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Ambyssin

Gotta go back. Back to the past.
Location
Etherium
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. silvally-dragon
  2. necrozma-ultra
So, I read the prologue and the first chapter. I'm sure your writing's come a long way since then, so feel free to ignore whatever I have to say if it doesn't apply anymore. :P

It was a bold strategy to go with a total absence of dialogue until Audino finds Espurr. I suppose it's about the closest you can get in prose to replicating Super's immediate intro where we're locked into the protagonist's inner monologue until they find Nuzleaf. It does feel like things meander a bit and give us Espurr's thoughts in a bit of repetitive detail. Which is unusual, since there isn't actually much in the way of environmental descriptions. The river is a river. The forest is a forest with trees. Aside from that and the noxious mystery dungeon smell, there isn't much detail to go off.

The same applies to the (expedited) tour of Serene Village. Tricky rifles off locations — which is supposed to show off her hyperactiveness — but you're essentially counting on readers to have played Super and already be familiar with what everything looks like. Which, fair enough, is probably the case, but still not the greatest idea in my opinion. Especially since it could provide you an opportunity to create some differences from the game. Maybe an extra shop or two that don't exist in the original source material?

At the very least, you offer up an early difference in Audino's discovery instead of Nuzleaf. There's mention of a disappearance, which leads me to wonder if it is Nuzleaf or someone else entirely. I can't imagine Audino's serving Dark Matter just based on her POV from the scene in the prologue, but you could always surprise us.

Did this mean they couldn’t climb trees after all? That she was safe, at least for the time being?
Didn't Espurr already realize they could levitate? Seems awfully silly she'd think they have to climb trees.
She would escape through the trees.
Espurr, cat of the jungle. Watch out for those trees!
“Oh! You’re up now. Good.”

the voice suddenly perked up with all the excitement of a pokemon kit in front of a candied berry stall
How is Espurr's mind already making pokémon-based analogies when she's only been one for less than a day?
fennekin somehow limped through the doorway on only one leg
Wouldn't she be hopping, then? :V
“My name is… A secret! But everyone just calls me Tricky, so you can too!”
"Pleased to meet you, Asecret."
“Silence, my liege!” Tricky called back in a heavy accent. “This is the most important of occasions, and it demands our full attention!”

“At this rate, taking the long way around won’t be a shortcut!”
Tricky has a questionable definition of shortcuts.
and just for a split second Espurr locked eyes with the miniature panda.
See, personally, I'm not the biggest fan of using real-world animals to describe pokémon when you're in third-person limited. Unless you're setting us up to have Espurr be from a world that has real animals and not pokémon, but then she shouldn't know she's an espurr and Tricky's a fennekin. ;>.>
It felt like… It felt like her feet weren’t her own.
"Freaking circle pads, man."
I should know, I’ve been through, like, 30 of these and come out just fine!
Press X to doubt.
A bunch of scummy layabouts who steal and pillage and trespass to their heart’s content
So, either vikings or pirates? I dunno, that sounds pretty cool to me. :V
 

SparklingEspeon

Resident Nosy Person
Location
*teleports behind you*
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
So, I read the prologue and the first chapter. I'm sure your writing's come a long way since then, so feel free to ignore whatever I have to say if it doesn't apply anymore. :P

I... hope it has. Thanks!

I think most of the issues you outlined here come down to how I structured this story. When I began writing I made the fatal mistake of designing the first arc as a slow burn, which leads to the prologue and the first two chapters being unanimously panned when read on their own. A lot of the details in the prologue and the first chapter are things that aren't supposed to be obvious at first and then click later on, but I recognize that tends to make them read as slightly lackadaisical/boring on the first go.

but you're essentially counting on readers to have played Super and already be familiar with what everything looks like. Which, fair enough, is probably the case, but still not the greatest idea in my opinion. Especially since it could provide you an opportunity to create some differences from the game. Maybe an extra shop or two that don't exist in the original source material?

Yeah, I do kind of leave the descriptions vague a bit. Part of it is what you outlined above, which I've tried to be better about going forward. Another part is that I'm really bad with maps and I know if I go into detail Serenity Village will turn into an inconsistent, ever-shifting labyrinth Even with leaving it vague I have constantly mislabeled the east wing of town as the west one and saw no issue with this until three weeks later, so I just leave it up to the readers' imagination and hope I can get away with it :ROFLMAO:

Maybe an extra shop or two that don't exist in the original source material?

Technically this isn't practical for Serenity Village, for two reasons: 1, Kecleon does not appreciate competition. And 2, the village is very out of the way, so it doesn't make sense to set up a shop there unless you live there. There are merchants that travel in every few weeks with more exotic goods, and a few of those do pop up later on.

Tricky has a questionable definition of shortcuts.

Tricky has questionable definitions of lots of things. Madness.png

As for the animal descriptions... I'd say touche, but this world actually does have animals.

Thanks for giving it a look! I hope it wasn't too boring of a read.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Hi, Espy! It’s been quite a while, but I’m here for the first full chapter!

I’ll give you some general thoughts up top and line reactions after.

EVENTS
There’s a lot happening in this chapter! We meet Tricky, and then she forcibly drags Espurr away to see the school. Along the way, we meet VP Watchog and some of their fellow classmates. Tricky and Espurr decide they have to rescue Goomy from a dungeon, which he went into because of the other students. This could be my spotty reading comprehension tonight, but I missed why it had to be Tricky and Espurr. When they get back, they get a slap on the wrist and then they’re sent back to their starting positions.

For me, the number of events pushed the boundaries of how many I can process well in a single chapter. 7k isn’t terribly long, but it felt a little long to me. Some of it is that Tricky is literally, physically driving us forward ... but it wasn’t totally clear to me what we were moving toward and why we needed to move in that direction.

CHARACTERS
I do think the next chapter should introduce at least some hints about why Tricky is like this (I guess I’ll have to find time to read on to see if it does), but at least her MO shines through very clearly here. You describe her several times as hyper(active), but she almost seems more manic to me. She’s either super unaware of others, mowing them down with constant talking, or she’s desperately insecure. She actually reminds me of a kid I teach: clearly wants attention really badly but has no idea how to get it constructively, determined to find trouble. Nobody is creating and maintaining boundaries for her. In Audino, we see that a partial explanation for that is the adults around her are too busy to give her the attention and discipline she needs. Vice Principal Watchog definitely wants to discipline but he shoots himself in the foot by being a blowhard. More importantly, he’s definitely not seeking to understand Tricky. He just wants her to sit down and behave.

Espurr is pretty blank. She seems worried about the dungeons, following rules, and her injuries. She doesn’t seem to want anything herself, though—she only reacts—and she’s astonishingly not curious about how she got there and who she is. The behavior of her classmates also made me wonder how old she is. In the prologue, I’d guessed teen or young adult, but the other students are definitely no older than 10 or 11.

I was surprised how off-screen Audino was here given her importance in the prologue. I was also surprised Tricky is the only one with an actual name. I get that her real name is “secret” ... but then the question is why she has a secret name that isn’t just Fennekin when no one else seems to. I get that you don’t want species to get mixed up, I think her name adds a lot to her character. If you’re worried about the reader losing track of who’s who, you’ve got bigger characterization problems than just names, you know?



I didn’t quote n’ pull any grammar errors. At this point, I trust someone has already pointed it out and you just haven’t had a chance to make corrections. But! LMK if that’s not the case and you do want me to highlight those for you.

I did pull some other prose/narration/sentence flow questions I had, though. One that I wondered about many times was your POV choice, so I’ll talk about that in some detail.

POV
I remember you mentioning in the Discord Server that your goal is 3rd omniscient, but it’s coming out muddled here. You definitely have a lot of character perspectives happening, but then you also have scenes labeled by POV character. (Which you don’t actually need to do even in a rotating close 3rd. Divides has 4 POV characters so far, but it’s always clear by the first few lines whose chapter or scene it is.)

Even in 3rd omniscient, you can’t jump between characters too often without jarring and/or confusing your reader. There’s more of it here than I found tenable or useful. Quite a few times, I found myself asking what an aside about a certain character was adding and whether it was necessary. You also need to be extra careful about not exposition-dumping or “telling” in 3rd omni; you definitely get more freedom to summarize and drop in extra information, but you still have to watch out for redundancy and flatness. A lot of your POV switches were just to tell us what a new character is feeling, and I didn’t find that useful. I’ll explain why in a second.

The two ways to do 3rd Omni that I know of are Objective and Subjective. Subjective is the Terry Pratchett/Douglass Adams style: the narrator is almost like a character unto itself, unnamed but with a strong personality that is distinct from any one character’s personality. Your narration style doesn’t really support that one. If anything, yours is the Objective version: the narrator becomes like a camera, observing everything that happens like a fly on the wall. And that makes sense, given your interest in film and scripts. I can’t offer you a ton of exciting examples of this sort because it’s really uncommon in contemporary published fiction, but you could check out Lord of the Flies or Joseph Conrad. But the thing with Objective 3rd Person Omni is that it’s distant. You don’t usually get individual characters’ thoughts, and you really don’t see a lot of words like felt, wondered, wanted, saw, and noticed. Rather than telling us “Tricky felt scared,” Objective 3rd Omni instead shows us Tricky cowering, trembling, sweating, and staring wide-eyed.

Because this already seems to be a story driven by characters having incomplete information and differing perceptions of each other, I really have to wonder if rotating close limited wouldn’t be a better fit. I think Goomy’s section was one of the strongest because it (mostly) embodied his internal life. The prose felt like him and his worries determine what details make it into the scene.

OTHER NOTES ON PROSE
There were several places where your prose was cluttered—long turns of phrase that could be condensed for clarity, redundant descriptions. Watch out for those. There can be times when being wordy works for comedic effect or to create a dreamy mood, but here I felt like it was slowing you down.

The last thing I noticed a lot of were epithets (“the hyper pokemon,” for example). A lot of these are telling—weak characterization or redundant or both. Other times they’re confusing or just bulky. Try to avoid using too many of them.

~\({O})/~

~Espurr~
This confused me, not just because of the POV trouble I mentioned but also because your chapter title is a character’s name, and then immediately after, you’ve got another character’s name.

just before Errand Day, too.
I thought this was interesting, but right now I know nothing about what this means.

What are you still waiting out there for? You need treatment!” she scolded the unseen pokemon in the doorway.

“Sorry, Ms. Audino,” a voice muttered from outside. “It hurts to walk….”

“Well, that’s why you don’t go jumping out of trees,” Audino retorted, pouring whatever she had gotten into several small leaf-made pouches. “Not to worry,” she continued. “You’ll have company.”

“Really?!?” the voice suddenly perked up with all the excitement of a pokemon kit in front of a candied berry stall, and a fennekin somehow limped through the doorway on only one leg.
This felt kinda harsh! I thought she was seriously injured and that Audino was being a crappy nurse. If the idea is that she’s faking her injuries, Audino’s behavior and body language needs to signal that more.

with all the excitement of a pokemon kit in front of a candied berry stall
I wondered about POV here. In close 3rd, it makes no sense for this to be part of isekai’d Espurr’s worldview. On the flip side, you refer at one point to “the miniature panda” which felt too much our world after all the references like the one above, which doesn’t make sense in 3rd Omni.

Audino supplied her with a few bags of ice.
Where did these come from? I guess they have freezers? Or is Audino ice beaming around? It struck me as an oddly human solution when Audino’s whole thing is heal pulse.

A poor ursaring is having throat troubles, and I’ve scheduled his appointment in for today.
This felt like a breach of HIPPA.

“SO-o-o-o-o-o….” the fennekin drew out her single word for as long as possible after making sure Audino had left. “What are you in for?”

“You’re new here,” she piped up just a second later.

“What’s your name?” she asked immediately after that.

“Are you…”

“Hah! There’s no way you’re Ms. Audino’s kid, are you?”

“Wait. Are you?”

“Huh? Are you? Pleaaase tell me!”

“Do I ask too many questions? Some pokemon say I do, but Mr. Farfetch’d says that the worst questions are unasked ones, so I’m going to ask as many as possible!”
I thought this did a good job of establishing Tricky’s vibe. She feels really young here—like, seven or so. However, the formatting made it unclear that it’s just Tricky talking. Some of these could be one paragraph. Regardless, when a paragraph ends and the next paragraph continues the same character’s dialogue, you leave off the end quotation marks until they’re done talking. (I guess I lied about not calling out grammar.)

unsure of how to answer the hyper pokemon’s questions
Her rapid-fire questions convey her mania better than this epithet does.

trying her best to ignore the fact that the obviously crazy pokemon in front of her had just endangered her life to meet her.
Yeah, that’s scary and unhealthy.

Espurr watched Tricky’s tail painfully cramp as she tried to wag it, sending the fox plummeting to the ground headfirst.
I don’t understand how a hurt tail prevented her from waking or caused her to fall over.

And with her left arm in the condition it was,
Wordy! We know it’s broken, so there’s no reason to avoid saying it.

Is this another one of your shenanigans?”
I don’t think shenanigans can be singular; you can’t have one of them.

The village is larger, but this is the place where everything happens! You’ve got your Café Connection, which is called that because there’s an actual phone there, your fighting technique shop – no-mon EVER shops there – and your Kecleon’s Stall!” Tricky excitedly pointed all three out as she mentioned them. “Don’t steal from Kecleon,” she added with a hushed air of finality. “Trust me.”
“No-mon” (and other similar ones) confused me and felt stilted. “One” is no one or someone seems to be about personhood to me, which is species non-specific. Parts of this dialogue also felt a bit too explain-y to be natural.

Espurr’s ears twitched, and for a minute she turned away from the fennekin eagerly awaiting her reaction to eavesdrop just a little.

“…He’s nine!
The eavesdropping came out of nowhere. I couldn’t tell for a while where the dialogue was coming from.

her face twisting up into annoyed incredulity and contempt
A lot of words here that mean too nearly the same thing.

Shelmet, the younger of the duo,
POV—Espurr wouldn’t know this. I’m also not sure it’s vital information right now.

If Deerling could have facehooved, she would have.
POV—this switch doesn’t add anything for me and it momentarily confused me. You can maybe get away with it in Subjective Omni, but I don’t think we get anything from it we couldn’t get from body language. More importantly, I don’t think deer physically can hit themselves in the face with the “palm” (bottom) of their hooves like that.

“We’re going to get in more trouble...” Espurr couldn’t fathom how the fennekin could still want to continue onwards, especially after jumping headfirst out of a tree.
This didn’t land because we haven’t actually seen them get into trouble yet. The risk doesn’t feel real.

and she grabbed Tricky behind one of the houses with her good paw without even thinking.
The wording here is really unclear.

Come on, slowpoke!”
In a world where slowpoke are people, isn’t this basically a slur? Also, I thought this was a literal slowpoke.

Espurr could see her mental smirk.
I couldn’t tell how literal this was or why it couldn’t be a regular smirk.

In the distance, someone was talking.

“I’m going in after him!”

“No! You c-can’t! We… we won’t let anything bad happen to you!”

“Like you didn’t let anything bad happen to Goomy?”

There was a scoff, followed by the clip-clop of someone backing away.

“Fine! You two go, then.”
If you’re gonna use 3rd Omni, this is a good time for it! This would be much more interesting if we could see them. Here they’re just talking heads, and that makes it dry to read.

Tricky infused her voice with extra sadness to get the specific effect she wanted.
The effect is just sounding sad, isn’t it?

Nurse Audino’s child,” everyone but Espurr replied in unison. A moment later, Espurr decided never to lock eyes with anyone ever again.
This doesn’t land because it was an earlier interaction and not the eye contact that prompted this.

all manner of trip-friendly objects
These two ideas don’t mesh for me—tripping isn’t friendly. I get that you’re being sarcastic, but it doesn’t match the tone of the rest for me.

Both Espurr and Tricky jumped a combined total of six feet apart
Hard to picture and weirdly clinical.

still catching her breath from the sudden incident.
Again, I see no reason to talk around it—we just saw what “the incident” was.

Tricky… It was taboo for anymon in Serenity Village to hold more than a minute’s worth of conversation with Tricky. (Not that he hadn’t tried. Yesterday – the first and only time he’d attempted making friends with her – she had roped him into stealing oran berries from her Pop’s berry patch. That did not end well for either of them.)
I’m confused what you’re trying to say here. He’s saying that talking to her was taboo, which is maybe too strong a word anyway, but he clearly wants her acceptance, too.

But this was just as bad, if not even worse! Pancham and Shelmet had told him to do it. If he could find the paper they had left in this dungeon from the last school field trip, write his name on it, and bring it back to them before nightfall, they said, then they would finally recognize him as one of the Big Kids and stop teasing him! It was too good to be a dream, so he’d taken the dare.
This works really well! A few nitpicks: why is it a paper of all things? Seems a little weird, especially because it wouldn’t hold up well in the elements. There are also! A lot! Of exclamation points!

giving her his best attempt at a hug.
I have to wonder if creatures without arms wouldn’t have developed other ways to show affection.

Tricky!” Goomy happily glode over to Tricky, giving her his best attempt at a hug. It was a short-lived reunion, however. The mystery dungeon actively repelled such activities with a bellowing screech that blew through the trees and nearly knocked the three of them off their feet.

“Uh-oh…” Tricky looked up at the trees, rattled. “It’s getting mad. We should go.”

It was the first thing Tricky had said that day that Espurr wholeheartedly agreed with.
I forgot Espurr was even in this scene until this point—she had little presence—which made the switch to her POV extra jarring.

In my fifteen flipping years of service… one student has been the very bane of my existence.”
This is really wild language from a vice principal. Good way to lose your job! I also wasn’t sure why you decided to underline a word?

Audino had recommended he go for a checkup multiple times in the past, but Simipour had always insisted he was just fine),
This aside didn’t feel useful. I was also confused who Simipour was until later.

Wow, what does it mean that all the characters with authority are bipedal and have hands?

Wanna remind me why you elected him Vice Principal again?” Audino muttered to Principal Simipour in a hushed voice.
Vice principals aren’t elected. They’re hired, like most other jobs.

Yes,” he conceded, a good amount of his bravado lost.
A good example of unnecessary wordiness!

I know this got really long, but I hope it was helpful! 💪

Sounds like Espurr is going to have to get used to this new setting now that she’s solidly in the school. Maybe she’ll at least have Goomy as a friend? And Tricky, whether she wants her or not.
 
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SparklingEspeon

Resident Nosy Person
Location
*teleports behind you*
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
Hi, Espy! It’s been quite a while, but I’m here for the first full chapter!

Quag.png

This is... a bit of a long reply in hindsight, but you highlighted a lot of stuff and I had a lot to say in response. Mostly the stories of how badly I screwed up behind the scenes with this first arc, lol I'll say up-front that most of the issues highlighted I already knew about and these are my explanations for why things are that way (both mess-ups and things there on purpose), but it was still useful anyway! I'll definitely be factoring in a lot of this for any future stories/chapters I write.

---

This could be my spotty reading comprehension tonight, but I missed why it had to be Tricky and Espurr. When they get back, they get a slap on the wrist and then they’re sent back to their starting positions.

It didn't have to be them; they just volunteered for it. It was also separate from the school; Watchog would not have been okay with them going into a dungeon if he couldn't oversee it, lol.

Vice Principal Watchog definitely wants to discipline but he shoots himself in the foot by being a blowhard. More importantly, he’s definitely not seeking to understand Tricky. He just wants her to sit down and behave.

Yeah, he was, uh. Definitely that 'stick in the mud' teacher in the base game, but when I wrote this I went really overboard with him and now he's legit psycho and I just kind of ran with it.

I was also surprised Tricky is the only one with an actual name. I get that her real name is “secret” ... but then the question is why she has a secret name that isn’t just Fennekin when no one else seems to.

This was an oversight at first, but then I decided to work with it and wrote it into the lore. So... There Is A Reason

For me, the number of events pushed the boundaries of how many I can process well in a single chapter. 7k isn’t terribly long, but it felt a little long to me. Some of it is that Tricky is literally, physically driving us forward ... but it wasn’t totally clear to me what we were moving toward and why we needed to move in that direction.

I think the first two chapters end up feeling a bit directionless. Part of it is that this was a tutorial level of the game that I adapted this from, which featured Tricky's source character kinda just... dragging you around for the whole thing, but also because I was using this chapter to figure out where I wanted to go with the story at large - you're pretty much reading a super polished character experiment that's been tweaked to not look like one. So the pacing does drag a lot/feel aimless for the next two or so chapters despite all the stuff that's flying around and I'm sorry for that.

Espurr is pretty blank. She seems worried about the dungeons, following rules, and her injuries. She doesn’t seem to want anything herself, though—she only reacts—and she’s astonishingly not curious about how she got there and who she is. The behavior of her classmates also made me wonder how old she is. In the prologue, I’d guessed teen or young adult, but the other students are definitely no older than 10 or 11.

The reason for this is that I had no clue how to write Espurr in the beginning, so I made her passive and let the plot dictate her motivations for a bit. I fix this sometime during the fourth chapter and went back and painted over the older ones, but I don't know if I'll ever really get it perfect.

