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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

Insquisitabilitating
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

Insquisitabilitating
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
waiting for the fog to roll out
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
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

Insquisitabilitating
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

Insquisitabilitating
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

Nrml and grnd type fan, with a dash of psn n bug
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
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 - Hunt

SparklingEspeon

Insquisitabilitating
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
Chapter27Art.png


~\({O})/~

27.

Hunt


~\({O})/~

Lively Town Outskirts

The many lights of Lively Town glowed brightly in the night, like a beacon amongst the dark mountains and the vast sea to the west. A trio of cone shaped heads glode across the mountain path, overlooking the town below. Somewhere within lay the targets. It was a large city to search, but they would search it relentlessly and without pause. Finding the pokemon they were now to kill was an inevitability, even in a town this large.

They continued down the mountain path. The hunt resumed.


~\({O})/~

Expedition Society Headquarters ~ Nighttime

~Tricky~

Tricky couldn’t sleep.

Despite being completely worn out from her trek through the mountains just a day earlier, she found herself unable to drift off to bed properly. Not that she hadn’t tried. It felt like she’d been lying in bed for hours now! She turned over in the straw bed, which was nothing like the one she had back home, and tried to see if she could get comfy that way.

It wasn’t working. She felt as awake as ever! She spared a glance over to the other side of the room, where Espurr lay, fast asleep.

Eventually, Tricky decided it wasn’t worth the wait anymore. She pulled herself off the bed with a yawn, and began to wearily trot towards the exit to the room. Maybe a walk throughout the halls of the building would help satiate some of the rampant curiosity she knew was keeping her awake.

The halls were dark and quiet, but Tricky didn’t necessarily mind. She trotted down the tiled floor, looking at the lavender walls around her with gold-colored embellishments and the odd trash can every now and then. She didn’t notice the figure lurking in the shadows before it spoke:

“Yo, newbie.”

“Huh?” Tricky looked back, her ears swiveling in the direction the noise had come from. Nickit slunk out of the shadows, walking up to Tricky with a smug smirk on her face.

“Watcha doin’ out of bed?” Nickit asked, sitting in front of Tricky and looking her straight in the eye.

Tricky immediately felt much smaller than she had a few seconds ago. “Well… I… couldn’t sleep, and… Does this mean I’ll get kicked out? I can go back to bed! I can—”

“Nah.” Nickit waved Tricky off with her tail. “I’m not gonna get you in trouble. I’d be a hypocrite if I did that.

“Say,” she began, getting up and walking back down the hall from which they’d came. “Since you’re up… fancy a game of cards?”

“Cards?” Tricky’s ears perked back up at the mention of what sounded like a potentially fun time. “What’s that?”

“C’mon,” Nickit said, prowling back down the hallway. She ushered Tricky along with her tail. “I’ll teach you how to play.”


~\({O})/~

Expedition Society Vault

Nickit led Tricky into a large, windowless room that was absolutely loaded with everything from poke to dried dungeon exploration items. Tricky looked at all of it with sparkles in her eyes – she’d never seen this much loot in one place before! – but Nickit nudged her with her tail before Tricky could get any ideas.

“Don’t even think about it. ‘Mon who watches this room’ll know if anymon’s been touching stuff here but me.”

She gestured up to a large stack of poke, where a murkrow snoozed at the very top. Tricky eyed him warily.

“Don’t we have to worry about waking him?” she asked.

“Doubt it,” said Nickit. “he sleeps like a rock on a good day.”

Nickit pulled a small box out from behind a few chests of poke with her snout. Over a crate of dried berries, she arranged the cards in a neat deck, dealing herself and Tricky each seven.

“A’ight, here’s how this works,” she said. “each card has a pokemon on it, with a type assigned to it. There are eighteen types total. We each choose a card from our deck and put it down on the table; whoever has the card with the type advantage wins both. If ya get ten pairs, you win. Simple, right?”

Tricky was struggling to keep that all in her head long enough for it to stick. “Sounds simple enough.”

“Cool. Looked at your cards yet?”

Tricky had not. She propped her cards up the best she could with her paws, following Nickit’s example and making sure to keep them out of her opponent’s view. She had a dhelmise, druddigon, axew, flareon, and something called a “Silvally” that didn’t seem to have a type. Or, on closer inspection, it seemed to have all the types. Tricky grew giddy – she knew what she was going to pick.

“Chose your card?”

Tricky nodded. This game was fun. She was beginning to enjoy it.

“Cool. Now place it in front of you.” Nickit chose her own card, and slid it on the table. Tricky carefully picked Silvally out of the deck, and put it opposite Nickit’s card.

“Three… two… one… flip!”

Nickit lipped her card face-up, and then Tricky followed Nickit’s example and did the same a second later. Silvally faced down Nickit’s metapod.

“Hah!” Tricky called out, slamming her paw down on the cards. “I win this one!”

“Not so fast,” Nickit drawled, drawing another card from the pile to replace her own. She gestured for Tricky to do the same. “You still have to get nine more pairs to win, and you’ve just used up the most powerful card in the deck.”

Tricky was uncharacteristically silent, as she realized how stupid of a move that had been.

“Tip to the wise: Cards’ a game of wits,” Nickit said, “Just like everything else in life. Never senselessly start throwing cards out; you can only go downhill from there. Learn to read the other player instead. Just like I read you. I thought you’d pick the strongest card in your claw first, so I sent out a dud to check you.”

Cornered. Tricky looked through the rest of her cards. Ghost, Dragon, Dragon, Fire… what to pick? Now that she didn’t have a card that was sure to win she was a lot more flustered.

“Done choosing yet?” Nickit asked, lazily watching Tricky flipping through the cards. “You can’t take forever, ya know.”

“Y-yeah,” Tricky said, setting down a card from the pile. One of the dragons, but she just had to hope she got lucky.

