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Dragon Enthusiast
  1. charizard
  2. milotic
Sup espy! Here's the last of the Blacklight reviews, and this time I'm taking a look at chapter 2 and 3. I'd give more but I'll save that for when I'm caught up and I can give you something more comprehensive! For now, I recall you saying something about wanting to take a look at old work to see what can be improved so you can stop hearing it over and over. I think with that in mind, I'll open by saying that overall I thought this was a really strong start for what is a Super AU. And I say this in that I don't really feel like this is a 'Super' fic in the way you'd normally expect one to be labeled as such.

Essentially, it seems like it diverges off right from the beginning while expanding on other aspects early, or in ways that the canon games have not. For example, it makes sense that offscreen, the past heroes were either occupied or petrified early and hence the reason they couldn't actively help in the plot going on now. I think, aside from the Bittercold (which was generally a 'quicker' crisis) there weren't really any global ones that would be noticed by other continents. I mean, there was the meteor, but that was also the first one chronologically.

In general, I don't really see this as much of a slow start as you made it out to be when I hear your self-evaluations. Not compared to other stories of the same genre, at least. Yes, there isn't a whole lot necessarily happening with Espurr herself, but the stuff happening in other scenes is telegraphing very clearly that something is brewing, making it much less boring than Super's canonical openings.

I don't have a lot to comment on with qualms with dialogue or prose or syntax. Never been my focus. I will comment, however, on something I happened to notice while glancing through one of the chapters for a re-read. Bolding certain letters for a hidden message that I might have missed while listening to the chapters! Now I need to skim past chapters to see if I missed any others... Very meta. Verrry meta. And impressiv,e because I'm a sucker for these Gaster-like tidbits suggesting a greater power is at play.

So long as that's kept up, I think you'd be able to get away with this kind of buildup for maybe four more chapters. After that, I hope there's a new twist to keep things fresh and interesting, or the rising action starts to kick in and Espurr gets directly involved somehow. Until then, though, it's been a good beginning! I'll see you later when I'm more caught up.

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
  1. nidoran-f
Alright, took a while to get things together, but I'm back with more of that review exchange of Electric Sheep, starring the Council of Baram:

Chapter 6

It’s too windy up here…” Archen complained as he and Mawile crossed yet another fenceless, sky-high bridge between the massive windmills of Baram Town.

“You’re in a better mood today,” Mawile noted, tucking her journal back into her bag.

“Yeah…” Archen ruffled his feathers nervously. “Well, sleep does wonders for the brain, it turns out. You could stand to get some every now and then.”

Mawile chose to ignore it. She knew heights riled Archen up, and it wouldn’t do them any good to get into an argument before an important meeting like this one.

Mawile: "... Archen, you're a bird." >_>;
Archen: "A flightless bird. Hanging around tall heights gives me uncomfortable reminders of my mortality." >v>;

Archen looked upwards, seeing not the shadow of another bridge above them but only the looming presence of the windmills’ massive vanes. The thought to look down briefly crossed his mind, but he immediately dismissed it and edged just a little farther from the ends of the bridge.

Flying types were flying types, but somemon could have thought to install fences for those who weren’t blessed with the power of flight.

Mawile: "Again, Archen, you're a Flying-type-"
Archen: "Again, flightless here." >v<;

“Names, appointments,” one of them sighed, knowing well who the pokemon who stood before him were.

“Mawile and Archen, Expedition Society,” Mawile responded without skipping a beat. “Here to provide testimony on the petrification of Pokemon Plaza. Appointments scheduled for 9:00 A.M. on Wednesday.”

The murkrow checked his clipboard, routinely confirming Mawile’s information (which he knew to be true already), then stepped aside.

Mawile: "... Wait, how is he holding that thing anyways?"
Archen: "I assume he set it on the ground and is writing on it like that? Beats me."

The waiting room was suitably lofty for the space inside the highest windmill in Baram. Many open-paned windows decorated the wall, and the floor was decked out in an impressive display of ceramic tile-art. Archen didn’t like the way it felt against his talons, [but he was happier to be over the fenceless bridges between the windmills than he was annoyed by the floor]. Mawile, who didn’t seem to be bothered by the floor at all, strode over and promptly took a seat on one of the lobby’s backless stools.

The bit in brackets IMO sounds more natural formulated along the lines of "but his relief to finally be over the fenceless bridges between the windmills outweighed his annoyance with the floor", but that's just my two cents.

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.

Archen: "So... uh. Remind me, just how important were the Pokémon in this appointment again?"

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

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 decency, then walked back out onto the bridge and let the large double doors slam behind it.

Archen + Mawile:

- Archen glances off at the gem-encrusted doors -
Archen: "Uh... that Staraptor wouldn't happen to be coming from the place where we have to go for this appointment, would it?"
Mawile: "Sure hope this place has a good janitorial crew. Though talk about an undignified exit there, I didn't even know Staraptor could do that with their wing feathers."

A third murkrow stepped out of the office, carrying a scroll in its wings.

“Appointments scheduled for Mawile and Archen of the Expedition Society, at 9:00 A.M.?” he wearily announced.

“Present.” Mawile stepped down from the stool, discreetly making sure Archen was tailing after her as she walked in the door. Archen ruffled his feathers once more as the doors closed behind the pair of explorers, and then they faced the immense gut of Mayor Honchkrow.

Mayor Honchkrow gestured to a pair of stools with his wings, prompting Mawile and Archen to take a seat.

“Sorry for my previous client,” Honchkrow warbled. “I’m sure you had to hear all that on your way in.”

Archen: "Uh... you did clean up after your prior appointment, right?" ·v·
Mawile: "I mean, we didn't notice any obvious signs coming in, so... we're probably good here?"

“Did you know it’s customary on the Grass Continent to just do your business wherever you please?” Mayor Honchkrow asked.

Mawile suddenly had a forced-sounding cough.

“… No. We did not,” she finally managed to get out, causing Archen to spare her a confused look. She must have noticed but ignored him, keeping her eyes trained on Honchkrow.

Archen: "... I'm sorry, but how is that an accepted custom there again?"
Mawile: "Let's... move onto another topic, please."

“Well, neither did I,” Honchkrow continued. “Until I became mayor. Those savages on Grass have opposed HAPPI and any sort of modern innovations for years, and still bother to call themselves ‘civilized’. They’ll be the end of us all, I tell you…”

Oh yeah, that attitude doesn't imply ominous things about dealings with the Grass Continent at all.

“Anyway… now that we have that behind us, let’s get down to business, namely: Why were two cartographers sent to scope out the crisis on the Air Continent?” he eyed Mawile like he was scoping her for falsehoods.

Both Mawile and Archen shared a look at the Mayor’s sudden turn in behavior. That was not the business at hand.

Now, now, nothing wrong with maps,” Honchkrow corrected himself. “I love a good map. They make great napkins. But when mere map-making suddenly becomes interference on the level of a proper rescue guild, one has to assume…”

Archen: "(I'm sorry, since when did this guy get entitled to call each other savages when he's using maps as napkins?)"
Mawile: "(To be fair, that's still a higher bar than relieving yourself in public.)"

“I think you’ll find our alibi steady,” Mawile stated calmly, doing her best to keep her cool as always. “As the largest and nearest available registered Exploration Establishment, the Expedition Society was granted the legal power to act in HAPPI’s stead, due to weather blocking any teams arriving from the Mist Continent. Once we arrived and learned of what happened, we proceeded in accordance with the proper guidelines, and are here to deliver our eyewitness reports on the matter.”

Honchkrow was left silent, trying to process the graveller-load of information he had just been saddled with. Mawile took the opportunity to capitalize upon the mayor’s moment of silence, digging in her large exploration bag and producing both her and Archen’s expedition gadgets.

“That’ll solve your legal woes,” she told the flabbergasted mayor, setting both expedition gadgets on the desk.

“Don’t let it go to your head.” Honchkrow regained his composure at the last minute, staring Mawile down with all his girth. “Or… heads. Which one is it again?”

Ah, so HAPPI is basically a world government in this setting. Though that jurisprudence system sounds like a mess if it can arbitrarily grant resident Pokémon the ability to act on its behalf.

“It is.” Mawile scrolled back through the photos. “We were ambushed by what appeared to be a walking anomaly, for lack of a better term. You can see the very edge of it in a few of these photos.” She stopped on the photos for good measure, allowing Honchkrow to find the anomaly himself.

Honchkrow leaned back in his seat, taking a deep breath and rubbing his temples with his wings.

“I want those photos transferred to HAPPI. Send in the thingamabobs if you need to. And then… I want the Expedition Society to stay out of this. I don’t need map makers meddling around in real rescue guild business.”

Mawile: "I'm sorry, what? But we're literally the two who have the best idea of what we're dealing with here!"
Archen: "Mawile. Maybe we should curb our enthusiasm a bit on going back into more near-death experiences by weird shade monsters." >v>;

“With all due respect, mayor,” Mawile said evenly, “the Expedition Society is a registered guild under the Connection Orb network. Baram Town isn’t.”

“Is that so?” Honchkrow let out a chuckle that grated Mawile’s ears. “Care to explain away why you’re in my office reporting to me, then?”

Mawile could immediately tell this conversation was going nowhere. She pointedly didn’t answer the question, stuffing the expedition gadgets in her bag and ushering Archen out.

“Thought so,” Honchkrow drawled. “As long as the Rescue Guild is out of the picture, every team on this continent reports to me. And I want you both off. I don’t want to see any of your faces back on this continent again until this all blows over. Be a good manager and go tell your employees that for me.”

Mawile: "Did we seriously just get kicked out of the continent by this guy?" >_>;
Archen: "I mean, hey. At least on the plus side we won't be running into that weird monster again anytime soon."

… She couldn’t help herself. She stopped at the doorway, making rare use of her back maw to speak to Honchkrow:

“The Expedition Society is not under my jurisdiction,” Mawile’s maw rasped out, raw 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.”

Archen: "Uh... wait, Mawile, but aren't those technically horns? How are you managing to do that without vocal cords?"
Mawile: "Carefully."

Mawile let the doors to Honchkrow’s office close behind her. As the pair of explorers made their way down the massive windmills, even erudite, disciplined Mawile couldn’t help but stifle the beginnings of a well-earned grin spreading across her face.

Maybe she wasn’t above a well-deserved scare here and there after all.

To be fair, getting crabby certainly helps motivate one to do that, yes.

Not that one, dangnabbit!

Nuzleaf thwacked one of Farfetch’d’s spare teaching stalks into the board. “This one is ‘E’. Find ‘Z’ for me. Zzzz.”

Espurr was running out of patience, fast. The class had gone on for the better part of an hour now, and she couldn’t make heads or tails of this stupid alphabet. She could tell Nuzleaf was getting just as fed up with it as she was, which only raised her stress levels more.

I'm presuming that "normie" Pokémon in your story don't have anime-style speech? Since I'm admittedly not sure how a creature that uses between 1 and 5 fixed phonemes would be able to sound out an alphabet. :V

“Since ya still didn’t manage to find the darn ‘Z’,” Nuzleaf snapped, thwacking Farfetch’d’s stick to the board again. “It’s here.” He pointed to the very last letter at the end of the board.

“Frakkin’ blue monkey…” Espurr heard him mutter to himself as he marched off. “Can shove his ‘guard duty waive’ up his arse. Didn’ tell me it was this hard ta teach pokemon how ta read tha alphabet…”

Espurr watched Nuzleaf’s figure become smaller as he entered the village plaza in the distance. In the three days she’d been here, she hadn’t heard anything about guard duty...
I see Nuzleaf has a bit of a blue streak there. Not that I blame him for having a student struggling this much to identify 'Z'.

“I don’t know anything about that, why do you ask?” Deerling absentmindedly scratched at her tawny new dark green coat of fur with a hoof. Espurr sat in the unoccupied desk next to Deerling’s (that Pancham had been so insistent upon taking, but Deerling had requested remain vacant for her own sanity).

Oh, I see that Deerling's done molting for the season. So she goes through that whole embarrassing song and dance 4 times a year, huh?

“That is really weird,” Deerling admitted, tilting her head. “Although… my parents are always out on ‘important business’ every few weeks… maybe they’re guarding the Crooked House?” she shrugged the best she could. “That’s the only way I can explain it.”

“Crooked House?” Espurr asked.

“Oh. Right. I keep forgetting you’re new. It’s the molt, I swear it…” Deerling massaged her forehead with her hooves briefly.

Espurr: "... I don't think molting affects thought process, just saying." -_-;
Deerling: "It does when it's all that you think about. Anyhow, lemme get my word in here."

“The Crooked House is this creepy place that was already standing when the village was founded,” Deering continued. “No-mon knows who built it, or what it was even for. Everymon tells ghost stories about it, like that one with the crooked 'mon. It’s on the outskirts of town, so you won’t see it unless you actually leave the plaza, but seriously. It’s some freaky stuff. Not even Tricky’s been past the front gate.”

Even Espurr knew that if Tricky refused to enter somewhere, that was a major red flag.

The other students were beginning to file in now, supervised by Audino instead of Watchog. Espurr had to admit the change in atmosphere was pleasant.

I like how Espurr just casually nopes out from that topic of conversation there. :V

“You aren’t switching seats, right??” Tricky called back. Espurr hopped down from the vacant desk and walked over to her own.

“What were you doing with Deerling?” Tricky asked once Espurr had sat down.

“Sometimes it’s nice to spend time with other pokemon for a change,” Espurr told her. Tricky looked somewhat dejected.

Uhm... yeah, considering how literally the entire town hates Tricky to varying degrees, this seems pretty ill-advised, Espurr.

“As I’m sure I don’t need to remind you…” Farfetch’d picked up one of his trademark leeks from the ground, crossing off students’ names quickly. “Tomorrow marks the start of our pre-summer exams.”

He pulled a paper out of the history book he had brought with him, straightening it out and beginning to read off it slowly.

“The first exam you six will take is for my own class. It also doubles as a writing exam, so you’ll all be filling it out on paper. Participation is mandatory, and where you fall on the test will affect your curriculum next year.”

He lowered the paper. “Any questions?”

Espurr: "Uh... is this going to be scaled to accommodate for me only being here for like 2 weeks, right?"

Farfetch'd: "No, next question."

The classroom was silent. Only Espurr’s good paw slowly rose up into the air.

“Yes?” Farfetch’d pointed her out.

“The exams are on paper, right?” Espurr asked.

“That’s right.”

“What if you can’t read?”

Espurr: "I mean, just saying, if this is just going to be an automatic fail for me, I'm probably better off doing literally anything else on that day."

All eyes were suddenly on Espurr, and not in a way she liked.

Farfetch'd massaged his forehead with one of his wings, like he had just remembered something important.

“If you can’t read the exam, then one of our teachers can help you take it some other way,” he finally managed to get out.

Espurr put her paw down and tried to mind her own business for the rest of the class, but she still felt the lingering presence of eyes on her the entire time. They never left.

Farfetch'd: "So don't take that as an excuse to not study, Espurr."
Espurr: "Wouldn't dream of it... (this feels more than a little unreasonable here.)" -_-;

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.

I mean, she does have the powers to do it. Not that I really blame her for going into revenge fantasies after the whole Red Emera episode. :V

Espurr spun around, startled. Pancham leaned against the side of the School Clinic, his arms folded.

“What’s the story there?” he asked nonchalantly. “Were you raised in the woods or something?”

Espurr wasn’t dumb enough to fall for that twice.

“I have nothing to say to you,” she told him flatly, then left him on the spot.

“Bet you won’t get a high score on the test!” he yelled after her.

To be fair, considering what I remember of Pancham's personality from PSMD, I'd put it as an even money bet that Espurr would still manage to outscore him even while illiterate. :P

“Where’ve you been all recess?” Tricky fell into stride with Espurr as they walked down towards the classroom.

“Trying to get a teacher to help me with the test,” Espurr said. She brushed that over as quick as she could. “What about you?”


Espurr: "Wait a minute, since when did you read for fun?" ._.;

Espurr couldn’t help but do a double take when she heard that. Tricky? Reading?

“One minute!” Watchog yelled grumpily from below. “Everymon had better get down here!”

Tricky spun on her paws, casually walking backwards down the path.

“That book on mystery dungeons? I checked it out. And guess what? There’s a small dungeon right near Pop’s oran berry fields! It’s where all the combee make their honey, and they sell it to Kecleon every year, so there’s no way it’s dangerous. Wanna go exploring with me after detention?”

Espurr: "... Of course." >.<
Tricky: "Hey, what's that look supposed to mean?"
Espurr: "It means that maybe you should curb your enthusiasm on going into Mystery Dungeons for a while given that our last trip in almost got us eaten by a zombie Gabite." >_>;

“But…” Tricky struggled to come up with an excuse. “Once we join the Expedition Society, we aren’t gonna get breaks, so why take any now?”

There it was again. Expedition Society.

“But I never agreed to join the Expedition Society,” Espurr said matter-of-factly.


Tricky couldn’t help but stifle a laugh at Espurr’s face. “C’mon—I’m kidding! You take jokes waaaay too seriously. Besides…” she whispered, as they entered the classroom and took their seats. “*I’ll convince you in time... *”

Espurr: "Tricky, you literally spent the better part of the last chapter in a panic. Why are you still thinking about joining a society that explores them as their main job right here and now?"
Tricky: "B-Because you can't just back down when you're scared! You need to conquer them and push through!"
- Espurr pause and stares at Tricky -
Espurr: "(Does this have something to do with that comment Deerling gave me? Did Tricky get someone hurt in a Mystery Dungeon, and she's trying to prove she can make it up or something?)"

The classroom went quiet as Watchog lumbered up like a zombie possessed, then took his spot at the teacher’s desk.

“May I have your attention, please,” he muttered out, looming over the students from the teacher’s desk. “Firstly, I’m sure I don’t need to remind everymon of what happens if I catch you using the skills taught in this classroom unauthorized outside of it.”

“Detention for life,” the class wearily recited back in unison. “We know.”

Espurr: "... What on earth's gotten into Mr. Watchog? He's looked... well, terrible today."
Tricky: "Wonder if it has anything to do with those emeras from the last chapter? Since he sure seemed spooked when those Drilbur brought up that they found them."

“Moves in dungeons,” he began loudly. “We already know that all pokemon can use moves indiscriminately. What type you are affects what kind of moves you can use: For instance, a fire-type will use fire moves, a water-type will use water moves, etcetera.” He paced the classroom from side to side frenetically like a military commander. “However, moves also draw from pokemons’ bodies indiscriminately. The energy required to perform a single move would be enough to completely consume the energy of a small animal.”

A small bird chirped in the trees above. The class silently stared up at the canopy, wondering what a move could do to it.

“Lucky for you lot of troublemakers…” Watchog continued. “Pokemon have much higher energy rates than small animals. You can both use and endure moves… up to a certain threshold. Every time you use a move, that depletes some of your internal energy. It also requires the same energy to properly defend yourself against moves.”

Ah, I see this is also a setting with normie animals in it. Even if I don't think they've been shown onscreen yet.

“By that logic, it’s possible to die by using a powerful enough move, right?” she asked nonchalantly.

The entire classroom looked somewhat shocked by Espurr’s casual use of the word ‘die’. Watchog quickly wiped the momentary surprise from his face, returning to business immediately afterwards. “I’ll give you that one,” he responded after a moment. “It is theoretically possible for a pokemon to use a move powerful enough to consume their entire energy force. However, your body will shut down long before that happens.”

Watchog addressed the entire class. “What happens when your body is pushed past its energy threshold?” he asked loudly.

“You faint,” most of the class replied back.

“Fainting.” Watchog struck the blackboard like a gong again. “Fainting is what happens when your body loses too much energy. You can faint from hunger, move fatigue, or by getting hit with enough of them. In civilized settings, making your opponent faint is the universally accepted method of winning a battle. But in Dungeons, fainting can mean the difference between life and death.”

Interesting dichotomy where the civilized world is that unused to the concept of death. You'd think they'd be a bit more jaded considering how brutally things can end in the Mystery Dungeons all around them.

Watchog cast his intense gaze towards Tricky. “And that is why none of you should be playing around in mystery dungeons,” he finished, glaring at the fennekin accusingly. At Tricky’s determined smirk of ‘Never!’, Watchog changed gears, chucking the leek to its side by the teacher’s desk.

“While going into an actual mystery dungeon for this lesson is far too unsafe for the likes of you right now,” Watchog went on, “the Principal has given me express permission to use my Vice Principal Powers—” Tricky failed to suppress a loud snort of laughter “—to turn this classroom into a Fully-Safety-Regulated Mystery Dungeon! Ping-Shapow-Whazam!

Watchog snapped and clapped his fingers together repeatedly, the sounds coming from his mouth devolving into indistinguishable sputtering noises as he continued.

“We’re still in the classroom,” Tricky pointed out after Watchog had finished.

“Yeah. Lame.” Pancham traded looks with a still-sleepy Shelmet.

“Use your imagination,” Watchog grumbled. “It’s not like you’re in any shortage of that.”


Oh, so this is the story's equivalent to his moment with the Looplet cutout. :P

“Pair up! All of you!” Watchog clapped his paws together. “We’re going to be practicing using Moves today.”

There was zero enthusiasm from any side of the classroom.

“I need a couple of volunteers…” he began, his eyes gliding to two of the seats at the front of the class. “Espurr, Tricky!” he snapped. “Would you like to volunteer to demonstrate?”

“Why not!” Tricky got up from her seat, tapping Espurr on the shoulder with her tail as she passed.

Espurr: "What?! But I literally can't even consistently lift pebbles with my mind right now!" O_O;
Tricky: "Relax, I'm sure you can learn on the fly, Espurr."
Espurr: "Tricky, that's not how this works!" >.<

“Entire books have been written on the art of learning moves,” Watchog declared for the class. “But my opinion? The best way of learning moves is in practice. Start!”

Watchog’s arm came flying down, and in an instant, Tricky planted her paws into the ground and shot a blast of flame straight at Espurr. At a loss for ideas, Espurr did the only feasible thing she could think of in the moment—she ducked. The Ember went straight over her head and dissipated in the distance as it flew off.

Espurr slowly picked herself up from the ground, ignoring the way her coat stung where she’d hit the dirt.

Watchog sputtered in annoyance. “What was that?” he questioned annoyedly. “Again!”

Espurr: "Okay, how is this remotely ethical right now? Shouldn't he have at least seen what our aptitude was before pairing us up?" >.<

“Ready?” Watchog surveyed the both of them. Tricky nodded readily, practically bouncing in place. Espurr resumed her fighting position. Watchog had said that all pokemon could use moves, right? Well, she was a pokemon. She had to be able to do something.


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.

... Ouch.

“No misbehavior, either of you.” Watchog raised his arm again, eyeing both of them suspiciously. “Three… Two… One…”


Tricky fired another Ember from her mouth, which Espurr narrowly avoided. Watchog gazed down at her disapprovingly as she picked herself up from the ground.


Espurr was hit in the face.


Espurr was sent flying against the desks.


Espurr charged forward with a stick in her paws—

“That’s cheating!”

“My throat hurts,” Tricky complained. “Can we do somemon else for a while?”


Uh. Yeah, I can see why this guy is unpopular in town. You'd think he'd have called it after round 3 at the latest of Espurr very obviously not being able to attack back.

Also, this part's a bit sparse on description, but not sure if that can really be helped without seriously undercutting the rapid-cut feeling it's got going on here.

She looked up at the sounds of crashing coming from the front of the classroom, where an obviously faking Deerling had just let Goomy tackle her to the ground. Espurr thought back to all the training rounds she had been forced to endure in the last fifteen minutes. She hadn’t been able to land a single hit in any of them.

Then it occurred to her: Maybe she didn’t have to.

... Uh... is she planning on decking Watchog with the blackboard or something?

“Mr. Watchog?” Espurr raised her good paw. Watchog looked like he wanted to correct a certain honorific, but bit it back for the sake of the class. ”Yes?” He asked.

“I’d like to try one more time.”

Watchog thought it over for the better part of a minute. Then he sighed, and pointed to the space in front of the teacher’s desk. Tricky let out a wordless groan, slumping her head in defeat. She began to trudge towards her spot in the classroom slowly.

“Not you.” Watchog verbally stopped Tricky in her tracks. “I promised Audino I’d leave you all reasonably unharmed, so up to the clinic you go. Now!”

Without another word, Tricky changed her course towards the school clinic, bounding up the stairs quickly.

“Any volunteers?” Watchog asked the rest of the class.

“I’ll do it.” Pancham’s smooth voice rang out against the silence of the other students. Espurr watched him saunter up to the other side of the teacher’s desk, taking a fighting position confidently. All the better. She’d have loved to get back at him for making her blood boil.

On the one hand, that's a terrible matchup. On the other, I can already feel the Power of Hate coursing through Espurr's veins already.

Pancham wasted no time charging towards her, his fists brimming with colorless energy. That was going to hurt if it hit her. But Espurr was determined not to let that happened. If she could just get a good grip—

Pancham’s fist collided with her face, sending her flying back several feet. She hit the ground painfully, and barely registered the sound of Watchog calling the match. Her face stung, but what stung even more was the realization that she’d just let it happen, and there wasn’t anything she could do about it. The frustration in her finally reached a breaking point. Her ears began to tingle, accompanied by annoying static. The feelings mounted in Espurr’s head, and suddenly turned into something much more tangible—

There was a large ‘boom!’ and then everything hurt, and she couldn’t open her eyes again for several minutes.


“It wasn’t a move.” The principal’s voice rang out near Espurr. She could hear his footsteps near her ear. He must have been nearby. “That was an explosion of pure, unrestrained power. Luckily, she is still young, so the blast wasn’t fatal. However… most pokemon learn to control their power before they even walk. To see somemon of her age with so little control is curious, to say the least. Nurse Audino, if you would like to do the honors?”

“Yes, Principal.” There was another set of footsteps, and then Espurr felt herself get lifted off the ground.

“Not fatal, my tail…” Espurr heard Watchog mutter in the distance. “Piece of the blackboard nearly got me in the heart.”

Oh, so Espurr had a Psyduck moment. Shame that chunk of the blackboard wasn't slightly off, though.

“Holy mystery dungeon!” Tricky hollered, leaning out the window of the School Clinic. “The classroom is wrecked!”

“So wrecked…” Shelmet said in between bites of food, “That school should be cancelled for the summer?”

“Nice try.” Audino said, setting Espurr’s lunch aside and taking a bite of an apple. In the corner, Watchog stared out the window and sputtered to himself in disbelief.

Principal Simipour poured himself a wooden cup of Orangeberry Tea and blew on it to cool it off.

“The classroom’s destruction should do nothing to impede our regular school schedule,” he said. “Exams will continue as usual.”

Espurr: "... Wait, how's that supposed to work if we don't have desks anymore?"
Simipour: "It doesn't take that much to pull in some surrogates. We'll make do if we need to."

Espurr barely had time to glance in the direction of the voice before she was tackled by Tricky. Soon after, she was swarmed completely by the rest of the students.

“You totally destroyed the classroom!” Tricky exclaimed.

“It was awesome,” Pancham said. “You get that.”

“It was not awesome!” Deerling glanced at Pancham angrily. “Somemon could have been seriously hurt!” She looked at Espurr. “Are you alright?”

“I think I swallowed a wood chip,” Goomy complained.

“Maybe it’ll stay in your belly forever and ever…” Shelmet hissed to Goomy. A scathing look from Deerling a few seconds later made him retreat into his shell.

Espurr: "I- I did what now?" ._.

“Seeing as you’re doing better,” she began. “You should be well enough to serve detention after school as well.”

Watchog suddenly stood up.

“That reminds me…” he muttered to himself, before pushing open the door and heading towards the supply building in the distance.

Tricky flopped down upon the bean bag next to Espurr.

“I wonder what detention’s gonna be today?” She mused to herself idly.

Surprised that Watchog didn't just go "she doesn't need to serve the rest, she's good!" right on the spot there. :V

“Separate detentions??” Tricky howled as Watchog pushed her out the door. “But why??”

“Doesn’t matter why,” Watchog grunted. “Any chance to separate troublemakers is a gift to me.” With that, he managed to push the fennekin out the door, Goomy sliming off in their wake.

“You’ll be helping me clean up the clinic today,” Audino said once they had left. “Start by picking up all the bits and pieces of food strewn around the place. I’ll clean the back room.”

Sounds more like an excuse for a private tete-a-tete, but we'll see, I guess.

Left to her own devices, Espurr got to picking up all the stray bits of food that had been scattered around the clinic by the rest of the students. There were copious amounts of nuts and seeds scattered everywhere, the splotchy remains of an oran berry that looked like it had been stepped on, and an entire discarded apple core that was probably Shelmet’s. Espurr even picked out all the small bits of food that had landed in the straw beds, a task she spent sorely wishing she could just rip all those bits and pieces out of the straw with her mind and not get a headache.

Espurr: "How on earth do six kids make this much of a mess?"

By the time she was done setting the empty wicker baskets on the counter that was almost taller than she was, Espurr felt thoroughly exhausted. She cast a look at the stack of baskets sitting on the counter to her right. Then she remembered. They had hidden something there, hadn’t they?

That stray thought was enough to jog Espurr’s memory. She had completely forgotten about it in the mess of a day that followed! Casting a look towards the back door of the clinic to make sure Audino wouldn’t suddenly burst in and catch her unawares, Espurr slowly pulled the stack of woven baskets towards her, being careful not to let them topple everywhere as she removed them from the countertop.

She found it stuck to the underside of the penultimate bin at the bottom of the stack, a folded piece of paper that had been glued there with some of Goomy’s slime. Espurr knew the baskets were recycled every three days. One more day, and Audino would have found it. Espurr neatly stacked all the baskets again, and was in the process of trying to scoot them all back up onto the counter with one arm when she heard the door open behind her. It took all her willpower not to jump and accidentally spill the baskets everywhere.

Espurr: "Wait a minute, just what was this again?"

Audino, who had just exited the room and shook her duster off into the wastebin, caught sight of Espurr and quickly ran over to right the baskets.

“Oh, honey! You don’t need to do that part.” Audino took the baskets off Espurr’s hands and set them safely on the counter. She looked down at Espurr. “You should have asked me!”

Espurr quickly stepped on the paper so Audino wouldn’t see it. Audino handed Espurr a smaller duster, picking up her own once again. “The next step is dusting. I’ll get all the high places. I need you to dust in the lower spots for me. Can you do that?”

Timely save there.

“Just some regular old cleanup at Kangaskhan’s,” Watchog said as he made Tricky and Goomy march ahead of his through the square. “What could go wrong? Everything. Everything could go wrong. But nothing. Is going. To go wrong. Or I’m not Vice Principal Watchog—Sharp left!”

Bold proclamation to make there when you indirectly blew up the classroom during the sparring session you organized earlier that day.

Ampharos, two seats away, set down his menu at the sound of the word ‘students’. He then raised it high again and slowly lowered it, just until he could see over the top. Discreetly, he eyed the pair of pokemon by Watchog’s side. There was a goomy (who Ampharos was not too concerned with), and the fennekin from before. And… nothing. Perhaps the espurr was late? Going off what he had heard from the townspokemon, Fennekin and Espurr were like glue—they had rarely been seen apart ever since Espurr arrived in the village… three days ago.



“Doesn’t the school usually handle detentions?” Kangaskhan cocked a rocky eyebrow.

Watchog leaned in close over the counter.

“I’m not supposed to tell you this,” he began, his voice dramatically low. “But just between you and me: One of the students had an ‘accident’ in the classroom. A big accident. Boom.”

“Boom… ?” The other eyebrow went up.

“Boom.” Watchog waved his hands out, exaggerating the effect as much as possible.

“Well…” Kangaskhan set the stack of seashells aside before she had another chance to drop and crack them. “I guess I could use some help behind the counter. A—“

Surprised Kangaskhan didn't just nope out from Watchog's offer lest she risk drawing that one student that oopsed the classroom. :V

Tricky suddenly blanched at the word that was about to leave Kangaskhan’s mouth. Kangaskhan quickly corrected herself before the word was uttered in its entirety, sending Tricky a brief apologetic look.

“I mean, Tricky could do that. And Goomy could help me with the dirty dishes. Sound all right?”

Watchog leaned back, taking a seat on one of the stools next to the counter. “Sounds wonderful. And I will have that drink, by the way. Mago berry, please. Here—I’ll pay you—”

As Watchog searched the small bag he had brought along for his money pouch, Tricky quietly slunk off into another section of the restaurant. She never ever got to come in here. It was going to be fun to see what made this place tick!

Oh boy. Time to see Tricky put on an extra couple weeks of detention.

“You can’t just leave me alone like that…” Goomy said, sliming up to Tricky. “Not like what you did yesterday.”

“What did we do yesterday?” Tricky’s voice oozed with confusion.

“You left me! All alone in the heat with the Vice Principal!” Goomy said, appalled by Tricky’s ignorance.

Oh, that…” Tricky’s eyes suddenly lit up. “That was fun. You should have joined in!”

Is Tricky effortlessly lying about her feelings about what went down in the mine dungeon supposed to be deliberate? Or was she supposed to hesitate more before her eyes lit up there?

Tricky quickly scampered around the corner of the counter at Watchog’s silent command, where Kangaskhan propped her up on a moving cart against the counter.

“Don’t get too rowdy, okay?” Kangaskhan told Tricky. “I won’t have accidents in my restaurant. You’re my waiter for the night. Just take everymon’s orders and bring them to Houndoom in the kitchens. He’ll take it from there. You can start with this one: ‘One Mago berry drink, fermented.’ Got it?”

Tricky nodded so vigorously it unsettled Kangaskhan a little. “Alright then. Go!”

Oh yeah, this will totally end well.

Tricky hopped down from the cart and sprinted into the kitchens, where a houndoom was mixing and chopping and simmering several different things almost simultaneously.

“Oi!” He paused the heating of one dish with his breath to snap at Tricky. “No kits in the kitchen!”

“But I’m the waiter!” Tricky announced pompously. “Also, I have all your orders, so you don’t wanna kick me out.”

Houndoom raised an eyebrow, taking a second to continue simmering the dish again. “Let’s see them, then.”

Tricky cleared her throat. “One Mago Berry—“

“Not like that!” Houndoom snapped. “You’re supposed to write them down first!” he went back to simmering the dish full force, ordering Tricky out with his eyes. Tricky was gone faster than a speeding Thunderbolt.

I mean, as unfun as that was, it still turned out better than expected... so far. :V

“Count your lucky wooloo, that’s all we’ll hear about it politically.” Mawile held on tightly to the exploration bag as they passed through what looked like a disassembled bird pokemons’ choir. “We’ll be officially out of HAPPI’s snouts once we hand over those photos to Cloud Nine, and then it’ll be down to Dedenne and the Chief to handle Meowth and the local news outlets.”

“Wherever he is.” Archen added candidly.

Mawile simply chose not to respond to that.

“I wonder that caused the delay?” Archen wondered as they passed a stall of dungeon supplies. “This particular Lapras is almost never late.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much on it,” Mawile responded. “We all run a little late on occasion.” Archen ruffled his feathers and shrugged the comment off.

Spotted the story-specific place there. Will be interesting to see whatever this 'Cloud Nine' is.

Archen: "Good thing we're not in a story, huh? Since that feels like something you'd say to tempt fate there."
- Mawile blinks and cocks head back -
Mawile: "That sure felt meta on your part, Archen."

A sudden commotion that erupted from the docks only seconds later turned both Mawile and Archen’s heads. Without another word between them, the two explorers rushed in the direction of the harbor, pushing past several other ‘mon who were fleeing in the opposite direction.

A panicking swirlix pointed a trembling limb towards the water as they and a few other pokemon arrived to see the source of the confusion. “look…” she gasped out.

The source of all the commotion made both Archen and Mawile’s hearts skip a beat. Floating on the water was the stone statue of a lapras on a wooden raft, a note stuck to its chest in thick, loopy handwriting:

Your sins have risen from the grave to drag you back down with them. I am this world, as it lives and breathes.

Revel in the little time you have left, for your day of reckoning is nearly upon you.

And I called it. For a second I thought the Lapras was still floating on the water after getting stoned so I was about to make a Pumice Ray joke, but good thing that raft was there, huh?

Mawile acted quickly. She pulled out an expedition gadget—it didn’t matter which one—and snapped a photo of the statue floating before them. Then two others. Then a close-up of the picture, And another one, just to be safe. Then she quickly pulled Archen away by the wing, the avian pokemon scrambling to keep up as she walked away from the docks at a brisk pace.

“W-what’s this about?” Archen squawked, trying not to end up with his poor feathers pulled out.

“This is better discussed at the inn,” Mawile said, but even her steady tone couldn’t help but betray the slightest hint of unease. “We don’t want to be standing here when the police show up.”

Even stubborn Archen had to admit that was advice best taken. He made more of an effort to catch up with Mawile, and neither of them cast a single look back on their hurried path to the inn.

“I know this may be a bad time,” Kecleon asked hopefully as the pair of explorers walked by his stall. “But have you heard any word on when my supplier will—"

“Don’t count on it,” Mawile told him flatly. And then they were gone.

I suppose that's a more polite answer than "Never, he's dead Dave." o<o

The normal waiter was an inkay, so there was no ink anywhere around the Café Connection to write with. But Tricky had found a fix for that. Oran berries were kind of like ink, and yes, she had used up like ten of them (and nibbled a few when Kangaskhan wasn’t looking), but now she had something to write with!

(Mystery Dungeoneering Life Hacks, written by Wartortle of Pokemon Plaza. Tricky swore by it.)

It was just a problem of remembering everything long enough to get it all down on paper, and hoping that Houndoom wouldn’t chew her out for misspelling a little something here and there.

I think that you're going to get chewed out for a bit more than that, Tricky.

Tricky scooted the moving cart over to the last pokemon currently in the café she hadn’t taken the order of yet, trying to get a good look at the pokemon who was obscured behind the giant menu.

“Can I get your order?” she asked cheerily.

“A plate of the vegetable pasta, please.” Ampharos put down the menu, clearing his throat politely. “And a raspberry sorbet—those always have been my guilty pleasure, I’m afraid…”

Tricky’s eyes practically bugged out of her head. “No. Way!” she exclaimed, barely keeping her voice down to an excited hiss. “You’re Ampharos! We totally met in the square two days ago!!”

Ampharos: "Yes way. Though why don't we stop and talk a bit, hm?"

“How unfortunate.” Ampharos had half a mind to ask what had gotten the two of them in detention, but decided to shelf the question in favor of more important things. “See,” he continued. “After our chance meeting, I got in touch with a close friend in the Expedition Society.” Tricky’s eyes widened and sparkled. “They pulled some strings with the top brass, and brought into my possession a pair of Junior Memberships.” Ampharos sighed. “I was going to gift them to the two of you, but presenting them with only one of you around… that just won’t do! It’ll have to wait until I can meet you both.”

Tricky almost yipped for joy with excitement! Her dream was finally coming true and she couldn’t believe it! She just stopped herself from throwing a joy tantrum in the middle of the restaurant, instead taking a deep breath and asking Ampharos the world’s most important question—

“Whencanwemeet?? I know this really good place and it’s quiet and there’s a nice view and—“

“Hmm…” Ampharos thought on it. “How about… in three days? I hear that’s when your schooldays end. I’ll be waiting for you at the hill with the tree at sundown.”

That seems more than a little risky given how this is supposed to be "fate of the world hanging in the balance"-tier stuff. Unless if he made the offer in mind for allowing Tricky and Espurr to get past exams, surprised he didn't insist on meeting as soon as Tricky's detention let out for the night.

The place wasn’t big. The main plaza in the center of the village was easily the largest spot in town. There was the school to the north, the houses to the west, and to the east was the archways of the village entrance.

Espurr ended up wandering south.

The houses got sparser as she continued; within less than a minute, she had completely outstripped all the buildings.

Except for the house.

It stood all on its own out on the bay, on a small, swampy island that was only large enough to cover the house itself and the end of the dock leading to it. Espurr was sharp enough to figure out what it was: This was the Crooked House.

Espurr: "Uh... why am I getting anywhere near this place again when Tricky herself won't go past the front gates?"

She cast a furtive look both ways, just in case somemon caught her staring at the place. There was no way the old house was actually haunted, of course. And even if it was, the ghosts obviously preferred to keep to themselves. The entrance to the house, sealed off with several large wooden planks, made that much clear.

It wouldn’t hurt to peek, she figured. It wasn’t like she was going to go inside.

She's totally going inside, isn't she?

Espurr slowly crept along the creaky, moss-covered dock, testing each new board hesitantly with her foot before she stepped on it. Why did this dock have to be so long?

It didn’t get any better as she went. Some of the boards had literally rotted away, and Espurr was almost lost to the waters below when a board she stepped on snapped off and tumbled down into the river. And that was to say nothing of the desolate feeling that pervaded the entire island. It made Espurr feel like she was constantly being watched, and regardless of whether she was or not, it solidified one chief concept in her mind that she accepted as fact: There was something wrong with this house.

With this place. 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…

… But she’d come this far. She wasn’t going back now. She wanted to accomplish at least one thing today.

Espurr: "I... really think that I should turn back right now, but why aren't my legs cooperating?"

Something hidden in all the muck caught on her foot, and sent her sprawling forward. She barely kept herself from faceplanting into the mud.

Hidden in all the grime was what looked like a pair of cards on a small tablet. Espurr's foot was caught in the groove between the muck and the bottom of the tablet. She gingerly pulled her foot out of it.

In her fall it looked like she had both knocked the card out of its place on the tablet, and gotten mud all over the surface of... whatever it was on. What was this doing here, anyway? A tug revealed it was attached to something underneath all the muck. Espurr tried her best to put it back into place, but the mud smeared all over it made it impossible. The best she was able to get it was back on its pedestal, but halfway out of its original resting place.

It was only then that she noticed the door of the Crooked House was open.

But it had been sealed. There were boards nailed to that door!

… And yet it was open.

Espurr: "Wait a minute, given that this place felt evil to me and the mysterious disappearing boards, that doesn't mean that this is some sort of Mystery Dungeon. Is it?"

Against all better judgement, Espurr slowly trudged up near the house’s sagging porch. She gazed into the darkness that crawled out of the house’s front door, and her eyes locked on the impenetrable darkness within its doors.

There was a gurgling deep within the house. And then a wet POP, and the sound of liquid being sprayed every which way met Espurr’s ears. But all she could focus on was that there was nothing in there but blackness, and there were windows, and why wasn’t there more light in there??

And then an endless torrent of swamp water shot out the doors of the Crooked House, engulfing Espurr completely and sending her skidding back across the dock covered in nasty-smelling water.

Espurr picked herself up, coughing from the mouthful of swamp she had accidentally inhaled – swamp tasted disgusting—and tried to rub the water out of her eyes with her wet fur. She was back on the mainland, apparently, and the house stared her down like the monolith pillar of evil she knew it was.

And the boards were back on the door. Like nothing had happened. That was the point where Espurr decided it was officially too weird for her. She had to get as far away from that house as possible.

But first she was getting cleaned up.

Espurr: "Blaugh! I knew I should've turned back!"

Freedom!!” Tricky gleefully announced to the world as she bounded out the doors of the Café Connection.

“Your tail is still mine for the next three days, you hear that?” Watchog grumbled after her, still half-drunken.

Goomy silently slimed around Watchog, keeping to himself as he headed west. He didn’t want to rack up any extra detentions.

How much Mago booze did Watchog go through at that cafe?

“Excuse me, Vice Principal,” Espurr said as she caught up to Watchog.

“So now you use my title,” Watchog snapped, and it became clear to Espurr that he was not fully himself right now. “After you colluded with the Troublemaker, ran off during detention yesterday—made me worried sick—and blew up the entire classroom.”

Espurr was left speechless. That… was a lot of trouble.

“So what do you want?” Watchog’s harsh tone slapped Espurr back to reality. “Did you just come here to gloat? Or was Audino too much of a bore for you.”

“Actually,” Espurr began. “I’m here to apologize.”

Tricky: "Wait, whaaaat? Espurr, why?"

Watchog came to a halt, so suddenly Espurr outstripped him by a few steps before she realized he had stopped. His face twitched slightly, a look of disbelief covering it completely.

“You want… to apologize?” He asked slowly. Espurr nodded. Watchog sighed in disbelief.

“I’ve never had a student apologize to me before,” he said. Espurr wasn’t sure it was meant for her. “I-is that all you want?”

“That…” Espurr began. “… And maybe an oral session for the test tomorrow,” she finished quicker than she probably should have.

“I knew there was a catch.”

Well, you can't say Espurr doesn't know a thing or two about playing to an audience. :V

Watchog sighed and continued walking, but didn’t seem to object to Espurr following.

“So…” she began trepidaciously.

“Yeah, I’ll do it.” He muttered. “Happy now?” Espurr wanted to say something, but she couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t spoil Watchog’s rare calm mood. Instead, she silently broke off at some point, running in the other direction and back towards the school. She ran right past Tricky without even noticing her there.

IMO you should consider using a simpler synonym for "trepidaciously" there like "warily" or "apprehensively".

Tricky: "Hey Espurr! Wait up!"
- Tricky calls after Espurr, only to blink as she doesn't stop -
Tricky: "Meh, I guess it can wait. We're meeting Ampharos in three days anyways. What's the worst that could happen?"

When Audino wasn’t looking, Espurr finally ducked behind one of the straw beds and unfurled the paper in excitement. Finally, It was the moment of truth. She was finally going to see what had flown in on the breeze by chance. Unfolding the paper slowly, Espurr spread it out in front of her…

It was—or at least, it looked like—a map. It wasn’t like she could read any of it, but the pictures of towns and small trails snaking every which way made it obvious what it was. Espurr wasn’t sure if that upheld her expectations, or let them down completely. What was such a thing doing flying around on the breeze? And who did it formerly belong to?

Never mind the fact that the largest town on the map was marked with a sigil that looked like a golden circle with wings, and above it, more of those pesky Unown symbols that annoyed Espurr so. She tried to sound out some of them and see if she could read it, but to no avail.

But at the end of the day, that was it. It was obviously a map, but it was a map she couldn’t read at all. She flopped back against the straw bed, her ears tingling in frustration. Everything she’d tried to do, and this stupid block kept getting in her way. She’d give anything to be able to remove it.

Anything… she drifted off to sleep that way, barely remembering to hide the map under the bed before she flopped face-down into it.

I presume the gold circle with wings is the HAPPI logo in this story? Or am I getting a bad read there?

“I—I—I don’t get it,” Archen said as he paced the hotel room anxiously. “Of all the lapras in the sea—why our lapras? Why us?

Archen: "... Aside from the fact that we were obviously tempting fate earlier." >v>;

Mawile didn’t have an answer for him, and told him as much. “The most important thing we can do right now is make copies of the pictures we took, and contact the Chief,” she told him, taking the connection orb out of her expedition gadget and slotting it back in again.

“Yeah—and has he picked up yet?” Archen half-squawked. “You’ve been doing that for almost an hour.”

“Give it time,” Mawile calmly said. “He’ll pick up sooner or later.”

- Meanwhile in Serenity Village -
Ampharos: "Mm, that's some good raspberry sorbet."

“How long before it comes here?” Archen wrung out his head feathers with his wings. “How long before whatever got to all those pokemon in Pokemon Plaza—whatever petrified that poor lapras—comes for us?”

“If you’re that concerned over it, then help me make copies of all these photos.” Mawile set the second expedition gadget on the table and scooted it towards the pacing Archen. “That’s what I’ve been doing all this time.”

“But…” Archen stammered. “I— … fine. I need to sit down anyway.”

Archen: "Not that this will actually help mind you." >v>;
Mawile: "If it gets your mind off constantly worrying, I'll count it as a win."

“Well,” Archen began, his voice beginning to rise into a squawk. “Maybe—"

“—We experienced a hold-up at the docks, Mayor.” Mawile smoothly cut in, nipping whatever petty comeback Archen might have had in the bud. “One I have no doubt you’re aware of by now. Given that all transportation to or from the Air Continent was cut off… We didn’t have much choice but to stay.”

“Well, it’s too late to do anything about that right now.” The mayor walked towards the table, picking one of the complimentary berries off the plate in the middle and eating it. “Stay here the night. There’ll be a sharpedo waiting for the two of you in the early morning tomorrow. I want you to take it.”

Archen: "C-Can't she come any faster?" OvO;
Honchkrow: "Trust me, if she could get here any faster, I'd be over the moon." -v-;

“We’ll be out of your feathers first thing tomorrow,” Mawile replied cordially, setting the exploration bag on the opposite side of the room from the mayor. Satisfied, Mayor Honchkrow turned around and left, the murkrow closing the door after them.

“Another early morning,” Archen grumbled, falling back on the room’s cot and folding his wings. “Can this day get any better?”

Mawile held back a sigh, taking out her expedition gadget and formally beginning another attempt to contact Ampharos. This was going to be a long night.

No thanks to Archen being a nervous wreck in the corner.

And made it to the end. Something about the chapter feels a little scene-dense to consume in one sitting. Even if the length isn't all that pronounced relative to some other stuff I've read. Might be fine if it's taken in over a couple nights or so, but it's something I've noticed.

Even so, I like how things have been building up, and Mayor Honchkrow and his lackeys are a fun set of OC characters. There's also a strong sense of foreboding going on, and I was honestly expecting things to go more pear-shaped in Baram than they actually had.

I suppose that's one way to keep me hooked for the rest of the review exchange. Hope you had fun with this review @SparklingEspeon , I'll be looking forward to where things go, since IIRC I'm rapidly approaching the part of the story where things take a hard leap off the canonical rails.


Resident Nosy Person
*teleports behind you*
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
For some reason I just realized I never replied to either of these so... doing that now

The first thing I want to get out of the way is that I think the premise of this "alternate universe" canon is very unique despite being reminiscent of the original material. Yes, it's Super, and yes, it starts off in a similar way--but it's Espurr? That's already got me interested in just what that all means and what kinds of ripple effects are going on in the rest of the story because of this one change? Off the bat, I want to say that you started things off very interestingly for that alone, pretty much instantly quashing any sense that this is going to be "the same story" as Super, which is a pitfall for many adaptations.
I'm definitely glad this bit shines through -- one of my big priorities was hitting people off the bat with the concept that this is going to be Different from other adaptations/the game in general. Especially since I don't like the earlier portion of Vanilla Super, and suspect that's how it is for most players...

During these first few chapters, I'm going to be particularly focused on what the power scaling is like, from things like healing factors to general power output. Every story is different. So far, this seems to be on the low end, but with a quick healing factor. I can work with that!
I would say it's pretty low-end. A human could probably go one-on-one with a pokemon in this setting, so long as they didn't get hit too hard with certain attacks. I did that so I could focus on other things/not make it too ridiculous for a bunch of kids to do what they do.

In the chapters as a whole, I think the biggest standout is the 'strange fog' in the Dungeon as well as the fact that the Dungeon itself seems to dislike showing affection or other positive things while inside, which is a very different take from what I've seen before. The Dungeon seems to have preferences! And it makes me instantly theorize that Dark Matter has a more direct influence on their creation than what is canonically confirmed. Curious to see if my theory holds true!