As for the ages, they're mostly in the ballpark of 9 - 13, but assume 13 - 15 for maturity levels. Blah Blah pokemon years I needed at least late-middle-school age maturity for the plot

I do think the next chapter should introduce at least some hints about why Tricky is like this (I guess I’ll have to find time to read on to see if it does), but at least her MO shines through very clearly here. You describe her several times as hyper(active), but she almost seems more manic to me. She’s either super unaware of others, mowing them down with constant talking, or she’s desperately insecure.

You're honestly sort of on the money; Tricky is manic. She has serious emotional issues/insecurities and is also extremely desperate to Make And Keep This Friend... to the point where she'd injure herself on purpose to do it. The reason doesn't come until much later on, but there is one and it does explain all of this behavior from her.

I remember you mentioning in the Discord Server that your goal is 3rd omniscient, but it’s coming out muddled here. You definitely have a lot of character perspectives happening, but then you also have scenes labeled by POV character. (Which you don’t actually need to do even in a rotating close 3rd. Divides has 4 POV characters so far, but it’s always clear by the first few lines whose chapter or scene it is.)

Well, my original goal was Third Omniscient - or at least what I thought was third omniscient at the time. This fic has been a learning process, lol. In the original draft of this story, the character headers didn't exist. I added them post-mortem when I got complaints about scene switches being jarring (see: the scene switch to Goomy). The result was that I'd have the scene headers, so people would assume that it was Third Limited, when in reality it was meant to be Third Omniscient with a bandaid fix. By the time this issue was brought to my attention, I was like. 21 chapters in, and there was no way I was gonna go back and fix all of that from the ground up.

As for the head-hopping/wordiness issues... those are on me and my general inexperience with prose/POV. I can't really go back and fix all of it unless I just like. straight up rewrite the whole thing (which I would love to do, believe me, but I unfortunately do not have the time/energy for 🙃), but I'll do my best to keep it in mind for the future.

I know this got really long, but I hope it was helpful!

It definitely did help! Most of these things I already knew about, and I apologize that I can't really go back and clean them out, but I'll do my best to keep them in mind moving forward.
 

Starlight Aurate

Ad Jesum per Mariam
Location
Route 123
Partners
  1. mightyena
Hey Espy! I am here for your Blacklight Prize Review. I'll review chapters 4-6 this time around! Since I pointed out some grammar stuff in my previous review and I know that I'm still not caught up, I'll refrain from pointing out grammatical errors. Feel free to let me know if you'd like me to give line-edits, and I'll be happy to!

Chapter 4

The brief look of relief at Tricky’s face at the element of surprise she had bought herself quickly faded into a look of terror once she saw what was happening right in front of her.
This sentence was wordy and it confused me at first; I had to read it a second time and read it more slowly to get what you were saying. It makes sense, but it can be cut down into multiple sentences or phrases for an easier read.

Several other dungeon wildlings – all animals – had attacked Tricky and Espurr on their way further through the caverns.
Ah, so there are animals in this 'verse, too! That's an interesting detail. I love world-building tidbits like these :D

Only then did the baffling implications of Tricky’s statement fully hit her: Mystery dungeons had stairs?
Why is this a surprising statement? Not a criticism--I'm just genuinely confused. In the next paragraph, you detail how the stairs are very different from the rough terrain they'd been on so far, but doesn't quite point out why the presence of stairs themselves are so surprising.

An excruciating moment of silence passed, in which Espurr could hear only the creature’s raspy breaths. Then the sudden scraping of claws against gemstone came from the opposite wall. The creature tore the gemstone out of the wall with its sheer strength, causing a loud crack and sending the shimmering dust all over the cavern. It repeated several more times. First the scraping against the gemstone. Then the resounding crack! of rock being torn from the cavern wall. Then the explosion of sparkles that erupted not a second later.
I love this paragraph! You do a very good job in playing on the primal horror: something that can be heard and felt, but not seen. It definitely creates an air of mystery and gives the sense that they're in real danger!

The same stones that had been mysteriously absent from the first floor. This must have been what was happening to them, Espurr realized.
I think the first sentence here is enough; since we know that the red gemstones are absent from the first floor and the Gabite is holding many of them, we can do without the second statement. Sometimes, less is more.

Espurr suddenly felt her legs get shoved out from under her and she landed face-first into the cavern dust. Espurr whirled around, fearing a dungeon wildling had gotten the slip on both her and Tricky, but she stopped once she realized she had actually tripped on an old, dusty leather bag.
Hmmm I feel like tripping on a bag would feel quite different from having your feet shoved out from underneath you.

At least the place if filled to bursting with gemstones. Maybe I’ll take a few of the red ones back out of the dungeon with me.”
Hm! Sounds like the motivation to collect red gemstones was the last thing on Gabite's mind, and it stuck with him as he delved further away from reason and eventually grew into a sort of insane obsession.

The bag settled onto Espurr’s left shoulder uncomfortably, and she laboriously adjusted to so that the straps wouldn’t dig into her bad arm as much.
Awww poor Espurr :(

Without thinking, she grabbed a big fat gemstone, and hurled it straight in Gabite’s face. It exploded into shards of sparkling dust, doing almost nothing to impede the encroaching Gabite’s attack, and then it was Espurr’s turn to cower as the feral pokemon brought its fin down upon her head-
Do these gemstones just explode on impact? Or was Gabite charging for an attack, and the crystal hitting it caused it to burst? Otherwise, it would take a LOT of force to make it explode like that.

Until suddenly, there came a rumbling from deep inside the boarded-off mine shaft, and the very two children the drilbur had been stressing over tumbled right out into their hands, both covered in sparkling dust and panting heavily.
!
Woohoo! They made it!

And Vice Principle Watchog doesn't even seem concerned for his students' safety! JJust concerned that they broke some rules.

“No-mon bullied us,” The drilbur said, his voice suddenly losing all stutter. “Except you.”

“You forced us underground!” Another piped up.

“Barged onto our property!”

“Kicked us out of our own mine-yard!”

“Bossed us around!”
Oh dang! Looks like Watchog is actually a pretty terrible guy no matter how you look at it!

“We… we knew about the monster,” Pancham said. “I was just testing you. Did you get the gems?”
DANG, Pancham, you coulda killed them!

“But I think you should stop hanging out with Tricky. Or just don’t humor her if she tries to get you to go into a mystery dungeon with her. We’ve all been there. It never ends well. And I don’t want to watch somemon else get hurt because they were reckless for her.”
Poor Tricky! Sounds like she tried making friends with the other kids and ended up pushign them away because of the amount of trouble she wound everyone up in. This does make me see Deerling in a new light, though--she actually seems concerned for Espurr's well-being and just wants what's best for her.

But Espurr had already fainted from exhaustion.
I don't think she'd faint at this point--I think it would just be falling asleep, if she managed to stay awake while sitting in the clinic up until now.

And you end with an intriguing note on Ampharos! He's interested in Espurr, and her lack of clarity about anything happening--but why? And who is he? What's he up to? I'm looking forward to finding out!

This was a good chapter! We got our answer to what happened in the mines and followed their adventure through it. Overall, I think your writing in this chapter reads more smoothly than in the previous chapters! I noticed fewer typos and I think the description came along more nicely. I definitely liked where they encountered Gabite--he truly came off as a terrifying foe! Watchog is beginning to look indisputably evil, so that's also an interesting turn that'll be neat to see. Excited to see what the next chapters have in store!

Chapter 5

If I haven't mentioned it before, I quite like the artwork you have at the beginning of your chapters!

“’That right? Well, eat a mudkip for all I care! I’ll poop wherever I darn well feel like pooping!”

Mawile looked up from her personal logs at the insult, watching a livid staraptor throw open the gem-encrusted doors that led further into the windmill and march out angrily. The staraptor made a gesture with its wings Mawile refused to record out of simple decency, then walked back out onto the bridge and let the large double doors slam behind it.
Gotta admit, I sniggered lol

let’s get down to the business
To defeat the Huns

“Oh! Silly me,” Mawile stated, hiding the smirk on her face. “It is heads. The back maw has a mind of its own sometimes. I’d be wary of making it angry, if I were you.”
I forgot how FREAKY Mawile looks and can be until moments like this happen.

Not sure if I have anything to say about the opening scene. It's all new information and new characters, if I'm not misremembering, and I'm not sure what all is going on with the Expedition Society--though I expect these answers will crop up before long!

“Mine,” Shelmet growled, throwing open the door to the principal’s office with the pointy side of his shell and letting it whack Espurr in the face. Espurr, who was sick and tired of having her face shoved into things, had half a mind to drag him out of there herself and throw him into a wall just to see how he liked it.
Yeah, Espurr, stand your ground!
Also, poor Deerling. Trying to write with your nose sounds like an awful time lol.

“Entire books have been written on the art of learning Moves,” Watchog declared for the benefit of the class. “But my opinion? The best way of learning moves is in practice. Start!!”
Oh my gosh, this teacher. Can someone say "fired" soon?
I gotta admit, he's very entertaining, to say the least, haha.

“I think I swallowed a wood chip,” Goomy complained.
Lol I just feel so sorry for Goomy.

Ampharos, two seats away, set down his menu at the sound of the word ‘students’. He then slowly raised it up again, just until he could see over the top.
lol Ampharos you need to get better about learning subtlety

The scene with Tricky in the cafe was cute! I can only imagine that something is going to go wrong--kitchens and restaurants are hectic places, even without Tricky and Goomy there.

Well, Espurr certainly figured out that Ampharos owned the map very quickly! Not a criticism, as the story needs to move along, but she certainly got there without too much time or thought.

I can't help but feel that Ampharos's invitation for Espurr and Tricky to join the Expedition Society is a bit... dubious.

The entire island was evil; a blight upon the village and she was sure of it, and she just wanted to leave before something bad happened…

…And then she looked at the Ancient Barrow itself. It would be folly not to at least take a look while she was here. It would spare her the return trip, at least.
The sudden 180 she pulls in the span of these two sentences make me suspect that there's something supernatural going on here, and that it may be affecting Espurr's mind--maybe drawing her into the place, so she can't get away from it, no matter how logical it is?

“Your tail is still mine for the next three days, you hear that??” Watchog grumbled after her; still half-drunken.
Oh YIKES Watchog, you don't get drunk in front of you students! How on earth is this dude not fired?

She knew what was happening. Deerling… Watchog… Espurr was making new friends, and then she wouldn’t want to spend time with the Village Troublemaker anymore.
Okay, I can see why Tricky is upset and thinks that Espurr might be making fiends with Deerling--but she thinks Espurr wants to be friends with WATCHOG?!

And it looks like Arrchen and Mawile are stuck, cut off from meeting up with Ampharos! Ampharos is getting to Tricky and Espurr, so we'll see how this all plays out!

Chapter 6

Interesting opening of Espurr's dream! Wererrandom letters underlined and bolded to add to the surreal quality of it? It distracted me a bit at first (I read the different mismatched letters and pieced them together because I thought they might be a hidden message LOL), as it's a bit unconventional of a style to presenting a dazed/dreamlike quality. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly makes it unique! If you do want to go for convention in the futurre, adding ellipses or rdescribing more the atmospherer and feeling/lack of feeling overall might do that better.

Espurr could feel the very beginnings of air deprivation begin to take hold. This no longer seemed like a good idea. She would rather have the headache than this.
Suuuuuper nitpicky from perhaps the nitpickiest person in this field, but you could do a lot of description with the pain and panic that comes with near-drowning! You definitely capture a sense of urgency, but there's so much more you can add--the burning/bursting of lungs, the bursting head feel, seeing spots/blackness, the feeling of trying to breathe in water, etc.

Espurr thought she heard him mutter to himself when he thought she wasn’t looking. “If I’da known she could learn the entire language in a day I’da jumped on that sooner.”
I'm not sure what he's getting at here--did Espurr suddenly learn everything in one day after struggling with it for so long?

Ahhhh nevermind I see--she doesn't know how it happened, either.

Pops had a method for washing the face, but Tricky thought it was super complicated. And dunking your head underwater for a few seconds made it all nullified anyway, so Tricky did that. She shook herself off, took a few laps of the water in the bowl, gargled with that, then spat it out the window like Pops had told her never to do. She stuck her head out and let the morning breeze dry her fur off. She enjoyed that, even though she was a fire-type and could just roast it all out of her fur whenever she felt like it.
I love this paragraph so much! You do a good job of describing Tricky's defiant personality, and your prose is very good for describing her childish mindset and way of thinking.

“HewasinthecafeyesterdayandItookhisorderandhesaidtomeethimafterschoolgetsoutatthestartofsummersohecangiveusthejuniorexpeditionsocietymembershipshegot!!”
Haha, classic Tricky.

Espurr briefly wondered if he was always moody by choice and not because he actually had anything to be moody about.
There are quite a few people like that, I believe.

An entire vial-full of bluk berry ink splattered all over Watchog’s chest, leaving him covered in dripping ink.
In a sentence like this, I'd suggest using a different descriptor for "ink" the second time so that you don't have it twice in one sentence; it feels repetitive. Even something like "... leaving him covered in black/blue/purple liquid" would feel smoother.

Watchog stepped over the already-sticking puddle of berry ink, an exhaustible charcoal pen in his hand now for good measure.
I don't think "exhaustible" is the right word to use here.

Completely honest: this caught me off guard. I guess it shows that Espurr's sense of morality is stronger than her desire to succeed! A truly admirable trait.

“Well… sometimes it’s enjoyable to spend time with other pokemon for a change.”

Espurr had not meant that as a hurtful comment, only a harmless fact.
O U C H. I know they're kids, so they don't have the same idea of what's hurtful and what's not, but I can definitely see why Tricky was so wounded by this!

Oh noooooo Pancham is going to lead Tricky to her doom!

And then the door was closed in Espurr and Goomy’s.
I think you're missing a word here.

" The effort has to come from both sides, not neither.”
I think the word should be "either," not "neither."

This chapter was quite a bit sad! Seeing Tricky so beaten up and torn by Espurr choosing to play with other classmates instead of spending time with her is hard for the poor girl to bear. That being said, it's refreshing to see Espurr consistently choose what she perceives to be logical and tell Tricky the truth--hard statements like these are what allow people to grow most, I believe. I'm hoping Tricky will learn to grow from this and continue to be the fun-loving Fennekin everyone knows but with a stronger sense of responsibility.

As I said before, your writing in these four chapters has noticeably improved over what they were in the first few. I know I'm still way behind before getting caught up, but I've owed you this review for quite some time and I wanted to get it out to you sooner rather than later! And after skimming your latest chapter, I can see that your grammar has definitely improved, as well. Kudos to you for that, and hopefully I'll be back before too long to continue with this review!
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
hiya, here for Catnip! This is for Chapter 10.

I’ve always wondered why pokemon give away so much of their lives to others. Why they toil away and work themselves to the point of death for other pokemon, only to be stepped on and forgotten once those other pokemon move on to bigger things. Why pokemon whine and complain about being trampled upon when they should have seen it coming from a mile away.
I really dig the intro lines here--reading the blurbs about what you share about your work/your bingo cards/etc, I kind of struggle to reconcile those with the ~75k words I've read so far. They're both interesting stories and I think I had a more comprehensive overarching story writeup in that first chunk review, but they definitely feel different. I'm pretty certain I wouldn't get "a story about awful people doing awful things, and a gruesome cycle of evil that many deem necessary"--no one in this story really seems unredeemable quite yet, or--"dysfunctional children banding together to save their village from certain doom, and the many, many reasons the world they live in couldn't do the same"--the world certainly doesn't feel like it's beyond saving itself either. I think this paragraph is probably the closest I'd get to pointing to the kind of world that needs the innocence of a child to save it, or that precipitates on a bunch of horrible people doing horrible things.

And tone shift is hard to juggle I think, but it's weird to snap between lines about Sparkleglimmer, depressed and cynical founder of society, and then back into this chapter that's mostly the same school hijinks from before. Some of the pieces are starting to move--hey, those beheeyem are back!--but for me the structure is kind of difficult to follow.

You mentioned Harry Potter being a good model for the early parts of the fic, and I think that's actually an interesting place to analyze scope shift--arguably the main conflict of Philosopher's Stone is the house cup lol; flash forward a few hundred thousand words and it's about stopping wizard-supremacist fascism. And the seeds of the darker plot are certainly in the earlier books, but it does take its time getting there. I don't quite know the endgame of what you're planning here, but for me the main differences between the first 80k words of this and the first book in Harry Potter mostly just lies in that the seeds of the darker plot interact with the protagonists. Quirrell secretly being Voldemort, Harry's fraught relationship with Malfoy, befriending Neville and Hagrid--these are things that become huge in later arcs of the story, but they're still relevant in the near-term because they reflect on Harry/co's growth in that moment and are important to Harry/co in those stories. By comparison, things that are probably longer plothooks--HAPPI/Sparkleglimmer, whoever is petrifying the pokemon, Mawile--this just feels like a completely separate story, and one that doesn't really have a satisfying conclusion/direction after many many thousands of words to get here.

This sort of happens on a micro-level, within the chapter itself--there's a lot happening here + many scenes:
  1. Audino meets with the beheeyem
  2. Hippopotas? I legitimately am not sure if this is a new character
  3. Espurr wakes up and is reminded of Ampharos' orb
  4. They go to Town Square to get the orb, and it's Deerling Day
  5. Breakfast at Carracosta's; Umbreon and Espeon podcast
  6. Tricky and Espurr play with the orb
  7. Carracosta cooks; Tricky repeats her mistakes
  8. Mawile decides being Primarina's secretary sucks
  9. Nickit plays cards with Murkrow
  10. Nickit and Mawile agree being Primarina's secretary sucks
  11. Espurr almost Lion King's herself
  12. Eevee gets her bag back
  13. Espurr washes off; Deerling plants some more seeds of doubt
  14. The festival
  15. Espurr mentions that Deerling hates Tricky
  16. Mawile reflects on how the festival is quiet
  17. Mawile wakes up Jirachi and they talk about the petrified pokemon
  18. Audino escapes the beheeyem
  19. Watchog notices Audino is back
  20. Principal's office meeting
And at the end of the day I'm struggling for a through-line or some sort of lesson-learned for people. Chapters don't have to answer all questions but I think they should answer one or two, or at least feel like they've succeeded in building a little of their own without needing to read to the next chapter. I think the most-complete thread we get here is the Audino/beheeyem subplot--some good tension! Audino has to do a lot of thinking, the beheeyem are looming back into the spotlight. But for the rest of the scenes/characters I struggle to figure out what this is all building to, what anyone has really accomplished or what they're trying to do. A lot of the lessons feel similar to things we've seen before--Carracosta is a worried father; Tricky is eating and sprinting into a dangerous situation that risks her friend; Deerling warns Espurr that Tricky never learns. But overall I felt like the camera just cuts away to the next scene before any conclusion actually takes place, and as a result it's hard to wrap my head around what these characters accomplished (or tried to accomplish), what the actual result of this chapter was.

Which is tricky! Because there are a lot of really good ideas in this chapter. I think Deerling Day is a really creative concept and I like that it feels like a pokemon-specific version of a solstice festival. But that's sort of all I know about it--does Deerling have a special role in it? Does it mean anything to anyone? There are a few scenes that are adjacent to Deerling Day as well, but there doesn't seem to be an emotional payoff either--it more feels like those end-of-day scenes in Explorers of Sky where everyone munches dinner--the value of the scene is in the repetition of it at the end of each day, not in some sort of character relevance; I'm not sure if it translates here. Sleepy Jirachi huffing chesto berries is also a fun image! Mawile's really never going to catch a break and her subordinates are always going to be horrible at this, aren't they.

For me the Audino bits were definitely the most satisfying parts of the chapter--both because they have the most payoff and because they're really well written. There's some nice tension here and you portray the beheeyem as these creepy, menacing aliens in a very effective way. I admit I was super shocked when Audino agreed to hand over Espurr, and I liked the payoff there! The little bits of flavor about psychics and Calm Mind was a lot of fun as well.

Overall--I think you have a ton of ambitious story ideas here, and I definitely see glimmers of them! My main hangup is more in the presentation; sometimes, these ideas feel a little muddled and I struggle to follow how they're building on one another/what they're building towards--I think nominally this functions really well as a slice-of-life story about Nickit playing cards, for example, but I struggle to place it in the larger, more dramatic plot that gets teased from time to time.

I hope this made sense! I like the pieces here, really, and I'm sorry that a lot of this trended into a structural analysis--but I'm definitely interested in seeing things click together.

---

this trended a bit long for a review and I felt like it was kinda a lot of nitpicking already, so keeping the line-edits purely grammatical today:
gastradon
the pokemon species is "gastrodon" I think

“And for our celebrity fix, we have… the famed magnagate researchers who’ve been in a tizzy ever since their field of research was banned, Espeon and Umbreon!”

“Thank you for the introduction, Jellicent, although ‘tizzy’ isn’t the word I believe either of us would use to describe our current state of minds.”