“Guess I’ll have to match you.” Nickit calmly pulled another card from her claw, setting it opposite Tricky’s. “Three… Two… One…”

The game ended nearly an hour later. Tricky consistently pulled whatever card looked coolest from her deck and paired it up against Nickit, who matched it with her own strategic choices. Tricky almost would have said Nickit was cheating if she hadn’t managed to score three more pairs against her over the course of the game. Nickit ultimately won out, with ten whole pairs and not a single legendary card among them.

“Good game,” she said at the end, gathering up all the cards and putting them back up in the box. She glanced behind Tricky, at the first rays of sunlight beginning to pour in through the door. “Hope you weren’t still sleepy.”

Tricky was a bit sleepy, but she could put that all aside for a bit.

“I have to get going now,” she said. “Bye! Thanks for the game!” And with that, she scampered out the door of the vault and made a beeline for her and Espurr’s bedroom.


~\({O})/~

“Rise and shine! The sun’s up, and you should be too!” Dedenne rang a pair of very loud bells outside in the hallway, stopping at each door and ringing them extra loud.

Tricky had gotten about an hour’s worth of sleep since her game of cards with Nickit. She pulled herself off the bed like a zombie, watching Espurr stretch on the other one. Unlike Tricky, she looked well-rested.

“W-who gets up this early?” was all Tricky could muster as a frazzled response amongst the ringing in the background.

“Pokemon who want to eat breakfast, presumably,” Espurr said, yawning. “I got a look at the chef yesterday. I doubt she’s the type to leave behind leftovers.”

The idea of breakfast made Tricky feel a little less tired.


~\({O})/~

“Today’s briefing is a short one; I have no wish to keep you all from indulging in kind Chef Swirlix’s fine breakfast,” Ampharos said, holding the paper that Dedenne had given him. In the dining room to the right of the lobby sat the untouched breakfast spread that smelled absolutely heavenly.

Somewhere near the end of the line, Chef Swirlix was slobbering.

Ampharos read off the paper. “A new mystery dungeon has popped up near Lively Town,” he said. “It should be our priority to add that to the maps here. Does anymon here have a clean schedule?”

“I’m up for it, sir.” Buizel raised a paw high, puffing himself out in an attempt to make himself look as reliable for the job as possible. No-mon else particularly looked like they wanted the job.

“Splendid!” Ampharos read down the page, his eyes “And now to address the elephant in the room: As I’m sure you’re all aware, the Expedition Society gained two new members yesterday.”

All heads in the room turned towards Espurr and Tricky.

“We’re very excited to welcome Espurr and Tricky into our ranks!” Ampharos exclaimed. “And as such, I’ve picked out the perfect task for you both…”


~\({O})/~

“E-errands?” Tricky stuttered, walking outside the Expedition Society building with Espurr. “That’s the important task??”

“You didn’t expect them to send us into a dungeon straightaway, did you?” Espurr asked, walking down the steps. She carried their exploration bag with her, even though they weren’t going to be doing any exploring. Must have been force of habit.

“W-well…” Tricky began, fuming. She broke off soon after, at a loss for words. “I thought they’d take a pair of pokemon on a rescue team more seriously…”

“It’s not all bad,” Espurr said. “At least we can get familiar with the town before we have to go outside of it.”

“Hey, you two!” Holly, the white-furred vulpix, yelled out after them. “You’d better catch up, otherwise we’re going to leave you behind!”

Espurr and Tricky traded looks, then ran to catch up with the other three of them.

“You’re going to be helping us pick some stuff up from the harbor.” Cinder, the torracat, walked up in front, with their team’s own exploration bag strapped to his back. “Make sure to keep up.”

Granite was a bit too busy chewing on something to chip in.

“Hey, what’s that you guys are wearing?” Holly asked, her eyes fixed on Tricky’s scarf. Espurr instinctively fiddled with hers a bit.

“They’re scarves,” Tricky mumbled. “My pops gave them to me.”

“Holy—” Holly had to take a moment to get her breathing under control. “Is your pops loaded or something?”

“What’s loaded?” Tricky asked.

“What’s wrong with the scarves?” Espurr asked.

“T-those aren’t scarves! They’re focus sashes!” Holly exclaimed loudly, pivoting on her paws and gaping. “Those are so rare—do you have any idea how lucky your pops was to get ahold of those?”

“What’s a focus sash?” Tricky asked.

“It’s got a very powerful heal pulse sealed in it,” Holly said, still trying to keep the stutter out of her voice. “I-if you’re on the brink of death or were mortally injured, the scarf will heal you as long as you’re in contact with it. Many pokemon live and die without even seeing one. And you guys are just walking around with two of them on your necks! You have to hook me up with him sometime.”

Pops… Tricky’s mood plummeted. Yes, he had made her clean the whole house from top to bottom, and yes, there were scary creatures that would put Pops in danger if she had stayed, but she’d never even said goodbye to him. He must be worried sick.

But there had never been going back before, and there was no going back now.

“Maybe later,” Tricky said, trying not to look gloomy. It almost worked.

“Huh?” Holly’s head tilted at Tricky’s visible drooping. “Did I hit a nerve or something?”

Tricky couldn’t bring herself to answer.

“Our parents live far away,” Espurr answered in Tricky’s silence. “Traveling back there isn’t really a good idea right now.“

“So… you guys are runaways,” Holly concluded, walking backwards. Neither Espurr or Tricky answered that one. Holly read their fear-stricken faces instead.

“N-not that I care,” she quickly added. “If the chief let you guys on, there must have been a reason! Just curious is all.”

“You know, you’re walking backwards again,” Cinder sighed, sending a glance in their direction. “When are you gonna learn?”

“What’s the issue with it?” Holly asked. “I’m careful!”

“Careful, my tail,” Cinder said. “Yesterday you walked into a streetlamp.”

“That’s one time!” A-and Granite was sticking her tongue out at me! How is that a fair example?”

“I alphays sptick myph tongphe ouff!”