In general, I don't really see this as much of a slow start as you made it out to be when I hear your self-evaluations. Not compared to other stories of the same genre, at least. Yes, there isn't a whole lot necessarily happening with Espurr herself, but the stuff happening in other scenes is telegraphing very clearly that something is brewing, making it much less boring than Super's canonical openings.

Hmm... The vast majority of my readers tell me that the first arc is very slow, that they weren't interested until a certain chapter, etc. I've even had people drop it like four or five chapters in because it wasn't picking up. I dunno why that is, necessarily -- may even be artifact criticism from things I've since fixed. (The pace was much slower before I revised.) Generally people say it's slower in comparison to the second arc, though, and I consider both slow burns.

Bolding certain letters for a hidden message that I might have missed while listening to the chapters! Now I need to skim past chapters to see if I missed any others... Very meta. Verrry meta. And impressiv,e because I'm a sucker for these Gaster-like tidbits suggesting a greater power is at play.

Overall glad you enjoyed it! I side-eye those older chapters because of all the bad reactions I've gotten in the past, but that does seem to be older criticism mostly, so... who knows. Maybe I'm going off outdated perspectives too much. It is what it is either way I guess. Not too many more changes I can make fundamentally.
Chapter 38 - The Sands of Time


Resident Nosy Person
*teleports behind you*
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin



The Sands of Time


Port Archaios Jail ~ Nighttime


The police kept the remaining two Beheeyem in a much sturdier cell this time. It was made of solid metal instead of glass, and there were no windows. They could hear pokemon outside patrolling at all times, just in case they escaped again.

Not that it mattered. They would sit and await further orders, as long as needed. Those were orders that had yet to come, even as the night drew into day and the day into night again. At some point, they had been offered food, but their bodies no longer required sustenance or sleep.

The croconaw who had been assigned to feed them quickly slipped the dinner plate in through the feeding hole. It knocked the untouched plate of breakfast they had been given off the small platform; it fell to the floor with a loud crash. They both stared at her in unison, their blinkers illuminating the room around them. The croconaw tittered and then shut the metal slip over the hole as quickly as she could. The beheeyem heard but didn't see the clattering of the lock as it was redone.

And so they waited. Another hour, then two more. No light came into their room from outside, but they could hear the lights of the jail flip off from where they floated.

Then the lock of the jail clattered once more. It hit the floor. The Beheeyem watched the round black door, waiting patiently. With a large creak, it began to slowly slide open. In walked a single totodile, deep in slumber but moving like a puppet. In her claws were the ring of keys that opened every cell in the building.

Understand that this is your final chance, the totodile spoke in a voice that was not her own. I will not hesitate to remove servants who cannot carry out my wishes a second time.

The beheeyem will not fail again. They will hunt down the espurr and fennekin and exterminate them. There are no tricks left in their bag to best the Beheeyem with.


They do not understand.

I have assigned a more competent servant to the extermination of Mew's Human. You… have a new mission.

The slumbering totodile jerked her arm stiffly up towards the door.

Go now, while no-mon is awake to see you leave. I have seen to it that the necessary entrances are open.

The two remaining Beheeyem know not to look a gift ponyta in the mouth. They quickly floated through the open door, and down the halls of the jail where pokemon all around them lay slumbering.

They had a new target.


The Inn

~Espurr and Tricky~

When Espurr rose the next day, it was the very crack of dawn. She could barely see the sun rising through the window. They were in another one of the hotel's rooms, right down the hall from the one they had been attacked in last night. It looked like an identical copy of the first room—if there had been any difference at all besides the placement of the room's window, she hadn't seen it.

Her sleep had been uneasy. The entire night, she'd kept her sixth sense primed, ready and listening just in case the Beheeyem had somehow come back for them. After the events that had transpired just that afternoon, she had her doubts about the police station's ability to keep them in their cell.

As she stretched and tried to ignore the dull ache in her bones that told her she should sleep just a little more, she heard what sounded like shuffling behind her. She froze, then tentatively sent out a psychic feeler. If the Beheeyem had somehow gotten out last night…

But it didn't feel like the Beheeyem, rather a presence outlined in a soft grey. She looked back, seeing that it was only Bunnelby packing up the weather-worn bag he carried with him. She felt the absence of the straps of her own team's bag. Right. They had lost that. She and Tricky would have to figure out how to get it replaced later.

"Oh, you're up," Bunnelby said, looking in her direction as he laboriously zipped up his bag. "Good, I was just about to wake you. Can you get your friend up too?"

He gestured with an ear to Tricky, who soundly snored in the bundle near Espurr. This early in the morning, Espurr didn't envision that going well.

Tricky was a heavy sleeper, but Espurr bribed her awake with the thought of breakfast. After a breakfast of what was mostly leafy greens but with some choice berries, the three of them left the inn and headed out into the city.

"Today we're going to take a trek through the desert," Bunnelby said as they walked. He hoped laboriously, dragging the stuffed to the brim bag along with visible difficulty. "I packed all the stuff we should need, and we're going early to get ahead of the heat. But be prepared. Take it from experience, sand isn't easy to get out of fur…"

"What are we doing out in the desert?" Tricky asked.

"How much did you hear on your first day?" Bunnelby asked.

Espurr decided to play that one safe. "Just that the ship was headed to the sand continent," she said.

"Then I'll explain once we get through the gate," Bunnelby said. He was focused on the bag right now.

This was the first time Espurr had gotten to relax while inside the city's bounds. She still felt the urge to survey the crowds all around them and make sure that they weren't somehow being followed, but now that everything was going slower she could admire the exotic-looking buildings and all the color signs that lay below the ruby-red roofs.

The portion of town they went to became periodically less and less crowded, until their only company were those that carried exploration bags similar to Bunnelby, and then none at all. Finally, they arrived at the bottom of the great big wall that separated the city from the rest of the continent, and saw the gate.

The gate was massive. It was made of solid metal just like the rest of the wall was, and the doors were massive and thick. Espurr slightly blanched at the thought of what could have happened if she actually had reached that gate. There was no way she would have been able to blast her way through that.

Two guards stepped forward as Espurr, Tricky, and Bunnelby approached the gate.

"State your business!" one of them announced. Bunnelby dug in his bag, unzipping it was quickly as he could (which wasn't quick, considering it was full to bursting) and pulling out the necessary documentation.

"We're registered explorers on a trip to Restricted Sector 16 of the Sand Continent," Bunnelby called back up to the guards. "The papers are here."

He handed the papers to one of the guards, who flipped through it uninterestedly. It was handed back to Bunnelby a moment after.

"You're clear", the guard said, as Bunnelby stuffed the paper back into his bag. It was not done easily. They walked back to their posts, and with a creak, the large metal gate in front of them began to open. It slid up slowly, revealing a path that lay ahead of them with nothing but dusty brown dunes. The wind blew through, ruffling the fur atop Espurr's head as the gate slid into its open position with a resounding boom.

Bunnelby stepped forwards, lugging the bag as he went, and Espurr and Tricky followed.

From then on, only dunes met them.


The path beyond the wall was nearly barren. Sand dunes were the only thing as far as the eye could see, colored an orangish brown color. Behind them, the large metal wall extended into the distance, rising high up into the sky and ending far up where Espurr could barely see it. Every so often, the wind blew through, blowing in some sand on the breeze. It got into Espurr's fur and forced her to blast some of it out with concentrated psychic force. She shook her fur off and continued walking.

The desert felt like an oven. The sun was beginning to rise high in the sky, and it brought the heat with it. Espurr's fur began to feel damp with sweat, and the sand felt scratchy against her skin. Bunnelby did his best to look upbeat, but she could sense faint tinges of tiredness from him too. Only Tricky was right at home, trotting through the sand like she was made to live there.

"Why do they have the big wall anyway?" she asked, looking back at its faint outline in the distance as they trudged forward. It only looked an inch tall by now, but they still couldn't see either side. "What's in here that's so important they have to lock it away from the city?"

"You'll see it in just a minute," Bunnelby panted, squinting at the map and trying not to look like he was in desperate need of shade. He took a turn, and Espurr and Tricky followed. Espurr spied in the distance what looked like a weathered old wooden sign with the faded words on it:

Sector 16

Bunnelby folded the map.

"We're here," he said with a loud exhale of perspiration. Then he marched forward. Espurr and Tricky traded a look, then followed after him.

As they walked, the sky seemed to change. It became cloudy and gloomy, and the temperature cooled down to something that suited Espurr better. In the distance, many things were becoming visible that weren't before. They looked like large cones and pillars sticking up out of the sand in the far distance, many colored grey, others colored a shiny reflective blue. Not all of them stood upright. Some were leaning against others, while others had toppled over halfway, and still others were laying on their sides completely. It didn't take Espurr long to realize what they were:


Lying ahead of them sideways between the sand dunes, was one of the large, pillar-like buildings itself. It must have only been a fragment, or perhaps the rest of it was buried by the sand. But even the little part of it that Espurr could see was massive and dwarfed them by a large amount.

Stunned, Tricky took a step forward. Bunnelby held a paw and an ear out to block them.

"Careful," he panted, still recovering himself. "It's not what it looks like."

Now that Espurr was looking more carefully, she saw that Bunnelby was right. The space between them and the building shimmered and rippled almost like a mirage. If she focused on it, she could hear an intense wavering sound begin to invade her mental space. She had to distract herself just to keep her balance. She could tell: this was a mystery dungeon.

"Trippy, right?" Bunnelby said, looking at all the buildings around them as the breeze blew grains of sand through the area. "It's called the Sands of Time. The ruins of this city are where the ancient Humans used to live."

"And now it's a dungeon…" Tricky trailed off.

As they entered the dungeon, the sky warped around them. The buildings in the background became little more than a tapestry, and the clouds above them blurred into a shapeless, featureless grey. There were more and more houses in the near distance as they went, and they even passed some they were right next to. Tricky wanted to open one of the doors as they walked by it. Espurr said that was a bad idea. Soon, they walked up to where the dungeon began to diverge into its little pathways. It was at this point that Espurr decided to speak up:

"What are we doing here again?" Espurr finally asked, once she had gotten over the awe of seeing all the ruins around them. "I don't think you ever said."

Bunnelby rummaged around in his exploration bag, pulling out his expedition gadget. Once he was sure he had it, he stuffed it back in his bag. Then he pulled out a large map.

"We need to get to the center of the maze," he said.

"Why have you got a map?" Espurr asked. "Don't the dungeons change too much for that?"

"Ooh!" Tricky jumped up and down excitedly, hopping over to where the map was and trying to get a look. "I know this one!"

She continued, too excited to wait for Bunnelby to explain it himself. "This dungeon isn't like the others! It doesn't have any floors, and it never changes. It's just a maze. But you can get lost in it if you can't find your way through! And the maze is always getting bigger. That's why it's restricted."

Bunnelby was tracing their route through the map. He then looked up at the large maze doors in front of them.

"And if this map is up to date…" he began. "This is where we should go in."

"Then let's go!" Tricky sang, and the three of them continued into the dungeon.

They took a left turn, then a right. Then they turned backwards into a hallway that was adjacent to the one they'd been in and turned left once more. Espurr was distinctly sure that the route they took intersected with the hallway they had entered from, but she never saw an entrance.

As they travelled deeper into the maze, the trek began to get harsher. It got colder as they went, like the desert inside the dungeon had undergone a deep freeze of some kind. The individual grains of sand got stuck in Espurr's coat, and wouldn't come out. And more than anything, she could feel something in the dungeon. It was like the dungeon itself was alive and probing the boundaries of her mind, as if curious about who they were and what they were doing here. Or perhaps it wasn't the dungeon, but something in the dungeon. Something that lurked out of sight, just beyond the barriers of reality. Something waiting to rip and tear, to feel the taste of delicious meat once more, to kiLL

—Espurr snapped herself out of it. She wasn't sure where that train of thought came from. It wasn't hers, that much she knew. She strode a little closer to Tricky and Bunnelby as they walked, eyeing the walls uneasily. Had either of them noticed? If they had, it didn't seem to affect them.

The dust around them, slowly, began to flow. Espurr caught it from the corner of her eye.

She looked down at their feet as the sand that lay in piles and dunes across the ground was slowly beginning to move. It picked up off the ground as if caught up in a slowly moving whirlwind, and that whirlwind was cycling around in the hall.

Espurr stopped, then got Tricky and Bunnelby's attention. "Look at the ground," she said, pointing to the sand that was beginning to swirl around them quicker and quicker. "I think something's here."

Bunnelby and Tricky followed her gaze, noticing the sand as well.

"Is the sand supposed to do that?" Tricky asked, taking a few cautious jumps back as the swirling winds began to get a bit too close for comfort. As they got closer, Espurr was blasted in the face with the smell of something rotting. And that was when she knew this wasn't a normal wind.

"Whatever it is," Bunnelby said, "we shouldn't be caught in the middle of it. L-let's get out of here while we still can!"

They began to quickly jog forward, heading over the small sand dunes and veering away from the twisted wreckage of the many buildings that littered the middle of the route. The winds seemed to be picking up in power and strength, and they were only collecting more sand. Sand was beginning to fly from the dunes ahead as they ran, as if attracted to the growing winds. Espurr looked behind her as they picked up the pace, spying what the wind was becoming: a miniature sized sandstorm, which completely filled and obscured the hall of the maze behind it.

The volume of the wind was getting louder too. Tricky yelled something to Espurr. Espurr only caught broken bits and pieces of it. After a while, she had to cover her nose with her paws, because the scent had gotten too strong.

Then Espurr tripped and fell face-first into a sand dune. Tricky, who had been right ahead of Espurr, noticed and fell back. She quickly ran around Espurr as Espurr picked herself up.

"Come on!" she yipped loudly. Espurr only heard it because it was right next to her. "The storm's about to catch up!"

Espurr tried to pull herself up, but it felt like her leg was stuck in something that was buried deep under the sand. This must have been what tripped her. She tried to pull it out, but to no avail.

"Come on!" Tricky's pleas were turning into whines as the storm gained more ground.

"What are you two doing?" Bunnelby quickly hopped back, noticing once he got close enough that Espurr was stuck. Together with Tricky he tried to pull her out, but it was too late. The storm approached with it's raging wind, and engulfed them—

Espurr hit the sand. So did Tricky and Bunnelby. That didn't matter, because the sand was everywhere. No matter where they turned and looked, it was everywhere and got in their eyes and noses and mouths.

Then suddenly, the sand couldn't seem to get within three feet of them. Tricky and Bunnelby looked to Espurr, whose eyes and ears shone with a faint pink glow.

"I should be able to hold it until the storm has passed," she said.

Now it was time to focus on whatever her foot was stuck on in the sand. She tugged at it, digging a little underneath to see what it was. She didn't feel pain, so she couldn't have been cut or speared on anything…

Tricky quickly joined, helping her dig. She dug much faster than Espurr did, and together with some help from Bunnelby's large ears, they were able to remove much of the sand and see what Espurr's foot was caught on.

It was a claw. Her foot was caught on a claw.

Espurr had the urge to yelp, but she stilled herself. At least it wasn't moving. She slowly bent over, and tried to un-pry one of the talons from around her foot. It suddenly twitched, the curled around her foot tighter.

She yelped on instinct. She tried to scoot back from it, but then remembered her foot was caught. For just a moment, the psychic bubble imploded—

And they were suddenly engulfed by sand again. Espurr felt the claws attached to her foot release her. She quickly stumbled back, finding Tricky and Bunelby again and raising the psychic barrier. As Tricky and Bunnelby coughed and tried to recover from the sand, Espurr cleared the grains from her face and what little she could from her coat, and tried to warn the other two about what was happening.

"How did you get free?" Tricky asked, after a few seconds of coughing.

"That's the thing," Espurr said. "It released me—"

Something pierced the psychic barrier. Espurr flinched in pain. Her vision blurred. When it focused, she glanced along with Tricky anb Bunnelby at what was wrong: In the middle of the barrier, in the direction she had stumbled back from, were the claws that Espurr's foot had been stuck in. They were sharp and black, almost like a bird's talons. The barrier was eating away at it even as it extended further into the safe space, and they could all see the skin peeling away to reveal that it was made of sand underneath.

Dungeon ferals.

The claws suddenly twisted and plunged themselves again into the psyching barrier, and it was like a shot of pain into Espurr's mind. She had no choice but to drop it.

That left the three of them open to attack. A braviary that was only half formed charged out of the sand, attempting to strike while they were blinded. Bunnelby didn't fall for it. He charged ghostly white energy around his left ear, sending it colliding into the breviary and sending it flying back into the distance. Tricky let out a celebratory whoop, only to get a bunch of sand in her throat in return. She spat it out, coughing and keeping her head down after that.

Unluckily for them, the braviary wasn't the only one. All around them, they could hear the sounds of ferals screeches and screams. The sounds reverberated around them with the wind, and it was nearly impossible to tell where they were coming from or how far off they were. Espurr only hoped that made it harder for them to tell where they were.

"How big is this storm?" Tricky asked despite herself, squinting as she looked up at the sand-infested skies. "They never last this long…"

"Anything's fair game in here," Bunnelby said, his voice hoarse from the sand in his throat. He slowly soldiered forward, beckoning Tricky and Espurr with him. "We can't stay here and fight," he said, as they all uneasily listened to the shrieks of the ferals that were quickly approaching. "We can't stay and fight. We should find our way out before they catch up with us."

"Which way did we go?" Tricky asked. Espurr realized she wasn't sure anymore. She tried to think of where the feral that had grabbed her foot came from. She remembered it being…

"There," she said, pointing due ahead. "We were going that way."

"Then we go the other way," Bunnelby said. "We need to get out of the storm's path and backtrack to where we were before those ferals get to us. Let's go!" He beckoned Espurr and Tricky on once more, leading them way back the way they had come. They quickly followed after him, keeping their eyes trained on his large ears just to make sure they didn't lose sight of him in all the sand.

The ferals got to them quicker than they could get away. One jumped Tricky out of left field, sending her flying to the right with a yelp. She was nearly lost in the sandstorm. Espurr quickly sent a concentrated mental blast at the feral, blasting them away from Tricky and into the sandstorm. It was only half-formed, and the blast turned it to sand. Tricky quickly hopped up and got back to the party, shivering in fear from the attack.

The light from Espurr's attack must have highlighted where they were in the sandstorm. And now it was drawing more and more ferals to their locations. Espurr, Tricky, and Bunnelby braced for battle as the screeches got close.

The next once jumped on Bunnelby. It made a retching sound that sounded like claws scraping against metal, and when the sand finally cleared enough for them to see it clearly they saw that its jaw was only half formed. Tricky didn't waste any time, jumping up and spitting an ember into the air that arched around and hit the feral in the back it head. It let out a screech and exploded into dust. Espurr helped Bunnelby up.

They came in batches of two, then three, then four, Soon there were too many to keep up with. Espurr was sending out blanket psychic blasts, trying her best to keep them at bay, but no matter how many exploded into dust, more always came. Tricky's embers weren't enough, and the only power bunnelby had was the punching power of his large ears.

The ferals recognized Bunnelby's weakness. A bunch of them swarmed him, separating him from Espurr and Tricky.

"No!" Espurr cried, charging another one of her blasts and sending it in that direction. It gave her a larger headache than it should—she'd used a lot of them. The blast hit where Bunnelby was, sending many ferals flying off into the sandstorm or collapsing into sand themselves. But by that time, it was too late. They had been separated, and neither of them could see or hear him anymore.

Espurr ran through the storm, Tricky running after her. They looked around, but all they could see around them were the approaching ferals and the flowing sand. Bunnelby seemed to be gone.

"Where did he go?" Tricky asked, worried. Espurr didn't know. She couldn't sense him through the storm.

"Bunnelby!" They both called out, but the ferals they had temporarily fought off were getting to close for comfort again.

"It's no use," Espurr yelled over the winds, flinching as the psychic blast she was preparing to charge gave her a headache. "We're just going to have to run for it, with or without him.'

"But we can't leave him behind!" Tricky yelled back.

"Maybe we'll find him on the way!" Espurr refuted. "But if we don't leave now, none of us will!"

As much as Espurr could sense her intense want not to leave Bunnelby behind, she was beginning to see the sense in those words.

"Umm… okay…" Tricky said. It sounded like the words hurt her. "Which way did he say to go?"

Luckily, Espurr knew the direction this time.

"That way!" she said, pointing out the way that lead due south. "We're getting out of the storm's path."

With that, she and Tricky broke off into a run for it. And not a moment too soon, because a horde of the sand ferals soon devolved onto the spot they had been with a chorus of snarls, growls, and screeches. Espurr stole glances around them as they ran, looking for any sign of Bunnelby. She did not see any.

But she seemed to be right, and the more that they ran the lighter the sand was beginning to become. They were run ragged, and the meager shield Espurr was able to conjure barely stopped the sand from getting in their lungs. And soon, at least, the storm began to pass. The dust swirling around them thinned, then dissipated, and they could see the cloudy skies of the dungeon and feel its chill again.

Once everything was quiet, Espurr and Tricky collapsed on a small sand dune, breathing ragged breaths through hoarse throats.

They still hadn't found Bunnelby. That thought hit Espurr even though how run ragged and completely filled with sand she was. Was he still somewhere in the storm, or was he just… g0ne?

"Espurr?" Tricky asked.

"Yeah?" Espurr croaked back. Her voice cracked because of the sand.

"What do we do now?" Tricky asked. She sounded worried. Espurr couldn't blame her. Who wouldn't be worried in a situation like this?

"I don't know," she said truthfully. She didn't know what to do. They didn't have a map. They didn't have any supplies. They needed water and they needed to find a way out and they needed so much rest and they needed to get the sand out of their bodies. And there was no way for them to get out.

What were they going to do?

"What took you two so long?"

Espurr and Tricky suddenly perked up at the sound of a voice that they didn't expect to hear. They looked up at who it had come from. Bunnelby stared down at them, looking just as run down as they were.

"Bunnelby!" Espurr and Tricky jumped up, wrapping him up in a big hug. Espurr noticed that he was missing his exploration bag. Which was odd. That bag had everything they needed for the mission in it, and yet Bunnelby didn't even seem to notice.

"I tried to search for you two after you got lost in the storm", Bunnelby said, "

"Bunnelby," Espurr asked. "What about your exploration bag?"

Bunnelby suddenly looked down at his side, like he hadn't even noticed it was gone. He shrugged.

"I must have lost it in the storm," he said.

"You lost it?" Tricky's ears flopped down. "But doesn't that mean that we're lost now? You still have the map, right?"

"Luckily, we don't need it, Bunnelby said. "I memorized it before we went in."

Espurr tilted her head at that. If he'd memorized, it, then… why had he used it to begin with?

But it didn't seem to matter, because the storm was gone now and the way was clear. The dust had completely disappeared, leaving only the chilly stand dunes and cloudy sky and wrecked buildings in its wake. It was like it had been formed for the sole purpose of taking them down. Bunnelby trudged on, waving Espurr and Tricky along with him as he went.

As they trudged, no sandstorms arose to bury them, no dungeon ferals arose to grab them or pull them into the sand, and no grains got into their eyes or noses. It was like the desert parted for Bunnelby as they walked. But something was different. The scent of mystery dungeon seemed to hang around them stronger than ever.

And as they walked, Espurr's suspicion grew. Something about the storm seemed to have changed Bunnelby. He walked with a much less hoppy and laid back demeanor now, quickly leading them ahead through all the sand and wreckage. He knew every twist and turn to take, rather than stopping to read the map at every corner like he had before. And he was completely silent.

Espurr walked just a bit closer to Tricky than she did to Bunnelby. She didn't know what, but there was something very wrong about it all.

Eventually, the maze ended. Bunnelby led them through a hall that led into a room, and even through the room had no building surrounding it, they walked into a submerged cavern.

There were three things that were notable about the cavern. The first was that it didn't seem to have solid barriers. The walls stretched out and away into black darkness, cluttered by many large rocks and stalactites. The second was the large boulder-like mass of rock at the end that was cracked right down the middle. The third was the stairs.

The stairs sat in the middle of the room, and they seemed to glow and shimmer with radiance. Espurr could feel the same wavering sound she had felt from the beginning of the dungeon emanate from it, and it disoriented her. She tried to pry her attention away from it, but that wasn't easy.

"Ignore that," Bunnelby said as Espurr and Tricky slowly followed him through the room. "Did I tell you two what we were doing down here?" Espurr and Tricky shook their heads.

"You didn't…" Tricky said.

"Well, now's a good time," Bunnelby said. He pointed ahead at the large boulder in front of it. "We're going to crack that down the middle."

"But why?" Tricky asked, before anymon else could. "We came here just to crack a boulder?"

Espurr finally realized where that smell was coming from. It wasn't a product of the room or the dungeon… it was trailing right from Bunnelby.

And that cemented Espurr's suspicions.

"Yes," she said, following up Tricky. "That's a weird reason to lead us all the way down here. There must be something special in that rock, right?"

"…Sure," Bunnelby said. He turned towards the rock, bracing his ears. "Now help me do it. I need all the power you can muster."

"But that's not why you're down here," Espurr said. Bunnelby turned around, an annoyed look on his face.

"What?" he said. "Of course it is. Why would you say that?"

"Easy. I overheard your briefing the day I got here," Espurr said. "You're only here to take pictures. Why the sudden change of mind?"

She subtly shifted her stance into an attack position. Tricky, who was near her, looked uncomfortable but did the same. But the subtlety didn't matter, because Bunnelby was reading their stance.

Bunnelby snorted. "You must have heard wrong. Now help me here—"

"Or maybe you didn't hear that briefing at all."

Bunnelby stopped again. The look on his face darkened.

"What kind of accusation are you making?" he asked. "I'm your teammate."

"Unless you aren't," Espurr countered.

"Espurr…" Tricky whined, looking between them. "What's happening?"

"That's not Bunnelby…" Espurr said, charging up a psychic blast. "We're probably going to have to fight him."

Bunnelby snorted in annoyance.

"You're going to fight your own teammate?" he asked, his voice clearly annoyed. And was that a hint of disappointment in there?

"You aren't our teammate," Espurr asserted.

Bunnelby growled.

Then he sprouted a large, black arm from his ear and lunged forward—


Music of the Week!

I See You In My Dreams – Hans Zimmer


Summer of the Soul
Hello! For your Smeargle Swap, I chose to draw Espurr's little adventure in Foreboding Forest. I loved how creepy and unnatural you made the foggy dungeon feel, and the ominous sense of how it might tie in with what Espurr had had to deal with when she was running from the beheeyem.

It was great to have an excuse to check this story out! Thanks for a fun read. :)

Starlight Aurate

Ad Jesum per Mariam
Route 123
  1. mightyena
Heya! IT's been a real long time since I left you a review! I had been meaning to get caught up, but I'll leave what I have for now since this review has been in the works for a while. I'll get back to the later chapters when I can!

Chapter 7

The opener is so sad! Poor Tricky doesn't deserve to be pelted with rocks :(

And remember the three rules of berry safety:”
I know I said I wouldn't point out grammar errors, but this is so far the first time I see this one so I'll just point it out:
At the end of a paragraph, if the same person is speaking next paragraph, don't put closing quotations.

and Goomy got an entire table’s worth of supplies all to himself.
Amazing how someone who can barely move around landed with some of the best supplies!

Wonder what happened between Deerling and Tricky!

Espurr weighed her options carefully. There would no doubt be punishment if she just up and left, but… deep down, she knew detention would be unbearable without Tricky. As much as she felt their talk yesterday had been necessary, she felt awful anyway. Was she the reason Tricky had skipped school today? And if that was true, wasn’t it the right thing to go back and look for her? Tricky would probably have done the same.
I like this little paragraph; it shows a slice-of-life school-drama style in a piece that ultimately seems to have a much bigger, rander plot at hand. It's something that I think grounds the story and you do a nice job with it!

That was it. She quietly set down her rake and the potato sack, and took the long way back into the village. She’d only check. That couldn’t hurt, right?
Ooooh Espurr, you're not making good decisions D: I think they're definitely good in terms of plot and in finding her friend Tricky but I can only see her landing herself into deeper, muddier water as far as detention with Watchog. If she tries to stay in school and stay on his good side, then this doesn't bode very well for her at all.

That is, until she was hit with the Pin Missile she had never seen coming. The sheer force of it sent her flying back until she hit the dungeon wall hard and tumbled to the ground
Oh no, poor little Espurr! AND she has a type disadvantage, so this doesn't look good for her!

For a split second, Espurr thought she saw an offended expression on one of the Beedrills’ faces, before it was swallowed up by anger.
Ha, looks like the Beedrill don't think of themselves as beasts :P

“And I killed him.”

She wanted to do something, anything, but she was frozen to the spot and could do nothing but watch as the Poliwrath all fought over and pummeled Budew. She stuck her paws over her eyes when it became too painful to watch, and she could only hear the sound of Budew’s cries and leaves tearing apart and bones cracking. She must have stayed in that position for hours, just huddling there, because a wall of mist was beginning to encroach upon the room by the time Artemis had stopped crying.

Too broken to go on anymore, Tricky collapsed in a cacophony of quiet sobs
Just a note on the wording: "cacophony" and "quiet" might not be antonyms, but they bring to mind different things--"cacophony" usually makes one think of particular sounds while "quiet" brings to mind a lack of sound. I'm not sure it's technically "incorrect" but it does read a bit unorthodox, in my opinion.

She couldn’t even imagine what such an experience was like, let alone try to comfort Tricky with words. Instead, she settled for just comforting Tricky.
This is another instance of using opposites--Espurr believes she can't comfort Tricky "with words," so she settles for "just comforting Tricky." It might be helpful to point out how she comforts Tricky--putting a hand on her? Patting her? Simply being with her? Listening to her? Specification here would help clarify.

The fact that Tricky kept going into mystery dungeons after witnessing a TRAUMATIZING event with her own eyes (which, by all means, should have left her mentally and emotionally scarred) makes me think that she might have something wrong in the head. I'd think she might be reluctant, at the least, to go into Mystery Dungeons, or have some sort of triggering or adverse reaction to them.

Sitting on her haunches for a moment, she removed one of the scarves off her neck, and fitted it over Espurr’s instead. There. Now they were both fellow explorers.
That's pretty cute :)

Thanks for sharing! Like I said, I'll have to revisit this! You've got quite a captivating story :D

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
  1. nidoran-f
Alright, so much to my embarrassment, I realized that I had written up a Chapter 7 review, but totally forgotten to format it and post it. It might be out of date depending on how much you've changed it up in the last 3 weeks, but meh. I put effort into it, so time to yeet it out into the wild.

Chapter 7

Slowly coming to. Espurr's eyes [were disgraced by] the blackness of the void.

Another dream. She pulled herself to her feet, surveying the darkness with purpose. There was nothing around.

But of course there wouldn't be. The familiar whispers slowly began to invade the back of Espurr's hearing once again, and Espurr decided she wasn't going to be thrown for a loop a second time. This was her mind, her dream. She wasn't helpless in here… right?

I'm not sure if I'm really getting what "were disgraced by" was trying to say there. I assume you meant something like "opened up to" ?

Espurr: "Uh... Just saying, but I'm pretty sure dreams in which you're helplessly experiencing events aren't that rare."

They took the form of lights. Blue, flickering wisps of flame that danced around her and remained just outside of her grasp. Espurr stayed perfectly still, watching them as they flew around. Carefully, she raised her paws to the sides of her head in case she got a headache, and tried to grab one with her mind.

Flames danced out of her vision while they had the chance, taking their incessant whispers with them…

And then they were gone, save for the lone one struggling in midair. Espurr took deep breaths and tried to contain her excitement as she reeled it in mentally.

Small punctuation error there.

Espurr: "... Wait a minute, aren't blue floating flames like these extremely common depictions of hitodama? Why on earth am I dreaming about these?" ._.

And soon, she was able to hold it in her paws. It didn't burn like normal flame burned. There was no feeling of intense heat against her skin, no smell of charred fur. It just flickered above her palms, struggling less and less the closer she brought it to herself. It whispered things to her. Things that didn't make sense to her. Things in a language she barely even had a ghost of an understanding in.

And Espurr listened. There was somewhere in the back of her head where she understood the words she was hearing, where the gibberish that was being whispered to her meant more than just gibberish. And then, once the whispers had died down, and silence overtook the dreamscape once more, Espurr did something on instinct—she leaned in, and softly blew it out.

She didn't even know why. It just seemed like it was the right thing to do. Smoke spiraled upwards from the place in midair where the flame had once sat, and then Espurr was left in total blackness again.

Well, hopefully that was just a dream, since if you modeled that fire after what I think you did, Espurr just snuffed someone's soul out.

Then the headache started. The absoLute, mind-crunching headache. It brought Espurr to her knees in pain. She clutched her head tightly, curling up in the middle of the unnaturally black floor. It was in her head, she tied to reason with herself. Pain was in her head. This dream was in her head. She could just wish it away. She could pretend it didn't matter and just like that, it wouldn't, because it never had existed anyway, and she was going to refuse to acknowledge it in three… two… one…

A horrible, blinding strike of pain split across her forehead. It hurt more than any surreal excuse for pain a dream could come up with. This was real. This had to be. She needed to wake up!

Espurr began to breathe heavy through the pain and the panic. How to wake up?

>dat boldtext

Okay, maybe she didn't snuff that soul out after all.

Nurse Audino had just finished converting the inside of the School Clinic into a makeshift classroom. Normally, the clinic would be considered too small for such a thing—especially considering how rowdy some of Watchog's classes tended to get—but with the actual classroom still in shambles, the only other available building was the Principal's Office.

They definitely weren't using the Principal's Office.

Audino: "I don't understand why Principal Simipour isn't opting to use the library instead. What am I to do if someone gets hurt?" >_>;

Espurr slept curled up on the straw bed Audino had gently pushed out of the way to make space for everything else. Audino had tried to be quiet in order not to wake her, but that Grass-Continent Unown tutor was due soon… It probably wasn't best to continue to let the student sleep any longer.

Audino sighed and turned back towards Espurr to wake her. That was when she noticed that Espurr was groaning in her sleep. And clutching her head.

Audino: "... Er. Should I be concerned? Since given what happened the last time she had a headache, I think I should be concerned." ._.

She found herself blocked. Where there had been a hole, there was now nothing but solid black wall. Espurr knew it was a dream, if she tried to breathe in water in the dream she'd just breathe in air in the real world, but for some reason she couldn't seem to breathe. She couldn't seem to breath, and she was trapped underwater with no top or bottom in sight! 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. She wanted out!

She couldn't believe she was going to die in a dream. That wasn't how dreams worked! She had to think her way out of this. But she couldn't seem to muster up the energy to conjure up anything else. Perhaps it really would be better to float away…

A sudden pulse of fear was enough to jolt Espurr back to her senses, and then there was a sudden flash of white—

Espurr: "W-Was that really just a dream? Or if I had died there, would I have-?" ._.

Espurr jolted awake, her body snapping out of its rigid position and sending her sprawling to the floor, gasping for air. She could breathe again!

"Oh my goodness!" Audino quickly ran over to Espurr, picking her up from the floor. "What happened?"

"Dream…" Espurr managed to spit out between gasps. "I… Was… Underwater… Couldn't breathe…"

Audino helped Espurr sit back down on the straw bed, where she proceeded to catch the rest of her breath.

Espurr: "Okay, yeah. I'm starting to think that I just had a near-death experience there."

Finally rejuvenated and not sleepy in any way, shape, or form, Espurr cast a wayward glance towards Audino's book that lay on the counter. Her eyes flicked over the title, then went back for a second round, and a third one too.

But that wasn't possible.

"The Adventures of an Intrepid Psyduck," Espurr said, half in shock. "That's the title of the book."

I suppose that's one way for Nuzleaf's tutoring to finally sink in.

Nuzleaf closed the book with a snap. He showed her the front cover. "An' you can read this?"

"The Beginning 'Mon's introduction to Unown," Espurr read.

"Well, that settles it." Nuzleaf set the book aside, wiping his forehead in disbelief. "I reckon you're all studied up an' everything."

"Damn psychic-types…" 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."

So would she.

But pokemon didn't learn a language in their sleep, and that rattled her.

I mean, I saw that whole hitodama sequence and the boldtext message. Did Espurr just get indwelled/possessed by a departed spirit?

Nuzleaf left the textbook behind on his way out. It was a gift from Principal Simipour, but Nuzleaf had insisted it was school property, so Audino had to shelve it. And since Nuzleaf's session had finished far, far earlier than expected, that left Espurr with a good hour of free time before the start of school. It was time she used to get as far away from the School Clinic as possible. She had no idea how she could possibly have learned the entire Unown language in a single night without even intending to, and when combined with the strange dreams she had been having, it made the problem simply too big for her brain to wrap itself around.

You want "shelve" there. And yeah, I'm honestly just as mystified as Espurr here at the moment.

She stood on the doorstep of Carracosta's place, her paw an inch away from the door. Was this too early? Should she even be here? She cast a furtive glance around just in case she shouldn't. How would Carracosta react? Eventually she summoned up the rest of her courage, and knocked on the door.

Only a whole moment later, it swung open, and the bulky form of Carracosta stood in the doorway.

"…Tricky's new friend, right?" he grunted out after a minute.

Espurr quickly nodded, and held out her hand. "Espurr, Mr… ?"

"Carracosta." The large blue turtle took a second to clear his throat. "Tricky's not up yet. I always wake her up at the crack of dawn, but she sleeps until the last minute anyway. There's no winning that with her."

Carracosta: "... Shouldn't you have logically assumed I'd be named 'Carracosta'? Most 'mons here in town are just named according to who they are."
Espurr: "I mean, your adoptive child is 'Tricky'. I figured I might as well play things safe here."

Espurr shut her eyes and quickly rolled them so Carracosta wouldn't see. That sounded like Tricky.

"How long until she gets up?" she asked.

"About an hour, if you're lucky."


Espurr: "Of course." >.<;
Carracosta: "If it's any consolation, I don't exactly approve of it myself." -_-;

Slowly, the figure of Nuzleaf hiking up the hill became visible to Espurr, and Carracosta suddenly drew him into a hug before he had any idea of what was happening.

"Hah… Neighbor…" Nuzleaf patted Carracosta's back desperately; wheezing for breath, and Carracosta let him down.

"You were here three days, and you didn't come visit me?!" Carracosta boomed [flippantly].

"I… I was busy." Nuzleaf scratched the back of his head. "Just got back from the Grass Continent an' all."

Something about Carracosta's tone doesn't really sound "flippant" there. It personally feels something closer to "accusingly" or a friendlier version of "exasperatedly", or at least from the surrounding context. The sort of "you've been here all this time and you didn't come visit your old buddy?" sort of tone.

"Come inside!" Carracosta ushered him up towards the house. "I was just making breakfast."

Espurr suddenly realized that Nuzleaf, who had just been her language tutor for the past two days, was coming towards the house. Towards her. That was an awkward meeting she didn't want to have right now. She then decided to make herself scarce, and fast.

"Huh." Carracosta muttered as he approached the door. "Wonder where that whippersnapper went."

"Whippersnapper?" Nuzleaf brushed his leaf out of his face.


Whelp, I see you're hard at work cementing this is an AU fic given that Espurr is doing her best to avoid even the remote possibility of getting chummy with Nuzleaf. :V

Tricky's nose twitched.

Which was an odd thing indeed, because she was currently beating the holy mystery dungeon out of a Monster House right now! A term so obscure and specific only the most dedicated Explorer knew its name! Probably.

Another really odd thing was that all the dungeon 'mon suddenly smelled like pancakes.

Pancakes… She was kinda hungry.

Ah yes, that weird state when you're still dreaming but reality starts to leak in. It can make for some trippy experiences. ^^;

Tricky: "Mmm... pancakes..."

Tricky opened her eyes lazily, then yawned. She was lying flat on her back in her bed in her room in her house, and not roasting several dungeon 'mon at the same time with Flamethrower like she had been dreaming about.

…Come to think of it, could fennekin even learn Flamethrower? She distantly recalled something about Watchog saying the move required too much power for unevolved pokemon to use.

TMs, son.

"Wha—What in tarnation was that?!" Nuzleaf flipped out at the red-and-yellow blur that had just shot past his eyes, almost jumping out of his seat in shock.

"The whippersnapper." Carracosta flipped the pancakes he was currently griddling on his gas stove, a rare commodity he had acquired from a visit to Lively Town.

"Aha... righ'." Nuzleaf took a sip of tea, shooting the washroom door a glance uncomfortably.

Huh. I didn't peg Electric Sheep's world as being technologically advanced enough to support gas stoves, but will keep that in mind for what to expect techwise down the pipe.

Pops had a method for washing the face, but Tricky thought it was super complicated. And dunking your head underwater for a few seconds did the same thing 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.

This kid's just great at taking direction, isn't she?

That was when her eyes caught sight of something really odd, crouching near a bush on the hill on the way to her house.

Was that…

…No way.

It was!

I'm presuming this is Espurr, though part of me wonders if it'd have worked better hinting at her more if so or not.

"I smell pancakes!" Tricky announced as she entered the dining room.

Carracosta turned to Tricky. "Don't—"

Tricky bounded forward, took a seat, snatched the pancakes off their resting place on the plate, left her seat, and headed for the door.

"No—You fool!" Carracosta yelled after her. But Tricky was long gone.

Nuzleaf set his tea on the table.

"Whippersnappers. Nothin' but trouble, if ya ask me."

So how much syrup did she get over herself and the floor in the process? :V


This time, Espurr had the foresight to causally step out of Tricky's way, who stopped just short of colliding with the bush with an entire pancake hanging from her mouth. Espurr's eyes never left the blue orb she was holding.

"wapf—" Tricky stopped—inhaled the pancake—swallowed—and began again. "What are you doing here?"

Espurr: "Uh... Tricky. You're kinda covered in food right now." >_>;
Tricky: "Hey, at least most of it went down my mouth!"

Espurr looked up from the orb with that same indecipherable face Tricky could never make sense of. "I can't come here if it suits my fancy?"

Tricky slowly paced circles around Espurr. "Come on…" she drawled. "You totally came here to see me. Admit it."

Espurr: "... Alright, fine. I did. But that's beside the point!" >_>;

Espurr instead brushed some dirt off the strange blue orb, showing it to Tricky. "We forgot all about this."

"What does that matter?" Tricky tilted her head.

"Everything! This is the answer to all our questions."

"Um, no…" Tricky gave Espurr her best skeptical look. "That's a blue glass ball."

- Beat moment -
Tricky: "... Still not seeing where you're going with this, Espurr."

Everything clicked in Tricky's head all the sudden. She gasped loudly, cutting Espurr off mid-sentence.

"OhmigoshAmpharos! I totally forgot! The most amazing thing happened yesterday! It was Ampharos!" Espurr looked at her funny. Tricky took a deep breath—


Espurr just stared at Tricky. And stared. For a good ten seconds.

Espurr: "Uh... is this delayed reaction thing normal for you Tricky? And maybe say that again a bit slower?" ._.;

"Expedition Society?" she finally asked.

"Yep!" Tricky nodded so fast she thought her head might fly off her shoulders. "And you want to come along too, right?"

"But…" Espurr began. "I don't." And she didn't. She hadn't.

"But we make such a good team!" Tricky said, almost desperately. "You really don't want to change your mind?"

"Joining the Expedition Society is your dream," Espurr pointed out. "It's… not for me."

Tricky pouted.

Espurr: "Okay Tricky, seriously? How can you still be this eager to go into Mystery Dungeons after we just had two near-death experiences in them in about as many weeks?" >_>;
Tricky: "... I bounce back quickly?" ^^

"And why are you taking…" Espurr paused, then gingerly placed the blue orb somewhere in the grass beside her. "Why are you taking more things from Ampharos? We don't even know who he is. What if he's spying on us?"

"I'm sure it'll be fine," Tricky waved her off with a flick of her large ears. "But you're coming, right? He said he brought two…" she trailed off [promptingly].

"I'm not interested," Espurr said, folding her arms and turning away from Tricky.

Something about "promptingly" doesn't feel quite right. Maybe "insistently" or "expectantly" would fit better there.

Espurr: "Tricky, I very clearly stated that joining the Exploration Society wasn't for me." >_>;
Tricky: "That's what they all say though. Come on, it'll be fun!"

Espurr wasn't sure how else to explain to her that she didn't want to go, and Ampharos was suspicious anyway, and there were things they could do other than exploring—

All thoughts came to a screeching halt when Tricky's ears picked up on a sound she never thought she'd hear from Espurr—the sound of a belly rumbling. Espurr looked half-embarrassed, half caught by surprise—had she even noticed it was coming from her stomach?

Without another word, Tricky suddenly began to push Espurr back up towards her house.

"C'mon—Pops is making breakfast now! I… sorta ate my portion early, but still!"

Guess Espurr will get to meet Nuzleaf off-campus after all. :^)


"Around the wood chips. Around them! That means you, Tricky!"

Vice Principal Watchog brandished a suitably ping-y bell on a stick, herding all the students around the mostly brushed to the side wreckage of the classroom and ringing it whenever somemon got too close. Although he seemed to focus mostly on Tricky, who was practically drunk on pancakes and didn't seem to care much where she was going. That left Espurr to walk with Deerling and Goomy as they headed up towards the School Clinic.

Espurr: "Mr. Watchog sure goes out of his way to make himself hard to empathize with." >_>;
Tricky: "Really? So it's not just me, then."

"…Morning, I guess?" Deerling said after a moment's silence. Espurr said nothing, instead gazing up at the clinic absentmindedly in thought. None of her classmates really had to know what happened up there… Perhaps it would be better that way.

Deerling slowly continued. "Goomy and I were wondering if you wanted to come over later today? We found this old board game in my parents' closet, and we were going to try it out later."

Realizing she had been ignoring Deerling for the last few minutes, Espurr turned her attention back towards her classmates.

"But I have detention," she said. "I won't be able to make it."

"And that's why I asked Watchog about the detentions," Deerling responded. "He said they were cancelled today, because the school ordered some 'mon to come and rebuild the classroom and he's in charge of directing them. He also asked if I had detention somehow, but that's paranoid and beside the point." she looked at Espurr. "So, are you coming?"

Espurr: "... I mean, not that didn't conveniently work out, but shouldn't we be studying for exams?"
Deerling: "Meh, not like we really learned anything from school this year anyways. So what do you say? Are you in or not?"

Espurr thought on it for a minute. "I don't see why not." she finally decided. "Where should I go?"

"Oh, it's…" Deerling tried to think of a proper set of directions off the top of her head. "You know the plaza? In the middle of the village?" Espurr nodded. "Start there. Head south, but not so far that you outwalk the houses. My house is on the on the right. It's got the pink roof. You'll find us quickly."


"How can you not see the wreckage?!"

Doesn't sound like the best use of time you could spend cramming for exams, even if it's probably a bit more fun.

Exam day had begun. Everymon got their exam booklets from Farfetch'd, then spread out amongst the clinic. Espurr's first instinct was to ask for one, now she had the ability to use it. But her second instinct, which luckily overrode her first, was to notice that Watchog was in the room. She had already asked him for help. If she tried to back out now, he'd accuse her of taking some easy way out. It seemed the only option that didn't involve upsetting Watchog some way was to fly under his radar.

"Hope you like the smell of old paper," Watchog grumbled as they entered the school's storage room. "Because that's both our lives for the next hour." Espurr briefly wondered if he was always moody by choice and not because he actually had anything to be moody about.

Oh, well never mind then. That would explain the invite to go play board games.

Espurr: "I am so not ready for this." ._.
Tricky: "Eh, it's fine. Just make some pretty patterns on your exam paper and turn it in. Works good enough for me, and it makes Mr. Watchog make some funny faces!" ^^
Espurr: "Tricky, I'm pretty sure that's not how you're supposed to take these exams!" >.<

Watchog took a seat on a slightly sagging box of files, and gestured to a smaller one for Espurr to sit on. He pulled out a copy of the same piece of paper Espurr had seen all the other staff take, and set that by his side. The second sheet he pulled out he held up to his face, and began to read off it.

"Question one: How far back does the earliest known Human artifact date to?"

"2050," Espurr answered. That was easy. She remembered her first day at the school like it had happened less than a second ago.

Actually, that makes me curious. What epoch are they using for their calendar? Are they just using whatever the epoch was in the human era and continuing along? Though if you'd shifted it 4 years later on, I'd have asked if you'd played Xenoblade X given that that's the year where the world had a critical existence failure in that game.

Watchog pulled up the second sheet of paper and read something off it. He marked something down with a quill on the paper, and sat it down once again.

"Question two: Where did pokemon civilization first begin to establish itself?"

That made Espurr blink twice. She remembered it. It just required a little digging.

"The earliest known pokemonic civilization started on the Mist Continent," she said. "The other continents were colonized based on how much resources they had."

Watchog looked over the paper at Espurr. "In what order?"

"Water, Air, Grass, and Sand."

>Grass not colonized last

Oh. Oh dear. That doesn't bode well at all for how the residents got to their current state.

Watchog marked another sentence into the paper, carelessly setting it down next to him with only the quill and the inkwell as a paperweight.

"Question three," he read. "Give an estimate of the dates each continent was colonized."

Berry crackers. Espurr didn't remember that one. Watchog waited, an expectant expression upon his face. Espurr needed a moment to think. Watchog wasn't that patient. She need to stall.

"That isn't a question," Espurr said.

Watchog tapped the paper expectantly. "Yeah, well, I'm not here so you can argue about a bloody question that was punctuated with a dot. Answer it."

Espurr: "A-Actually, it turns out I can read now! So I don't need to take the rest of this exam orally!"

Watchog: "Nice try, I'm stuck with you right now per Principal Simipour's orders. So now, your answer?"
Espurr: "Er... w-well..."

"I don't know." Pulling random dates out of nowhere would look bad, so she gave the most honest answer she had. The expression on Watchog's face was indecipherable. He said nothing further to her, instead grabbing the paper—

—And flipping the inkwell onto himself in the process. An entire vial-full of bluk berry ink splattered all over Watchog's chest, leaving him covered in dripping ink.

Watchog sputtered. He looked at his chest like the ink was his own blood. He sputtered again.

"…Ha! I have to wash this off before it sticks. Don't. Move. Understand?!"

Espurr: "(Yeesh, aren't you just Mr. Congeniality today?)" >_>;

Espurr nodded, and Watchog made a beeline for the door, trying at the last second to make his exit as dignified as possible. He slammed it behind him, and then Espurr was left all on her own. With two sheets of paper.

The longer she waited, the harder it became to resist looking at them. She knew she shouldn't, but she was quickly coming to regret the idea of voluntarily signing up for two hours of being barked at by Watchog. Especially if she didn't have the right answers off the bat. Maybe she could make this go quicker if she did…

"Bet you won't get a high score on the test!"

She remembered Pancham waving after her, with that insufferable sneer on his face.

That too. She'd show him. She hopped off the box she was sitting on, marching over to where the answer sheet was. She snatched the paper up, reading and memorizing the answers almost angrily.

By the time Watchog finally threw open the warehouse door and made his way back into the room, Espurr was back in her seat and it was like nothing had been touched in the first place.

