness, a bit of anger at being used while the gods played freaky friday wouldn’t have gone amiss.

I do agree here, though. An alternative approach while still tying it up would be that he doesn't forgive Yveltal or Xerneas, and it's clear that this will be the case in the future even with their new partnership. After all, you can't please everyone.

oh my god, please tell me you took at least some inspiration from GL’s Hoopa. Minus the third-person schtick, anyway.

I might have taken some inspiration for this Hoopa from yours~ It fit too well with the character profile I already had.

Freaky Friday body-swap participants returning to somewhere they’d previously been to in their original body is… well, I feel like it’s a bit on the unoriginal side. The fic’s done, so I’m not going to fault you for it since it is a convenient way to show the experiences of the other side. It just feels like something that’s very conservative compared to your usual plot decisions.

The basis of this plot was never intended to be original, and was more an exploration of a known plot beat pattern while relying more on the characters' dispositions and the other elements of the story to make it more interesting. Not everything I do has to be a scattered-on-the-walls kudzu plot, especially for a short story!

--

Thanks for reading, you two. Glad it was an enjoyable read!
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
Back for parts 2 and 3, in which this was a great idea and everything is going fine.

I enjoyed how you portrayed Xerneas' life powers in this; the rampant vines, choking up everything, and the eternal suffocation of the venosaur were really grim. I also found interesting that death can be reversed in this world without much fuss, but life--that is, evolution--can't. In this conception, life is actually the more irrevocable act.

The stand-out scene for me was when Yveltal is asked to revive the murkrow. Her sudden self-doubt and fear that she caused it, and that she's been justifying pokeslaughter to herself this entire time hit hard, and I think your choice to make it actually have been an accident was the more subtly damning of the two. Her relief that the death was accidental and so not her fault completely overwhelms any consideration she has for the actual life lost, and forces us to wonder how much of Yveltal's care is genuine, and how much it's about her own guilt--and if there can even be a difference at this point.

Xerneas and Yveltal aren't acting so great in these parts, but neither are the other legendaries. Jirachi and Manaphy seem bored and careless; they can tell this is a bad idea that could hurt a lot of people, but that just doesn't matter enough for them to refrain--the only thing that holds Manaphy back at all is the idea that Arceus might get pissed. Which, speaking of Arceus . . . their presence definitely looms in these parts, and really seems to be at the root of the problem. Technology developing seems to come up again and again in this story, and perhaps the world is moving beyond the style of divine intervention Arceus prefers. Is it really right to send in Xerneas one day, Yveltal the next? At what point does the idea of a perfect balance become a concept that harms far more than it helps? Perhaps it's time for the legendary pokemon to take a step back and the Yveltal and Xerneas to take a vacation.

Part 2

Crashing waves and cruel winds filled Yveltal’s earholes. Bitter cold seeped into her feathers, and she weakly flopped her way through the water with an annoyed grunt.
This opening line read oddly to me. I'm not sure if her ears are literally getting clogged with water or if she's just hearing the sounds? It's a little confusing since they're actually in the water.

“Land. We need—” Yveltal plunged into the depths for a few seconds. She beat her wings and reemerged, spitting out salt water. “Land. Please.”

“Can’t you just use a little power to fly out?” Manaphy frowned.

“I don’t want to harm the sea life.”
Nice instance of how Yveltal always has to be so careful.

“We don’t want to be spotted by Arceus, do we? We need a low profile here…” Xerneas glanced toward land, the dim glow of Destiny Tower just barely visible through the darkness. “This is already risky. Let’s keep going our own way. The less we use our powers, the less likely he’ll see something from up there.”
It was circular and glowed very brightly in the dark. Despite how far away they were, she had an irrational worry that Arceus would see it from Destiny Tower.
Arceus giving off very big Brother vibes in this.

After all, did you, I dunno, get approval from Arceus for this?
Did she just hear them say, "We don't want to be spotted by Arceus"?

“Xerneas, you know not to abuse my powers, right?” Yveltal said. “I know I won’t for yours. It’s—it’s against our very natures, after all. I doubt we’d be that eager to…”
Yeah, I'm sure this will be fine. Xerneas is definitely not prone to losing his temper.

Yveltal and Xerneas closed their eyes and took steady breaths. Yveltal expected that in a few moments, she won’t be looking through the same pair of eyes.
*wouldn't be looking

“Sorry,” Xerneas said. “I guess we thought it would be something more on the mystical side. You know, like you’d have a chant, and then—”

Everything went dark. And then Yveltal tried to flap her wings, only to realize that not only did she not have wings, but she fell forward when she tried to move the corresponding limb. She yelped, sputtering on sandy saltwater, and wobbled back on her new, four legs.
Lol. As simple as flicking a switch.

Xerneas, meanwhile, looked like he just noticed that his tail could grab things, and was grasping at a clump of wet sand.
The mental image is funny here, surprised legendary holding a clump of sand in his tail.

“Um… What, do you live under a rock? It’s called a badge.” Manaphy raised her flippers in the air. “Get with the times.”
A badge? I didn't really follow this bit. Later that seems to be some kind of communications device?

The cold, autumn air; the dreary silence; the complete emptiness that came with the morning sun in the abandoned village… Nobody was there to greet Xerneas that morning. He was completely and utterly alone.

And he loved it.
Xerneas embracing his inner goth.

He didn’t even want to stay in bed any longer. It was time to start killing things for once!
Job satisfaction, we love to see it!

“Really? I think Shelgon over there—I mean, Salamence over there was visiting you every day!”

“Shelgon?” She glanced at the curled-up Salamence again.

“Well, he was one last night.”

A thought occurred to Yveltal as she scanned her bed to see the various Pokémon that had made their temporary sleeping arrangements around Xerneas. There was no way Mew would enforce this. Why didn’t Xerneas just make his home restricted at night? The Tree of Life was sacred, after all.

Xerneas’ gaze trailed over to the tree that towered over them all, frowning pensively. The Tree was brimming with power as always, but making it some destination for anybody to visit… let alone at night, in his very abode—Xerneas could surely and reasonably expect privacy then, wouldn’t he?
Oh wow so the wild pokemon cuddle up to Xerneas to siphon off his life energy? Definitely see how that trains him to view all affection as equaling people wanting stuff from him, with the exception of Yveltal.

“And how was that?” Xerneas asked, turning around to puff out his chest.

But nobody was there to see him. A hollow feeling radiated from his core just then—something he tried to suppress into a cough.
Wow, he lasted about ten minutes.

Not sure what it means to suppress a hollow feeling into a cough?

A wave of dread followed: Apparently, he had over-healed that town from before, and he had to clean up some overgrowth.

Now he could finally see how they treat Yveltal firsthand.
I wasn't sure why dread? It seems a little early for that--he doesn't really have a sense of what it's like, so I'd expect more curiosity or anticipation?

Part 3

Perhaps worse than death itself was the aftermath that it left behind. That was one thing that Yveltal often tried to avoid; she was guilty enough of their sad faces, and so sick of their misdirected anger.
Guilty of their sad faces means she's the cause of the sad faces, but in this sentence it sounds like you're more going for the idea that their sad faces make her feel guilty?

He had to boost their morale, give them a lecture about being more careful with the gifts they are given, and to make sure they didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes twice. Yveltal imagined that was the polite way of saying, ‘You don’t want Yveltal coming again, now do you?’
Ouch!

Their parents told them, while still awestruck, that they should avoid getting too much exposure to her light. That much was fair; spikes in energy sometimes led to premature and involuntary evolution. No reversing that.
Oh, that's very interesting. Pre-mature evolution--would that be like prematurely induced puberty, or something? What are the consequences for the pokemon? Does it affect their mental and emotional development?

“Did you know that we were only given, like, one warning for that?” another Pokémon said—this one a Leafeon. “And not even through the news, either. A verbal announcement. Talk about old-fashioned!”

“Who, from Arceus? Or Yveltal?”

“Pfft, as if Yveltal would ever show up to not destroy something, just warn us. They throw that beast at us and the rest doesn’t matter.”
This continues to seem like a government issue more than anything else.

How often did Xerneas hear them badmouthing her? Did he never tell her?
Striking that a swap they thought would let them walk in each other's shoes is actually hurting their trust in one another.

Suddenly, giving life to the forest in front of all those cheerful faces was starting to sour. Why Xerneas didn’t enjoy their unconditional love for him was beyond her.
These two sentences don't really seem to fit together. In a moment where Yveltal is not enjoying this unconditional love, she's wondering why Xerneas doesn't enjoy it?

“You don’t have a single ounce of respect for mortals, do you? You know, we’ve been at this for generations, hearing words about you, and you know what happens any time we ask about it to Arceus? He says that while your work is unpleasant, it’s necessary. Well, you know what? Maybe if we have to deal with you, having Xerneas come along isn’t worth it!”

Oh! Were they actually learning, or were they just being insufferable again? The world was unstable with the rampant powers that Pokémon were naturally capable of, not to mention the blights that occasionally disrupted the typically peaceful countryside. Their work was needed from time to time, but in this era of peace, some of their assignments did feel like needless busywork.
Hm, this does feel like the crux of it in some ways. Having pokemon with the power to single-handedly alter everything you've done is going to be disruptive whether that power is of life or death, and this back and forth doesn't seem particularly helpful--sort of like bad micromanagement.

Tyranitar snarled and shifted his footing. His arm crackled with reddish energy, and then prismatic energy, and Xerneas suddenly recognized that last part as his own. What? Did Tyranitar somehow acquire some of his own power? No, that wasn’t possible, unless—

Pitch darkness emerged in tiny cracks on Tyranitar’s arm like ink-black blood.

Blight.
I'm curious just how blighted pokemon's power is able to harm the legendaries, particularly Yveltal. It seems to be some corruption caused by strong emotion--anger and grief?

She had a weak instinct to give it all out, like a building power and need to throw it out somewhere…
This sentence read a little strangely to me.

It was the little Murkrow, and the densest, coldest pit in her chest returned the moment she saw his red, tired eyes. In an instant, a thousand realizations hit her, and the fact that she could see her blue legs didn’t help.
I didn't quite get what the meaning of the blue legs is? Is it the fact that she looks like Xerneas, that she's not in her own body is disorienting?

No trace of her deadly power plagued the bones of the Pokémon under her hoof. She had been right all along; her power didn’t kill him! And she doubted herself!

Murkrow gasped, beating his wings. “You sensed it! You can revive him!” Happy caws and a flurry of black feathers—as if the stress of loss was literally falling off of him—turned Yveltal’s immense relief into redoubled dread.

She had smiled. And now they were all smiling back.
Oh no! Now she can't say "Sorry, can't revive" because they'd wonder why that made her smile.

They all backed away, Murkrow showing no fear that Murkrow could refuse, because why would he?
The double Murkrow when they're different people reads kind of odd.

A fine, sparkling mist drifted into the air, leaving behind a Honchkrow, curled up like he was still inside an egg. He did not stir for several eternal seconds until he blinked himself awake. He stretched, his beak chattered in the cool air, greeting it like he’d been asleep for a long, long time. And then, with a satisfied sigh, he seemed to remember where he was and jerked upwards.
Oh wow, that was a lot of life juice she used.

“What? Where—I was… What happened?” Honchkrow groaned and wobbled, trying to regain his footing. “Did I pass out?” He scanned the crowd. “Er, I’m okay, guys. Don’t worry about it.”
Aw, this was sweet at an otherwise tense moment.

“NO.” Yveltal advanced, grass overgrowing around her. A dim glow radiated off of her horns like a beacon, and other Pokémon looked at them. The plants were glowing with the grass in outward ripples that originated from Xerneas’ body. Vines overgrew where she stood, writhing in random directions. Some of that light channeled into Bulbasaur’s body, giving him a dim, ethereal glow that made him seize up.
And in the end it's Yveltal who loses her cool!