~\({O})/~

Lively Town Harbor

The harbor was crowded and filled with pokemon and ships galore. There were several lapras arriving and departing from the docks, and pokemon loading and unloading the boats passed Espurr and Tricky to and fro. A huge marine pokemon with the scaffolding meant for smaller pokemon to ride on sat in the middle of all the ships, taking a nap. Espurr read the large billboard that stood in front of the large pokemon:

Wailord Liner

Departing next for: Sand Continent, tomorrow at 9 AM

“Alright, this is where you two come in.” Cinder stopped outside a large lapras-pulled barge that had just pulled into the harbor. “The chief wants us to pick up a late shipment from the docks. It should be in that barge.”

“Late shipment?” Espurr asked.

“Fireworks,” Holly whispered to her as Cinder talked with the barge pokemon. “We usually shoot them on Deerling Day, but they were delayed by a storm or something. Now we’ll have to wait until next year.”

“You guys shoot fireworks?” Tricky asked, her earlier gloominess evaporating on the spot. “I’ve never even seen fireworks before!”

“Next year, then…” Holly breathed.

“N-next… year??”

“Yeppers.”

Tricky wilted.

The crates were heavy, and it took five minutes for Espurr and Tricky to move one from one side of the harbor to another.

“How… heavy… are these things?” Tricky panted from under a crate, using her back and head to lift up one side.

“Way too heavy…” Espurr struggled on the other, using her mental powers to lift the crate. She could barely manage a single sentence under the strain.

Eventually, they reached the end of the harbor. Both Espurr and Tricky unceremoniously dropped the box down on the ground, and collapsed on either side of it.

“I hope we don’t have to get more of these…” Tricky panted out. “My tail’s all scrunched up.”

“And I’ve got a headache,” Espurr said, rubbing her forehead. “I think there were only three.”

There was a boat docked at the end of the harbor that was empty. It looked brand new, like it hadn’t even made its maiden voyage yet. There was no ramp leading up into the ship like there were into the others that were being unloaded, but a pile of crates had been stacked up next to it that looked like they’d make a good makeshift staircase. Espurr looked up at the flag that was flying from the boat’s highest mast. It was a soft purple flag, sporting a badge that was very clearly the Expedition Society’s own sigil. Realization hit Espurr. This must be—

“’Ey, you two!”

Both Espurr and Tricky looked over in the direction of the voice to see a scrafty angrily marching towards them.

“Any of y’all seen the ‘mon who pilfered mah blas’ seeds?” the scrafty asked, pulling a piece of paper out of his pants. “I only saw ‘em for a second, bu’ I got this drawin’! Shoul’ be enough, don’ ya think?”

He thrust the paper out into Espurr’s face. Her eyes focused on what looked like a very crude drawing of…

Espurr suddenly felt a lot less tired. She stood up and took the paper from the scrafty.

“Tricky, look.”

Tricky hopped up onto the crate and took a look at the drawing on the paper. Her ears scaled back a bit.

“You’ve seen ‘em?” the scrafty asked hopefully. Espurr looked down at the drawing again, where a crude but unmistakable drawing of a trio of beheeyem had been marked down.

“Are you sure these are the pokemon you saw?” Espurr asked, her voice urgent.

“Yes, ‘course I’m sure!” the scrafty said angrily. “I don’t mistake a ‘mon once I see them. Now have you seen ‘em or not?”

Espurr handed the scrafty back the paper. “Not since last night. Sorry.”

“Drat…” the scrafty shoved the paper back down his pants. “Tha hun’ continues, then. Well, than’s anyway.”

With that, the scrafty spun around and walked back the way he’d come. “You there!” he pointed at a passing flareon.

Espurr and Tricky silently traded one long, worried look that conveyed the same meaning: What do we do?

The crates were put on a wagon that Cinder pulled across the streets on their way back to the Expedition Society building with ease.

“Ugh,” Holly said on their way back, shuddering. “There were the weirdest ‘mon at the docks today.”

“What kind of ‘mon?” Tricky asked. Espurr’s eyes lit up curiously.

“They showed up near the barge a few minutes after you guys were gone,” Holly said. “Like… these three beheeyem guys. Weren’t with anymon, didn’t do anything but stare at us creepily. They weren’t doing anything wrong, but you could feel the bad vibes…”

Espurr and Tricky uncomfortably traded looks.


~\({O})/~

Expedition Society Headquarters

“I didn’t think they’d reach the city so fast….” Tricky said, pacing back and forth in their room with her head and tail down.

“And they have blast seeds now,” Espurr said. “That means they’re armed.”

“What do we do?” Tricky asked. “If the village wasn’t safe, and now this city isn’t safe, where do we go?”

“There’s nowhere else we can go,” Espurr said. “If they’ve gone after us this long, then they’ll chase us anywhere.”

“Why are they even chasing us??” Tricky said. “What did we do to them?”

“I think…” the next part sent chills down Espurr’s spine. “I think they’re trying to kill us. They’re connected to that monster we fought in the Crooked House, they have to be. And as for what to do…”

She didn’t know. Where was there to go, when their pursuers were relentless and deadly? Nowhere would be safe forever. Unless…

“Espurr…” Tricky started. “I think we should tell somemon.”

Espurr folded her arms. “Telling pokemon in the village didn’t go so well.”

“But this is a rescue guild!” Tricky said. “It’ll be different!”

“But we tell them, then they’re involved,” Espurr said. “Then the beheeyem will just hurt them too.”

“They’re involved anyway!” Tricky said. “We can’t run from it—you said it yourself! We need to get help.”

Espurr was finding it harder and harder to come up with a new answer. The more she looked at the situation to counter Tricky’s comment, the more sound it was. If they could get help, then it wasn’t a question of running anymore—they could just overpower the beheeyem!

“Alright, fine,” Espurr reluctantly admitted. “You have a point. But who do we tell?”