That seems like more than a little bit of a terrible idea, but okay there, Espurr.

Every question Watchog asked, Espurr answered correctly. Every once in a while she sent some psychic feelers out, but not once did she get the indication that Watchog suspected something. She didn't think he'd be the type to keep a suspicion like that on the down-low, anyway. All she had to do was reword the answers and he didn't suspect a thing. Even so, she couldn't kick the feeling that this was wrong, that she should pull back and at least try to answer the questions somewhat honestly, but she was in too deep now.

"Question 23: Name the three most famous exploration facilities in the world."

"The Rescuer's Guild on the Air Continent, the Wigglytuff's Guild on the Grass Continent, Pokemon Paradise on the Mist Continent."

Espurr: "(... Would it really be the end of the world for me to deliberately throw one or two questions here or there? Surely that would be fair, wouldn't it?)" ._.
- Espurr thinks back to Pancham's mocking sneers -
Espurr: "(Nah, screw it. I'm not risking that bear laughing at me all through summer.)"

Watchog sighed, marking yet another question off on the sheet with the answer.

"Question 57: The species of the pokemon directly involved in the Time Crisis were…

"Meowth, Riolu, Litleo, Shinx, Grovyle, Celebi, and Dusknoir."

That a Warped Skies nod there?

"Question 80, this is the last one—What did the treaty signed twenty years after the Bittercold Incident entail?

"The Global Exploration Accords, signed 11083, placed every guild on the Mist, Air, and Water continents under the control of the Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute. This was done so that legislation could travel smoothly between the guilds without interference or interruption.

Watchog crossed the final question off the list, and sighed as he collected all the papers.

"You're free to go," he said. Espurr politely walked to the entrance of the warehouse and excused herself.

The pit in her stomach just grew larger.

Espurr: "(Well this is certainly one way to go out from this village's school. I sure hope this doesn't blow up in my face over that whole Exploration Society thing.)"

The 'mon who was supposed to fix the classroom came a couple of hours early. Farfetch'd had spotted the 'mon making his way up towards the school. Audino ushered the rest of the class out the back doors of the school clinic, and led them around the classroom quietly while Watchog and Principal Simipour met with the repairmon. He was a fletchinder, and somehow didn't really strike Espurr as the builder type. He was sharper than he looked, however. No sooner had the class quietly absconded onto the path behind them that Fletchinder turned around, eyeing them interestedly.

"These your students?" he asked. [His accent was Serenity Village] (Or at least he didn't sound like Nuzleaf). Perhaps he was local? It didn't take long for the ever-sleep[-worn] Simipour to engage Fletchinder with another side tangent of the required finances, which gave Espurr and the rest of the students just enough time to slip off and out of Fletchinder's sight.

Some nitpicks there. You'd want to keep the pronouns for the Fletchinder consistent. I also didn't quite follow what you meant by "sleep-worn". I assume that's supposed to be "sleep-deprived", but don't know for sure. Also, for the accent bit, it probably sounds better as something like "His accent sounded like the ones she'd heard around Serenity Village". Since that way it indicates it's familiar, but leaves some room for Espurr to wonder if he's really a local or not.

"Was he local?" Espurr asked Deerling once they were a good distance away from the school.

"Never seen him," Deerling replied. "But the Principal trusts him, so he can't be that bad. Are we still on for today, by the way?"

"On for what?"

Tricky happily scampered up to Espurr and Deerling, falling into a jolly trot alongside them.

"I can't believe Watchhog let us off like that," she bragged. "We got so lucky! Now we can explore that mystery dungeon in the berry fields together!"

Unless if "Watchdog" is a deliberate knock/insult, you have a small typo there.

Espurr: "Tricky, don't you have any other things you'd rather be doing now than poking around in another Mystery Dungeon?" >_<
Tricky: "Considering how we're joining the Exploration Society in two days, nope! We'll be doing that as our day job soon enough!" ^^

"Tricky…" Espurr felt conflicted about dashing Tricky's hopes right off the bat, but she didn't want to go into another mystery dungeon right now. Not when she had so much flying around her mind already. "I… already agreed to go with Goomy and Deerling. Sorry."

"Well, can't we go together?" Tricky asked. "It's only a class A mystery dungeon. That means there's no wild dungeon 'mon in there!"

"No, Tricky… I agreed to do something else with Deerling and Goomy."

Tricky's face fell faster than a bag of rotting berries.

"But… I thought we were going to spend after school together…" she complained.

Espurr: "Tricky, isn't this ever so slightly unhealthy of you to insist on spending time together without room for breaks? I mean, there's an entire classroom of-"
Tricky: "B-But we were going to spend time together..." :<

"Maybe I want to do something else for a change," Espurr said. "I don't want to go into a mystery dungeon right now."

Espurr hadn't meant it to be hurtful, but Tricky took it badly all the same.

"Fine…" she said, the disappointment hanging through her voice. "I'll just go exploring on my own, then." And with that, she was gone. Espurr couldn't help but cast a look back at Tricky. Would she be fine on her own?

Narrator: "She won't be fine on her own."

"Look," Deerling said. "She'll be fine. She's been exploring on her own for years. One more day won't kill her. And besides, now I can show you the way to my house! It feels good not to get lost, right?"

Espurr: "Okay, now that's tempting fate if I ever heard it." ._.


Tricky looked up from her moping. On one side of her loomed Pancham. On the other side, Shelmet rather creepily lurked.

"…What do you guys want?" she asked, just a tiny hint of suspicion in her voice.

Pancham didn't let his gaze falter for one moment. He looked her straight in the eye. "I noticed your friend found somemon cooler to play with. That's all. Moving up in the village ranks, amiright? No need to hang with the Troublemaker anymore."

"'Tis a shame," Shelmet added sagely.

Wait, are those two just saying that openly in front of Espurr, Deerling, and Goomy? Or were Tricky and Espurr supposed to be a ways apart from each other at this point? Since it's admittedly a bit unclear from the lack of transition in the text.

"I don't wanna hear it from you guys," Tricky said, marching ahead of Pancham and Shelmet adamantly.

"But you've got us all wrong, dear 'Tricky'," Pancham said, slyly falling into Tricky's new pace. Shelmet bobbed along in the background, trying his hardest but obviously not able to keep pace with everymon else easily. "See, we aren't like Deerling and Goomy and Espurr. One little mistake doesn't make a difference in our books. Heck, we've made many, and look at us!"

"…What are you saying?" Tricky asked, curiosity inevitably beginning to overtake the suspicion.

"What I'm saying, dear Tricky…" Pancham smirked. "Is that I've had a change of heart about exploring. My bro Shelmet has too. Right, Shelmet?"

"Ha… Ha… Yeah! Whatever Pancham said." It was like Shelmet was further behind than he was before, even though he was moving as fast as his shell would take him.


"Really?" Tricky was half-optimistic, half-suspicious. Even for her, that was a little too good to be true.

"Yeah!" Pancham elbowed Tricky. "We fugitives gotta stick together, don't we?"

"…Yeah," Tricky admitted. "I guess we do."

"Alright then! And here's the best part: Me and Shelmet found the best spot for exploring! It's some sick dibs. You'd have never found it. Trust us."

And just like that, with the mention of a new location to explore, the dark spot in Tricky's day became a little brighter.

Given that these two almost got her turned into zombie Gabite chow a few days ago, I refuse to believe that this will end well.

"So… Apparently the pawniards are all in front… And the golurk are on the sides." Deerling looked up from the instruction manual. "Did you get all that?"

Espurr had not gotten that. For the fifth time, she removed all the pieces off the board and began to reset them all again. "I thought you said all the pawniards were in the back."

"Yeah, this thing says everything but the pawniards are in back. That's like the stupidest thing ever! You could just say they're in front! And don't even get me started on why half this manual is written in Footprint Runes…"

Espurr: "... Footprint Runes? That one's new. What are they?"
Deerling: "It's a writing system that I'm pretty sure is used on the Grass Continent or something like that. No idea why this board game we found would have so much of the manual written in them out here though."

"Um…" Deerling quickly returned to the manual again, flipping through it with her nose. Espurr went back to neatly rearranging the different wooden pokemon in intricate patterns until she received further instructions from Deerling, or Goomy got back from the kitchen. Whichever came first.

The door to Deerling's bedroom slowly swung open, and Goomy slimed in with a plate full of what looked like… crackers. Espurr's mouth watered. The stress of the test had done a number to her stomach.

"Y-your mom's really nice…" Goomy said through a mouthful of cracker. "She got crackers for all of us. Want one?" He held the plate out towards Deerling.

Ah yes, literal berry crackers. Cute touch there.

"You mean the stale ones in the pantry she's been trying to get rid of for weeks?" Deering never even looked up from the manual. "I'll pass."

"They taste fine to me…" Goomy slimed over and took a seat the best he could across from Espurr. He set the plate of crackers on the table, and Espurr discreetly snatched one when Deering wasn't looking, Stale for sure, but they tasted fine enough. It wasn't like beggars could be choosers, anyhow.

... How has Deerling's mom not just given them away to some birdmons who probably could care less if the crackers were stale thanks to lack of taste buds at this rate?

A loud bang drew both Espurr and Goomy's attention. Deerling had just headbutted the manual in frustration.

"Ugh…" she grumbled in anger. "Why are there so many pawniards and only two bisharp?"

Oh, so they're playing chess. Or trying to, at least.

"Just a little longer…"

Pancham cleared himself a path through the bushes, letting Tricky duck under the ferns before they snapped back and blocked Shelmet's path.

"Where are we headed?" Tricky asked as they headed further westwards. They were way past the Village outskirts by now. "If there were any mystery dungeons here I would know about them."

"What we found is better than a mystery dungeon," Pancham declared. "And it's just around the corner… Ah, here it is."

... Pretty sure that this is your sigh to bail, Tricky.

Pancham stopped, smirking confidently as Tricky and Shelmet finally caught up with him. Tricky's eyes widened. Located atop the trees of the forest was the wreckage of a small house, cobbled together from all sorts of raw material. Some even looked like they had come from pokemon Moves.

A tree-house.

"This is amazing!" Tricky declared. "How did you find this?"

"Oh, nothing," Pancham waved it off. "Just that we're good detectives is all. Go ahead! We want you to take the first peek."

Tricky couldn't believe her eyes. Or her ears, for that matter. This was like a dream come true! Almost too good to come true. She quickly scampered up the conveniently-placed pawholds of the tree, which would have seemed almost like steps if Tricky didn't know better.

>again, why would you trust the two 'mons that almost got you horribly killed just a few days ago?

Tricky: "... Not that this place doesn't look awesome, but shouldn't you two be showing this place off to me if you've been here before?"
- Pancham and Shelmet trade knowing looks -
Pancham: "And ruin the surprise? Where's the fun in that?"
Shelmet: "Yeah! Hurry up and take a peek already!"

The house itself looked like it might collapse any minute. Tricky wobbled on the branches, doing her best to keep her balance despite knowing she was twenty feet up in the air and could fall at any given moment…

"You're doing great!" yelled Pancham from below. "Just keep going!"

Tricky used the short boost of confidence from that to quickly scamper across the rest of the branch, and jump safely in the treehouse though one of the windows. Once inside, Tricky quickly tiptoed up to a window and threw it open, planning to wave out at Pancham and Shelmet-

But the moment she leaned out, the house suddenly collapsed in on itself without warning. A rope suddenly tightened around Tricky's hind legs, and she was left dangling from the treetops as most of the house fell to the ground, leaving a few choice pieces of wreckage in the trees. Tricky tried in vain to get herself upright, but was left helpless to Pancham and Shelmet's snickers.

"Guys…" she spat out. "I think the 'mon who built this place left a booby trap!"

Yuuuup. Figured something was up, especially when those two refused to go up the steps first.

"That's weird!" Pancham yelled up at her. "Just wait a few minutes—we'll get you down!"

But instead of climbing the tree and getting her down, Pancham and Shelmet did nothing. Tricky watched Pancham bend over, pick a rock up off the ground, and hurl it straight at her—

—The rock whizzed by her face, but thankfully missed. Tricky looked straight at Pancham in sudden horror. Of course. Why had she trusted them?!

"…Eventually," Pancham whispered to Shelmet in a low, jeering voice. Then he threw another rock.

Shelmet: "Because you're a complete idiot who's easy to fool?"
Tricky: "I-I'm not! S-Stop it and help me down already!"

"No-mon touch anything…" Espurr slowly stepped away from the board as Deerling looked up from the manual. "I think we finally got it."

All the pieces on both sides of the chessboard were finally in their proper positions, and a quick look at the picture in the back of the manual that they hadn't discovered until after the fact confirmed it.

"Gee, that would have been nice to have like, an hour ago," Deerling muttered sardonically.

Aaaaaand I called it.

"I-is it done now?" Goomy asked.

That was when Espurr realized…

"Do we know how to play chess?"

There was silence.

Espurr: "... I'll take that as a 'no'." >_>;

Another hour passed, in which Espurr, Deerling, and Goomy all fiddled with the manual and tried to get a good idea of how the game worked. Pretty soon, the sun was about to dip into evening, and Deerling's Mother walked into the bedroom to tell them that they'd best get back to their houses before dark.

"Well, that was a waste of time," Deerling announced in frustration as the four of them entered the living room.

"I warned you it wasn't going to be easy for you three to play," Deerling's Mother, a sawsbuck, said. "Now tell your friends goodnight, please. Their parents probably want them back before dark."

They honestly should've just Calvinballed the game, probably would've had more fun with it that way even if they'd be playing it wrong.

It was sundown. Tricky would have enjoyed it a lot more if she wasn't currently hanging upside down from a tree.

Pancham and Shelmet had never gotten her down like they had said they would. Although that was no surprise. They had thrown a lot of rocks at her, and then left once it began to get dark. Tricky had been left hanging in the tree, desperately trying to get herself loose. And now she was in trouble. The vines she had been tethered to were beginning to come loose from the tree, and it was a twenty-foot drop to the ground. She didn't want to fall from that height!

I mean, not that she's exactly popular in Serenity Village or that Pancham and Shelmet thought things through to understand that Tricky could get into a situation this bad, but how are Pancham and Shelmet able to just take it for granted that they likely wouldn't ever suffer meaningful consequences for that stunt?

The wreckage of the house was still caught on the branches around her, but there was no way for her to reach it all tied up like she was. It wasn't like she hadn't been trying for the past couple of hours.

Snap. The vines became a little more frayed, causing Tricky to gasp. She had to start thinking fast, or she was doomed. Any explorer worth their salt could do it…

Tricky glanced at all the wreckage around her, looking for the nearest piece. Her eyes settled on a piece of the wall that had become speared on one of the branches not-so-far below. She could make that.

She began to rock herself back and forth in ways she knew would twist the vine and make it break faster. Slowly, but surely, the vine was becoming more and more frayed. Any minute now, it was going to snap and send her tumbling towards the ground. Tricky just shut her eyes, and tried to relax. It was a trick written in Mystery Dungeoneering Life Hacks, by Wartortle of Team Go-Getters. If you closed your eyes, and tried not to overthink it… things would turn out just fine. And that was why Tricky did her best to turn off her brain, and allow herself to work unfettered by scary thoughts.

Tricky: "Come on Mystery Dungeoneering Life Hacks, don't fail me now." ._.;

Except for the fact that she was hanging over twenty feet above the ground, and trying to make herself fall…

Calm thoughts… Think about what Pops is making for dinner tonight… Yeah, that!

…Ugh, it wasn't working! What did Wartortle know, anyway? Then the rope snapped, and there was no time for thinking. Less than a second later Tricky found herself digging her claws into the soft material of that wrecked wall. Maybe Wartortle had a point after all.

The drop to the ground was a little less than fifteen feet now. Tricky silently hopped from branch to branch with her back legs bound, trying to keep her mind clear and focused as she made her way down to the ground. When she finally felt her paws hit solid dirt again instead of the rough surface of another tree branch, it felt immensely liberating, and Tricky was then able to focus on biting off the binds on her hind legs.

That honestly turned out better than I thought it would, since part of me was expecting Tricky to get hurt from that long fall and wind up crying for help and not getting it for a long while. Though I guess that probably would've been a bit too cruel to her.

It took a while to get home. Tricky spent much of the sundown trying to make her way out of the ambient forest before she got lost in the dark, and night had already fallen by the time she entered Serenity Village. All by herself. There weren't any streetlights like there must have been in Lively Town, and the only light came from the buildings around the square that were quickly darkening. Even Kecleon's was packing up on a weekday like this.

She felt beat-up and tired. Pops' rule was dinner before dark, so she was going to get a lecture before eating.

It was then that she realized that none of this would have happened if Espurr hadn't gone to Deerling's house. If Deerling hadn't stolen another one of Tricky's friends. Again. It wasn't fair! What Pancham and Shelmet had said was true, even if they had tied her to a tree and thrown rocks at her. Deerling still hadn't forgiven her, had she?

Wait a minute, is that Goomy she's talking about, or... is that the friend that Deerling implied that Tricky got hurt in a MD?

Tricky spotted Espurr politely waving goodbye to Goomy on the other side of the square, and this time she didn't let it go so easily.

Espurr heard the slow brushing of footsteps behind her, and turned to see Tricky trudging towards her through the streets.

"Oh, Tricky." Espurr turned around, looking at her. "You should have joined us for chess."

Considering what the next line describes of Tricky's emotional state, part of me wonders if you should've had a bit of body language from tricky/initial reaction back from Espurr. Since from Espurr's perspective, Tricky just had a normal day and she's checking in, while Tricky's just had what's likely the worst evening of her life for a good while.

- Tricky's eye twitches briefly, and Espurr blinks -
Espurr: "Uh... Tricky?" ._.

"I wanna know something." Tricky's voice didn't waver, although she felt all beat up and on the verge of crying. "What did Deerling say to you? About me?"

"Why do you assume Deerling said anything?" Espurr asked.

"Because she always does this! She tells the new pokemon to stay away from me, and everymon always listens to her! It's. Not. Fair!" Tricky yelled at the top of her lungs. Maybe she was blowing her breath in Espurr's face. She didn't really care. "You should have gone exploring with me, not them!"

Espurr: "Uh... Tricky? Have you ever considered that maybe you shouldn't have made things into a binary choice between 'risk life and limb yet again' and 'go with Deerling'?" >_>;
Tricky: "B-But we're joining the Exploration Society! W-We're supposed to explore Mystery Dungeons, and-!"

She screamed every word at full blast into Espurr's face. Espurr's eyes narrowed.

"Well, maybe I don't want to go exploring with you," she hissed back. "All you want to do is drag me off into places no-mon else wants to go! 'Expedition Society' this, 'mystery dungeon' that! Why can't you just be like all the other kids?"

"All the other kids are rotten bullies!" Tricky growled. "Just like… you're being…"

Espurr: "Okay, now you're being irrational. Since when was Goomy a bully? And Tricky, are you seriously insinuating that wanting to not constantly be in danger or get in trouble's bullying?" >:|
Tricky: "I-If it means leaving me all alone and ignoring me, then yes!"

Something snapped. Maybe it was Tricky's anger tearing red at the corners of her vision, or Espurr's indignance at being called a bully, but Espurr decided she'd had enough.

"If I'm a bully," Espurr slowly began, ice cold. "Then what does that make you?"

That shut Tricky up. She took a few steps back from Espurr, her ears flopping downward.

"I… I…" she began.

That was the point where it became too much for Tricky to bear. She took off in the direction of home as fast as she possibly could, lest Espurr or anymon else see her crying her eyes out near a bush.

- Espurr watches Tricky take off running and blinks. After a few moments, she faintly hears crying in the distance -

Espurr: "Was- Was I too hard on her?" ._.;
- Espurr pauses a moment, and thinks of all of the various shenanigans she's gotten into along with Tricky since she came to Serenity Village, and sighs -
Espurr: "No. Even if it was harsh, she needed to hear that."
- Espurr shakes her head and heads back for Audino's -
Espurr: "Besides, it's Tricky. I'm sure she'll be back to her same normal self tomorrow."

Some part of Espurr felt worried for Tricky as she walked up the winding forest path towards the school. She walked with her arms folded, trying to ignore the wind that blew through the trees and rattled the branches and how dark it was getting now. But the other part of her said that she was right to say it. She'd laid out the truth, plain and simple. It would have hit Tricky in the face sooner or later. Better a friend break it to her than somemon like Pancham.

And yet, the pit in her stomach grew larger.

Oh hey, I like it when I can roughly call how characters will react. :V

"I think I screwed up today," she said.

"Hmm?" Audino finished setting her exploration bag next to the other two, and then turned her attention towards Espurr. "What makes you say that?"

It took Espurr a moment to think of what to say.

"If somemon you know does a bad thing, does that make them a bad person?" she asked.

"Not necessarily," Audino replied. She took a seat on the straw bed opposite of Espurr. "Everymon does bad things once in a while. But I think it's about what you do after that decides what kind of person you are. Why?"

Espurr: "(Erm... w-well I kinda cheated on the school exam today, but I don't think I'm ready to blurt that out right now.)"

Espurr was silent for a moment longer. She looked away from Audino's eyes, retraining them on the ground instead. Audino contemplated for a minute.

"Is this about Tricky?" she finally asked.

Espurr looked at Audino in surprise, but then nodded. Audino hmm'd.

"You had a fight, right?"

Espurr couldn't do much else but nod.

"It's okay to have a fight," Audino said. "Sometimes there's no good way to settle something, and everything comes out all wrong. But it's what you do after the fight that counts. I think you should talk to her tomorrow, and see if the two of you can make up."

"And what if that doesn't fix things?" Espurr asked.

"Then that's fine too," Audino said. "But you'll never know unless you try."

Espurr: "(I mean, if Tricky snapped back to her normal hyperactive self after freaking out in that one Mystery Dungeon with the Gabite, it shouldn't be hard to smooth things over right?)"
- Beat moment of realization -
Espurr: "(... Assuming that is her normal self.)" ._.; (edited)

The dormant connection orb lay next to Tricky's bed, swept under in a place where no-mon was likely to trip on it. Tricky entered her room silently, trying to keep it all together so Pops wouldn't try to console her any further and keep reminding her. Keep bringing her back. He thought she had gotten over this almost a year ago. She just tried not to think about it, so hard not to remember it existed. It almost worked.

The case containing the pair of scarves was at the front of the pile of junk that was under Tricky's bed. Tricky pulled it out with her teeth. She opened it. She wasn't sure why she did. That pair of dusty scarves stared her right in the face. It was like they had voices: Why did you lock us away for so long?

Uh, yeah. That really seems to indicate that Deerling wasn't wrong about Tricky having gotten someone hurt with her dungeoneering antics in the past.

Tricky slammed it shut, and slid it back under the bed with so much force it pushed the other junk up against the wall. She didn't like this anymore. She wanted to forget about the stupid scarves. She wanted to forget about all of it.

But she couldn't. She hadn't even gotten rid of the scarves. She wasn't strong enough to do that. She hadn't been then, and she wasn't now. Tricky hopped into her bed, and buried her head under the pillow in a vain attempt to flush it out and forget.

That was how she spent the night, and in the morning, she had forgotten everything.

That last line doesn't sound remotely healthy there. Though I wonder if that's Tricky being able to force on a brave face after a night's rest, or if there's something deeper going on with her.

Alright, final thoughts @SparklingEspeon : I was surprised at how much stuff seemed to be going on, since this is the shortest chapter in your story since Ch. 3. Though I suppose that has a way of happening with 17 scenes swirling about.

I must say that I didn't expect Espurr and Tricky's relationship to wind up going where it did this chapter. Even if they both seem to make sense from their point of views. Espurr's reaction clicks from the perspective of the fish out of water who's getting a little worn down by the amount of crazy she's had to endure since waking up sans her memories (not that she'll be doing much better given the plot is about to step on the gas, IIRC). Tricky's also seems to make sense from the perspective of someone who's short on friends, but keeps trying to put on a brave face of "I-I'm fine, really" and chase a dream of hers. Even if she really needs to learn to be able to listen to others and hear them out instead of just imposing her own hopes and wishes on them.

But yeah, those are my two cents there. There were a few quibbles I had here and there about a couple things feeling underdescribed or hurried, but otherwise I liked the chapter and am looking forward to seeing you blow up the canon rails soon.

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
  1. nidoran-f
Alright, took a bit longer than I'd have hoped to get this together, but back with the other of two reviews I had waiting in the wings:

Chapter 8


The nighttime air was still hot. Serenity Village was located near the sea, so the air was humid as well. Audino stood at the porch of Principal Simipour’s house, her bag tightly against her side. At some point, she had left the school clinic while Espurr slept.


The door opened, revealing none other than Principal Simipour himself. He looked more sleep-ridden than ever.

“Nurse Audino,” he yawned, trying to keep himself awake. “What do I have to owe a visit from you at this time of night?

Not fully sure if "sleep-ridden" is what you want since you're basically saying that he looks "more sleepy than he normally does, which is pretty sleepy". It might make sense to do a plain "sleepier" there.

Simipour’s house was a single, large room separated into quadrants with minimal walling. The one touching the door was the parlor, and Audino could see the bedroom and the kitchen on either side. The houses with views were smaller here, but in larger demand than the loftier ones at the bottom.

You want either "greater" or "higher" demand there.

Simipour gestured towards the furniture in the parlor, a couch and an armchair opposite a small table. Audino took a seat on the couch, letting Simipour sit in the chair before she started talking.

“I happened to look at the location Vice Principal Watchog chose for his test when filing away the test work,” Audino began. “I think he should change it. It’s a safety hazard.”

“A safety hazard?” Simipour asked. “What makes you think that? The School Dungeon is a safe dungeon. No fog. No aggressive ferals. That’s why we use it for exams like this.”

>Mystery Dungeons
>in any setting


“But the last time I went in, there was fog,” Audino said. “I filed the paperwork for that when I got back that night—didn’t you see?”

Simipour was quiet. It was an uncharacteristic quiet for him.

“It must have gotten lost in my desk,” he finally said. “But I don’t understand the rationale behind such a change. Dungeons take centuries to grow stronger; the School Forest is barely a decade old.”

“The dungeon’s going bad, Principal,” Audino said. “The Drilbur Mines… Wooloo Plains… Poliwrath River… All the dungeons here go bad faster than they should. We should move the test.”

Oh, that's not concerning at all

“To what location?” Simipour asked. He didn’t seem to be fully there. “It is a dungeon test, after all. There isn’t a more appropriate place to have it than in the dungeon.”

“The students’ safety trumps that!” Audino couldn’t help but raise her voice then. “We’re running a school, not a sports event. Watchog’s test is unsafe. I don’t care what he thinks; we need to change it.”

Simipour sighed.

“I’ll see that Watchog does a sweep of the dungeon before the test,” he said.

“And he’ll change it if it looks dangerous?”

“That is his choice. Good night, Audino.”


He’d forgotten the ‘nurse’. And the ‘vice principal’. He almost never forgot to add those. In fact, something about this was all very off. Although the thought felt crazy, Audino found herself fearing for her safety as well as that of the children.

She was up too late. She needed to leave this house and get a proper night’s sleep before she attacked this again.

“Very well,” she said, standing up and gathering her bag. “I’ll hold him to that tomorrow.”


Simipour didn’t walk with her. He just remained hunched over in his seat, his eyes following her every step until she shut the door.

Audino shivered once she’d closed it.

She never knew how creepy this part of the village could get at night. Something told her it wasn’t the village, but she ignored it.

Why was she the only teacher who had her priorities straight?

To be fair, we haven't seen Farfetch'd get really off his rocker, but... yeah. That certainly made Simipour feel a lot more sinister than I remembered him being in the game.

A second rock whizzed by Tricky’s snout. She looked down at Pancham and Shelmet in horror. All tied up in this tree, she was a sitting ducklett! She was gonna get pelted!

“How do you feel about exploring
now?!” Pancham yelled up at her. “Doesn’t feel so good, does it?!”

Tricky tried to respond, but Pancham’s next rock caught her in the nose, and she could only let out a strangled yelp. When she was finally able to open her eyes over the pain again, Pancham had another rock in his paw.

He nailed her in the ear. It felt like a white-hot blow against the side of Tricky’s head. At this point, she was desperately flailing, trying to nudge herself in a random direction and hoping she was moving out of the way of Pancham’s impeccable aim.

While I doubt either of the two of them knew it, that upside-down hanging for the length of time they left Tricky there I'm pretty sure would be classifiable as torture IRL since being inverted for that amount of time can cause severe pain from blood pooling in your head and upper body. (edited)

“You! Don’t! Deserve! Friends!” Pancham chucked another rock straight up into the air with each word, and Shelmet batted it towards Tricky. They zoomed high above the fennekin’s head, but one clipped the vine she was bound to and sent her flailing in midair. “You deserve this!” He threw another.

And Tricky didn’t even try to dodge that one, because she knew she deserved it. What Pancham had said was true.

Pancham smirked as he gazed up towards Tricky, watching her grow still with her head hung downwards. That was enough punishment for today. She’d do the rest herself. They should probably get back to the village now, before it got dark… right?

Pancham picked up another stone from the ground. One more throw.

Tricky didn’t try to dodge the next one either. Not even when it made contact with her forehead, and then she felt dizzy and woozy off and on for the next hour.

Uh... ouch. I kinda understand why she was bawling her eyes out for most of the rest of the night in the prior chapter now.

After taking a second to inspect the newly cleaned-out classroom in appreciation for a ‘mon’s hard work, he entered the clinic and stumbled upon Espurr going over the map that had been hidden under the beds until now.

“Now where did you get that?” he asked, cocking an eyebrow at Espurr suspiciously. “Did you swipe it from the storage room yesterday?”

“I’ve had it for almost a week,” Espurr replied. “Found it somewhere in town.”

There was a brief ‘I’ll be checking the storage room later’ before he moved on, but he didn’t try to confiscate it.

Espurr: "... Is it really that impossible for you to believe that I can find things lying around?" >.<
Watchog: "When you're constantly in orbit around the Troublemaker... yes."

With Farfetch’d’s class out of the way for the summer, the first event of the day was Audino’s exam, which Audino had upturned most of the School Clinic to prepare for. The straw beds had been pushed aside to make way for spare tables brought in from the storage building, and twin baskets of Medicinal Berries had been set on each tabletop.

And now the test had been postponed almost ten minutes, because Tricky had never shown up. At some point, Watchog had said something about ‘starting without her’ and stepped out of the clinic, and Audino decided to start the test anyway.

“On the board are the final versions of three different mixtures you will need to create to pass the test,” Audino said, pointing to a portable blackboard that had been wheeled in for the purposes of this class. “You have all been provided with the right berries and equipment to make them. Outside of that, you will need to rely on the knowledge you’ve gained from this week’s classes, and make the decisions you believe are best for your mixtures. And remember the three rules of berry safety:”

“Smell, don’t taste, oran berries make the base, and always mash everything into a paste,” the class recited.

Goomy: "Wait, why not Sitrus though? Don't those also heal like Oran Berries?"
Audino: "What, do I look like I'm made of money here? We're doing Oran bases, okay?" >_>;

And then the class was left to their own devices. Pancham and Shelmet took the table on the right with the best looking berries before anymon else could even protest, and Goomy got an entire table’s worth of supplies all to himself. Espurr sat at the table to the left, eyeing the blackboard from her uncomfortable stool position. It looked like a skin lotion, a psychic-muffling paste, and a sour elixir were needed to pass the test.

Espurr decided to start with the skin lotion, since she still remembered the recipe from Tuesday’s class. She fished in the berry basket for an oran, but none were turning up.

“The oran berries are in this basket.”

Deerling, who Espurr had taken a seat next to, pushed the separate basket of oran berries towards Espurr. “Audino didn’t want them to get mixed up with the others, since the orans are special.”

Espurr took an oran from the basket, and put it into the bowl. “Thank you.”

Espurr: "Thanks for looking out for me? Though you wouldn't happen to know anything about where Tricky got off to, would you? I don't think I've ever seen her flatly miss a class before, let alone on an exam day."
Deerling: 🤷

“Deerling?” Espurr asked a moment later.

Deerling looked up from her work, staring at Espurr questioningly. Espurr mashed the oran berry to bits with the wooden masher, not really paying attention to what she was doing at all.

“Did… something happen between you and Tricky?”

Espurr never thought she would see Deerling blanch the way she did.

Deerling’s unnaturally cheerful response: “W-what makes you think that?” only served to reassure Espurr that something was indeed going on.

Espurr: "I mean, you suddenly turned white as a sheet and stammered back when I asked an innocent question. So now come on, out with it." >_>;

“It was something Tricky let slip,” Espurr decided to go with. “I thought I’d ask around. Especially since she didn’t show up to class today.”

“Well, did you guys fight or something?” Deerling asked. “You wouldn’t know, because you’ve only been here a week, but Tricky usually doesn’t show up to school the day after a fight.”

Espurr: "Okay, yes, but that isn't answering the question as to if something happened between her and you." >_>;

Something about that answer didn’t quite sit right with Espurr. She briefly paused to gauge her oran berry – which was now just a sorry pile of mush – then dropped the bluk berry into another bowl and started mashing that.

“But you talked to me about it a couple of nights ago,” she continued. “You said you didn’t want to see somemon else get hur—"

At that point, Deerling lost it. She slammed her hooves into the desk, a seething expression on her face.

Tricky is mad because I don’t want to see pokemon get hurt because of her, and I’m picking up the responsibility she doesn’t want to touch!”
Espurr: "Er... well that conversation went places."

“I’m sorry.” Deerling had her head hung in shame. “It’s… not a pretty thing. I… I can’t. I just can’t. Please don’t ask me.”

Deerling turned away from Espurr after that, and the rest of the test was spent in silence.

Espurr: "(So something did happen between those two. Though why does Deerling look almost guilty about what happened?)" ._.;

Espurr barely passed Medicinal Berries. And only because she had arguably performed the best out of anymon in the class, on account of having one perfect mixture.

Deerling had used all the right berries, but had mashed them so hard the mixtures came out wrong, leaving her without a replacement before the test ended. Goomy seemed to be entirely lost, and Pancham and Shelmet together had flubbed all three mixtures, then proceeded to create a custom mix so foul that Audino disposed of it as quick as she could.

Tricky, who was absent, automatically failed.

Espurr: "I suppose I ought to feel happy for being a star pupil, but this really isn't a good reflection on the quality of the education we received-"

Audino: "Espurr, I'm right here!" >.< (edited)

Then class ended. Everymon went home, while Espurr was kept behind for detention. Tricky still hadn’t shown. Watchog was off in the background, grumbling about how she was skipping school and now skipping detention too, and he was going to get the principal to extend her detention into summertime.

Espurr: "Waaaaait a minute, shouldn't you be happy that Tricky isn't present right now, Mr. Watchog? You've... never exactly struck me as eager to be in her presence."
Watchog: "Hrmph, that doesn't mean that she can just mince off and skip detention! Standards have to be enforced here!"

“Mr. Watchog?” she asked.

“Vice principal.”

“I’d like to go check up on Tricky,” Espurr said.

“Really? Sounds like an easy way to cut detention to me,” Watchog said, trying to decide if the water canister he was bringing along was enough for the hot sun. He shrugged it off, placing it in the bag anyway.

“But she hasn’t shown up to school yet today,” Espurr said. “Somemon should go, right?”

“She won’t be there,” Watchog drawled. “She’s probably off prancing through some dungeon somewhere. And that’s why she’s getting detention on Deerling Day. That’ll show her…”

- Beat moment -
Espurr: "... 'Deerling Day'? You mean Deerling has detention too? Or else what are you going on about? And why would it be such a big deal?"

He finished packing up the bag he was currently stuffing full, zipped the top laboriously, and lugged it over his back. “Time to go,” he said.

Something innate told Espurr his mind wasn’t going to be changed. Maybe it was part of her sixth sense.

They walked down the path and away from the many houses of the village. Espurr considered what to do as she walked. She could go to one the other teachers, but it would cause such a stink, and from what she knew, the only teacher who would back her was Audino.

Espurr: "I mean, I didn't remember Farfetch'd really being that hostile. Maybe I could try asking him-?"
- Beat moment as Farfetch'd is nowhere to be found -
Espurr: "... Now that I think about it, Farfetch'd kinda just vanishes into the ether whenever he doesn't have something he needs to do around school, huh? Nevermind, then." .-.

Soon, the daylight above them began to filter out, eclipsed by blue and purple shades of leaves and tree branches. Espurr knew where this route led: The Foreboding Forest.

“Start picking up all the mess in the area,” Watchog said curtly, handing Espurr a rake and a potato sack. The clearing all around them was covered in hundreds and hundreds of fallen leaves. “Tell me when you’re done. I’ll be waiting outside.” And with that, he was gone.

Espurr: "... Wouldn't it be more logical to do this after all the leaves have fallen off?" >_>;
Watchog: "No. Now get moving!"

Knowing Tricky, Watchog was probably right about her not being at her house. She was off sulking in some mystery dungeon right now. And after seeing what had happened back in the mines—she shivered—it was probably something dangerous.

If she left on a trip to Tricky’s house without Watchog’s excusal from detention, she’d score herself a week’s more in the process. But the way she was going about detention meant it would stretch far into night. And if Espurr was right, and Tricky really was in some kind of danger, then sitting around here and shoveling up leaves was the worst thing she could possibly do.

She thought for a minute. Then another, mindlessly stirring the leaves on the ground around with her rake. Then she decided.

That was it. Watchog could stick a wooper in it. She quietly set down her rake and the potato sack, and took the long way back into the village. For both their sakes, she hoped she was wrong, and Tricky had just been sulking around in her bedroom the whole day after all.
Thaaaat sounds an awful lot like she won't be sulking around in her bedroom.

Though who knows? Tricky's admittedly been a bit weird since the whole episode with Pancham and Shelmet


Espurr tried again. She pressed her ear to the door, hoping she could catch what was going on behind it. She only heard silence.

She walked around the house to the window where Tricky’s room was, and attempted to peek in. The window didn’t have any panes like the ones in the School Clinic, but it was a bit too high up for Espurr to see much. She didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, except for the fact that Tricky’s case of scarves lay out in the open—empty—and a tattered old book lay on Tricky’s messed-up bed.

Espurr looked left, then right. She was sure she wasn’t being watched… So no-mon would mind if she quickly broke in, right?

Espurr: "I mean, of course they'd mind. But what Carracosta doesn't know can't hurt him, right?" >_>;

Slipping through the window bars was easy, and Espurr had no doubt Tricky had used that as a means of escape several times. The hard part was getting up there. She used her newfound lifting abilities to levitate herself up there, but her mind began to spike with pain before she was even half a foot off the ground. Luckily, half a foot was all she needed. Catching the window bars with both her paws, Espurr gave herself one last boost with the rest of her mental energy—

—Which was enough to get her through the bars, and somewhat neatly into Tricky’s room. She briefly rubbed her head to clear it of the headache.

Espurr: "I'll have to say that I didn't expect looking for Tricky to be a literal headache this early." >.<

Once inside, the first thing Espurr did was check the book on Tricky’s bed, which she thought she recognized. Those dog-ears around the corners only meant it could be one thing, after all…

“A Complete Guide to Mystery Dungeons”, the title read. Espurr knew she had seen it before! She held it in her paws, looking at the page number:

Page 26: Nectar Meadows – Water Continent

Espurr: "Aaaaand she went off into a Mystery Dungeon. Of course." >_>;

Espurr read through the page, her eyes flicking over the text as fast as she was able to read it. Nectar Meadows was a Class A Mystery Dungeon, which meant there weren’t creepy dust apparitions, the dungeon didn’t move around, and pokemon who entered it didn’t turn into rabid monsters like Gabite. Class A dungeons were usually the homes of pokemon who didn’t feel at home living in civilizations such as Serenity Village. However, Nectar Meadows was the home of a beedrill colony that had a reputation for being quite vicious in the nectar-gathering stage of the year, which was… just around summertime.

Considering that bit with Simipour earlier about how dungeons get stronger with time, that's a major
at the idea of ever living in one of them in this setting, no matter if it's currently safe or not.

Espurr set the book down, taking a minute to clear her thoughts. If Tricky had gone to Nectar Meadows, she would have had to leave about four hours ago to skip school like she had. Which either meant that she was still in the dungeon heading back home, or… something had happened to her.

“We don’t need another disappearance on our paws.”

The last thought hit Espurr like a truck. Power began to crackle up deep inside her, rising to the tips of her paws and making her ears restless. A few deep breaths, and she was able to get it all under control. Not here. Not now. She set the book back on Tricky’s bed just like she had found it, then shut the scarf case and moved it up to the window so she could climb out.

Oh, so that's how we're getting the Beedrill/Vespiquen fight for this story. Maybe. Possibly.

On her way down the hill, she noticed a note tacked to the door of the next house over that she hadn’t caught before:

Gone lemonberry picking with Carracosta. Won’t be back until sundown. ~ Nuzleaf


I mean, I know better than to trust Nuzleaf in a PSMD-derived story. But I have to wonder what on earth he could want with Carracosta.

“And guess what? There’s a small dungeon right near Pop’s oran berry fields!”

Tricky’s words from Wednesday rang in Espurr’s head, and so to the oran berry fields she went. She still remembered the way there from her first detention—through the village gates and down the path until it split off from the mountain trail and the trees gave way to fields of farmland and the hot summer sun. Nectar Meadows was somewhere around here, if Past Tricky was to be trusted.

The fields ended at the base of a large mountain, where a small alcove lead off into a dimly-lit cavern of flora that Espurr assumed must have been the dungeon. But there was only one way to find out, so she walked up to it and crept inside.

It's going to be darkly hilarious if it turns out that Tricky just never went to the Nectar Meadows all along and just went off to go cry in the woods or something like that.

Espurr knew it was Nectar Meadows from the moment she walked in, just because there was nothing else it could be. The entire cavern, much more spacious and well-lit than the Drilbur Mines, was filled from ground to roof with all sorts of plants, from moss to tall grass to various flowers that lined the walls and roof of the cavern. The sweetness of the flowers mingled with the foul rotting scent of mystery dungeon, and as Espurr stepped under one of the holes in the dungeon’s sunlight-filtered canopy, she saw that it was completely empty.

Espurr: "Urf... not sure if I needed to know what sweet and rotten smells mixed together smelt like."

At some point in her journey through the dungeon, it struck her that it had been too quiet. Where were all the beedrill the dungeon book had said would be here? And where was Tricky? Something didn’t add up. Had she gone to the wrong place after all?

Espurr cautiously pressed on, keeping a close eye on her surroundings as she went. If she was going to be found out, it wouldn’t be due to a lack of attention or foresight. She was sure of that.

Then she got hit with the Pin Missile she had never seen coming. The sheer force of it sent her flying back until she hit the dungeon wall hard and tumbled to the ground. Espurr pulled herself back up as quickly as possible. Her attacker was a large, hovering, insect-like creature she assumed was a beedrill. Espurr stood her ground. She could hold her own. She could fight one off.


She hoped.

She quickly abandoned that thought when the first beedrill was joined by two others. The best idea was to run—

“Begone, foul beast!”

Both Espurr and the beedrill spun to look in the direction of the voice. An ember flew out of nowhere, sending the beedrill flying back. Espurr saw an offended expression on one of the Beedrills’ faces, before it was swallowed up by fire.

Tricky bounded out of a side route in the mystery dungeon and dashed up to Espurr. Espurr stumbled along, doing her best to keep up with Tricky as they ran as far away from the dazed beedrill.

Espurr: "So you were here." -_-;
Tricky: "A-Am I really that predictable?"

Espurr: "I'd say yes, but then that doesn't solve the question of why you're still here when you weren't in any danger. You literally failed the Medicinal Berries exam today!" >.<

Tricky was panting and looked run ragged. Suddenly, she made a detour into a right-hand dungeon path, and Espurr had choice but to follow or suffer the wrath of the several beedrill that were approaching from the direction they had been heading in.

She pressed herself up against the wall, trying to blend in. The beedrill rocketed past, leaving both her and Tricky behind.

“What are you doing here??” Tricky yipped excitedly once the dust had settled. She sounded hyper, almost manic. Espurr shot her a look of incredulity. Of all the reactions she had been expecting, it wasn’t that.

“I came here to look for you,” she said. “You didn’t show up for class today. I skipped detention to come here! What would the teachers say if they knew you’d been frolicking around in mystery dungeons all day?”

“Touché.” Tricky didn’t seem particularly bugged by any of it. “I just woke up with so much energy today I had to run it off somehow, so I went exploring!”

Espurr: "Tricky, are you serious?" >_>;
Tricky: "C-Completely! No ulterior motivations for wanting to be away from school at all!"
- Espurr side-eyes -
Espurr: "Uh... huh."

“I was thinking we could go exploring in the Foreboding Forest next,” she said, chasing her tail in circles as a placeholder exercise. “And then we could run the School’s dungeon!”

Two thoughts came into Espurr’s mind: The school had its own mystery dungeon? And more importantly, had Tricky gone mad?

“Are you… okay?” asked Espurr. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Tricky: "N-Nothing! Just full of energy today!"

Espurr: "Tricky pls."

Tricky stared at her with a confused look, then burst into awkwardly fake laughter a seconds later.

“Of course I’m okay!” she laughed out of herself. It sounded forced. “There’s nothing wrong! What makes you think I wouldn’t be okay?”

Espurr flicked her eyes over Tricky’s twig and dirt-ridden coat, then gave Tricky a stare so dry there was absolutely no confusing its meaning.

“I mean yeah, I probably need a bath,” Tricky went on. “—Oh wait. No I don’t. I don’t need a bath! I’m fine. I’m really fine! I’m totally fine! See?”

She pranced about in the nook of the dungeon she and Espurr were camped out in for five seconds just to show Espurr how fine she was. Espurr wasn’t buying it.

“You don’t look fine,” she said.

Espurr: "Okay, leaving aside the fact that that was the most forced laugh I've ever heard, you failed a final exam today. On what planet is that doing fine?" >_>;
Tricky: "The one where I just decided that I'd really rather be anywhere but school today?"

“No!” Tricky yipped immediately after. The grin on her face was quickly looking more and more forced. “I’m fine! I’m really fine! I have to be fine! I have to be! I have to be!”

She kept repeating that phrase. She was breathing heavily now, prancing around the small dead end as fast as she could to convince herself she really was fine. Espurr could see a tug-of-war between yellow and blue circling around her, and blue was slowly beginning to win.
Espurr: "Tricky. You're very obviously not fine right now, okay?" ._.;

Then she gave up and collapsed in the middle of the ground. Her face was covered by her paws, and she was trembling all over. Espurr slowly crawled forward, before Tricky let out an ugly sob. She stopped where she was, and waited.

It was several minutes before Tricky had quieted down enough that Espurr felt it was safe enough to approach. She quickly checked to make sure that no-mon had caught onto them, then crawled forward.

“Tell me what’s wrong,” she said.

Tricky: "E-Everything. Is that what you wanted to hear?"

Espurr: "... Why don't we go through a few specifics?" ._.

“It’s my fault,” she finally stuttered out.

Espurr looked back towards Tricky. Her ears drooped, and she had her face hidden behind her tail… but she was talking.

“Tricky’s just a nickname.” Espurr looked back towards Tricky. Her ears drooped, and she had her face hidden behind her tail… but she was talking.

“My real name is Artemis Carracosta Duringham,” Tricky began. “That’s what my Pops named me when he adopted me. I… had another friend before you. He used to go exploring with me all the time. And…"

She took a long shaky breath, as if to prepare for what she was about to say next:

“And I killed him.”

Missing some punctuation there. Though what's the story of name compositions in this setting anyways? Since that seems to be a really curious style of name there and not sure what belongs to what mechanically. Are names fundamentally Russian in style where there's a given and surname, with the middle name being a patronymic?

Espurr: "That's... quite the specific there."

“Budew! Hurry up already!” Budew dashed through the underbrush, barely keeping up with the fennekin that was going to leave him in the dust at this rate. “We’re supposed to go check out that mystery dungeon today!”

“Hah… Can’t you go a little slower?” Budew asked. “I’m dying back here.

Well, about to, but we haven't gotten there yet. :V

“Well, yeah,” Artemis drawled. “But it’ll only be in and out, and the adults won’t know a thing! Besides, don’t you wanna see what it’s like?”


“I guess…” Budew admitted. “Where do we go, though? Is there even a name for it yet?”

“It’s called Poliwrath River,” Artemis said. “Look—I know the way! I snuck a look at Farfetch’d’s maps today in class.

“Then what are we waiting for?” Budew asked.

“I was just gonna ask you that,” Artemis said with a mischievous smirk on her face, and then she was off so fast that Budew had no hope of keeping up

I... can already see how this 'mon died, since leaving partners off on their own in any dangerous environment is a serious no-no.

“I’m not so sure about this anymore…” Budew looked up at the entrance to Poliwrath River anxiously. “Can we go back now?”

“Nope! No take-backsies! You promised you’d go exploring with me today!” Before Budew could even protest, Artemis planted her head against his backside and began to push him up there herself.

Aaaand that's terminal exploring no-no #2 there.

“NOW can we go back?” Budew asked, glancing back forlornly at the entrance of the mystery dungeon that they had just walked into.

“You can’t go out of a mystery dungeon the way you got in, silly,” Artemis waved him off. “The only way out now is upupup!”

Besides…” Artemis added, countering Budew’s fearful face with a contagious grin. “This is a water-type dungeon! You have a type advantage here! Don’t you get how awesome that is??”

Budew: "Artemis, I'm a Budew. I'm pretty sure I'd lose a straight fight to most Water-types!" >.<
Artemis: "Oh come on, what's the worst that can happen?"

They continued onward in silence for a little while, but Artemis could see that Budew had lightened up a lot.

Finally, Budew perked up again and turned towards Artemis. “I wonder where all the enemy pokemon are—“

That was when the enemy pokemon attacked. Artemis’ scream of surprise was drowned out by Budew’s cries as he was picked up and fought amongst by several feral Poliwrath. Artemis hit the ground rolling, falling in a patch of golden weeds and out of sight.

Well, that exploration certainly went places. Though there's a long stretch between the prior quoted block and this one that feels very light on description. Or at least description that isn't immediately attached to speech tags.

Given how this is a really traumatic moment for Tricky, I'm surprised there wasn't more of it that stood out for her in her memories.

She wanted to do something, anything, but she was frozen to the spot and could do nothing but watch as the Poliwrath all fought over and pummeled Budew. She stuck her paws over her eyes when it became too painful to watch, and she could only hear the sound of Budew’s cries and leaves tearing apart and bones cracking. She must have stayed in that position for hours, just huddling there, because a wall of mist was beginning to encroach upon the room by the time Artemis was finally brave enough to open her eyes. Slowly, she lifted herself to her paws and climbed out of the foliage.

“Budew?” she called out.

There was no answer.


She bolted forwards, to the area where she knew he and the Poliwrath had been.

The Poliwrath were gone. Probably long gone, and they hadn’t even known she was there. And in their place lay what remained of Budew, a mangled pile of leaves and blood and bone all punched into a soup. It took everything Artemis had in her not to scream in horror, even though she had never been more horrified in her life. And next to his corpse lay the scarf Artemis had bestowed him as a sign of their friendship. There was only a single nick in it. He must have lost it early on.