He was going to die there, except he wouldn’t. The energy would sustain him, and yet the vines would cut him, and then he would keep dying.

Yveltal couldn’t do anything to stop it. He would be buried in that agony. And it was all her fault.
Oh very yikes. I like how you found a way for life energy to seem horrifying.

Arceus wordlessly tapped his hoof on the ground. Xerneas and Yveltal both blacked out.
Welp.
 

Navarchu

Exploration Team leader
Pronouns
He/Him
Partners
  1. swampert
Hi Namo, decided to review your other story this time for the bliz. Anyway, I’ll go do this now. I decided to try my hand in a different type of review, since your scenes are longer than the other fics, and that new type is me making my review of a chapter by giving the thoughts on each scene. So let’s go.

Part 1

This first scene got my instant attention. So Yveltal just saw a dead Pachirisu, and surprisingly enough, she actually felt compassion about it. That’s… Odd, considering she’s the embodiment of death. But for me, this moment makes her more sympathetic than one might think, and immediately makes me root for her, during this scene, we also have a mention of Xerneas. Hm, this is shaping up to be a good fic.

And Xerneas is the complete opposite of what I thought he would be. It’s ironic, the embodiment of life acts like a prick, while death acts with kindness. They both complement one another. Nothing is black and white, and honestly, that’s beautiful. Both of those scenes are amazing.

Aww, both of them are so sweet together. Like I mentioned before, they complement one another, and it’s so nice to see how both the Legends act with one another.

Arceus appeared? Somehow I’m impressed, again, that you’re including him. It’s just something I’m not used to, but fair enough. And of course he has tons of work to do, being the biggest God of them all.

Yveltal is being attacked, despite her good intentions. Like usual, people are quick to judge other based on misconceptions they have, and it’s no different with her. This is a good topic to tackle, and I’m glad you decided to do so. Good work.

More bonding moments between the two, and well done. After years and years of being hurt by others’ hatred, she feels like a worthless being. And that hit home. This was such a nice moment…

Oh, Jirachi is the usual genie of stories, this is my first time reading a fic with him, so I’m not sure how he’s usually portrayed. However, I think you did a good job, of course he’s not as powerful to just… make people change like that. It’s realistic, and well-written.

Part 2

So they’re going to visit Manaphy in the middle of the sea. I guess it works, since they’re… swapping bodies? But that also plays with the theme of Yveltal and Xerneas acting like they belong in each other's bodies. Of course, they’re hiding from Arceus and for some reason I just find that hilarious, haha. And they actually work with the swap pretty well, this was nice.

Haha, Xerneas got drunk with power immediately, I don’t know why, but that got a chuckle out of me. The dude has been waiting to do that for a pretty long time.

Alright. Yveltal, on the other hand, is having a hard time dealing with fame, so it seems. And how ironic, she needs to go to the place she destroyed, but that should prove to be interesting. I also find funny how Mew just goes there for assignments, I guess being a Legend isn’t the greatest thing in the world.

And the final scene. Xerneas is getting the hang of this way too easily, I think. I was expecting a bit more trouble, but it feels like being the embodiment of death fits him a lot more than, you know, being the god of life. But… This isn’t bad, the irony is a neat way of showing how appearances can be deceiving, and I like it, so good job with this chapter.
 

Persephone

Ace Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. vulpix-alola
Hi I was told there was a trans body swap story on site so I really had to read that. Then I just didn't review it. Can't even remember if I did my DM shitpost stream for this one or not. It wasn't quite what I was expecting since gender feels are confined to a single moment, but I found it charming and enjoyable nonetheless. Female death and male life is cool. Saw an argument once that went something along the lines of males generally produce far more gametes and the female whittles them down until very few survive, making the typical life-death gender dynamics incorrect. I doubt that was the exact line of reasoning here but it's still intriguing to me.

Heart Swap has always felt like an underutilized mechanic. Surely trans people have tried to use it, or really anyone who thinks that the grass is greener on the other side. This at least explored the latter.

I liked the general vibes of the first few scenes. Xerneas is adored, but definitely not for his personality. Death as a civil servant is a favorite trope of mine and I'm glad to see it here. The two cuddling at night was great. V cute. I ship it now. Was curious that Mew would even take a request to immediately undo an action of Yveltal. Doesn't that just defeat the point and risk making Arceus mad? But it needed to happen For The Narrative so I get it.

Blacklight Arceus and DiL Arceus are almost hilariously different. I think I like this one better, though. So far above even literal gods that they just don't need to really care about anything. Probably also doesn't get backtalk a lot. Somewhat reasonable in the end.

Another minor thing that bothered me: surely Yveltal has dealt with suicides before, right? She has to be familiar with people who do want to die, even if they understandably tend not to stick around long to keep her company.
 

K_S

Yes, my fav 'mon match up with TR's, what of it?
This is a copy of the PMed review for chapter one of "Death is Lonley", it's a line by line done over several weeks and posted on the main site with permission from the author. Appologies with the formating Word hates me when I transfer things from it to here...

Review chapter one, section A,

Excellent scene establishment, by the third paragraph a reader would have a good snap shot of the when and where of this scene. Also the scenario, a hunter with care for the surroundings while they hunt also sets the tone of the main character, it’s a nice dovetail of the two efforts plugged together.

Also the narrative reminds me of a less duty driven Death, from the Terry Pratchet/discworld verse mind.

There’s some questions as the scene plays on, the difference between wild and tame, the importance, and what exactly a/the Pachirisu looks like beyond “pale” but beyond that it’s a strong start.

In contrast with Pachirisu, throughout the first page the reader is given snippets of Yveltal so that even a non-gamer might be able to draw an idea of what she looks like, while I understand this might be in part because Yveltal being a main character and thus deserving more screen time ect. A few touches added even to 4th paragraph would do wonders.

Also, what is the spark of light? From the creature, aura, electric discharge (Seems unlikely considering it’s an ice type), and a spark would be coming and going, wouldn’t it, as it’s normally a discharge or the sputtering of a flame? Or is it from the remains of a going out fire drawn up by he wounded in their last moments(though the last seems unlikely with their wild status)?

It’s telling that Yveltal feels sympathy for one who sees her, and man that makes me feel bad for her in just one little line.

Scene suggestion:

Her tail’s claws flexed on the ground, digging into the dirt absently. Almost on reflex, it drew away life from the nearby trees, but she quickly stopped herself.

By having her realizing her reflex of life absorption with the trees and stopping it it makes the previous “absently” with the dirt digging seem… superfluous? I’d rec dropping it. Ditto for the “Almost”. The proximity of her tail to the trees is drawing life, hence the consideration of the fauna earlier, right? So it’s not an “almost reflex” but a physical phenom related to her nature acting out that she has concentrated control over. Here’s how it’d look if you want to follow my suggestions.

Her tail’s claws flexed on the ground, digging into the dirt, on reflex it drew life away from the nearby trees, but she quickly stopped herself.



Word suggestion:

Life was draining from this one too early, and Yveltal wondered if she could bring this one to Xerneas.

It might be that you’ve used young a lot to describe the parischu but this usage of “early” feels off and I can’t quite put my finger on if it’s because the usage of “young” as your key descriptor makes the mind link early to young or if it’s something else. In context of time and time running out I think the word “early” would be better replaced with the word “quick” or “fast”.

It’s a curious contrast how Yveltal communicating summons ominous wind, leaves stirring, ect, (common trade marks of horror movie tells and the like) but her singing does the inverse. A final stilling/eye of a personal storm that’s mirrored by the environ.

Paragraph breakdown:


On the final note, Yveltal gently ran her free wing’s claw under Pachirisu’s chin, then the cheek—it sparked, weakly, and Pachirisu smiled. Yveltal didn’t care much for the tingling sensation, but she didn’t stop her song. Finally, she moved it to Pachirisu’s forehead, where a small, dark aura collected at the tip of her claw. Pachirisu, still smiling, stiffened, and then went limp..

While grammatically correct this sentences structure and the paragraph itself… is a bit encumbered. Part of it I guess is a matter of timing. Either that final note is very long or Yveltal is moving very fast. Because the following actions, wing claw sets under chin, slides to cheek, Pach smiles, Yv endures tingle, Yveltal moves claw to forehead, lightshow, and Pach passes. That’s a lot for one note. I’d recommend perhaps bar, refrain, or even span to replace the “note” to give the actions more time to breathe.

Because the word “it is used to describe the ungendered Pachirisu and the wing claw, and the cheek/spark there’s some confusion though out the paragraph as to what’s going on.

Section one: then the cheek—it sparked, weakly. Because preceding this line was a claw, chin, and cheek, it is not a good descriptor because it could mean any of the three or even the whole pachirisu since it also identified as an it earlier...

Section two: Finally, she moved it to Pachirisu’s forehead While it’s not as confusing as the first span “it” was used…. The word is a bit jarring since it literally was used a few words away from another unidentified “it”. I can understand wanting to avoid beating the word claw to death but another route might be a good idea.

Section three: It was gone. The least problematic of the three examples since the Pachirisu is established as an it… But with “it” being used so much before I’d recommend a descriptor to indicate the Pachirisu instead.






Paragraph breakdown.

Yveltal set Pachirisu down after that,

I personally find “that” a bland descriptor, and would recommend something more emotionally charged as there’s a lot of “it” before that and that is also a rather bland placeholder as well. Swapping the term even for something like “duty” “song” ect could help establish tone.

Yveltal stared for a while until more little, gleaning, eyes

(
there were eyes previously, when/where?),

to her left caught her attention. Two pairs of them. Two more Pachirisu, the same age as one whose life had just been extinguished. They looked at Pachirisu with little recognition of what had happened-

(
because these mice are the same species as the deceased I’d recommend some sort of descriptor here to better distinguish between the watchers and the dead. There's a lot of “they” being used, to indicate the living mice in plural and the moment in time with Yveltal setting down and the mice again… I’d rec a break up of the trend at some point to help readability); did they understand death? On a primal level, they at least recognized Yveltal as a threat, because when she looked at them, they immediately backed away.


Review/analysis chapter 1 part b

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There, in the center of town, a small crowd of Pokémon gathered around a great, blue Pokémon with multicolored horns. Under the morning sun, they shimmered, though the shine faded rapidly to the brightening sky.



Paragraph break down: While the village is scarce in details, beyond it’s divide, there’s one point of confusion. The segment about the gathering. Due to the use of they and structuring it’s hard to tell what shimmered because the horns (that I presume are doing so) are separated from the act of shimmering by way of a sentence cut off.

Also we have shine, shimmered, all in one sentence… they sound close enough to be a bit jarring.

There’s also the use of pokemon twice near back to back…

Here’s the easiest fix route. Addressing the “they” mentioned earlier as it’s technically the only thing legitimately off.

There, in the center of town, a small crowd of Pokémon gathered around a great, blue Pokémon with multicolored horns. Under the morning’s light the horns shimmered, though the shine faded rapidly to the brightening sky.


Here’s a more in depth fix that tackles everything at once.

(There/excessive… drop), In the center of town, a small crowd of Pokémon gathered around a great, blue (Pokémon/ replace with descriptor) (with multicolored horns/ drop), under the morning sun, the multi colored horns shimmered, (though/excessive, drop) theier glow faded rapidly to the brightening sky.

This is a fix that allows you to keep most of the structure that you have before following the suggestions….

In the center of town, a small crowd of Pokémon gathered around a great, blue, beast. Under the morning sun, the graceful creature’s multi colored horns shimmered, their light washed out in the growing glow of a rapidly brightening sky.