“Really? Tell us more, please.”
I couldn't quite wrap my head around why there were three different format sets here--I actually think you could get away with none, since the dialogue is distinct enough to carry itself.

Espurr took one look at Tricky’s uncomfortable brainwaves and easily read between the lines.
I feel like this is new? Can she always read thoughts? This seems like it would be super useful and would come up more often, so maybe I'm misunderstanding the image here.
 

SparklingEspeon

Resident Nosy Person
Location
*teleports behind you*
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
I really dig the intro lines here--reading the blurbs about what you share about your work/your bingo cards/etc, I kind of struggle to reconcile those with the ~75k words I've read so far. They're both interesting stories and I think I had a more comprehensive overarching story writeup in that first chunk review, but they definitely feel different. I'm pretty certain I wouldn't get "a story about awful people doing awful things, and a gruesome cycle of evil that many deem necessary"--no one in this story really seems unredeemable quite yet, or--"dysfunctional children banding together to save their village from certain doom, and the many, many reasons the world they live in couldn't do the same"--the world certainly doesn't feel like it's beyond saving itself either. I think this paragraph is probably the closest I'd get to pointing to the kind of world that needs the innocence of a child to save it, or that precipitates on a bunch of horrible people doing horrible things.

And tone shift is hard to juggle I think, but it's weird to snap between lines about Sparkleglimmer, depressed and cynical founder of society, and then back into this chapter that's mostly the same school hijinks from before. Some of the pieces are starting to move--hey, those beheeyem are back!--but for me the structure is kind of difficult to follow.

I sometimes forget people can't see my outlineFailmander.png

But yeah, this story is meant to go from small village drama to big global epic, so much of that nastiness is going to go in the third fourth fifth (of six) arcs. This second arc is meant to be the transition period between that, so the global stuff becomes more prominent going forward. As for the structure stuff, I promise it gets less jarring and easier to follow from here - Deerling's Day is the last chapter I wrote before I realized how stupid/confusing meshing six different plots into one chapter and making it super long is.

I don't quite know the endgame of what you're planning here, but for me the main differences between the first 80k words of this and the first book in Harry Potter mostly just lies in that the seeds of the darker plot interact with the protagonists. Quirrell secretly being Voldemort, Harry's fraught relationship with Malfoy, befriending Neville and Hagrid--these are things that become huge in later arcs of the story, but they're still relevant in the near-term because they reflect on Harry/co's growth in that moment and are important to Harry/co in those stories. By comparison, things that are probably longer plothooks--HAPPI/Sparkleglimmer, whoever is petrifying the pokemon, Mawile--this just feels like a completely separate story, and one that doesn't really have a satisfying conclusion/direction after many many thousands of words to get here.


There technically is supposed to be two stories by design here, but they shouldn't be clashing ;-;
It's half the game and half on me tbh - the game takes you through Happy Village Fun Time for half of it and then throws you into a dark Save The World plot without warning for the other half. My compromise was to have them as two separate groups of characters with their plots in tandem, but I can see how they clash a bit/the ES half doesn't really track well. However! This is the last chapter that's all over the place plot-wise. It's compartmentalized a good bit more from here, and the Expedition Society half gets more time to shine and stuff... and hopefully a conclusion of some kind. Once I get there with my edits. There's a merger for the two stories at the beginning the next arc, so they don't stay separate too much longer!

I feel like this is new? Can she always read thoughts? This seems like it would be super useful and would come up more often, so maybe I'm misunderstanding the image here.

It's technically new? I've been going back and doing maintenance edits/overhauls, and since you pointed it out last time I've been paying attention to slotting that into the older chapters more. It's supposed to be more of a "feeling base emotions" thing than it is direct mind-reading, though.

That said... This was one of the chapters I edited already, and one of things I also paid special attention to was showing that Tricky is making efforts to get better even if she's not 'there' yet, so if that isn't showing, then I need to go back and fix it... again :V

Context: One of the things I edited in for Chapter Eight was Espurr and Tricky officially forming a team and Tricky making a resolve to not be as crazy as she was in the first arc, so IDK if having that helps any?

Which is tricky! Because there are a lot of really good ideas in this chapter. I think Deerling Day is a really creative concept and I like that it feels like a pokemon-specific version of a solstice festival. But that's sort of all I know about it--does Deerling have a special role in it? Does it mean anything to anyone?

I mainly intended for the festival to be a cool worldbuilding/aesthetic backdrop thing here and some details that are for waaay later, but I'll see what I can do about this. I'm mainly not trying to bloat the chapter even more, since I know it's already stupid long.

And at the end of the day I'm struggling for a through-line or some sort of lesson-learned for people. Chapters don't have to answer all questions but I think they should answer one or two, or at least feel like they've succeeded in building a little of their own without needing to read to the next chapter. I think the most-complete thread we get here is the Audino/beheeyem subplot--some good tension! Audino has to do a lot of thinking, the beheeyem are looming back into the spotlight. But for the rest of the scenes/characters I struggle to figure out what this is all building to, what anyone has really accomplished or what they're trying to do. A lot of the lessons feel similar to things we've seen before--Carracosta is a worried father; Tricky is eating and sprinting into a dangerous situation that risks her friend; Deerling warns Espurr that Tricky never learns. But overall I felt like the camera just cuts away to the next scene before any conclusion actually takes place, and as a result it's hard to wrap my head around what these characters accomplished (or tried to accomplish), what the actual result of this chapter was.

Overall--I think you have a ton of ambitious story ideas here, and I definitely see glimmers of them! My main hangup is more in the presentation; sometimes, these ideas feel a little muddled and I struggle to follow how they're building on one another/what they're building towards--I think nominally this functions really well as a slice-of-life story about Nickit playing cards, for example, but I struggle to place it in the larger, more dramatic plot that gets teased from time to time.

Most of this chapter is honestly just setup for the rest of the arc. I treated it like the second season pilot of a TV show - the job of the first chapter being to re-establish the main characters/conflicts, and set bigger ones up for later. ...Which probably wasn't the best approach, but I can't do much about it now. A lot of the payoffs are also by arc, not by chapter - Too many things about this fic are a long term gambit and I basically designed the whole arc to be read at once. So as much as I really hate to say that this will look better in hindsight... I think it will? I've taken notes for the third arc, though.

I couldn't quite wrap my head around why there were three different format sets here--I actually think you could get away with none, since the dialogue is distinct enough to carry itself.

Thaaat's me being paranoid about the entire interview being indistinguishable lol

I hope this made sense! I like the pieces here, really, and I'm sorry that a lot of this trended into a structural analysis--but I'm definitely interested in seeing things click together.

No problem! I know I screwed up a lot structurally in the early chapters and I Promise this is the last of that, but I'm glad you liked what was written, even if the way it was set up didn't quite track well.
 

zion of arcadia

too much of my own quietness is with me
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. marowak-alola
I can’t believe I’ve never reviewed your story before. Hmmst’ve. Let’s fix that.

Is the voice talking to Espurr at the beginning Mew? Or maybe the VoL? I’m sure we’ll find out eventually, but that’s curious and curiouser. There’s something almost wistful about the way they speak to her.

Since you mention you’re aware of prose/structural issues in the early chapters and don’t want to go back and rewrite, I won’t point them out. I’ll try to mostly focus on genre conventions and first impressions of the prologue/first chapter instead. Since I know you love music, I listened to the TRON legacy OST while reading this (the title put me in the mood for some sci fi stuff, heh).

Espurr was probably one of my favorite characters from Super, the other being Nuzleaf. And I agree the way they were treated in the narrative was disappointing. Lots of wasted potential. I’ve always felt Super suffered a little from having too many characters.

(And the least important, her mind argued, to the chagrin of her body)

Right away this sentence suggests Espurr is a more cerebral character who puts figuring out her surroundings ahead of satisfying the physical limitations of her body. I’ve always enjoyed this aspect of psychic type pokemon; they’re so powerful, but would lose a thumb war to pretty much any other type (or, well, you get what I mean).

She then came up with the rather clever plan of tearing a largish leaf from the bush right next to her and scooping up water in that.

Another demonstration that Espurr’s a problem solver.

I would’ve thought Espurr wasn’t originally human. But the text suggests she isn’t used to the new length of her legs. Although maybe she forcibly devolved back into an Espurr? Hmmm.

At first, it seemed like the opening was pretty standard for Super. But then Nuzleaf never showed up, which is intriguing.

Curled up in a tree branch just large enough to not risk falling from in her sleep, Espurr dreamt horrible dreams of a black void of nothingness. An In Between of nothing but horribly impossible black, and she dreamt of nothing. Because there was nothing to dream of. Nothing to remember, and nothing to fill her dreams. In her addled state, with her mind blank and black as her in between, she somehow understood that. And briefly, in the absence of her dreams, came something else.

i see you, eh? I like the clever use of formatting here to generate a sense of unease.

This is probably a good time to talk about the title, referencing Philip K Dick’s famous novel, which in turn was loosely adapted into the famous Blade Runner. Now the tags don’t really talk at all about this being science fiction, but it is interesting to note that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is inspired by Hubbard’s Fear (this is less known, so I won’t spoil the twists), and all of them deal with classic noir elements of good and evil, as well as revenge, paranoia, and alienation.

While it’s hard to say for sure whether or not this is true noir, I do think the opening so far already touches on both paranoia and alienation. And depending on how Espurr’s amnesia is handled, if she remembers more as the story progresses, it could set us up for some classic mind screws. More PMD writers should take advantage of how memory loss/manipulation can set the scene for cool twists.

The use of fog is well implemented from a horror genre perspective. Fog obscures and distorts vision, which often translates in horror as distorting reality; Silent Hill is especially known for using fog in such a way. People are often far more afraid of the things they can’t see. Espurr’s dream seems to mimic a similar theme, describing the dream as ‘horrible’ because there’s nothing there (arguably, because she’s been blinded? It could be possible that there was something, she simply couldn’t see/sense it).

I really like the way you utilize tension while Espurr is hiding from the Beheeyem. The whole, are they gone?, reprieve, poke head over, see them there waiting, is a classic horror convention.

The poor pokemon only had enough time to look in its general direction before she was hit with a strong blast of the foul-smelling gust. It knocked Espurr far off-course, her paws barely missing the branch by a hair’s length before she began the heart-wrenching journey towards the ground.

This might’ve been a good moment to further establish the mind vs physical limitations dichotomy. Instead of having Espurr knocked off course by the plot wind, having her fall short because her body isn’t all that athletic might’ve been a nice way to show how she’s smart and a critical thinker, but can’t always necessarily execute her plans as intended due to the failures of her body.

It was the full moon, so the night was suitably light, and her herb stores were running low again.

The full moon is another common horror convention. It often plays into superstitions regarding mental illness (hence the word ‘lunacy’) and hysteria. I wonder if that’s intentional.

Mystery dungeons being what they were, Audino had returned once every month at the full moon (she was superstitious) and found the exact same bush with the exact same clutches of herbs growing around it awaiting her.

The full moon seems to have some purpose at least. Nice world building with the mystery dungeons. It’s always fun to see the cool customs people imagine surrounding them, especially if they can do so in a way that doesn’t feel game-y.

Swapping out Nuzleaf for Audino is another major change. I’m assuming the MC won’t show up at all, although now I’m not quite so sure. Also, is the wind a reference to the divine wind that kicks players out of dungeons? Huh. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen that incorporated into a story. It doesn’t feel out of place, either. Then again, I’ve always thought mystery dungeons are at their most interesting when treated akin to eldritch abominations.

Random poem this prologue reminds me of:

And finally giving in, I give him my gleaming soul
And as he eats my gleaming soul, I am one with him
And stare out his eyepits and I see nothing but white
And then I see nothing but fog and the white I had seen before was nothing but fog
And there is nothing but fog out the eyes of monsters.

--the last five lines of Monsters, by Dorothea Lasky

Oh, the first chapter is much lighter in tone. Makes sense. I like how both Fennekin and Espurr fell out of a tree, resulting in injuries, but for vastly different reasons.

Hahaha, Tricky is hilarious. You do a great job capturing the partner pokemon’s obnoxious personality. The way you characterize Deerling gives her more nuance as well. She comes off more, hmmm, condescending compared to the game. It fits. Honestly impressed with how you wrote entirely new scenarios that eschew the game’s start while still capturing the voices of the Lively Town inhabitants perfectly (Watchog is another good example; his reaction to Tricky had me laughing out loud). I feel like that’s surprisingly rare in adaptations.

Aw, even though Espurr barely knows them, she’s worried Deerling and Shelmet might run into similar trouble. We love protagonists with empathy over here.

“I am not freaking out over nothing, Pancham!” Deerling exploded at him. “You know that! You all know that! We can’t leave him in there; we can’t have a repeat!”

Oh, huh, that’s an interesting tidbit. I wonder what happened there? There’s definitely a bunch of mysteries being slipped into the opening chapter. And again, nice integration of the Foreboding Forest mission while changing enough details so that it feels fresh and new.

Tricky rattling off exposition about the dungeons felt a little unnecessary. I was able to figure out most of it myself. The way Goomy introduces concepts such as the Wraith was a much more naturalistic means of exposition.

Oh, you know what else the band of kids coupled with the horror elements reminds me of, somewhat? Stephen King novels. I just sort of had that brain blast during the Goomy segment, and it totally fits. The Foreboding Forest even feels like something that could come straight out of Maine, lol.

Resolving the Goomy conflict within the first chapter was a smart decision. I vaguely recall you mentioning on Discord that you want chapters to have an episodic feel to them, and I think you definitely succeed here. It introduces and resolves an A plot while furthering the overarching mystery of the ‘season’ (the Beheeyem). Really all it’s missing is a true B plot to nail the episodic structure.

This was a good first chapter. It definitely has that pilot feel to it, and I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for pilot episodes myself. Definitely going to try and circle back around to this story when I can. Have a good day! :)
 

cynsh

full-time quilava
Location
Deepden
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. quilava
Ho ho! I'm your secret santa. And I can also bank this review for the blitz! It's like two birds with one stone. Two pidgey with one... gravelerock... anyway.

I read your prologue and first two chapters last time I reviewed, so this one will cover chapters 3-5. Since this is Christmas, spirit of giving etc, I hoped to read to the end of Act I, but your fic is longer than I realised >_<

Chapter 3

Mawile considered sleep a natural detriment to the activities of the mind, and with the help of chesto berries she had easily built up enough stamina to regulate her sleep to one short period a week. While the other Expedition Society members thought this habit was unhealthy, they couldn’t deny Mawile’s much faster work-rate, and she never had to worry about missing the morning role-call.
Unhealthy? More like completely insane. I'm amazed that Mawile can do any work at all without sleep six days a week. Chesto berries must be powerful stuff.
Until the audio recording finally synced up, and Ampharos realized he was listening to a discordant symphony of nighttime sounds instead of hearing the chatter of several children. Baffled, he sped it up.
It's hard to tell what kind of device Ampharos is using here. I read the passage back a couple of times but couldn't find any meaningful description of the 'gadget'. What size is it? Is it touchscreen? What is he actually seeing? Etc.
All around her, she could hear tiny, hushed voices wavering all around the void, indistinct sentences and phrases flitting past her ears before she could truly understand them. One was louder than the rest.
I can't recall reading any story that has attempted a message in the text like this before. For that, you have my kudos for originality. But there are two... problems, if you like, that this raised to me.
1) Since I was looking out for underlined letters the whole time, less of my attention was on the actual passage. This was manageable since nothing important seemed to be revealed. But then I wonder what the real point of this dream sequence was, if it just existed to create the message, which was roughly 'something is watching Espurr and she's in danger'.
2) It inevitably raises questions to me about the nature of the whole story. What it is that I'm reading. Is there a creature controlling what words I'm actually seeing? Is there a meta-narrative happening in the background of everything? I sincerely doubt it tbh, but I can't help wondering

“What’s the difference?” She asked. “Why can’t a mango berry cause the same reaction as a mago berry?”
Don't think I've ever seen a story approach berries in this way. It's kinda strange though if all the berries that sound like actual fruits exist alongside the real fruit. Razz berries and raspberries... pinap berries and... pineapple berries?

“Psst. Over here!” Tricky quietly beckoned Espurr behind a largish rock, east of Watchog and the stuttering drilbur. Espurr cast a look towards Watchog to make sure he wasn’t keeping an eye on them, then quickly followed.
Watchog must be incredibly unobservant for escaping him to be so easy. Or the room is almost pitch black, but nothing in this passage suggests that.
She cast her eyes to the torch flickering to their right, pouring all her concentration into nudging it. If it was anything like that nut…

Sure enough, after a while, she saw it begin to move. The light dramatically shifted as Espurr’s spirits rose and the torch wavered in midair, illuminating everymon’s faces for one swift second; and then Espurr let it drop and the light was snuffed out.
Again, this scene would be much more interesting if I knew what the torch actually was. As it is I have no idea if it's like an open flame, some sort of gemstone or what.

This chapter had some good moments for sure. What frustrated me the most was something I think I mentioned in my review of your previous chapters, long long ago, but it came to mind again. Espurr doesn't seem proactive enough. Most of the time she's just going along with Tricky. In the scene where Pancham's telling her to go to the dungeon, for example, Tricky basically dictates what she does. Sure, there's some internal regret from Espurr, but that's not really enough. Needs to be more from her. I still don't really know what she's about.

Chapter 4

Did all dungeons have these?

“All dungeons have those,” Tricky said dismissively, once Espurr had asked.
I liked this wordplay.
“What was that?” Tricky whimpered, much of her bravado suddenly lost.
It doesn't happen too much, but be careful not to... overdescribe things in prose. We can see that Tricky's bravado has gone, and it being spelled out to us ruins a lot of the impact.
Espurr was lucky to hear the scampering between the gabite’s thunderous footsteps and terrible roars, and was able to shield her eyes just in time to avoid being blinded by the ember that soared through the crystals and exploded against the back of Gabite’s head.
The gemstone soared free at the last second, whizzing through the air and knocking Gabite’s right foot off its mark. Suddenly sent tumbling to its side, Gabite could only brace for impact as its body clashed against its massive pile of loot. Espurr and Tricky could only stand back and watch in horror as the mountain of gemstones clicked and, and then buried Gabite under an avalanche of shiny red rocks.
I liked Espurr's unusual strategy for fighting, but the whole time I was perplexed by how the emeras... behaved. It seems kinda absurd that using an ember on them is enough to make them break apart with such force that chunks of them can hit other pokemon and really hurt them. Like, are these crystals just really huge? Or really sharp and heavy? The combination of breaking easily yet seemingly being very hard don't match up.
The bag Espurr had been carrying suddenly began to tremble, and there were several muffled shattering sounds from within. Espurr winced at the sound. Those were the gems.
C'mon Espurr, I get you're an understated character but my eyes flew out of my skull when I read this. No reaction to gems mysteriously shattering on their own, other than a wince?
I did like the subsequent explanation though, as I was just as baffled as to what had happened.

I think this was my favourite chapter of the three. It had the most action, most focused narrative. A lot of the dungeon experience was typical early-PMD-story fare, but I don't begrudge you that. I've already spent too long over this review--apologies for being so brief 😅

Chapter 5

only the looming presence of the windmills’ massive vanes.
Well. I learned a new word today.

Archen didn’t have the patience to sit, and didn’t even consider the notion until he noticed he was getting several looks from the few other occupants of the waiting room. One of the windmill’s goliath weathervanes slowly turned over the windows and blotted out all light in the room. When the vane had finished its journey over the window, Archen was sitting near Mawile, with little evidence he had been loitering around in the first place.
This is... a strange passage. The idea that one of the vanes could block out all the light in the room could only work if it was right up against the window - which I don't think is how windmills are usually placed. And the whole passage is, for lack of a better word, just a bit pointless. Archen didn't want to sit down, until he realised that everyone else was, so he did.

“Did you know it’s customary on the Grass Continent to just do your ‘business’ wherever you please?” Mayor Honchkrow asked, after ten seconds of silence had elapsed.
What? Are they savages in the Grass Continent?

Now, now, nothing wrong with maps,” Honchkrow corrected himself. “I love a good map. They make great napkins.
I really liked Honchkrow's cameo here. You got across his slightly rude, no-nonsence manner very well. This was my pick of his dialogue.
“The Expedition Society is not under my jurisdiction,” Mawile’s maw rasped out, raspy and guttural from years of non-use. And if you were ever to meet the ‘mon with that power, you wouldn’t be so arrogant in his presence.

Honchkrow jumped in his seat at the sound of Mawile’s second voice.