Yeah, basically like that. But in the leadup up to the part of SUBOMIE MOGU MOGU, since this part is really vividly described. Though as a nitpick, I think you should axe the "in horror" or else substitute for something else, since there's "never been more horrified" in the exact same sentence and something about it feels a little repetitive.


That was the point where Artemis couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. She grabbed Budew’s scarf in her mouth, and ran like the wind in the direction that would take her the farthest away from Budew.

Somehow, she managed to blindly stumble her way out the dungeon by dark.

I mean, considering how if she'd tried to intervene, she'd likely have died there... yeah. Not much she could've done.

“Pops and the Principal said it wasn’t my fault,” Tricky continued. “But I’m the one who asked him to go in there. If I hadn’t asked him to go exploring with me, he would have gone home! He’d still be alive! It’s my fault he’s dead! I killed him!!”

Espurr sat and listened quietly. She didn’t say anything—how could she? There was nothing to say. She couldn’t even imagine what such an experience was like, let alone try to comfort Tricky with words. Instead, she settled for just comforting Tricky.

“I want to forget,” she mumbled to herself, still breathing hard. “I just want to forget. I don’t want to remember it. Just let me forget…”

Probably would've been a real a bad time for one of those Beheeyem to show up and go 'hey little kid, wanna forget your traumas?' given that according to dex fluff they can do that with memories.

She had to go after her. Tricky was going to get herself in trouble in her current condition for sure. She hopped to her feet and started running after Tricky the best she could. There was still a little trip in her steps.

Tricky ran down the dungeon aimlessly, the two scarves bound to her neck rustling from her movements. Where she went, she didn’t care. She’d find her way out! …Somehow. That’s what she always did.


Tricky ignored it. She could outrun them! They were only stupid bees, after all. But they were right in front of her. But she could outrun them! She could do it! She was good at running! Really!

Not that good.

Um. Yeah, Tricky? Might not wanna violate Rule #1 about going into dangerous places right about now.

They converged upon her as soon as she got close enough, and even though she fought and raged and tried to destroy them with an Ember like the Poliwrath had destroyed Budew, it was all for nothing, because she felt a sudden painful prick in her side from one of the beedrills’ stingers, and then she was suddenly too drowsy to stay awake anymore.

Whelp, too late.

Espurr watched from a hastily-chosen hiding spot as the trio of beedrill made off with Tricky, who lay unconscious in the middle beedrill’s arms. As they buzzed off, she silently followed. They went up one floor, then the next, until on the fifth floor they reached an open room that didn’t seem mystery-dungeonish at all. In fact, it looked like the most stable patch of land she had seen in a while, and as she set foot on it while the beedrill’s backs were turned, she got the feeling it didn’t even belong in a mystery dungeon at all.

Then she quickly hid behind a bush, as the beedrill set Tricky’s unconscious body down with a loud ‘thud!’.

“So what do we do with it?” One beedrill asked.

“It’s a honey thief,” the second one buzzed back. “The townymons never set foot in here unless they’re trying to steal our honey.” It folded its arms defensively. “I say we kill it.”

“OR…” the third beedrill gave the other two repugnant looks. “We can take it back to the Hive. And maybe NOT get in trouble for defecting the third time in a week?”

Espurr: "(Please listen to the third one, please listen to the third one, please listen to the third one...)"

Espurr cast her focus away from their meaningless chatter. She had to figure out a way to get both her and Tricky out of the dungeon, without alerting to the rest of the beedrill that they were ever there in the first place. That was definitely the priority. It seemed impossible, but Espurr held in her mind that there must be a way.

And she was beginning to see the inklings of one.

Nectar Meadows was anywhere from six to nine floors, if A Complete Guide to Mystery Dungeons was to be trusted, and the Hive had to be located somewhere between Floor Five and the exit. Espurr could not let the beedrill reach the hive before she and Tricky had made it out of the dungeon. More importantly, Floor Five was just one large room. The staircase even sat to the left invitingly. It was the perfect place to cut the beedrill off and split their groups up for long enough to escape. Espurr made that the foundation for her plan.

Espurr: "(This would've been a really good time to have a Petrify Orb.)" >.<

But how? It wasn’t like Floor Five was replete with obstacles to hide behind, and Espurr wasn’t nearly as proficient in her Move studies as Tricky was. That meant she’d either have to take them head-on, or use a more indirect method of attack.

The power stirred within her once more, making the fur on her back stand on end and her ears tingle with energy. She could do it. It would be so easy to let that power out into the open, and bring the dungeon falling down around them…

No. Too dangerous. She had to choose something less risky.

All the rocks and debris on the floor meant that she could misdirect them away from Tricky via levitation, then drag Tricky up the stairs and hope she was fast enough to lose the beedrill for good. It was a flimsy plan at best, but it was the best option she had given the circumstances and the only one that was somewhat salvageable if she failed early enough.

Espurr: "Or I could try and find a Petrify Orb and just yoink Tricky that way."
Beedrill #1: "So... the Hive, then?"
Espurr: "... Or I could just not have the time. Flimsy hail mary it is."

And as they slowly approached the bush at the other end of the room, Espurr ever-so-quietly slunk out towards Tricky. There was no way she was going to lift the fennekin on her own, so she’d be making use of her one mental trick. At Espurr’s command Tricky’s body began to unsteadily rise off the ground. She was heavy. Espurr didn’t know how long she was going to make it like this, so she temporarily abandoned stealth for speed. Stealth wouldn’t matter as much at this point anyway.

The trio of beedrill approached the bush, stingers raised. They traded looks with each other silently. Then they dove in with their stingers out.

Espurr heard the sound of the bush’s destruction from behind her, and she knew she was running out of time.

“Nnghh…” Tricky slowly shifted in midair, as the effects of the sedative in the beedrill’s poison slowly began to wear off. Things were turning sour for Espurr, fast. She was nearly out of time! The best she could do now was make it to the stairs before the beedrill could.

Espurr: "(Oh come on, just stay quiet for five more seconds, Tricky.)" O_O;;

The beedrill finally finished wrecking the bush, then flew back out to make a proper observation of their handiwork. It was only then that they realized they had been well and truly duped. The bush was empty! Turning around on instinct, all three of them caught sight of Espurr running off with Tricky.

Espurr felt a sudden spike of pain flare up in her head, and she realized she could no longer hold Tricky up anymore—

“Hey!” Beedrill #3 yelled, and Espurr tripped over a rock and was sent to her knees. Tricky fell unceremoniously to the ground.

Both Espurr and Tricky picked themselves up from the ground. Tricky, who was still feeling a little woozy from the poison, stood wobbly on all four legs. Then she noticed the beedrill that were heading straight for them.

Tricky: "Nope nope nope nope."
Espurr: "So much for staying quiet." O.O

The beedrill quickly picked up the chase, zooming after them at speeds that seemed impossible for creatures of their sizes, and as Espurr and Tricky ran up the stairs and set foot on the next floor, one of the beedrill was fast enough to make it through. The staircase warped and disappeared behind them, the warping of space sending out a wind through the mystery dungeon that threw the pair of beedrill off-point for a few seconds.
Espurr + Tricky:

Espurr: "Seriously, can't we catch a break here?!" O.O

Espurr and Tricky wasted no time trying to get farther away from the beedrill, but even with their newfound head start they were no match for the beedrill’s speed, and soon they were run down by the oversized insect and sent tumbling into a dead-end to the left.

Beedrill #3 fell back into a hover as he watched Espurr and Tricky slowly try to pick themselves up from the dungeon floor. He looked left, then right just to make sure he wasn’t being watched, then began to prepare his stingers.

“Alright then. I’m just gonna get rid of you myself. No-mon need even know you were here…”

Espurr: "I don't suppose we can talk this out?"

Beedrill #3: "Sorry, I don't negotiate with thieving scum."
Tricky: "I take offense to the 'scum' part." >_>;

Tricky attempted to hurl an Ember at the beedrill, but found that she couldn’t summon one without coughing and rasping herself to pieces. She groaned incomprehensibly, and then both of them were barely able to duck out of the way of Beedrill #3’s stingers. Espurr picked up a rock off the ground and threw it at the beedrill. Her aim was spot on, and it clipped Beedrill #3 in the face. Espurr and Tricky used that confusion to get as much headway as they could.

“My throat hurts…” Tricky complained as they ran into the dungeon’s main hall and took a quick left turn.

... Hope that isn't a sign of an allergic reaction there.

They rounded a corner. “I’m gonna catch you soon enough.” The beedrill dug its back stinger into the wall to bank the turn, leaving a large dent in the dungeon. “And when I do, I’m going to give the both of you a slow death. You’ll die miserable, rotting away in the dungeon as the plants feast upon your corpses!”

Espurr: "(Th-They do this sort of stuff to thieves? Tricky, why on earth would you come here?!)"

Tricky: "(Look, I wasn't expecting them to already be this riled up from honey season, okay?!)" O_O;

This was it. Espurr felt power begin to rise up within her. Her fur began to glimmer with energy. Her ears unfurled, the insides gleaming with blinding light. The power welled up to the surface, and then Espurr couldn’t hold it in anymore. As the beedrill charged for her with its stingers primed, her power exploded—

Tricky knew what was coming well enough to know to hide. She took cover just in time. An invisible blast unfurled throughout the dungeon, ripping plants from their stems and blasting Tricky’s fur back.

This time, Espurr directed the power into her paws. It was immense, and she could barely keep hold of it for the present, let alone the future, but she didn’t need that. She looked up at the beedrill, who was still recovering from the initial blast.

“I finally found something I’m good at,” Espurr said. “Stomping bullies like you.”

Well hopefully this turns out a bit neater than those head asplode moments in AKIRA, but yeah. Pissing off a psychic without a lot of control over their powers sounds like a fatal error.

All the power she had concentrated in her pawtips blasted out in a single, concentrated beam that hit the beedrill right in the chest. The light was blinding, and Espurr didn’t see exactly what had happened to the beedrill. Only that it was loud and spectacular, and all of the sudden she wasn’t feeling so great…

Her eyes fluttered, and her hold on herself in midair faltered. She fell to the ground, and lost consciousness.

Er... yeah, somehow I'll take the under on that turning out neater than in AKIRA.

Slowly coming to. Espurr’s eyes fluttered open once more.

She was, once again, surrounded by nothing but all-encompassing black. Another dream. Espurr brought herself to her feet, dismissing her weariness as the dream’s attempts to convince her it wasn’t one. As far as she knew, they were still in the mystery dungeon, so she just wanted to figure out the reasons she had been summoned here and get over with it.

Espurr looked around, and came to the sudden realization that perhaps her mind was not in the best shape it could have been. Her outburst had caused some damage to her surroundings- all around her, glowing white cracks wisped all throughout the air. Espurr was horrified- if this was a dream, then had she somehow broken her mind?

But she didn’t feel weird. She felt just fine. Espurr inspected her dream self, which was devoid of the cracks that lined her surroundings. Maybe she’d just broken her dream, the one that had been torturing her for the past week.

She could live with that.

Espurr: "Wait a minute, doesn't this mean that I'm passed out with Tricky all on her own in terrible shape in a Mystery Dungeon full of killer Beedrill right now? Pretty sure that's a real bad time to be having a dream."

In the background, something slithered off.

Slowly, Espurr began to hear hushed voices slipping in and out in between the void. They swirled around her, mumbling and whispering phrases incessantly. Espurr quickly singled one out from all the others. The one that whispered a word she did understand: ‘Human.’

As if it had noticed it was being watched, Espurr felt the wind descend and spin loops around her. It strongly ruffled her fur, but didn’t go back up to join the others that were spinning above her like a cyclone. Espurr made no sudden moves. She closed her eyes, and let her ears do the seeing for her.


Espurr: "What in the-?" o_o;

It must have been about half an hour when something finally happened. Tricky, who had curled up in a ball somewhere off to the side due to feeling not-so-great, was suddenly roused to awakeness by the sound of rustling fur over from where Espurr was.

“Espurr?” she hopefully asked, turning back to the psychic kitten- who had promptly collapsed onto the ground behind Tricky.

“Espurr!” Tricky quickly ran over to Espurr, nudging her the best she could with her nose. There was no response, but she could tell Espurr was still breathing. It looked like she had fainted. Which meant it was left to Tricky to get them both out of here.

Tricky thought she could do that. Sitting on her haunches for a moment, she removed one of the scarves off her neck, and fitted it over Espurr’s instead. There. Now they were both fellow explorers.

And with that, Tricky began to tug Espurr along the best she could. There were only three more floors to go. They could make it!

Missing a word there in bold.

Also prooobably a good thing that Tricky didn't look off in the other direction and notice the probable smear of viscera that was once a Beedrill lying around.

Tricky quickly hit the ground as another dizzy spell overtook her. She panted for a good five minutes, her tongue paper-dry. She was really not feeling her best today.

That was when Espurr’s eyes suddenly snapped open. She took several long breaths, a shocked expression upon her face, then sat up like nothing had happened. She looked dizzy. Tricky stared at her in surprise.

“Is something wrong?” Espurr asked, quickly feigning ignorance to cover up the issue of what she had just learned—and was still trying to parse. But none of that mattered until they left the dungeon.

“N-no,” Tricky stammered out. “Just resting. Look—the exit’s just up ahead!”

Espurr got to her feet, wobbling a little before righting herself. Her vertigo left her after a few seconds, and she was able to walk with Tricky all the way to the entrance before it could disappear or re-arrange itself once more.

Wait so did this scene end concurrently to the end of Espurr's dream thing that I'm increasingly convinced is the Voidlands or some sort of soul dimension thing given the whole hitodama vibe going on last chapter? Or was Espurr dreaming more during these two cuts here?

They came out the same way they had gotten in. Espurr didn’t understand it at all, but added it to her growing laundry list of things she didn’t understand.

“Okay…” Tricky panted as she and Espurr both caught their breaths outside the entrance to Nectar Meadows. “Admit it. That was awesome.”

Espurr didn’t entirely agree, but just decided to let Tricky have that one.

Espurr: "I should really, really be giving you an earful right now about how we almost died repeatedly, but honestly I just want to keel over right about now." X_X
Tricky: "Hey, progress at least!"

“About last night…” she began. “I wanted to apologize. For what I said. It was mean.”

“Accepted!” Tricky chirped happily. “I… said some mean stuff too.

“So…” Looking just a bit less ragged, Tricky played with the ground uncomfortably. “Are we still friends?”

Espurr didn’t even have to think about it.

“Of course,” she replied. “We’re still friends.”

Espurr: "I just wish that we could've come to this conclusion without about a half-dozen near death experiences first." >_>;
Tricky: "Hey, all's well that ends well!" ^^

Espurr had never seen a brighter look on Tricky’s face, even as she was suddenly pulled into a tight hug by the fennekin, which she returned. All seemed to be well in the world.

Until Tricky quickly backed up with a sudden scared look on her face, and threw up on the ground in front of her.

Espurr: "Uh... Tricky?"

“I have ta wonder,” Nuzleaf turned his head towards Carracosta as they both walked up the hill. “Lemonberry pickin’ is fun an’ all… but what’re we gonna do with so many lemonberries?”

“You don’t worry about that,” Carracosta replied. “I’m always in short supply of these. I’ll be sure to use them all up before they rot—“

The two neighbors were suddenly interrupted by Espurr running past with Tricky, who had her head down and her tail stiff. They continued down towards Carracosta’s house without even bidding Carracosta good evening.

“That’s… not good,” Carracosta admitted. He’d been her Pops long enough to know what Tricky’s tells were, and he could tell she wasn’t in a good state.

“Should I leave you two to it, then… ?” Nuzleaf offered his basket of lemonberries to Carracosta, who took them. “…Yeah. You’d better.”

Wait, so what did Tricky see/realize in that prior scene that suddenly made her lose her lunch? Or was that something else like that Beedrill venom disagreeing with her?

“You FOOLS!!”

Carracosta stood in his study, leaning over the desk that also doubled as a dining table. On the other side stood Tricky and Espurr, who both looked suitably cowed.

“Just what were you thinking, wandering off into a mystery dungeon like that?! You could have died! You could have been trapped in there! And you are both lucky I keep pecha berries around, because Tricky would not have made it through the night alive without them! [Have I imposed upon you the seriousness of what you have done?]”

Minor suggestion for an addition there. For the bit in brackets, it might sound more natural to render it along the lines of "Do you understand just how seriously you two were in danger?!" or "Do I need to drill it in more into your heads about just how serious your little stunt was?" but that's just me.

And yeah, sounds like it was the Beedrill venom after all. I wonder if there was a way to make it a bit more obvious as to Tricky realizing what happened to her though such as drawing attention to that sting wound or something.

Too scared to let out anything more than a terrified squeak, Tricky nodded her head as fast as it would nod. Espurr looked at Tricky and quickly nodded her head in kind, before she ended up setting off Carracosta even more.

“Good!” Carracosta turned to Espurr. “Now the school tells me you’re under their custody until the start of summer, so I’ll leave your punishment to them. But you…” he glared at Tricky. “No sweets for a week! Vegetables and berries only!”

“But Pops—“ Tricky whined.

“AND an early bedtime! Go!”

Espurr: "(Uh... all things considered, I think you're getting off kinda light, Tricky.)"
Tricky: "(Look, Espurr, just get out of here before pops bans you from his house for life or something!)" >_>;

Seeing that arguing back was futile, Tricky slunk off to her room dejectedly.

“And you!” Carracosta boomed at Espurr. “Out!”

Espurr: "(Whelp, might be a bit late for that.)" ._.;

Espurr heard the sound whistle out of the bushes just outside the door to Tricky’s house. For a split second, Espurr thought that the beedrill from Nectar Meadows had returned to hunt them down, but to her utter relief, Tricky stepped out of the bushes, shaking a stray leaf out of her fur.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” Espurr asked without thinking first.

“Nah.” Tricky took a seat next to the porch. “Pops never thinks about the windows. I use them to get out all the time and he’s never guessed a thing!”

Espurr: "That's... certainly convenient."
Tricky: "Well, helps that it's canon, too!" ^_^

“I just wanted to give you this,” Tricky said through her teeth, pulling an entire appleberry out of the bush by the stem. “Pops gave me two, but I’m not that hungry tonight, so I wanted you to have it!”

She handed it to Espurr the best she could with her mouth. Espurr took it in her paws. Now that Tricky mentioned it, she really was famished.

She also felt guilty. Guilty, that Tricky had placed enough trust in her earlier today to tell her one of her darkest secrets, and Espurr still held on to hers tightly. She decided it stopped. Today.

Tricky: "Wait, you did? So what's this deep, dark secret, Espurr?"
Espurr: "Well..."

“Tricky?” Espurr called after the fennekin, who was padding back to her bedroom window. Tricky looked back, then walked back. “There’s something you should know about me.

Tricky cocked her head. “What is it?”

Espurr took a deep breath, then blurted the phrase out:

“I’m Human.”

I'm honestly not sure whether it'd be funnier to imagine Tricky as reacting in a super hyperactive fashion to that reveal or a "wait, that's it?" deadpan. The former is probably more likely given that humans are a big deal in-setting, but the doesn't feel like something I'd totally rule out given that Tricky is kinda a weirdness magnet in this story.

“Let me ask this again, just to make sure!” Archen tried his best to keep the water out of his eyes as he squawked over the wind and held on for dear life. “Do you have any idea where you’re going?!”

Like the other times Archen had asked, he got no response from the sharpedo they were struggling to hold on to. A nasty freak storm building out on the water had stopped their trip home in its tracks, forcing them to camp out on one of the Water Continent’s more remote islands for the night. Now they were heading full-speed ahead for the Water Continent, but Archen was convinced that they were in fact going in circles. He hadn’t even seen a hint of land for ages, and already the weather was beginning to seem colder all over.

Mawile was much in the same spot that Archen was. Hanging on for dear life, she also had to make sure their bag of supplies wasn’t swept away in the east-blowing winds. Already they had lost a few things before Mawile was able to properly zip the bag, but nothing of major importance was gone… yet.

That sounds like tempting fate if I ever heard it.

Archen: "Blurgh, I should've eaten a Sleep Seed for this." @v@
Mawile: "Considering how the text just said that we actively had to hold onto this Sharpedo, not sure if you would unless you felt like drowning at sea."

Archen was nearly thrown to the side as the sharpedo made a sudden bank to the right.

“What gives?!” Archen cried, but his shouts were lost to the winds and forgotten when he saw what Sharpedo was heading away from: A boat. An actual, wooden boat.

He glanced towards Mawile the best he could over the splashing water. Mawile leaned in towards the sharpedo, and whispered something in its earhole. The sharpedo nodded the best it could, then made a left-hand bank for the ship. Archen stared at the earhole on his side in disbelief. That was all it took?!

Archen: "Wait a minute, Mawile? What are we-?"
Mawile: "You'll see..."

“Welcome, members of the Expedition Society!” Ambassador Primarina spread his fins in a welcoming gesture, bowing his head dramatically as Mawile and Archen stepped aboard the lavish ship. Braixen, who had a far more neutral expression on his face, retracted his mechanical pen and stuck it back in his fur. Archen felt a sudden whoosh of dizziness upon stepping onto the ship. Looking at Mawile, he could see that she had suffered the same thing. Although she made a better attempt to hide it then he did.

“Thank you for hosting us aboard your ship, Ambassador,” Mawile politely said, shaking off the last remnants of dizziness.

“Oh, it’s no problem at all,” Primarina said. “I always bring aboard any struggling seafarers the Exeggutor may come across aboard.”

Archen: "Waaaaait a minute. Mawile, how on earth did you know this ship was safe to approach when you saw it and not something like a pirate ship?"
Mawile: "There was a friendly banner?"
Archen: "... Wait, where was that described? I didn't remember seeing any such banner!"
- Beat moment -
Mawile: "... It was implied?" ^^;

“And how many times has that worked out well?” Braixen folded his arms nonchalantly, leaning against the Exeggutor’s mast. His lavender fur blew to the west. “It’s best to dump them. That sharpedo is more than capable of taking them to land—“

He was suddenly interrupted by the sound of a sharpedo turning around and skidding back out to sea. Archen had always known it was a little shifty.

“…I stand corrected,” Braixen admitted reluctantly, although he seemed no less grumpy for it. “I don’t object, then.” And with that, he silently walked past Primarina and into the ship’s cabin. “We’ll dock at Lively Town at 1200 hours.”

Archen: "Mawile, you're sure this ship is trustworthy, right?" >v<
Mawile: "Well, we don't have any way of backing out now, so..."

“Please excuse Braixen,” Primarina said. He massaged his temples with one of his flippers. “He’s my… secretary. He can be a little foul-tempered when the whim strikes him.”

“It’s no bother at all,” Mawile responded politely, but Archen could almost see the gears whirring in her head through her eyes, which fixated on Primarina skeptically. She knew something.

And as Primarina led them into the Exeggutor’s main cabin, he thought he did as well.
Oh well that's not an ominous note to end on at all.

Alright, made it to the end @SparklingEspeon , some final thoughts:

It felt like there was quite a bit going on in this chapter. But such is life when there's 21 scenes just from casually eyeballing things. I think that with a minor expansion/written intro, you could have actually split the chapter pretty cleanly right at the scene right before the flashback sequence, but I won't begrudge you if you just opt to leave it as is since that's kinda a non-trivial structural tweak to make and it'd be a bit of a mess to patch in into forum versions.

A number of scenes / moments hinted at in prior chapters are seriously
in hindsight. Like I'd kinda suspected, but after filling in that context... yeah. Not a bad thing, mind you, but it's definitely a real mask-off sort of thing for the story. Kinda like EP3 of PMMM.

There were a couple parts where I felt the detailing/description was a little sparse. The main standouts on that front were that one chunk of Tricky's flashback right before SUBOMIE MOGU MOGU, and the bit getting to Primarina's ship that came a little out of nowhere since it wasn't really communicated how Mawile knew from seeing it that things were alright / who the ship is affiliated with.

But quibbles aside, I'm enjoying things. And I'm looking forward to following through on the rest of that review exchange we have in due time. Even if as you can see, it takes me a bit longer thanks to style. ^^
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Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
  1. nidoran-f
Alright, took me a bit longer than planned, but I'm back to bump my Psychic Sheep review series since I'm about halfway through my review exchange and things were getting really good over the past couple chapters.

Chapter 9

There was a long bout of silence between Espurr and Tricky, in which Espurr feared the worst. Had she said something so ridiculous-sounding that even Tricky wouldn’t accept it as fact?

Then Tricky let out a snicker. She couldn’t hold it in anymore.

“Bwa-ha-ha!!” she laughed. “That’s good!” she looked up at Espurr, who was staring at her with that same unreadable expression she almost always had on her face.

Oh hey, it's just like that one reaction gif of Bender :V

“…Wait. You’re serious?” Tricky looked at Espurr, bug-eyed. If Espurr was Human… than it made way too much sense. “No way! You’re totally serious!”

This was awesome!!

Tricky resisted the urge to prance around in excitement (a rare thing for her not to act upon) and leaned in close to Espurr.

“You can’t tell anymon else about this,” she said, her voice dramatically low for secrecy. “Not under any circumstances!”

Espurr: "Wh-Why, what'll happen to me if I do? I'm not gonna get run out of town by a lynch mob or something, am I?"

Tricky: "Naaaah. I mean, sure it happened to the legendary heroes from Pokémon Plaza, but that was a fluke!" ^^
Espurr: "That isn't reassuring me right now." >.<

“Meet me at the school library an hour before school begins! I’ll be there I promise!”


Tricky wasn’t there. In fact, she was almost an entire hour late. Which left them just ten minutes before the last day of school officially began. Espurr, who had been examining the subtle cracks in the building’s wall for the last ten minutes, glanced up as Tricky stumbled up the hill and into Espurr’s personal space. She was wearing one of the blue scarves from her bedroom today.

And chaser:

Espurr: "Tricky, whatever happened to meeting an hour before school?!" >_>;
Tricky: "... I mean at least we're still meeting before school?" ^^;

The library itself was just an old warehouse full of dusty old books, so Espurr and Tricky had no trouble slipping in through an unlocked window and searching the shelves until they found the book Tricky wanted.

“See this team?” Tricky shoved a book titled ‘Mons and Mystery Dungeons: A Complete History’ into Espurr’s face. There, on the page Tricky had opened the book to, lay a hand-drawn painting of a charizard, wartortle, and bayleaf. “That’s Team Go-Getters! They saved the entire world from a meteor almost two centuries ago! Wartortle writes books. I have all of them under my bed.”

Oh, I see you went for the anime for inspiration for the RBDX team in this setting. I did a double-take at this happening 200 years ago with Wartortle still being around to write. But different assumptions of life and all that (and the 'dex lore alleges that Wartortle can live a really long time)

Espurr: "... I'm sorry, and what's so special about Wartortle again that you're this much of a fan of him?" ._.;
Tricky: "He's the authority on dungeoneering! And, well..."

Espurr didn’t see how Tricky’s fangirling was making Team Go-Getters relevant in the least, and she told Tricky as much.

“Well, get this:” Tricky put her front paws on the book and leaned in close. “Wartortle was human!

Espurr: "Oh, so that's why you were so excited to find out I was human. But... er... you know that I'm not like this Wartortle, right-?"

Tricky: "You'll grow into it! You humans always do!" ^^

“Don’t you get what this means?” Tricky went on.

“That the world’s about to be struck by another meteor?” Espurr made an educated guess.

To be fair, she was on a decently good track there, even if the situation's a bit more serious than a mere impact event. :V

“No! Wait—“ Tricky stuck her nose in the book once more and leafed to another page, where an artist’s impression of a meowth, a litleo, and a shinx sat. “Look at these guys!”

“…Also humans?” Espurr guessed.

“Nope, just Meowth,” Tricky replied. “These guys—Team Ion—were the ones who restarted Time a century ago! And—And—“

Oh? Is that what they're also called in Warped Skies (or at least I assume they are since those same 'mons are on WS' cover and I know it's an Explorers AU)? Or what's the story here?

She leaved even further into the book.

“Them—Team Anthem—They defeated the Bittercold 50 years ago!” Espurr looked at the pikachu and the dewott on the page. “Dewott’s the human.”

Tricky snapped the book shut, her tail wagging excitedly. “NOW do you get it?”

Espurr still didn’t understand how that was a good thing at all.

Espurr: "All I'm hearing is that some really bad things are about to happen."

“But if I’m here… doesn’t that mean the world is about to be destroyed again?” she asked Tricky. “Which isn’t a good thing? I don’t see how that’s awesome.”

Lol, literally the very next line.

“Well…” Tricky’s happy look faltered. “Maybe, —but still! This means we have to go on an adventure and get strong enough so we can defeat whatever’s coming to destroy the world this time!”

Espurr just stared at Tricky with a look of incredulous disbelief on her face. That was not happening.

Espurr: "Tricky, are you serious?" >.<
Tricky: "Yes? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"
Espurr: "I'm more a fan of making life take the lemons back." >_>;

“You cut detention yesterday!” Tricky explained. “And I cut class! Watchog’s gonna have our tails!”

Berry crackers. That was true. If only…

If only…

…If only Watchog never even noticed them in the first place.

“…You leave that to me,” Espurr decided. “Just walk in when I tell you to and he won’t even notice we were there.”


As they both crept up to the school clinic, Espurr peeked in through the window while Tricky hid behind the opened door. Watchog was pacing the classroom, while the other four students sat on the straw beds.

Espurr quickly ducked before she could be seen by Watchog as his pacing took him near the window. She shut her eyes and quickly tuned every other noise. Those would just distract her right now. She didn’t need to do anything fancy. It didn’t even need to be particularly well-done. She just needed to make sure he didn’t notice it slipping in…

Watchog suddenly clutched his head, a strange headache having come over him.

“Now!” Espurr hissed to Tricky, who dashed into the classroom like a yellow blur and took a spot near the back. Espurr wasted no time in following her.

Tricky: "Er... Espurr? How exactly is giving Watchog a headache supposed to get him to forget about what happened yesterday?"

Espurr: "Because if I did things right, he got more than just a headache..."

Watchog rubbed his head for ten seconds longer, then returned to his normal routine. He glanced at the blackboard, then realized the sun was just a little higher than it should have been.

“Wha—H—How are we five minutes late??” he asked himself aloud. There were a few giggles and snickers from Pancham’s side of the classroom, but a single glare from Watchog shut everymon up.

“What’s so funny?! Huh?” he asked. He received no answer.

“…Yeah. I thought so.”

Holy mystery dungeon.” Tricky gleefully leaned in towards Espurr. “What did you do?”

“That’s classified,” Espurr told her.

So in other words, it's not out of the question that Watchog might have a very minor case of serious brain damage.

“Alright, listen up!” Watchog returned to his militaristic pace of the classroom. “The final exam before Summer Vacation isn’t a berry festival like the other two. You’re going to be heading into the school’s very own mystery dungeon, and you will need to rely on the things taught in my class if you want to clear the dungeon with a passing grade. We only use this dungeon for the final exam, so you will be forced to deal with things you’ve only been taught about in books and school.”

Espurr: "Why on earth is this considered remotely acceptable as part of a curriculum for children?" ._.

He suddenly pivoted towards the class, leaning in intimidatingly.

“First rule! Teams of three! Why? Go!”

Deerling raised her hoof. Watchog waited expectantly for an answer.

“Three is considered the optimal number for a mystery dungeon team, sir?” Deerling maybe guessed.

Objection, I'm more of a fan of the RB/Explorers' cap of 4 members. But I suppose this is a Super-based fic, so it's not wrong for that game.

“That’s correct! Second rule! Dungeon safety kit! What’s in it? Go!”

Shelmet got that one.

“Two oran berries, a pecha berry, and an escape orb,” he answered. “Easy.”

“Wrong!” Watchog barked at him. “You forgot the elixir! The paralysis wands! The warp seeds! What’s it gonna be like if you’re in a dungeon and you run out of those things?”

Elixir aside, that sounds a lot better-prepared than I remembered in-game. Though considering the consequences of wiping out in this setting... yeah, don't blame Watchog for making the kiddies be a bit more prepared.

“Third rule!” Watchog returned to his pacing. “What do you do if you get cornered by an enemy? Go!”

Tricky raised her paw excitedly.

“Use an item!” she called out. That was when Espurr’s spell broke. Watchog’s attention turned to Tricky and Espurr, and Espurr froze. Watchog narrowed his eyes, but he didn’t say anything to them.

“Correct. You’ll find supplies in the Principal’s office,” he said. “Go on! Get out!”

Espurr: "Waaaait a minute. Mr. Watchog, considering how Mystery Dungeons are like, shouldn't you be supervising us during this exam-?" ._.
Watchog: "No, now get out already!"

“I can’t believe I’m with Pancham!” Deerling stormed. “And Shelmet! They’re both creeps!

“I’m afraid the teams were drawn randomly,” Farfetch’d said, fiddling with his leek. “Even if you didn’t get the pokemon you wanted to be partnered with, you’ll still be expected to work together as a team.”

>randomly drawing both Pancham and Shelmet


“Well, can’t we have a redraw?” Deerling complained.

“No redraws!” Watchog countered. “You know as well as I do this test takes all day,” he told Farfetch’d. “And if one student gets a redraw...” He let his sentence hang in the air to draw out the impact.

In the corner, Pancham and Shelmet silently did a high-five.

Yeah, there is no way that was a random drawing.

Since Deerling was with Pancham and Shelmet, that left Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy on the other team. Each team was allotted by Audino one bag filled with all the supplies they’d need, under Watchog’s pretense of ‘all real exploration teams having only one supply bag’. Tricky insisted she was going to be the team’s bag carrier despite Espurr being best equipped for the job, and eventually both teams were at the foot of the dungeon and ready to proceed with the test.

Espurr: "Mr. Watchog, why would you insist on this when only one member of each team can throw an item at wildlings if cornered this way?!" >.<
Watchog: "Because a real exploration team only needs one."
Espurr: "But what if someone steps on a Warp Trap-"
Watchog: "No buts. Those are the rules, now get to that exam."

“Just… be careful, okay?” Deerling silently conversed with Goomy in the couple of minutes they had before Watchog walked in to start the test. Goomy nodded, and Deerling reluctantly backed off to join Pancham and Shelmet.

“Everymon ready?” All heads turned, as Watchog and the other teachers walked into the clearing, followed by none other than Principal Simipour himself.

Espurr: "No?" ._.
Watchog: "Well too bad, exam starts now anyways."

Simipour took all the sudden shock at his appearance in through sleep-ridden eyes.

“It’s only fair that I should be here to see all the students off for the final exam of the Spring Semester,” he explained.

“Now I don’t wanna hear anything about fights and foul play, you hear me?!” Watchog barked. “You encounter each other in the dungeon, you just walk away. Your mission is to capture one of the two flags placed at the dungeon’s anchorstone by myself and Farfetch’d last night. First team to return with their flag wins.”

Watchog stood back, and silently shooed them all off into the dungeon. Deerling’s team went first, and once the entrance had finished warping around them and had returned to normal, Espurr’s team followed.

Paaaart of me feels like the concept of an anchorstone ought to have been explained somewhere in the past to readers or else give an inline reminder here given that it's a concept that'd almost certainly be important enough to drill into the kids' heads. But will be interesting to see what exactly those things are and what the rules behind them are.

“You know we need a team name, right?” Tricky eagerly pranced about with the exploration bag slung over her back as they walked through the school dungeon. “Maybe something like the Adventurous Exploration Squad! Or— ooh— the ‘Dungeon Runners’!”

Espurr: "... Doesn't 'Dungeon Runners' violate some sort of character length rule?" .-.
Tricky: "Not here it doesn't!" ^^

Her two teammates were nowhere near as eager. Goomy looked more than a little frightened of the woods around him, but Espurr was worried for a completely different reason: This was it. This was the forest. The one she had woken up in just a week ago. The one where she had been hunted down by the beheeyem. The one where she had broken her arm. It had been the school’s very own mystery dungeon!

Oh yeah, this exam totally won't be a massive disaster.

Tricky: "... Espurr? Why do you look like you've just seen a ghost?"
Espurr: "Um... I know that this is really sudden, but you wouldn't happen to be interested in ditching this exam too, would you, Tricky?" o_o;
Goomy: "Huh?! But we'll all fail if you two do that, and I'll be all alone!"
- Tricky shakes head -
Tricky: "Sorry, Espurr. Paws are tied. It's not just our grades on the line here."

And now she was back. What if the beheeyem were back too? What if they had never left?

She didn’t want to risk another encounter if she didn’t have to. Espurr cast a look behind them, just in case the entrance to the dungeon might still have been open.

It wasn’t. And using the escape orb to magic herself out of the dungeon meant a failing grade from Watchog for sure.

Espurr: "Again, why are we being asked to do this without adult supervision?!" >.<
Tricky: "I mean, we've been in Mystery Dungeons on our own without adults, so..." :?
Espurr: "Yes, and we almost died. Repeatedly." >_>;

“Tricky?” Espurr began, but then she cut herself short. She didn’t need to throw the entire test into an uproar unless they were attacked. No, the safest bet right now was to have the exploration bag with her in case something did happen, and that was exactly what she requested of Tricky.

Like Espurr had expected, Tricky was less then ecstatic at the prospect of losing the exploration bag.

“I guess…” she mumbled, making her disappointment apparent. “Why do you need it, anyway?”

“Just a bad feeling,” Espurr said.

Sounds like a setup for stepping on a Warp Trap if I ever heard one. :V

Lugging a heavy exploration bag through the dungeon’s many twists and turns was less-than-convenient, Espurr soon found out. By the time they reached the second floor, she was already sagging under its weight. She thought she’d caught Goomy looking at her worriedly a few times, but for the most part he was busy just sticking with her and not getting himself lost.

Now freed from the bag’s weight, Tricky constantly pranced ahead of Espurr and Goomy, peeking around corners for dungeon ‘mon and giving them paw signals when the coast was clear. Espurr thought it was a little dramatic, but it had saved them several times from passing wildlings they might otherwise have walked right into.

I thought that Simipour said last chapter that this place didn't have aggressive ferals to worry about.

The Dungeon Anchorstone, as Tricky explained it, was the patch of land a mystery dungeon formed around. An anchorstone could be a cave or a rock or a tree or a grassy field, but it would always remain the same, no matter where it ended up in the dungeon.

“Everything in a dungeon is made from parts of the anchorstone,” Tricky went on, “So you always know what to look for when you find it!”

Espurr: "... Why am I just learning about this now?" ._.
Tricky: "Because you more or less blipped into existence within the last couple weeks of the school year? This is kinda stuff that gets covered very early on." :?
Espurr: "... Of course." >.<

“But dear Deerling,” Pancham began, using one of his lame pick-up lines for the tenth time. “-Or should I say, ‘Dearling’?”

Please stop,” Deerling groaned. “Don’t make me murder you.

Nooot sure if I wanna find out just how earnest Deerling was about that sentiment.

“But you wouldn’t do that, Dear Deerling,” Pancham continued, snuggling up close to Deerling’s earth green coat as they walked.

“Try me.” Deerling swiftly sidestepped Pancham and let him hit the ground.

“Now that—th-that was just cruel.” Pancham picked himself up, trying to make it look like it had never happened in the first place.

Deerling: "Hrmph, haven't you ever heard of 'no means no'?" >:|
Pancham: "Y-You don't have to be such a heartbreaker about it!" >.<

In the near distance behind them, Shelmet struggled to keep up. Every time it seemed like he was going to catch up, he just fell behind another yard, and he was beginning to feel like he might never catch up with Pancham and Deerling. Oh, the woes of having a shell… even if it DID make a decent lockpick.

... How does he fit that into the keyhole of a lock anyways? .-.

“You know,” Shelmet panted out once he had gotten within reasonable earshot of the group. “I was thinking… maybe we should have a team name of some sort. Like ‘The Serenity Village Squadron’ or something. Whadyaguys think?” Only seconds later, he regretted ever letting those words leave his mouth. Pancham spun around, giving Shelmet the obscenest look he could muster.

“Really?” he lectured Shelmet. “You really wanna be like the pest?”

Shelmet shook his head fearfully.

“Thought so.” Pancham turned his head back around and began to look far too proud of himself, and Deerling saw the perfect opportunity to strike back.

Wow, someone's a killjoy there.

“Actually, Shelmet,” she began. “That sounds like a wonderful activity to pass the time.”

“Wait—what?” Shelmet eyed her suspiciously in confusion.

“You heard me. Let’s brainstorm some names.” Deerling trotted down the path, smugly disregarding the rare cowed look upon Pancham’s face. “Me… I think ‘The Merry ‘Mon’ sounds like a good nickname.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Pancham seethed.


And I see Pancham's the type to tempt fate there. :V

“Watch me,” Deerling shot back. “Don’t you want to be a Merry ‘Mon?”

Pancham looked somewhat horrified at the prospect of being a Merry ‘Mon, but he simply growled and folded his arms annoyedly.

She's got him wrapped around her little hoof, doesn't she?

“…Holy mystery dungeon. That’s Pancham’s team!” she quickly scampered back to where Espurr and Goomy were standing. “And they’re heading this way!”

Sure enough, Deerling, Pancham, and Shelmet were in fact heading straight towards them. Espurr had the creeping feeling it wasn’t going to end well.

“Are you sure we should be doing this?” Deerling lectured Pancham as he strode towards Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy. “You heard what Watchog said—walk away!”

“What Watchog doesn’t know don’t hurt him,” Pancham replied. “This is revenge for the mines.”

Espurr: "You? Getting revenge on us for what happened in those mines? But we're the ones who almost died here!" >_>;
Goomy: "Technically I wasn't there for that. Though boy does it sound like I dodged a Bullet Seed."

“Well, well, well.” Pancham came to a stop in front of Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy, who were all standing their ground at the dungeon crossroads. “If it isn’t the pests. It seems like we’ve come to an impasse.”

“Just let us pass, you big meanie!!” Tricky yelled at Pancham. Espurr silently prepared for a fight, if it was going to come to that.

“As much as I hate to agree with Tricky, she’s right,” Deerling said. “You guys all know what Watchog told us! Just walk! Away!”

“Y-yeah! Listen to Watchog!” Goomy added in from Espurr’s side.

“Y-yeah,” Pancham mimicked, making a crude imitation of Goomy’s voice. “L-l-listen to Watchog. You guys walk away, and maybe we’ll return your flag in one piece.”

That sounds like a really strong incentive to just beat him up and let the cards fall where they may for whatever state the flags wind up in.

Something snapped. Tricky stared Pancham dead in the eye. She took an attack stance. Espurr shot Tricky a worried look. That wasn’t going to end well.

“Guys?” Tricky asked, her tone making it clear that it wasn’t a question. “When have we ever listened to Watchog?”

There was a brief moment of silence, as all the students tried to think of a single time that they had ever listened to Watchog. Espurr resisted the urge to slap her paws into her face and groan. Did everything have to end with a fight?

“…Good point,” Pancham said, and then he punched Goomy clean across the wall.


Whelp, looks like we're about to go there. ^^;

Tricky’s declaration of war was cut short when she received a rock to the snout, and then everything became chaos. Tricky attacked Pancham. Shelmet attacked Tricky. Pancham attacked them both. Espurr tried to get to Goomy, who was currently trying to make sense of being knocked flat into the dungeon wall. The exploration bag she was carrying bounced heavily against her side as she ran, and she found it hard to keep her balance with the bag and dodge the stray debris and Move energy from the ongoing fight at the same time.

“Stop this!!” Deerling shouted, stamping her hooves into the ground. “Stop this right now! Pancham!” a loose Ember from Tricky hit her square in the face and sent her reeling back.

Deerling: * eye twitch *
Tricky: "I-It was an accident?"

“That’s it! You guys made me do this!!” Deerling took a battle stance. She took a deep breath, then charged headfirst at Pancham, Tricky, and Shelmet. All three of them were knocked apart by Deerling’s headbutt. Tricky fell on her back, spitting out an ember into the endless canopy in surprise. A tree branch came falling down, and Espurr realized almost too late it was coming down upon her and Goomy—

She did the first thing she could think of. She summoned some of her mind power and shunted Goomy out of the way.

Espurr was lucky enough to avoid being crushed by the branch. The exploration bag was not so fortunate. The seams ripped out from under the branch’s weight, sending the combination of an escape orb and a warp seed hurtling right to the ground in front of Espurr. There was a bright flash, and then Espurr was gone.

Whelp, not quite a Warp Trap, but I kinda saw that something like this was coming.

The dust settled. Everymon picked themselves up. Goomy slimed out from around the branch and looked at the contents seeping out of the crushed bag worriedly. Pancham got up from where he had landed, right on top of his own team’s exploration bag.

There was a moment of silence, as everymon took in what they had just done.


Pancham then said a word that made Deerling gasp in shock.

I presume that that was a bit coarser than "Berry Crackers" there.

The two teams agreed to walk away after that incident. Pancham, Shelmet, and Deerling had walked off in a huff (all three for different reasons), while Tricky and Goomy trepidaciously continued down the hallway. The stairs had been grimers and moved themselves while Tricky wasn’t looking, which meant that both teams were now blind again. Espurr probably would have said that was a blessing in disguise.

I'd personally swap "trepidaciously" with a word of similar meaning that's a bit more simple like "nervously", "apprehensively", or "warily". Also, not fully sure what is meant by the "had been grimers" bit. Since I don't remember seeing that phrase used or explained in the past to refer to dungeon stairs.

Espurr… just the thought made Tricky’s stomach do a little loop-de-loop. But she had teleported out of the dungeon when the tree hit that bag… right? Right. Especially because if she didn’t it was Tricky’s fault but Tricky didn’t want to think about that.

Sounds like she probably wasn't but you never know.

Tricky wanted to climb them so badly. She’d get ahead of Pancham’s team soooo easily. She’d get the flag first! She’d win! She and Espurr would get perfect grades!

But she couldn’t.

She couldn’t, because Goomy was taking a full hour to get his slimy behind over here. At this rate she was going to run into Pancham and Deerling again.

Tricky wondered where Goomy was, actually. She hadn’t really noticed him for the past few turns…


“GOOMY!” Tricky called out into the dungeon. There was no answer. Tricky even went up to the very edge of the passage and peeked out both ways. Nothing but dungeon.

Well, m-maybe he'd gone ahead. Or bumped into the stairs by accident. Yeah. That sounded like him. She didn't leave him behind, this floor wasn't that large anyway. She'd catch up with him on the next floor and then Espurr after that, and then they'd take the flag and everything would be alright again. She just needed to not get left behind.

Trying not to think about the alternative, Tricky quickly scampered up the stairs.

She didn’t fully remember the last time an escape orb had spirited her away, but she hoped it had not been as uncomfortable as that. She felt dizzy and like puking.

The first thing she noticed was that she was lying on her back. She rolled over and tried to pull herself to her feet, but she was still too disoriented to stand properly. The second thing she noticed was the sound of the river rushing in the distance.

A river. Espurr’s ears pricked up, and that was when she truly opened her eyes.

She recognized this patch of the forest. And although she couldn’t see the river, the sound of it rushing by clicked in her head, and then so did everything else: She was back. And all alone.

So she didn't make it out of the MD

Her dizziness had alleviated enough for her to be able to stand properly. She slowly walked through the woods, ready to unleash her mental fury upon the first thing she saw or heard move.

As she walked through the woods, she soon found that the place didn’t have the same feel to it that it had a week ago. It wasn’t deathly quiet either, and the sounds of what sounded like the local wildlife slowly lowered Espurr’s guard a little as she went on.

Until she met the ants. Once they began to crawl up into her fur Espurr had no mercy for them. It didn’t take Espurr long to figure out that this was the dungeon’s anchorstone.

It explained why it didn’t look anything like a dungeon, for starters. She had no way of knowing how long that uninterrupted rushing river she was currently following was, but now that Espurr had some (rudimentary, but still) mystery dungeon education, she couldn’t believe she hadn’t figured it out in the week she’d had.

Espurr: "Whew. Silver linings." 😰
- Espurr looks around nervously -
Espurr: "Uh... I think. Sure hope those Beheeyem aren't back..."

This was good. This made things so much easier now. One-by-one, all the other students were going to enter this floor – the anchorstone – and then it would be easy cruising to the top. And Espurr hadn’t even seen a single trace of the beheeyem, which only made her day better.

Now all she had to was find the flags. Part of Espurr wondered if this dungeon had been crafted from an entire forest simply due to how big the anchorstone was, but she also knew Watchog and Farfetch’d wouldn’t just drop the flags in any old place. The river was the only thing that acted anything like a map. So Espurr continued to follow it.

Eventually, she thought she saw them—two red flags, waving in the air from their spots in the ground. Espurr began to run up towards them. As she got closer, she could make them out better—they were the flags! Now all she had to do was stakeout for the other teams.

Until suddenly she felt the heart-wrenching lack of sensation beneath her feet, and suddenly she was falling, and then Espurr hit the ground several feet down. And then she whacked her head against a rock and blacked out.

Well that scene certainly went places in the last paragraph.

The entrance to the dungeon warped. Then it burst open for a split second, and spat out Tricky. Tricky hit the ground rolling, a red flag hanging out of her mouth.

“Ab Team Dungeof Rubbers tafes tha prise!!” Tricky declared in triumph through a mouthful of flag. She spat it out for good measure, even though she didn’t seem to have an audience. None of the teachers were here. But none of the other students were here either, so Tricky could count that in her favor-

“—Actually, that’s us,” said Deerling from the trees. Seconds later, she strode into view, accompanied by Pancham and Shelmet. “The Merry ‘Mon.”

Oh, so they did go with Deerling's name after all.

Pancham: "..." >.<
Shelmet: "I mean, I think it's nice, Pancham-"
Pancham: "Oh shut up." >_>;

“But… I was supposed to make it back first!” Tricky angrily declared. “I even got the first flag and everything!”

“You and what army?” Shelmet bounced back.

“Yeah…” Deerling’s eyes narrowed, scanning Tricky and realizing something. She slowly clopped forward. “What about Espurr? And Goomy?”

Tricky’s face visibly fell. She slowly began to back away as Deerling approached.

“I… lost them?”

Not that I'm not picking up really bad vibes from Deerling right now, but how are you just now getting bothered by this, Tricky?

Deerling stopped. It was hard for Tricky to tell what she was thinking, but it was clear that cogs of rage were turning inside Deerling’s head.

“You sick ANIMAL!” she suddenly shouted, sending Tricky reeling back against the nearest tree for balance.

“You lost them?!?” Deerling continued, her face practically red as she stormed towards Tricky. “Espurr and Goomy are living, breathing ‘mon, and you LOST them like toys?!”

Oh, so that's where:

came from

Tricky’s ears could not have drooped any lower. She lay curled up at the foot of a nearby tree, pleading for Deerling’s mercy with her eyes. Deerling had none.