There’s other ways to tackle the listed issues. Rearranging the paragraph and the like that gives room for more scenery building and the like to tie town to moment and gathering… but for now I will leave it at that. If you want me to go into it more in depth about some of those tricks in relation to this scene or perhaps something else you’re working on drop me a line.


“Everyone, quiet, quiet,” Xerneas said, stomping a hoof. “Now, from what I’ve been told, your village was recently hit by terrible rainfall, something you would have expected from Lugia’s wrath. Now, while I don’t agree with your decision to live in a valley where floods may happen… and while I also feel that my visit is completely needless… the Great Ancestor feels that I should at least give this town a proper rejuvenation.” He harrumphed, tapping a hoof again. “So, I will humor you.”

I’ll admit, knee jerk reaction on my part would be that someone who would offer help as humoring would be getting a cold shoulder from me or a punt out the door if I wasn’t flat out desperate. While I don’t think service with a smile is mandatory the resentment Xereas is openly showing as well as his deriding the townsfolk and their decisions… Moving on…. the word choice makes it sound like Lugia might be a feral himself, or at least incredibly temperamental… do the diety ‘mon have a sliding scale of sentience like the ‘mon themselves? Also my knowledge of who the Great Ancestor is a bit shaky.. Arceus, perhaps?



Alright, now to the analytical.

“Everyone, quiet, quiet,” Xerneas said,

Perhaps its my own education flaring up, but said is one of those meh words a last ditch identifier that is rather bland. Xer’ could bark, huff, sneer and the like, perhaps to better contrast him with his counterpart he “trills sweetly”. The juxtapose of a sugar sweet springy voice just spitting out sheer scorn at the idiots he’s surrounded by would be a nice touch

Or if you want you can just drop “said” and go with

Xereneas stomped a hoof.

Either way works as Xereneas acting with the dialogue bracketing it plus what’s in the dialogue is identifying enough.

“Now, from what I’ve been told, your village was recently hit by terrible rainfall, something you would have expected from Lugia’s wrath. Now, while I don’t agree with your decision to live in a valley where floods may happen… and while I also feel that my visit is completely needless… the Great Ancestor feels that I should at least give this town a proper rejuvenation.” He harrumphed, tapping a hoof again. “So, I will humor you.”

There’s some opportunity here, to break his speech down, plug in descriptors to build up the water damaged town and where the speakers in all in one paragraph. I;m taking a few guesstimates here as to local but here’s a sampling that focus’ on the flooding.

Ex:

“Now, from what I’ve been told,” ( Xer’ look about, mentally measuring the valley walls, too short, figures, his horn tips were taller in places) “your village was recently hit by terrible rainfall, something you would have expected from Lugia’s wrath” (Tosses head up, snorts, dimming horn’s light shines in pseudo streams of washed out roads) . Now, while I don’t agree with your decision to live in a valley where floods (replaces “may” with obviously) happen… and while I also feel that my visit is completely needless… the Great Ancestor feels that I should at least give this town a proper rejuvenation.” He harrumphed, tapping a hoof again, (it squelched). “So, I will humor you.”


Word repetition.

As previously noted you like to use tags… think the “they” use in Yveteals segment I sent previously. This paragraph and the ones following it have a similar issue. Save it’s He/him that’s being overused. I’m going to break down the first two paragraphs so you can see it in action, then offer suggestions on this trait to help with clarity and visually and leave it at that, because while I noticed it a little before it really leapt out on my when working through this section.

He looked down at them all, greedy eyes, eager for just a small taste of his power. Gods, he hated being out in public. He never had a moment to himself the second he left his dwellings. And even then, there was always some bold explorer…

They were still staring at him. Some of them had that usual, indignant expectance in their eyes, particularly of a Tyranitar that kept rubbing at his arm, like it was sore.


So here we have 6 instances in 6 sentences. That’s… a lot enough so that just letting ones eyes skim over this section each one really pops out I;ve underlined to make a point here…. And here’s some fixes, line by line, this is the quick non-restructure route.

He looked down at them all, greedy eyes, eager for just a small taste of his power.

(Name) looked down at them, all greedy eyes, eager for just a small taste of his power.

Gods, (the descriptor) hated being out in public

(name or descriptor) never had a moment to himself the second he left his dwellings


Here’s it put together without all my edit notes

Xer’ looked down at them all, greedy eyes, eager for just a small taste of his power. Gods, the rejuv-god hated being out in public. The diety never had a moment to himself the second he left his dwellings. And even then, there was always some bold explorer…


(rapping rapping on his chamber door, sorry I couldn’t resist)


Now here’s the latter part of the second paragraph where comprehension really suffers due to overuse.

They were still staring at him. Some of them had that usual, indignant, expectance, in their eyes, particularly of a Tyranitar that kept rubbing at his arm, like it was sore

Because you have him getting started, at and a Tyranitar rubbing his arm…. Well it sounds like the Ty’s giving out an arm rub to Xer’ in the middle of Xer’s mental rant. While a mentally amusing image which is resolved by more of Xer’s ranting as it goes on… it took a reread for me to see where we were going with this.



They were still staring at him. (due to the he/him used in the dwelling line so recently I’d recommend a reword, swap “him” out with something else)



Some of them(
the gathered) had that usual, indignant, expectance, in their eyes(. Thought/idea introing the look is over so I’d cut off with a period here.)

(
particularly of a/ drop) The Tyranitar (added location: in the back of the gaggle) (that: drop) kept rubbing at (replace his with its, suggested because it is different from him, the word shows a degree of ego difference between Xer’ and the Ty and breaks off on all the his’s that are present since Xer’s narrating nd tossing his masculinity everywhere) it’s own (with a descriptor to further distinguish) arm, like it (the limb) was sore

Putting it all together

They were still staring at him. Some of the gathered had that usual, indignant, expectance, in their eyes. The Tyranitar in the back of the gaggle on that little rise kept rubbing at it’s own scaly arm, like the limb was sore.


Reaction to text

At least Xer’s got enough self-reflection to realize he’s being a… you know… And the pink psychic dot is… the boss, it’s emissary? Mew? Well regardless a whips getting cracked and Xer’s getting on with it. While I’ve some suggestions with the text of the “blessing” the scene as a whole works really well. Now a really spiteful deity would bring growths.. of weeds…. Or hyper pollinating plants to agitate the allergies. Or a slew of plant no one likes to eat… Free Thistles, Brambles, and Jumping Cacti for one and all! Seriously the “higher” powers sound like micromanaging jerks, I suspect that there’s going to be a revolt of some sort, Xer’s ego and scorn married to Yev’s loneliness and desperation and them both knowing each other well enough for Yev to keep in contact… Yeah, not good. Also… I find it ironic that Yev’ was contemplating going to Xer’ for exactly this… and wonder how much the death bird gets how much her life deer counterpart hates his job/aspect.

Last segment analysis

Description of geomancy?

His antlers brightened, outpacing (there's a race between the light and his antlers? And as they were dimming preciously, being out shown by the day getting in full swing a different descriptor might work here….) the morning light.



Energy flowed from his antlers into(replace with down) his hooves, and (from there) (drop: then) into the ground, where—perhaps as a spiteful side-effect—grass broke through the gaps in the cobblestone (drop floor, the cobbles and gathering aren’t inside so floor doesn’t work) and (drop overgrew, the unhelpful growths been already established, via the spite section… perhaps show how the overgrowth was an issued, did it stab into paws, tangle among toes, knock some souls over, ect) around the feet of the crowd.

Nearby trees resembled(reverted into) their springtime days(form) in seconds.(thought ends so period) All the Pokémon nearby(nearest to the trees? Nearest to Xer? Specify location?) glowed with power, their chests and shoulders visibly rising


Review chapter 1 section c:


Reaction
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Perhaps a hale bay but one wrapped in white sealant against storms ect. the tautness of the wrapping would give it more give when gripped. At least until the lot was punctured… and on second though considering the tail claws… never mind. I suppose if any of the civilized ‘mon are sophisticated enough to produce it a wetted mound of fake grass partially rolled up might work in a pinch. How sophisticated are the mon btw. I’m getting a pre renaissance level vibe here though considering the protag is ageless they might have seen tech rise and fall several times all things considered.


What is a blighted pokemon, a ‘mon with the closed heart phenom like the XD games?


And… our birdie death is a nervous giggler huh? I can only imagine how that looked if she got stage fright when doing her duty her first few times…

So it was mew..

And whiny deer is whining... noted.


Setting:

Descriptor paragraph break down/trimming suggestions?:


Without ceremony, Yveltal landed near her nest of dead leaves, prodded at a few perceived imperfections at the edges, and then hopped onto the center.

If you swap landed with perhaps plopped, or some other word to convey exhaustion ect. You can skip the whole “without ceremony” lead in as it would make the lead in excessive. Actually it can easily be dropped without any changes.

No blankets as there was no need; the cold was cozy for her

While I get the choppiness of the sentence might be to show the deteriorating thought process while Y’ works herself down to slumber I saw a different tactic, used, (shorter sentences) later in. So I’d tentatively offer this as a revamp for clarity.

The cold was cozy for her, there was no need for blankets.

It avoids starting with a she/her which is common for this segment by reversing the sentence, hopefully preserves tone, and avoids sounding as disjointed as the original sentence.

There’s some disjointedness in going from no need of blankets to the admiring of the dead trees, an easy fix would be movement, she lolled her head up, rolled an eye up, to admire the dead trees… It’s not a scene breaker or anything but a bit of a jolt that could be smoothed over.



After emitting a soft trill—which killed a few nearby flowers—she fell asleep.
Her trilling, as she fell asleep, killed a few nearby flowers.

Though, it didn’t last long. The sun had set recently, and based on the temperature and how her body still felt warm, it was not even close to the darkest point of night. But despite this, she heard something in the silence. She cracked one eye open and winced in preparation, wondering if it was some misguided Pokémon seeking revenge. She didn’t want to kill someone tonight; she’d done enough of that already. Maybe if she stayed asleep, they’d get cold feet and leave without a word…



‘Though, it didn’t last long
you can drop “though” without any issues.

She cracked one eye open and winced in preparation, wondering if it was some misguided Pokémon seeking revenge

The “in preparation” can be dropped, it’s never built up, there’s no other motions leading to the preparation panning out either successfully or not, and she goes from working herself up to playing possum a few lines in. And since nothing comes of it it can be dropped.

But despite this, “But” can be dropped

As can “without a word

More scene breakdown:

What if it was a blighted Pokémon? That could be dangerous. Perhaps the only thing truly dangerous to a Pokémon like her, at least aside from something foolish like defying Arceus.

While the lead in is fine, and I’m seeing some plot forecasting here… this section as a whole is a bit muddied.

What if it was a blighted pokemon?

That’s fine.

That could be dangerous.

Alright, a bit muddy because of “that” but still workable, “it” or “they” might be a better go to though as they indicate personhood where that is a bit less clear..

Perhaps the only thing truly dangerous to a pokemon like her, at least aside from something foolish like defying Arceus.

Heres’ where we have two ideas at the same time going two different ways and we get some damage for it. Present physical danger, and (the for now) unrelated defying Arceus type of danger. The easiest solution would be to cut the sentence into two and deal with each idea separately.

What if it was a blighted Pokémon? It could be dangerous.

(these ideas flow naturally, a call and response in one characters head, so I kept them together)

“Blighted” were the only, truly, dangerous thing to a Pokémon like her.

(I separated for ease of reading you can keep it segmented or merge it with the above, either’s fine. A also changed “perhaps” to blighted for clarity, and swapped thing at the end of dangerous for flow. I read the lot aloud and it sounded better, and added aprop punctuation)

Besides doing something foolish, like defying Arceus.


Min changes:

“At least aside from”, can be dropped, and replaced with besides. Also I recommend separating it from the above because it will stand out. Draw attention and be another level of foreshadowing.