~\({O})/~

“So, let me get this straight.” Holly trotted backwards alongside Espurr and Tricky through the bustling streets, barely avoiding a collision with a passing signpost. “Those beheeyem from earlier are here for you guys.”

“Y-yep,” Tricky said. Her voice quaked a little.

“And they chased you all the way from your village to here?”

“Yep.”

“A-and what do they even want with you?? That’s pretty persistent.”

“They’re here to do away with us,” Espurr said after a moment of hesitation.

“Holy muk,” Holly sighed, breathing a breath of frigid cold air into Tricky’s face. “This is some intense stuff.”

They trotted in silence for a while, taking in the sights of the town. The streets of Lively Town were as lively as their namesake, but Espurr couldn’t stop herself from constantly glancing behind her back. There were tons of pokemon in this crowd. Their pursuers had countless places to hide and lurk in a town this big.

“Can you guys prove anything?”

Both Espurr and Tricky looked straight at Holly with worried faces.

“You don’t believe us?” Tricky asked.

“N-no!” Holly stammered, making an attempt to backtrack with an exaggerated grin on her face. “No, of course I do! I don’t think you guys are lying. But let’s be real, the police aren’t going to do anything unless you can prove they’re actually after you. And the Expedition Society technically isn’t supposed to handle outlaw hunting, so we can’t just go after them ourselves.”

“They also stole some blast seeds from the harbor,” Espurr chimed in. “A pokemon there was complaining about it. He had a drawing of them.”

“That’s a start…” Holly said. She sat down in the middle of the street, thinking. Her tails thumped against the sidewalk in some erratic rhythm Espurr couldn’t follow. A choir of small pokemon passed around them, mumbling niceties like ‘excuse me’ and ‘coming through’ as they pushed by Holly, Espurr, and Tricky. Then Holly finally spoke.

“Hey, you guys said they chased you all the way from your village to Lively Town?” she asked.

Espurr and Tricky both nodded.

“Well…” Holly made icy rings in the air with her paw. “If they chased you that far and then they appeared at the harbor, that means they’re following you around town, right?”

Espurr and Tricky looked at each other, then hesitantly nodded.

“So we could set a trap for them,” Holly continued, lowering her voice into a hush. “You guys lure them into one spot, and then I’ll tip off the police about the blast seed thief and have them make the arrest!”

“But what if they just attack us instead?” Tricky asked.

“They wouldn’t attack us in a crowded place,” Espurr said in realization. She suddenly felt giddy with hope. “Not unless they knew they were going to come out on top. That’s why they didn’t just get us at the harbor.”

“Exactly!” Holly said, her grin no longer forced. “And later today the five of us are going to be working in one of the most crowded places in town.”

“What place is that?” Tricky asked, curious.

“Have you guys ever heard of Spinda’s Café?” Holly inquired innocently.


~\({O})/~

Spinda’s Café

“So glad you could all pitch in to help today,” said the very not spinda-ish electivire who managed Spinda’s Café. “Having the extra paws to move around all these crates really saved us.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Cinder yawned. “When do we get paid for this?”

Espurr and Tricky struggled to move one of the crates through the crowded restaurant and into the storage room in the back. They set it down with a smaller thump than before, both collapsing on either side of it to catch their breaths.

“Hey, you guys are here!” Holly quickly sidled herself in, looking around furtively to make sure that neither Granite nor Cinder were around before she said anything else. “You walked around town for a half hour before you got here, right?”

“Yeah,” Tricky said. “Cinder yelled at us for being late.”

“Cinder’s a mukhead,” Holly said dismissively, brushing off the notion with her paw. “You’re sure they followed you here?”

“We’re sure,” Espurr said, standing up and dusting herself off. “You can see them from the window out there.”

She pointed out the vault door. Holly followed her gaze. Outside the window of the store, on the other side of the street, a trio of beheeyem glowered in the shadows.

Holly was clearly doing her best to contain herself, but struggling anyway. “How many crates are still out there?”

“One,” Espurr and Tricky both answered at once.

“Alright,” Holly said, pulling her team’s expedition gadget out from behind a crate. “T-they wouldn’t dare attack you in a place this crowded, right? I’ll tip off the police now. They should get here in five minutes. You guys go and keep their attention in one place.”

The sudden uncertainty in her voice made Espurr equally uneasy. But she nodded all the same, and then and Tricky left the vault.

“Do you think the police are really going to do anything?” Tricky asked in a whisper as they walked out of the restaurant. The beheeyem were only a sidewalk away; the sunny sky felt like it was covered in clouds.

To Espurr’s sixth sense, the atmosphere was downright malevolent. Every voice in her head was going haywire, telling her that this street was not a safe place to be and she had to flee now and take Tricky with her if she wanted to get out of here alive. It took everything Espurr had to will herself not to look at them any more than out of the corner of her eyes.

“It’s worth a shot,” she whispered back, shrugging off the paranoia. “I’ll take anything at this point.”

The last crate sat all on its lonesome on the sidewalk. Espurr and Tricky both struggled to lift it up. The lid jostled as they did, catching Tricky’s attention.

“Hey, Espurr,” she asked in a strained voice as they moved it up towards the storefront. “Weren’t all the other crates sealed? Why’s this one open?”

Now that Espurr thought of it… she bumped the crate from her side; the lid rattled as well. “I think they were,” she said. “Something must be wrong with it.”

Espurr and Tricky set the crate down with twin breaths of exhaustion. Espurr studied the lid, which looked like it had been wrenched from the rest of the crate. “It looks like somemon tore the lid off with brute strength,” she remarked, nudging it out of place.

“Hey—what are you two doing?!” An angry voice in the background caught both Espurr and Tricky’s attention. They both snapped their heads around to see the electavire heading towards them angrily. “I never said you could open that crate!”