“I can’t believe you did that,” she seethed. “Oh, wait. Yes I can. Because that’s what you do. You lose pokemon. Just like you ‘lost’ Budew. You know that’s why Mrs. Rosiela moved away, right?! Not because she couldn’t handle winter, but because she couldn’t handle winter without Budew! I am not letting you do the same thing to Goomy and Espurr. Find them. Now.” Deerling stamped her hoof into the ground.

I mean, not that she's not putting it in some rather harsh terms, but... yeah. I have to admit that I kinda have to take Deerling's side here. Leaving your partners behind in a dungeon of Psychic Sheep's vintage is kinda a major "why would you even?" moment

Everymon looked up. Deerling quickly backed away as all four of the teachers entered the clearing.

“Is that the other team?” Watchog asked. “Can we start grading?”

The teachers stopped short once they caught sight of Tricky, but not Goomy and Espurr. Watchog sputtered for a second.

“Wh—where’s the other team??” he asked.

They got left,” Deerling spat. “in the dungeon.”

Oh yeah, this meeting's gonna go places soon.

Leave it to the troublemaker to lose her entire team… Alright, somemon needs to go in after them,” Watchog began. “The dungeon’s probably already fogged-over by now.

“I’ll volunteer.”

Everyone looked at Audino, who was returning with Gabite’s old exploration bag slung over her shoulder. It took all of Tricky’s willpower not to point that out.

Tricky: "... Waaaait a minute, how on earth did she even get that?" .-.

“All students, follow me, please...” Simipour’s voice rang out in the silence that fell once the dungeon had fully warped around Watchog and Audino. “Let’s go back to the school and wait for them to return.”

Tricky marched with the rest of the students as they made their way back up to the school clinic with Farfetch’d and Simipour, but she couldn’t help but glance back wistfully at the dungeon anyway. If only she could help somehow…

Waaaaait a minute, why aren't they having Tricky accompany them since she likely has some ideas of where she got separated from Espurr and Goomy?

Well, a dungeon ‘mon was bound to find his crummy hiding spot sooner or later, so… Goomy guessed he did. He did dare. That felt good to think. He dared. He was brave. He could do this. He slimed out into the dungeon hallway, heading in a random direction with purpose. He could do this. He could find the stairs. He could—

—He couldn’t do this. He had been wandering around the dungeon for what felt like hours, looking for the stairs. The stairs he hadn’t found. He had been lucky enough to hide and avoid the few dungeon ‘mon he had encountered, but now the fog was beginning to descend upon his head, and Goomy was sure the Dungeon Wraith would follow soon enough. There were so many twists and turns on this floor that he was sure another dungeon ‘mon wouldn’t find him in all this fog, so he could hide for a little while, right?

And so Goomy hid in a little crevasse in the wall, hoping that somemon would come rescue him soon. If only they would come before a dungeon ‘mon did…

Oh yeah, that won't end terribly at all.

Oh no. Now she remembered. She had fallen. Down several feet, it looked like. Espurr looked up at the hole she had fallen down. A thick wall of mist obscured her vision above. Had she really been in there that long? Espurr got to her feet, then looked at where the cavern she had fallen into went. A tunnel just large enough for a pokemon of her size twisted along in the other direction. Espurr decided to follow it. After all, a potential way out was better than none at all.

Espurr stumbled down the tunnel as fast as she could go. She wanted to make it out before the rest of the students made it to the anchorstone. Otherwise, she was going to be stuck in the dungeon herself again. And it seemed like the tunnel was never going to end. It continued further and further, looking hastily-dug the entire way. Whoever had dug this had wanted to get away from something fast, Espurr concluded.

Espurr: "Is it really safe for me to be running down this thing blindly like this?"

Eventually she saw light. It was distant and at the end of the cavern, but it didn’t flicker like the torches in the mines, so Espurr stumbled in its direction. It turned out to be a ramp heading up to the surface, and Espurr readily climbed up it. Emerging into daylight once more (or whatever the dungeon’s substitute for daylight was), Espurr immediately had to shield her eyes from the brightness. But once the temporary blindness faded Espurr realized that she was no longer near any part of the anchorstone that she recognized.

She now understood where the green, icky parts of the dungeon came from. It looked like a swamp, if only there had been some water to justify that title. But soon Espurr became thankful for the lack of water, because just like she wouldn’t have wanted to walk through a flooded tunnel she didn’t want to trawl through flooded trees either. The sun was blotted out under the trees just a little more than in the dungeon, but the place still wasn’t as malevolent as it had been when she last woke up in here. It was only when she saw the familiar wall of fog beginning to encroach upon her position that she blanched. Had she really been in the dungeon that long? And if so, who else was still in here with her? Had everymon already gotten the flags and moved on? Had the stairs moved too?

Espurr: "Well this is just going swimmingly right now."

In her thoughts, Espurr unwittingly walked into something. She whacked her head against it, quickly moving back and clutching her face.

When the sudden pain between her temples had lifted enough for Espurr to be able to open her eyes, she finally got a good look at what she had walked into: in front of her was what seemed to be a perfect stone sculpture of a riolu (she knew it was a riolu because one was on the cover of a book on Nurse Audino’s bookshelf, and she had read that it was one). The riolu seemed to be running, as was this sculpture. Espurr was even mildly impressed that the artist had found a way to keep the sculpture’s balance without a base… although she was perplexed at their product placement. Who was going to stare at their art in the middle of a mystery dungeon? It was even collecting dirt around its front paws, almost like it had been… Espurr looked back in the direction of the tunnel. But that was silly. It was just a statue.

But it was so weird for it to have dirt collecting there.

But dirt got in weird places.

But still… something didn’t seem right.

Narrator: "It wasn't really a statue."

And with all this fog around Espurr really wasn’t going to bother playing detective. Once a prolonged creaking noise sounded off from the treetops above she decided to book it out of there, and fast.

Espurr: "Nope nope nope nope."

And no-mon regretted that more than Tricky. Deerling was giving her death looks from her spot on the other side of the clinic, but that wasn’t what Tricky was concerned with right now. What she cared about was that Deerling was right—it was her fault that Espurr and Goomy were trapped in the dungeon. And if one of them—gulp—died in there, then it would be her fault too. She couldn’t bear going through that again. This wasn’t what explorers did! Explorers didn’t let things like that happen to other pokemon! Explorers were supposed to stop those things from happening in the first place! And if she couldn’t do that… then maybe she wore a scarf, but she couldn’t call herself an explorer.

And maybe that was the hardest thing to admit after all. Maybe she really was just a kid. Maybe Deerling was right…


She could do it! She could live up to her title! She could rescue Espurr and Goomy, before Audino and Watchog even knew what had hit them!

Not that it isn't touching to see Tricky want to go after her teammates, but that's a major
at this entire train of thought right now given the present state of the MD.

“I need to… go…” Tricky did what she thought was a good impression of needing to use the washroom, but just made her look constipated. At least this time she wanted to look constipated.

Simipour stared at her for a moment through those laid-back eyes, and she got the feeling he was onto her.

“Very well, Tricky,” he said. “You may… ‘go’.”

And with that, Tricky was up and out of the clinic as fast as she could go.

Wait, how far away is the School Dungeon such that this gambit would give her enough time to get back there before Simipour got wise?

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Watchog muttered to himself as he continued through the dungeon with Audino. Already, a sea of mist had descended upon the dungeon, making it extremely hard to see more than two feet ahead of oneself.

“Well, remember, it IS your test,” Audino said from beside him, gingerly walking around an ickier patch of the dungeon she had barely avoided stepping in. “It’s your responsibility to make sure everything’s ‘safety-regulated’.”

“Well, your test could literally end with somemon making poison,” Watchog mumbled. “What do you say to that?!”

I take precautions so that kind of thing doesn’t happen,” Audino shot back. “What did you give the students? A bag of items?”

Surprised that Audino didn't also point out that she's literally there to supervise and yoink any blatantly toxic brews away from the kiddies while Watchog was just bumming around outside the School Dungeon.

“A bag of items should be enough,” Watchog grumbled.

“Well, maybe it wasn’t,” Audino said. “They’re kids, Watchog, not an exploration team!”

“Well, that Tricky seems to think she’s one all by herself,” said Watchog.

“We aren’t talking about Tricky. And Tricky’s gotten herself into a fair number of scrapes too,” Audino replied.

“It’s Tricky’s fault we’re in this situation,” Watchog grumbled back. “And you say she’s not a troublemaker?”

“Tricky is a kid. They’re all kids, Watchog!” Audino replied, having come to the absolute edge of her temper. “That’s your problem—you can’t seem to wrap it around your head that kids aren’t invincible!”

Watchog simply ‘harrumphed’ and folded his arms. “I’ll believe it when I see proof.”

Oh hey, Audino more or less is pointing out exactly the same reason why I thought this whole setup was a terrible idea. Minus the "lack of supervision" angle.

Also I like how Watchog just completely dismissed the callout to go right back to "Tricky sux". Really doing himself favors for his audience impressions there. :V


Watchog opened an eye. “Where?”

But Audino had already run ahead, and Watchog found himself with no choice but to follow.

Soon, they stumbled upon what Audino had spotted—what looked like the wreckage of a battleground. And smack-dab in the middle of it was the pair of exploration bags both teams had been given, laying on their side and leaking with the juices of the smashed items inside.

“There,” Audino said, picking up the bags and emptying them to the side. “There’s your proof.”

Watchog: "Hey, Deerling's team made it out of the dungeon fine in spite of this so-"
Audino: "Watchog. Shut. Up." 😠

Unbeknownst to the two, another ‘mon quietly slunk through the dungeon, making sure to stay out of sight. Tricky took a few seconds to make sure the ‘mons in the hallway were indeed Watchog and Audino, then continued on her quest for the stairs. While she wasn’t a full-blown genius, she knew she could count on Audino and Watchog to bicker and slow themselves down enough for Tricky to slink past them unnoticed. She could also count on them not being perceptive enough to notice Tricky sneaking past, which was extremely imperative to her plan. On both counts, apparently, she had been right.

Now to find Espurr and Goomy.

Wow that was fast of her.

The fog was just getting thicker and thicker. Goomy huddled into his hiding spot a little further. The Dungeon Wraith was due any minute now. Any minute now he was going to begin to hear its horrible roars and screeches, and then he would be too scared to move until somemon came to find him… or a dungeon ‘mon came to eat him. That last thought made him shiver with fear.

But there came no roars came. The Dungeon Wraith didn’t rear its ugly head. There were no unearthly screeches from the depths of the dungeon. Every passing second without those things filled Goomy with cautious optimism. Maybe the Dungeon Wraith had taken a day off. It must be tiring, scaring all those other pokemon after all. Maybe it had decided to go on vacation! He knew if Deerling was here she would just tell him that the Dungeon Wraith wasn’t real, but Deerling wasn’t here, so it was on vacation and that was that.

I mean from the way the adults are reacting to this fog, I wouldn't be so sure of that, Goomy.

Around the fourth corridor, he found what he had been trying so hard to avoid all this time: a pack of dungeon ‘mon.

Goomy quickly slunk back. It wasn’t like their corridor was the only corridor in the entire dungeon… he could go another way, right? Then he looked again, and he realized that he couldn’t- for just past the dungeon ‘mon was the very thing he had been looking for: the dungeon stairs.

Goomy went over his options. He’d go another way, but there was no other way. He looked again. There were five of them, all huddled over something in the corridor. A… dead bird- Goomy lurched back. He picked up a stick from the ground with his slime. The dungeon ‘mon scared him… but the prospects of being trapped in the dungeon scared him more. He took the stick, and threw it at the dungeon ‘mon with all his might.

Goomy, why would you even-?

He couldn’t see it, and he was sure the dungeon ‘mon couldn’t see him. But he heard their horrible cries upon getting hit with the stick, and he wondered why this had ever been a good idea.

I mean, yeah. Aggroing mobs that outnumber you by yourself is a pretty terrible idea, just saying.

It was all or nothing, and if Goomy was ever going to make it, now was the time. He slimed out into the corridor, where he found to his elation that most of the dungeon ‘mon had fled.

Except for the blitzle. It stood to face him, mane glowing. Then it charged.

Goomy didn’t know where he pulled it from. He only knew that one second, the dungeon ‘mon was charging full-force at him, and then the next thing he knew he had tackled it to the ground. Seeing that he wasn’t going down without a fight, the blitzle quickly got back to its feet (dumping Goomy to the ground), then ran off into the dungeon without even looking back. Goomy decided not to push his luck. He hurried for the stairs as fast as he could.

Goomy only flinched when the dungeon began to let out a blood-curdling howl—


Espurr could still hear the roars. She ran through the forest as fast as she could. She had been through what looked like the clearing with the flags at least two or three times, but the flags weren’t there. Which led Espurr to believe (as much as she didn’t want to) that the others had already passed through here and left her behind.

A sound to Espurr’s left drew her attention – the sound of somemon warping in from another floor. She quickly changed her trajectory that way.

Stumbling into another clearing, Espurr’s eyes settled upon the ‘mon that had warped in- it was Tricky!

The moment Tricky noticed Espurr she quickly tackled her to the ground.

“Espurr! Where have you been??

Espurr: "Where have I been? Where on earth did you just come from, Tricky? And why are we just catching up with each other now?" >_>;
Tricky: "Er... it's kinda a long story that we should talk about after we get out of here."

However, upon reaching the area the sound had come from, Espurr realized that it was not Goomy, but in fact Audino and Watchog-

“Get down!”

Espurr didn’t have any time to react before Tricky quickly pushed her to the ground. She did her best to get back up as Tricky peered over the bushes at them melodramatically.

“Why?” was all Espurr could muster through her confusion and momentary shock.

“Because…” Tricky began. “If we go with them we’ll never find Goomy!”

Espurr: "Need I remind you that those are two adults who are almost certainly looking for us right now? Why wouldn't we be able to find Goomy with their help?" >_>;
Tricky: "Need I remind you that one of those two adults is Watchog?"
- Beat moment -
Espurr: "... Okay, fair point."

Espurr finally managed to get into a comfortable spot behind the bushes. “But shouldn’t we at least try to look like we’ve been found?”

“We can’t let Goomy wander around here any longer than he already has!” Tricky shot back. “…and-I’m-not-supposed-to-be-here-but-that’s-not-important-right-now.”

Espurr gave her a dry stare.

Espurr: "Tricky, why would you-?" >.<
Tricky: "Look, I'm here to help, alright? So just don't question it for now!"

“What do you mean you aren’t supposed to be here?” she asked.

“I…” Tricky looked to the floor in shame. “…kind of exited the dungeon without you guys.”

“You left without us?” Espurr asked.

“Well, I came back now!” Tricky said.


Tricky: "There was a perfectly good explanation for it?"
Espurr: "What explanation justifies that?!" >.<

“You just don’t want to get in more trouble!” Espurr accused her, letting her anger take over. Had everything that happened yesterday meant nothing to Tricky?

“Why would I be here again if I didn’t care about you guys??” Tricky hissed indignantly.

“Because you probably got into trouble out there, and you think if you rescue us you’ll get out of it again.” Espurr folded her arms in finality.

“That’s not true!” Tricky howled as well as she could under her breath.

Espurr: "... Also, how on earth are Mr. Watchog and Nurse Audino not hearing this if you're howling right now?" .-.
Tricky: "I dunno, but don't look a gift horse in the mouth right now!" >_>;

“I’m here because…” Tricky began. “…Because that’s what explorers do! They rescue other pokemon! They don’t leave them behind in mystery dungeons! And if that means getting in trouble then I get into a lot of trouble anyway! I… kinda forgot that. But if we leave Goomy behind… then everymon todays fails as an explorer. So tell me, as an explorer: Is Goomy safe?” Tricky peeked out at Watchog and Audino, then slowly lowered her gaze. “If you think he is… then we’ll go with Watchog. I promise.”

Espurr took a moment to think on it. Could she say, with all certainty that Goomy was safe? That he hadn’t climbed past this floor while she was unconscious? Or stumbling through the woods? But then again… If pokemon were searching for Goomy, then could she say with all certainty that he had?

Then she remembered what had happened in the Foreboding Forest, and somehow she knew that he wasn’t. [ ] And that was why she shook her head no.

“You’re right,” Espurr finally decided. “ He isn’t safe. We’ll stay. If Audino and Watchog missed something, maybe we’ll find it.”

I think that it might make sense to slip another sentence in the brackets to reiterate that Espurr has the same feeling she had back in Foreboding Forest when she knew subconsciously that Goomy was in danger. Basically something to the effect of "Right now, she felt just like she did back then." Since at the moment, there's a bit of a jump from how she felt back then to her shaking her head back in reply.

Even the dungeon ‘mon knew better than to be out, it seemed. Goomy had not encountered a single one since entering this floor. He was thankful for that, of course, but it unnerved him all the same. If even the dungeon ‘mon were hiding… what were they hiding from?

But luckily for him, it seemed he wouldn’t have to find out. Goomy saw through the fog—to his joy—a set of perfectly-carved stone steps. The stairs! He had found the stairs! Goomy wasted no time heading towards them.

He didn’t even notice the creaking that emerged from the dungeon’s canopy until it was too late, and a large tree branch suddenly broke off from the trees above and landed on his head—

It must have been five minutes, maybe more so. Goomy found the sensation of being hit on the head… dizzying. He had been crushed by the tree branch, yes. He probably would have died if he wasn’t goo-based.

But luckily for him he was goo-based, which meant that he could stretch and twist his body into unusual shapes for occasions exactly like this one. Once he had gotten over his dizzy spell Goomy was able to pull himself out from under the branch, but he understood what the incident said: it was time to go. He quickly made his way towards the stairs, eyes peeled for a glimpse of a dungeon ‘mon or perhaps another tree branch falling from above.

Luckily, he encountered neither.

Surprised that didn't just goosh him like a normal slug.

Audino and Watchog had already gone to the next floor, it seemed. It wasn’t for lack of trying- they had certainly searched the anchorstone for Espurr and Goomy. It was just that Tricky was very good at taking pokemon for a loop (Although the fog certainly helped as well). They had never even suspected that Espurr and Tricky were on the dungeon floor.

And now the two pokemon had the run of the place to themselves. Until the dungeon began to lash back at them. Already, they had had to deal with two trees spontaneously falling down upon their heads—two incidents they had barely escaped with their lives intact. Espurr was beginning to worry that Goomy had not made it, that they should just go ahead. She knew that would destroy Tricky, but if it came down to destroying Tricky or destroying them both, Espurr was willing to make the sacrifice.


Espurr: "Look, I'm sorry, Tricky. But leaving behind three corpses isn't a net positive to leaving behind one." >_>;
Tricky: "W-We can still save him! Just- Please give me a little more time to work with here!"

Goomy was panting, no doubt from the ordeals he had endured down in the dungeon. He slowly looked up at Espurr and Tricky, his face rising in joy as he realized who the ‘mon standing in front of him were.

“Espurr! T-tricky!” He cried, throwing himself against them the best he could. On any other occasion, Espurr might have worried about getting Goomy’s goo in her fur. But right now, she simply didn’t care.

The dungeon roared. It howled so loudly Tricky’s ears lowered in pain, and another tree fell right beside them.

Espurr, Goomy, and Tricky stared at the tree in shock.

“…Okay. That’s bad,” Tricky finally admitted.

For a while, I was just genuinely unsure whether or not you were just going to kill off Goomy in this chapter. Probably a good thing for Tricky's psyche that that didn't come to pass, though.

“Got attacked by the dungeon several times on the way out,” Watchog admitted. “It’d take nothing short of a miracle for them to get out alive.”

Audino directed her gaze down towards the ground, and then she was silent.

A minute later, The dungeon entrance began to warp again. Everymon stood back, giving the entrance a wide berth, until the dungeon finally spat out Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy in a pile.

Everymon was silent for ten more seconds, gazing at the students in shock. Then everything exploded into chaos. Audino quickly flocked over to them, helping the three students up and getting them to the school clinic. The other three students quickly followed along, bombarding them with questions. Simipour folded his arms behind his back. Watchog just viewed the whole scene, and sputtered in disbelief.

Whelp, that's one way to get a miracle, even if I'm sure that Watchog wasn't exactly thrilled with it.

“You three should count yourselves lucky,” Audino warned, putting away her medical supplies. “I’m amazed you three got out of that with as few injuries as you did, [but that is not a normal occurrence]. You just might be the single luckiest kids I have ever seen in my entire career. A bill of clean health for all three of you!”

She sounded put together, but Espurr could tell she had her business face on to hide how shaken she was.

The bit in brackets I think sounds redundant. You could either get away with snipping it, or else I think slip in something to the effect of "and it takes a lot to surprise/faze/amaze me"

“Ohmigosh!” She yelled. “Look at the sun! We’re gonna miss Ampharos! Let’s go!”

Both Espurr and Tricky turned to leave the school clinic, but suddenly they both felt the sensation of a hand clamping down upon their head.

“Not so fast,” Watchog growled. “You know, I was going to let it slide today, it being the last day of spring and all. But then you missed it for the last two days…”

Both Espurr and Tricky froze. Oh, berr—

“Detention,” Watchog snarled with a grin.

And of course Watchog is a killjoy like that. Guess not even near-death experiences earn you a break in his book.

“We… we made it…” Tricky panted out after she had caught her breath enough to talk.

“So I see,” Ampharos responded. “And you brought Espurr with you too—how splendid! Although I must admit… I have a bit of a confession to make.”

“Confession?” Tricky glanced at Ampharos in confusion; tilting her head. “What kind?”

“See, I might have lied when I said there were two Expedition Society Memberships…” Ampharos quickly laughed it off, setting the box down in front of them.

“Behold!” he shouted, opening the box. “One Expedition Society Membership, because one is all you will ever need.” Espurr and Tricky gazed inside the box, where a small, hexagonal device sat.

Tricky: "But if you'd given us a second one, we could've also brought another team from-" ._.
Ampharos: "Again, one is all you'll ever need."

“With this, you can officially register an Expedition Society dungeon team,” Ampharos continued. “You just insert your blue orb of choice, type in the name, save it, and you’re good as a gastradon!”

Tricky: "Wow. No initiation or training or-?"
Espurr: "Tricky, the very fact that none of that's happening is starting to worry me." >_>;

That made Espurr pause. Ampharos knew… he did, didn’t he. He must not have dropped that orb by accident. He must have known. He must… He must not be who he claimed to.

“Who are you?” Espurr asked, her eyes trained on Ampharos suspiciously.

“Why, dear Espurr…” Ampharos started. “You already know the answer to that. I am… the Dashing Wanderer!”

And with that, he attempted to throw his cape back flamboyantly, but the wind kicked it up over his face.

Espurr: "Look, don't you have a real identity?" >_>;
- Still muffled by the cape -
Ampharos: "That's as much of my identity as you need to know right now."

Espurr looked down at the box, which had been sitting next to her for a while. She pushed it back over to Tricky.

“It’s all yours,” Espurr said. “I know you wanted it.”

Tricky looked down at the box uncomfortably, like she wanted to say something she’d been stewing on for a while. “Actually, I wanted to ask…”

She pushed the expedition gadget back, until the box was equally between them. “Do you want to make an exploration team with me? We’d go into dungeons prepared, and…. And only if you want to. You just have to tell me now. I-It’s fine if you don’t want to.”

Tricky's actually being considerate? Wow, the world must be ending. Though then again, I guess it technically is ending right now.

The question put Espurr on the spot. She’d had a few bad scrapes with dungeons, sure, but… even so, she couldn’t deny she’d had at least a little fun along the way. And as long as she and Tricky were going to be a team… it was hard to say no.

“Sure,” Espurr said, deciding before she could get second thoughts. “You’re on.”

“Really??” Tricky’s face lit up brighter than the sun. Espurr nodded for finality. Before she knew it, Tricky had her wrapped up in a nuzzling embrace.

“Thanksyousomuch! We’re going to have the best summer ever!”

The comment was optimistic enough that Espurr almost felt inclined to doubt it. But she didn’t want to ruin the moment. As far as the last day of spring was concerned, it was going to be a great summer for exploring.

Espurr: "I just know I'm going to wind up regretting this. But eh. We'll make it work."

Ambassador Primarina was far less pleasant than he seemed, but Archen had a feeling Mawile knew that already. He lounged around in a luxurious bath (on a ship in the middle of the ocean, of all things), lazily enjoying the water until the ship made its dock at Lively Town. Braixen had disappeared off to lurk somewhere, while Mawile went over the photos one last time with the now-dying expedition gadgets and Archen milled around the room uncomfortably.

There was the sound of water swishing around, and Primarina rolled himself into a position fit for talking.

“As you know, I’ve been made aware of the fact that you have photos meant for the possession of Cloud Nine,” he said. “In fact, the Exeggutor was just sailing to Lively Town to pick those photos up. Is there any chance we can quicken this exchange?”

I feel that something about why Primarina is less pleasant than he seemed should get elaborated on. Since it's mentioned that he's less pleasant than he first seemed, but we don't really know why or how from the existing text.

Archen: "... Is there a reason why you're not sending for an air courier to do this when they'd almost certainly be able to outfly a big ship like this?" >v>;
Primarina: "Because they're sensitive enough that they need to be kept safe?"

Mawile froze, a rare location for her. Unlike Mayor Honchkrow, Ambassador Primarina had complete jurisdiction over any guilds on the Water Continent, and could even overrule a direct order from Ampharos if need be. When Primarina wanted something, he got it. But there was no technology on this ship to extract those photos, meaning she’d need to relinquish the expedition gadgets to him. He would see everything. He would see that she had been making copies. And that was a line Mawile wasn’t willing to cross.

“You wouldn’t be able to make any use of them,” she finally said. “They’re buried deep in the photo archives by now. I intend to send them by Pelipper Post once we arrive at the Society and I can use proper technology to sort them out.”

“Nonsense!” Primarina waved a flipper in what looked like amused dismissal. “I shall sort them out on Cloud Nine.”

“Oh, I assure you Expedition Society technology is quite incompatible with the tech on Cloud Nine,” Mawile responded. “Our engineer designed them that way on purpose to ensure no-mon would copycat.”

Primarina couldn’t stop a scowl from building on his face. “Troubling…” he muttered.

Archen: "(Just saying, Mawile, I don't think that explanation made us sound less suspicious to him.)"

Mawile: "(Shut up, I had to play the cards I was dealt.)" >_>;

Archen knew that the tech on Cloud Nine was very much compatible with the Expedition Gadgets, but for some reason Mawile didn’t want Primarina to know that.

“Very well, then.” Both Mawile and Archen’s heads turned towards Primarina, who lay his flipper back down in the bath in defeat. “There is no need for the Pelipper Post. I shall await at the Expedition Society myself for the photos. I assume you can host me?”

Not sure if that's necessarily something those two want given that he seems to want to poke and pry at their little secrets they've got going on.

Mawile jumped upon the offhand comment like it was an escape rope. “We will do everything in our power to make your stay at our Society a pleasant one, Ambassador. Is there a transmission device we can use to notify the others? Our gadgets are out of power, I’m afraid.”

Primarina sighed.

“That way,” he said, pointing towards an inconspicuous side door. “Braixen will help you if you have trouble. It was his idea to install it.”

Mawile politely nodded her thanks, getting up and walking through the door. Archen reluctantly followed.

inb4 the device is bugged.

And made it to the end @SparklingEspeon . I'll admit I was expecting the Exeggutor to feature a bit more prominently given that it was the chapter art, but there was quite a lot going on. I don't really have much to add regarding the scene distribution that I haven't already said before in prior reviews, though it was interesting to see a bit more of how the cast in Serenity Village ticked.

Tricky was the most interesting of the explorations that you did in this chapter. She... was a bit hard to place, since on one level, her being kinda thoughtless when she's focused on something that she wants is just canon at this point, though it was still a bit jarring to see how badly that almost blew up in her face. I doubt she fully got over it just from this, so it'll be interesting to see how that manifests in the future and how she tries to reel that in and mature as a character.

Though I suppose that I have another 10 chapters from our review exchange to get a better read of where you're going to take her. ^^


Otherworldly Dessert
Catnip Review! I'll be looking at the Prologue through Chapter 3!

I will preface this review by stating I have a difficult time getting into Super Mystery Dungeon due to my personal experience with the games. However, I think you've presented an enticing hook with some intriguing world-building and most importantly fantastic characterization!

Starting from the beginning, the question of, “How do defeat an enemy within the hearts of all?” is compelling. This is given an interesting contrast to Espurr, who was summoned as “blank slate”. Theoretically, she should be immune to such a foe, but the fact that she still had intrinsic fears and soft memories of her human self leads me to believe she is not as “blank” as the one who summoned her wants her to be. This especially seemed to be the case with her dream: the “I see you” in underlined text indicated something was aware of that. Or perhaps they were addressing the reader…?
This wasn’t one of the dungeon's false projections; this was a very real pokemon!
I’ll admit a bit confused about dungeon-residing Pokémon. This line here indicated that the foes are illusionary and created by the dungeon itself, yet they can also be feral wilds...?

Regardless, the prologue worked well for what it established, though it left me a bit lost since we saw most of it from Espurr’s blank perspective. However, that preamble at the beginning of the thread was breathtaking. Bravo!

Going into Chapters 1 and 2, Tricky encapsulates a child to such an eerily accurate degree. Honestly, the forcefulness and hyper nature reminds me of a friend I knew from elementary and middle school almost to a T. One thing I was afraid of was that, left unchecked, it would become a point of contention for me due to sabotaging critical situations. Tricky’s good-hearted nature offset that nicely. It was good to see her admire Espurr’s courage and actually commit to the task for detention rather than actively cause it to fail. it alleviated my concerns and made her feel more endearing to me.

Espurr’s empathy was something I was also happy to see. It was an element that I felt was missing in the prologue, as blank characters can often fall victim to simply reacting to events rather than having their own motivations. However, that empathy can naturally push her to try to relate to others more and go out of her way to be heroic, since she can always feel their sorrow and pain on some level.

For me personally, the most interesting parts have definitely been with the Expedition Society. Honestly, had I not already played the game, I would’ve gotten a very good grasp on each character’s personality and role just based on their interactions with one another. I particularly enjoyed the detail regarding not waking up Jirachi, despite sleeping unusually long (implying both past incident and foreshadowing the future danger to come).

Further mentions of Espurr’s interest in humanity and her literacy in only English caught my attention. It gave her further reason to build relationships with others, but also set up potential advantages to human works from the past / encounters with Unown. I would absolutely like to see more details like this surface.

He was yellow from head to toe; for what little the earth-green cloak concealed, it did nothing to hide the pokemon underneath. Espurr briefly wondered why he had it.
Ampharos was one of the characters I enjoyed most in Super. Seeing him be even goofier than his game self is, well:
In a sudden burst of flamboyance, he whipped the cloak off, posing dramatically. 'The Dashing Wanderer!'

I will admit, as much as I adore Ampharos, it did feel a bit jarring suddenly swapping from Espurr's limited perspective to Ampharos's limited perspective mid-scene without some indicator. A line break between "Is classified!" and Tricky's response I feel would help that flow a bit better.

The shrewdness of Ampharos "accidentally" dropping his Connection Orb was great. It showcased that he was more than just bumbling and theatrics. Seeing his thoughts on the search for the newly arrived Human and concluding that it must be a kid further added to this character. This does beg the question, though: how does know, and what does he hope to accomplish once he finds them? Hmm...

Espurr caught the motion before it disappeared, and she felt a sudden wave of negativity pierce through her head.
So Espurr's more passive psychic abilities have started to kick in. I wonder if she'll learn to utilize them a bit more actively?

Let's talk about the encounter with the shadowy creature. The pacing was perfect, the imagery was clear enough to understand what was going on without being overly detailed, and the overall tone of a haunting, looming power was executed immensely well. Battles I feel are some of the hardest components of Pokémon fanfiction to master, and you nailed it! (Side note: fitting music choice! Might use it in a TTRPG I'm running for a friend group!)

One aspect I’m hoping to see later chapters is more opinion and personality drip through the narration on the Serene Village side of things. I understand that Espurr was intended to be blank due to the circumstances of her summoning, but it can also at times end up feeling like we’re waiting for her identity to begin forming rather than us as readers traveling alongside her, if that makes sense.

Overall, this has been a phenomenal read! Honestly, I’m surprised I’m getting this much into a Super Mystery Dungeon fic! I would say that’s indicative of your skill as a writer and the way you are weaving this tale. Looking forward to reading the next chapters on my own time and seeing what you’ve got in store!

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
  1. nidoran-f
Alright. Took a while to actually get this out, but bumping my Psychic Sheep review exchange with a double feature review of Ch. 10 + 11 since together they add up to about the length of one of your longer chapters:

Chapter 10

“Five minutes until the ambassador gets here—Everymon hurry up! Where’s Nickit?!”

Dedenne had received a fuzzy transmission from the Exeggutor at half-past-noon stating that the Ambassador of the Water Continent would be staying several nights at the Expedition Society—although the transmission itself had been sent hours earlier, from a completely mechanical transmission machine aboard the ship itself. Dedenne cursed those machines with all her heart—Why couldn’t the snobs on Mist get their paws dirty and send transmissions via electrical pokemon like everymon else?

To be fair, wouldn't the machine-transmissed message theoretically be more reliable since there's less room for operator error? Or do those machines just suck at the moment?

But the real kicker was that the Ambassador was due in half an hour, which naturally turned the Society upside down the moment it finally came through. That was 25 minutes ago. Now, Dedenne was scampering down the hall at a brisk pace, rapidly assigning orders to whoever she came across.

That's... some quality organization there. 😅

Bunnelby, who had just stumbled out of the observatory and spotted Dedenne from across the hall, quickly hopped into pace with her.

“Where is everymon??” Dedenne hissed, pulling herself to two paws. “It’s gonna look bad on us if we can’t even organize ourselves properly!”

“Half of us just got done dealing with Jirachi,” Bunnelby panted—Dedenne was just noticing that he looked mighty beat up—“And Team Limestone left on a mission. They aren’t gonna be here for the ceremony.”

Again, quality organization. :V

Dedenne resisted the urge to slap her paw into her face. Of course they would do that. One, Two, Three… that was five members missing now. And the Chief. She was going zu-bat crazy trying to keep the Society in check, which wasn’t getting any easier when the engineer needed a remedy to keep himself on a nine-hour sleep schedule, the chef ate everything in sight, and the medic kept disappearing to probably play cards with Murkrow! Why, oh why, did the rest of the executive faculty decide to leave on a pair of farfetched missions??

... How on earth has the Expedition Society not imploded at this rate?

“Pokemon incoming!” Buizel yelled down from the spiral stairway leading up to the observatory.

“Is it the Ambassador?” Dedenne screamed back up.

“No! It’s… Mawile! And Archen!”

Dedenne perked up with new life. That made her day so much easier.

“Well, help me get them inside!” she promptly bossed up at Buizel.

Mawile + Archen:

Mawile slowly came to a stop, folding her arms behind her back as she looked up at the Expedition Society. She and Archen traded looks at the faint yells and crashes that were coming from inside the building. Not a good sign.

The double doors of the Society slowly opened one after the other, and then Dedenne and the rest of the Expedition Society slipped out through them and lined up on the pavement outside. Bunnelby stumbled out after them, followed by a murkrow wearing a tie and an unruly-looking Nickit.

Mawile quickly took her place next to Dedenne as Acting Chief of the Expedition Society, and together they welcomed Primarina to the Expedition Society.

Lol, I see that I wasn't that far off.

Archen: "Boy this is embarrassing." >v<
Mawile: "... Welcome to the Expedition Society?" -_-;

“I just wanna sleep,” Archen murmured as dragged himself into his allotted bedroom in the Society—which, like all the other bedrooms, had a view of Lively Town at Ampharos’ request—and flopped down headfirst on one of the two straw beds in the room.

“That one’s mine.”

Archen pulled his beak out of the straw, gazing at the pokemon who had just stepped into the room irritably.

“Since when?”

Nickit strode over, maybe-on-purpose nudging a potted plant dangerously close to falling out the window with her tail.

“Since you left for nearly a week and I switched the beds around, birdbrain. Yours smells like bird dander, by the way. Might wanna look into getting it cleaned.”

Archen: "... I'm sorry, but since when did we have a Nickit on the Expedition Society again?"
Nickit: "Since this was an AU to Super. Now lemme introduce myself properly to the audience."

Archen just rolled over and folded his wings. Seeing that they weren’t going to be humored anymore, Nickit trodded over and flopped on the other bed.

“Can’t have the window forever, you know.”

Archen opened his eyes and stared at her annoyedly.

Archen: "Holy mystery dungeon, are you always on?" >v<
Nickit: "When you're messing with the comfort of the room I have to sleep in, yes." >:|

“What is it?” he asked. “What’s bugging you so much that you need to come here and ruin my nap for me?”

“Well firstly, it’s my room too,” Nickit ticked it off on her paw, a smirk on her snout. “I can come here if I want.”

Archen’s eyes narrowed.

Archen: "... Look, I've just come back from a long, harrowing journey at sea. Can you not do this right now, Nickit?"

“Does something rub you the wrong way about that Braixen guy?” Nicket asked, dropping the pretense. “I keep feeling off around him.”

“I don’t think he likes a lot of pokemon very much,” Archen grumbled. “What makes you special?”

“Don’t you ever just ‘know’ something?” Nickit asked. “Even though you can’t prove it—and then later, it turns out to be true?”

“Never had that feeling.”

Just saying, if you did get the feeling from time to time, it might've helped out with survivability a bit in canon PSMD, Archen.

“One more thing.”

Archen turned over one last time.


“Come nightfall, that window bed is mine, sucker.”

Somehow I was pegging Archen as being a wee bit more mature than this, but in hindsight, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. :V

Ampharos was lucky that the inn rates in Serenity Village were low. Well, at least compared to places like Pokemon Paradise (Swanna Inn drove a hard bargain). He had needed to leave the hill with the big tree before Espurr and Fennekin to collect his supplies. By the time he had made his way back to the hill with his bag over his shoulder, they were gone.

And this time, he was leaving.

He had to admit, he would miss this cozy little village. It seemed to be the perfect little slice of everything—he hadn’t been entirely lying when he had said he’d come to see the sights. Maybe he’d make this his retirement spot when he decided to officially duck out of the mapping business.

But that was far off into the future, and Ampharos needed not think about it now. He adjusted his cloak and his bag, and officially set off for Lively Town.

Meanwhile in the background:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBqiC5ox8Bw

Espurr: "Tricky, can you be a bit more reserved about how happy you are to leave school behind?" >_>;
Tricky: "Nope!" ^^

And onto the next chapter:

Chapter 11

It was still hours until noon, but the tall, stone halls of the massive Rescuer’s Guild were bustling with pokemon of every shape and size. This place hosted rescue teams from and took missions all across the Air Continent, so it wasn’t any surprise that it was as busy as it was.

That didn’t make it any less annoying for Bryony.

Things were done the old-fashioned way at the Rescuer’s Guild. Connection orbs weren’t utilized in day-to-day affairs, all paperwork was printed and filed manually, and anything powered by Z-crystals was barred from the guild premises. The legendary hero Wartortle had long held that newer technology was detrimental to the functioning of a proper guild, and only got away with it by threatening to make the Rescuer’s Guild independent of any parent organization otherwise. Most suspected he just didn't like HAPPI meddling in guild affairs.

Huh. I didn't really peg Psychic Sheep as being a story with a Necky kicking around, but I guess it's fair game if you're throwing Galarmons around in the story. Will be interesting to see what, if any role he'll have on the plot. Ditto what Wartortle has against HAPPI other than the obvious that thus far they've given off a really shifty vibe.

The Rescuer’s Guild: One of the only organizations in the world powerful enough to rival the Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute. Just the guild building alone stretched far above the trees and down across the land below. The city had been built around it. The forest parted ways for it. As far as anymon was concerned, the guild ruled the entire Air Continent, and some of the Grass Continent too. Perhaps that was why Wartortle got away with as much as he did.

Oh, so it's a "last night of Pokémon Plaza's existence" episode. Well, this plot is certainly going to go places. After all, it just feels a bit suspicious that the main base to a rival power to HAPPI just happened to get stoned, which according to the timestamp of the chapter opening should be happening right about this special, actually. Sure was a convenient accident of fate for HAPPI to better consolidate its power.

Bryony slid herself through the halls, trying to avoid getting her tail stepped on, her flippers crushed, and her snout batted every which way by other ‘mons’ exploration bags. Brionne were made for the water, not land-bound halls that they could barely fit in. Too bad you had to haul freight or passenger to make a good living underwater.

Oh? Can't make a living pulling off Rex's day job from XB2 of diving for salvage? You'd think that with a world that's 70+% water, that there'd be no shortage of goodies from various eras to pick up for surface dwellers.

So that landed her here. She had a cushy desk job that many other ‘mon in the guild might have killed for, but it meant a lot of hall-going. At least she only had to make this trip from her dorm to the office she worked in twice a day, and the halls were much more bearable at night.

>working a day job on land
>as a seal

So just how calloused are Bryony's flippers anyways? :V

She finally freed herself from the neverending stream of pokemon entering the hallway, scooting herself into the guild’s head office. The one that belonged to Wartortle.

Wartortle’s office smelled like old paper and tea. A window on the far end of the room took up an entire wall, offering a view of the courtyard from three floors up. Wartortle himself was working away at a stack of paperwork as she entered the room, a wooden teacup beside him. Outside of the massive shelves that lined the wall and the violet rug that covered the floor, the only furniture was a pair of maroon bean bags. Neither of them were in use.

“Oh, Bryony,” he said as she entered without even looking up at her. “Right on time. Grab a stack of paperwork, any stack, and start signing.”


Wartortle: "Well that never stopped you before, so chop chop."

“The storage department received word from HAPPI this morning. They asked me to tell you that they’ve gotten ahold of that supply shipment that was supposed to come in yesterday.”

That made Wartortle glance up from the papers he was working at. “What did they say?”

“It was delayed because they had to go through some storm out on the waters, but it’ll be here by one past noon today,” Bryony explained.

Oh, so we are going to see Pokémon Plaza get rekt in this chapter. Since I could've sworn it was mentioned that Mawile and Archen determined that the city got stoned in midday.

Two kinds of papers came into Wartortle’s office. The first kind was the administrative paperwork only Wartortle could sign. Bryony set those aside in a stack for Wartortle to take care of. The second kind was the paperwork about mystery dungeons.

Not all mystery dungeons were created equal. If there had been one big improvement when the Rescuer’s Guild had been bought out by HAPPI, it had been implementing a system to mark dungeons by how dangerous they were. The difference between a Class A dungeon and a Class B dungeon was astronomical, and sending a novice team into a dungeon above their rank could easily spell death.

And that wasn’t even factoring in the Class Cs.

Few dungeons reached Class C rank. On the Air Continent alone, there were only three, and the Sand Continent had a single one. Those were the oldest and most powerful dungeons, the ones that spread their tendrils out across the land, the ones you could go mad in. Only the most experienced of rescue teams were authorized to enter or escort pokemon through those.

Waaaaaaait a minute, so does that mean that the one in the Drilbur Mines is also a Class C? Or is something about the Rescuer's Guild's read of Class Bs and under off somehow?


Wartortle looked up from his paper, glancing over at Bryony. “Yes?”

“This paper says they’ve found another Class C out there.” That was enough for Wartortle to set down the papers he was reading through and give her his full attention.

“Which one?”

“Craggy Reach, sir.”

“Hmm.” Wartortle got up from where he had been sitting, walking over and looking at the paper. He took it out of her flippers, signed it quickly, and handed it back to her. “Take this down to mission control. They’ll get a team to look at it.”

So wait, what is the process of determining if a dungeon is a Class C in this setting? Yeeting some hapless convict into a MD for 2 weeks as a canary in the coal mine and seeing if he's still sapient at the end?

“Sir, wouldn’t this just be faster if we used connection orb technology?” Byrony asked. They’d had this argument before. The lines were almost rehearsed.

“It would,” Wartortle said. “But we don’t use those here. Go on, now.”

“Yes, sir.” Bryony nodded, hiding her sigh. She stuffed the paper in her sack and got up from where she was, trying to hide her obvious distaste at the idea of more hallways.

... Okay, now I'm starting to worry that they really do go with the convict route to test those things.

By some miracle, they had managed to get through just about half the stacks of paperwork in the office by noon. Wartortle counted every sheet, his face falling in disappointment as the last one fell onto the twin stacks.

“Drat,” he said. “Almost beat my previous record.”

Tomorrow it would be like they hadn’t done anything at all.

Somehow, I doubt Tricky would be super impressed to see her childhood idol playing paperwork record games. But I suppose that's why people say to never meet your idols. :V

Noon was when the guild held lunch for the explorers coming back from early missions and the pokemon who helped staff the guild like Bryony. The mess hall was one of the largest rooms in the guild—grand, tall as three stories, and decked out in shades of crimson from the stone floor to the archways above. Long tables that stretched from one side of the hall to the other had been built to accommodate pokemon both large and small.

Bryony slid herself into the hall, dragging her tray of fish along with her in the small wagon she liked to bring around whenever she had to carry things. She glanced around, searching for an empty spot in the impossibly long tables. Her eyes settled upon a worrying lack of an empty spot, but something that made up for it anyway.

Waaaaaait, how is she pulling that with her bodyplan anyways?


A seviper was looped around one of the benches, trying her best to ingest a large slab of meat in front of her. Bryony scooted over and did her best to make a space next to the snake. The sentret sitting next to them that had been nervously eyeing the Seviper gladly moved over for Bryony.

The Seviper looked over as Bryony sat down, swallowing the slab of meat whole before she said anything.

Bryony: "..."

Charlotte: "Oh come on, let's see you chew with a split jaw!" >v-v<

“So what have you been up to lately?”

Charlotte had her head down on the table, her tongue lazily flicking out of her mouth. Bryony took large bites of the fish on her plate. It was fresh and tasted like the ocean, a welcome break from the gross dried stuff they served during the winter months.

Oh? Is there a reason in particular why the Air Continent doesn't get fresh fish in winter? Migratory patterns are wrong?

“Nothing much,” Charlotte muttered. “Just rescue team stuff. You?”

“Believe it or not, I actually have been doing nothing,” Bryony said, puffing her cheeks out with fish. “We just got finished filing paperwork for four hours straight.”

“That’s it?”

Charlotte: "Also, paperwork technically is something."
Bryony: "Charlotte, you don't need to be pedantic here." >_>;

“That’s it! And let me tell you, it is not always this easy. One day, when the guild got snowed in, we were doing it for eight hours straight just to stay warm.”

“You know you two could have just started a fire or something, right?”

“In Wartortle’s office? Definitely not.” Bryony took another bite of fish.

- Charlotte side-eyes -
Charlotte: "... How on earth does the 'mon not even have a fireplace when he's a turtle? I thought they couldn't regulate their body heat on their own." Ov-vÓ
Bryony: "You know Wartortle. He's just a stickler for tradition like that." >_>;

“So now you have to tell me what you’ve been up to,” she said. “Since I told you about the paperwork.”



“Well, ‘nothing’ has to be more boring than sitting around, dealing with papers all day,” Bryony said through a full mouth of fish. “You’ve seriously not been doing anything interesting?”

“Me and my team have been taking fodder missions that pay dirt all day,” Charlotte said. She had been unsuccessfully trying to ingest the piece of meat on the table for as long as Bryony had been sitting here. She hissed and punched it with her head. The sentret sitting next to Bryony shivered a little and moved over a bit more.

Charlotte: "... Why is that guy still sitting there if he's this obviously uncomfortable? Seating isn't assigned! ... I think."
Bryony: "To be fair, that'd mean he'd have to find a new seat while he already has one now."

“Somemon needs an escort through the Ardent Ruins,” Charlotte continued. “An idiot wandered into the Shifting Forest and needs a team to get them back out again. Someone dropped their sentimental scarf in the Lousy Lake. I think my scales are beginning to dry out from how many times I’ve slithered through the Lousy Lake. Does any of that that sound interesting?”

“Is it worth it?” The words came out muffled. Bryony was too busy stuffing her face with fish to stop for talking.

“Huh?” Charlotte turned her head towards Bryony.

“I said…” Bryony chomped down on another mouthful of fish. “Is it worth it? You’ve been working here almost four months, why not quit and get a new job? Tons of exploration teams here do that every year.”

I mean, considering how much Charlotte's been whining about her recent mission rotation, it's a fair question. :^)

“Well… I do like seeing the happy faces on our clients when we get out of the dungeon. And then walking home knowing you’ve made a pokemon happy. So… I guess it is worth it.”

“Then I think it’s interesting.” One last chomp of fish, and Bryony’s meal was gone. “That’s the reason I took the paperwork job. Somemon’s got to help keep this place organized.

“Wish it was a bit easier to handle, though,” she added.

I can't tell whether that's earnest and adorable, or if there's some ulterior motive Charlotte didn't blurt out there. I blame all the cloak-and-dagger stuff that's been building up in the story.

The bells in their high towers seventeen stories tall tolled loudly and with rhythm. It had been spotted half a mile away: the supply shipment was arriving.

Five minutes until the arrival. The guild’s halls were a-scramble with pokemon in a frenzy to get every which way to their important posts. Byrony was almost squished as she tried to fight the flow of the crowd to reach the entrance of the courtyard.

Bryony: "Yup. Just another perfectly normal day with nothing that could possibly go wrong."
- Cue bells tolling in the background -
Bryony: "... Nothing at all."

Seventy of the guild’s present staff shuffled out into the vast front courtyard, scrambling to get into proper formation. Bryony once again found herself struggling not to get stepped on, whacked by bags, and tripped over as she made her way through all the chaos to get ready. Soon enough, every pokemon present in the courtyard had lined up into two neat rows. In front of them, Wartortle stood, dressed in the fancy robes he always wore when a large event happened at the guild.

Wait a minute, what do robes on a turtle look like anyways?

The courtyard was surrounded by walls two stories tall, and was vast enough to hold an army. A loud, full horn blew from one of the watch towers in front, announcing the coming of the supply shipment. In the distance beyond, Bryony could hear marching, barely audible from the other side of the distant walls. The loud clinking of chains, and the massive gates of the guild slowly began to rise up, revealing the path beyond. A long caravan of wagons tromped through, the first cart entering the plaza and pulling to a stop. It was painted bright white, and pulled by a burly-looking machamp. On the wagon’s side was the golden three-ringed badge, the insignia of HAPPI.

As the tromping of hooves and feet died down around them, it became clear that the caravan had rolled to a halt. The courtyard was deathly silent, and stayed that way. Wartortle strolled out into the plaza, walking up to meet the pair of gliscor that flapped down from the lead wagon’s helm.

“Paperwork here, please,” he said without introducing himself. There was no need. The gliscor silently handed him a clipboard full of papers for him to sign. No matter how much paperwork there was, it never stopped coming. There was a clipboard for every wagon.

Once everything had been signed, it was time to start unloading the wagons. The pokemon who staffed the guild quickly split up amongst themselves, opening the first wagon and unloading the freight systematically. Bryony couldn’t carry the large crates on her own, but she was able to help carry some of the lighter ones with a helper.