Closing note: And yeah, this set up ends in a dangling fragment but it still works and if the fragments a bother can be smoothed over with a bit of tweeking. I’ll leave that to you.

You can also easily drop “a pokemon like”, as it gets rid of a repetition and shortens the lot further.

Here’s how it looks all together.

What if it was a blighted Pokémon? It could be dangerous.

“Blighted” were the only, truly, dangerous thing to a Pokémon like her.

Besides doing something foolish… like defying Arceus.


More scene parring:

But she didn’t feel any sort of corrupted aura in the air…

But
can be dropped.

No, it was just a bystander, perhaps, passing by on a nighttime stroll.


Bystanders the wrong word here, it’s got too many ties with aloof watcher to really work. I’d suggest hiker/explorer/wanderer as it’d tie into the “nighttime stroll” better than your original choice. Also, we’ve established night earlier, with her sleeping, the setting before, so nighttime can be dropped if you want to.

You could easily drop the lot, from “just a bystander, perhaps” as well.

No, it was a creature/something, passing by on a nighttime stroll.

Since the legendary lazybones doesn’t want up from her nest and is playing dead (or playing alive, she’s a god of death it mucks up analogies I suppose) you could easily get away from almost every concrete description and go with something, and it should work.

Wanna really convey laziness/lack of cares to give? Cut it further.

No, it was something… passing though…

You’ve already conveyed she’s not in danger, so going, “eh whatever” even on a description level is fine. Ittalics on “something” convey emotion, leaving it a bit up in the air works because we get this is an emotionally complicated character having a moment and leaving it to the reader’s imagination works here and spares you narrative labor as well.


So opening line of the next section is her shaking off her apathy due to noticing the approaching mon still approaching an it’s bigger than normal. That works.

“She opened her eye more…” Drop the “more”, perhaps go with her “She opened her eyes” if you want to show she’s going to be bushy tailed or at least coherent for this guest.

You can drop “ and focused, only to see, through the dark,”, unless seeing is something she needs to focus on doing (which hasn’t been established previously), and it’s already been shown to be dark, so unless the suns coming up or X’ is glowing that bright the present illumination levels can be assumed and ignored unless this scene goes on a lot longer or the dark is story wise important, (causing a trip, stumble, turn of mood, ect)

Here’s how it’d look parred down.

She opened her eyes to see the dimly glowing antlers of Xerneas. A mixture of relief and joy washed over her, and then a giggle.

Perhaps, “she giggled” instead, since the giggle wasn’t washed over her like the joy and relief and seems to be the end result of said joy and relief...

You could even cull it out, put the giggling in the dialogue section below.

Ex: “Xern,” Yveltal greeted around a spot of giggles. “Long day?”

Yveltal lifted her wing, silently inviting Xerneas into her nest, you’ve established she’s winged, he isn’t, you can drop the “her” with “a” and keep the “her” reps down to a min here.

He obliged with a relieved sigh, going around Yveltal, ducking under the wing,

So she lifted her wing farthest from him, necessitating him walking around her? Why not just lift the one closest, he wouldn’t have to circle around her then? If you cut the “going around” section it still works and skips the seeming rudeness here.

Putting it together:

Let me guess.” Yveltal lifted a wing, silently inviting Xerneas into her nest. “Eager visitors?”

He obliged with a relieved sigh, ducking under the wing, and then turning on his side. His body was so warm; smooth, soft blue fur trapped the heat even this far into the night


There is a lot of he/his in these two lines, the easiest to fix would be the one starting “his body”. Swapping out with a descriptor in the beginning is one route but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Last descriptive batch:

Yveltal nodded understandingly,(,understanding, the ly is excessive, and the meaning is kept by proper punctuation.)

Any time Xerneas was summoned it was to see smiling and relieved(drop) faces.


While the relief is a different sentiment than smiling… it feels excessive. Also it adds a layer of sweetness for Yve’s knee jerk reaction when getting over shock is to smile at her friend, hence the rec.

But/and her?

While and works… but makes it more of a contrast. It makes her angle stand out more. And insinuates a union of ideas that compliment, ex: this and that. But indicates a conflict, it’s used to counter, chime in with an opposing view/scene and her going all mope about her being a cause of fear verses her fiend being a cause of universal joy… Well but seems a better fit even if the alternate isn’t grammatically wrong.

She saw nothing but fear in all those(drop/excessive) she met.

Fear of what she could do to them (if she wasn’t in the right mood, as they saw it).


While I get why you might like the “right mood “segment considering Lugia’s capriciousness established earlier and it shows about how others view her own nature, it’s a bit much and takes away from the hammering of Fear you use later in the paragraph to ram your point home… For that I’d either suggest dropping or incorporating it differently. Perhaps separately, or preceding this section.

Everyone (was like that) replace with “feared death”).

While it’s a lot of death you have a build up here that’s reminiscent of someone ranting and the “like that” draws away from that feeling, hence the replacement suggestion.

Here’s how it looks together so you can better see if you like it.

Yveltal nodded, understanding, though with a small twinge of envy.

Suggesting paragraph break because we’re establishing envy here, and it’s important enough to need to stand alone as it’s keystone to Yev’ situation.

Any time Xerneas was summoned it was to see smiling faces. Perhaps not unlike how Yveltal had greeted him tonight. But her? She saw nothing but fear in all she met. Fear of what she could do to them. Fear of her power. Fear of death. Everyone feared death. Even that Pachirisu’s family, who saw how far gone the little one had been.



Dialague:

Over all the voices are distinctive, though Xer’ might be desperate he’s also whiny and you can get that in his dialogue all tags, description and the like ignored.

Yv’ seems more the stoic type, even with the stuttering, and seems to feel more deeply for Xern than Xern does for her, which is sad but she seems capable of much more depth than her friend and that makes sense in the story thus far.



You’ve avoided talking, floating head, dialoging by inter-spacing actions with words throughout thus far, which is good. Here’s a breakdown of what you did.

“Xern,” Yveltal greeted. “Long day?” (greeted/sub)

“Can I sleep here tonight?” Xerneas said with a hint of desperation in his voice. (said)

“Let me guess.” Yveltal lifted her wing, silently inviting Xerneas into her nest. “Eager visitors?” (action)

“You don’t know the half of it,” Xerneas said, groaning and cuddling against the underside of Yveltal’s wings. (action/said)

“I went to this town, ugh, what was it called, Moonplate or something. Apparently, someone got on Mew’s good side because she insisted that I go there and take care of some of their villagers after some catastrophe, who cares what it was, you know how they are.”


-description skipped-


Xerneas let out one last groan and nipped at one of Yveltal’s claws. “I’ll get out of your nest in the morning.” (action)

“Oh, it’s—you don’t have to if you need extra time.” Yveltal’s heart fluttered, and Xerneas smirked, even with his eyes closed.

“If I feel like it,” he said. “G’night, Yevvy.” (said)



Here's two fixes I’d recommend.

“You don’t know the half of it,” Xerneas said(drop), groaning(groaned) and cuddling against the underside of Yveltal’s wings. (action/said)

“You don’t know the half of it,” Xerneas groaned, cuddling against the underside of Yveltal’s wings.

“If I feel like it,” he said. “G’night, Yevvy.” (said)

“If I feel like it, g’night, Yevvy
.”
Since we only have two characters and they’re pretty distinct in this back and forth, and we have a name to identify who is talking to who in the dialogue itself you can drop the “said” without any issues


Death is Lonely chapter 1 part d

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Reaction:

So would the wake up pose of the two be forshadowing, a legendary tangle in the wings… sorry I couldn’t revisit. Moving on then...


I don’t know what’s more amusing, the image of hooved creature working with a pen to better jot down the assignment or him just furrowing a furred brow and making the list appear before him. Also the mental image of him carrying a rock in his mouth to ease down onto the paper once he’d set it up just so, I’m getting rather… manager vibes from Arc. Here.. His surly, done with your nonsense vibes, are near inescapable and nothing has even happened yet… yeesh.

And I’m less thinking primitive and settling on stone age, after all Arc. Just used a rock as a pin down the papers… and how are the other Legendries supposed to read human sized stationary anyway?

And what is “mews delegation”, is going from that from Arceus’ count as job hopping or a mutiny?



Setting/parring:



Yveltal woke up(drop) with a start, accidentally squeezing Xerneas, though he didn’t stir(drop, X. is established as still sleeping in next section). (add: “she saw”, to keep the description from floating) Golden hooves (drop stood, as leaving it as is makes it implies the hooves are standing on their own and are clearly a tell of Arc’s presence) at the edge of her nest.




Yveltal woke with a start, accidentally squeezing Xerneas. She saw/spied golden hooves at the edge of her nest.



“A-Arceus!”

Yveltal tried to get up, but she was trapped under Xerneas.
This sentence works as is and needs no changes, though I cut it off with a period because the next section can be tweeked to stand making the semicolon unnecessary.



At some point during her(their) slumber, he(X) had gone(drop/replace) on top of her wing (drop/)rather than beneath(/drop, excessive, location was already established a few lines ago when he groaned/curled under her), and now she couldn’t move without (drop/)getting Xerneas off—and, therefore(/drop), waking him up



There’s a lot of her/shes here… an easy fix would be to swap out the first her with a their, this will indicate X. is still sleeping without having to use the unaltered previous section, thus keeping the par down in place.



I’d recommend switching the “he” with a Xerneas because we have another male present (Arc.) and this will lock this section as a back and forth between her/Yev and he (X) out the gate.



“Gone” feels a bit bland and perhaps not even the right word in context of the scenario. Curled/rolled/slipped/settled works a bit better but that’s more a matter of taste than anything.



A few lines ago you established that Xem was curled under Yv’’s wing. Furthermore you established Xem. was on top of a wing mere words ago. Therefore the section marked can be dropped.



Alright, the first quibble with this section… “getting Xerneas off”…. To put this tactfully that’s not the best of word choices here and could be considered “adult”. Beyond that… the span “and therefore” is really excessive and can be pulled without any comprehension issues.



Here’s how it looks all put together.





Yveltal woke with a start, accidentally squeezing Xerneas. She saw/spied golden hooves at the edge of her nest.

“A-Arceus!”

Yveltal tried to get up, but she was trapped under Xerneas. At some point during their slumber, Xem. had rolled on top of her wing and now she couldn’t move without waking him up



She couldn’t do that
.




Next section:



(drop)Reduced to(/drop) looking up at Arceus, Yveltal gave him a nervous smile. “Um, hello. Is everything well?”

Parring suggestion. While it looks like you’re trying to establish Yv.’s voice yet the wordiness in odd places is detracting. I’d rec showing this in the dialogue, internal monologue, not in the action/motion scenes, as this occurred mere lines ago and was the crux of the previous paragraph’s parring it’s a trait I’m seeing more than once, so I thought I’d address it point blank. I’d rec the drop listed above and as I think I’ve sufficiently covered the topic and am not going to draw attention to the whys and what not, just underline the text that’s showing the problem with drop tags.





The god of gods tapped a large piece of paper next to her nest, kept down by a small rock. Primitive technology, but she was never good with those newfangled inventions anyway. Arceus probably felt the same.



Alright we have three motions, in three lines.


  • establishing the scene with the paper pinned by rock and the nest.
  • Noting the tech and Yv’s opinion
  • Her hypothesis on Arc.’s View on the tech.
  • 1 works, it’s immediately used and serves a pragmatic purpose so no worries with the first line.
  • 2 and 3, alright were tackling Yv’s internal voice via random half-awake rambling and speculation, while not inherently bad it seems a bit out of place. I’d actually recommend dropping it and replanting it elsewhere. Streamline the Arc. Dialague so it’s close together, and then pop the mental wanderings elsewhere so it doesn’t get in the way of bossy god deer giving orders.