“Oh! Silly me,” Mawile stated, hiding the smirk on her face. “It is heads. The back maw has a mind of its own sometimes. I’d be wary of making it angry, if I were you.”
Excellent dialogue again. I personally don't interpret Mawile's back-head as having its own voice, rather just being a mad chompy thing, but hey, I can see it adding another dimension to her character.
One thing was for sure: She wasn’t going into any more dungeons again.
Another prose thing. 'Any more dungeons again' could be shortened by removing either 'more' or 'again'. This kind of excessive word use happens a few times, so just watch out for it.
“Sometimes it’s enjoyable to spend time with other pokemon for a change,” Espurr told her. Tricky looked somewhat dejected.
Damn, brutal from Espurr. Unnecessarily brutal, really. She could have just said they were having a chat.
“Deerling came in and asked me only a minute ago. Writing with your nose can’t be easy, so I said yes.
I mean, that sounds impossible. Though if Deerling has hooves that just exacerbates her problem.
The fact that a number of the kids aren't able to write at all makes me question why any of them should have to. Why not just do all tests aurally? Given that you seem to be sticking to canon on pokemon designs, surely only the bipedal pokemon would be able to hold a pen somewhat naturally. On a broader note it makes me wonder why writing is such an important part of this world at all, as it seems. Typical PMD-universe issues I guess.

Once more, Tricky launched an Ember straight at Espurr. And this time, it didn’t miss its target. Espurr was sent flying, landing a good few feet back against the edge of the blackboard tree.
How exactly would an ember send you flying? It's just a bit of fire, no? Seems more realistic for Espurr to stumble backwards, patting down her fur, or something.
Watchog looked like he wanted to correct a certain honorific, but bit it back for the sake of the class.
Hahaha, excellent. There's a number of subtle quips like this scattered throughout.
A single thought plagued Espurr’s mind as she was carried up into the clinic: What an idiot she had been.
I don't really get this. All Espurr did was try and use an attack. It was hardly her fault that it blew up so spectacularly.
Also, from a pacing perspective, I don't get why this sort of scene only happened now, rather than when Espurr was in an actual mystery dungeon, facing real danger. Sure the gem smashing was fun, but...

“Yeah, I’ll do it.” Watchog muttered. “Happy now? Cheater.”
What did Espurr do to deserve being called a cheater? This seemed like a significant remark for Watchog's character. Previously he'd been authoritative and harsh, but not usually without reason. Here he just looks like an asshole.

Probably the chapter I enjoyed the least, for the simple reason that... well, nothing much happened. There were some details that are significant, like Tricky being revealed to have a second name, her meeting Ampharos, Espurr's failed attack, the stone Lapras that greeted Mawile and Archen. On the last one, I actually forgot about it until I looked back over the chapter just now, which may say something for my attention span, but also, I think, sums up the bloadedness of this chapter. A number of scenes could have been cut or summarised or even shortened without anything of importance being lost. It's not like the writing in any of these scenes are bad - it's consistently good. But good writing is only a fraction of what makes a story.

Overall thoughts? As I said, your writing is good. The characters are all vibrant and well-characterised. Descriptions, where they're given, are solid. What's lacking for me is the plot. At risk of repeating my last review again, I don't think the frequent cuts between Serene Village and Mawile & Archen are a good fit. What Mawile and Archen are dealing with is so much more severe and tonally completely different from the kids. Plus, when their only cameos are in these sporadic scenes, it's hard to feel very attached to them.

And maybe some of this impatience is on me. I've read lots of PMD stories, including adaptations of Super. I know how it goes. Nothing you've done so far has really thrown me for a loop, with the exception perhaps of the dream scene. I want to get out of the comfy school environment and on to real stakes, real character conflicts, just - realness!

If you're going to return to edit these chapters eventually, my main guidance would be simple: cut things. Think about what each scene is attempting to tell the reader. Think about what the reader will be thinking, what they'll be looking forward to as they read. I dunno.

Hope this helps. :) 🎄
 

SparklingEspeon

Resident Nosy Person
Location
*teleports behind you*
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
Oh, you know what else the band of kids coupled with the horror elements reminds me of, somewhat? Stephen King novels. I just sort of had that brain blast during the Goomy segment, and it totally fits. The Foreboding Forest even feels like something that could come straight out of Maine, lol.

OMG Yaasss

I borrowed, like, a crap-ton of stuff from Stephen King, because it just. Fits IMO? But yeah, I was totally going for that Stephen King vibe and I'm so glad someone finally noticed!

Swapping out Nuzleaf for Audino is another major change. I’m assuming the MC won’t show up at all, although now I’m not quite so sure.

:)

Also, is the wind a reference to the divine wind that kicks players out of dungeons? Huh. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen that incorporated into a story. It doesn’t feel out of place, either. Then again, I’ve always thought mystery dungeons are at their most interesting when treated akin to eldritch abominations.

Well, it's far from divine, but yep! Same wind! I'm sad more people haven't tried doing this, so I'm going to take as much advantage of it as I can :wigglyyell:
And same tbh, Mystery Dungeons are eldritch and should be treated as such

Hahaha, Tricky is hilarious. You do a great job capturing the partner pokemon’s obnoxious personality. The way you characterize Deerling gives her more nuance as well. She comes off more, hmmm, condescending compared to the game. It fits. Honestly impressed with how you wrote entirely new scenarios that eschew the game’s start while still capturing the voices of the Lively Town inhabitants perfectly (Watchog is another good example; his reaction to Tricky had me laughing out loud). I feel like that’s surprisingly rare in adaptations.

That's really good to hear! I paid special attention to that because I didn't want them to come off as lifeless/OOC, but I was kind of in the dark about if I'd succeeded for a bit. As for Deerling... I won't say anything, but that's definitely on purpose.

This was a good first chapter. It definitely has that pilot feel to it, and I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for pilot episodes myself. Definitely going to try and circle back around to this story when I can. Have a good day! :)

I'm glad you liked it! I hope the rest of the story is up to the standard the first one set:quag:

---

I hoped to read to the end of Act I, but your fic is longer than I realised >_<

Yeah, no worries. That's a lot to get through lol

C'mon Espurr, I get you're an understated character but my eyes flew out of my skull when I read this. No reaction to gems mysteriously shattering on their own, other than a wince?

Whoops; I keep forgetting to go back and nick that
"Cringed" or "Wilted" is much, much closer to what I was envisioning than "wince". I'll see to fix that.

What? Are they savages in the Grass Continent?

Well. The main idea was that the Grass Continent isn't developed enough for most of its members to be living outside of the forest/forest-like towns. The culture doesn't trend towards luxuries like plumbing systems because they don't actually have them on Grass. Pokemon in the towns are cleaner, though. I can't just drop it because this is a semi-important detail for later! D: Still have to write this in a way that doesn't come off as "Uhh", I suppose >.<

As for the rest there's too much to quote, I'll just put it in bullet points:

- Concerning the plot, this story is essentially designed to be read by arc, not chapter - like those TV shows with 10 episode seasons that are designed to be binged. I'm realizing now this wasn't the greatest decision for a web serial, but it's the main reason I think the plot isn't hitting very hard for these five chapters - everything flying around now is one big setup, and the payoffs begin to start in the next chapter. This is the only arc that's completely like that.
- My main defense for Espurr not being very proactive in these first few chapters is that she's not supposed to be: She's Tricky's foil, who isn't very keen on going into dungeons, and eventually they fall out over it. However... since this was my first time writing something this large scale and I admittedly had no clue how to write Espurr in the beginning, I likely handled this very clumsily/didn't get it through right. I'll see if I can restructure some of the chapters to remedy that - might take care of the bloat too.
- I can promise that the dream is a very important returning setpiece, not something I just threw in because "woo spooky".
- I unfortunately can't do much to alter the Mawile/Archen stuff at this point. It's akin to the B plot of a TV show, and mostly setup for more comprehensive Expedition Society stuff in the second part :V

Either way, I should probably stop ranting now, lol. I'll definitely look into seeing what I can do to combat some of the stuff you pointed out, since those are common issues that others have gone into as well. Not sure how much I can change, though. Thanks for reading, even if it wasn't the best read!
 

K_S

Pokémon Trainer
Electric sheep review

Well this is one way to be dropped into a mystery dungeon setting. Without Mew, or whatever Legend is there to soften the transition/landing between expected and no… It does show the horror of what is basically child abduction, mind wiping, and the like. Thanks for sharing this piece and these were the edits I saw as I was working. Hopefully it helps. I look forward to reading further of Espurr and Audnido’s flight from the creature’s hunting them.

Slowly coming to. Espurr blinked her eyes open wearily.

That’s a lot of “ly” words knocking about first two lines in and so many ways to rehaul “slowly coming to” to get rid of that double ly opening.

Espurr woke in bits and pieces…

Returning to the world of the coherent…


Or even just plug the first line right into the next paragraph…

“the first thing Espurr noticed, as she as she woke, blinking her eyes open weaily, was that…

I’d actually recommend the third option of merging the first sentence into the main body of the paragraph because… well the idea is repeated. We get a sense of grudging acknowledgement of the world and getting sensation data in bits and pieces, which shows the “slowly waking” that the beginning line you’ve set up is trying to emphasize.



Paragraph break down

The first thing she noticed was that she was laying on her back, (because you can’t really do much save lay on our back I’d drop the laying part, just say she’s on her back)

and there was a scent in the air she didn’t like.
(instead of saying … there was a scent… why not describe it? Did it smell like mold, weeks old dirty socks, wet dog, there’s a wide spectrum of unpleasant smells to draw from and plug in)

The second(since she complained about the back and scent wouldn’t this be the third?) thing she noticed was the rushing of the river that she must undoubtably(drop, excessive… or replace. How did she know she was next to it? Water spray wetting her fur, really loud splashing?) have been right next to.

The third thing(
adjust count?) she noticed -

The water getting scene… While I understand you’re establishing tone with Espurr I’d recommend altering the “Like seriously parched. As in her throat was going to die if she didn’t have any water”. Since her throat’s part of her, and if we were going for teen melodrama, I’d recommend stating that “she was going to die” rather than an organ in her body.

The structure of the whole, “the x thing, she noticed” could be altered, yes, it’s a list, but altering how it is written will keep it fresh. Instead of going about “The first thing she noticed, the second thing she noticed, ect” you could spice it up.

EX:

The first thing she noticed,

The second (dropping the she noticed) she heard/whatever sense you want to use to point out the water.

The last.

There’s other ways to tackle this but the above is the easiest and requires the least effort.

Alright, so we’re establishing the lack of knowledge Espurr has over her own body. Clumsiness, calling paws hands, not working, fingers wrong, smaller. It’s nice you showed it in bits and pieces. I’d quibble over the word “hoist” while it meant “to lift” there’s also the added part of “with lifts and pulleys”. There’s also a lot of “water” in the section preceding as well as this paragraph. How about swapping “but getting water took priority” with “but getting a drink” instead?

Ever seen brother bear? I’m getting brother bear vibes from the leaf solution…

She stared at it (her reflection) blankly, trying to decide what to make of it.

Too many it’s “Its” I’d rec adding a description so we know what “it” is.

The real shock, in Espurr’s mind(drop), came when she tried to recall her name. ‘Espurr’ kept coming up when she asked herself what she was, but… that wasn’t her name. In fact, everything that seemed to be floating in the back of her mind;(drop) all her memories, thoughts, fear, doubts… They all slipped away like mirages once she tried to recall them. And the scariest thing was that she never would have noticed if she hadn’t taken a good, hard look at the depths of her mind!

Alright,, we’e got a mind centric section here. Because of that I’d actually drop the first “in Espurr’s mind”, it’s a shock in mind and out of it to have your name dug out and… not replaced with anything. With the next line because we have them slipping away I’d recommend dropping the floating about bit. They’re getting lost, what they were doing before that seems irrelevant to the horror of them getting lost. Now tabbing in how that felt, was it like a straw slucking up the thoughts, reaching for something but getting nothing, akin to like looking into a pit and that stomach flopping vertigo before a fall? That might be something worth elaborating on. The last line is very tonally different than the previous. We have the terror of memories getting wiped and then the tail end of it… sounds almost like a scolding. I think the good hard look might be the issue and I’d almost recommend dropping the whole line. The previous section works fine without it. Or a retool starting on that span I mentioned. Also as the next paragraph has Espurr realizing her mind’s a blank slate it makes the above seem doubly superfluous.

Consider she’s standing still doesn’t that mean the 3 cone heads found her?

The shade of the canopy cast a foreboding darkness over them, leaving them silhouettes.

A lot of thems in one line. Also could be used to mean Espurr too. I’d recommend changing the first to “everything” or “the intruders” or something to that effect. Though going with the second option lets you leave the second “them” without making any other changes.


She wisely stood up and backed herself against the bush, in case she fell into the lake unawares.

While standing up can be a wise move, I don’t think standing can alter the intelligence of anything? I’d drop the “wisely” and if you wish to make it a wise move rehaul the sentence to make it work better. Also, wasn’t it a river a second ago, not a lake?

How were they ugly? And what’s a “binker”, and how can you see a shadow ball in a black spark illuminated room?

Espurr didn’t know how far she ran or for how long, but she didn’t stop, no matter how many times she tripped on her new, shorter legs, until she couldn’t hear the distant beeping and the swish of brushed-apart foliage behind her.

You’ve got a lot of ideas going on in this, and it’s a run on to boot. I’d rec breaking it down, one sentence per idea.

EX: Espurr didn’t know how far she ran or how long but she didn’t stop. No matter how many times she tripped on her new, shorter legs. She ran until she couldn’t hear the distant beeping-

There’s other ways to field this but this routes the easiest.


Unsure as to what had woken her up, she attempted to hone her hearing.

How does honing of hearing work?

…And saw the flash of a light. Espurr snapped awake in horror.

When had she fallen back to sleep?


She watched it blow off, violently rattling the branches of a few trees as it went.


Since it’s highly difficult to see the wind “blow off” I’d recommend focusing on the physical effects, the branches, her fur shifting, ecetera. You’ve got samplings of those ideas in this paragraph and you could just drop the “blow off” section if you want minimal changes needed.





The espurr reached Audino, violently shivering both(drop) from intense cold and sheer terror.

You have two ideas, cold and terror, an “and” between them makes the “both” superfluous.


There was no more time to waste. (Any longer: drop), Audino knew, (and: drop unneeded) the approaching pokemon would be the least of their worries. (add: if they lingered)

“There was no time” and “Any longer” back to back is a bit repetitive. I’d recommend just dropping the “any” section. You can drop the “and” as well. Add on a “if they lingered” at the end and the thought is complete.
 

IFBench

Rescue Team Member
Location
Pokemon Paradise
Partners
  1. custom/chikorita-saltriv
  2. custom/bench-gen
  3. charmander
I'm here to review the prologue and chapter 1 of this!

First of all, I need to say, it's very interesting having Espurr replace the PSMD protagonist! That's sure to have plenty of ripple effects. It's also quite interesting that she doesn't remember being human. Seems the Beeheeyem in this managed to get that memory, too.

Speaking of Espurr, your portrayal of her in this is very good! She feels a lot like how she is in the game, but also having quite a bit more depth than in Super. Having her be disgusted at needing to drink with her tongue was a nice touch early on that showed that Espurr isn't exactly like in canon.

The Beeheeyem are just as terrifying as canon in here, if not even more so. You did an excellent job at painting them as a powerful and dangerous presence by having them use the stone attack right away.

The scene where Espurr was in the tree was very tense, trying to avoid the Beeheeyem while the dungeon winds start to blow. Nicely done.

Very interesting having Audino save Espurr, instead of Nuzleaf. That'll likely also cause a lot of changes down the line, and it'll be interesting having Espurr live with one of the school staff.

I quite like the lore about mystery dungeons in Audino's narration. It establishes rather well how mystery dungeons work in this world and how dangerous they are, and it flows well with the rest of the section.

Overall, the prologue is an excellent introduction to the fic, and entices the reader to keep reading.

The Super partner, or Tricky as they are in this, is an absolute blast, just as much as in canon. You capture her personality perfectly. I could see almost everything that she says being something that the Super partner would say in the game. I absolutely love the rapid-fire questions she says near the beginning of the chapter. That was really good.

The other characters, like Watchog, feel really in-character as well. He'd absolutely reprimand Tricky on calling him just Watchog before he actually tried to help Espurr.

The line about not stealing from Kecleon was a nice touch. I also really like how Espurr worries about Shelmet and Deerling being attacked by the Beeheeyem literally right after meeting the two. That really shows how empathetic she is, and how fearful she is of the Beeheeyem.

The section right outside of Foreboding Forest sets up a lot of intrigue. What happens when a Pokemon is in a mystery dungeon for too long? Why does Deerling seem to have a grudge against Tricky? And just what does Deerling mean by a repeat? You leave just enough clues to piece together an approximation of what might have happened, but not enough to truly know exactly what occured, and I really like that!

You do an excellent job at showing just how scared Goomy is, and paint Foreboding Forest as very fitting to its name.

Heh. Seems like even the other teachers don't like Watchog.

Simipour to the rescue, saving Tricky from detention for the rest of her time in school!

Interesting. Seems Simipour knows about the Beeheeyem.

More intrigue given, with there apparently having been disappearances before.

That bit in the school clinic was a nice way to end the chapter. I quite like how Espurr thought over some of the things that had happened and that she had learned before she went to sleep. Well done.

Overall, a very good chapter that introduces a lot of the cast, sets up the world a bit more, and leaves a lot of questions.

I'll try to review the rest later. I look forward to reading more!
 

zion of arcadia

too much of my own quietness is with me
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. marowak-alola

~\({O})/~

2.

The Dazzling Debut of the Dashing Wanderer!


Hullo, hullo again!

I enjoyed this chapter despite the flaws other people have already mentioned. Tricky's character in particular does a lot to carry it, as she seems to have the most agency out of the children (partially because the focus is on her, of course, but the point stands). I especially loved the oran picking detention scene, and the way the personalities of all the characters bounce off each other, with Goomy and Tricky as standouts. I actually don't mind Espurr's reactiveness, as she's in a situation that naturally calls for reaction over action, and she's also framed as a more cerebral character. As the chapters progress and she gains more footing in the new world, I expect this to change, and even if it didn't, she's balanced out by the likes of Tricky and Ampharos (and Mawile and Archen) who move the plots forward instead.

Watchog's bumbling authoritarianism is still quite humorous to me too, although I do agree with observations made that you perhaps went a little overboard. It also has the unfortunate repercussion of making the rest of the teachers look lax, and you could chalk all this down to perspective--similar to how in, say, Charlie Brown, all the adults are portrayed as unintelligible, yammering feet--but the POV seems too objective to pull off that sort of unreliable narration trick.

We also get another subtle reference at the existence of someone else, perhaps the human MC from the games, having been in the village at one point? The scene with the scarves suggests some sort of tragedy occurred, and given Nuzleaf is nowhere to be found, I'm pretty curious as to what happened. Maybe an accident on Revelation Mountain? Curious. It threads a new, non-game based mystery through the Serene Village portion, while Mawile's segment already starts the stone mystery.

Now's a good time to touch on the nature of subplots, I think. You characterize Mawile's segment as being the B-plot to the "episode". The problem with this is that it conflicts with what the Serene Village portion is trying to be--a story about a group of villagers in a rural part of the world going about their lives. A more fitting B-plot would've been to follow, say, Deerling and Pancham as they deal with some other problem in the village (or put more focus on Ampharos, since he's physically in the area). Something like Game of Thrones, even at its best, did have B-plots in completely different locations, as it was meant to be a grand political story, and the conflict between different nations (and the inhabitants of those nations) was one of the primary draws of the shows. Even then, GoT was often criticized of table setting-->table setting-->major event (episode 9, penultimate episode)-->fallout (finale). You yourself admit you want this story to set out self-contained and then transition into a world wide epic scale, and having the second episode already explore that world wide scale in the B-plot, while the A-plot remains self-contained, creates a jarring sense of dissonance. Hope that makes sense! Keep up the good work!

Listened to the Ad Astra soundtrack while reading. :)

A poem for your hard work:

Bored children floated with faces drained of blood.
The girls in the tax-free shops stood frozen
amid promises of a beautiful life abroad.
Louis Armstrong sang in some upper corner,
a trickle of ignored joy.
Outside, in an unintelligible darkness
that stretched to include the rubies of strip malls,
winged behemoths prowled looking for the gates
where they could bury their koala-bear noses
and suck our dimming dynamos dry.

--Second stanza of "FLIGHT TO LIMBO" by John Updike
 
Chapter 27 - Special Episode II: When The World Was Cold

SparklingEspeon

Resident Nosy Person
Location
*teleports behind you*
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
Content warning: Graphic violence, death.

Chapter27Art.png

~\({O})/~

27.

Special Episode II

When The World Was Cold


~\({O})/~

Then

Mist Continent ~ A Long Time Ago

~Sparkleglimmer~

The world felt like a dream. The interior of her office was gone, replaced by hazy, abstract colors that swirled around without method. For a moment, she lost track of where she was, and the ever-present humming that had always been in the back of her mind faded away. Then she was inexplicably getting out of bed, and the world around her was one she hadn't seen for decades.

Every morning, Sparkleglimmer rose, washed up for the day, ate a hasty breakfast, and walked out into a world that was still repairing itself.