Bryony: "Wartortle, how on earth is any of this arrangement remotely sustainable for a major city? What would happen to this place if the supply caravan ran late or was unable to complete its journey for any reason?" >_>;
Wartortle: "Bold of you to assume HAPPI gives two whits about sustainability. That's why I like doing things the old way when I can."
Bryony: "But we're dependent on HAPPI's provisions!" >.<

“Hey,” the buizel that Bryony was helping whispered as they carried one of the boxes away. “Don’t those workers creep you out any?”

“What workers are you talking about?” Bryony whispered back. There must have been nearly a hundred pokemon in the square; did he expect her to suddenly gain the psychic type and start reading minds?

“The ones that rode in with the wagon,” the buizel said, his voice still low. “Those gliscor. You didn’t notice anything wrong?”

Bryony: "... No? The narration didn't indicate that anything was wrong with them."

Truth be told, she hadn’t been particularly looking.

“I didn’t get a good look at them,” she said. “What’s wrong?”

“Well, they’ve been getting a good look at us,” the buizel said. “They’ve been staring at every pokemon that goes in or out of the place. Gives me the creeps.”

They were coming back to the wagon now, and buizel quickly quieted down. Now Bryony could see it too. The two gliscor were standing off to the side, intently studying everymon who walked in and out of the wagon. Something in their stare sent chills down Bryony’s spine, but it was their eyes that sealed the deal: dull, vacant, and without pupils.

Bryony: "... How did nobody notice that or find it creepy again? I'm pretty sure Gliscor aren't supposed to look like that."

Buizel: "Preaching to the choir here."

“What do you mean we have to unload these one by one?” A croconaw complained, folding its arms in annoyance. “Don’t you have pokemon overseeing these wagons?”

“You don’t just drive a caravan over here with only two pokemon!”

“It’ll take the whole day!”

“It’s our guild—let us do things our way!”

The gliscor looked at each other, then back at the angry Rescuer’s Guild workers.

“There’s only two of us,” the gliscor said tonelessly. “these wagons will be unloaded one by one.”

Bryony: "Er... do we really want to let those two unload anything for us like that?"

Buizel: "If you have to ask the question..." >_>;

The first wagon was begrudgingly unloaded, then the second.

Large mubray and machamp pulled each new wagon up to the front of the line when the previous one had been unloaded, while the empty wagons made wide turns back towards the gate. Bryony often looked at the ‘mon pulling the carts, but none of them would meet her eyes. Some of them had the same vacant stares as the gliscor. The others looked traumatized. Not a single one uttered a word to her.

Wait, so has every supply caravan to Pokémon Plaza been like this, or is this one today just really off? Since it's admittedly not clear which of those two is supposed to be the case from the narration since we don't really get a baseline of what the caravan is normally supposed to be like.

Eventually, the caravan drew to an end. The last wagon in the train looked more beat-up than the others. It was scratched all over, there were pieces of wood missing, and every so often Bryony thought she saw it jostle. Was there something alive in there?


I'm pretty sure that's your sign to turn it away immediately. Or if you absolutely must, unload it safely outside of the city.

Perhaps against better judgement, she decided to take a look. This wagon was completely unattended, tied to the wagon ahead of it by only a few ropes. Bryony inspected its side, looking at all the scuffed paint and small cracks that ran up and down the wood. Then she saw a hole. It was too small to put a flipper through, but big enough to let some light in. Bryony peered in through the hole, looking to see what kind of freight was being hauled here.

The inside was nearly pitch-black, but just light enough to see that there wasn’t anything like cargo in there. Instead, there was something that looked almost… glossy. Like it was reflecting the light, but was also darker than the inside of the box. Bryony squinted, and peered in closer. The Rescuer’s Guild never got anything like this…

Whatever was in the wagon suddenly moved—

Bryony yelped loudly, springing back from the wagon almost immediately. The noise was enough to attract the attention of the two gliscor at the front. They immediately left their supervising perch and flew over to Bryony.

“No touch!” one of them hissed, perching atop the wagon. “This wagon is off-limits!”

“Off-limits?” Bryony spat, half out of fear and half out of confusion. “So you can hide whatever you’ve got in there?”

“We haven’t got anything in there,” the other gliscor said. “Nothing mattering to you.”

Oh yeah that speech pattern's not concerning at all

“What’s the matter here?”

The voice was Wartortle’s. He walked up to the wagon, looking up at the gliscor that had perched on top of it. “Did I not sign the paperwork for this wagon?” he asked.

“This wagon cannot be opened right now.” The gliscor on the left said.

“Well, if it’s brought onto our guild premises, I reserve the right to know what is inside,” Wartortle said.

“…Carrots,” the gliscor on the right said after a pause. “Carrots from a farm.”

There was a bump from inside the wagon that made it jostle.

“The carrots fell over,” the gliscor halfheartedly explained.


Bryony: "Wartortle, not that that wasn't the world's most transparent lie. But I think we really, really do not want whatever's inside that wagon to be anywhere near the town right now." O_O;

“I think I should take a look anyway,” Wartortle said, walking up to the doors of the wagon. “I trust that won’t harm your carrots?”

The two gliscor didn’t look amused, but didn’t stop him.

The carriage lightly jostled more as Wartortle undid the rope holding the doors shut. The jostles were coming from inside the carriage. As he threw open the doors, something that sounded like a squelch came from inside.

But Wartortle threw open the doors on a perfectly normal stack of crates. Bryony watched from the outside as he walked in, inspecting the crates. He knocked on one for good measure. It sounded slightly off.

I'll admit, I was expecting Wartortle to just get stone lazored there in that last paragraph, so congratulations on making things read suspensefully.

Wartortle: "I mean, nothing seems too out of the ordinary."
Bryony: "Wartortle, are you not hearing those squelching noises right now?! On what planet is that not out of the ordinary?!" >.<

Wartortle closed the doors, and walked back out of the carriage. The gliscor flapped down on either side to meet him, almost as if surrounding him.

“Just carrots, yes?” the one on the right asked.

“Who appointed you to these positions?” Wartortle asked. “You two aren’t our normal providers. We would have been notified of a change.”

“Last minute change,” the one on the left said. “Director of HAPPI authorized it. Wanted us to deliver this carriage.”

“Priority! Priority!” the other one cried out.

Bryony: "Wartortle, w-we're not seriously going to just trust these two, are we?"

Something changed in Wartortle’s look at that point.

After the next-to-last wagon had been unloaded, Bryony made her way over to where Wartortle was, helping pull a particularly large crate in towards the entrance.

“Sir,” she began in a hush. “I saw something in there and it wasn’t carrots, it was big and black and—”

“Quiet,” Wartortle hushed her in a tone soft enough that only Bryony could pick it up. “In my office after this is done. It’s not safe to talk here.”

Wait, why is Wartortle not coming up with literally any excuse at all to say "please leave the carrots outside, we're out of storage space right now" and then just dumping it once the Gliscor and the caravan ditch given that those are really obviously not carrots?

“Have the last wagon delivered expelled from the premises,” Wartortle said to a team with a gold rank badge in the hallway. “Destroy whatever’s inside.”

“What’s inside, sir?” one of the team members, an X, asked.

“Carrots, apparently,” Wartortle said. “All the same, be on your guard. Trust nothing. Bryony, with me. The rest of you:” he now addressed the thirty or so pokemon who had been unloading the carriages. “Take the supplies down to the storage department. Sort through it. Thoroughly. Look for any sign of sabotage.”

I mean, on the one hand, at least he thought of axing the "carrots", but if he's worried enough about the contents of those to flatly destroy them, why is he just allowing the rest to be opened relatively normally inside Pokémon Plaza?

They reached the door to Wartortle's office, which he quickly pulled open and walked inside. Bryony caught up, using her flippers to prop herself up on the open door.

"Sir, do you know what was in that carriage," she asked, with emphasis.

“Sit here," Wartortle said. "Close the door. I have a task for you.”

Bryony: "I-Is there a reason why you're avoiding the question?"

[*][1:29 AM]

“Let me share a secret with you,” Wartortle said. “For many years now, ever since our benefactors brought the Rescue Federation crumbling to its knees, I have long known they are harnessing a power they shouldn’t be.”

Bryony: "... Why are you telling me this just now?!" >.<
Wartortle: "... The occasion didn't merit it earlier?" :?

He pointed to an old poster that hung on one of the shelves, marked with the slogan "HAPPI Makes Pokemon Smile!"

It was a far-fetched statement, a conspiracy theory even. If Bryony dared to call it that. HAPPI managed the world's guilds, and supplied the world's connection orbs and power crystals. If something was wrong, wouldn't more pokemon have noticed?

But this was Wartortle, who knew everything. Wartortle, who was centuries old and had built this guild from the bottom up. Wartortle, who was almost always on-point and sharp with his judgements. And after what she had seen today… could she really pass it off as a joke?

I mean considering the track record of people getting up to world-ending tier antics and misuse of power in plain sight in Pokémon settings, I wouldn't be anywhere so quick to dismiss Wartortle there, Bryony.

“What do you mean by that?” she asked. “Sir,” she quickly added afterwards.

“I meant what I said,” Wartortle replied. “HAPPI is using powers they shouldn’t be. You saw it down there today, with the gliscor. HAPPI were the ones who pulled a new substance the world had never seen out of their tails, the ones who always knew just where to poke to make the world bend at their whims and rival guilds fall to their feet. You don’t do that naturally, I wager. Not in only a few years. And… I’ve known ever since HAPPI’s director tried to use it on me in my own office.”

“She what?” Bryony couldn’t stop herself from asking.

“Of course, she wouldn’t dream of it now,” Wartortle said. “This was back when she was younger. Inexperienced. Sloppy.” He took a sip of the tea he always had by him, then set it down. “But I know. And she knows I do.”

Well that's totally normal and not concerning.

Bryony: "S-Say what now?"

He got up. “We ban Z-power crystals and connection orb technology from the premises because the Rescuer’s Guild cannot afford to rely on HAPPI like the rest of the world. We can’t trust her. Years ago, when she told me the Rescue Federation was no more and that my only hope for this guild to stay afloat was to join HAPPI, I focused on making this place as independent as possible. The only official contact we have with Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute are supply shipments, and an ownership contract that can be severed at my own discretion.”

He looked back out the window, watching as the mighty gates below closed behind the last wagon.

“The Rescuer’s Guild is the only guild under HAPPI control that could separate from the organization and stand strong. The director knows this; she considers it a threat. She’s thrown various pieces of legislation at me over the years, and I’ve batted it all back. But I always knew it would only be a matter of time before she decided to move against us in less conventional ways. That day is here.”

Well that's certainly really convenient that this place is now a giant statue garden.

He walked over to a shelf, and pulled out a thick, dusty book. From behind that, he pulled out a letter that looked almost as aged as most of the older sheets of paperwork in the office did.

“This is a letter to be sent to a contact of mine in Baram Town. He’ll mail it to what remains of the Rescue Federation on Grass. If anything happens to me or this guild, that letter has all the important information that must make it into safe paws.”

He dusted off the sealed envelope, dropped some poke for flying fees on it, and handed it to Bryony.

“Go down to the post department, and have this mailed to the address on the envelope with utmost speed and priority. Tell them not to let anymon open it until it gets there. Do you understand, Bryony?”

Bryony: "... Wait, but how can we trust the post department if HAPPI controls literally every other guild of note except this one? Wouldn't they logically have also have gotten around to influencing postal services?" ._.;
Wartortle: "... It's an independent service?"

Bryony slid out through the hall, happy that for once there was actually adequate space for her to scoot around without getting stepped on every which way.

A stunky fiddled with one of the guild’s hall phones as she passed it.

“Hey,” he said as she passed. “You know if this thing’s broken?”

Bryony tilted her head at that. “I’m pretty sure it just had maintenance done on it a few days ago…”

The stunky slammed the phone back on the hook. “Well, I’m pretty sure it broke again.”

Oh hey, it's the MO of every pre-2000s slasher film ever. Totally not an ominous sign there.

“What’s the issue?”

“I can’t reach our outpost on the south side of town. That’s where the caravan left from. I was told to contact some gold-rank team that went out there, but the phone isn’t picking up…”

“Well, I’m on my way to the mailing department,” Bryony said. “If you can’t reach them with the phones, we can send a messenger tailow to go look.”

“No thanks,” the stunky said. “I’d like to keep my pocket money, it’s probably just broken. There’s another phone on the other side of the guild, maybe I’ll try that…”

He hopped down from where the phone was and scampered off. Bryony shook her head and continued on towards the mailing department.

Even without reader foreknowledge of what just happened to that poor Gold-rank team, how is nobody finding this ominous at all right now?

Before long, there was a pelipper flying off with the letter Wartortle had given Bryony to mail. It left the same way the caravan had gone, back to Baram.

She wasn’t looking to take the long way back through all those halls again, so she took a shortcut. A door off to the side connected the mailing department with the storage department, and then led into the hall that would take her straight to Wartortle’s office. The storage department was busier than she had ever seen it, filled with tons of pokemon unpacking the supplies and diligently checking it for any signs of tampering. A large pile of opened and cleared crates and boxes sat near the back, dwarfed by a much larger pile of sealed ones.

“Such a delay…”

A lucario impatiently tried to undo the harness he was strapped to, fumbling with all the straps and buckles and missing all his marks. The carriage he was strapped to shook from his efforts, making it almost impossible for him to undo everything right. Bryony signed, scooted over, and helped hold the carriage still so the lucario could free himself. Once he had, he hopped out of the harness with glee, landing next to Bryony.

Oh hey, it's this guy again. Guess things are about to get really pear-shaped really fast.

“Thanks,” he panted. “Thought I was never going to get out of that.”

“Don’t mention it.” Bryony took a look at the sigil on the lucario’s cart: Ten interlaced rings surrounding the head of a lizard pokemon. “You’re delivering for Kecleon’s?”

“Yeah,” the lucario said. “His wares were supposed to go out last week, but the shipment never came through. He was supposed to get them today, but at the rate this—” he gestured to the commotion around them “—is going, it’s probably gonna be tomorrow.”

Bryony: "... Also, how on earth are you not getting worn out pulling a cart when you're shorter than a Shiftry?" .-.
Lucario: "... Fighting-type stamina?"

He leaned back against the cart and sighed. “Isn’t it a mess?”

“Huh?” Bryony looked back. “What’s a mess?”

“The way we’re doing things,” the lucario said, gesturing around him. “We’re doing stuff like we did it 50 years ago. If we had the tech here, we’d have already been through all this backlog.

“Truth be told, I’m thinking of applying for a transferal to Pokemon Paradise,” he continued. “Heard it gets freezing at night, but it’s better than living in the past here.

Should've thought of that one a couple weeks ago, since your life expectancy is likely an hour tops right about now.

“Well, we don’t have the tech for a reason,” Bryony said.

“Yeah, I know, ‘technology drives us apart’,” said the lucario, making air quotes with his paws. “It’s not like we’re any better off without it, though? You know how much paperwork this is gonna be, right?”

I mean, if Wartortle is to be believed, that technology will literally be the end of him as a second-order effect.

Bryony knew the lucario was just annoyed at the delay, and that he’d have to leave in the middle of the night. She couldn’t blame him for that. The bit about paperwork struck a chord within her.

“A lot,” she replied, a hint of dejectedness sneaking into her tone.

“And wouldn’t it be nice to live by electrical lights, instead of by moss at night?”

“Yeah,” Bryony admitted. “It would.”

“There’s lots of pokemon in the guild who feel the same way,” the lucario said. “Seems to me, if there’s a problem, it lies elsewhere. Only problem I can see is that it takes us six hours to get sorted through all this mess because we’re working with paper and claws.”

Well on the plus side, if Bryony survives the next 2 scenes, she won't have to worry about paperwork for a good long while.

Bryony had to lock up after Wartortle. She was about to close the door and do up the latch when a loud ‘thunk’ rang out in the room behind her. There was the sound of fluttering paper, and that meant whatever it was had knocked over some stacks of paperwork.


She was almost convinced to leave before the halls got too crowded, and her stomach called to her too. But leaving it tonight would mean more work tomorrow…

With a sigh, she opened the door, and scooted her way back in to deal with the mess.

I suspect things are about to go places, but hey, you already faked me out a couple times so far. Time to see if the third time's the charm.

Two stacks of paperwork sat around the east corner of the room in a spilled-over mess. In the middle sat a book that Bryony had never seen before. It didn’t look anything like the books on Wartortle’s shelves, and there wasn’t a gap in his bookcases anyway. It was thin and made of what looked like animal leather, and there was a thick metal latch holding the book closed. Had somemon thrown it in the window? There wasn’t a hole in the window, nor shattered glass on the floor. And she would have heard that anyway.

Bryony undid the latch on the book. It spilled open, and she barely caught it in her flippers. It was old, and the smell of dust and must hit her straight in the face. She flipped through its contents, skimming it over. It was paw-written, not printed with a press. The illustrations were claw-drawn, but detailed and horrifyingly realistic.

Some of them were pokemon. As Bryony poured through the book, barely stopping to read the words on the pages, the illustrations became more and more grotesque. They featured pokemon that seemed to be half pokemon, half twisted into a gruesome black shape, and monsters that didn’t look like pokemon at all. The only consistency amongst all the drawings were the eyes. The hollow, sunken eyes. The eyes that looked familiar to Bryony. Where had she seen those before? Where?

The gliscor. This looked exactly like that. Where had this book come from?

Bryony: "Wh-What on earth-?"

But as she stared out into the city, something odd caught her attention: There were no lights. No candle lights, no luminous moss, not even the odd electrical light somemon had brought in from the outside. The entire city that should have been a beacon of brightness in the night was dark.

A rippling boom that sounded far off. A brilliant flash of orange lit up beyond the walls of the courtyard below. It took Bryony a moment to register what it was: an explosion. Not one of fire, but rather move energy.

Something was going on.

I'm surprised that Bryony didn't immediately get alarmed by noticing that there was literally no light coming from the city given that there's no electrical grid. Like that should immediately have been a
moment since Pokémon Plaza is a major settlement and it's just totally dark

All of the sudden, noises were coming from below, even outside the room. Screams, yelling, the blasting of attacks. Bryony dropped the book and headed towards the doors to see what was the commotion—

—A passing group of pokemon ran back down the hall, inadvertently slamming the door back in her face before she could open it. There was a series of loud blasts, and then the noise in the hallway gradually died down. Bryony stayed completely silent throughout, listening in silent terror as the amount of voices beyond the doors rapidly dipped. Had any of them made it?

And away from what?

Bryony: "Nope nope nope nope."

Something stomped through the hallway, the only sound left. Bryony had to fight the urge to panic. She restricted her breathing as whatever it was got closer to the room. She could hear it breathing, heavy, raspy breaths that accompanied a low snarl. Then everything went quiet.

There was deathly silence. The cries outside were gone. Not even whatever was on the other side of the door made any sound. Bryony stayed still, not daring to move, breath, or risk any chance of whatever was out there finding out she was in there.

Bang. Something threw itself against the walls of the room. It made Bryony jump despite herself. She immediately returned to being still, hoping she hadn’t accidentally alerted it to her presence.

A wrenching sound against the door, like the paint was being ripped off, told her otherwise. She crawled behind one of the stacks of paperwork, trying her best to hide herself for when whatever was out there eventually made its way in.

The wrenching sound continued, accompanied by the splintering of wood and the fracturing of the doorframe. Then there was a sound Bryony could only assume was the door being torn clean off its hinges.

Well that's not terrifying at all.

There was a moment of silence, punctuated only by Bryony’s own breathing and the low, raspy breaths that came from whatever was in the room that she couldn’t see.

What was left of the door flew over her head and thunderously crashed through the window. Bryony was pelted with glass and splinters of wood. They cut through her skin and stung like pins.

The monster took one step into the room, then another. She heard it sniff, and tried to restrain her sobs of fear and pain against the stinging of all her cuts.

Another step. Then another. It was getting closer to her. And soon, it was over her. She couldn’t see it, she refused to, she wouldn’t open her eyes. But she could hear it, and it was right above her. All she could do was whimper and huddle in further into a ball.

The creature’s arms closed around her, and she could hear the telltale hum of energy bring gathered for an attack. She was resigned to it. The attack blasted into her, and for a split second everything was pain.

And then she felt nothing.


Bryony came to soon after. She stood in the same room she had been, completely unharmed. But she was the only thing that was unharmed.

All around her, degrading stacks of paperwork rotted away. The walls were jagged and only reached half the room’s original height, and all the bookcases were either gone or toppled over. Books were everywhere, but only half of them were in readable condition. And they were all covered in rust-red dust.

But more than any of that, what scared Bryony was the sand that flowed everywhere and got in between her flippers, and that the sky was a deep, dark red.

Where was this place?

That's the Voidlands, honey. You're kinda dead right now.

She walked her way down the guild’s hall, trying not to make a sound or panic. Everywhere around her was the same as it had been in Wartortle’s office: devastated, deserted, and covered in red sand. Even the mess hall had been torn to shreds, filled with the decimated ruins of those long tables and the rubble of the upper half of the walls and archways. The guild was a shadow of itself, a ruin that only stretched half as far as it had once stretched in jagged peaks.

As she scooted herself down the hall that lead towards the courtyard, she began to pick up on the sounds of voiced. Lots of them. Bryony rushed through the hall and towards the large, missing doors that led outward into the plaza.

She emerged into the only room in the guild that was populated by any pokemon other than herself. Every guild worker she had seen or come to know under her time working at the guild was here, looking around and talking to each other with the same uncertainty that Bryony had. There was clear unease everywhere; from the whispers and hushed voice circulating around, it seemed like no-mon knew anything more than she did. She wormed her way through the crowd, looking for somemon familiar.

Huh, I somehow wasn't expecting the Voidlands to be a Dark World to the normal one. But that's certainly a neat take on it.

Flashes of dark green scales through the crowds. Bryony recognized who they belonged to.

“Charlotte!” she yelled out. Her attention caught, Seviper Charlotte’s head swung back to where Bryony was. Her eyes lit up, and she immediately slithered towards Bryony. The two pokemon embraced, and didn’t want to let go.

Bryony: "Wh-What just happened to us? Where are we?"
Charlotte: "Your guess is as good as mine, honestly."

Wartortle was at the front of the courtyard, looking like he was silently pondering his options. He opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the sounds of several gasps.

Behind Wartortle, visible through the wrecked gates of the guild’s plaza, a figure was stealthily advancing towards them through the blowing winds and sand.

It walked in complete silence, its footsteps making no sounds in the sand. It looked nothing like any pokemon Bryony had seen before. It was pitch-black from head to toe, and a mountain of sharp spines stuck out of its back. Its arms were bulky, and its claws looked large and sharp enough to impale a small pokemon completely. But more unsettling than anything else was the complete lack of any eyes on its face, the tube-like face adorned with rows of sharp teeth.

Charlotte: "... That's certainly new." Ov-vO
Bryony: "I think we should be trying to get far, far away right now."

Wartortle turned around. As the figure continued walking towards them, he took a look back at the employees of his guild.

“Spread the word back,” he said to the frontmost of the crowd. Bryony heard him. “Be ready for violence.” Then he took a step forward, facing the approaching creature.

“We come in peace!” he announced loudly, his voice echoing around the courtyard. “Are you a friend or a foe?”

The figure stopped. It was a good twenty feet away from them. Bryony watched it carefully. It seemed to be studying them somehow.

“Are you a friend or a foe?” Wartortle repeated loudly. “Do you understand what I am saying?

Wartortle, it's a Xenomorph expy. It very obviously has not come in peace.

The figure was completely still and silent for a few seconds longer. Almost like it was studying them.

Then it threw back its head, and let out a long, piercing screech that drilled into Bryony’s ears like knives. She tried to cover her ears with her flippers to blot it out, but the screech droned through it.

The call was met with several others in the distance from all sides. Bryony had never heard it before, but somehow she knew what it was by instinct: A hunting call.

As the inhabitants of the Rescuer’s Guild braced themselves for a fight, the figure opened its spiky-toothed maw, then charged.

Well that was certainly a bleak ending there. Though guess the chapter tagline wasn't kidding about it being the end of the beginning, since this story's gonna go places if the atmosphere of those last couple scenes is anything to go by.

Though made it to the end @SparklingEspeon . It was interesting to see glimpses of the plot's past and of things yet to come. Part of me wonders if it'd have made more sense to put the chapter with Primarina coming to the Exploration Society second after the special since it'd lead in more tightly with the subsequent chapters set in the present day. But meh, authorial preferences.

I do have to wonder what's with the Xenomorph vibes that what I assume are Void Shadows have. Any reason in particular you opted for that? I mean, it's kinda hard for something channeling H.R. Geiger to not be ultra-creepy, but it still made me wonder what made you connect the two dots together.

Otherwise, good show, and I'll be looking forward to rounding out the rest of my review exchange in due time. ^^

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
  1. nidoran-f
I was admittedly hoping to get this out a bit earlier, but I figured now was as good a time as any to give my Psychic Sheep review trade a good bump.

Chapter 12

You were right.

I didn’t deserve anything this world threw at me. Not a single bit of it. But I rose above it. I trampled those who wished me harm. I created an organization that’s made life better for everymon on the planet.

Now I sit in my office, and I wonder why some pokemon give away so much of their lives to others. Why they toil away and work themselves to the point of death, only to be stepped on and forgotten once those other pokemon move on to bigger things. Why they whine and complain about being trampled upon when they should have seen it coming from a mile away. These pokemon are doomed to be the backs on which everyone else walks, forever trampled for their kindness.

Selflessness is rewarded with betrayal in this world. Kindness is met with hate. And if another pokemon tramples on you, you have no-mon to blame but yourself because you didn’t do it first. Because that’s how you win. By gaming the system. Sucking up to the right pokemon. Stepping on the heads of others. Making sure the public never sees any of that and continues to believe you are as foolish as they are. Not because you’re rotten to your core, but because you know the world is. And you must stoop to its level if you wish to be successful.

Tell me, why should I continue to strive for what’s right when this world has fought me at every turn? When it and the ungrateful people within deteriorate by the day? When an entire continent hates me for the good deeds I’ve done? What have good deeds ever gotten me?

They’ve gotten me empty words, hollow sympathy, and blind hate. But no more. I survived by doing what was necessary. I can continue to do what’s necessary. It’s easier to turn a blind eye to the atrocities, like all the rest.

Sure, I’ll help you with your plan, whatever it is. You’ve guided me this far. Maybe you can take me to the end. And when it’s all over, I’ll sit in my comfy throne and watch this world burn for my warmth.

Wait a minute, is this opening written from the perspective of the Head of HAPPI? Though that's certainly a mood, and I can already see how Dark Matter is able to get a toehold in this world if sentiments like those are remotely common.

It was nighttime.

Audino had always been a superstitious ‘mon. She had depleted her store of herbs early this month, but dared not return to the School Forest to collect new ones before the full moon had come again lest she break her lucky streak and find herself awash without a paddle.

Luckily, she had a backup just in case something like this happened. The Open Pass, a dungeon that lay far to the northwest of Serenity Village, had a few choice bushes of herbs that Audino could easily use as substitutes until the next full moon. And in a brilliant stroke of luck, the dungeon was only four floors long. She would be gone almost the whole day just getting there, but Simipour knew where she was going and she had never been much for noisy holiday celebrations anyway.

The bad news was that all the school’s escape orbs in Serenity Village had been used by the school for the end-of-semester Dungeon Class test, which left Audino without an escape plan should trouble find her once more. Not that she couldn’t defend herself if it came to it, but she preferred to avoid fights entirely whenever she could.

That... sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, just saying.

The dungeon made her work for her herbs. She searched the first and second floors thoroughly before moving on, nearly confident that the bushes weren’t there. But at the same time, doubts plagued her head—she didn’t know every nook and cranny of the Open Pass like she knew the School Forest. Perhaps she had missed them, or the bushes looked different, or they simply weren’t there and all she’d come all this way for nothing. And when she stepped up the stairs and ascended to the third floor of the dungeon, she shivered as she felt the air suddenly change. The dungeon was evil here. Even the ferals had taken note, for Audino didn’t see a single one as she walked through the labyrinth that the forest twisted into.

Every so often she would hear a Swish in the distance, as if somemon was walking through the tall grass that dotted the dungeon here and there. But no other ‘mon ever greeted Audino’s eyes when she glanced in the sounds’ direction, and so she made the hesitant assumption that it was simply a hiding dungeon apparition, and continued on her way.

An hour later, when Audino had nearly finished exploring the third floor completely and was beginning to lose hope of there being any medicinal herbs within the dungeon’s boundaries, her eyes caught sight of a bush that matched the ones in the School Forest—an herb bush. Success! She quickly kneeled over it, rooting around in the dirt to make sure they were the right herbs. Upon finding that they were, she began to uproot them from the ground and stuff them in her bag as fast as possible. The sooner she could get out of here, the better.


That last one didn't sound terribly distant there.

Audino: "Uhm... hello? Is someone there?" ._.

Audino froze. She whipped her head around. There was nothing there. At least, it seemed like there was nothing there.

It was only thanks to Audino’s stellar hearing that she managed to notice the pokemon sneaking up upon her from the other side. The only warning she had was the sudden change in the way the air sounded, and she only had the time to quickly duck as what looked like a large shadow ball flew over her head. From out of the shadows flew a beheeyem, hurtling towards her like a speeding haunter with its limbs held out in front of it. Audino rolled out of the beheeyem’s way and watched as it uncontrollably flew past her, then picked herself and her bag up and ran like the wind in the opposite direction. The stairs were just down the hallway anyway. It was time to get out of here.

Audino: "Nope nope nope. Not in the mood to get robbed today!"

By the time the mid-air-beheeyem was able to turn itself around and come back for Audino, she was already sprinting down the hallway with the stairs in close reach. Audino didn’t even spare the beheeyem a look as she ran for the stairs. She was too close to bother with that. Just a few seconds more—

—Audino suddenly dug her feet into the ground, trying to stop until it was too late. Where the stairs had been there was now nothing but the twisted barrier of tree roots that made up the absolute ends of the dungeon. Audino put her paws up against the roots in horror, scrabbling at the wall for any sign of an escape. Where had the stairs gone?

The air shifted–once more, then again–and she spun around to notice that she was being approached on all sides by the trio of beheeyem. They closed in, faster and faster, until they were so close it was practically impossible for Audino to escape at all. The stairs: they were fake. This was a trap. She would have fought them like any other dungeon ‘mon, but something in the way they moved threw her off from it. Just like it had back in the School Forest. These weren’t ferals.

Wait a minute, but shouldn't Audino have logically known that by virtue of Beheeyem not being a known encounter? Or are feral spawns different in this setting / go outside canonical species spreads?

Audino: "Well, this is just a fantastic turn of events."

“What do you want from me?” she asked them in the most level voice she could summon. They had to be intelligent—dungeon ‘mon would have attacked her by now.

The beheeyem said nothing. Instead, all three of them slowly raised their limbs in her direction, and suddenly Audino grunted in pain as what felt like an impossibly sharp needle was jabbed into the back of her head. But there was nothing there. The lights attached to the ends of their wrists flashed, and even though they had said nothing Audino somehow knew what they wanted.

Give us the child.

And as much as she hated the thought, she wasn’t exactly in a place to refuse them.

“Alright,” she breathed, carefully shouldering her exploration bag. “I’ll take you to her.”


Oh. Oh dear.

“It’s summertime!!

A well-placed Ember sent several ducks and geese flapping over the fences of their enclosure, honking and quacking loudly. Seconds later, Tricky sent the entire flock scattering in an even louder cacophony of noises.

“Vat?! Vat iz the meaning of zis?? Tricky! You monster!!”

“Sorry Hippopatas! I forgot about the—ack! Geese!! Geeses!!” A particularly largish goose had taken the opportunity to chomp down upon Tricky’s tail, and began to run her down the moment she bolted back towards the pen.

Hippopotas glared daggers in Tricky’s direction as the geese continued to chase her relentlessly. “Zerves ‘er right.”

Wow, she really can't get any sympathy from the townsfolk. Not that she didn't bring that on herself.
And I see we're finally getting a good look at the vanilla animals in this setting.

Slowly coming to. Espurr blinked her eyes open wearily to the grating tune of somemon banging on the windowpanes of the school clinic.

Wearily, she glanced at the window. Her vision was too blurry to make out who was currently banging on the window, but… the sun shouldn’t have been that high.

She’d slept in!

... Wait, but it's summer, so isn't that by definition the right time to be sleeping in? :V

Espurr quickly sat up in her bed, brushing the straw out of her fur. How come Nurse Audino hadn’t woken her? In fact, where was Nurse Audino? The clinic was completely deserted.


Almost completely deserted. Espurr blinked a couple of times to clear her vision, then looked at the window despite having a good idea who was banging on it.

Sure enough, Tricky was outside, waving frantically at Espurr from the other side of the window. Espurr spent a few seconds catching her balance, then got the door for her.

“What are you doing still sleeping?” Tricky quickly asked once Espurr had let her inside the school clinic. “It’s summertime! We should be going exploring! We won’t have time to later today!”

Ah, right. That would be a good reason to not sleep in there. ^^;

She caught herself at the last moment, calming down and shooting the floor a hesitant look. “I-if you want to.”

“I haven’t even had breakfast yet…” Espurr mumbled, still wiping the sleep from her eyes.

“Oh.” Tricky’s tail swished across the floor, batting some of the dirt she’d inadvertently tracked in across the floor. “Well… I’m sure we can get something from Pops! Pops always has a bunch of food around. And then can we take a look at the expedition gadget?”

I see Tricky's learning a bit about being a bit more thoughtful.

Espurr and Tricky had agreed beforehand that the expedition gadget Ampharos had granted them would stay at the school (not least because Carracosta would ground Tricky for the entire summer if he ever found out they had it). Which meant that for the time being, Espurr was its caretaker. She had stashed it inside one of the three packed straw beds that lay inside the clinic. Which in hindsight wasn’t comfortable to sleep on, but at the time it had seemed like the best option for a hiding spot.

Espurr stretched, then walked over and dug the gadget out of the straw. She set it on the ground and looked over its sleek—dead—surface with Tricky. It then occurred to Espurr that the expedition gadget hadn’t exactly come with an instruction manual.

“Do we know how to turn it on?”

“Um…” Tricky clearly wasn’t expecting that question. She sat still in thought for a moment, digging for ideas. “Uhhh… wow. I guess we do need help... What—what did Ampharos say again? Something about a blue orb? And gastradon?”

Tricky: "Guess we should've asked for an operating manual in retrospect." ^^;
Espurr: "Look, there's gotta be some buttons or something on this. Let's just fiddle around a bit." -_-;

“He said…” Espurr tried to remember exactly what Ampharos had said. Which was a bit hard when her mind was sleep addled as she was. “I think… ’just insert a blue orb and you’re as good as a gastradon!’”

It wasn’t a very good impression of Ampharos. Tricky snorted.

“You sound nothing like him,” she said.

“You try, then,” said Espurr, whose face was suddenly burning.

Tricky’s impression was even worse.
Espurr: "..." 🤨
Tricky: "I-It's the thought that counts!" >///<

“Soo… can we just put any blue orb in?” Tricky asked. “Do we stick an oran berry in there? That’s blue. If we needed a specific orb, why didn’t he just give it to us?”

“Maybe... he did,” Espurr said, coming to the realization. “Remember the first day we met him, and he dropped that orb? Is it still in the bush outside your house?”

“I… think I took it inside,” said Tricky, trying hard to remember. “…Yes! I did! It’s under my bed!”

- Beat moment -
Espurr: "Actually, why didn't he give us one of those blue orbs when he gave us this thing?"
Tricky: "Beats me. No offense to Ampharos, but the 'mon's a few berries shy of a kiddie meal, so are you really surprised he'd be a bit roundabout like that?" 🤷

“C’mon! I can get us the orb and breakfast! I… kinda skipped it too.”

Espurr grabbed Gabite’s old exploration bag, noticeably tattered compared to the newer one that sat next to it, and dropped the expedition gadget in. Then she slipped it over her shoulder and followed after Tricky.

Tricky: "... Espurr, shouldn't you at least get that patched up if you're going to use that?" o_ó
Espurr: "... It's still functional enough and I don't exactly have any money to pay for repairs?"

The townspokemon of Serenity Village seemed extra jolly today. Everymon was out in the village square, chatting with each other and hanging decorations from the luminous moss streetposts and buying things from Kecleon’s stall. Espurr had only been here a week, and yet she had never seen things so… lively.

Perhaps it was because it was just the start of summer and this was how the village looked in summertime, but Espurr wanted to ask about all the decorations that were being hung. Was this some kind of special event? Tricky seemed to be right at home, prancing through the square and occasionally into other pokemon without a care in the world. It was all Espurr could do to keep up and sightsee at the same time.

Ah. Looks like it's summer festival time in Serenity Village. If it weren't for the Beheeyem with the stone rays lurking about, this would be a pretty comfy and chill setup.

“Oh! Hi, Espurr.” Deerling tried to greet Espurr the best she could, who had briefly stopped for a moment to catch her breath and untwist her legs (she was still getting used to her legs). Deerling was with her mother, who was currently waiting in the long, long line for Kecleon’s. Tricky, who had backtracked her way over to Espurr after noticing that she was no longer keeping up, did not receive the same warmness. Deerling simply turned away and refused to acknowledge her at all.

Wait, I'm not sure if I follow, what exactly is going on with Deerling such that she's getting used to her legs again? Since she never came off as having shaky balance in prior appearances.

“These are your friends from school?” Espurr looked up to see that Deerling’s mother had turned away from the line to look at Espurr and Tricky. She looked at Espurr. “I think you came over once, right? To play chess?”

Espurr nodded. “I’m Espurr.”

“She’s new,” Deerling added helpfully.

Tricky: "Wow, when even the narration's snarking at you-"
Deerling: "Tricky, nobody asked you for commentary!"

“I see. Are you excited for the festivities tonight?” Deerling’s mother asked.

Espurr didn’t know what the festivities tonight were about, but also didn’t know how out-of-place asking about them would look. She nodded and settled for a generic answer instead. “They look like fun.”

Tricky: "(You do realize that 'I sure am!' would've been the more natural-sounding answer, right?)" :?
Espurr: "(Look, I just said what came to mind first, okay?)" >_>;

“Alright then. Go play, you three. You don’t need to stick with me.” The comment was directed towards Deerling, and she was gently nudged towards Espurr and Tricky. Deerling’s Mother turned back towards the line, and then it was clear there would be no more talking with her. Deerling quickly shook herself off, then walked around Tricky gingerly.

“Mom thinks the shopping goes faster without me,” Deerling explained as soon as they were on the other side of the square. “She’s been trying to find an excuse to get me away from her ever since we started. She doesn’t think that, y’kno, maybe I actually like shopping…”

- Espurr looks at Deerling, and back at Tricky as the two are dutifully attempting to avoid contact with each other -

Espurr: "I can already tell this night is going to go places."

Deerling shook her head. “Anyways—where’re you headed?” she asked Espurr.

“We’re going exploring!” Tricky helpfully added from behind Deerling. Deerling waited for Espurr’s answer.

“We’re headed to Tricky’s house,” Espurr’s response was short and simple. Tricky danced all around them, trying to find a good place to slot herself in. Eventually she just settled for walking on the other side of Espurr, which was as far she could get from Deerling while still remaining with the group.

... Lol. And here I did that on a lark assuming that's how the two would react to each other based off prior scenes. :V

Deerling tilted her head at Espurr. “You… don’t know what’s happening today, do you?”

Tricky’s eyes practically bugged out of her head with disbelief.

“Wait, you don’t know??” she couldn’t help but blurt out. “It’s Deerling Day!”

“What’s Deerling Day?” Espurr had to ask. Finally, she was going to know why all the lampposts were being strung up with decorations!

Espurr: "I mean, no offense, Deerling. But you didn't exactly strike me as being important enough locally to have an entire holiday dedicated to yourself." .-.

“Deerling Day celebrates the start of summer,” Deerling pointedly cut in before Tricky could respond. “Since Deerlings’ coats change with the season, when Deerling Day is celebrated depends upon when a Deerling’s coat changes. But nowadays mostly everymon just celebrates it at the start of Summer Vacation. It makes more sense that way.”

Espurr: "... But I thought that Deerling coats changed with every season. Does that mean there's four Deerling Days a year?" Tricky: "I mean, the one that we care about is in summer, so..."
Deerling: "A shame, really. Since I find my Spring coat to be the cutest, and it goes well with the cherry trees that bloom at that time of year."

The three of them walked past ‘Hawlucha’s Slam School’, which, unlike the Café Connection and Kecleon’s, wasn’t getting business at all. The sight of the tent turned Deerling’s head for a moment.

“I wonder what’s in there…” she muttered to herself, before looking back at Espurr.

“I think I’ll go see the inside of that tent for a minute,” Deerling said. “Mom never goes in there. Coming?” she asked Espurr.

Tricky gave Espurr pleading ‘please don’t’ eyes. “Don’t you want to get breakfast?” she asked. “And then we can go look at… the thing…”

Deerling gave them both ‘you’re weird’ glances.

Espurr: "Tricky, you really should've phrased that better." >_>;
Tricky: "Look, you know what I meant, alright?"

“Anyways… have fun ‘exploring’,” she said, making her disdain of the last word evident, and then she turned around and walked off towards Hawlucha’s still empty Slam School.

“What are you looking at that tent for?” Tricky asked, trying not to sound nervous. “Pops’ house is this way!” Espurr took one look at Tricky’s uncomfortable brainwaves and easily read between the lines.

“Right,” she said. “Coming.”

Somehow I can't get the mental image out of my mind of Space Jam music blaring out from Hawlucha's tent. Not that we're going to be getting a good view at what's going on in there.

“Good morning Mist, and welcome back to another episode of the Jellicent Show, where we pair a hotshot reporter with a couple of celebrities and let the sparks fly! Sometimes literally. Wink-wink.”

“We’re coming to you today from Cloud Nine, currently cruising over the tourist hotspot that is the Great Glacier. For anymon in the possession of a TV set, you can see for yourselves just how stunning the Great Glacier really is! For those of you tuning in on the radio… well, you’ll just have to take our word for it.”

“Oh, but what a word it is. On the reporting side of things, we have Meowth, the leader of an up-and-coming news outlet in Lively Town. Meowth, do you have anything to say to our viewers here?”

“Well, I’d like to say that it’s a pleasure to be here, Jellicent. And I’d also like to urge our viewers to check out the Lively Town Times—“

“Alrighty, moving on~”

Lol, somebody isn't a fan of competing media outlets there. :V

“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.”

“We’d use… ‘cautiously optimistic.’”

“We’re planning to appeal in favor of the ban’s removal in less than a month. We’re hopeful Cloud Nine will see things from our point of view, and lift the ban.”

I see HAPPI isn't fond of Gates' DLC model.
Though I have to wonder what the in-setting story for this was. My money is on it having something to do with the snowflake of doom, but that's just a wild guess.

“I see. Am I correct in my assumption that the initial ban had somewhat of a negative effect on you two?”

“Oh don’t even get me started.”

“Well, I’m sure our viewers would love to hear the story behind that…”

I mean, I would too since this sounds like it could be-

“Breakfast time is over,” Carracosta grunted in answer to Tricky’s question. He deftly moved the large cooking spoon he was using to stir whatever was in that big pot of his to his right flipper, using the left to turn down the dial of the radio on the kitchen counter (also a commodity from Lively Town).


But alas, another time for learning what went down there, I suppose.

Tricky made a show of pouting on the kitchen floor. Espurr stood beside her, taking in Tricky and her pseudo temper tantrum. She sniffed the air. Carracosta’s place smelled good. There were all sorts of smells in the air—some she recognized, like berries and cakes and even a fish, and others she didn’t, but all of them made her mouth water equally. There was one smell coming from the pot simmering on that stove that smelled absolutely divine, and Espurr was now sorely wistful that she hadn’t grabbed something from the school clinic to eat on the way down to the village. Her stomach remembered it was hungry and grumbled. Tricky’s ears twitched at the sound of it, and she abandoned her forlorn puppy act immediately.

“But Pops,” Tricky began. “Espurr hasn’t eaten yet. You can’t let two children starve. That’s kit abuse!”

Carracosta: "Tricky, you do realize the food on the stove isn't exactly done cooking, do you?" >_>;
Tricky: "It smells done enough!" >.<

Espurr could tell from the way Carracosta moved that he didn’t buy that for one minute. He let out a throaty sigh anyway. “Alright. Have some berries. Then you wait until dinner.”

Tricky immediately leapt back to life, scurrying over to the table where several large pans of un-iced cake layers sat.

“And don't touch the cake!” Carracosta yelled after them. Tricky’s ears drooped for a second. She grumbled. Then she snatched a couple of berries from the bowl on the counter and handed one to Espurr the best she could with her mouth.

Tricky: "What if it's a cakeberry-?"
Espurr: "Tricky, why don't we not make your dad upset on the way out?" >_>;

“I got tha—tha things from tha pantry,” a voice rang out from outside the doorway. Espurr’s ears perked up. She knew that voice… (Or rather, process of elimination dictated there was only one ‘mon that had an accent that thick and had any reason to be in Carracosta’s home.) It was Nuzleaf!

Nuzleaf bumped the door closed behind him and set down the sacks of ingredients he was holding. He looked at the slowly settling kitchen, which was empty of all life aside from Carracosta.

“…Di’ I miss somethin’?”

Well that was a lucky miss there, not that Espurr likely knows that at all.

“Where’s the orb?” Espurr asked. Tricky froze.

“I… Wait just a sec.”

Quickly, she rolled off her bed and half-dove under it in one fluid movement, rifling and rattling through junk until she finally emerged with a transparent blue orb clutched in her paws. “Here!”

“Ah—Fire! Fire!” Nuzleaf’s voice suddenly emerged from the kitchen, accompanied by sudden scrambling movements, the clatters of a few pans, and then the sudden sizzling of water against a hot surface..

Espurr: "... Should we be concerned?" .-.
Tricky: "Nah, I set stuff on fire all the time. What's an extra kitchen fire or two?" ^^

“It’s out, it’s out now. Calm down.”

Espurr heard Nuzleaf pant in relief. “Ruin’d tha soup, though…”

“It’s alright. We have ingredients for more. Let’s just work on getting back on track.”

Espurr: "... How on earth do you manage to set soup on fire?"

Tricky: "Beats me, but yeah. Were we going to mess with that Connection Orb or what, Espurr?"

“Ya gonna take this thing or not?” Tricky was still stretched out on the floor, the orb in between her paws dramatically. Espurr quickly took it once she noticed. Tricky hopped back on the bed, trying to get a better look from above than she could from below.

Man can I call 'em or what? :V

There was a large, sphere-sized indent in the middle of the gadget that looked just about the right size for the orb Espurr held in her hands. Carefully, she stuck it in, hearing a satisfying ‘click’ as it connected to the machine.

The gadget suddenly sprang to life, startling both Tricky and Espurr and causing both to jump back a bit. It whirred silently for a second, and then suddenly Tricky’s room was filled with bright blue light.

It took Espurr a second to realize what it was, and where it came from. One minute, the room had been lit normally, and now the upper walls and the roof were covered in an ocean blue the same as the orb. Tricky rubbed her eyes, then gazed up at the roof along with Espurr.

“Wow… this is aMAZ—“ Tricky lowered her voice at the last minute. “—I mean, wow… holy mystery dungeon…

Espurr: "... This isn't going to cause any issues getting walked in on, is it?"
Tricky: "Nah, it's just Pops and Mr. Nuzleaf. What on earth's the worst that could possibly happen?"

A few pots crashed from the kitchen, causing Espurr to glance at the doorway for a second. It was still weird to believe that Tricky’s room didn’t have a door.

“Think we can set it up on the wall?” Tricky asked. Half a minute later, the expedition gadget was projecting its display onto the wall instead of the roof. Espurr and Tricky sat on Tricky’s bed, studying it from afar. It hadn’t taken long for Espurr to guess that the hovering portraits that now decorated the wall were missions of some kind.

“I wanna study it up-close…” Tricky grumbled.

“We’ll block out the light if we do that,” Espurr pointed out. It wasn’t like they hadn’t tried already. More than once. With a broom.

Sure would be a handy time to have a camera of some sort with a zoom function. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“I know…” Tricky mumbled.

“Look at that one.” Espurr pointed to the top-left portion of the wall, where just one of the many, many hovering portraits on the wall dwelled. Spread out all large on the wall like this, the text was just large enough for Espurr to read. “Retrieve bag of poke from Wooloo Plains. Client: Eevee. Mission Rank: A. Reward: Half the bag of poke.”

Tricky’s ears shot up straight, and then she sat up straight. Her face gleamed with both excitement and mischief. “Did you just say wooloo?

Well that's certainly a generous reward. Just how financially desperate is the client such that a 50% loss is better than losing everything there? :V

"That’s the last of the soup vegetables.”

Carracosta uncurled his flipper from around a large knife, removing the cutting board filled with neat piles of vegetables from one side of the counter and dumping them all into the large stockpan that currently sat beside the stove. Nuzleaf, who had just finished preparing one of Hippopatas’ large geese, hesitantly tried to figure out how to set it over the fireplace without burning himself as well. Carracosta set the cutting board on the counter and quickly tromped over to the fireplace.

Wait, so is there a pile of goose entrails just lying in a corner somewhere? Or did they mean "prepared" as in they already had a processed goose and just finished seasoning it?

No sooner had Carracosta set the goose properly in the oven and Nuzleaf walked off to check on the cakes did Espurr carefully walk towards the door, apparently trying not to be noticed. Carracosta humored her.

“Epfur waiffor meeeee!!”

Carracosta saw Espurr glance back towards the hallway; her cover blown. Tricky bounded into the kitchen, the scarves Carracosta hadn’t seen for so long hanging from her mouth. He hadn’t seen those scarves since… Carracosta continued to play dumb, sautéing the soup vegetables purely from muscle memory. One eye discreetly stayed trained on Espurr and Tricky the entire time.

Carracosta: "Don't say anything. Don't say anything. Don't say anything..."

“Take one!” Tricky spat out the scarves and pushed one towards Espurr. She worked the other one around her neck, shaking herself off to let it settle properly.

“What’s it for?” Espurr asked.

“It’s an explorer’s scarf!” Tricky explained to Espurr excitedly. “Pops got them for me from Lively Town when I was five. Now I want you to have one!”

It took a minute, but eventually Carracosta saw Espurr pick up the scarf and fit it around her neck. “Thank you,” he heard her say.

Boy would it be a really awkward time to point out that one of those was last worn by a dead 'mon.

Carracosta didn’t even make an attempt to move until Espurr was outside the door and Tricky was about to follow.

“Remember to be back before dark,” he warbled before Tricky could exit the door.

“Uh…” Tricky stopped dead in her tracks. “…Yeah! We’ll do that! Bye Pops!”

Carracosta: "... Why on earth did it feel like all of that was massively tempting fate?" >_>;

“…And now a final question from your hosts! Can you authenticate the claims from my source that things have been getting a little… ‘steamy’ between you two, shall we say?”

“Who told you that?!?”

“W-who told you that?!”