  • Here’s how it’d look

  • “You have an assignment. I left the details here.” The god of gods tapped a large piece of paper next to her nest, kept down by a small rock. “Tomorrow at the latest, preferably today.”

  • If you go this route you can also drop the “He said” dialogue break as well as well as the “and”.

    And you can’t just do that yourself?
  • which keeps the opening line starting with an “and” from looking too repetitive.

  • Yveltal thought (drop)idly(drop), but she knew how it always was. Procedures, policies, delegations, traditions. (insert old tech lines here as it thematically fits with the noting of Arc.’s fixation with old things/being a stick in the mud ect.).

  • I’d rec the Mew line to be separated as it’s a different though train than the musing on Arc’s view points/stuffiness and again forshadows Yv’s discontent and potential rebellion… granted it’s a roundabout red hearing but separating it from the bulk of Yv’ thought processes draws attention to it and can be used to tease the reader a bit.

  • She wouldn’t mind following Mew’s delegation now and then instead

  • Minor touch ups for parring

  • “Take care.” Arceus took two steps away, as he always did, and (drop)then(/drop) disappeared in a flash of golden light. Fading orbs remained where he had stood before ((drop)those, too,(/drop) replace with “they”) dissolved.

  • Last few lines
Yveltal didn’t like the cold anymore.

Because Arc isn’t projected at any time as being cold/hot or changing the atmosphere besides his light show ect. This line feels out of place and can be dropped unless it’s reinforced by something else added before or tabbed in after. And since Yv. Is cuddled against Xem it seems odd that Yv. Would feel cold particularly then, as Xem was described as a fuzzy heat source earlier. While I can get that this might mean that Yv’s got a chill going up and down her spine from the encounter the way it’s said, and how it conflicts with the setting (and the actions as she pulls away from her heat source immediately after) They’re both described as bringers of heat in earlier segments



Slowly(drop), she tugged(replace with eased, this will indicate slowness and care) her wing out from under Xerneas, praying to—well, that would probably just irritate him(Cap since she’s referring to Him as a deity? Not sure if this is a hard and fast rule just an idea of one). She merely hoped that Xerneas wouldn’t wake up.

Perhaps by a residual miracle from Arceus, she was able to break free unnoticed. She shuffled her wings, read over the assignment, and prepared for departure
.



Dialogue:

Tomorrow at the latest,” he said, “(drop)and(/drop) preferably today.”

While I can see the “and” tagged on in response to the coma before it, because it’s dialogue it isn’t necessary and can be dropped and makes Arc. Sound curt which goes with his micromanaging persona so far.
 

K_S

Yes, my fav 'mon match up with TR's, what of it?
Death is Lonely chapter 1 part e



<><><>​


South, near the beach,

-a(1) forest(2) that(3) hadn’t(4) seen(5) a(6) fire(7) in(8) at(9) least(10) a(11) generation(12). A(13) worrying amount of time, particularly when the rains were becoming less and less frequent.-


Because it isn’t a beach that was mentioned previously and thus not familiar I’d recommend trading “the” with “a”.

In the first two lines there’s a section that has a lot of “a” use. An “a” is used four times in thirteen words. I’d recommend changing it up a bit to avoid monotony.

Possibly drop the “and less” line as it’s excessive. We’ve got a rather mature tone of voice established for this character and the repetition give Yv’a rather childish slant… unless that’s the point?

-Perhaps it was due for floods in a few decades, but for now, the dryness(rec exchanging with drought?) was becoming a concern for the lives within and nearby(drop). The smoke alone(drop) from a fire would snuff out all crops that surrounded the forest

Because you have a line detailing what a fire/smoke would do I would recommend dropping the “lives within and nearby section”. Crop loss of such a massive magnitude basically spells out that’d it be a disaster so that section comes across as excessive.



So, Yveltal’s assignment was simple: Destroy the forest and let the overgrowth even itself out. No fire, no smoke, only dust and ash.

How would Yveltal’s attack have worked differently than smoke? Isn’t smoke a heat/fire born residue made of ash, what’s kicked up, and the stuff of burning? How is that so different from dust and ash that it won’t instigate a food disaster? This feels like something that can be expanded upon for world building.

It was such(can be dropped) a lush forest, filled with deep, full greens.

… perhaps it’s a lingual twitch per location… but deep full greens sounds like a thick head of lettuce and seems excessive when put next to “lush, I’d recommend dropping it.

Small Pokémon chirped in the branches—loud little creatures, even from so high up, eager to greet the morning sun. From the sky, her distinct shadow loomed over the trees.

If you’re looking to par I’d recommend a revamp of the first line. Small pokemon and little creatures can by synominous and one can be dropped for the other. Since she’s hearing them and on the wing (established next line) you can easily drop the “even from so high up”. She’s hearing them and it’s said, so it can be considered excessive.

I’d drop “small pokemon” as this world has feral and non-feral mon but not animals and it’s been established as such previously.

Here’s an example of it put together.

“The little creatures, below, chirped from the branches, eager to greet the morning sun.”

Yveltal didn’t feel guilty for what she knew she was about to do. This was just(drop) her job, part of the work that had to be done to keep this world, a world of Pokémon where everyone was capable of so much, in balance. What caused this overgrowth? Yveltal wasn’t sure. But the Pokémon nearby had been neglectful of it and perhaps did not realize the doom they had caused themselves in the future; if anything, her arrival here was a blessing. She could let them start anew without the flames claiming them

As she knows her job and already described it the “she knew” seems excessive. “a world-“ section can also be dropped. It seems unnecessary and not tying into the action, just rambling really. “of it” also seems excessively wordy. The “had caused-” could be easily reworded to “were courting” would be simpler and uphold the aloof tone Yv’s established. Also I’d recommend “them” with “lives” it sounds less impersonal, unless that’s what you’re angling for?

But she understood. Mortals were often short-sighted, and it was difficult and tiresome to teach them generation after generation, what with how often they died. A less involved god would leave them alone to fall to their own vices, but perhaps sometimes it was necessary to help them.

Because Yv’s not really justifying the act of mass forest-cide to anyone you can easily drop the “she understood bit” the other underlined section can be dropped and hold the same meaning.


The morning dew atop the treetops didn’t deter Yveltal’s descent
.

Why would if defer her descent? I know typing… but really she’s the size of a small house, and it’s dew… If you want to point it out I’d recommend her sharing her opinion on how it looks as she descends instead. Does it blur the edges she goes down, catch the sunlight just so and make it look like she’s getting glared at and judged?



She weaved through a large clearing and landed in the center with a firm whoosh.

Firm might be a tone… but it’s a stretch to attach it to an onimonapea, I’d rec dropping.

With loud spatters, the dewdrops on the heavy leaves rained down on her. She shook off most of it and outstretched her wings. Around her feet, grass already withered and wilted into nothing but gray mulch.

Splats maybe instead of splatters, as splatters are more of a visual thing and splats are a sound effect? Also perhaps outstretched should be swapped with stretched unless she’s really reaching out with her wing/hands. If so, then why?

This part of the forest was already showing signs of overgrowth. Twisted vines competed with one another for sunlight. Flowers grew on top of and in between those. There were tree trunks of some trees(excessive drop) completely covered in layers of moss so thick she could run her claws through them(swap? it) like fur.

This wasn’t a normal overgrowth. This was the result of Pokémon sparring too often there; life energy flowing without restraint in the roots, through the trees. Frenzy Plant, Magical Leaf—those techniques energized the plants, and sometimes contributed to it. This area must have a high population of Grass Pokémon, if she had to guess.


Everything underlined can be dropped. Also since you’ve stated that pokemon spar too often and energy flowing ect. the “and sometimes” become excessive. Also she knows the attacks and what they do so why guess?


Something creaked above her. The tree was dying. Withering and rotting right where it stood. Leisurely, Yveltal stepped to the side. A branch fell, splintering into countless dry pieces, which themselves turned to dusty ash moments later.

You’ve just used withering for the loom… I’d rec just using rotting for the tree to avoid repetition. Also the leisurely can be dropped.



She was careful. She didn’t want to destroy the whole forest, after all. She walked slowly, one pace every five seconds, just like she’d practiced for so long for overgrowth containment.

Lots of she’s back to back, the first three sentences of the paragraph start with it… I’d recommend swapping a few out for descriptors, names and the like.

Pokémon had fled from their dens shortly after her arrival, but she still saw a few scampering away from her presence.

excessive

A few were defensive, shooting(drop, replace with shot/spit/tossed) Bullet Seeds and rocks her way, but they did nothing(drop) Most of them(speicify/replace with “the attacks” or something of that vein so it doesn’t seem like the ‘mon aren’t pulling a Dusting.) turned to dust before they even had the chance to so much as(drop) dirty her feathers. And then(drop), when she glanced at them, they shrieked and fled.

It wasn’t a large forest, and she slowly increased the distance of her influence, even(drop) while she walked. She didn’t know the full extent of the damage, now, aside from the general size,(drop) but that made it easier. By the time she was done with her assignment, the once circular forest would be more akin to a crescent moon.

Because we get to see the rot outpacing, ect a few words in her speculating on the “gen size” seems unnecessary. We even get a scope as to how much damage is being done with the lunar analogy.

But there was something not ashen ahead. Out of caution, Yveltal folded her wings down and approached without any drain, though she clickeing her beak worriedly once she got closer.

You can drop but, it’s unnecessary. Since she can’t really fold her wings any other way the down’s excessive. And since you build up on “the something” a few words ahead you can easily drop the “not ashen”. Also her spreading her wings is shown to have started the rot it’s easy to deduce her wings folding would turn it off/slow it so it could be dropped as well.

- Yveltal stepped around the body and continued along, but something caught her eye to her left, but she couldn’t see the specifics.

Because Yv’ is shown to be walking previously and is stepping around the “continued along” could be dropped as excessive. Here since we have something, and that’s a very vague descriptor, you can easily drop the “see the specifics” if you wanted. After all mere words later the “whatever” has run off… and she shrugs it off moments later anyways so the lot comes across as excessive.


Yveltal resumed her drain, expanding her aura slowly, and finished her route.




Because she’s shown to be really careful already you can easily drop the “expanding slowly” segment.


The final part of her work was always tedious, not to mention out of her element. From what remained of the forest, Yveltal tore through the vines and the flowers and the fruits, gathering them in her claws and letting them collect on her feathers. Like holding her breath, she made sure she didn’t drain the life from them.


Unless she’s changing her plan to expand her scope beyond her present ruination I’d rec dropping the underlined or expanding on it to explain better. It’s confusing to the established goal and even dropped doesn’t hurt understanding of what happens next… So she’s turning herself into an anti-chia pet, gathering the growth and letting it lay on her so it dies? Alright, I re-read that and I apologize, she’s reseeding where she rotted. My confusion stemmed from the second underlined section, you can drop it, or alter it to be clearer but thatseems to be the trouble spot.

After feeling thoroughly filthy and heavy, she used some of her Legendary power to fly in the air—after all, her wings weren’t flight worthy on their own by any means—and shook her body over parts of the ruined forest.

There’s a bit of a jumble of conflicting ideas/actions. Disgust with the burden, flying, how her flying works, and the drop off. I’d recommend a re-order to make the lot smoother, or you can also just drop the “after feeling” section, par it down to just her focusing on her flying and drop off. As for finding Yv’s “eew” section a new home, I’d recommend it either be built up as a standalone sentence, or melded with the part where she’s picking up the fruits, not when she’s pushing off for flight.

The twilight cast long shadows over the dead forest, and it just(drop) occurred to –



Too gradual to care, at least, until it was too late.(drop)


One of the shadows was moving oddly.