“W-we didn’t!” Tricky exclaimed loudly, panicking. “It was already open! It was—”

There was a small opening where Espurr had moved the lid. Amongst the large bags of food and produce, a tiny sack sat. A sack that didn’t look like it belonged among the larger bags of grains at all. Had that bag been put in there just now? If she could just get a closer look… Ignoring the electavire for the moment, Espurr opened the lid a little more, allowing just enough sunlight to shine in and show her what it was: A bag of blast seeds.

Wait—

It clicked. Espurr dashed forward.

“Tricky, get away—”

The beheeyem made their move. Espurr tackled Tricky and sent them both tumbling away from the crate just as a large shadowy attack flew towards the box. The attack sent the box flying straight towards the restaurant. Espurr only had time to cover her face as the storefront exploded—

The blast sent dust, debris, and smoke flying throughout the street. The restaurant was set aflame, and Espurr could hear various cries of panic from inside the building. Holly was in there. They had bigger problems right now.

“Get out of the way!” Cinder pushed the shellshocked electavire aside, heading into the restaurant. Granite followed in his wake. “Everymon out!”

Tricky pulled herself up from the street, shaking her face to clear it of debris. Espurr struggled to find her balance. She glanced around, trying to see something through the dust and debris.

“Where did the beheeyem go?!”

They came out of left field. Tricky pulled a dizzy Espurr out of the way as one of them swooped in from the smog. The lights on its arms made the smoke flash and flicker. All of the sudden the lights were all around them—coming from all sides and impossible to tell where they’d strike next from. It was disorienting. Espurr finally caught her balance and pressed herself up against Tricky’s back. She looked around frantically, trying to ignore the lights and find something that could help them get out of this mess.

Tricky’s ears twitched. She pushed Espurr aside, ducking herself as one of the beheeyem’s shadowy attacks flew through the haze. It slammed against the café’s tattered menu board and turned it to solid stone. Espurr rolled to a stop, got to her feet, and looked around frantically. She forgot all about being an explorer—for the moment, all that mattered was getting herself and Tricky to safety. The electivire was getting up from where Cinder had pushed him, shaking his head. He stared at the burning restaurant, his mouth gaping open in horror.

Tricky had her eyes closed. Her ears twitched towards every sound.

“I think…” she muttered. “There!” she pointed to their left. “Over there! There’s a beheeyem over there!”

Espurr looked in the direction Tricky was pointing. Sure enough, through the dust beginning to settle, there was the outline of a beheeyem moving towards the restaurant. Only a single one, but the electavire was in its line of fire!

“Hey!” Espurr called out to the dazed pokemon. “Move!”

That snapped the electavire out of his trance. He looked over at Espurr. “What—”

Too late for talking. Espurr used her still-recovering psychic grip to pull the electavire out of the way just before a shadowy ball flew in the elecatvire’s direction. He went soaring across the street and landed on the other sidewalk. The landing knocked him unconscious. Lifting such a heavy pokemon made Espurr’s head ache. She clutched her head, doing her best not to fall over a second time.

Espurr stumbled back over to Tricky, trying not to let the lights give her an even bigger headache. This was bad. Really super bad. Those pokemon were going to come out of the restaurant soon, and if they hadn’t dealt with the beheeyem by then, every single one of them were in danger!

Thinking made her head feel like it was going to split. She groaned in pain, falling back onto her behind.

“Espurr!” Tricky called out, running over to where Espurr was.

“We need to… run…” Espurr hissed through the pain.

“Run? Why?” Tricky asked back, frantic.

Another shadow attack. Espurr and Tricky both hit the ground and rolled over; the attack decimated the pavement where they had been.

“The beheeyem are only after us,” Espurr panted, getting to her knees while she recovered from the mental strain. “We need to lead them away from this crowded street, or they’ll just hurt more pokemon!”

The debris was settling, but a large crowd had gathered outside the destroyed storefront. The beheeyem’s three cone-like foreheads advanced through the crowd, now in plain sight. But no-mon knew. No-mon realized how dangerous they were.

“But what about the police??” Tricky asked frantically. “They’re gonna show up soon, right?”

“The police have bigger problems,” Espurr panted, finally regaining enough clarity to stand up properly. She pointed at the beheeyem advancing through the crowed, prompting Tricky to look in the direction she was pointing. “The beheeyem are going to reach us first at this rate.”

Sure enough, the beheeyem were steadily advancing towards their position.

“Where did they go?”

Holly, Granite, and Cinder all galloped out of the shop, looking at Espurr and Tricky among the crowd of pokemon.

“There they are!” Holly called out, pointing down the street. She had a noticeable limp.

“Time to go.”

Espurr and Tricky both got up and began to run down the street, away from the destroyed burning building.

“Wait!” Holly called after them. “Where are you going?!”

“Don’t follow us!” Espurr called back after her.

She looked back at the crowd as they ran. If the beheeyem were intent on chasing them, they’d have to do it in the middle of broad daylight.

But the beheeyem weren’t coming after them. They stood in the crowd, motionless. Watching. Soon, Espurr could barely see them as they ran—wait. They were moving, to the left. If she squinted, she could still see them somewhat clearly. They entered a back alley, disappearing from Espurr’s vision. They were taking a shortcut! How she wished she’d brought their team’s bag with her…

“Can you see them??” Tricky frantically looked back, although the crowd and the storefront were out of sight at this point.

“They went into a back alley,” Espurr panted as they ran. “They’re probably planning to ambush us somewhere.”

“But we don’t have anything to defend ourselves with!” Tricky said. “A-and they could be anywhere!”

They stopped outside a house in what looked like the residential sector in Lively Town near the coast, panting for breath. Espurr could see to the west the large Expedition Society building sitting up on the hill.

“Now what do we do?” Tricky asked.

“We’re safest back at the Expedition Society,” Espurr rasped, her lungs run ragged. “Anywhere else in the town is easy pickings. We need to keep moving, or they’ll just catch up to us.”

“Right…”

Without any further hesitation, Espurr and Tricky set off towards the Expedition Society building in the distance.