“And that’s the end of this episode of the Jellicent show! Tune in next week for more celebrity shenanigans~“

Alright, listen up! You’d better ‘authenticate’ the name of your source to me right now so I can claw their eyes out!!

That'd be that one Connection Orb mission in PSMD plus Guiding Light.

It was Dedenne’s day off from the Expedition Society, and that meant Mawile was doing a lot more walking around the base than she was used to. The experience gave her a new appreciation for all the jobs that Dedenne performed throughout the day, when expedition gadget communications were temporarily down, the intercom Jirachi had designed was broken again, and there was no-mon to transport Mawile’s orders around the base for her. Not to mention that she had found several deficiencies in places Dedenne would not have thought to look, like how one of the large vents near the food vault had become partially clogged, or the barrel of half-eaten leftovers in the kitchen that was tucked away in what had initially seemed like a dish cupboard.

Live view from the Exploration Society:


After the week-long trip she had just underwent to the Air Continent and back, Mawile was beginning to feel as if she should extend her one period of sleep a week into two periods, however far that would knock her off her schedule. The observatory was currently off-limits to all but the five executive staff, and she and Jirachi had begun to convert the photos into physical versions of themselves there. Which, Jirachi being Jirachi, would take upwards of a day to complete once they had fed them all into his outdated printer. Just about three days with copies. And that left Mawile to deal with bigger fish to fry:


Mawile was more than convinced at this point that Ambassador Primarina drove his servants insane daily. Every day at exactly 11:00, he required that a cold bath be drawn for him, lest he ‘dry out’ in the harsh summer heat. After marinating in the bath for almost half an hour, Primarina demanded breakfast, but would not have anything from the luxurious breakfast spread Swirlix had cooked just for him that day. (Mawile dearly hoped she wasn’t going to try something drastic like giving Primarina food poisoning.) Buizel had ended up going down to the market to purchase a supply of fresh-caught oysters, which were what Primarina subsisted on for breakfast every morning.

I know you said elsewhere that Primarina drew vibes from GL's Primarina, but somehow, I didn't remember him being this much of a prima donna there.

At 12:30, Braixen had emerged from the guest room that had been set up for him and eaten Swirlix’ breakfast spread before Swirlix herself could, which led to one of Swirlix’ food-related temper tantrums and the chef swearing revenge upon the food thief. Mawile was now worried enough for Braixen that she had his meals purchased separately from whatever Swirlix was serving that night.


Mawile: "(I swear, that fox just has a death wish.)"

Around 3:00, the majority of the Expedition Society was out doing activities of their own choice. That was around the time Primarina had declared that he was bored and needed entertainment. Mawile had directed him to the Expedition Society’s library as well as the drying facilities, but Primarina had claimed he ‘didn’t read for fun’. Mawile had politely informed him that he was out of luck and returned to her work with Jirachi. Primarina had promptly taken a trip around Lively Town, and it later took the combined efforts of Buizel, Bunnelby, and Dedenne (who happened to be with her family in the restaurant across the street and did not appreciate her day off being disturbed so rudely) to get him out of a bar fight he had caused during a drunken bar stupor he had also caused.

The bar tab Primarina had racked up was large enough to put a sizeable dent in the Expedition Society’s funds.

It had apparently affected his health as well. He could barely balance himself when Buizel and Bunnelby hauled him in through the doors, and he was muttering all kinds of inane gibberish Mawile couldn’t even hope to decipher. She inwardly sighed. It looked like he would need the medic. Instinctively she reached for her expedition gadget to call Nickit, but then remembered that communications were down today and everything was being done manually. How silly of her.

Jirachi really needed to fix that intercom.

I like how Primarina is already managing to cause sanity slippage for the Exploration Society on his first day over.

Cards were a game best played over the course of hours. At least, that was how Nickit liked to play them. It was a game where you kept your hand secret, stalking ever-closer to your unwitting prey like a midnight lycanroc, the winning card in your claw. But you had to be careful about how you did it, because if the other players were to figure out you had the winning claw, you got sniped. And Nickit hated being sniped. She did that to other pokemon, not the other way around!

I mean, alternatively, you just brazenly lie and bluff your way to victory.

Alternatively, you could play your claw all at once and steal the catch for yourself, like Murkrow almost always tried to do, but Nickit preferred the long con. The trick was to draw it out until everymon else was high-strung and on their last strings, and you could be sure no-mon else could snipe you. Except that Murkrow had pitifully tried to play the long con once, and Nickit had still sniped him anyway.

“Prepare to suffer,” Murkrow suddenly stated, somehow smirking with a beak. “Weep at the sight of my great orange wings!” he slammed a card down on the table, face-up. Nevermind that you were supposed to put them face-down; Nickit looked at what it was anyway.

Moltres. Murkrow ruffled his feathers in smug satisfaction. Nickit almost snickered and let the jig up. He really thought that would save him.

Oh hey, they're playing TCG here too! Maybe. Possibly. :V

“But if I cry, you’ll die,” she told him.

“Dying builds character.”

Nickit sniped him. Silvally. She had gotten the card during a random redraw of claws, and had been holding on to it for a moment exactly like this. Silvally was the most powerful card in the deck, after all, and also the only way Murkrow had ever won against her.

“You always win,” Murkrow grumbled. Like a mannequin, his body began to stiffly reach for the empty card box.

Or not, I guess. What exactly are the rules of this card game they're playing anyways?

“You never try,” Nickit drawled. “Always the same thing, every time. You’re even beginning to bore me a little.”

“But no-mon else will play cards with you, so I guess you’re stuck with boring old me,” Murkrow said as he put them back in the box.

“Ain’t that a shame.”

Murkrow set the card box back in its place behind the chests of poke. “Our plans for tonight are still on, yes?”

“Duh. Spinda’s?”

“I was actually thinking of the place where they only serve vegetarian noodles.”

“You hate me.”

“You do not like noodles?”

“…You know what? How does a bird even eat noodles?”

“How does a fox eat noodles?”

“From a plate. Your turn.”

“…Not very cleanly.”

“Alright. We’ll go eat vegetarian noodles, and I will take embarrassing pictures of you eating on the expedition gadget.”

“—Spinda’s is fine.”

This bit IMO could stand to be broken up with at least 2 paragraphs of description of body language or background events. Since that is a lot of dialogue with the only deviations from it being two short sentences describing actions Murkrow and Nickit are doing that are directly attached to spoken lines.

A loud bang from outside the door of the vault startled both Nickit and Murkrow. They quickly looked towards the door of the vault, as a series of clicks came from the outside and the large metal door slowly opened.

“Somehow I knew I would find the two of you in here,” Mawile stated as she walked in. she turned to Nickit. her hands formally clasped behind her back. “Your presence is urgently required in the main hallway, Nickit. That’ll be all.”

And then she left.

Nickit: "Would it have killed her to knock?" >_>;
Mawile: "That was a knock. Now hurry up already!"

“I had to tell him it was a poffin – and he was drunk enough to believe me – but I managed to knock him out with a sleep seed.”

Nickit, Mawile, Bunnelby, and Braixen all stood at the foot of the straw bed in Ampharos’ vacant office, where Primarina currently lay.

“He’ll be like that until tomorrow,” Nickit added. “Ooh, he’s gonna feel bad tomorrow. But he’ll sleep it off. Just don’t give him any medicinal berries for the next couple of days and he’ll be fine.”

Oh? Do Oran Berries not mix well with blood alcohol in the same fashion as mixing them with Mago Berries in this setting? And if so, why not break out a Sitrus Berry or a Lum Berry here?

“That doesn’t look ‘fine’.” Braixen glanced over Primarina’s comatose body anxiously. Nickit felt woozy for a minute just looking at him.

“He’ll be fine,” Nickit said. “I’m the doctor.”

- Beat moment -

Braixen: "That... doesn't reassure me." >.<
Nickit: "Look, I'm more experienced than I look, alright?" >_>;

Braixen looked like he wanted to argue on that, but glanced at the other two pokemon in the room and decided against it. He silently bared his fangs at Nickit, then abruptly left.

“…’Don’t think I like him much,” Bunnelby decided once Braixen was out of earshot.

Swirlix: "Hrmph, join the club." >:|
Nickit: "Seriously, what's that guy's problem?" >_>;

By using the exploration bag to catch the gadget’s display as they walked, Espurr had been able to find a brief description of the mystery dungeon on the gadget’s logs—Wooloo Plains had originally been a field of grasslands before a strong mystery dungeon had formed over it and tragically ensnared an entire flock of wooloo (who were now the dungeon’s inhabitants) within it. Its placement blocked off the straightest line to and from Serenity Village, and even the beaten path gave it a wide berth.

Wait, why did the Wooloo just never leave the Mystery Dungeon after that?

That was why she’d been wary of entering the dungeon in the first place. But it was only three floors, and the dungeon itself was only about a fifteen-minute leisurely walk away from Serenity Village. No way would they be in there long enough to get in danger, especially if they wanted to be back in time for the festivities.

The two explorers had found Eevee waiting there for them outside the dungeon’s entrance. She hastily explained to them that she was in a hurry and she wanted to have her money back by nightfall. Which didn’t seem too hard, considering that it was still afternoon.

Espurr: "... Considering how our client's obviously desperate to get her money back, shouldn't we ask her what on earth happened-?" .-.
Tricky: "Espurr-ay, op-stay endangering-ay our-ay eward-ray!" >_>;

The vast plains that stood before them had been barely recognizable as a mystery dungeon from a distance, but now that Espurr had seen it up close she could see it reflected in all the little things. The little bits and pieces that added up to tell you that the place was just wrong. She could even taste the tiniest hint of the mystery dungeon’s foul scent on her tongue.

Tricky was not disturbed by the dungeon’s wrongness in the slightest, and Espurr was almost unwillingly pulled along into the dungeon before Eevee could even bid them good luck (Although it didn’t seem like she was going to).

So... business as usual then. :V

“Huh,” Tricky said as once they combed the dungeon’s first floor for the bag of poke. “Where are all the wooloo?”

“Count us lucky,” Espurr said. “I’d rather we didn’t run into the wooloo before we run into the bag of poke.”

Which was fair. Tricky didn’t have a good comeback.

“You think they’re all sleeping?” Tricky asked again once they were on the second floor. “It’s not even dark yet… I wonder where they all went.

Espurr: "Tricky. Seriously, stop talking before you jinx us." >_>;

By the third floor she was just pouting to herself. Espurr read off her silence that she had wanted to see the wooloo all along. They were both overjoyed to find the bag of poke hanging from a low tree branch shaped like a hook. After narrowly stopping Tricky from lighting the branch and fire and setting the dungeon aflame, Espurr used her powers to snap the branch and send the bag hurtling down towards them. Perhaps they wouldn’t even need to deal with the wooloo!

Espurr: "Oh thank goodness, let's hurry up and get-"

“Tricky I can see the stairs from here,” Espurr said, having stopped in front of an offhand dungeon corridor that Tricky had rocketed past without a second thought. The fennekin backtracked, glancing down the same corridor Espurr was.

“Oh,” she said, restraining a cowed laugh. “There they are. Hah…”

The anchorstone looked almost nothing like the rest of the dungeon. True to its name, it really was a large, rolling plain, with scattered trees all throughout. It looked from the inside just how Wooloo Plains had looked from the outside—breathtaking. Barren. Dead. The distance was fuzzy, like a painting. Despite all appearances it was clear to Espurr that they were still in the mystery dungeon. And they still had no idea where all those wooloo were.

Espurr: "Okay, I guess it is a little weird we haven't seen one Wooloo thus far. But is it really that bad?"

Espurr glanced up at the sky. She looked at the position of the sun. It was… almost sunset. Had they really spent that long in there? Even if they had combed all that ground… now that she thought about it, the journey had been longish and tiring. She even felt a bit fatigued all over.

... Wait, does time even flow normally in MDs in this setting?

“How big is this place?” Tricky asked excitedly. “Ooooh—do you think the wooloo are here, Espurr?” she couldn’t help but let her tail wag furiously in excitement. Espurr, however, had her sights set on a dead tree in the distance.

“We can find out,” she said, pointing straight at it.

Espurr: "... I should probably be screaming at you to just hurry up and find an exit, but I'll admit, I'm curious now too."

“I don’t see any…” Tricky murmured with disappointment. Espurr quickly crawled beside her and began to study the distance from the branch they were both current perched behind. If she squinted, it seemed like she could almost see the ethereal barriers of the anchorstone in the distance… but all those smaller branches were in the way. She could barely see over them all. She needed to get a little closer.

Looking left and then right to make sure that nothing would take her by surprise, Espurr carefully began to crawl out onto a larger branch. The exploration bag she was wearing threw her off her balance a little, but she was quickly able to regain it.

And then Tricky gasped.

“Look!!” she said, pointing with a paw in the direction opposite Espurr. “Wooloo!!”

Espurr: "... I regret everything already." >.<

Espurr could already feel the faint vibrations reverberating through the tree branch. She squinte to look in the direction that Tricky was pointing, and then she saw it: An entire massive flock of wooloo, all charging as one directly in their direction. And she was balanced quite precariously on a branch.

Berry crackers.

Espurr: "Tricky, we could've found the exit, but nooooo." >_>;
Tricky: "Hey! You wanted to find them too, you know!" >.<

Before Espurr knew it the stampede was upon them. Once they reached the tree the vibrations were so bad it was all Espurr could do to hang on for dear life. And then the exploration bag began to slip off her back. No… no no no no--

Espurr barely caught it just as it slipped off her arm. The bag hang from the tree unsteadily, suspended in midair only by Espurr’s grip. Espurr glanced down at the stampeding wooloo below her, trying to pull the bag back up onto the branch. But it was so heavy now that it had both the expedition gadget and the sack of poke and all Gabite’s odd and ends inside it, and Espurr suddenly realized with horror that it was dragging her off the branch too—

“Tricky—help!” Espurr called out, unable to stop herself from slipping off the branch. Tricky snapped out of her amazed stupor to snap her head in Espurr’s direction, but she was too slow—before Tricky could reach the tree branch, Espurr fell.

Is this a bad time to make a 'curiosity killed the cat' joke? :V

Intense, yellow fear mingled with her sight for a minute. She landed on the back of a wooloo in the middle of the herd. The exploration bag landed a second after her and smacked the wooloo in the face. It brayed loudly, losing control for a second and bumping into the wooloo to its left before steadying itself. Espurr quickly grabbed the straps of the exploration bag before it could fall off and dug her paws into the wooloo’s wool for steadiness.

The herd continued on without another care in the world, at the same fur-rippling speeds they had been going at beforehand. Espurr used both the exploration bag and her grip on the wooloo’s fluff to pull herself properly onto its back. She looked behind the wooloo, taking in all the others flocking in the same direction exactly behind it. There was no way out. She would just have to wait until the herd calmed down.

Espurr had barely begun to catch her breath when she realized something was happening at the front of the flock—it looked like the wooloo at the very head of the herd was now… rolling. And then two. And then three. And then too many to count, all travelling through the herd… and down to her. Espurr’s eyes widened. Could she just not catch a break?

Probably a good thing that the Wooloo Espurr's on hasn't thought to enter Rollout mode yet. Otherwise that would probably not end well getting run over by an entire herd of sheep.

The expedition bag jostled a bit, and Espurr remembered it was still sort of lodged on the wooloo’s head.

That gave her an idea.

Steadying herself on the wooloo’s back, Espurr carefully nudged the bag over the wooloo’s eyes. It brayed loudly again at the loss of its vision, but Espurr kept it steady. If the wooloo couldn’t see what was happening in the flock ahead of it, then maybe it wouldn’t roll itself up into a ball and crush her. That was what she was counting on. It spread further and further down through the flock, until Espurr could see exactly what was happening in up-close detail. The wooloo’s ears twitched. Espurr’s eyes darted over to those, and then she grabbed them. The wooloo brayed perhaps the loudest Espurr had heard it yet, and then began to shake its head around wildly in an attempt to throw Espurr off.

Oh, so Espurr did think about that. Not that her current situation's that much better.

Espurr barely held on. And even then, it was by letting go of the creature’s ears and hoping that its wool was a good enough cushion to catch her. She barely caught a good pawhold before she could fall off its back. The wooloo shook off the expedition bag. It flew back and hit Espurr smack in the face, but she had more important things to worry about—it could see now! It was going to—

—Espurr’s face suddenly ate dirt. It took her a moment to figure out what had happened, and in that time she was trampled by so many rolling wooloo she couldn’t even hope to have counted them all.

And for some reason, she wasn’t dead. Espurr then realized—wooloo felt like the softest thing in the world! It was like being trampled by a herd of blankets, and she didn’t feel crushed in the slightest.

You'd think the weight would've been more dangerous considering how small Espurr is. But eh. Would've been a short story otherwise.

Although she was half-submerged in mud. Espurr shuddered at how it felt against her fur.

By the time Espurr had regained enough of her bearings and energy to even try moving again, the herd was long gone. She turned herself over in the soggy dirt, gasping for air.

That had been dangerous. She could have been crushed! But even so... she couldn't deny the rush that was coursing through her. That had been the most… exhilarating moment of her life! At least, as much as she could live in about a week, but still.

Small typo on "crushed" there. And oh no... she's picking up Tricky influences.

Tricky: "See why I'm always looking for new places to explore now?"
Espurr: "... Alright, maybe I see some of the appeal." ^^; (edited)


Tricky pounced on Espurr out of nowhere, knocking her to her side unceremoniously.

“What happened to you?” Tricky asked. She looked like she was trying to keep up appearances for appearances’ sake, but just from the sheer, blue-colored vibes she was exuding, Espurr could tell she was shaken. “I was gonna go look, but I thought—I…”

She shook her head. “…Nothing. Can we go now? I think I’ve seen enough wooloo for today…”

“I have too.” Espurr got to her feet. They both looked at the ominous wall of fog that currently loomed over them. “I think I saw the exit somewhere to the east.”

Tricky: "... Also, somehow I was expecting you to be a bit more... well, upset given your current condition." .-.
Espurr: "I mean, I suppose I ought to be as well. But hey, mission accomplished. Now let's get out of here already." ^^;

Eevee had definitely parted with a little less than half the bag of poke. Espurr was too tired to haggle it out and Tricky just plain hadn’t noticed, so no other words were exchanged over it. The mission was considered a success. Eevee had accompanied them back to Serenity Village (as she had been on her way there in the first place before losing her bag of money), but she was silent the entire way and wouldn’t speak a word even though Tricky kept bugging her.

... Nice client, there.

The sky was already beginning to get dark by the time that they could see the familiar wooden archways that stood above the village’s entrance, but the village was already in full celebration mode. Colorful decorations hung from the houses, the luminous moss streetlamps had been pre-emptively uncovered, and a large bonfire burned in the center of the plaza. The square was filled with pokemon who were talking with each other in groups, warming up by the bonfire, or eating something they had taken from one of the food tables. Some were even dancing. Espurr didn’t think she had seen so many pokemon out and about in the village in… ever. She tried her best to shoulder the exploration bag, feeling both the weight of the expedition gadget and the half-sack of poke rattling around in it.

Kecleon’s stall had been rolled back, and so had Hawlucha’s Slam School. A trio of long, tree-carved tables had been set up all along the borders of the square, all filled to the brim with eateries of every kind. Espurr and Tricky both stared longingly at all the food—they hadn’t eaten since breakfast! Eevee just walked over to the bench, discreetly snagged a bread roll, and trotted off somewhere.

... Wait, so is Espurr still covered in all that mud, or-?

The mud from Wooloo Plains had begun to clump up and stick to Espurr’s coat, and it bugged her. She didn’t want to be walking around town with unkempt fur in general, especially not like this! She’d have to wash it off in the river. Preferably before she ate anything. Espurr carefully removed the exploration bag from her shoulders, and handed it to Tricky.

Ah, so she's still got all of that on her right now.

Espurr: "... Actually, why haven't I cleaned myself off before going to a place this public yet?" >_>; Tricky: "To be fair, it's Deerling Day. I wouldn't wanna miss it either even if I were a little dirty." ^^

“Want to carry this for a while?” she asked.

Like she suspected, Tricky was ecstatic at the prospect of carrying Gabite’s old tattered bag for a while “Where’re you going?” she asked, jolly. “You’re gonna miss the food!”

“I want to get cleaned up first,” Espurr said.

Huh. Somehow I remembered her as being uncomfortable around it. I blame the throwaway mention of her not noticing Audino with it plus it being a while, but will have to file that away while for writing future bits involving that bag.

The luminous lights and the spiderweb of decorations that hang above extended all the way along the beaches to the shore, but there were few if any pokemon loitering about there at all. Fine by Espurr. She didn’t want anymon gawking at her as she washed all this nasty mud off anyway.

Tricky’s scarf rustled against her neck, and then Espurr remembered it was there—she didn’t want to ruin that. Undoing the tie and pulling it off, Espurr saw to her dismay that it had gotten dirtied just like the rest of her. She tried to brush the clumps of mud and dirt off, but to little avail. There were still small brown stains and clumps on the scarf by the time that she had accomplished all she could with her paws.

Oh, well. Assuming Tricky didn’t ask for it back, Espurr could deal with that later. There was probably a way to wash them. There had to be.

So how many long stares did Espurr cop while walking through town coated in mud anyways? :V

The water of the shores was ice-cold to the touch. But it couldn’t be helped. She needed to get cleaned up. Maybe if she just took a quick dip… She took a deep breath, put a rock on the scarf so it wouldn’t blow off in the wind when she wasn’t looking, and then tripped into the water.

The mud came off easily underwater, even if it left Espurr’s coat of fur soaked. Espurr almost forgot about the need to breathe for a minute, but she was reminded once the instinct to breathe began to kick in, and she quickly resurfaced without hesitation, pulling herself back onto the beach and shaking her body off the best she could.

Maybe this had been a bad idea in hindsight. She felt freezing.

I mean, you're a cat. Did you really think you were going to enjoy getting wet?

“I didn’t know cat pokemon liked water.”

The combination of the cold and the startlement made Espurr gasp. Her head snapped in the direction the voice had come from. Deerling sat next to a few wooden crates that had been hastily lopped just out of the reach of the tides. Espurr straightened up immediately.

“W-what are you doing here?” she asked, trying to recover from the shock of being startled.

“Stargazing,” Deerling replied. After Espurr’s glance made it clear she wasn’t satisfied with that answer, Deerling continued: “Really, I just wanted to get away from the party for a bit. You can only get hit on by Pancham so many times before you want to bash his head in with your own hooves, you know?”

Deerling: "... Also, what on earth happened to you? You look like you've been rolling around in Hippopotas' goose enclosure all day." 🤨
Espurr: "Uh... well, it was a bit more hygenic, but you're not that far off the mark..."

“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.” Deerling’s hoof toyed with a large splinter in the box she was leaning forward on. She looked at Espurr’s soggy coat uneasily. “Did you go exploring again?”

Espurr didn’t see the point in lying. She causally nodded yes. Deerling’s face sunk.

“You’re… not being careful, are you?” she asked. “Tricky’s rubbing off on you.”

Espurr realized she didn’t have a counter for that. Mostly because… she couldn’t deny it.

I mean... yeah, she kinda is rubbing off on her given what happened in that last scene.

“Perhaps mystery dungeons are just dangerous,” she improvised. “You come out of one squeaky clean and then talk to me.”

Deerling sighed. “You’re new. You probably don’t know what hap—“

“Tricky told me already,” Espurr interrupted. Deerling was silent for a moment.

“I just…” she paused, taking a deep breath. “I just don’t want to see another Budew. I don’t want to see another pokemon get hurt. You might think Tricky learns from her mistakes, but she doesn’t. She always falls back into them. You’re just going to get hurt. Please sto—“

“I’ll hang out with who I want, thank you,” Espurr said, and then she snatched Tricky’s scarf from off the sand and briskly walked off.

I can't really tell what Deerling's game is there. Since on the one hand, she's not exactly wrong there per se (even if Tricky shows some tentative signs of improving), on the other hand something about that phrasing smacked me as a bit manipulative.

Away from the beach. Away from Deerling. Back into the light. Back into the noise. She still felt cold. Maybe she could sit by the bonfire and warm up as she ate something. Espurr carefully retied the scarf around her neck so that she wouldn’t lose it somewhere.

The pot of that soup that had smelled oh-so-heavenly earlier that morning sat on the middle table, and there was a makeshift set of stairs made out of a few boxes for pokemon too small to see over the top of the pot. Espurr carefully climbed to the top of the staircase and ladled herself some into one of the remaining wooden bowls that sat idly by the wayside.

“No! You will NOT eat like a dungeon feral in front of all these pokemon!”

“Buff Popff…”

Espurr: "Well that's one way to find Tricky. Guess I'd better see what's going on."

Espurr looked to her right, where Tricky and Carracosta were in the middle of a heated argument with each other that was quickly turning into a lecture from Carracosta. By the time Espurr had managed to successfully transport herself and the bowl of soup off the makeshift crate staircase, Tricky looked like she had had enough of Carracosta’s lecturing for the time being. Espurr didn’t hear exactly what went on between them, but she saw Tricky trot off in the opposite direction, and then Carracosta began to trudge in Espurr’s.

“Espurr,” he grunted in brief greeting as he passed her. Espurr watched him as he went. Yet another draft of summer evening breeze blowing through the square reminded her that her coat was still a bit damp. She needed to warm up. Taking a sip from the bowl (it tasted just as good as it had smelled), she began to walk towards the bonfire, looking for an unoccupied place she could sit. In the distance, Carracosta was talking to Nuzleaf, who seemed to be as far away from the fire as he could get, and Espurr couldn’t see Tricky.

So the solution to thwarting Nuzleaf in PSMD is just to be a Fire-type with an open flame and get uncomfortably close to him?

There was a spot on that currently empty log by the fire. Espurr quickly made a beeline for it, making sure to edge far in enough so that she couldn’t see Nuzleaf or Carracosta anymore. And then, for the first time that day, Espurr relaxed. She took another sip of the soup. Somehow she had forgotten how pleasant it was to just ‘sit’ every once in a while, instead of trying to keep up with the world constantly. She could already feel the effects of the fire warming away the moisture on her coat. It was even a bit too toasty, now that she thought about it. Maybe there was a way to move this log out-

“Epferr! there you are!” Tricky quickly trotted up to the log, an entire piece of a goose hanging from her mouth. She passed the log, curling up nearer to the fire than Espurr thought was safe for anymon and letting the goose piece fall to the ground in front of her.

“I feel like I haven’t eaten all day…” she proclaimed to no-mon in particular. Espurr felt the same, but she was too busy drinking soup from the bowl to answer her. Tricky quickly did a perimeter check to make sure that Carracosta couldn’t see her, then proceeded to tear into the piece of goose with a ferocity that would have scared off a dungeon ‘mon.

Cue the funny/horrified looks from passersby in the background.

The sky got darker, and the lights of Serenity Village shined brighter, long into the night. The bonfire was continuously fed and controlled so that it wouldn’t burn out or burn down the town, and Espurr and Tricky were able to eat their fills from the various foods and drinks that had been laid out by both Carracosta, Nuzleaf, and Kangaskan’s crew (who were the only pokemon in the village with a lick of cooking sense, Espurr found out from a random liepard on an off-chance).

Waaaait, wouldn't they have logically built the bonfire in an open space with a firebreak to avoid that, though?

Sometime after the sky had fallen, four or five pokemon walked out into the square and began to play lively music for the inhabitants of the village. Some pokemon danced. Others ate. Still others loitered. A good few were holding conversations that quickly turned into yelling conversations against the music, and the music was beginning to win.

Eventually more and more pokemon began to dance, and even though Tricky thought it looked fun and wanted Espurr as a partner to join, Espurr could barely stand straight at that point. As fun as this had been, she wanted to rest now. She told Tricky as much, and went to grab the exploration bag that had been ignored next to the table where Tricky had left it.

What genre of music are they playing anyways? I mean, as funny as it is to imagine EDM blaring in the background, I'd assume their tastes in music are a bit more grounded. :V

On her way out of the square Espurr and Tricky managed to cross paths with Deerling once more. Deerling said nothing, simply taking in the two of them condescendingly, and then she walked off.

“I mean, what’s her deal?” Tricky grumbled as she followed Espurr up the forest path to the school grounds. “Why does she hate us so much?”

“I think she just hates… you,” Espurr said.

There was an awkward silence in which it looked like Tricky wanted to say something, but didn’t.

Tricky: "... That obvious, huh?" :?
Espurr: "I mean. Yeah, she kinda has it out for you. Like this isn't just from the thing with Budew, is it?" ._.;

They stopped once they reached the outdoor. The school grounds looked just as deserted as it had this morning. Not even the lights in the School Clinic had been uncovered, and under the shade of night the entire school looked almost as creepy as the Crooked House. Where was Audino?

Far back behind them, a light went out. Both Espurr and Tricky looked back at the sudden loss of light. The bonfire in the middle of the square had been extinguished, and the sounds of lively dancing music no longer drifted out from the square. The festival was over.

Not sure what the "outdoor" is supposed to be. Feels like it's missing a word there since I thought the entire festival was held outdoors. Also, something about this sequence feels like it doesn't quite sell the sense of time progressing, since it currently feels like they got to the school grounds again in like 5 minutes and the entire festival just abruptly ended in the interim. It might make sense to slip in a couple deets or word choices here or there to emphasize that it took them a while to get back.

“I better go,” Tricky said after a minute. “Pops probably wants me to help with the food pack-up. Night, Espurr!”

She hesitated a moment before she left. Espurr felt the brief flash of blue, and she was about to ask if Tricky wanted to say something, but Tricky scurried off before she could. Espurr watched her head down the square with enough speed in her paws that one would almost believe she hadn’t been doing cartwheels in mystery dungeons the entire day. Then she felt a bit weary on her own paws, and remembered how tired she was. She’d ask tomorrow.

I actually hadn't realized it until just now. But is Espurr perceiving emotions along with colors? Since I remember the narration also mentioning "yellow" fear in the Wooloo scene and I didn't quite put two and two together until just now.

The celebrations in Lively Town were quieter this year. There hadn’t been a parade or festivities of any sort, and for the most part Lively Town was looking particularly unlively tonight. Normally, the Expedition Society would have had fireworks imported from the Grass Continent to launch, but there had been a shipping delay due to a storm and they hadn’t arrived in time. The great big double doors of the Expedition Society’s lobby closed after Murkrow and Nickit, and then Mawile had the building to herself.


Just saying I remember almost that exact phrasing coming up in the last chapter. So that doesn't exactly portend well for whatever happened to wherever those fireworks were supposed to come from.

Mostly to herself. She caught a glimpse of something uneasily pacing outside Ampharos’ office as she passed the hallway leading to it. Another glance to make sure she hadn’t been seeing things, and there was Braixen. She rubbed her forehead for a second, then left him alone. Maybe she did need that night of rest after all. Mawile climbed the stairs that led to the third-floor observatory.

Oh, that's not suspicious at all.

A gong crashed, unceremoniously rousing Jirachi from his sleep.

“Wha—wha…” he sleepily asked. “…Wha?”

“I assume you haven’t talked to Nickit about replenishing that remedy yet?” Mawile asked, carefully setting the large gong-stick under the gong.

“…Yeah,” Jirachi answered once he had assembled enough of his brain to do so. “I’ll go talk to her later…” He yawned and stretched. “…Was gonna do it yesterday, but I fell asleep.”

Well at least he woke up sooner than in a thousand years. Though I suppose that's what the gong is for.

The observatory was currently a tangled mess of clotheslines that were empty and looked like a spiderweb. “Don’t touch anything!” Jirachi called down to Mawile as he zipped up through the observatory to places only he could reach. “I know it looks like a mess, but I have a system!”


Any efficient system didn’t entail covering the entire observatory in a mess so tangled even Jirachi had to jump hoops to navigate it, but Mawile decided to keep that to herself. Less than a moment later, Jirachi emerged once again from behind the brass telescope, descending to the ground with a few photos in his hands.

“See?” he asked. Newest photos up where no-mon’ll see ‘em, oldest ones near the bottom. And this is what I got. For now,” he quickly added on at the last second. “Printer’s still scanning the rest.”

Mawile took the photos in her hands, and leafed through them. There were only ten so far, out of the combined fifty that she and Archen had took together. Some general shots of the devastation, a shot of a petrified pokemon up-close, but the last one was what caught Mawile’s attention: A picture of the entity that had attacked them that day. It wasn’t the main focus, but a good portion of its spined, muscular body was in the photo. Mawile held the photo up in front of her, and studied it closely. She clutched that one in her right paw, handing the other four back to Jirachi.

“I’ll be keeping this one,” she told him. Jirachi looked slightly hesitant, but what was he going to say? He just nodded and flew off to re-hang the photos before they could be lost. He could make another copy.

Yeah, I'm not holding my breath on her managing to keep that picture without it getting nicked at some point.

Mawile entered her cramped, cluttered office, the photo still in her paws. Outside, she could hear Braixen endlessly pacing, but if that was how he wanted to spend his holiday then she wasn’t one to stop him. Mawile reached in her drawer and pulled out a chesto berry. It seemed she could subsist on one period of sleep a week after all. Tonight, she had research to do.

That sounds like a recipe for burning your body out and dying early, but okay Mawile. Though Braixen hovering around outside doesn't exactly seem like a good portent, especially not for holding onto those photos.

For all intents and purposes, Audino was a prisoner.

The beheeyem had left her the exploration bag once they had gone through it and realized it was filled with nothing but harmless plants, but that was the only illusion of freedom that she got. She was made to walk ahead of the beheeyem as they made their way through the dungeon, with her paws clasped behind her back so that she wouldn’t try to attack them out of nowhere. It just so happened that the beheeyem had already found the dungeon’s third floor staircase—the real third floor staircase—which had crunched the time she had to come up with an escape plan of some sort by half. By now she was leading them around in circles and hoping they wouldn’t notice as she looked for a chance to break away and run to where she knew the stairs out of the dungeon were.

Beheeyem #1: "Are we there yet?"
Audino: "A-Almost! These Mystery Dungeons are just a little confusing sometimes!"

The beheeyem’s lights flickered behind her as she walked. Audino focused on them out of the corner of her eye. The beheeyem had forgotten to close the psychic link to her brain. Which left them just as open to Audino listening in on their conversations as it did her to attack, but they didn’t seem to realize it existed so Audino didn't clue them in on it. Instead, she focused on what they were saying, her mind unconsciously translating it into a mental imprint upon her brain whenever the lights on the end of their arms began to flicker again.

And what they were saying didn’t put her any more at ease. They were getting tired of her leading. They were beginning to catch on to the fact that she was leading them around in circles. They were beginning to consider the idea of disposing of her. Audino didn’t like the sound of those thoughts. She would have quickened her pace towards the stairs or possibly tried to make a run for it in any other situation, but with the mental link open it was too risky. From what she knew of psychic-types, a powerful-enough one coupled to your mind would be able to lock up your body in seconds. She’d never make it far once they realized.

Beheeyem #1: "Again, are we there yet?"
Beheeyem #2: "For your own sake, you'd better start coming up with specifics for when we can expect to be led to the child. And soon."
Audino: "I-I'm working on it, alright?!" >.<

And then, a plan began to form. She’d have to break the mental link before they came around to the stairs again. Otherwise, she was done for.

Audino didn’t expect the beheeyem to do it for her—even if she was crafty enough with words to convince them, she got the feeling they weren’t open to talking. But she had read in a book she’d picked out from the library several months ago about Calm Mind, a technique that helped the mind repel psychic-type pokemon.

Psychic-type meddling reveled in a cluttered head, because the mental probes of a psychic-type could easily slip in unnoticed amongst the thoughts and noise. Calm Mind trained a pokemon to clear their head, to make the brain silent enough so that those psychic probes had nowhere to hide. And then the pokemon could snuff them out.

... But wouldn't the Beheeyem be able to sense that she's thinking this plan through if they have an active mental link? Or else what are the rules that keep them from doing that?

Unluckily, Audino had never been good at clearing her head. And she was on a time limit. She didn’t think that the beheeyem would tolerate another round of the dungeon. She tried and tried, but to no avail—the thoughts of all the danger she was in weighed over her mind like an immovable wall, and she just couldn’t make it disappear. Audino began to breath faster in fear despite herself. How was she going to get out of this?

No. She had to calm down if she wanted to maintain any hope of escaping. Surely there must be something else she could try. Audino adjusted the bag strap on her shoulder, and she suddenly felt the mental link in her head spike as one of the beheeyem snapped its head towards the movement. It faded almost as quickly as it came, but it gave Audino an idea. Slowly, Audino rustled the bag on her shoulder again. It was meant to look like she was uncomfortable with the strap on her shoulders, but if she could just locate that mind link again…

The mental spike came again, and this time Audino jumped on the opportunity. She couldn’t clear her mind well enough to locate the psychic link on her own, but now that it had been brought to the forefront of her mind Audino quickly focused on that, and that alone, like it was her one chance at survival.

Because it was.

... What does the process of locating where that link is look like? Since I'm not sure if I really picked up on that from the description?

Within seconds, she had it in her mental grasp. But now what?

Audino kept her eyes closed, focusing on the link alone. How did she get rid of it? Could she cast it out with her mind alone? Audino doubted that was possible. Her feet stepped on a familiar twig, and without opening her eyes Audino knew that the stairs were coming up just ahead. How was she going to get rid of the mental link in time? She needed to get it out somehow. She focused on it as hard as she could. She wished she could just get rid of it—

—And then suddenly, it was gone. Audino opened her eyes once again. The lights of the beheeyem flashed, but she didn’t understand them. The link was gone. She had done it. But there was no time nor cause to celebrate yet. She was still in danger. Audino cast her eyes towards the hallway in which she knew the staircase lay. It was a long corridor, and she needed to be ready to move at a seconds’ notice.

Well, at least we know how you can get rid of it. Though how on earth were the Beheeyem not instantly put on alert by their probe suddenly getting cut off?

A minute of walking passed, in which Audino felt like her heart might explode. She was sure that any second, the beheeyem might catch on to her and then she’d be done for. But it was just a little further. Just a little further, and then she’d be ready. Just a few more seconds…

Audino stopped at the corridor she had seen the stairs in. It was now or never. She just had to hope that the staircase wasn’t another illusion, and take a leap of faith. Audino made to turn towards the right-hand corridor, then in one fluid motion pulled the exploration bag off her shoulder and whacked the beheeyem nearest to her with it straight in the grills. Caught purely off-guard, the beheeyem stumbled backwards into its companions, and Audino immediately began to run for it.

Audino: "Come on stairs, don't fail me now..."

The wind whistled against her sensitive ears. Leaves rustled and sticks snapped under her feet. The exploration bag was carried less by Audino’s arm and more by the air. Audino heard the attack the beheeyem fired, and there was no way to dodge it. She just had to reach the staircase first—

—Audino didn’t know which had happened first. Perhaps they had both happened at the same time. But somehow, Audino had found herself deposited on her back outside the Open Pass, completely untouched. And if she remembered mystery dungeons, that staircase had moved, so the beheeyem weren’t following her anytime soon. She took a moment to calm down, then grabbed her bag and began to exhaust the rest of her energy fleeing back to Serenity Village with the speed of a Quick Attack. There was no need to waste her head start on them.

Audino: "... That was way, way too close. Though where on earth am I supposed to send Espurr with 'mons like those after her?"

By the time that Audino finally staggered into the clinic, Espurr was already fast asleep in one of the straw beds. Not even bothering to close the door behind her, Audino let the exploration bag she had been carrying for the entire trip fall to her feet haphazardly. It hit the floor with a muffled thump, but Audino barely cared anymore. She still couldn’t believe that she had made it out of that dungeon safely.

As she trudged off to her room Audino’s ears suddenly picked up on the sound of somemon rushing towards the clinic. She spun around just as Watchog slid to a stop in front of the entrance.

“Hey, what’s the—“ Watchog stopped short at the sight of Audino. “W—what happened to you?!” he sputtered.

Audino didn’t have the energy left to answer him.

To be fair, would Watchog even have believed her if she answered honestly?

The torches in the Principal’s Office were never lit after dark except in the case of an emergency, because the Principal’s Office was never occupied after dark except in the case of an emergency.

Tonight, the torches were lit. All three teachers had gathered in the room after Audino had been given a chance to clean herself up. She sat in the stool in front of the teacher’s desk, looking over a short pile of Water Continent outlaw posters.

“And you’re absolutely sure these are the same beheeyem?” Simipour asked. “Are you certain we aren’t dealing with different outlaws of the same species?”

“They wanted Espurr,” Audino stressed. “They said it to my face. Why wouldn’t they be the same beheeyem?”

Oh, so those Beheeyem had been attracting attention and not just getting away with being creepers like in the proper game.

Simipour sighed, deep in thought. He rose from his seat and walked up to the window. A moment later, he spoke:

“I understand you have a house near the center of the village?” he asked.

“Yes, for emergencies,” Audino responded.

“Consider this an emergency.” Simipour walked back to the desk. He grabbed a quill, dabbed it in the inkwell for a moment, then drew a straight line from the Open Pass all the way to the School Forest. “The school grounds are no longer safe for either of you. It is my opinion the beheeyem latched onto you because they saw you with Espurr. That puts you in as much danger as Espurr currently is.”

Wait a minute. They knew about Espurr's true nature all along? But how on earth-?

“And I’m just fine in this?” Watchog asked, his voice beginning to squeak a little. “I’m guarding the bloody school—I don’t want these things coming after me!”

“I’m afraid they don’t want you,” Simipour told him. He rolled up the map, and stashed it with two others next to his desk.

“I’ll have to ask you that you pack up and move first thing in the morning,” he said to Audino on the way out. “As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, time is of the essence.”

... I have so many questions right now regarding just what Principal Simipour knows and how he knows it. But I suppose that's what future chapters are there for.

Kudos on the chapter @SparklingEspeon . I'll be looking forward to seeing where things go over the next couple installments, since it doesn't sound like Espurr and Tricky are much longer for Serenity Village at this rate.

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
  1. nidoran-f
Heya, been a while, but will be bumping my review series today. I figured it was time to just jump into that second arc to see how things were going along in the story.

Chapter 13

Everything felt cold. For once, Artemis didn’t feel like bouncing off the walls or sneaking out after school to explore mystery dungeons.

She sat on the floor of the principal’s office, still slightly shivering all over. Not from the cold–she was cold, but that wasn’t why–but from the events of the day. In the other room, Pops was talking with the principal. Even though the door was closed, she could still hear their hushed voices. They were talking about her. They were talking about what to do with her, now that she had killed Budew.

Now that she was a murderer.

Oh boy, it's flashback time. Though I don't know if one could rightfully classify what happened with Tricky and Budew as 'murder'. Maaaaaybe negligent homicide, but what was Tricky realistically supposed to do back there other than become Poliwrath chow?

She should have been crying. She should have been mourning somehow, now that her friend was dead. But she felt nothing. There wasn’t even anger, just… nothing.

Just… quiet. Sadness. Crushing her inside. And nothing to do but wait for Pops and the Principal to finish talking and think about what she had done.

Her ears pricked up as the sound of a stool sliding back came from inside the Principal’s office, and then the door slowly opened. Pops trudged out, followed by the Principal. Artemis did her best to make it look like she cared what their decision was anymore. If she was going to spend the rest of her life locked up in an apricorn ball, she probably deserved it.

I see I'm not the only one who uses Apricorns in some fashion for a PMD setting. Though how does that work as a punishment? Since in the absence of stasis effects or occasionally being let out, "the rest of her life" is just until she dehydrates or starves to death.

Pops sighed. He looked at Artemis, and his eyes did the talking for him: “Why?”

“As you know,” Simipour began, “the penalty for killing another pokemon is lifelong imprisonment via apricorn ball, regardless of age. Effective only when undeniable proof of the murder has been presented, or if the pokemon accused confesses to it.”

Simipour walked forward, and sat on the bed next to Artemis.

“This will hurt, but that is why I have to ask: Did you kill Budew?”

Oh? Justifiable homicide isn't a thing in this setting? Or is this presuming wrongful death of another Pokémon?

Though she very obviously didn't answer 'yes' to that given that she's still standing in the present day. And she frankly shouldn't have since the encounter arguably still falls under the realm of "accident while dungeoneering".

Artemis had known the question was coming from the moment Pops had dragged her to the Principal’s Office, but she wasn’t prepared for it. Her body locked up, and even though she knew that she was guilty, that she deserved to go in that apricorn ball for the rest of her life, she was so scared and she couldn’t bring herself to say it…

“N-no”, she managed to stammer out, quivering all over. She felt like the world’s worst pokemon.

I mean, I feel that was honestly an answer Tricky could've rightfully given even if the circumstances of what happened probably wouldn't have reflected well on her and gotten her into trouble on their own.

Not that she was in the right state of mind to really make that argument to herself since, y'know getting your friend eaten by ferals and all that.

For a brief moment, there was silence between all three of them. Artemis just felt cold. Nothing but cold.

Then Pops began to trudge towards the door, motioning for Artemis to follow him.

“No more mystery dungeons,” Pops muttered as he walked out the door after Tricky. “Never go into one again.”

So how long did that one last, a week? :V

The day after the Deerling Day festival was a somber, cloudy one. The cold and dampness of the early morning chilled Espurr’s bones, and even though she had planned to go to the library today and get ahold of a few books she was looking at, she wasn’t particularly keen on walking out into all that cold. Instead, she just picked a book from the small shelf of books that Audino kept around in the school clinic, curled up in the straw bed near where Audino had apparently crashed at some point in the night, and began to read.

The book was a very old one, one of the 10,000 year old relics from the Human Age that had been reprinted and repurposed for the Pokemon Era. It was about a ponyta roped up into an impromptu road trip by a sirfetch’d who was convinced he was a knight.

Ah yes, Don Quixote, very cute. Though the idea of human stories outliving their creators in explicitly posthuman PMD settings has always struck a cord with me. After all, how else will I get in my gags of someone whining about why his copy of Monado: Beginning of the World from the library is so damn thick?

Espurr had been busy reading when a muffled bang from the windowpanes caught her attention. Espurr didn’t think she had to hazard much of a guess at who that was.

“Are you just gonna read all day if I don’t come get you?” Tricky asked as she and Espurr walked down the pathway leading to Serenity Village. “We’re part of a mystery dungeon team! We have responsibilities now!”

Espurr: "... Would it really have been the end of the world to just take a day off to read?" >_>;
Tricky: "For crying out loud, Espurr. You're supposed to be the responsible one! We've been on this job with the Expedition Society for less than a week! We need to make a good first impression!" >.<

“But we haven’t even registered as a team yet,” Espurr pointed out, shouldering the exploration bag she had taken to carrying around with her. “So technically we have no responsibilities at all. We should spend the day doing tha—”

“Good point. I have something better than a dungeon!” Tricky gleefully announced. With that, she began to prance down the path faster than Espurr could keep up with her, and she was almost the entire way downhill before she noticed Espurr was lagging behind.

“Come on!” she yelled back at Espurr. “We’ll never reach it at this rate!”

Espurr: "... She really does jump from one thing to another quickly." -_-;
Tricky: "Well, are you coming or what?"

Tricky guided Espurr through the village plaza (which was almost completely deserted after last night’s party), and down southward, until the buildings began to disappear in place of lush scenery, rivers, and foliage. Espurr had been here before. It was the same route she had taken back on Wednesday. And that meant…

When they passed the Crooked House Espurr briefly stopped to study it. It stood proudly like the dark pillar of evil it was, its doors boarded over with rotting wood like they always had been. Until they weren’t. Today a thin shroud of mist surrounded the island, but this mist felt different from early morning mist. It was thicker, and Espurr felt a chill looking at it that wasn’t from the cold. It only made the house even spookier.

Tricky backtracked over to where Espurr stood, staring at the Crooked House as well.

“No-mon goes in there,” she said. “Ever. I don’t like that place.”

Espurr agreed.

Okay, so just how cursed is that place as a MD if Tricky is afraid of going into it?

The grove of trees stood before Espurr and Tricky, the remains of Pancham and Shelmet’s treehouse still hanging from its branches and littering the grass around it. They were a ways out from the village, so much so that the buildings were only tiny specks in the distance and could fit in Espurr’s palm if she held it out in front of her.
“It was Pancham and Shelmet’s work,” Tricky spat, staring up at the wreckage from below. “But I was thinking—what if we had a team base? Like a treehouse or something? All the great teams had one, and this place is perfect!”

Espurr looked up at the trees, observing their branches. It was true that the placement of the branches made for a very promising treehouse… but the materials Pancham and Shelmet had apparently used were less than ideal. There was even a scrap of paper in there somewhere. Which begged the question: How were they going to build a treehouse if they had nothing to build it with?”

Espurr: "Also, how on earth is it comfortable for you to climb a vertical ladder when you're a quadruped?" ._.;
Tricky: "... We manage? I mean, I got up there once and it wasn't all that bad. Or at least not at first."

Luckily for the both of them, Espurr had had the foresight to grab Gabite’s expedition bag, which still had their expedition gadget, the sack of poke, and miscellaneous other odds and ends that hadn’t rotted away with the rest of Gabite’s supplies. Espurr and Tricky made haste to dispose of a few rotting berry husks that had somehow made it all the back to Serenity Village, then pulled out the expedition gadget and activated it. Espurr set it up so that it projected its display onto the shaded trunk of the tree, and then they sat down in the tree’s shade to study the gadget’s offerings.

Espurr: "... How on earth have I never stopped to clean this thing?"

Tricky: "I mean, I thought it was fine. And life's kinda been a blur for the past 12 chapters." ^^;

There were quite a few missions up for offer around the Serenity Village area. Somemon wanted a rescue team to accompany them to the Foreboding Forest and help them evolve, there was a mission to beat up a salamence outlaw who was currently camping out in the Lush Forest, and a cinccino had lost an entire exploration bag in the Lively Mountain Range and would pay handsomely to get it back. Espurr looked up at the large mountains that loomed over Serenity Village in the distance. That was way out of their reach. Anyway, the mission was crossed off, so it must have been taken already.

>attempting the
mission with this story's threat scaling
>as a team of base morphs


Yeah, I doubt we're seeing them do that one.

In the corner at the bottom, Espurr spied something that didn’t quite look like the other missions. It wasn’t displayed in big text like the missions were, so she crept as close as she could without getting in the way of the light. It was futile. She still couldn’t read it. Frustration began to stew in Espurr’s head. This gadget had been hard enough to set up in the light. How did anymon work with this thing?

There had to be a way. Maybe one of these buttons… Sparing a brief glance at Tricky, Espurr crawled over to the expedition gadget, and pressed the button closest to her. The display dimmed. Tricky suddenly looked up, as if roused from a trance.

“What’re you doing?” she muttered, a little bit annoyed.

“Making it bigger,” Espurr responded. Then she clicked the button above it, and the display disappeared entirely.

Espurr: "... Okay, so that's not the zoom button."

Tricky sat up straight. “What did you do?” she asked, horrified. Espurr hurriedly clicked the button again, and the display returned to the screen.

“One of these makes it bigger,” Espurr said. “We have to figure out how to use it eventually, why not start now?”

“But now?” Tricky whined. “What if you break it?”