Long ago, when she had been little more than a kit, the Bittercold unleashed a blizzard that covered the Mist Continent. Ships were frozen solid in the harbor, crops that weren't accustomed to sub-zero temperatures were scorched by the cold and spoiled where they stood, and pokemon in their huts slowly froze to death where there weren't enough fire types to share and spread heat.

The Bittercold had been smashed into oblivion by a group of pokemon that Sparkleglimmer didn't meet until much later in life, but the cleanup wasn't something that could be solved in a single day.

The umbreon who managed the Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute was Sparkleglimmer's father. He worked day and night to help right the shattered economy in the wake of the Bittercold disaster. Sparkleglimmer rarely ever saw him, except at his desk in his office, working. Eternally working.

But it wasn't enough. For all its efforts, HAPPI couldn't fix what had been broken on its own.

Soon, the Rescue Team Federation came. An all-powerful organization from the Grass Continent managed affairs on another, and was extending a helping paw to Mist. Organizers and rescue teams from the Federation were soon seen around town, helping out and repairing buildings, warming pokemon up and importing crops to replace the ones that had frozen over, and building shelters for those who no longer had them. Sparkleglimmer knew there had to be a catch of some kind, some huge sum of poke or debt they were racking up for all this help, but it wasn't a subject she or her father ever brought up for long.

And still, it wasn't enough.

Sparkleglimmer went to school like any other pokemon, and walked the streets like any other pokemon, and had peers and teachers like any other pokemon. But everywhere, she saw darkness all around her. In the newspapers, there was talk of murders and looting across the continent; only Paradise was spared. There were shelters, but pokemon were still sitting around aimlessly in the streets, with nowhere to go. 'Mon often disappeared, and bodies were dragged out of alleyways, unceremoniously thrown to the gutter. No-mon liked to say it, but everymon knew not all those pokemon had frozen to death in the streets.

And still, it wasn't enough. More, more, every day. While rescue teams stood by silently with solemn looks on their faces, and turned the dead bodies into campfire fuel to solve the ever-present heat problem. Wasn't their job to stop these things before they happened?

Walking down the street, Sparkleglimmer tripped on a cobblestone—

And fell into Father's lap. She was still small enough to fit in it, not yet evolved. Which meant… she remembered now. She knew this memory.

"Not everymon is as lucky as we are," Sparkleglimmer's father said, casting a wistful look out the window of his study. "Bad things happen. Not every single pokemon can be saved. Not every single pokemon has a house to go back to, or a space lined up for them in those shelters. We just have to save the ones we can, and remember the losses of the ones we couldn't."

A fire crackled and burned loudly in the study, contained to a fireplace where it couldn't reach any of the books or embroidery. The room was lavish and decked out in all the things they'd never needed and most of the things they'd probably never use.

"This house is big," Sparkleglimmer said, curled up in the umbreon's lap. The words were juvenile and didn't come from her, but she mouthed along for reasons she couldn't explain. "Why don't we let pokemon stay in here? So they don't freeze to death out there."

"Maybe we will, if things get worse," the umbreon said. "But there are bad pokemon out there, pokemon who would rob us and do bad things to us even though we sheltered them. And you can't tell which ones they are by just looking. We have to be careful, so we don't let a bad pokemon in our home."

"But why would they do that?" Sparkleglimmer's younger self asked. "Why would they do bad things to somemon who gave them nice things?"

"Many reasons," the umbreon sighed. "Some of them are greedy. Some of them are angry. Some of them would rob us because they don't think they have another choice. Some of them want to hurt us because they don't like us."

"Is that why the pokemon who came from the Grass Continent dragged a pokemon into an alleyway? Were they bad pokemon?"

"What?"

"I saw it yesterday," Sparkleglimmer said. "They dragged a pokemon into an alleyway when they thought no-mon was looking. Then they came back out later and said the pokemon was dead in there."

She looked up at her father.

"Did they kill that pokemon?"

"Perhaps that pokemon was a criminal," the Umbreon said, after a pause. "They must have done something bad for that to happen. If you even saw correctly."

Sparkleglimmer wanted to believe that. Or, she had when she was that age. But one look at her father's distant eyes told her he didn't even believe it himself.

All those years ago… Chalk it up to the innocence of a kit, but she had been stupid not to see right through it at the start.

And still, it wasn't enough.

Slowly, Noe Town rebuilt. The frosty weather never really went away, but soon it was warm enough that pokemon could stroll around without cloaks, and sleeping in the streets was no longer a death sentence. The sight of Rescue Federation ships in the harbor became an everyday staple, and soon overtook the villagers' boats and HAPPI's crumbling navy. Sparkleglimmer lived, grew, and matured.

Now that things were getting better, the pokemon seemed to be getting worse. Passerbys in the street had used to huddle together for warmth, regardless of if they knew the 'mon next to them or not. Now, they kept to themselves and grouched to each other when they had to interact. Bakers and 'mon who had volunteered to make food to feed entire streets of starving pokemon now hid behind their stalls and storefronts and refused to feed starving kits who begged. And the rescue teams who claimed they were working for everymon's good were getting bolder. Sparkleglimmer saw muggings, teams who ganged up on and robbed passerbys just because they could. She wasn't sure if every one of those had been seen through her own eyes or not. There were beatings. She remembered taking a different route home when she saw those. The alleyways became the place you went to die—sometimes against your own will.

And still, it wasn't enough.

She had always turned the other cheek then; she had to. She was the daughter of the director of HAPPI, maybe the future director of HAPPI, and whatever she did would affect her father's deal with the Rescue Federation and maybe even the Mist Continent's future. As much as it pained her to look away like everymon else, she had to. Even her father looked away in shame whenever she brought it up.

"There's nothing we can do," he mumbled. She only heard his voice, as if recalled on command. "We need their help. We're not strong enough to stand on our own yet."

One day, the straw broke.

Sparkleglimmer was walking on her way home from school when she saw what looked like a set of claws jutting out of the alleyway. It looked like another pokemon that had died, or been left for dead there, and that wasn't any of her business. She did her best to ignore it as she walked towards the alleyway intersection, but couldn't bring it in her to turn away. Then she noticed that the claws were moving.

It wasn't obvious. She wouldn't have even noticed if she hadn't been watching all that time. But on closer inspection, they were indeed twitching ever so slightly. Then, in a flash, they vanished. Dragged straight back into the alleyway. The motion caught Sparkleglimmer by surprise. It was like she had been possessed—before she knew what she was doing, she had bolted into the alleyway after the pokemon.

The alley was at a slant, and freezing cold water pooled at the bottom. Sparkleglimmer kicked it up behind her as she ran. It splashed against her bushy tail and soaked the bottom of her bag. A sentret was being pulled back into the alleyway, almost unconscious… by none other than the rescue team that was supposed to watch over this area.

"Hey!" Sparkleglimmer called out, getting the attention of the team's two members—a combusken and a politoed. "What are you doing with that pokemon?"

The combusken looked up at Sparkleglimmer. He dropped one of the sentret's limp legs in the alleyway muck, standing up and giving Sparkleglimmer his full attention.

"None of your business, kit," he said. "Go home."

"I'll… I'll report you to your supervisor!" Sparkleglimmer said. She made it up on the spot. She wouldn't have even known where to start.

What was she doing?

"Ain't gonna do nothing," the combusken said with a shrug. "Our supervisor doesn't care. You're best off pretendin' you never saw any of this. Otherwise…"

A quick gleam of the combusken's claws made an unspoken point. They flashed downward, slicing off the sentret's bag—

Sparkleglimmer charged forward, ramming into the combusken with all her force. The pokemon went flying back a few feet, then hit the ground on his talons. He ran forward and swiped Sparkleglimmer across the head. The force of the blow sent Sparkleglimmer flying back. She landed disgracefully in the dirty, freezing water. She had never been in a battle before; her vison blurred from pain. She shivered from the cold, and the cut on her head from the combusken's talons stung so much she wanted to bury her head in the water too. But then she saw the combusken and the politoed wringing out and dividing everything that sentret had in its bag. She saw the sentret on the ground, breathing limply and trying to stay alive the same way she was. She couldn't. It was too late to back out now. She just needed the strength…

Strength suddenly filled her, energy reserves her body had never tapped into before brimming to the surface. She stood back up, noisily shaking off the water that had stuck to her coat.

The combusken and the politoed looked over to see the eevee standing up, her fur and mane sopping wet. She growled in their direction, taking a single step towards them.

"You really just don't know what's good for you, do you?" the combusken sighed. "Look, I don't want two dead bodies reported today, that's a lot of paperwork. Just be on your way, and none of us will ever talk about this again."

It was too late for that. Sparkleglimmer's coat began to shine and spark with bright white energy, and she lunged forward—

—The combusken's claws collided with her face again, knocking the momentum out of her. The white energy of evolution surged out of her fur and into the air, the force of it knocking the combusken back far into the alleyway. He crashed against a wall, crumpling to the ground in a dazed heap.

Sparkleglimmer landed on her paws, her injuries healed and feeling better than ever. White strands of energy curled up into the air and dissipated. But there was no time to think. The politoed who had been taking advantage of the commotion to pickpocket from his partner's share of the loot now lunged towards her, preparing to pummel her to the ground.

The next minute passed without much conscious thought from Sparkleglimmer. She propelled herself forward, latched onto the poliwrath's face with her claws, and clawed out his eyes, sending him staggering back against the wall with his hands on his face. The combusken charged her, but she kicked one of Sentret's belongings at him with her hind legs. It whacked him straight in the head and knocked him unconscious. Then she attacked Poliwrath whiLe he was down.

By the time clear reasoning returned to her, the two members of the team were lying unconscious in the alleyway, with enough cuts and scrapes on their body that they looked like they could have been dead already. The sentret was, thankfully, unharmed, but the gravity of what had just happened was finally hitting Sparkleglimmer. Assaulting a rescue team… The injuries would heal with a few days of rest, but she could land jail time for that. She had to get out of here, and fast—

"Hey! What are you doing?"

Sparkleglimmer looked back in the direction of the voice, which had come from the mouth of another rescue team member. Two of them, a houndoom and a snover, stood at the entrance of the alleyway. The snover pointed a limb at her in accusation. Sparkleglimmer spared a quick glance at the crumpled remains of the rescue team she had just beat up, then hastily tried to make herself look like she hadn't just beaten the both of them up.

"I-it's not what it looks like!" she pleaded, but the houndoom and snover weren't having it.

"It looks to me like you just beat up that rescue team over there," the snover grunted. They moved closer, taking attack stances as they went.

"I… I…" Sparkleglimmer wanted to plead innocent, but she wasn't. "They were robbing that sentret!"

She backed away as the rescue team advanced, looking around frantically for the sentret. She caught the last glimpse of its bushy tail snaking around the corner. It was running away.

The rescue team advancing showed no understanding or mercy to her pleas. Sparkleglimmer was scared and frantic, and decided her best option was to run. So she took off, bolting down the other side of the alleyway and out of sight.

She scurried out into a street she didn't recognize and ran in a random direction. Where she was going, she wasn't sure. She just needed to get away.

"Get that eevee!"

Another rescue team bounded out into the street after her, upsetting passerbys and quickly gaining ground. She glanced back; they were a haunter and a glalie. Another glance, and the haunter was quickly disappearing into the wall of a building. Sparkleglimmer ran faster, weaving through pokemon and stalls as she ran. Now she was back on the street she had been walking on in the first place, she could get home from here—

Eevee's paws suddenly pushed up against thin air, and her momentum screeched to a halt. In that split second, the memory became just a memory, and suddenly Sparkleglimmer was watching the haunter pick her up from the eyes of another. The eevee struggled and thrashed and cried out for help, but the haunter ran its free hand through her neck. Sparkleglimmer suddenly felt her throat lock up, taken off-guard by a sudden sensation of sheer cold running through it.

"Gotcha," the haunter breathed as it held up the now silent eevee. "You're coming with us."

Sparkleglimmer watched as the rescue team carried off the screaming and pleading eevee in broad daylight, and not a single pokemon in the area lifted a paw to stop them.

Then the haunter's icy grip around her scruff dissolved, and the scenery of Noe Town looked more and more like the distant eye at the end of a telescope. The next thing she knew, she was looking at a barred jail window that was far too high for her—younger self, she had to remember, though it was getting harder—to reach.

The jail was somehow colder than the streets. Sparkleglimmer lay curled up in the middle of her cell in a little ball, awaiting judgement. There were pokemon guarding her and all the other prisoners, and sometimes 'mon would come in and out, but she hadn't listened to what they had to say. At least they'd been courteous enough to give her a cell to herself; every other cell was packed with multiple prisoners of every breed and size. Most of them looked just as shocked to be there as she did.

Then the pokemon she simultaneously wanted to see the most and least stepped in front of the cell. Sparkleglimmer looked up to see Father standing in front of the cell doors. He looked down at her; she could barely stand to meet his eyes for more than a minute.

"Release her."

Sparkleglimmer could tell from the guards' stances that they looked taken aback by the idea.

"We can't do that, sorry. These are prisoners of the Rescue Team Federation."

"I said release her," the Umbreon repeated, his tone both louder and harsher. "Who do you think pays the Rescue Team Federation's bills?"

The guards immediately looked cowed.

"…Do you have the right paperwork?" one of them finally found it in them to ask.

"Where do I go to get the right paperwork?" Umbreon asked them.

"I'll get you a form," the guard said, stepping away from the cell.

The half hour her father spent filling out all the necessary forms for Eevee's release had been one of the worst half hours of her life. She felt it all over again—the pain, the shame, the cold. She didn't know why. Why was she seeing this now, again? Hadn't once been enough?

Sparkleglimmer wouldn't take it anymore. The onslaught of feelings that had once been her own, but weren't anymore, were too much now. Defying the memory, she stood up in her cell

But found herself back in Father's manor instead. The dining room was candle-lit, and it was dark out. She knew this memory.

"Sit down."

Sparkleglimmer took a seat at the small wooden table, opposite Father. Unlike everything else in her house, the table had never been fancy; it was only ever needed to feed three, then two. A bowl of now-cold soup sat in front of Sparkleglimmer. She looked down at it but couldn't find it in herself to be hungry.

"Eat."

On Father's command, Sparkleglimmer reluctantly took a lap of the soup, then realized how tired and hungry she actually was. Before she knew it the soup was gone. Father's stare had not brightened in the least.

"Words cannot express how disappointed I am with you today."

The words weren't angry. They were calm, undertoned with something Sparkleglimmer could only read as disappointment.

"They were dragging a pokemon into the alleyway," Sparkleglimmer said. "They were going to kill it."

"Do you realize how much this jeopardizes our relationship with the Rescue Federation?" Father asked. "Do you know how much of the soup in that bowl was paid for by them?"

Sparkleglimmer gingerly pushed the empty tin bowl away.

"We have no chance of surviving without the Federation's help," Father said. "And now you've just put one of their teams in the infirmary. Our good relations might not recover from this."

"Good!" Sparkleglimmer suddenly exclaimed, filled with anger. Unlike everything else, it was anger she shared now. "Why would you want to keep them around! They do so much bad here!"

"And they do so much more good elsewhere," Father said. "Because of them half the pokemon in this town are fed and warm. More don't have to worry about not having jobs or children to go back to tomorrow. Things aren't that good on the rest of the continent."

"But you're just going to look away from all the bad stuff that's happening?" Sparkleglimmer asked.

"We only have their help if we look away!" Father snapped, stunning Sparkleglimmer into silence. "It is my responsibility to make sure this continent survives, and I will do whatever it takes for that to happen. With your recklessness, you have just risked every life on the Mist Continent. Do you understand the gravity of your actions?"

Stunned silent, Sparkleglimmer's younger self nodded without a peep.

"So you don't care if they mistreat pokemon," she eventually concluded.

Father slumped into his seat with a sigh. But he didn't answer. What can I do?

"Did the sentret live?" he asked after a minute.

"It got away," Sparkleglimmer said. She didn't know if it lived or not.

Father nodded. He didn't say anything else for a few more minutes.

"The money I used to pay your bail fee should have gone to the Federation this month. It was the last payment in our reserves before we have to start selling things."

"What?" Sparkleglimmer asked. She'd seen how Father was stressed lately, the dimness of his rings and the paperwork piling up in his office, but she hadn't known anything like that was going on.

"You heard me," Father said. "Next month, I'll have to start selling HAPPI over to the Federation to cover the costs."

In that instant, Sparkleglimmer's world as it was back then crumbled around her, plunged into a life under an organization she despised from the bottom of her heart. "You're going to…" she tapered off, looking up at him in horror. "Didn't you just say it was your responsibility to keep everymon on this continent alive?"

"That's what selling HAPPI will do," Father said. "The paperwork for the transition will be signed next week, not that there's much left but our name. Just… try not to get involved more."

The next memory, Sparkleglimmer knew too.

Sitting in her bed, staring up at the ceiling. Reminiscing, as what should have been a night of triumph instead rang hollow. She'd won a battle, but doomed the war in the process without even knowing it. And even so… had what she'd done really been so wrong? Was that just how the world worked? If there was just a way to make this all right…

Sparkleglimmer's younger self slowly drifted to sleep amongst those thoughts, and her dreams were icy and cold. But Sparkleglimmer didn't follow. She watched the dark bedroom around her dissolve, the walls turning to dust and fluttering away in a wind that had come from nowhere, until all that was left was

A sea of blackness. Sparkleglimmer picked herself up from where she lay, looking around. There was nothing, nothing but black everywhere. Her paws were submerged in water, but when she lifted them out they were dry.

Where was she?

Hello.

Sparkleglimmer jumped, looking around to see where the voice had come from. She couldn't see it clearly, but something that looked darker than the rest of the blackness around her slunk off into the shadows. It was massive, and yet Sparkleglimmer got the feel she'd only caught a tiny corner of it.

"Who are you? Where is this?" she asked, unable to keep the fright out of her voice.

Me? I am the little voice that lives in your head. And this is my humble abode.

"What do you want with me?" the eevee asked.

You misunderstand.

The voice swirled all around her, a raspy howl that came from all sides at once like a vortex.

It is not what I want from you, but rather what I can give you. You desire a way to save your father's organization, yes?

Sparkleglimmer remained suspicious. This might be the work of a hypno, or a gengar haunting her dreams. But even so, the likelihood of that was so low she was hesitant to even consider it a possibility.

"K-keep talking," she said, her voice leveling out. As preposterous as it was, she had to be strong, in case this really was her lucky break. "What are you proposing?"

I know a secret. On an isle forgotten and forsaken by monkind, lies a treasure that is the most valuable thing in the world. Obtain this treasure, and you can save your father's organization. I can guide you there.

"And what do you get out of it?" Eevee asked. This all seemed too good to be true. There had to be a catch.

I want…

The voice paused.

I wish to feel the real world once more. Only can I see it through the eyes of others, and they do not go where I wish to see. Allow me inside your head, so that I may see once more. No harm will befall you from me while I am there. I will guide you towards the treasure that can save you all.

Every instinct, every lick of common sense, said not to do it. Not to accept the shady proposal from the strange voice inside her head. But she couldn't bring herself to just say no. If this was the way out of the situation they were in, and she turned it down…

Do we have a deal?

"Yes," Sparkleglimmer said, spitting the word out as if she were gasping for breath. "Yes. Yes, I accept your deal.

"You better not be lying about this," she added after a moment. It was a feeble threat, but the best thing she could think to say.

Then from now on, we are one.

The blackness began to swirl around her. Slowly at first, then faster, and faster, and faster, until it was spinning around her like a waterspout. The darkness converged in on her all at once, worming its way into her eyes and ears and nose until she couldn't breathe and then she blacked out—

Sparkleglimmer tumbled out of bed, retching. Her eyes flew open, glancing at the morning sun through her bedroom window.

Once the coughing passed, she was able to pull herself back up to her paws. She didn't feel any different than she had yesterday. Perhaps it really was a dream after all. The prospect stirred both relief and melancholy in her.

Hello.

Sparkleglimmer jumped sky-high, barely containing a shriek. She looked around for anymon who might have been hiding the room to say that, but saw no-mon.

Relax. It is only I.

The voice came from inside her head. Sparkleglimmer quickly regained her bearings, but her heart only beat faster.

"It… it was real."

It came on as cold realization, rather than shock or terror. Sparkleglimmer couldn't find it within her to be scared.

Indeed. Ready to begin?

Before Sparkleglimmer could answer, it already had. She had left school early, on the premise of injuring her leg yesterday. Once she was sure she was out of sight, she ran down to the harbor without any hesitation.

You must go alone. Tell no-one. Let no-one see you. Not another pokemon can know about this except you.

The Rescue Team Federation essentially owned the Noe Town Harbor at this point. The docks were filled with Federation boats, and while other 'mon were allowed to park their boats there, few did.

If they even had the luxury of owning a boat.

Bring something to cut. Something to cut through stone.

There were tools aplenty in the harbor boxes. They were all owned by the Rescue Federation on penalty of jailing if stolen (like all other Rescue Federation property), but Sparkleglimmer reckoned they wouldn't miss a tool here or there. She nicked a paw-friendly rock-chipping tool, the largest one that would fit in her tattered bag.