Shadow of what, trees, brush? While I get it’s established as late this part seems a bit too vauge…

Snorts. Funny how she’s all above it all and a rock to the face brings her down to a normal level for the confrontation. Wondering why this rock hits when the defensive measures before failed? And while I get we’re supposed to feel for Yv’ (and I do when the false murder charges are brought up) I‘m understanding the villagers stance a bit here, because, seriously, Arc. Could have sent a warning. With that warning they could have harvested, stored, and evacuated what they needed to before the culling occurred.

Really the lot makes Arc the whole villain here and both Yv and the Villagers are just patsies for its power plays.

“That’s not at all what happened,” Yveltal said instantly. “I found his body already dead—the dew was on his feathers! I wouldn’t just—”

Did you mean insistently perhaps? Instantly implies speed, insistently/ or insisted implies intent and might work better here.

The tug of war, natural compassion pitted against “I’m better than you because I do Arc’s work “is ung… I’m hoping for some character growth where Yv drops that line but we’ll see.


Little, glowing lights(drop,), dewdrops filled with luminescent life energy, dripped from the leaves.

As dew drops are normally small and we’ve got that they’re filled with life energy it’s excessive. Also where are the leaves they’re dripping down from, a tree over the viewers head, some nearby bush?

The nighttime winds blew a few of the(drop) droplets off their leaves, where they spattered against the ground and trailed down small boulders like teardrops.

-tried to tune out the irritable thoughts-


Since the thoughts can’t be irritable, perhaps irritating would work better here.

His natural aura energizing those around him didn’t help; it was a feedback loop of endless followers. They walked more than they normally could, because he provided them with the energy and longevity to do so.


You could restructure this to par it if you likes.

Here’s one way you could tackle it

His natural aura energized those around him in an endless feedback loop. Followers could walk more than they normally could, because he provided them with the energy and did so.



Yveltal curled up next to Xerneas and squeezed her wings around him, sobbing a little louder.


I’m imagining Yv’ chicken/sparrow hopping up to X’ and just latching on, her wings alternately draping and locking in per her.. spine, frills, fingers on the edge. Her “fingers” twining in his mane or something. It’s a shame that it isn’t shown or built up how their different body types would affect how they express affection and that feels like an opportunity lost here to give the




Blue crystals embedded walls of solid obsidian in unnatural yet beautiful patterns. The sole inhabitant of these great depths often renovated with his powers, using his domain over desire to gently alter reality. It was often for petty, little things that did no harm or help one way or the other. After all, what was a little perk now and then for all the help and research he worked on?


While we’re getting a buildup of setting here the placement seems odd. Because the duo is traveling, but we’re starting about the blue crystal wall. From wall we pan out to the clime/ocean, than mentioning breaking into Jirachi’s home…. It seems a bit disorganized. I’d recommend starting with the grander scope, location from their starting point (Xem’s house) to clime to mark as different than Xem’s house, than break in, than comment on the interior decorating of crystals and the like, than tie into Jirachi’s immaturity..


“His assistant has a log that I took a peek at,” Xerneas whispered back. “Jirachi! Rise and shine!”

I’d add in that Xer rose his voice after talking to Yv’, though why he’d bother when they’re trying to wake up the knocked out Jir’ is rather silly…


Xerneas glanced at her, impressed. Nice save, said his eyes.

Hush, said hers.


Because eyes can’t talk I’d recommend rehauling the “eyes said” segment.

And done... hopefully this was helpful and thanks for putting up this work, it’s been a run read.
 

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Partners
  1. leafeon
A review

I don't know if this is just me, but when I read "Yveltal lives a quiet, sad life of killing only when ordered," I interpreted it as "Yveltal really wishes she could kill people whenever she wants to, but her superiors won't let her," which doesn't seem to be what you intended.

But not only was he too far away, but perhaps that would only lead to more suffering.

Could fix that one

Yet it still managed to escape. It was strong, but not strong enough to escape the aftermath.

The way "escape" is used twice here reads kinda weirdly to me.

there were hints of poison coursing through it, too

I kind of wonder how she knows this. Some kind of instinct?

Finally, she moved it to Pachirisu’s forehead, where a small, dark aura collected at the tip of her claw.

Though I inferred that "it" referred to the wing, I think technically it's ambiguous.

Now, while I don’t agree with your decision to live in a valley where floods may happen

I would suggest "your decision to live in a valley prone to flooding"

Some of them had that usual, indignant expectance in their eyes, particularly of a Tyranitar that kept rubbing at his arm

To me it makes more sense to say "particularly the tyranitar that kept..."

Nearby trees resembled their springtime days in seconds

Maybe "springtime selves" would be better

all the Pokémon nearby glowed with power, their chests and shoulders visibly rising.

I wasn't so sure what this was saying. Also, I think "visibly" can be cut.

three Pokémon evolved from the sheer jolt of energy

I feel it should be "three pokemon *had* evolved"

The claws on her tail squeezed and gripped at a clump of the hay

I think "and gripped" could be cut

Maybe somewhere in town they would have a big stress ball, or a mossy rock. A big, mossy rock. Oh, but she’d just kill the moss… Fake moss? Did they make those?

Poor Yveltal! To me it's clear that your intent with this story is to portray the legendaries in a relatable light, and I think this little scene contributes to that nicely.

A mixture of relief and joy washed over her, and then a giggle.

I guess this implies that a giggle washed over her, but I'm not sure that sounds right.

He obliged with a relieved sigh, going around Yveltal, ducking under the wing, and then turning on his side.

I have been told it is good to avoid the verb "go" in cases like this, in favor of more descriptive verbs.

“G’night, Yevvy.”

Should it be "Yvvy"? (I kid, I kid)

now she couldn’t move without getting Xerneas off

Maybe "getting" should be "knocking"?

The tree trunks of some trees were completely covered in layers of moss so thick she could run her claws through them like fur.

"tree trunks of some trees" is redundant. And I would cut the "completely"---I just don't think it's needed. I do like the description of the moss, though.

This was the result of Pokémon sparring too often there

I think the "there" shouldn't be there.

those techniques energized the plants, and sometimes contributed to it.

technically I think the comma shouldn't be there. Correct me if I am wrong.

Ahead of her was a beautiful, grotesque collection of twisted flowers and struggling, damp vines.

Beautiful and grotesque---I thought that was creative!

but even if it didn’t, she only cut short the suffering.

The "but even if it didn't" kind of confused me

And then, when she glanced at them, they shrieked and fled.

Kinda makes it sound like the rocks and bullet seeds are shrieking and fleeing.

The amount of relief that followed was enough for Xerneas to deflate.

Might I suggest "Xerneas deflated with relief"?

“I’m not tired anymore,” Xerneas said, standing up.

I thought he was already standing.

Suddenly, flashes of intense light shined around Xerneas, exploding all at once.

I think this could be cut down a bit. We've effectively got "flash" "shine" and "explode", but I think we need only one or two of those words.

Yveltal rushed to his side to keep him held

I don't know exactly what this means

“Choose your words carefully,” Yveltal growled.

Sassy death god 👀
Although it seems Xerneas is even sassier.

I am glad this story it taking place mostly from Yveltal's perspective so far, because I find the issue of "no one appreciates me" more relatable than the issue of "too many people appreciate me".

Crashing waves and cruel winds filled Yveltal’s earholes

I think they can be called ears

“Excuse me?” Yveltal said, protectively wrapping a wing around Xerneas. “Not at all opposites. We’re perfectly fine working together.”

Cute

When thought that way, maybe swapping experiences would be a nice vacation for both of them.

"thought of"?

The waves tickled their shins and Manaphy’s dim glow continued to tempt Yveltal into accepting anyway.

"The waves tickled their shins" seems sort of like a non sequitur. Like, it's not related to the rest of the sentence. Seemed a little out of place.

I know I won’t for yours.

"I know I won't abuse yours"?

Yveltal and Xerneas exchanged looks then tittered to one another.

Huh, "titter" is a cool word, thanks for reminding me of that one.

“Xerneas and Yveltal got lost at sea? What, were they on a quiet getaway and got lost?”

A little repetition with "got lost"

Two portals for the Luvdisc, right away!

Poor guys XD

Yveltal said, then lifted her left foreleg to see that a Bidoof and a Salandit had made their little beds under her. She frowned and tried to move past them, only to feel the hard, tough body of a Salamence curled up next to her.

At first I didn't sympathize with Xerneas that much, but now I can see how he would hate this kind of attention

Xerneas’ gaze trailed over to the tree that towered over them all, frowning pensively. The Tree was brimming with power as always, but making it some destination for anybody to visit… let alone at night, in his very abode—Xerneas could surely and reasonably expect privacy then, wouldn’t he?

Shouldn't "Xerneas" be "Yveltal" in this paragraph? I think that's been the convention post-swap.

thinking in the present instead of the future

Shortsightedness?

Gray ash and the recent rainfall that had blessed the previous night made for the perfect atmosphere to regrow the forest.

"atmosphere" -> "conditions"?

Would give room for less close-quarters fighting

sounded like a negative thing for a moment, which I don't think was the intent. Maybe "Would give room for long-ranged fighting"

Scyther glanced left and saw a nearby vine.

This line felt to me like it was breaking from Xerneas' perspective.

“Well, yes, but it’s still a mess,” Xerneas debated back.

The dialogue tag stood out to me as unnecessary here. Also, this line is perhaps a bit clunky (with "mess" having been in the previous paragraph).

The world was unstable with the rampant powers that Pokémon were naturally capable of

"were naturally capable of" -> "possessed"?

The beam of darkness went for the same area as before

"went for" sounds odd to me

He saw some of them give uneasy, fearful glances at Yveltal

"Xerneas"

She sang to herself sometimes, but only rarely, and often just to comfort the dying before claiming them.

In the latter case it's not really singing to herself, I guess.

She had a weak instinct to give it all out, like a building power and need to throw it out somewhere…

I can't seem to parse this one.

The night was no match for the torches that lit the streets and the further, artificial lights lining the streets to accompany them

"and the artificial lights accompanying them"?

“You sensed it! You can revive him!”

This moment of misunderstanding really puts Yveltal in a tough spot, huh? I think she is ultimately making a mistake, but I can still sympathize with her. Poor Yevvy.

And then, when the light finally settled to just a dim glow, they all saw a dark lump somewhere inside the flower’s petals

I think it would be nice to cut the filter verb "saw"

Which was true—just omitting the fact that she’d already done a proper and controlled revival a little while ago.

Probably could cut this, I think.

“Isn’t it?” Yveltal confirmed.

"Isn't it?" -> "Doesn't it?"?

Arceus tapped a hoof on the ground; behind Xerneas and Yveltal was a portal that led to Xerneas’ home.

maybe "was" -> "opened"
And I'm kind of wondering what the portal looks like/how they know it leads there.

Yveltal cleared her throat. “Thank you,” she said, and her eyes added, I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused. / “Mm,” Arceus said, but his eyes said more: I, as well.

Aw, that's a cute little closing.

Then, he went back to his steps

Sounds kinda weird to me

“Is it wrong for me to ask for an early rest… considering I shouldn’t be awake at all?”

I thought it was established that Xerneas couldn't revive those who weren't interested in it to begin with

She sighed her final note; the stray cloud faded from the sky.

Aw, that's a nice way to end things.

I predicted that Xerneas and Yveltal would swap for a little bit, get sick of it, and then basically decide that the status quo was okay actually and that maybe it was fine as long as they had each other. And that is kind of what happened, but the way that everything developed into chaos during the climax was pretty intense to follow. Was interesting to see Yveltal forced to choose between preserving her reputation/not getting in trouble and refusing to revive someone. It's also neat that the honchcrow turned out to be more significant than initially expected. Also, the ending was sort of a neat callback to the start and brought us back to the idea of Yveltal/death being compassionate. The poor ivysaur being swarmed by vines was kind of dark, though. I did skim a little there. Part of it was just that I felt bad for Yveltal, though. Which, I suppose, goes to show that I sympathized with her.