~\({O})/~

Expedition Society Headquarters ~ Ampharos’ Office

“Do the two of you have any idea why you’ve been summoned here?”

Espurr and Tricky sat in twin stools in Ampharos’ office. Ampharos relaxed in the seat behind his desk, looking at them both intently. Mawile was silently leaning against the wall in the background with her arms folded.

“Is it about what happened at Spinda’s?” Tricky tried hopefully.

“Correct!” Ampharos exclaimed. Both Espurr and Tricky suddenly shifted in their seats.

“Not to worry,” Ampharos quickly clarified. “Neither of you are in trouble. However, as witnesses, you must detail what you saw so the Lively Town police can track down the true culprit. I requested this be done from the comfort of my office, rather than at the police building. You should know we’re being recorded right now.” He gestured to the connection orb on the desk. “If you please… begin!”

Tricky opened her mouth, and Espurr sensed she was about to tell Ampharos everything—

Espurr stuck her paw up. Tricky fell silent before she could say a single word. She looked at Espurr, confused.

“There was an accident with one of the crates,” Espurr said, trying not to trip over her words. She was barely keeping herself together as-is. “It wasn’t packed properly, and whatever was inside exploded. Tricky and I ran away and got lost. We just made it back here when we got called to your office.” She looked up at Ampharos. “That’s what happened.”

There was a click from the connection orb; the recording had stopped. Espurr eyed it, ignoring Tricky’s look of shock.

“Can we go now?” she asked.

Ampharos dismissed them with a wave of his paw. Once they had left, he sighed and reclined in his seat.

“How much of that do you think was the truth?” Mawile asked.

“Little, if any of it,” said Ampharos. “It doesn’t match up with the manager’s story at all, nor does It include why the police were phoned about a robbery at the harbor. Not to mention the shipments to Spinda’s Café contained nothing remotely explosive.”

“Why do you think they would lie?” Mawile asked.

“There could be a thousand reasons,” Ampharos said, sitting forward. “I suspect fear. Isolating themselves so no-mon else gets hurt. Which, if my suspicions are correct, is exactly what the unknown party in this situation desires. Whoever these beheeyem are.”

He reset the connection orb on the table. “Not to worry. We still have one more witness to question before we have the full picture anyway. We can circle back to this later.”


~\({O})/~

“What was that about??” Tricky angrily questioned Espurr once they had left Ampharos’ office. “We should have said something! Now we’re on our own!”

“Don’t you get it, Tricky?” Espurr looked at Tricky, her eyes full of fear. “The more pokemon we tell, the more pokemon are going to get hurt! We can’t tell the entire police station! That puts them all in danger!”

They both fell silent as Holly limped past them in the hallway, heading in the direction of Ampharos’ office.

“But aren’t the police supposed to handle these kinds of things?” Tricky asked as they walked down the hallway towards their room.

“Have the police ever handled pokemon who can turn other things into stone?” Espurr asked. “They already blew up a building just to get to us—they’ll just petrify the place and walk straight out. We have to deal with this ourselves. We can’t get anymon else involved.”

“But then how do we get rid of them?” Tricky asked. They had entered their allotted bedroom. Espurr stared out the window, looking at the colorful landscape of Lively Town below. Somewhere, lurking in one of the alleyways below, were a trio of pokemon who no-mon knew were dangerous. Just the sight made Espurr want to shiver with fear.

“I’ve been thinking about that,” she said, calming herself down. “Ever since we left Spinda’s. I think I know how to do it. We just need to get them far away from here, then strand them someplace where they aren’t able to get back to us.”

“Where?” Tricky asked, hints of frustration slipping into her voice.

“There’s a ship from the Expedition Society that’s leaving for the Sand Continent tonight,” Espurr said. “I overheard about it yesterday, just before sundown. The Sand Continent’s on the other side of the world, right?”

“Yeah…” Tricky said. “A-and most of the continent’s fenced off for archeology purposes, so there aren’t many wailord liners to and from there!”

“Except the one that leaves from the Lively Town Docks tomorrow morning,” Espurr said. “Remember from the dock schedule? I’ll bet they’ll follow us there on that. All we need to do is stow away on the ship that’s leaving tonight.”

Tricky was quickly beginning to look more perky and animated. “So we can really get rid of them?”

“I hope so,” Espurr said, clutching the window railing tightly. “Otherwise, we’re out of options.”

She walked away from the window, opening their exploration bag and going through it to make sure they had all their supplies. “Make sure you aren’t forgetting anything. We’ll have to leave after dinner.”


~\({O})/~

“Bunmph.”

Espurr sat at the bottom of the grand staircase in the lobby, checking her bag one last time just to make sure they hadn’t left anything behind. The map, the expedition gadget, a half-used tube of toothpaste, a few oran berries, what little remained of their own blast seeds…

“Bunmph.”

That looked like everything. Espurr had gone over the bag’s contents almost five times over the past few hours, but it didn’t hurt to be just a bit more safe. She latched the bag shut—

“Ephferr!”

That was enough to startle Espurr out of her trance. She looked up to see Tricky sitting in front of her, her tail wagging furiously. In her mouth was a basket of leftover buns from the dinner spread.

“Look!” she sat the basket down in front of them. “I got us buns from the kitchen! Now we won’t be hungry on the trip.” She looked quite proud of herself.

Espurr tilted her head at the basket. “Did you just steal those from the kitchen?”

“I didn’t steal them…” Tricky drawled out. “I just… took them when the chef wasn’t looking!”

“That’s stealing.”

“Well it doesn’t matter now!”

Espurr looked both ways, then held open the exploration bag open. “Here, quick. Dump them in before anymon sees. I think the chef will literally kill us if we’re found out.”

The buns went into the exploration bag, and the basket was thrown out the window to avoid evidence.

“So what are we waiting for?” Tricky asked in a whisper as they both stood in the lobby, trying to look innocent. There was the sound of a door opening up on the second floor. Both Espurr and Tricky straightened up.