After scrounging around in the harbor for a bit, she finally found her boat.

It was an old, abandoned lifeboat with a sail, probably not one reliable for more than a day's voyage in its current condition. But it was small enough that few 'mon would notice if it went missing for a day.

This boat is satisfactory.

"But isn't it a bit… old?" Sparkleglimmer batted the boat's mast, chipping a splinter off with her paw. "I don't think the wood's even reliable anymore."

You will need a small boat, one you can sail yourself. This one will hold up, so long as you use it carefully.

"If you say so…" Sparkleglimmer's voice dripped with uncertainty, but she began to silently climb in the boat all the same.

"Hey, what are you doing?!"

Sparkleglimmer looked behind her to see yet another Rescue Federation member approaching the boat.

"I'm just looking!" she called out with a false sense of cheer, hoping it sold the lie.

"Just lookin', hmm?" The croconaw gave her an unconvinced stare. "Well, if tha's all it is. The boats here require a 100 poke fee to use."

"100 poke fee?" Sparkleglimmer asked. "Says who?"

"Says us," the Crononaw retorted proudly.

"But this isn't your boat," Sparkleglimmer said. "It doesn't have your fancy badge on it. Why are you charging fees for using something that doesn't belong to you?"

"Honey, we own the harbor," the Croconaw said dismissively. "Who's gonna stop us? Now pay up, or get ou'."

Sparkleglimmer didn't have any pocket money on her. At the same time, she wasn't just leaving. And she sure wasn't going to pay a fee they had no right to impose.

Touch her.

"What?" Sparkleglimmer asked aloud. Running up and touching somemon out of the blue was a good way to get arrested again; she couldn't just do that!

"Don't tell me you don't have pocket change," Croconaw said in response.

Do it.

Sparkleglimmer gulped. But all the same, she bolted forwards. She was fast, and before the croconaw knew what hit her, she had pressed her paws firmly against the croconaw's arms. Black sparks crackled and zoomed around her paws, and suddenly the croconaw went limp in front of her.

Sparkleglimmer stumbled back, barely finding her balance against the boat's side. She held up her paws in front of her, looking for any traces of black sparks that were long gone. What was that?

The croconaw still hadn't moved. Sparkleglimmer began to lose her cool. What if this couldn't be undone? That would mean she'd… And just after…

"What did you do?" she angrily questioned the voice in her head.

This is the power I am lending you. It is the power of suggestion.

"What does that m-mean?" Sparkleglimmer stuttered.

Must I explain everything?

Sparkleglimmer nodded forcefully.

"Yes. Yes, you must explain everything."

You can hypnotize pokemon.

That simple explanation made much more sense. Not that anything that had happened today made much sense, but Sparkleglimmer would take it. Hesitantly, she walked up to the limp croconaw, and drew a deep breath.

"This boat is ours," she spoke firmly. "You don't have the right to charge us a single coin."

To her surprise, there was no outburst or protest from the croconaw that was standing limply in front of her like a zombie. Instead, she nodded vaguely, like her head was somewhere distant and far away.

"Sounds about righ'. Sorry for buggin' ya."

With that, the pokemon shuffled away from the boat, returning to her usual self soon afterwards. She didn't even seem to notice Sparkleglimmer was there.

Sparkleglimmer looked down at her paws in awe. They looked like normal paws, all the black sparks from earlier gone. In the back of her mind, something stirred that this wasn't right, that something about this was all horribly wrong, but she drowned that thought. If it was going to save Father, then it didn't matter how horrible it all ended up being.

"Power of suggestion, huh?" she mumbled to herself.

Use it wisely.

The small sailboat brushed through the waves and the fog. It wasn't far out from land, only a few hours' sail, but the waters were perilous. Jagged rocks jutted out from the seascape almost everywhere, just waiting to carve a hole into a boat's hull, and the ambient mist hanging over the water made them almost impossible to see. Taking a big ship out here was asking for it to be sunk—the Rescue Federation's large galleons didn't come close.

Sparkleglimmer's younger self carefully sailed the boat around the rocks, making sure not to get too close and risk sinking. She had never fancied vaporeon as a future evolution prospect.

"What am I looking for, again?" she asked to the voice in her head. "I don't see an island here."

Have faith. You'll see it soon.

It was like the voice could read everything in her head, even the lingering thoughts in her back of fear and uncertainty. She tried not to think about that.

You must get closer first.

It must have meant the fog, Sparkleglimmer figured. The boat floated on for a few more minutes, being maneuvered through perilous rocks and choppy waves. Despite all the fantastical things that had happened in the past few hours alone, the longer Sparkleglimmer went without seeing anything, the more faith she lost. How much longer could this go on for before it became fruitless?

Then she saw it. Slowly becoming clearer through the fog was the outline of a large piece of land. Trees grew despite the cold weather, and as Sparkleglimmer's boat drifted closer, she began to see the beginnings of the island's beach.

Did I not tell you to have faith?

Sparkleglimmer puffed out her cheeks in defeat.

"Touché."

Before long, the boat was docked. Sparkleglimmer walked up onto the island, glancing around at the clearing all around her. The island was a large sandy plateau barely above the waters around it. Trees and foliage lined the sides and borders of the island, but once she had crept past the beach, everything natural came to a halt. The ground became a bed of smooth, flat, blue-grey rock, and nothing grew past its borders. Sparkleglimmer pawed the ground hesitantly, disliking how it felt against her feet.

"Now what am I supposed to look for?" she asked.

It is right in front of you.

There it was, in the distance in front of her. A single pillar, just about twice as tall as she was.

Sparkleglimmer laboriously dragged a small crate from the boat over to where the pillar was. It jutted out of the ground like a monolith rectangle, slanting at the top. She hopped up on the crate to see what was at the top. There were only a pair of small, flat squares, placed diagonally to each other on the board. Sparkleglimmer tilted her head.

"That's it. That's all there is."

But there was no response from the voice. Perhaps the answer was obvious.

With her paw, she moved one of the small card-like objects forward, watching as the other one moved in tandem with the one she was pushing. The cards clicked into their own new positions, and suddenly the ground began to rumble around her.

The crate Sparkleglimmer was standing on trembled, and she couldn't keep her balance on it. She fell off, barely landing on her feet. Once she did, she ran back several good meters away from the stand.

"What's happening?" she asked. "What did that do?"

Calm down. It's appearing.

A fissure split in the ground ahead of Sparkleglimmer. The ground was parting like a cavernous mouth below her, and all she could see inside it was lightless black.

Stay in one place. Otherwise I shall force you to.

The fissure spread throughout the ground, creating a hole large enough to subsume the entire island. Sparkleglimmer's instincts took over – it didn't matter what the strange voice that had popped up in her head only last night tried to tell her, she needed to get out of here before the hole consumed her too. She tried to turn tail and run, but found herself rooted to the ground in one place. No matter how she tried to tug them, her paws wouldn't move. Was this the Voice's doing?

If the Voice could read her thoughts, it didn't answer.

The crack in the ground got closer and closer to Sparkleglimmer. She fruitlessly tugged at her paws, but couldn't move an inch. Sparkleglimmer closed her eyes, hoping she wouldn't have to view her demise as the rumbling around her got louder…

But nothing happened. The ground split apart but ended right where Sparkleglimmer's paws stood. The rumbling dissipated around her, leaving her completely intact.

You can open your eyes now. I have released you.

Blistering heat washed over Sparkleglimmer from all sides, making her swelter in her long shaggy coat. It was suddenly like being in a desert. She opened her eyes to see that the island wasn't so empty anymore. Where the large stone clearing had once been, sat a mass of rock that was red as crimson and hot as a torkoal's back. It stretched up towards the sun, as high as Sparkleglimmer could see, ending in a small point way up in the sky. Glowing orange veins pulsed through the rock, probably every bit as hot as they looked.

Sparkleglimmer took an instinctive step back.

"What is… that…" she asked.

Start digging.

As much as she didn't relish the idea of getting close to the mountain and probably singing half her mane off, she hadn't come here to leave empty-pawed. She walked back to the boat, and grabbed the digging tool she'd left in her schoolbag.

It took an hour just to carve off a piece of the mountain's wealth. But after a day of digging, when the sun was finally beginning to set in the sky, several pieces of land lay before her. They reflected the setting sun like gemstones, each one taking on a different color of hue. The Voice didn't say a thing. Perhaps it was obvious what she was supposed to do with them anyway, Sparkleglimmer reckoned. The stones went into her bag, along with the now-battered and dull pickaxe.

The pillar had moved out from where it had been before the mountain's appearance, now standing right outside where the beach was. Sparkleglimmer wasn't entirely sure when or how it had moved. But with a flick of the mysterious card back to where they had originally been, the island began to shake once more, and the red mountain began to sink right back down into the ground.

Sparkleglimmer boarded the boat with her sack of gems, but suddenly, it was the front door of Father's manor.

Night had long since fallen. She stood at the steps of the well-lit house, ready to open the door and be greeted with a warm dinner and bed. But first there was a conversation to have, and she was both excited and scared to have it.

The cold air, though a welcome change from the sweltering heat of that mountain, was already beginning to nip her tail. She looked back at the dark, misty harbor, which had since been consumed by the night fog. There was no point delaying it any longer. She opened the door of her house, and walked in.

"I'm home!" Sparkleglimmer called out.

Father was poring over a bunch of papers at the wooden table. Sparkleglimmer sat up on it, watching him go through them all for a bit. He didn't seem to have even noticed she had walked in the door.

"Dad," she said a little louder, catching his attention. Father looked up from all his papers, settling his weary eyes on her for a bit.

"You're late back from school today," he said.

"Yeah…" Sparkleglimme responded. "Sorry."

"Did something happen?" Father asked.

Sparkleglimmer was silent for a minute. How best to break the news to him… ?

"You said there were pokemon coming to buy HAPPI in a week, right?" she asked.

"Yes," Father answered.

"And they're doing that because you can't pay them, right?"

"Yes." Another flip of the papers, and a new page of paperwork was being signed.

"But if you had something valuable that you could use to get enough money to pay them, would you be able to?"

"If we pulled the money out of a hatterene's frills, yes," Father said. "But there's no money like that." He looked at her once more. "What is this about?"

Sparkleglimmer set her heavy bag on the table, and dumped it out. All the gemstones fell onto the table with various clinks and clunks.

"Is this valuable enough to get the money?" she asked.

Father's expression was slack in something resembling shock.

"Where did you get this?" was all he could pull himself together enough to ask.

"I… found it in the gutter?" Sparkleglimmer offered up. Father didn't buy it for one minute.

"This is important," he said. "Where did you find it? Answer me."

Sparkleglimmer told him the parts that counted, like going to the island and hacking the piece off the mountain she found there. There were several holes in her story, and she got the feeling Father didn't believe her, but at the end all he could do was stare down at the stone in astonishment.

"Can you get… more of these from this mountain?" he asked.

"It's a whole mountain," Sparkleglimmer responded. "I couldn't even see the top of it, that's how big it was!"

Father sat in thought for a moment, gazing down at the stone in front of him.

"I know a 'mon on the air continent who would pay a lot for stones like this," he said. "If we can get more of these and sell them, maybe we could get the money to keep us afloat after all."

"Then it's a plan," Sparkleglimmer said, a tone of glee beginning to seep into her voice.

"But I need you to take me to this island tomorrow," Father said. "I want to see where you got these myself."

Sparkleglimmer stopped. Could she do that?

She didn't see any reason not to.

Was it alright by the Voice?

There was no answer.

"I'll take us there tomorrow," she said.

The Voice in the back of her head was suspiciously quiet the whole time.

All of the sudden it was day, and Sparkleglimmer was alone at the table. In front of her was a bowl of what looked like meat. She vaguely recalled that meat wasn't something they had often, and that the corners of the walls around her looked fuzzy, not quite real. But today was an important day, and she didn't have time to sit around and enjoy it. So as Sparkleglimmer once again was lost to her memories, her younger self scarfed down the meat as fast as she could and ran for the window.

The waters of the Noe Town Harbor were parted by a very large hull. The stern of a grand ship with tall masts and billowing green sails floated into the harbor, dwarfing the other galleons that had become staples for years. The Copperjah flew the flag of the Rescue Federation.

An envoy travelled up from the harbor to the manor. Sparkleglimmer saw them approach from the window. She took her place by Father, trying to look as formal as she could.

Soon, they were at the gates. An empoleon strode forward, flanked by a pair of scizor.

"Pleased to make your acquaintance," he said, extending a flipper. Father couldn't shake, but he bowed his head in greeting.

"Yours too," he said.

None of it was anything beyond formal pleasantries.

"Please. Lead the way." The empoleon gestured to the door gracefully with his flippers.

He is currently thinking about how nice it would be to have this all over with.

That didn't surprise Sparkleglimmer. She didn't like the vibes she got off him anyway. But as the empoleon followed Father into the house, he glanced back at her.

"Are you just going to stay out in the yard where it's cold?" he asked, with a smile that did everything but make Sparkleglimmer feel at home.

Sparkleglimmer didn't say anything. Anything to prolong this interaction was bad news. She hung her head down, and trotted inside the house.

But they were already inside.

"I'm here because I'm aware your finances have run dry."

The empoleon sat at the bare wooden table for three, opposite Father. The scizor stood guard at the doorway, emotionless. Sparkleglimmer glanced at them from her position off to the side.

"What're they thinking?" she asked the Voice in her head in a hush.

They have no interest in being here outside of being paid.

"As you know," the empoleon continued with that same false grin on his beak, "the partnership between the Rescue Federation and HAPPI revolves around monthly installments of payment. Without that payment, the Federation would suffer financial hits from the resources we are currently devoting to the restoration of the Mist Continent. We'd be forced to recede; the partnership would fall apart. You know neither of us want that."

He pulled a paper out from under his flipper and passed it over to Father. It was a sheet of paperwork. "However, that can change.

"With HAPPI as a part of the Rescue Federation, you'd receive our aid and teams without monthly payments. And all at the low, low cost of signing this paper." The paper slid towards Father, pushed by the Empoleon's flipper.

"I value this partnership," he added for finality. "I don't come out to oversee every deal like this. Impress me."

Father took a deep breath, then sighed. He closed his eyes, and was silent for a minute.

He doubts your plan.

It was the longest minute of Sparkleglimmer's life. She could do nothing but sit and watch, and hope Father made the right decision in the end.

Father's eyes opened. He put his paw on the paper, and pushed it back towards Empoleon.

"I should tell you that we made our monthly payment to the Rescue Federation last night."

"What?" the empoleon said, his demeanor changing in an instant. "Your letter said—"

"It was a last minute change," Father said. "It turned out, we did have some unused money sitting around."

"But you won't have that money next month, will you?" the empoleon asked, regaining his beat almost instantly. "Why not cut to the chase now and remove the stress of the next monthly deadline? You will of course receive this months' payment back as a refund."

"The purpose of the partnership between our two organizations was to help restore the Mist Continent to its former glory," Father said. "We value all the work and effort the Rescue Federation has put into that goal. But merging the two organizations isn't part of the deal."

The empoleon exhaled. It was a sigh of thinly veiled frustration and annoyance. He slid the paper back towards Father.

"Keep it. If you even change your mind, you know how to contact me."

He got up from his seat at the table, heading for the door. The scizor guards followed him out.

Sparkleglimmer watched from the window as the ship prepared to set sail from the harbor, leaving almost as quickly as it had arrived. She closed the drapes, walking back over to the table. Father looked down at the paper Empoleon left, and shelved it.

She would rather he have cast it in the fireplace.

Life got better for Mist in the coming year.

The crystals that came from the mountain were incredible sources of power that could be fashioned into anything from evolution stones to power sources for moves in battle. With the discovery of this new powerful resource, wealth began to flood into Mist. Travelers from afar were coming to Noe Town to look at and buy the mysterious 'Z-crystals', and the Mist Continent slowly began to right itself.

One day, HAPPI received a letter from Pokemon Paradise.

Pokemon Paradise was the establishment created by the heroes who had saved Mist. They had been the talk of every town on the continent within the past ten years, and Paradise was one of the only places on the continent that hadn't fallen into ruin from the outset. In the time between the initial crisis and the present, the place had merged with Post Town next to it, and grown from a small team base into a fledging city.

"What's the letter say?" Sparkleglimmer asked, hopping up onto the table for two and glancing down at the letter as Father read it.

Father sat it down. "Pokemon Paradise wants a partnership."

"You mean that famous town on the other side of the continent?" Sparkleglimmer asked. Father nodded.

"And are you going to make one?"

"There's no good reason not to," said Father. "We can finally start establishing open roads through the continents again, with their help."

It sounded well and good, but something was missing. Sparkleglimmer read between the lines, then asked: "What do they want out of it? Did they say?"

Father gave her the ever-weary look he'd always worn on his face for as long as she could remember, like it was obvious.

"Z-crystals."

What came next felt to Sparkleglimmer like it was fast-forwarded through, full of spots and hazy as if she wasn't supposed to see it. She was slipping deeper, deeper, deep enough that she could barely remember who she was and much less comprehend what she was seeing. For a time, it felt like she ceased to exist.

This was bad. This was very bad.

Empoleon didn't consider himself to be one easily upset by the going-ons of other guild organizations. There were rivals and there were compromises, sure. The Archeology Division on the Sand Continent had somehow managed to claim territory over the entire continent and maintain its borders, and they were wealthy to boot. The Rescuer's Guild on the Air Continent had often threatened to separate from the Federation if it didn't have its way on certain matters. Empoleon bent and swayed where was necessary, and didn't pay it more mind than he needed to.

But this HAPPI, which he wasn't going to take the time to learn the full name of, bothered him. They were pulling evolution stones and valuable rocks out of their tails, and were gaining wealth and power at an alarming rate. In just a few years, the Mist Continent was thriving again, and the Rescue Federation had slowly been shoved out of the continent as HAPPI got back on its feet.

To think Empoleon had once planned to procure the Mist Continent under his control. With three of the five continents under Federation jurisdiction, he would have held a monopoly in the Federation's line of field, one that would be maintained for many generations to come. Now it looked like he was on track to not only lose the Mist Continent, but have his jurisdiction over the Air and Grass Continents challenged as well. This was unacceptable. He had to do something, anything.

But what?

Kill him.

Empoleon blinked. Where had that thought come from?

Kill him.

There it was again. Empoleon tensed up, ready to call the guards outside into his room at a moment's notice.

"Who am I speaking to?" he asked loudly to the empty room.

I am the little voice that lives inside everyone's head. And I think you should kill him.

"Kill who?" Empoleon asked, lowering his voice for that one. No matter the circumstance, murder was not something he wanted broadcasted to every pokemon down the hall. "And why should I listen to you?"

You should kill the leader of HAPPI. That umbreon who rejected your gracious proposal a year ago. As for why… If you do not do something now, HAPPI will grow strong enough to consume your organization. When that happens, there will be no mercy for you. They will not agree to trade or negotiate; least of all the girl who will inherit it. the only option for your Federation's survival is death.

"How do you know this?" Empoleon asked.

I live in everyone's head. Your head, their head. I can see what they are all thinking.

"And why should I believe that?" Empoleon asked. "You could just as easily be a psychic-type broadcasting into my brain right now.

Allow me to show you.

All of a sudden, the room began to rumble. Empoleon took a few frightened steps back from his violently trembling desk, but the floorboard were no less stable. A quill he was writing with fell off the desk and hit the ground with a clack.

"Guards!" Empoleon called, but there was no answer. "Guards!" he called again.

There ARE no guards.

Empoleon ignored the voice and frantically stumbled over the floorboards until he'd made it to the door. He grasped the knob with his flipper and thrust it open—

—Complete and total blackness outside met him. It was almost too dark to even register in his eyesight. But it wasn't the cover of night, nor was something happening to the building. It looked like the world outside of his room had just… vanished.

Empoleon watched in horror as the walls of the room began to dissolve all around him. Even the doorknob crumbled away into his flippers, dissolving into specks that flew off into the air and vanished.

Something swirled above him. Something large. A gust of wind battered his feathers from the sheer force of its movement. And even then, whatever he had just seen a glimpse of felt like only a small piece of the actual thing. And then he knew this was not the meddling of a psychic-type.

"Alright," he said, trying to keep the shaking of fear out of his voice. "Alright. You have my attention."

Good.

It was a raspy howl, one that flew all around him. He couldn't tell where it came from. Whispers howled all around Empoleon, muttering indiscernible things he couldn't pick out. At this point, he wasn't so sure if he wanted to.

Let me show you exactly what you must do…

When Sparkleglimmer regained consciousness again, the first thing she saw was grey, cloudy skies.

Sparkleglimmer made her way back into Noe Town, stepping on the town's damp soil for what had felt like the first time in ages. The commute between Pokemon Paradise and Noe Town took three days without going through a mystery dungeon, but it was one that was made often. And it was good to be back.