Anyway, overall, I would say this is a nice wholesome story. Even though it was simple, it did have some interesting moments, and was paced fast enough to keep my interest.
 

penda

Hmm
Pronouns
they/them
Thought I would jump from one Xerneas and Yveltal story to another~

The juxtaposition of Yveltal and Xerneas' personalities in the first two paragraphs is great; Yveltal's quiet, reverent act of carrying a tiny creature to their final rest in darkness, while Xerneas grandstands in front of a suffering town and believes he is above it all. I especially enjoy the way Xerneas' perspective seemingly exaggerates the townsfolk to fill his perceived notion that they are greedy for his power. How the worst thing Xerneas has to complain about is not getting thanked enough, even after chastising the villagers for simply living in a valley, while later of Yveltal is attacked for simply doing her job. This sets up their dichotomy well. I got the feeling this might be going into Freaky Friday territory. To be honest I had not expected that, but the dialogue exchanges and the set up for it makes it work. I enjoyed seeing how the two took on each other's roles and the formula works very well for these two characters.

I go into a couple suggestions for the story below, but overall I enjoyed reading it. The inciting incidents being sparked by a lack of communication (Yveltal and Xerneas going behind Arceus' back to swap roles, the two hiding their swap from the villagers, then Yveltal lying that she killed the Honchkrow in order to revive it) as well the resolutions being fostered by proper communication (Finally confronting Arceus about their issues with their roles as well as Xerneas' setting Yveltal's lie straight with Meganium) was a nice throughline. I feel the strongest aspect of the story by far was the characterization, and to find out that you have a long form PMD fic out makes me excited to dig into that in hopes of getting more of that characterization and wonderful writing. Looking forward to reading more of your works.

My biggest gripe was chapter 3 when Yveltal decides to revive the Honchkrow. Earlier in the chapter, the narration makes a point to say how proud Yveltal was of exerting just the right amount of Xerneas' power as to not over do it. It seemed to me that she planned to be frugal with her new powers, so reviving someone, especially someone she didn't kill, would not be on her mind. Xerneas' qualifies this later to Meganium saying that Yveltal was emotionally swayed after seeing the Murkrow and that Yveltal just wanted to be thanked for something, but the actual event didn't read that way.
She had to say no. She had to say no because it was against policy. She didn’t kill him; it wasn’t a divine accident. But… but would she ever, ever be able to get the opportunity to bring life back to the departed, ever again? Ever?

…She’d ruin how the public saw Xerneas if she refused now…
It reads more like Yveltal wanted at least one opportunity to bring someone back from the dead, no matter the circumstance. Especially in this situation, where she would be actively going against policy as well as damaging her own reputation needlessly to bring back someone not meant to return. The idea that she would ruin Xerneas' reputation too seems odd. At that point, she had not verbally confirmed that the Honchkrow was killed by a divine mistake. Surely Xerneas had to have refused a plea for an undeserved revival before, so refusing it now didn't seem like it would hurt Xerneas' reputation at all.

If the intended motivation for Yveltal to break policy and hurt her own reputation is because she is won over by how happy the Murkrow is, that still doesn't sit well with the context of the narrative. According to Xerneas, the villagers just keep asking for more no matter what they are given, hardly even thanking him at times, so surely another revival like this would not gain much long term reverence. Yveltal has even seen through how the villagers simply say whatever they can to make Xerneas happy in the moment when she reflects on how she tells them not to speak badly of Yveltal and they agree, though she suspects Xerneas tells them this as well and they don't keep the agreement.

Of the two, I believe the stronger motivation is that Yveltal simply wants to experience the act of granting something life after serving as the bringer of death. It is more selfish of Yveltal, but swapping roles to get thanks and feel wanted is selfish as well, and Yveltal later learns the error of her selfish ways, so having her indulge in them in the moment to then incite greater chaos seems fitting.

A solemn silence followed, Yveltal staring at this tired Pokémon, and then at all the others who were watching. This sort of event was very rare—and even rarer was it one that she could accept so publicly.
The bolded line is really the only one in the chapters that really jumped out at me in terms of needing deletion. Yveltal's entire arc is already in service of this that the line seems redundant and obvious.
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Location
waiting for the fog to roll out
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
Hey Namo! Here for your blitz prize. Mostly keeping the prose thoughts light and just taking a look at this as a chunk of story.

Overall I think it's a fun concept--freaky friday narratives are satisfying because everyone gets to learn their lessons and then go back to who they were or whatever. The real story is the lessons we learned along the way, and we get to appreciate the good in our lives as well as the good in others.

I thought your scene-setting was really nice in these! Forests are good settings and there was pretty words to describe them; thematically, I like the fit with life cycles and interplay in death/life. Tying in the risk of the forest fire is a creative way to lean into the interplay + hint at the more blatantly beneficial parts of death and the dangerous of unchecked growth, which worked nicely for this sort of story. I also liked how they have to go back and undo their own mistakes as the other--it's a nice bit of poetic parallel and lets the body swap be more about understanding their role with respect to their counterpart, not about understanding their counterpart. And boy do they suck at fixing their own mistakes.

The two main characters in this are nice as well. Yveltal's ingrained pessimism is done in a nice way; she's basically given up on any mortals seeing her positively (and for good reason), and she even projects that Xerneas would shittalk her behind her back as well. It's clear that this has worn her down over the years, and I like that this doesn't necessarily fix all of her problems; just gives her some new things to thing about. My notes here just say "Xerneas is such a magnificent fucking shitlord" and, yes, that. I love what a smarmy ass he is, just telling people to move to different towns if their houses are flooding or just make more food if they're hungry. I'm used to seeing gods as regal and aloof, but what if they're just stupid and aloof? You portray the distance between them so well; Xerneas hates his worshippers, and even when he comes around to them by the end it feels more condescending than anything else--I like them, they're cute, I guess. It's such a fun take on the character and bounced nicely off of Yveltal, when we can see what/who he actually cares about.

The closing scene with the Sawsbuck is really poignant. Sawsbuck is the best character.

I wanted to know more about the pantheon/rules that bind them--Yveltal seems pretty convinced that Arceus would be against the two of them hanging out, working together--but he's really not. He walks in on them spooning and literally gives zero shits; he's only mad at the end because they fucked up pretty badly. Is the idea that they (and Jirachi, and Manaphy) had all built up this conflict in their heads, but there wasn't actually anything to be afraid of? The closing segments with Arceus feel strange because the forgiveness is offered so easily, and the solution is so simple--but the conflict was just building up in the protagonists' heads the whole time without it coming to fruition. The blight, too, felt like it could've been more central to the story for the amount of importance it ends up playing--I like it as a parallel for a corruption of life, something Yveltal needs to fight, but it sort of crops up and then disappears when the story needs it.

Imo the conclusion ties itself off a little too nicely, but none of the questions are really answered. There's a lot of hammering in that death is necessary, that too much of a good thing is too much--but over the second half I think this message gets dragged out; the degree to which this message is proven true keeps increasing (i.e. we go from oops more garden to oops you're constantly stuck dying and being rejuvenated), but the actual message is still the same; what we learned in the first scene of Yveltal/Xerneas' powers going awry is the same as what we learn in the final one. Mortals understand that death can be beautiful and necessary in some cases, but the case they learn from is such an edge case, where Sawsbuck literally wants to die and everything he wanted to live for has already been taken from him. The others who get resurrected don't want to die, because they're still scared of death and still view it as something that impedes life--so has anything actually changed? Has anyone learned?

(sidebar--there was a big emphasis that Honchkrow could only come back if he wanted to. So then how did Sawsbuck come back?)

And I guess, at the same time I don't expect people to solve all their problems over the course of one freaky shenanigans day, but by the end I struggled to pin down what had changed about anyone internally--if anything, they're even less capable of functioning as individuals now, and must fully define themselves as how they relate to one another. For me the most important character moment was when Yveltal chooses to undo her own reputation and bring Honchkrow back to life, because that's something she's always wanted to do--it's a really nice tension between honor and duty, and I think you portrayed that choice really well.

Overall, a fun story that mixes genres in a way I wasn't expecting. Thanks for sharing!

some line-by-lines/prose thoughts:
A small tuft of white fur showed her the way
"showed her the way" feels a bit literal when the fur isn't doing that. "suggested she was going in the right direction"? "confimed her path"?
Another spatter barely stood out against the red, teardrop-shaped leaves on the ground, but Yveltal was very keen on that kind of color.
"another" spatter feels odd when there isn't a previous spatter, and "keen" feels more like a statement of like/dislike than an ability to notice colors. "Amongst the red, teardrop-shaped leaves on the ground, there was a dark spatter. It was almost indistinguishable from the background, but Yveltal's eyes were attuned to that kind of color" or something.
A spark of white-yellow light answered her silent plea. It was tiny—it would have gone unnoticed had it been any dimmer. She walked gingerly toward that spark of light, stopping only when a quiet whimper confirmed her suspicions.
I wondered what suspicion the whimpers are confirming? She's been tracking the pachirisu down since the story started, so is she confirming that the pachirisu is dying instead of dead?
She lowered her head in respect; poor thing. A shame it wasn’t lying in the opposite direction.
I couldn't help but wonder why Yveltal wants the pachirisu to be looking away, why this links to the respect--is it a shame for Yveltal? Is she concerned that the pachirisu is scared?
Life was draining from this one too early, and Yveltal wondered if she could bring this one to Xerneas. But not only was he too far away, but perhaps that would only lead to more suffering.
I wasn't sure what prompted this conclusion to her--has it happened before? Does she have a basis for this conclusion? It feels like something she might say at the end of the story, when she's more accepting of her balance/role here, but it felt strange at the beginning.
The song had no words—it would be meaningless to Pachirisu, after all—but the tune was slow and became slower, notes rising and falling with Pachirisu’s chest.
I thought this was a really sweet moment, and I'm glad it went full circle. Not sure why she'd feel the need to specifically change to a song with no words though, since, like you say, the meaning would be lost.
her voice an ominous trill
making another ominous trill
If I had a nickel every time I saw this phrase I'd have two nickels. Which isn't a lot, but it is weird that it happened twice. And it was hard for me to picture--what kind of sound is an ominous trill?
The wound was across its chest; some sort of slash.
This shouldn't be a semicolon. Either:
> The wound was across its chest, some sort of slash.
> The wound was across its chest. Some sort of slash.
> There was some sort of slash across its chest.
North of the country, the winds often became cold and harsh when the leaves turned red.
This is a nice image of autumn, but north of what country?
A cobblestone path divided the town in two, piercing through its heart.
This felt redundant--a path that goes through the center would by nature divide something in two.
There, in the center of town, a small crowd of Pokémon gathered around a great, blue Pokémon with multicolored horns. Under the morning sun, they shimmered, though the shine faded rapidly to the brightening sky.
The "they" refers to the horns, but on first read it looks like the pokemon are shimmering.
“Now, from what I’ve been told, your village was recently hit by terrible rainfall, something you would have expected from Lugia’s wrath. Now, while I don’t agree with your decision to live in a valley where floods may happen… and while I also feel that my visit is completely needless… the Great Ancestor feels that I should at least give this town a proper rejuvenation.”
oh my god. Ben Xerneas Shapiro is the character I never knew I never wanted.
Oh, Tyranitar, was your arm hurting? Sprained from carrying too much weight? Is it such a great inconvenience to you, then, that you would ask a god to heal it?
what a delightful asshole. You characterize Xerneas really effectively in these early bits.
perhaps as a spiteful side-effect—grass broke through the gaps in the cobblestone floor and overgrew around the feet of the crowd.
haha noobs who want life to life, get wrekt
Cheers and hugs over the monumental occasion—the miracle, as far as they were concerned—didn’t move Xerneas.
The em dash clarification doesn't really do much for me? The different between monumental occasion and miracle feels so granular that I'm not sure why it's mentioned twice.
Fake moss? Did they make those?
Moss would be plural, so "that" would fit better here.
After emitting a soft trill—which killed a few nearby flowers—she fell asleep.
I thought this was a cute detail, but I struggled to understand--she can stop her powers from killing things, right? So this was intentional?
He obliged with a relieved sigh, going around Yveltal, ducking under the wing, and then turning on his side. His body was so warm; smooth, soft blue fur trapped the heat even this far into the night.
aww
The god of gods tapped a large piece of paper next to her nest, kept down by a small rock. Primitive technology, but she was never good with those newfangled inventions anyway. Arceus probably felt the same.
lmao gods these days and they're fancy nintendos
She shuffled her wings, read over the assignment, and prepared for departure.
So, Yveltal’s assignment was simple
I get that you wanted the scene breaks to fall this way, and the forest scene reads more naturally opening up like this, but the previous scene felt weird--Arceus shows up, says there is plot, Yveltal agrees, there is plot, and then neither of them discuss the plot. Why wake her up to confirm that she's got a letter without just telling her? If it's important that he knows she reads it, then shouldn't he stick around for her to read it? If it's not mission critical, why wake her up?
The morning dew atop the treetops didn’t deter Yveltal’s descent. She weaved through a large clearing and landed in the center with a firm whoosh. With loud spatters, the dewdrops on the heavy leaves rained down on her.
I like the mental image here, and you do a great job of portraying Yveltal's weighty entrance. Not sure how dew drops would deter a descent tho?
A few were defensive, shooting Bullet Seeds and rocks her way, but they did nothing. Most of them turned to dust before they even had the chance to so much as dirty her feathers. And then, when she glanced at them, they shrieked and fled.
The "them" transforms a lot through the course of this paragraph--first the villagers, then the bullet seeds, then the villagers again.
From what remained of the forest, Yveltal tore through the vines and the flowers and the fruits, gathering them in her claws and letting them collect on her feathers.
I don't really know what it means to "let them collect" on her feathers--they're inanimate, right?
The twilight cast long shadows over the dead forest, and it just occurred to Yveltal that these evergreens had shown no signs of autumn like the trees to the north. It was interesting how deceptive forests could be, showing nothing but health one decade, only for them to all go up in flames in the next… But those were slow patterns that normal Pokémon often ignored. Too gradual to care, at least, until it was too late.
I wasn't sure how these were slow patterns that were ignored--Yveltal typically shows up to drain the forests, right? A pattern that gets ignored contrasts with "showing nothing but health"--what's the pattern? I think if you clarified that to most pokemon it would look like the forest was nothing but healthy, but Yveltal could see X and Y (heh), that'd clear things up a lot. There's remnants of this in other paragraphs but I think it needs a tie-in here.
In her usual, ominous trill, she whispered to him, “Clean up after your forest. Too much overgrowth, and my arrival will be the least of your problems.”
[ominous trill the third]
"trill" and "whisper" feel mutually exclusive here.
“Maybe we need to attack him,” Yveltal suggested. “I think I’ll try just a little strike.”