“I think it’s coming now,” Espurr said.

Sure enough, just seconds later Bunnelby began to lazily trot down the stairs. He had an explorer’s satchel of his own, and he hummed some tune Espurr didn’t recognize to himself as he walked towards the door.

“Hey,” he greeted as he walked past them. Espurr and Tricky waved back with pronounced, stilted grins on their faces. Bunnelby walked out the door, and neither Espurr nor Tricky moved a muscle until it shut loudly behind him.

“That’s our chance!” Espurr whispered. “Let’s go!”

“But won’t he hear us if we use the door?” Tricky asked.

“We’ll just use a window,” Espurr said, walking up towards the closest one to the door. Where did you throw the basket?”


~\({O})/~

The basket had been thrown out near where the trash cans were. Espurr jumped out the window first, followed by Tricky. She rolled to a stop on the ground, quickly getting to her feet and collecting their bag not a second later. She brushed a discarded paper out of her fur with a look of disgust.

“This way!” Tricky said. “We’re gonna lose him!”

She took off down the alleyway, and Espurr ran after her to catch up.

“Slow down!” she hissed, chasing Tricky as they turned the corner around the building and ran down the hill towards the rest of the town. “We still have to make sure those beheeyem follow us to the docks! Otherwise, we’re doing all this for nothing.”

“Um, Espurr?” Tricky had stopped ahead, allowing Espurr to catch up easily.

“What is it?” Espurr asked, panting as she caught up.

“I don’t think finding them’s going to be a problem…”

Espurr directed her eyes off to the side where Tricky was looking. What she saw made her freeze up in fear. All three of the beheeyem were haunting an alleyway just off to the side. Espurr gasped and quickly edged out of the alleyway’s view. Once she was sure the beheeyem couldn’t see either of them anymore, she pressed herself up against the house, trying to keep her legs from trembling. She had to keep herself together.

“Now what?” Tricky asked.

This was bad. Espurr had wanted them to follow, but not this close! Bunnelby hadn’t even reached the harbor yet! They had to buy more time, otherwise their own trap was going to backfire in the worst way possible.

“We just… have to sneak past them,” Espurr said. “I’ll make a distraction.”

The lid of a trash can fell over in the alleyway the beheeyem were searching with a loud bang. Espurr peeked around the corner just enough to make sure that the beheeyem had fallen for the distraction, then waved Tricky forward. Tricky bounded across, followed by Espurr a split second later.

They splashed through a puddle of water as they went. The noise attracted the attention of at least one beheeyem. Espurr saw its head turn around just before they cleared the alleyway. For just a second, their eyes locked. And then Espurr’s left foot hit the ground, and she continued dashing down the street.

“They saw us,” she breathed, falling in line with Tricky as they both ran. She grabbed the strap of their expedition bag, holding it tight to her. “We’re going to have to fight.”

The beheeyem glode out of the alleyway and into the street, catching a good glimpse of Espurr and Tricky running off down towards the harbor in the distance. Shadowy sparks of energy collected around their blinkers, which aimed directly at the slowly shrinking figures in the distance…

Espurr spun around at the last second, and hurled a single blast seed at the beheeyem. A psychic blast caught it midair and propelled it the rest of the way across the gap. It collided with the beheeyem’s shadow attack, creating an earsplitting blast. Windows cracked. The beheeyem were blown back. Espurr and Tricky were sent flying through midair towards the bottom of the hill. They hit the ground hard. Espurr didn’t any time getting to her feet, and neither did Tricky. They both looked at the beheeyem up on the hill, who were still recovering from the blast.

“Quick, through the alleyway!” Espurr pointed out a small alley to their left. Pokemon were starting to come out of their houses in the aftermath of the blast, looking around for what might have caused the sound. A trio of beheeyem quickly pushed past them without a single word, heading for the small enclove below. But it was already empty.

Tricky dashed down the narrow alleyway, followed closely by Espurr. They edged around a dumpster, taking a hard left as they followed the night sky above for direction.

“Did we get them?” Tricky asked.

The dumpster slammed into the wall behind them with a deafening crash, leaving a dent in the wall and sending trash flying everywhere.

“Something tells me we didn’t,” Espurr said, shielding her face from the trash that was raining down. “How much longer until we reach the harbor?”

The beheeyem rounded the corner, a shadow attack prepared. Espurr only had a split second, but she reacted fast.

“Tricky, duck!” Espurr hit the ground just before Tricky did. The shadow attack flew over their heads and mangled another dumpster.

Espurr pulled another blast seed out of her bag and threw it at the beheeyem. To her horror, it slowed to a stop just before it could make contact with the beheeyem in front. They’d caught on. The blast seed began to rotate in place, gaining momentum even as Espurr edged herself back and tried to get her footing. Then it shot towards her.

The blast seed hurt. It blew both Espurr and Tricky clean across the alleyway, and felt like fire against Espurr’s skin. She landed on the cold, hard ground, which helped ease the burning the blast seed had inflicted upon her but stung all the same. The walls around them were damaged, and the beheeyem advanced upon them like they had already won. Tricky was beside her, still recovering just like her. It was the cliff on the mountain all over again. There had to be way out. Some way out…

The mangled dumpster behind the beheeyem began to move with loud creaks and scrapes against the pavement. Then it lifted up off the ground and flew across the alleyway. It collided with the beheeyem from behind, plastering them against the ground and walls.

For a second, all was silent. The beheeyem didn’t move, and Espurr and Tricky finally had a chance to peel themselves off the pavement and collect themselves. There were a few burn marks on their bag. Espurr smoothed it over the best she could. She wondered if that could be repaired.

Tricky looked at the ruins of the dumpster that had apparently crushed the beheeyem.

“Are they… dead?” she asked, tilting her head at them. Espurr could feel a psychic presence emanating from under that dumpster. An angry one.