The smell of smoke on the air broke her out of her happy trance, but only for a moment. In a town this frigid, there was always a bonfire of some type burning somewhere to keep the cold away.

But then she saw the barrels of smoke rising from further into the town. Way too many to be a bonfire. Sparkleglimmer read the sun for a moment. That was…

…Right in the direction of her house.

She took off without another thought to pay.

Sparkleglimmer ran through the streets, weaving through startled and scared pedestrians who were gazing at the fire just like she was.

"Where did that come from?" she heard various whipsers of fright as she ran.

"Isn't that the old manor on the hill?"

"That's where the HAPPI director lives!"

"I hope everymon made it out alright…"

"Coming through!" Sparkleglimmer yelled to a pair of rhyperior who were lugging a pair of crates through the street. She skidded under the crate then hit the ground running, going too fast to give them time to stop. Finally, after what felt like five minutes of terrified suspense, she arrived at the manor.

It was set alight like an inferno, every floor of the beautiful, lofty house she had called home burning brightly. The smoke was so thick her that it blanketed the area like fog. Sparkleglimmer coughed her way through it. It was hard to breathe. The house was burning, but right now she couldn't find it in her to care about the house. Father had arrived here before her. Had he made it home yet? She had to make sure he was okay. Sparkleglimmer bolted into the house.

The doorway was wide open; the doors were sitting somewhere farther into the lofty foyer. Everything was burning. Sparkleglimmer felt like she was going to melt in her fur from all the heat. But she couldn't care about that now. Had to search the house. Had to find Father. She'd get herself and him out before they could both die.

He would have been in his study by now. She passed the table for two that had been consumed by the flames at this point, heading up the stairway where Father' s study was. She was nimble enough to dart around passing debris and flame that consumed the hall, heading for the study door.

The study was already burning. The room was an inferno, just like the rest of the house. Sparkleglimmer pushed through it anyway. There was not a single thing left intact in the room, everything from Father's books on their shelves to the embroidery to even his wooden desk burning. But Sparkleglimmer couldn't see Father anywhere. There was nowhere else in the house he'd be if not for this room; he'd had too much paperwork to go through beforehand. That must have meant he was outside of the house when the fire happened. But then… how did this happen?

Part of the ceiling falling down from the roof and landing on the desk reminded Sparkleglimmer that the house was burning down. She had to go. She'd get out of here, find Father, and—

She turned around, her eyes settling on the one part of the room she hadn't looked at yet. She saw it.

And wished she'd never seen it.

Sparkleglimmer couldn't look at the horrible sight for more than a second, but she stayed still in shock for almost a minute. She couldn't register that this was happening, this had to be a dream, she was sleeping and they'd set out for Noe Town the next day and her house was still standing and Father wasn't actually burning alive in front of her and—

Another piece of debris fell from the ceiling. It sent a few embers into Sparkleglimmer's fur, setting her mane alight. She yelped and smoldered it out. She felt that. She… felt that. It wasn't a dream. It wasn't a dream. It wasn't a dream it was real it was real it was—

"Tardy, ain't we."

The air in front of Sparkleglimmer shimmered, and in its place was the grotesque form of a zoroark. It ginned at her. The light of the flames reflected off its teeth.

"I thought I was gonna hafta flee before you showed up and get you later. Guess we've still got a bit o' time, though."

Sparkleglimmer stared up at him in horror, unable to produce more than a whimper of fright. Neither the sweltering heat nor her father's corpse mattered to her now. He had killed Father? That meant he was going to—

Sparkleglimmer's survival instincts kicked in right before the zoroark's kick impacted the air where she had just been. It would have sent her straight into the fire.

"It'll make a cute story for the papers," he called out loudly, walking after her as she made her best attempt to maneuver her way through the flames with shaky paws. "Father dies in tragic house fire, daughter burns alive trying to rescue him. The readers will eat it all up. Only issue is…"

Sparkleglimmer suddenly felt herself get lifted up by the scruff of her neck. The zoroark stood over her, holding her by her mane. "You need to be dead for that."

He effortlessly flung her into the flames.

The fire stung. It burned every hair upon Sparkleglimmer's body, and scarred every ember of her being. But what stung more was the sight of the zoroark calmly walking off into the flames, the air shimmering around him as he began to disappear into thin air. She loved Father. She had loved him with every bit of her being, and he had gone and…

White light began to flood out within her, power reserves she had only tapped into once before coming to the surface. White light engulfed Sparkleglimmer, and barreled out into an explosion—

The blast stamped out all the fire on Sparkleglimmer's side of the room. Sparkleglimmer stumbled forward, now white and thrice as big. She glanced about the blackened room, uncertain on her new paws and ribbons. The zoroark was nowhere to be seen. He wasn't. He couldn't have been. He hadn't escaped. She wouldn't let hi—

—An invisible claw sliced her across the forearm.

"You, just don't die, do ya?"

And then she knew where he was.

He made his next move. A disabling cut took out the rest of her leg, but she lashed forward with four riboons and grabbed him by the neck—

The zoroark made himself visible in an instant, his claws going out for her throat. Sparkleglimmer was faster—she threw him into the fire.

He burned with an ungodly screech that hurt Sparkleglimmer's ears, but she savored every moment of it. She wondered if he had done the same thing when he had killed Father.

The beam of wood behind her snapped. She looked behind, realizing that one of the last support beams keeping the ceiling from coming down on her was beginning to break. She needed to get out of here, and fast.

Sparkleglimmer ran. Down the stairs, through the foyer, and out the door. Enough of the mansion had burned by now that by the time she'd made it out to the porch, it finally crumbled to the ground in a symphony of crackles and snapping wood.

She couldn't think straight for a while, high on adrenaline. But eventually, the energy began to sap from her body. She was tired, from evolution and the stress and pain of the last five minutes. Her body ached, and she could still feel the sting of fire against her skin. And everything had gone so, so wrong, but she couldn't wrap her mind around it right now. All she knew was that it was all burning.

She collapsed to her knees outside the burning husk of the house. She had to go down the town and get help, she had to, but she just didn't have the strength to go any further. Drifting away…

When enough water types were finally gathered to put out the fires that had consumed the manor, they found the charred remains of what had been the director of HAPPI. They found a burning mane of long fur, but not a corpse to accompany it. And they found a sylveon collapsed in the front courtyard.

All else turned to ash.

~\({O})/~

Music of the Week!

Viva Las Vegan - Henry Jackman, Matthew Margeson
 
Last edited:

Deltaaa

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The Moon
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~\({O})/~

PROLOGUE

Those That Live in this World, and Those That Have Come to It


~\({O})/~

~Espurr~

Slowly coming to. Espurr blinked her eyes open wearily.

The first thing she noticed was that she was laying on her back, and there was a scent in the air she didn’t like. The second thing she noticed was the rushing of the river that she must undoubtably have been right next to. The third thing she noticed (And the least important, her mind argued, to the chagrin of her body) was that she was parched.

Like, seriously parched. As in, her throat was going to die if she didn’t get any water. So, Espurr reluctantly admitted it might have been more important than she thought, and picked herself up clumsily to get water.

The river rushed by not a few feet away from her, just as she’d thought. Espurr fell to her knees, attempting to cup up water in her hands, but it just wasn’t working how she wanted it to. She couldn’t work her fingers as well, and it all fell through her much smaller paws before she could hoist it to her mouth. It took Espurr a minute to recognize that her fingers were much smaller than they should have been (and covered in fur as well), but getting water took priority, or she’d never get around to it. She temporarily ignored whatever was up with her hands in favor of her growing thirst.

Would she have to drink from the river with her tongue? Espurr lolled it around in her mouth uncomfortably. She really hoped she wouldn’t need to. She then came up with the rather clever plan of tearing a largish leaf from the bush right next to her and scooping up water in that.

After a few drinks from her makeshift forest ladle, Espurr’s thirst was finally quenched, and the ripples spreading through the water in her leaf had finally calmed enough for Espurr to see her reflection.

From head to toe, grey-purple fur enveloped her body, the only standout features being the white tips of her hands, feet, and floppy ears, and the oversized, pinkish pair of eyes on her face. She stared at it blankly, trying to decide what to make of it. The sight was shocking for sure, but Espurr couldn’t in all honesty say she’d been surprised. She’d had a nasty suspicion of it while drinking her fill of the lake’s water just a minute before.

The real shock, in Espurr’s mind, came when she tried to recall her name. ‘Espurr’ kept coming up when she asked herself what she was, but… that wasn’t her name. In fact, everything that seemed to be floating in the back of her mind; all her memories, thoughts, fear, doubts… They all slipped away like mirages once she tried to recall them. And the scariest thing was that she never would have noticed if she hadn’t taken a good, hard look at the depths of her mind!

Espurr felt her breathing speed up as she took a shaky step away from the lake, dropping the leaf of water to the ground. Her entire mind was a blank slate! She began to shiver uncontrollably, repressing the urge to release a loud yowl of horror. Had she felt like this often before she woke up here? Had she even existed before then? Did she have parents? How did she remember what parents were?

Swish.

Espurr was roused from her distressed panic by the sound of something deftly moving through the woods behind her. She turned around, quickly scanning the forest for any intruding p… (pokemon, her mind helpfully substituted. Espurr was mildly unnerved, but opted to use it all the same). It took all of four seconds to find them.

Over her shoulder, she saw a trio of pokemon approach her from behind in the woods. The shade of the canopy cast a foreboding darkness over them, leaving them silhouettes. Espurr could barely make out more than the broadest of details on their cone-like heads. She wisely stood up and backed herself against the bush, in case she fell into the lake unawares.

A heavy moment passed, all four pokemon staring directly at each other but none daring to make a move. Eventually, the cone-headed pokemon all slowly turned to each other in sync, rigidly raising their arms up in the air. Espurr watched the rapidly blinking lights flash between the trio, illuminating the strange markings on their heads and the ugliness of their limbs and lower bodies. And then the lights stopped, and in an instant they were all staring directly at Espurr again.

Black sparks began to collect around the strange pokemons’ blinkers, and suddenly a large, shadowy ball materialized out of nowhere and flew straight at Espurr. She barely dove out of the way in time, landing on the ground sideways. She didn’t see what had become of the bush.

The strange pokemon started moving towards Espurr, and as they pushed apart foliage and ferns on their path towards her, she saw that they floated. And then she picked herself up as fast as she could, and ran.

Espurr didn’t know how far she ran or for how long, but she didn’t stop, no matter how many times she tripped on her new, shorter legs, until she couldn’t hear the distant beeping and the swish of brushed-apart foliage behind her. Espurr collapsed to her hands and knees, wildly panting as the surge of adrenaline that had encompassed her body slowly wore off. She glanced around the forest, taking in the setting sun in the distance that seemed to be coming from both everywhere and nowhere at once. It seemed she was more lost than ever now. She didn’t even have the river to guide her anymore. Surely the river would have led her to some sort of civilization. Why hadn’t she followed the river?

Espurr felt and saw the first tendril of cold mist swirl around her paw. She looked behind herself, and saw a large, thick wall of mist approaching from behind her. It was almost like a solid wall, and Espurr felt an air of evil approach with its presence. It wasn’t safe to travel in this fog. Espurr glanced up at the great oak tree that stood before her, studying all the little grooves and branches that ran up its trunk. Those pokemon had no legs, and their arms weren’t much better, she concluded. And up there, she’d be safe from the evil mist below. They’d never be able to climb a tree without waking her first… right?


~\({O})/~

Curled up in a tree branch just large enough to not risk falling from in her sleep, Espurr dreamt horrible dreams of a black void of nothingness. An In Between of nothing but horribly impossible black, and she dreamt of nothing. Because there was nothing to dream of. Nothing to remember, and nothing to fill her dreams. In her addled state, with her mind blank and black as her in between, she somehow understood that. And briefly, in the absence of her dreams, came something else.

Espurr awoke to the sound of rustling below. Stretching uncomfortably in the branch, Espurr realized it was still nighttime. Fog plagued the forest ground, surely as cold and damp as it looked, and Espurr was dearly glad she had made the decision to sleep in a tree. She took a look around. The forest seemed much more ominous than it had before, almost foreboding in nature.

Unsure as to what had woken her up, she attempted to hone her hearing. She could hear quiet rustles from below the fog…

…And saw the flash of a light. Espurr snapped awake in horror. She sat up in the tree, quickly catching her balance before she could fall off. Were they back? Had the strange pokemon caught up with her? She cautiously peered over the tree branch in fear.

Flickering lights of the red, green, and yellow variety lit up the fog right below her tree.

Swish.

That was the sound of foliage being brushed aside by something. Espurr quickly hid herself in fear. How had they found her? What did they want with her? Were they going to climb the tree?

Swish. More foliage. Espurr hesitantly stole another glance, hoping she hadn’t been spotted (Although, she noted with growing anxiety, if they were here, they most likely knew she was too). The lights had disappeared, but so far the pokemon had not yet made another move. Did this mean they couldn’t climb trees after all? That she was safe, at least for the time being? Espurr’s heart leapt pre-emptively in hope. She waited a single moment, her heart beating over her frightened breath. The pokemon had gone away, it seemed. Could it be true? Had they given up?

Espurr glanced over the branch a third time, and was met with the sight of three cone-shaped heads poking out of the fog, staring up directly at Espurr’s tree. She quickly hid again, backing up against the tree trunk. She knew it was too good to be true. They were waiting. But, for what? Did they expect her to come down from the tree?

A sudden wind ruffled Espurr’s fur, coming out of nowhere and leaving as quickly as it had arrived. The rancid smell blasted her in the face as it passed. It smelled evil, just like everything else in this place did. She watched it blow off, violently rattling the branches of a few trees as it went. It certainly hadn’t been natural. Was this what the strange pokemon were waiting for? Espurr didn’t want to wait around until whatever the second stage of the strange pokemons’ plan was rolled about.

She looked around, performing a quick survey of the woods from atop her lofty perch. Escaping on the ground was a bad idea all around. Even if she somehow managed to make it to the ground safely and escape the strange pokemon, she’d still have to travel through the fog afterwards. And there was no way of knowing what other evil things were waiting in there for her. The idea of staying in the tree until the strange pokemon left occurred to her, but she didn’t know if that was even a safe option anymore. That left one final idea.

She would escape through the trees. If she walked all the way to the end of this branch, there was a somewhat jumpable gap between this tree and the next. It was risky, but the best other option available to her was to sprout wings and fly, and she didn’t anticipate that happening anytime soon.

Espurr felt the beginnings of another, stronger wind begin to ruffle through her fur. It smelled just as rancid as the last one did, and it was stronger. That was it, she concluded. It was time to go.

She looked down at the strange pokemon, who hadn’t moved an inch from their previous spots. It was going to be too late soon. She had to escape!

Bracing herself, Espurr began to dash for the edge of the branch, attempting to get a running start. Halfway across, she lost her footing, and for one horrifying second she thought that she was going to fall; that every bone in her body would break and then she would be left defenseless as the strange pokemon carried her off to a fate worse than death-

-And then she caught herself with her other foot, resuming her charge to the end of the branch with renewed determination. She leapt off the branch as soon as her feet touched the very end, reaching out as far as she could in order to catch the next one. She would make it!

The wind that appeared out of nowhere violently ruffled Espurr’s fur. The poor pokemon only had enough time to look in its general direction before she was hit with a strong blast of the foul-smelling gust. It knocked Espurr far off-course, her paws barely missing the branch by a hair’s length before she began the heart-wrenching journey towards the ground.

Crack.

Espurr let out a loud yowl of pain as she hit the ground, rolling to a stop on her side. She picked herself up quickly before anything else could take her by surprise. Her right arm was fine, but her left arm; the one she had landed on, hurt like nothing she had ever felt before. She could barely move it! Just bearing the immense pain was taking a lot of her. Gritting her teeth in pain that made her want to vomit, she spared a half-second’s worth glance at the mighty oak she had just fallen out of.

Espurr’s observation was cruelly cut short at the appearance of a trio of coned heads hovering through the fog. All of the sudden, Espurr forgot about the mighty oak and the blinding pain in her arm, and began to run for her life.


~\({O})/~

~Audino~

An audino quietly picked the herbs and weeds from around a ground-bound bush in the forest, slipping them into her exploring bag. It was the full moon, so the night was suitably light, and her herb stores were running low again.

Fresh-picked herbs were always available on the Air and Grass Continents, but rarely grew anywhere on the Water Continent. They were vital to Audino’s medical practices, and she had been lucky to find this clutch of them sitting around the nearby mystery dungeon. Mystery dungeons being what they were, Audino had returned once every month at the full moon (she was superstitious) and found the exact same bush with the exact same clutches of herbs growing around it awaiting her.

Of course, finding the bush was a different beast entirely- Every time Audino came looking for it, it was in a different place. But that was to be expected of a mystery dungeon. The places were always re-arranging themselves however they saw fit, after all. Audino was simply grateful she’d found the bush fairly quickly tonight. Something was different in the air this time- she could sense it. It was like the dungeon itself had taken a malevolent tone, and she felt evil hum in the air. The lack of wild pokemon around made her ears bristle with uneasiness as well. Dungeon wildlings were never pokemon to shy away from a fight. If the dungeon locals were all in hiding… then what were they all hiding from?

Audino didn’t want to find out. She kept the escape orb she had bought from Kecleon’s specifically for this occasion in one of the bag’s looser pockets- just in case she’d need to make an impromptu escape all the sudden.

She looked up from her herb picking in confusion as an unnatural wind blew past her, shaking the trees with visible anger as it went. Audino clutched her escape orb tightly. This soon? The dungeon had never acted up this soon before.

There was suddenly a loud thump in the distance, accompanied by a sickening crack. Audino had half a mind to just leave right now and forget her herbs. But that notion disappeared once she heard the yowl of pain that followed. Whatever pokemon had made it sounded rather young… But a dungeon wildling, even a young one, could spell trouble for her at this point.

Suddenly, Audino saw the silhouette of a small pokemon running straight in her direction through the fog. Was it a dungeon pokemon? Audino braced herself for possible battle. She watched as within seconds, an espurr stumbled out of the distant mist and into the immediate area, running frantically through the woods. For a split second, Audino was confused. Espurr weren’t native to this dungeon. So why was one here?

Audino only had to see the look in the espurr’s eyes once to understand completely. Their eyes glimmered in the moonlight with a look of pure fear instead of pure fury, the hallmark of many dungeon wildlings. This wasn’t a pokemon who had become corrupted by the dungeon’s influence; it was a fully intelligent one who was about to come pretty darn close!

By now, the espurr had realized Audino wasn’t yet another hostile pokemon, and had changed its course directly towards her.

“Please help me!” the pokemon cried out in terror, clutching her left arm to her chest as she dashed up to Audino. Audino studied the arm, identifying the fracture in a matter of seconds. It wasn’t easy to break a pokemon’s bones. Something had done this to her!

Something that was approaching from the fog at this very moment. Hints of the strongest wind yet began to blow through Audino’s fur as she hurriedly beckoned the espurr towards her. Behind the terrified pokemon, she could see a trio of silhouettes approaching, accompanied by flickering lights.

The espurr reached Audino, violently shivering both from intense cold and sheer terror. Audino hugged the Espurr close, keeping an eye on both the wind and the approaching pokemon.

As the wind grew stronger, the pokemon approached, and Audino finally got her first good look at them: a trio of beheeyem, ghostly lights flickering in the fog. They weren’t dungeon pokemon, Audino realized: their movements were too composed for that. Too calculated.

“Stay close, and whatever you do, don’t let go. Understand?” Audino whispered to her new charge. The espurr nodded, staring in fear at the exact same thing Audino was.

There was no more time to waste. Any longer, Audino knew, and the approaching pokemon would be the least of their worries. In one swift motion, she pulled Espurr close and whipped out the escape orb.

“Shut your eyes!” she yelled to Espurr, hurling the orb at her feet. It exploded in a plume of brilliant, blue-white smoke, and when the smoke cleared, Audino and Espurr were nowhere to be found.

~\({O})/~

Music of the week!

The Black Rider - Howard Shore
okayyy read the prologue

>I like that you don't have Nuzleaf because fuck Nuzleaf, all my homies hate Nuzleaf. It also makes more sense in this than being put in a random far away forest from town, being weeks way IMO.

>Your writing style is really good, and honestly makes me feel like I have a loong way to go. It's very full of life

>Espurr has personality even though they barely talked, I like that. It's a thing I try to do.

>Your use of things you put in parenthesis reminds me of how I do it except NGL, I didn't know if you were allowed to do that or not.

>Audino? Pog.

I am definitely going to read more.
 

Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
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Alrighty, review time! I read all of arc 1 & 2, and reread a bit of the beginning, just to refresh myself. I'll admit, third omniscient is not my usual reading type, nor is slice of life PMD. However, I think you did a good job in those aspects. You definitely are right, I can clearly see that this story is meant to be consumed in arcs, not really in chapters. As far as basics go, I thought the story was solid. Grammar, punctuation, tense, and narration were generally fairly clear, especially with headers and viewpoint titles.