“With your death powers? Are you sure?”
Can gods die? Xerneas mentions earlier that he probably can't be killed, so like,,,
His antlers glowed with Bug energy, and with a dash and a thrust, he jammed his horns into Jirachi’s stomach.

Jirachi screamed in surprise and his eyes shot open—all three of them, including the giant one on his belly.
So like did he stab Jirachi in the eye stomach (which then ... opens? with the horn in it?) or is there a different part of the stomach? Jirachi seems smol.
“Whoops!” Jirachi said. “Sorry! Must’ve done Doom Desire when I woke up…”

“I’m filled… with so much hate…” Xerneas wheezed, finally standing again. Yveltal backed away, fearful that her natural powers would drain away more of Xerneas’ energy. “Thank you,” he said to her. “I’m fine.”
This felt like a reference to something? But I didn't really catch what it was, why it landed--I don't actually know if full background of Doom Desire's affects is necessary; presumably it causes the target to see their worst desire. I couldn't help but think that that would be a really interesting element to have in a Freaky Friday story, where characters are knowingly acting on their hedonistic desires to try to get what they want--but this doesn't end up going anywhere really?
“Irresponsible cretin,” Yveltal murmured under her breath.

“What was that?” Jirachi said.

“I said,” Yveltal said, “are you certain?”
lol
“Rrgh, well, you owe us for that Doom Desire,” Xerneas said.
do they? no one really seems capable of hurting anyone else here lol; it seems just as convenient/inconvenient as Xerneas hitting him in the eye with Megahorn
“But doesn’t Arceus not want you guys working together? You guys have to be one after the other, and stuff. He’s kind of a traditionalist like that.” Manaphy frowned, poking her flippers together. “I’m really not sure about this…”
I think this conflict could've been brought up earlier? Arceus sees them cuddling, so Yveltal has pretty cut-and-dry evidence that they can at least be in the same room, and nothing they're planning suggests that Xerneas or Yveltal are planning on working together, just swapping and going their separate ways.
Yveltal is dying with how lonely things are for her—it’s not fair, and Arceus isn’t acknowledging it. Just for a few days, can’t she enjoy what it’s like to have some love?
huh, roll credits i guess
Xerneas, meanwhile, looked like he just noticed that his tail could grab things, and was grasping at a clump of wet sand.
I thought this detail was funny
“Um… What, do you live under a rock? It’s called a badge.” Manaphy raised her flippers in the air. “Get with the times.”
Reading this after Godslayer is sure a trip. I like the more animated legendary antics here.
His mouth was full with the final few bites of a jelly donut
ah yes, Hoopa watches the sub version
“Shelgon?” She glanced at the curled-up Salamence again.

“Well, he was one last night.”
This seems like a confusing way to address people if they're going to change overnight but the change is in a way that's visibly obvious--usually names convey identification that you can't tell just by looking at people?
Maybe Yveltal could ask about that later. It seemed like such a simple solution. Was there more to it?
I was curious if this ever got followed up on--it seems like this plot point got dropped.
Yveltal imagined that was the polite way of saying, ‘You don’t want Yveltal coming again, now do you?’ Because she wouldn’t be surprised if that was what Xerneas actually told them. She wouldn’t blame him.
awww :( she's projecting. I like how we know what Xerneas said, and it was nothing of the sort.
“Yeah, but sometimes it’d probably be better without it, if you ask me,” Meganium said, frowning. “I mean… look at you guys. You don’t have to worry about getting old, or food, or dying, or any of that. No offense, sorry, um, Xerneas.”
I'm actually with Meganium here! It's one thing to hear from a mortal that life is precious but death gives it meaning; it's definitely different to hear it from the immortal incarnation of death who has been assigned to kill you and yet resides in a pantheon and can never actually suffer from finite mortality here.
“It’s not a mess,” Scyther said immediately. “It’s just too much of a good thing.”
awww
“Now, let me continue with my work and I’ll be gone, okay? Sorry about your berries. Just plant more.”

“Just plant more… Hmph.”
shit u rite
Tyranitar snarled and shifted his footing. His arm crackled with reddish energy, and then prismatic energy, and Xerneas suddenly recognized that last part as his own.
There is probably a lengthy explanation in HoC and it probably is aura, but--what is prismatic energy? Why is it special?
instead, a gout of fire tried, and failed, to intercept the beam in a head-on collision. Instead, the flames diverted in all directions, scorching the ground and the grass. Someone shrieked, and then the crowd echoed the same sound tens of times over.
The double "instead" was kind of weird here, and the description of the crowd echoing the shrieks feels more orderly than I imagine a screaming crowd would be?
The village bustled with happy faces and enthusiastic singing—something that was also a surprising change for Yveltal. Singing. She sang to herself sometimes, but only rarely, and often just to comfort the dying before claiming them. And yet, this time, it was cheerful and beautiful in its own way…
"she sang to herself" "to comfort the dying" are a bit opposed here--she's also singing for them, so she's not really singing to herself.
“We understand. It was wrong of us to badmouth your opposite so strongly. In the end, we need both of you. So… I guess, even if we don’t like when Yveltal comes around, we can at least respect what her purpose is.”

Yveltal didn’t want to be silent afterward, but she didn’t know how to respond to that while staying in character. It was, at least, an improvement. Rather than hate her, they would at least tolerate her… right? Or was that just to satisfy him? How many times did they tell Xerneas this just to win him over?
lmao.
She didn’t—no, she couldn’t have possibly done it. So, there was no point in her checking.
I like this intense avoidance here--says a lot.
It’s not often that Pokémon approach her wishing for death, but Xerneas must get this daily. This was too much. If Arceus found out she used Xerneas’ powers improperly…
This sentence randomly flipped present tense
They all backed away, Murkrow showing no fear that Murkrow could refuse, because why would he?
Didn't Honchkrow die?
Also, this seems to run into the other issue of names--when you pick something that people have in common rather than what makes them different, it's kind of useless as a name.
…What if she faked it, and said he would rather remain deceased? Perhaps she could say that she sensed no will to live from his spirit, and that he was content with the peace and stillness of death that he’d been granted.
I thought it was a nice character moment for her to choose this.
With how much energy he had flowing through him, he’d probably need to spend a day or two burning it all off. Little murmurs echoed from the last of the crowd, all still admiring Yveltal for just being there.
I know you're using their pre-swap names in narration, but this one would work a little better as "Xerneas" imo, since it's the crowd admiring Xerneas instead of Yveltal.
This is a bad idea. Just let it drop. How is this child’s opinion going to mean anything? Let it go.
oh nice, she's me arguing on the internet
“Great. Well, look, that’s a gray area, we—I’ll handle it, we’ll handle it later. I have something more important back at the village I had been at yesterday. Accidentally killed someone when trying to take out a blight.”
LOL
“No, no, please,” Yveltal begged. “Not with my body, not with my power, they’re a-already so afraid of me.”

“That’s—” Xerneas flinched again, but then relented with an annoyed grunt. “Fine. For you.”
:( this was a good moment, and leans into the fridge horror aspects of body swap--yeah, you get to live out your wildest dreams, but what about the reputation you leave behind?
“Maybe now you understand why Yveltal—why I’m necessary,” Xerneas said. “What would you guys do if I wasn’t here to take care of these blights? What will Xerneas do, life them to death?”
Xerneas can attack though? And did that to wake up Jirachi?
“Do you feel that if you undid this mistake, it would absolve you of your crimes?”
oof
“It was a mistake. Under the rules, I… it would be proper if the mistake of one divine act is undone by another. Divine to divine.”
there were hints of this earlier, but I think it would've been helpful to establish what the pantheon actually expects out of each other, what rules they have to interact--can Xerneas and Yveltal hang out but not work at the same time? Does Arceus hold them to duties? Why doesn't Mew let Xerneas have walls around his home?
Her will? Her will was strong. Iron-clad. She doubted anybody else could handle the same duty the same way she had for ages. To think that anybody else would be able to perform the same duty was… foolish.
It's an interesting question tho--was she created? born? chosen?
“I know I did, I thought I did, I mean,” Xerneas said, biting his lip. “But… I think I actually do like their company, in some… twisted way. At least, after the way you felt, there was… there was this emptiness.”
I know deer have lips but I struggled to picture what this would look like
“I have linked your auras. So long as you are separated, your powers will not work. From here on, you have no choice but to perform your assignments together. Now, leave. I will be giving you another assignment tomorrow to make up for the mess you caused today.”
Huh, thought this was poetic.
He smiled with a serenity that Xerneas had trouble understanding.
I liked this final note to close out on, and the parallels with the songs.
 
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