“Not at all,” she said. “We should run while we can.”

With that, they both dashed down the alleyway without a second thought. The sound of a dumpster crashing in the growing distance behind them rang out in the night and sent chills down their spines.

The harbor was quiet and dark. Espurr and Tricky ran out into the open, quickly hiding themselves behind a pile of crates. Espurr noticed Tricky was carrying herself with a mild limp.

“Are you going to be alright?” she asked, staring at the leg.

“It’s just a bruise,” Tricky panted, out of breath. “I’ve had tons of bruises before. But where’s Bunnelby?”

Espurr peeked over the top of the crates, frantically looking the ships over. Were they too late? Had he left already?

She spotted the dark outline of the Expedition Society’s ship, and breathed a sigh of relief. They weren’t too late yet. But were they on-time? She didn’t see Bunnelby there, or any other sign of life that would indicate a pokemon had been near that ship recently.

“I don’t think he’s here yet,” she said. “We should get closer before—”

She heard Tricky’s gasp, and felt her tense up. Turning around, she saw what Tricky saw: The beheeyem were approaching them from the same alleyway they had come out of. Espurr tensed up ready to fight, but her body and her head sent her aching pangs—she was in no condition to fight, and neither was Tricky. They had one last blast seed left, but using that in close quarters would just blow them all sky high.

They were out of options. The only way out was to run—

Then Espurr heard Tricky snicker. She looked over at her partner, watching the fennekin scrunch up her tail as she tried to keep her laughter contained.

“What’s so funny?” Espurr asked, looking at Tricky incredulously.

“Don’t they look so silly?” Tricky asked, trying her best not to devolve into a giggling fit. “Look at them!”

Very confused and on-guard, Espurr looked at the beheeyem. On closer look, they were struggling to keep themselves straight. Their cone-like heads wobbled back and forth like waving tops, and they couldn’t even lift their arms to aim another attack at the two of them. Espurr had to admit the sight did look a pretty silly, even if this was a life or death situation.

There were black sparks flying around the many burn marks and dents in the beheeyems’ bodies. The many dents, cuts, and burn marks in their body were slowly disappearing—whatever those black sparks were were healing them. Espurr didn’t understand it, but now wasn’t the time to get focused on small, roundabout details—they needed to move while they could.

“Let’s go before they stop doing… that,” she said, pushing away a still struggling not to laugh Tricky in the direction of the ship.

She could see Bunnelby now, lighting a torch in the harbor as he hopped up on the crates to get on the ship. Espurr and Tricky quickly cleared half the harbor, hiding behind another stack of crates as they watched Bunnelby hop up onto the ship.

“We’ll use those crates to get up onto the back of the ship when he’s not looking,” she said. “Then we’ll sneak below deck.”

Bunnelby disappeared into the ship’s door, and then Espurr waved Tricky along. “He’s in the ship!”

Espurr and Tricky hopped over the crate they were hiding behind and made a beeline for the ship at the end of the harbor. Espurr heard the pile of crates behind them get loudly blasted away, but she chose to ignore it. The sound of crates tumbling and their contents spilling out everywhere just made it harder not to look back.

Espurr reached the pile of crates outside the ship, but stopped to help Tricky up before she went herself. She spared a split seconds’ worth glance towards the beheeyem coming towards them—too long. An attack hit the crates and jostled them. They didn’t fall over, but teetered dangerously over the water.

Then Espurr saw something that triggered perhaps the largest scare of her life—the ship was setting off! And they still had three more steps to climb before they reached the top of the crates!

Espurr helped Tricky up the crates as best they could. The beheeyem got closer and closer behind them. Espurr cast another glance at them—another attack was amassing between their blinkers. This one would probably topple the crates over.

Finally at the top. She and Tricky watched the ship that was setting off towards the harbor. Tricky looked back towards the beheeyem with horror.

“What do we do??” she asked, her voice dripping with terror.

Espurr was determined to get on that boat, no matter what.

“We jump,” she said, desperately trying not to look like she was coming up with a plan on the spot.

“Jump? We’ll land in the water!” Tricky exclaimed.

“We won’t!” Espurr said. She didn’t entirely know that, but she was banking on a gamble. “But only if we jump now!”

“Are you… are you sure?” Tricky asked.

Espurr decided she was. It was all or nothing. She nodded firmly at Tricky.

Tricky gulped, then grabbed onto Espurr. Espurr grabbed hold back.

“Three…”

The beheeyem’s attack that was about to fly any second now.

“Two…”

The ship sailing off in the distance, getting farther away with every second.

“One…”

The crates were suddenly knocked out from under them—

“Jump!”

Espurr and Tricky both launched off the crate under them just before it gave away, tumbling into the sea below with all its lookalikes. Espurr and Tricky flew through the air, losing momentum for just a second and heading towards the water—

—An invisible force bounced up from under them, propelling them the rest of the way onto the ship’s back deck. Espurr and Tricky hit the ship’s floor rolling with a loud thud. Espurr’s head throbbed with pain, but between that and drowning in the ice-cold ocean with a pair of wannabe killers greeting them at the shore, this was the better option by far. She and Tricky lay on the deck of the ship for a moment, clinging tightly to each other and panting in exhaustion.

The beheeyem watched them from the shore, their blinkers flickering red yellow green in the night. Espurr could feel the demented stares they were sending her from a mile away, but at the moment she didn’t care. Because they had won. For the moment, they were safe. And there wasn’t a single thing the beheeyem could do about it.

The ship sailed off into the night, carrying two more passengers than it should. Phase one of Espurr’s plan was complete.


~\(O})/~

Music of the Week!

Those We Don't Speak Of - James Newton Howard
 
Last edited:

Deltaaa

Custom title:
Location
The Moon
Pronouns
Any
View attachment 495

~\({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
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
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!
1614068887291.png
 

Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Partners
  1. custom/mew-adam
  2. custom/celebi-shiny
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
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
 
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