(There was only some minor errors in the very later chapters you hadn't edited yet, where you mis-name some Pokemon.)

I'll cover some broad thoughts before I break it down.

First, let me preface by saying it's been years since I played PSMD. My memory is so foggy and I only remember vague gists of PMD. So a lot of the information felt odd to me because I had no background or mental basis. Not bad odd, mind you. Just that I didn't have any pre-existing connection to these undoubtedly canon characters that would be brought up. My mind kept trying to dig up the memories, which made it a very strange experience, to say the least. I guess I can relate to Espurr in that respect, ha! Memories on the tips of our tongues.

Other characters like Archen and Ampharos and the kids were difficult as well, because there was the constant strange disparity of my brain trying to recognize them but failing. That's on me though because looking back, I think you provided fairly decent context to understanding things important to the story.

The only little tidbit I'll say here is I would KILL for a map and list of the different branches of exploration/rescue/Happi etc teams bc I couldn't keep all that straight in my head. Which teams handle which continents and such. (But that's just cause I'm a forgetful possum, heh)
[That said, could there maybe be a brief exposition of this in the school maybe? Again though I'm just bad about details. Broad strokes I found there was generally enough context to get the gist]

I did find it a bit hard to get a read on Espurr on my initial readthrough, although she was clearer to me on my second. Her personality felt a little bit... subtle? Or a little less obvious than the other's more pronounced personalities. That said I feel like that has to do with plot reasons. Her lack of memories probably influences this, along with perhaps later plot reveals? We'll see. On my second refresh read I did find her personality a bit clearer. Level-headed, smart, a bit uncertain, a bit of a smart-aleck too. That's not to say I didn't like her though, I did find myself enjoying her little comments.

I will say I don't think some of the ages of the characters weren't mentioned and I wish I knew earlier. It wasn't until somebody exclaimed 'You're only 13!" that it clicked for me.

Alright, time for a breakdown! I'll try to cover the important topics of any story: Plot, subplot, Main character, Side character, Villain, Prose, Theme.
I'll dive into and rank these. Keep in mind, the ranking is to be taken with a grain of salt, as the story is incomplete and therefore I can't fully rate everything until I see how it ends.

Plot: So the basic plot follows Espurr and Tricky as they begin to navigate life in the town, school, and interpersonal drama, as the dark events unfold in the background. The pacing of the plot as a whole seems pretty good to me. It is a bit on the slow side, like you said, but I feel like each chapter unraveled at a solid rate. By the time arc 2 kicked off, things ratcheted into high gear, and a lot was happening, fast! Revelations were made, mysteries uncovered, and oh boy! You made excellent use of multiple viewpoints and omniscience to maximize the plot and characters to show this slowly unraveling darkness happening all across the world. There were some suitably DEElicious bits too. The Stone Lugia was a big terror moment, the Riolu was a huge wth?? moment, and a lot more. It took some time, but once we got the Tricky backstory part, I started to feel invested in the story.

Given how everything progressed in the two parts I'd say... Plot gets a pass! 7/10 so far! May even rank higher once I see the whole picture. 9/10 for the voidlands/Barrow bits! MMMM

Subplot: Subplot covers characters' emotional journeys and arcs, whether that be positive or negative. Let's see... well, for Espurr I saw her shift from fearful/worried to being a follower and distancing herself from Tricky, instead of making her own choices. It was satisfying to see her choose to do her own thing, so that was good.

Tricky, on the other hand, struggles with the weight of what happened to her a year ago with Budew, and her own shortcomings. While she is growing, I feel like I haven't properly seen her deal with everything yet. Her moment having to break free of that nightmare though was... wow. Very good, terrifying. My concern though is that it kinda felt like she was dragging Espurr along and not really thinking about her a lot in early chapters. I have yet to really see this addressed, and I feel like Espurr is a much more driven friend to Tricky than I see Tricky do for Espurr.

This is by no means bad, and I think you still have a lot of plans for Tricky to grow. She came off as a little immature and unconsciously thoughtless, especially in arc 1, but she is a kid. I give leeway, and I look forward to her continued development. Overall, between Espurr, Tricky, Riolu and then your side/other characters... 7/10! Good subplots, I've seen solid growth and defining change for most characters. I really liked the little investigation subplot with the Zoroark as well.

Main character: Espurr seems to be your main character (although you certainly have a lot of focal characters!). I think she has been fairly well developed. It's hard to sense her or know her as well as someone like Tricky, given how she has no memories, but what I have seen of her current, you're building a well-round character! She has both strengths and flaws, and has learned a lot in her short three weeks (THREE WEEKS!! WOW. So short.). She's grown physically and mentally, and is developing into herself well. She's standing up for what she wants and is becoming properly confident, which is great. Her powers are coming along well and its a lot of fun to see her exploring that.

Not sure where I count Tricky, probably as a main character too. In which case, fantastic! (While I hope to see continued in depth stuff of her struggling with the Budew incident), she has so much personality and flair. I really feel like I can get a vibe from her. She feels exceptionally well-rounded and fleshed out, and I think you've given the PMSD partner a lot of depth (even though I can't remember the games much). It's funny, I remember wondering 'Why does Tricky keep going into dungeons?' and right as I asked that, Espurr asked that and I had my answer. Nice.

8/10! Love my little cat and fox! Very good.

Side characters: Side characters are a tricky pickle, and its always hard to make them really shine. (You know side characters are a struggle for me). For the purposes of this, I'll mainly be looking at the village kids as side characters. I think you have very very good side characters. Perhaps a bonus of using 3rd omniscient. Regardless, you make full use of the narrative voice you chose to really flesh out each of the characters, especially the kids in the village. They come across as very colorful, easy to understand, and fairly rounded by the time arc 2 comes around.

They all really come into their own the epic arc 2 conclusion chapters, especially mons like Goomy, whom I really really love. I'm so proud of my little dragon boy!! AHHH. Nothing particularly struck me as not making sense or not adding up for any of the side characters. The other side and background-ish characters were all fun too, like the other mon at the expedition society.

A key aspect for me of side characters is if they play some kind of role in the plot and/or subplot, and yours really seem to be important, from all I can think of!

I still had that problem I mentioned earlier, where my brain kept trying to match them into what I barely remember from PSMD but that's me so
At the end of the day.... 8/10 so far, side characters!

Villain: OH HOHOOHOHOH OOOOOOO OH BOY. Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy. HooOOOOOOO BOY WOWEEE. 10/10 (Nyarlothep)
I really don't know what to say here except *chef's kiss* good stuff. Lov. Terrifying. Perfect. Peak horror... which is saying something. I don't like horror much at all.

Moving on... Themes...
Themes:... This is where things get tricky. (HAH. See what I did there?)

The themes you mentioned you wanted to incorporate were those of bullying, survivors guilt and discrimination.

Those were definitely present. Let's talk about bullying first. There were some serious undertones of that throughout a lot of arc 1 especially. The scene in particular with Pancham throwing rocks at Tricky was... terrible. Not badly written but it was terrible because of what happened. (It was really well written). No mon deserves that. There were also a lot of smaller, pettier things that are actually pretty bad as well. Deerlings treatment, and the way everyone else looks at Tricky. So that theme is surely present in serious ways. What concerns me personally is I don't feel like any bullies ever got any narrative comeuppance. What Pancham and Shelmet did felt really really really really really horrible. But I feel like it was never addressed, and they haven't had to apologize or make up for what they did, and now it kinda feels like the group of just. Chilling together at the treehouse. Like them practically trying to stone her to death was just. nbd.

Now it's perfectly fine if you want to make the point that maybe no one sees bullying (which is true). But it did leave me feeling a little confused and unsatisfied. Perhaps this is something that will come up after arc 2 though. In which case, ignore everything I've said!

Next, Survivors guilt. I don't actually know a lot about the topic personally. But I think this one was handled better. Assuming you mean Tricky in particular, dealing first with thinking it was her fault, then wanting to save every mon and dealing with the nightmares and other fallout, constant negativity... etc etc, leading into her experience in the Barrow where she finally had to burn Budew (and break my dang heart). This felt more narratively addressed and explored a little more than the bullying one. I felt like I got to really see more of it through Tricky's eyes. And see a sort of culmination too. Not to mention it was touched on with Riolu's experiences too. I'd say overall it was pretty dang good, although I wish there could have been a bit more fixating on this or talking about it. (I love angst). Maybe there will be more in later chapters?

If there is, disregard this bit of course! otherwise, solid!

Lastly, discrimination. I am assuming you mean Mawile and the Grass continent thing? I actually don't feel like I saw a lot of this, except for Mawile. I never feel like I understood what the discrimination was, or properly got it, because it almost felt like a weird in-universe joke to the Mon? Mawile seems tense about it in later chapters but I can't quite grasp why or what her history was, so it made it difficult to really understand this or empathise.
I did see what felt like a little more clear moments of discrimination towards Tricky and the kids as a whole, where the adults (Watchog really) would treat them poorly as if he forgot they were just kids. This aspect of the discrimination as well as Deerling's clear disdain for Tricky felt much more fleshed out to me.

I'm wavering between a 6-8 for theme, because I feel like survivors guilt and bullying were a little clearer ins ways but discrimination I'm not sure about. And bullying I felt like didn't get addressed (unless this was the point).

The other themes I picked up on were vibes of courage and heroism and also heavy horror/psychological themes, which were done fantastically. Also bits of bravery and what/how kids are treated and looked at in this world.

Now, I'm only at the end of arc 2 so its entirely possible this is the tip of the iceberg! Perhaps there will be further exploration of these things I mentioned later, or maybe I missed some cues on my first read and should pay more attention (if there are cues I missed please let me know!)
My final go, for now, will be... 7/10!!

Overall, I rank this story....

....
..
..
8/10!!!
As a composite product, arc 1&2 combined, Its very good! Arc 2 was my clear favorite and I really feel like you set up some truly interesting threads. I feel like this story is really only just beginning and you have a lot to tell, and I can't wait to see where all this goes!
8 out of 10in my book is dang close to perfection, so congrats.
My main things I want to see is some kind of closure or addressing of the terrifying bullying Pancham did, as well as continuing to explore the other aspects as you have.

Now, miscellaneous stuff I heckin loved:
  • The horror!!! Oh the horror! The voidlands bits, the scary shadows... those were great. You blend psychological horror with base human fears so dang well. The nightmares, the mind games, the dreams, the creepy speech patterns...
  • I really loved the music! It was a lot of fun and I discovered some new tracks I like too. I only wish the music was at the beginning of the chapter because I often forgot to listen to it :(
  • I loved the dream sequences! I also loved the creepy underlined letters spelling out creepy messages. I had a lot of fun picking those apart. Although I am insanely curious if the later messages with bold, underlined and italics have a secret code too??? I NEED TO KNOW!!!
  • I loved the playful jokes and comments riddled throughout. You have a funny writing style that I enjoy. It's not like 'super laugh humor' but a 'makes you grin' humor.
  • Goomy evolving!!!
  • Deerling is such a brat *eyeroll*
  • My brain is still trying to pick part the mystery of the voidlands, mystery dungeons, shadows and everything. Very intrigued.
  • I loved the stone lugia and rayquaza. those felt liked gut punch moments.
  • Simipour was a heck shadow the whole time??? AHHHH
  • So many revelations
  • The Litwick were so cute oh noooo
  • SO MANY MON DIED AHG
  • Voidlands scary go brr
  • Who the heck this this Riolu? Two humans?
  • I just want Tricky to be safe and happy
  • I loved the random Teddiursa/Ursaring character! They were just really funny to me
I don't have a whole lot else to say. I think you have one heck of a foundation and that score is apt to go up another point, depending on how you build on these elements! Aside from a few late chapter grammar stuff and the details mentioned, I still really enjoyed this. I can see the care and dedication you put into this, and you've certainly put a lot of your flair into this. As a slice of horror PMD fic, it operates very well in its niche. You can bet I'll be reading the rest of it sometime!

If you have questions or ever wanna talk shop about your story further, I am super down to do that in the DMs or on fic-discussion thread!!

Have a meme!
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Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
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Here for Catnip.

It's been quite a couple months since I last read this fic and I honestly had to skim the previous chapters to remember what happened in prior chapters. That aside, I will be reviewing the third chapter today.

To start things off, I want to say I really like the changes you've made to the super's plot in this fic. One thing I especially liked with this chapter and the last one in particular is we get to see the expedition society play a more active role in the story. Unlike in the game, Ampharos here is actively looking for the human that was sent over, and the organization is also aware of the petrification incidents early. Not only that, but they also know that they're artificial events and not some naturally occurring phenomena, which has some exciting implications.

I know I criticized your pacing in my last review months ago. I would say that the pacing felt better to me in Chapter 3, but I still feel a bit that the chapters are cramming too much all at once which makes the individual scenes feel rushed and breezed through. In chapter 3 alone, we got the expedition society, a dream sequence, Nuzleaf's introduction, a segment about berries, pancham shenanigans and the preceding scenes about the mine exploration. When you list these out like this, it's pretty clear that there's too much happening over the span of a chapter.

Chapter 3 is pretty old and from what you've said before, I doubt you'd be addressing anything I've said in this review at the end of the day. All I can do is hope that the pacing issues of the story improve over the course of the story. That aside, I did have a decent time reading through this in spite of the issues I had with it, and I plan on coming back to this story again eventually to see how it'll all play out.
 

HelloYellow17

Artsy Whimsical Nerd
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. suicune
  2. umbreon
Here for Catnip! So sorry this is late 😭

HOLY MOLY this was so different from what I expected. To be fair, I haven’t read a ton of PMD fics, but I tend to assume they’ll all start the same way—and this was not that, not that at ALL. It was also way spookier than I was anticipating?? Reading this at 2 AM WAS A MISTAKE OK.

Before I get into the line quotes, I just gotta say: your setup with your table of contents, content warnings, music links, and summary is so neat and tidy, wow!! I really enjoyed the formatting you used and I’m definitely going to take some notes for my own fic, haha.

From head to toe, grey-purple fur enveloped her body, the only standout features being the white tips of her hands, feet, and floppy ears, and the oversized, pinkish pair of eyes on her face.
I really appreciate that this description was short and sweet. I think PMD fics often fall into the trap of spending way too long on describing the MC’s appearance when they first wake up, and it tends to turn me off a bit when they drag on. Especially since I don’t need much to tell me what kind of Pokémon they are! A quick description like this is perfect: provides a clear image and doesn’t waste any time at all in going overboard on the details.

Had she felt like this often before she woke up here? Had she even existed before then? Did she have parents? How did she remember what parents were?
Love the spiraling thoughts as she begins to panic, especially that last question—totally valid! She can’t remember anything but still has some concept of certain things like parents, which she is aware of and confused by.


She turned around, quickly scanning the forest for any intruding p… (pokemon, her mind helpfully substituted. Espurr was mildly unnerved, but opted to use it all the same).
Oooh I loved this snippeof her remembering what Pokémon are and being even more confused at this thought. Specific little details like this make everything feel more real.

She looked behind herself, and saw a large, thick wall of mist approaching from behind her. It was almost like a solid wall, and Espurr felt an air of evil approach with its presence.
remembers the fog from the Hunger Games YOU BETTER RUN, FRIEND

Espurr dreamt horrible dreams of a black void of nothingness. An In Between of nothing but horribly impossible black, and she dreamt of nothing. Because there was nothing to dream of. Nothing to remember, and nothing to fill her dreams. In her addled state, with her mind blank and black as her in between, she somehow understood that. And briefly, in the absence of her dreams, came something else.

OKAY SO

I started highlighting this passage to point out the “typos” to you, thinking, “Huh, what weird and random underlines! Better point this out to Espy so she can fix it!”

AND THEN

THEN I REALIZED

THERE’S A FREAKING CREEPY MESSAGE IN THERE

WHY DID I READ THIS AT 2AM, GOOD GRAVY WHY

ALSO THIS IS FREAKING BRILLIANT AND I LOVE IT BUT I ALSO HATE IT BECAUSE NOW I’M THOROUGHLY CREEPED OUT
Flickering lights of the red, green, and yellow variety lit up the fog right below her tree.

Swish.

whhYY IS THIS SO FREAKY OMG

Espurr felt the beginnings of another, stronger wind begin to ruffle through her fur. It smelled just as rancid as the last one did, and it was stronger. That was it. It was time to go.
ooh, is this like the wind that kicks up when you’re on a dungeon floor for too long?? I always thought that wind was really eerie! And if this is the case...she’s in a dungeon! Which sort of accounts for the hostile environment, though not completely.

It was like the dungeon itself had taken a darker tone tone,
You have a second “tone” here!

Stay close, and whatever you do, don’t let go. Understand?” Audino whispered to her new charge. The espurr nodded, staring in fear at the exact same thing Audino was.
Oh goodness I’m SO relieved she found someone to help her, and a kind someone, at that. I already get some motherly vibes from this Audino and I want her to just wrap poor little Espurr up and give her all the TLC.

It exploded in a plume of brilliant, blue-white smoke, and when the smoke cleared, Audino and Espurr were nowhere to be found.

Ooh! I like the vivid description of the Escape Orb’s effects! (Also they’re SAFE, YAY)

Wow what a wild ride, I’m absolutely hooked hahaha. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure this was a fic I was going to plan on coming back to simply because PMD fics aren’t my usual fic of choice, but I’m DEFINITELY invested in this one! I honestly love the creepy and unsettling vibes of this, your prose is really nice and crisp (there was hardly any dialogue at all in this, yet I was totally drawn in anyway!) and I can’t wait to see what you have in store!

Next time, I’ll be sure not to read in the middle of the night, heh. xD
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
Location
The Yangverse
Pronouns
Any
Partners
  1. reshiram
Here for Catnip! I read the prologue, and some of the accompanying lore. I do like post-apocalyptic backstories for PMD.

This fic does a good job at the suspense and horror department. Everything's appropriately UNSETTLING. Espurr's situation, the way the Beeheeyem are described, the way the dungeon is described - all of it is creepy in a good way. And I doo feel sorry for poor Espuur, especially because she takes "amnesiac PMD protagonist" to the extreme.

I do wonder how the Audino lady will play into this. Or if she'll be4 killed off. You said there'd be lots of DEATH so.

Keep up the good work on this! Hope to loop back around for more.
 

AbraPunk

Generation Guardian
Location
The Circle
Pronouns
They/them
Partners
  1. luxio
She stared at it blankly, trying to decide what to make of it.
(( here to review the prologue and chapter 1! ))

Haha, of course the first expression we get out of an Espurr is a blank one.
They all slipped away like mirages once she tried to recall them.
Oh, I've never seen "mirages" used in that context. Nice!
Had she felt like this often before she woke up here? Had she even existed before then? Did she have parents? How did she remember what parents were?
This might sound odd, but this reminds me a bit of Minecraft: The Island (a book in which the main character goes through a PMD situation, but... with Minecraft) and that's a compliment! I love that book to bits and pieces.
intruding p… (pokemon, her mind helpfully substituted.
Again, another M:TI-esque moment
horrible dreams of a black void of nothingness. An In Between of nothing but horribly impossible black, and she dreamt of nothing. Because
Ah, nice hidden message. I was wondering what was going on until I got past the first word 😅
the fog afterwards. And there was no way of knowing what other evil things were waiting in there for her. T
Reminiscent of the movie The Fog. Spooky!
: a trio of beheeyem,
I like that the Beeheyem are described only in description by Espurr, who logically wouldn't know what they are, and then called by their actual name by Audino, who would know what they are. Nice detail!
SO-o-o-o-o-o….” the fennekin drew out her single word for as long as possible after making sure Audino had left. “What are you in for?”

“You’re new here,” she piped up just a second later.

“What’s your name?” she asked immediately after that.

“Are you…”

“Hah! There’s no way you’re Ms. Audino’s kid, are you?”

“Wait. Are you?”

“Huh? Are you? Pleaaase tell me!”
Oh, this is Super's partner, isn't it?
Espurr was fairly sure Tricky had some kind of memory problem.
Well... when you're Mew, and sort of the substitute for the player character...
Don’t steal from Kecleon,” she added in a hush. “Trust me.
Yeah, that wouldn't end well. ;)
She’d known them for all of half a minute, but they didn’t deserve to go through what she had yesterday.
This is the equivalent of the one meme...
Maybe it was.

~\({O})/~

Foreboding Forest
Haha, this was funny for some reason. Just that narration and then the name reveal.
“Thievery, trespassing, cutting school… And now she’s corrupting the newcomers!” Watchog’s ranting took on a slightly paranoid tone. “She’s making them think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want…” Watchog let out a hysterical chuckle. “Just think, the next generation: A bunch of scummy layabouts who steal and pillage and trespass to their heart’s content! Are you all just going to sit back and let this be the future?
Okay, boomer.

-----

Overall, I really liked these chapters! The writing style is very nice, and it has me intrigued for what comes next! Can't wait to keep reading. Also, I do appreciate that we're getting a story from the POV of Espurr. Underrated character.
 
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