“You can’t break something by pressing a button,” Espurr proudly announced. She clicked the top one, and suddenly the gadget produced a loud ‘click’ that startled both Trick and Espurr and sent them both scrambling back a little. The gadget fell on its face, and then it was silent.

Espurr and Tricky shared a look. Slowly, they crawled back to where the gadget sat. Espurr carefully sat it up straight again.

“What was that?” Tricky finally broke the silence between them.

Espurr had no clue. The display was back, but after that she wasn’t very inclined to touch the gadget again.

“Maybe we shouldn’t touch any more buttons,” she said.

Espurr: "... And we didn't ask Ampharos for a tutorial or a user manual why?" ._.;
Tricky: "To be fair, considering the way he was when we met him, do you really think he'd have had one on him if we did?"
Espurr: "... Touché."

It had been an hour since Espurr and Tricky had decided to bench missions for the day. After the incident involving the expedition gadget neither of them had wanted to touch it again, so they had both mutually agreed to put it away for the day.

They both sat on opposite sides of one of the log benches from last night that still sat in the middle of the square. The square was filled with pokemon now, but they avoided the area where the bonfire had once been, which left a nice cozy space for Espurr and Tricky to sit until somemon came to pick up the logs and wash away all the remains of the fire.

And for the first time since arriving in Serenity Village, Espurr felt boredom. There had always been too much to do and not enough time to do it in, and then all of the sudden there was nothing to do and all the time in the world to do nothing with… it was grating.

Espurr: "I mean, we could go back to the library and read books all day."
Tricky: "Unless that book's Wartortle's guide to dungeoneering, that sounds more boring to me than just sitting here crowd-watching." >_>;

“Are you bored too?” she asked Tricky.

“Yep,” Tricky lazily answered back.

They sat in silence for a minute.

“Think we should do a mission?” Espurr finally asked.

“I thought you were never gonna ask that!”

Espurr: "... I mean, we could go to the library-"
Tricky: "No, no. Missions are totally fine! Let's do one of them." ^^;

A pebble whizzed through the air and clipped the tip of Eevee’s ear. She flinched and grit her teeth. Stupid wind… And even stupider floppy long ears. Debris was always getting caught in those things. And she worked in lumber. The noisiest pokemon profession in the world. In other words, a pokemon with ears as sensitive as hers was bound to go deaf sooner or later. If not from those pebbles—ow, another one—it would be just from hearing things. Oh, she couldn’t wait to evolve (preferably into something with smaller ears).

... Just how strong is that wind such that it's getting pebbles airborne?

“Oi,” Eevee called out, walking up to the fletchinder that had currently taken a seat off the left of an obscure, strange-looking tent marked ‘Hawlucha’s Slam School’. “You that ‘mon from the construction company?”

Fletchinder looked up from the leaf-full of seeds and berries he had his beak halfway dug into, staring up at Eevee.

“Yeah, that’s me,” he said once he had swallowed all the seeds in his beak. “And you are… ?”

... Quality manners there.

“Eevee to you. I’m representing Lively Town Lumber.” Eevee held out her paw to shake the best she could. Fletchinder carefully set his leaf of seeds and berries aside, then shook Eevee’s paw the best he could with a wing (which wasn’t very well at all). Both pokemon awkwardly retracted their limbs and backed off for a second. The gesture wasn’t designed for them.

“So…” Fletchinder began. “This has something to do with why the lumber for that classroom hasn’t arrived yet, right?”

Whizz—crack. Another pebble. Eevee lowered her right ear annoyedly, then cleared her throat. “Alright, so I’m technically supposed to be all formal about this, but I’m tired, you’re probably tired, so I’m gonna give it to you straight: Big storm last week. Lumber from Grass Continent. Barge sank. Lapras barely got everymon out of it safely. Lumber shortage. No lumber.

For a second, I was very
about that speech pattern, since it is very similar to those Gliscor's speech pattern from back in Chapter 11.

But hey, her eyes aren't described as having problems, so she's probably fine?

Fletchinder sighed, and covered his face with one wing. “And how long until lumber becomes available again?” he asked.

“This week,” Eevee answered. With great difficulty she managed to work her four-legged-friendly bag over to where she could remove the sack that was in it, then set it on the ground in front of Fletchinder. “There’s a fraxure travelling into town on Thursday. He has the last supply of lumber south of the Lively Mountain Range. On behalf of Lively Town Lumber, I’m here to provide you with the necessary funds for purchase…” she paused for a moment. She still couldn’t believe what she had been told to say next. “…And help you pay for it myself.”

Another pebble whizzed through the air, clipping both Eevee’s ears. That one was too large to have just been propelled by the wind. “Alright, who’s throwing pebbles?!” Eevee yelled in the direction the pebble had come from.

Realizing he had been caught, Pancham quickly dove back behind the back of the Café Connection with his slingshot in hand. He was gone before Eevee could even get a good look at him.

Wow, what a little rotter. Can't say I'd lose a lot of sleep if the plot took him through Poliwrath River at some point to have him shuffle off proverbial stage left.

“But… aren’t you just kids?” Teddiursa asked in confusion. “I appreciate the gesture… but I kind of wanted a real rescue team to help me out with this.”

“We are a real rescue team!” Tricky gleefully announced. Espurr showed them the expedition gadget as proof.

“We’re here because of the mission you posted,” she said, letting the gadget project the mission straight onto the ground.

Teddiursa: "... You realize that for all I know, you two stole that from your parents and are playing pretend with it, right?"
Tricky: "We're. A. Real. Team. Okay?" >.<

“Huh.” Teddiursa looked at the sigil on the gadget skeptically. “I didn’t know they let kids join the Expedition Society.”

“They don—“

“—If we want to make it through Foreboding Forest before dark, it’s best to leave now,” Espurr cut in before Tricky could obliviously finish her sentence. It had taken them a good hour to find Teddiursa in the first place, and the afternoon was already beginning to fade. “Unless you don’t want our help?”

Teddiursa seemed to consider that for a moment. “I… guess if you have the gear…” she finally concluded. “…Alright, fine. Let’s do this. Just… please don’t make me regret saying that.

Now that Espurr thought about it, Foreboding Forest wasn’t all that foreboding after all. It was a run-of-the-mill mystery dungeon, after all. And even though there were actual floors this time instead of just the one solitary anchorstone, Espurr found that she and Tricky had little to no trouble traversing the dungeon’s insides. In fact, it was just a little too easy. There were no dungeon ferals out and about like Espurr had hoped there would be, which left her and Tricky at a loss. How were they supposed to help Teddiursa evolve if there wasn’t anything to beat up?

Wait, but I thought that MDs with anchorstones still had floors. What exactly is the difference in this setting between these two styles of MD?

“Oh, pokemon don’t have to evolve during battles,” Teddiursa quickly said once Espurr brought it up. “You just… really have to want it. Or need it. And your body has to be ready for it. Me? I’ve been training for months. I want this so bad. Hoping beating up some dungeon thugs’ll finally let me get it.” She danced on her feet and punched the air a couple of times to prove her point.

“Then why don’t we just make some noise?” Tricky asked.

“Don’t wanna attract that many dungeon thugs,” Teddiursa said. “I wanna go home in one piece, thanks.”

Espurr: "... Are we seriously going out to pick fights with criminals to help our client evolve? How on earth has this place not been raided by law enforcement?!"

Tricky: "Maybe that's just his way of saying 'ferals' or 'dungeon-dwellers'? I mean, you saw how those Beedrill were back in Nectar Meadows. 'Thug' wasn't that far off the mark for their behavior."

Halfway through the dungeon, they took a short break to rest. Espurr hadn’t properly gone through Gabite’s supplies ever since she’d swiped the bag from the Drilbur Mines. Inside, she found three very peculiar sticks with intricate markings etched onto their sides. It looked like somemon had worked hard on these. But they had been rotting away in a dungeon for around forty years, and Espurr doubted anymon cared about them anymore. It would make a good torch.

That sounds like a fast way to wind up torching something really important or valuable.

You'd think that she'd just approach Audino or something to ask for help identifying them later.

“Hey, Tricky?” she asked.

Tricky pried her eyes off Teddiursa’s lunch and looked towards Espurr.

“Can you light this on fire for me?”

Tricky’s face lit up. She gleefully grinned and nodded. “Tell me when you’re ready!”

... I just realized those three sticks were probably Wands. Whelp, I suppose they're torches now.

Teddiursa, who had been in the middle of eating a quick lunch she had packed for the dungeon, looked up at what Espurr and Tricky were about to do. Her eyes settled upon the stick that Espurr held high above her head and widened.

“Wait NO—“

Too late. Tricky took a deep breath, and then spat out an ember that caught the top of the stick perfectly—

—It burst into bright green flame at the top, burning brightly enough to illuminate the entire room they were in.

“Put that out!” Teddiursa cried.

“Why?” Espurr tilted her head in confusion. The stick was burning steadily above her, lighting the room they were in up well enough for them to see properly.

“Yeah, why?” Tricky echoed.

“That’s not a stick!” Teddiursa continued. “That’s a—“

Narrator: Wand.

Time to see what happens when you set one of them on fire in this setting.

Then the stick began to fizz. Then it popped. Sparks flew everywhere like it was the bonfire back at the Deerling Day festival, and then the stick exploded—

Teddiursa took cover. Some of the fire caught Tricky’s tail as she ran, but her fur was immune to burning. Espurr was thrown back by the blast. She landed by the dungeon wall, rolling to a stop.

Espurr carefully caught her breath. Most of the fur on her arm had been singed, and her paw stung like something vile. The smell of burning plant drifted by Espurr’s nose, and she quickly looked up from where she had been thrown to see that some of the sparks from the exploding stick hand landed on the dungeon and caught fire.

Maybe it wasn't a Wand after all. Though yeah, this is why you ask 'what is this' for unfamiliar objects in another world before just doing stuff like setting them on fire.

Espurr began to panic. What was going to happen if the mystery dungeon burned down while they were in it? She… she didn’t have an answer. And that scared her. Forgetting the stinging from her paw, she immediately leapt up from her spot on the ground and got to snuffing out the fires the best she could.

“Help me!” Espurr yelled to Tricky, who was still cowering by Gabite’s exploration bag. Tricky peeked out from behind the bag, and saw the fires. Her ears flattened in panic.

“What do we do??” she asked.

“Help me stamp them out!” Espurr yelled back.

Espurr: "Tricky, you're literally fire resistant. Seriously, help me stomp these things out already!" >_>;

“I… I…” Tricky glanced around in panic for a few seconds at the fires that were rapidly catching onto the shrubbery on the ground, then tried leaping straight onto one of the larger flames in front of her. “Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow!” she gasped, leaping off the flame just a few seconds later. “That hurts!”

Espurr wasn’t having any luck at all quelling the flames that were getting larger by the second. Teddiursa was petrified, and could only take a few shaky steps back as the flames spread.

Everymon went quiet as a low roar began to rumble through the dungeon. It got higher and higher, until an ear wrenching high-pitched shriek wreaked havoc on the false canopy above them. A strong wind suddenly ricocheted through the dungeon’s corridors, and once it reached them it blew all three pokemon off their feet. It was strong enough to snuff out all the fires, and then only the acrid smell of burning plant and mystery dungeon greeted Espurr’s nose as the dungeon’s screech died down.

Espurr: "Er... okay, maybe me asking you to help wasn't the best idea."

Tricky: "Espurr, what on earth did you give me to set on fire? Since that wasn't a normal torch!" ._.

Espurr pulled herself off the ground once again, not met with the sight of orange flickering flames but instead with blackened shrubbery and the dim blue light that filtered in from the false canopy above.

Teddiursa got her feet and checked her coat for dirt and plants. “I can’t believe you guys—” she brushed some grass off her arm “—lit a wand on fire! What kind of rescue team are you? You nearly killed us!”

Oh, so it was a Wand after all. Couldn't tell what type from the effects though. Was there a specific one that those two torched? If so, it might make sense to have Teddiursa explicitly namedrop the one they set on fire if she could recognize the burn pattern.

Tricky was cowed. Espurr was equally cowed. She didn’t know what a ‘wand’ was, and Tricky obviously hadn’t studied.

“Look.” Teddiursa looked shaken. “The mood’s gone. I’m not gonna evolve today, thanks for that. Let’s just get out of this place—“

—She was interrupted by the echoes of countless loud snarls and barks from the distant halls. Everymon fell silent, listening to the noise and trying to figure out where it was coming from. It sounded like it was coming from everywhere all at once. Tricky’s ears went flat against her head.

“Dungeon ‘mon,” Espurr said.

Tricky: "Well hey, look on the bright side. At least you might get to evolve after all... if we don't all die horribly."

Those two words sent everymon into a frenzy. Teddiursa grabbed an unused wand. Espurr ran for and grabbed Gabite’s exploration bag. Tricky ran over to Espurr, and all three pokemon quickly grouped together in the center of the room.

“How many is that?” Teddiursa asked, brandishing the wand like a weapon. Espurr didn’t know. She could barely hear Teddiursa over all the dungeon ferals’ howls and screeches, let alone tell how many there were past ‘a lot’.

And they were coming from everywhere.


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJtpSm3dViY

Espurr waited with bated breath for the mob of ferals to converge upon their stretch of the dungeon. For almost ten seconds there was nothing but the sound of the ever-closer screeches, and then it got deafening to hear and just seconds after that the mob arrived—

There were so many Espurr couldn’t even count. It must have been all the ferals on the floor. All three of them were swarmed before Espurr even knew it, and it was all she could do to do the first thing she could think to do—shunt out as much mental power as she could. Several of the ferals closest to her went flying back into the ones behind them, but others quickly moved in to fill the gap. A loud bark flew past Espurr’s ears amongst the other noise and she turned to see a rabid furfrou that was quickly stumbling its way towards her in all the chaos. A rotting pink bag was peeled to its side, covered in leaves and dirt. Its eyes stayed trained on her no matter what. Espurr picked up a rock from the ground and nailed the dog pokemon’s face with it. She was violently pushed to the ground by another feral who wasn’t even after her in the first place.

Aaaand called it, and that's a major
at that Furfrou description.

Espurr did her best to stay low and hope the others would survive until the swarm had passed. There were so many! Where had they all come from? This floor had been deserted five minutes ago!

And then there was the sound of Teddiursa yelling. Not in fear or pain, but… Espurr quickly snapped to attention.

“Hey!” Teddiursa yelled, deftly fighting against the ferals that were attacking her. She still had the wand in her hand, and her eyes were split between the ferals she was fighting and Espurr. “You! Get your friend to help me light this!” she slashed the face of an encroaching bellsprout, then sent Espurr a quick prompting look.

I mean, I didn't see 'repeating your worst mistake in life' being a direction the plot was about to raise up for Tricky, but guess we're about to see how that's gonna shake out.

Espurr quickly ducked just in time not to get knocked unconscious by the hooves of a stantler, quickly scanning the swarm of ferals. Where was Tricky?


Now that she was actively looking for it, Espurr could hear Tricky’s faint cries over the noise of the battle that was taking place. Northeast of where she was standing.

“Epferr—“ Tricky briefly managed to get her head over the swarm of pokemon taller than she was, but she was dragged down almost immediately after. Espurr immediately hit the dirt. She took a deep breath, and focused on the furfrou that was currently between her and Tricky. If she could just…


Oh. Oh no.

The furfrou let out a confused yelp as it was dragged away by an invisible presence. Tricky was quick enough to take advantage of the escape route she had been given- she dove out from the circle of dungeon ‘mon that had been attacking her, running over to Espurr was. Espurr rolled to her feet and pointed to Teddiursa—

“Espurr watch out!” Tricky suddenly screeched. Espurr turned around to see what was happening, but she wasn’t fast enough and the stunky that was behind her clipped her on the head.

Espurr no!!” Tricky screamed. She spat out a flame that sent the stunky reeling back, then sprinted straight over to where Espurr had landed. Espurr managed to sit up. She felt dizzy.

Well, at least she's being more proactive this time. Though you can just see the traumatizing flashbacks happening in live-time from that dialogue and those speech tags.

”Hey!” Teddiursa screamed at Tricky, waving the wand up in the air. “Light this for me!”

Tricky didn’t ask questions. She took a deep breath, and exhaled an ember that caught the top of the stick and set it alight.

“Now get down!” Teddiursa yelled, and then she threw the stick as hard as she could. It soared off into the hallway, catching the attention of many of the dungeon ferals. Espurr heard it go boom only a few seconds later.

Nearly all the ferals took note. They looked up from what they were doing, and then the swarm continued down through the hallway and left Espurr, Tricky, and Teddiursa all alone.

Huh. Well that's some fast thinking. Does that work on every wand in this setting? Or was that luck of the draw for Teddiursa there?

Teddiursa slowly looked up from her spot on the ground. So did Espurr and Tricky. The howls of the swarm faded into the distance, and then the dungeon was deserted.

“…Is that all of them?” Teddiursa dared to ask once they could no longer hear the howling.

Espurr slowly got to her feet again. “I think so.

Tricky: "Espurr! Why would you say tha-?!"

Then the furfrou attacked. It came from behind, so Espurr hadn’t even noticed it. There was a loud snarl, and then suddenly she was pinned under the dog pokemon as it attempted to maul her—


Tricky: "That's why you don't say that!" >.<

Espurr suddenly saw a bright flash, followed almost immediately by a loud boom. The furfrou looked up from Espurr, suddenly worried, and then there was large stomping and the furfrou barely jumped out of the way of a large ursaring’s claws. It scampered down the hallway away from Espurr, whimpering in fear.

“Espurr, are you okay?!” Tricky was suddenly all over her, checking Espurr for cuts and scratches. Espurr barely managed to nod amongst all Tricky’s prodding.

“Yeah. I think I am,” she said.

“Huh,” Ursaring said, examining her new claws. “Sick.”

- Espurr and Tricky are panting for dear life as Espurr looks up -
Espurr: "So... uh... given that we kinda almost died here, we are getting paid for all of this, right?"

Ursaring: "Let's talk about it sometime when we're not in a place where rabid ferals can drop in on us at any moment." >_>;

“Oh, Uncle’s gonna be pissed.” Ursaring lazily stretched her arms as she, Espurr, and Tricky all walked back through the underbrush to Serenity Village. “But you know what? He can go suck on a lemonberry. This is hecking awesome.

Wait, where does "hecking" come from as internet speak anyways. Since I've seen it used in memes, but have no idea of where it came from.

Tricky had been studying the ground the entire way back. Espurr sent her a concerned glance every so often, but didn’t want to start something in front of Ursaring. Eventually, Tricky’s mood began to affect Espurr’s, and she felt somewhat depressed by the time they finally walked into the village square.

Ursaring turned to leave, but then she stopped. “Oh, I forgot. I know I have it on me somewhere…” she clumsily pawed through the bag that was now far too small for her to use, eventually pulling out a leaf-sewn tube of something Espurr didn’t recognize. “It’s not much, but… here’s the thing. The… the mission reward.”

Espurr took it in her paws, looking it over.

“What is this?” she asked. Now that she thought about it, she hadn’t taken a look at the mission reward before they had taken the mission.

“It’s a tube of bluk berry toothpaste,” Ursaring replied. “I took it from Uncle’s room. You could sell it for a bunch. Just don’t get the stuff in your eyes. I did that once and they stung for days.”

>when you almost get eaten by ferals
>for a tube of toothpaste

Tricky: -eye twitch-
Espurr: "Uh... Tricky?" ._.;

Then Ursaring went home, and Espurr and Tricky were left to their own devices for the rest of the day.

“I think I’m gonna go home now,” Tricky muttered. The negative vibes radiating off her were almost smothering. “Night.”

Before Espurr could say anything to her, she left.

Oh hey, I wasn't that far off for the mood in the proverbial room. :V

“Your order?” Kangaskhan looked down at Eevee from the other side of the counter.

“Just wait a minute. I’ve got to get this stupid bag off me first.” Eevee struggled with her bag (which had been advertised as quadruped friendly, but was actually on the lower side of quadruped tolerable), finally managing to slip it off her back and root through her personal belongings for her wallet. Kangaskhan waited patiently while she dug.

Eevee: "I really should file a consumer complaint against the shop I bought this thing from." >_>;

The sound of something loud clattering to the floor rattled through Eevee’s ears. She lowered them annoyedly. At least the restaurant wasn’t as noisy as it could be. She extracted the necessary poke from her wallet, then pointed out the dish she wanted on the menu to Kangaskhan, who jotted it down on a note and passed it off. Eevee slumped down against the counter, looking to her right where a Watchog was taking a long swig of a mago berry drink. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye, then quickly set his drink down so fast he nearly spilled it.

“You’re new in town,” he slurred after a moment.

>Watchog's here and drunk off his tail

Oh boy, this scene's gonna go places.

“I’m not staying,” Eevee replied. “I’m just here to help a client.”

“Yeah?” Watchog took another swig of his drink. “What do you work?”

“Lumber,” Eevee replied. “Well, actually I’m just the secretary. But of course I’m the ‘mon who gets to come out here because ‘Well, four paws equals twice the speed! Be a good ‘mon and do what you’re told!’” she coughed, then switched off the impression of a deep voice she had been doing back to her normal one. “You?”

“Education.” Watchog curtly answered.

“You don’t look like the kind of ‘mon who works in education,” Eevee replied.

Watchog: "And what's that supposed to mean?!"

“I’m in charge of discipline,” Watchog said.

Eevee raised her eyebrows, staring at Watchog dryly. That made more sense.

“Guarding the school right now,” he continued. “Sundays and Thursdays. Work sucks. I’ve got better things to be doing with my summer.”

Oh yeah, doing such a good job with that work right now.

The dark silhouette of the school clinic up on the hill stood before Espurr once again. It was almost nighttime, and she could clearly see the building displayed against the pink and orange-toned sky, its lights still covered. Espurr tilted her head as she walked up the forest-shaded path to the school. Usually the lights were uncovered by now. Was this just how the clinic was left in the summertime? A pity. Espurr had had designs on finally using the library after she got herself cleaned up.

“There you are!”

Audino ran down the path towards Espurr, a menagerie of herbs and belongings Espurr assumed must have been from the medicine cabinet stashed in the two exploration bags she carried. “I’ve been looking for you all day!”

Espurr: "(Er... Just how open do I want to be with her about how Tricky and I almost died on like 3 separate occasions today?)"

Audino ushered Espurr along before she had time to ask any questions. “We’re relocating for the summer. I have a house in the middle of town.” Espurr took a breath to ask why, but Audino answered for her: “Before you ask why, I just wanted a change of scenery. You can’t be up in the school all by yourself.”

She tried to look calm as she walked, but Espurr could feel the tension hanging in the air. The corners of her vision blurred yellow when she focused on it: Fear. Danger. Escape.

Espurr stayed silent for a minute. “You’re sure it’s nothing?” she asked.

Yes, it’s nothing you need to worry about.


Audino: "... Am I really that transparent?" .-.
Espurr: "Nurse Audino, I'm a Psychic-type!" >_>;

“You’ll have to get somemon older to go with you,” Audino responded. “Watchog has guard duty most days this summer. He’ll probably help you.”

The door clicked open, the first time it had done so in almost a year. Audino walked in, setting the bags of supplies against the wall next to the door. Espurr followed after her. Her nose wrinkled at the smell of dust that pervaded the air, and she could even see a light film of it on the floor.

“We’ll clean it up tomorrow,” Audino said once she noticed Espurr’s disgust at her surroundings. She pulled the old, ragged cover off the lights, and the luminous moss inside the orbs weakly glowed. The insides of the orbs were dusty.

“Hmm,” Audino muttered. “We’ll need to replace those too.”

Espurr: "... With all due respect, Nurse Audino, but shouldn't you have taken care of this before having me come over?"
Audino: "Look, I had to come to this place in a hurry, alright?" >_>;

Now that Espurr could see better, she could make out the interior of the house. It looked like a mirror version of Tricky’s house–the parlor that they were standing in, a small kitchen to the left, and a hall down to the right with a washroom and a bedroom on either side.

Ah yes, the joys of tract housing. Assuming that that's why this layout is so similar.

“When I lived here about a year ago, I always kept this room tidy just in case of emergencies,” Audino said as they walked down the hall. “Hopefully, it’s still usable.” She turned to the bedroom on the left, allowing Espurr to walk in before she followed. Like the rest of the house, the bedroom was covered in a light layer of dust that managed to cover everything. There was a straw bed in the middle of the room that somehow hadn’t been eroded or fallen apart with time, Espurr caught sight of a tarped luminous moss orb sticking out of the wall above.

“You can sleep here tonight,” Audino said. “And then tomorrow we’ll have a housecleaning. I’ll be in the other room if you need me.” And with that, she began to leave the bedroom.

Espurr: "... (At this rate I should just sneak out to Tricky's and crash in her room for this night. This is ridiculous.)" >_>;

“Ms. Audino?” Espurr asked before Audino could step out the door completely. Audino, half out the doorframe, turned back to look at Espurr.

“How long can I stay here?” Espurr asked.

There was a moment before Espurr got her answer, as if Audino had been considering it.

“As long as you like,” Audino finally replied. “Good night.”

- Espurr looks around her dust bunny-riddled room and facenubs -
Espurr: "... Okay, I asked the wrong question. I should've asked her 'how long do I have to stay here?'" >.<

And then she left the room, and Espurr was left in silence for the night.

A large bang came from the wall, jittering Espurr in her bed a little. She stared alertly at the wall for a second, where a large dresser sat, but it remained silent.

After watching it for a moment, Espurr flopped her head back down on the bed. She was too tired for this.

Well, I suppose that's as a good demotivator as any for not going over to Tricky's and begging her to let you stay the night. :V

It was almost dark by the time Tricky made it back to her house. Pops was already setting dinner on the table when the door slammed open with enough force to slam into the wall and shut itself and Tricky entered. He looked at her coat, which was dirt-ridden and covered in grime.

“Clean up before dinner,” he said. Tricky hurriedly trotted off to the washroom.

I like how Carracosta has just given up on trying to keep Tricky out of MDs in spite of his insistence that she'd never go back to one back in the day. So how long did it take for him to just flatly admit defeat like that?

It was leftover night once again. The leftovers were made up of whatever the other pokemon of Serenity Village hadn’t wanted of the Deerling Day feast. It was also Tricky’s favorite night of the week. Their dinners were completely silent most of the time. Pops wasn’t one for talking much. Which was why when she heard Pops draw his raggedy breath as if to say something, she gave him her full attention.

“So… what did you do today?” Carracosta asked. He took a sip of the soup from his spoon. “How did you get so dirty?”

“…Not much,” Tricky answered, taking care to eat her food politely instead of the right way. “I just played with Espurr. Fell down a hill. Landed in some mud.” She looked up at Pops to make sure he was buying it.

... Or maybe she's just been lying through her teeth normally about why she gets this dirty. I suppose that'd explain some things, and why Carracosta lost his temper so badly after they went to Nectar Meadows.

“You and Espurr…” Carracosta began. “You’re friends now?”

Tricky pulled her face out of her bread roll, then nodded and trilled in confirmation. Carracosta slowly took another sip of soup.

“…Be careful.”

“I will, Pops.”

That was all that was said between them for the rest of the meal.

Those two words hung in Tricky’s head, even as she went to her bedroom and flopped down upon her mattress. No matter which way it was cut, mystery dungeons were dangerous business. Could she be careful? Could Espurr?

I'd say that this doesn't seem like Tricky at all, but then I remember that she probably spent most of that one scene in Foreboding Forest basically having war flashbacks. So... yeah, that'd explain a lot for her suddenly sober/somber mood here.

Everymon showed up for school the next day. Everymon but Budew. Principal Simipour must have told the other teachers, because Farfetch’d left her alone, and Watchog was giving her suspicious glances the entire time.

Pancham and Shelmet talked behind her back; Deerling just waited patiently at her desk. Artemis was slumped against hers.

Eventually Farfetch’d walked up the teacher’s desk and began the class. Artemis saw Deerling raise her hoof.

“Where’s Budew?” Deerling asked. Farfetch’d didn’t answer her.


No wonder this 'mon broke down crying after she thought Espurr got turned against her if this is what she's had to live with ever since Budew bit it.

Classes went on like they usually did, but Artemis couldn’t bring herself to care about any of them, not even Dungeon Class. All her ears heard were the words of the teachers which got filtered out into mumbling, and Deerling’s questioning as she got more and more uneasy with every single moment Budew didn’t come back.

He wasn’t coming back. She wanted to scream that at Deerling. She wanted Deerling to feel stupid for not knowing that he was dead, he wasn’t ever coming to class again, and it was all her own fault, and—

—And then classes ended, and Artemis was no longer chained to a desk. Before yesterday, she would have pranced off to a mystery dungeon and ignored Pops when he admonished her about how dangerous that was. But today she didn’t really feel like doing much of… anything.

Small typo there. And... yeah, this is quite a
mood here.

Her ears pricked up as she caught a snippet of a nearby conversation. Between Deerling and Farfetch’d. Tricky quickly looked in their direction. She didn’t hear everything Deerling said, but she got enough: Deerling wanted to know where Budew was.

Farfetch’d hesitated, clutching his leek in his wings. “I… think we should discuss this up in the school clinic,” he said, and then he led Deerling up there and out of earshot from all the other students still packing up.

Artemis was still collapsed against the desk when Deerling came out. Deerling didn’t say a thing. She just gave Artemis a look that said ‘I’ll
never forgive you’, and then she walked out of the classroom without a word.

Artemis went straight home.

Quality teachers there!

Though that's a wrap for this chapter @SparklingEspeon . It felt like one of those transitional ones showing Tricky and Espurr adjusting to their new reality, but even if there wasn't a ton of forward narrative progress, it still felt like it had its place as one that basically acted as a hard smack in the face from reality as to what it means to be a dungeoneer in MDs.

Hard to believe that I'm almost 3/4ths of the way through that exchange. Since just what I've read so far has been a wild ride. It'll be interesting to see how long this "scared sober" Tricky lasts given that she came very close to reliving the worst day of her life all over again, or if she'll be forcing herself to be sunshine and rainbows the next day.

Kudos, and hope you enjoyed the review. ^^


you should've known the price of evil
  1. custom/inkay-shirlee
Hey! Here is my Catnip review. I originally went for the prologue, but about halfway through I actually realized I had indeed read and reviewed it before, so I just skimmed the rest to complete the recap and then read the first chapter.

I don't think I mentioned in my previous review whether I'd played Super or not, so I'll disclose it now: I have played it... buuuut I remember practically nothing. Well, luckily, it seems like that won't be a huge problem, this being an AU and all. I just won't be able to give any feedback on the characterization of pre-existing characters.

Alright, without further ado, here we go.

Quote Comments

Audino directed her to the nearest straw bed, which the fennekin threw herself on like it was a pile of autumn leaves.
with all the excitement of a pokemon kit in front of a candied berry stall,
I liked these similes. They fit well within the world, but are still very intuitive for the reader.

and a fennekin somehow limped through the doorway on only one leg.
I was really just at a loss trying to imagine this.

A poor ursaring is having throat troubles, and I’ve scheduled his appointment in for today.
Sheesh, Audino, ever heard of patient confidentiality?

Without another word or even Espurr’s consent, Tricky began to forcibly push Espurr out the door.
I couldn't actually find a spot where Espurr would have stood up before this, so there's a small lapse in continuity to me here.

Espurr tried to drag her feet against the ground in order to bring them to a halt, but it didn’t slow Tricky down one little bit. And with her left arm in the condition it was, Espurr found herself left totally helpless as Tricky bulldozed her down the hill and through a clearing full of wooden seats.
This makes it sound like the room opens up directly to the outside? The description from before didn't fit that for me.

“Tricky!” Both Espurr’s and Tricky’s heads turned to the right, where what could best be described as an angry otter wearing a safety vest was marching right towards them.
I know that Espurr might not be very wildlife-savvy, but I can't really see a person describing a Watchog as looking like an otter when it has clear rodent-teeth, puffy cheeks and a tail much thinner than an otter's. While they're not totally accurate either, calling him something like a rat or a chipmunk would make more sense to me. "An angry otter wearing a safety vest" just makes me think Floatzel sooner than Watchog.

“This is the village square!” Tricky announced as they entered a large, circular plaza with houses and colorful tents set up on all sides. She finally stopped plowing Espurr around like a toy, allowing her to catch her bearings. “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 in a hush. “Trust me.
It's clever to establish these things in the dialogue of a motormouth. The ones unfamiliar with the setting will get their exposition quickly and concisely, and the ones familiar don't have to go over what they already know for long.

The mention of "an actual phone" threw me off, though. For PMD, I'd imagine something like that would be an orb or a similar piece of magitech? Why is it called a "phone"? Is it actually officially known as a telephone, which "phone" is short for? It just feels odd to me.

This is cute - it reminds me of how the ponies in Friendship is Magic always said "everypony," "somepony" etc, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was the inspiration. It requires a hell of a lot of dedication to keep up, though.

You’ll always know you’re in a mystery dungeon when the wind stops blowing, and everything smells bad, and you get that kinda creepy feeling, like somemon’s watching you…
This mechanic was always really cool and eerie to me as a kid, so I'm happy to see it actually adapted in a fic, even playing a meaningful part.

A pair of furfrou. They leapt out of the clouds in sync, their eyes vacant and their mouths dripping with drool, both aligned in permanent snarls. Goomy couldn’t stand it anymore. He broke down in tears before the twin beasts. He was going to become some wild pokemon’s lunch!
While I have no doubt these mon are a considerable danger in the setting, it's still amusing that the scary wild mon threatening Goomy are basically two poodles.


General Comments

So I enjoyed this chapter much more than the prologue, and I think a big reason is that this chapter has a lot more character interaction, which seems to really be a strong point of yours. Just moments from their introduction, if not immediately, the characters are distinct, and their relationships to one another are established clearly but naturally. We also get much more than just the obvious "hyperactive" from Tricky in this chapter - it's clear from the other characters' reactions that she's being excluded from things and shunned because of her overbearing personality, which implicitly explains certain behaviors that would, without that context, likely come across as just annoying or even malicious. Of course she immediately jumps on the new kid to try and make a friend, and her lying about things is either for attention or to just keep the other person from leaving.

This chapter also made me like Espurr a lot more. I was worried she would remain as this passive pushover that just gets dragged into things, but she actually stands up for herself and makes a meaningful decision, and her previous lack of agency is justified as simple confusion at all the things suddenly happening to her.

I also like the fact that the adults are (mostly) sensible here. A lot of stories with kid main characters make all or most adults unnecessarily mean or unreasonable as cheap drama, but here, they're just being responsible - it sucks for the kids to get detention, but they really should have gone to an adult rather than attempt a rescue by themselves. Watchog, obviously, has some kind of complex, but it's clearly because of who he is as a character rather than "he's an adult so he hates children and wants to make them suffer". He reminds me of that one teacher in the Incredibles who's paranoid about the super-speed kid.

Another kid-focused-story thing I found well executed was the bullying part. It's not the stereotypical black-and-white "evil mean bullies are evil", but it's the much more realistic profile of kids being kids, with the very meaningful element of social exclusion by kids who aren't even particularly mean, like Deerling. She even stands up to other bullying. She's just not considerate enough to not be rude to Tricky.

Overall, this is a very good fit for a first chapter. Characters and the setting are well introduced, but we have a self-contained adventure of the rescue of Goomy along which we learn all that rather than some directionless expodump.

I think that's it for my thoughts. See you around!

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
  1. nidoran-f
Alright, full disclosure, when I reviewed Chapter 14, it was apparently for an outdated version that had not been updated here on TR by mistake. So there's strong odds that much of this feedback is already outdated by the time of posting. That said, I had fun putting it together, so I figured I'd throw it up for posterity anyways.

Chapter 14

Tricky felt better when she woke up the next day. It was summer, so she got to sleep in a little. The sun was already higher up in the sky than it should have been if it had been a school day, but it wasn’t a school day, so Tricky didn’t bother moving.

It was only when the smell of simmering berries and vegetables came from the hallway that she finally moved in her bed, stretching and then plodding across the hall to the washroom.

Dunking her head underwater for a second brought clarity back to Tricky. Now she remembered what had happened yesterday, and why she had been so shaken up. In the Foreboding Forest. That dungeon ‘mon swarm. Espurr had almost died – Tricky had almost died. It was almost Poliwrath River all over again!

Surprised Tricky's not finding that more uncomfortable as a Fire-type. :V

Tricky: "... Why on earth didn't I just stay in bed today if my mind was just going to turn to that?" ._.

For the first time in what felt like years, Tricky wanted nothing to do with mystery dungeons. She had only been friends with Espurr for nine days—she didn’t want a repeat of Budew! Not so soon… not ever. They were getting too reckless. It had to stop. Before…

Could've sworn these two were on like week 2 or 3 now, but I suppose that's what I get for not paying attention to date progression more closely.

And with that, she quickly took a large gulp of water from the pot, spat it out the window like Pops had told her never to do, and trotted off to the dining room.

Breakfast was sautéed vegetables and berries, which Tricky wasted no time eating her portion of (She hated those when they got cold). Then she left the house, heading down towards the village square and quickly taking a hard left up towards the school. It was her little shortcut. She’d go get Espurr, and then they’d find something fun to do in the village square for the day! Something that didn’t involve dungeon exploring.

Espurr: "Well, we could always go to the library-"
Tricky: "Something else, please." >_>;

The School Clinic was deserted. Tricky banged upon the window, peering in through the windowpanes the best she could (They were made for pokemon at least twice as tall as she was!).

“Hey Espurr!” she called out.

“Is anymon in there?” she asked when no answer greeted her back.

The clinic was silent. It seemed like there really was no-mon in there. Tricky backed away from the door, staring at it in confusion. But if no-mon was here, then… where was Espurr?

Espurr: "... Right here?" :?
Tricky: "No, I meant canonically. We get to play fast and loose with where we're supposed to be in this space."
Espurr: "Oh. Try looking around places coated in cobwebs and dust bunnies, since I sure saw a lot of those last night." >_>;

Espurr was cleaning. Audino had woken up and roused Espurr at the crack of dawn (but Espurr was used to waking up early at this point anyway), and after eating a quick breakfast made up of whatever Audino had managed to pack from the School Clinic, they had begun to tidy up Audino’s old house.

And now, after about two hours’ worth of hard work, the house was finally beginning to look presentable. The dusting had been long and rigorous, and Espurr’s throat was still scratchy from all the dust particles she had inadvertently breathed in while cleaning, but Audino had opened the windows to air the place out, and the rest of the cleaning had gone over fairly well. After the straw beds had been sorted, cleaned, and re-packed, the last thing to do was polish the luminous moss orbs and replace the cloths. That was something that Audino would do herself later when she went out for supplies.

Whelp, looks like I was premature on the cobwebs and dust bunnies part.

I'm still a little surprised at how little protest Espurr put up to getting yeeted into the grody house covered in a film of dust, but meh. It was the end of the day after a near-death experience or three and she was beat.

Which left Espurr free for the time being. She was currently playing with the expedition gadget, clicking buttons to see what did what. The button at the bottom both dimmed and raised the power of the display, while the top two on either side helped maneuver the display the connection orb broadcasted, and the one at the very top gadget took pictures (as Espurr had found out when she’d pressed it a few moments earlier and had the gadget blink her straight in the face). The green one near the bottom turned the display off… which meant that the only one she hadn’t pressed was that red one on the other side. Espurr had no idea what it did, but there was no better time to find out. She clicked it. The gadget whirred for a bit, but it didn’t seem to do anything.

inb4 she turned on the record button and Ampharos gets to see her doing goofy and embarrassing antics. :V

Dedenne had been going about her morning affairs when she suddenly felt that familiar tingling feeling in her cheeks – somemon was calling via connection orb.

Only she didn’t recognize the frequency. It didn’t feel like any of the Expedition Society ‘mon, and it definitely wasn’t the Chief, so… who was it?

Dedenne shrugged it off. Sure, the Expedition Society had a closed orb network, but it wasn’t that hard for somemon to game the system and get in. It wasn’t her problem either. That was what the telephone Murkrow was supposed to sit by and answer was for. If somemon wanted to contact the Expedition Society, they could do it the right way, or just not bother at all. Dedenne didn’t need anymon to make her job harder for her.


I had a feeling it'd be something like that. Probably a good thing Dedenne didn't pick up, otherwise that'd probably have given Espurr quite the start.

The gadget stopped whirring after a moment, but nothing had happened. Espurr tilted her head in confusion. What was that button for, anyway? It seemed pretty useless

Well, it was good at annoying Dedenne, not that Espurr knows about that just yet. :V

And that was the last of the buttons. None of them had made the screen bigger. Espurr was perplexed, and beginning to get a little frustrated. Why hadn’t this thing come with an instruction manual? She hovered her paw over the orb, preparing to pull it out, but then the display suddenly changed.

- Beat moment -
Espurr: "... Right, because Ampharos didn't give us one to work with." >_>;

Espurr quickly took her paws off the gadget. She looked at the display. It was smaller. Even projected up on the roof like it was, it was now so small she couldn’t even read it. Part of Espurr told her to freak out, but then the other half of her brain offered the next rational conclusion that immediately convinced her to calm down: If it could get smaller, then it could also get bigger.

This was what she had been looking for!

Espurr sat back down again. She began to hover her paw over the connection orb, just like she had last time. Then she slowly closed her fingers. Just like she had predicted, the display got smaller. It was now so small Espurr could catch the entirety of the mission roster in the palm of her hand. Espurr took a deep breath to calm herself down. She was getting somewhere with this! Now to make it bigger.

She slowly unclenched her paw, spreading it out wide. The display widened with her fingers, and by the time Espurr had completely opened her paw again, the display was back to the size it had been before Espurr had messed with it at all.

- Espurr looks down at her forepaws and does a double-take -
Espurr: "... Wait a minute, these things have fingers? With that official artwork? How have I never noticed that before?" .-.

She took her paw off of the connection orb only to lower it once more and repeat the same action. Just like she had predicted, the display became larger. Large enough to read the missions. Large enough to see the bar on the side that had their team credentials displayed.

That bar was blank. Espurr used the buttons to maneuver over to it, looking over what was required for the box. They needed a team name, and a list of pokemon who were currently on the team. That was easy, so Espurr filled it in without even thinking twice: ‘Espurr; Fennekin’. But then she stopped at the team name. That was something she’d need to decide with Tricky. Wherever Tricky was. Audino had taken her to this house after Tricky had left for the night. She probably didn’t know Espurr wasn’t still sleeping at the school. Maybe Espurr would need to go looking for her.

Waaaaaait a minute, how on earth did those two get allowed to take that job in Foreboding Forest without a team name or registered roster? Or was that technically off-record by virtue of them not knowing how to fill this info in?

“I’m going out,” Espurr announced, the exploration bag slung over her shoulder.

“Don’t you want lunch?” Audino asked. “We’ve been cleaning most of the day.”

“I’m not hungry,” Espurr said. And she wasn’t, not really. The real reason was that it felt wrong to eat between breakfast and a mystery dungeon trip, but she didn’t want to fill Audino in on all her mystery dungeon trips with Tricky either. Somehow she got the feeling those wouldn't go over well.

Espurr: "(I mean, we only just almost died at least 3 times in rapid succession yesterday... so... yeah. Best not to clue Audino in for a while until we figure out what we're doing.)"

“Well, alright then,” Audino sighed. “Just make sure I see you back by dark.”

Espurr nodded, then ducked out the door.

Espurr: "I wonder what Mystery Dungeon Tricky's going to put us up to today? I mean, canonically I suppose we should be looking into that Salamence right about now, but..."

“Espurr!” Tricky called out as she walked through the village square, looking around for her friend. Where was she? Espurr’s sudden absence was beginning to bug Tricky a little.

She flinched as a pebble suddenly whistled through the air and caught her ear. Tricky glanced in the direction it had come from, but there was nothing there (not that she could see well through all the pokemon who were currently in the square, but still).

Oh boy. It's Pancham with his slingshot again. How on earth is that kid allowed to get away with half the stuff he does around town? .-.

“Espurr!” Tricky called out again. By the time she had reached the end of the village square, she still had not seen hide nor hair of her friend. Tricky lowered her ears glumly. That was the whole village combed. Oh well. She guessed Espurr would turn up sooner or later. Unless something bad had happened to her… Tricky quickly shook her head to clear her brain of those thoughts. Nothing bad was going to happen. Nothing bad had happened. She was sure of it.

Tricky: "... Why am I having this much trouble convincing myself of this right now?"

“I-I Just want to be left alone…” Tricky’s ears pricked up once again. She looked to her left. On the southern side of the square, Goomy was sliming up towards the eastern exit of the square (and toward Tricky!), with Deerling following in his wake.

“Are you sure?” Deerling asked. “You’ll be all by yourself all day…”

“I-I’m sure.” And with that, Goomy slimed up past Tricky and continued on his way towards the eastern side of the village. Deerling clopped up near where Tricky was standing, but reluctantly didn’t follow Goomy. Noticing Tricky, she promptly turned her nose up at the fennekin, then walked away in the opposite direction. Tricky sat on her haunches for half a minute more. Then she took off in Goomy’s direction. There was something to do!

Goomy was busy making his way up through the houses when Tricky caught up with and fell into a trot beside him.

Goomy: "... Wait, there is? But you're just walking beside me right now."
Tricky: "Hey, smalltalk's a start, isn't it?" ^^;

“Have you seen Espurr?” Tricky panted out. “I can’t find her!”

Goomy shook his head the best he could. “N-no. I haven’t s-seen her. Not since summer s-started.”

“Oh…” Tricky let the dejection seep into her voice. “Can you tell me if you see her?”

“[I-I’m going back h-home,]” Goomy said. “I’m hungry.”

I feel as if Goomy probably should've answered Tricky's question a bit more directly. e.x. something like "I-I can't, I'm going back h-home", but that's just me.

Now that Tricky thought about it, she was kind of hungry too (never mind the fact that she had just eaten half an hour ago). “Well… wanna stay at my place for the day?” she asked. “You can have lunch there!”

Goomy looked like he was thinking it over.

“…W-where do you live?” he finally asked. “I-I never saw your house.”

Tricky immediately perked up. “It’s this way!” she yipped excitedly, heading straight down the path faster than Goomy could ever hope to keep up with. “Just follow me there!”

Espurr decided to take a trip to Tricky’s house first. Audino lived next to the west side of town, so it was more of a breezy stroll than anything without the walk down from the school grounds and through the village square first.

It took about five-or-so minutes of walking to get there, but eventually she saw Carracosta’s house peeking out among the others, its roof decorated the colors of his shell. She quickly ran the rest of the way there.


Espurr knocked on the door. She waited for an answer. After a moment the door swung open, and Carracosta glanced down at Espurr.

Espurr: "Oh, hello Mr. Carracosta. I was just looking for Tricky, it's me-"
Carracosta: "The kid who got Artemis poisoned by Beedrill out in Nectar Meadows." >:|
- Blink moment -
Espurr: "E-Er... yes, I suppose that's accurate, but let's forget about that a moment and try to start things off on the other foot!"

“Tricky’s not here,” he warbled out before Espurr could ask. “She left almost an hour ago. Didn’t say what she was doing, just said she was going out with friends.”

Espurr felt like the words had been snatched straight out of her mouth. It was almost ten seconds before she was able to reply to that intelligently: “…Oh. Thank you anyway, then.”

Carracosta grunted in reply, and then the door closed behind him. Espurr was left there on the porch, wondering where Tricky could have gone. Then she set out back towards the village.

Espurr: "... What on earth came over Tricky all of a sudden anyways? And with all due respect to her, since when did she have other friends in the village?" .-.

Ten minutes later, Tricky bounded up towards the house, spinning around and waiting for a panting Goomy to finish sliming up onto the hill.

“C’mon!” she yelled. “You’re a slowpoke!”

“N-not everymon was blessed with legs to w-walk on,” Goomy stuttered. “I-I can only go so f-fast…”

- Somewhere back in Serenity Village, Espurr's eye twitches -
Espurr: "Why do I suddenly feel like I just missed something important that would be very, very frustrating for me to find out about?" >_>;

Tricky waited impatiently for Goomy to finish making his way up the hill, and then immediately ran to the door and began to push down the knob with her paw.

“Pops, I’m back!” she yelled into the house. She trotted in, followed by Goomy. Carracosta was in the parlor, jotting down a recipe with a pen made specifically for his large flippers. He looked up at Tricky, and then his eyes veered down towards Goomy. Tricky quickly took the opportunity to introduce Goomy. “This is Goomy, Pops.”

There was a moment before Carracosta said anything.

“…I see.” He let his eyes remain on Goomy a little longer, then went back to his recipe writing.

What does that style of pen look like anyways?

Goomy: "U-Uh... Tricky? I-I don't think that your pops likes me." ._.
Tricky: "Nonsense, he's just always short on words like this."

"Your friend was here, by the way," Carracosta said.

Tricky immediately perked up.

"Really??" she asked. "Where did she go?"

"Didn't see," replied Carracosta.

"Oh..." Another close miss. Tricky's tail lashed impatiently. "How long ago?"

"Ten minutes," came the warble.

Ten minutes... it took half of that to get to the square. If Tricky really rushed, maybe she could catch Espurr. But she had to go now.

Goomy: "H-Hey wait! Tricky! I-I can't keep up with-!"
Tricky: "See you at the square, Goomy!"
- Tricky bolts out the door as Goomy stares slack-jawed and Carracosta turns over with a quiet sigh -
Carracosta: "Lemme guess, you two don't hang out much, do you?" -_-;

Espurr couldn’t find Tricky. She sat just outside the village square, under the front window of Audino’s house where Audino couldn’t see her. How large was this village, anyway? It seemed almost ridiculous when Espurr got down to thinking about it, how two pokemon could stay separated in a town this small. She supposed she could have just waited at Tricky’s house, but that would be wasting the entire day. She wondered if she could go up to the library–but then she remembered she’d need Watchog’s help to do that, and she was currently spying on him standing in the ever-present line to Kecleon’s in the near distance. Espurr sighed, then pulled the expedition gadget out of her bag. Even without Tricky, she could still probably take a mission. It was better than wasting a day sitting around in the village, at any rate.

I mean, you could try calling her through your expedition gadget, but... yeah, kinda a bad time to not have a user manual for that thing.

It seemed like the number of missions in the Serenity Village area was beginning to multiply, now that somemon was actually taking them instead of leaving them on the shelf to collect dust and rot. One caught Espurr’s eye quickly – it was another retrieval mission just like the one in Wooloo Plains, only this time it was a scarf that was lost. Espurr was supposed to retrieve it from Poliwrath River, and the reward listed was a pair of psychic papers. Espurr had no idea what those were, but they sounded useful.


Espurr, what are you doing?

Espurr: "For the weirdest reason, I can't help but feel as if I'd heard the name of this place from somewhere before..."
- Espurr pauses for a moment and thinks, before shaking her head -
Espurr: "Mm, nah. It's probably nothing important. I'll ask Tricky about it when I'm back."

Audino had already finished eating by the time Espurr walked in. “Can I borrow a piece of paper?” she asked.

Audino looked up from the book she was reading. “There’s some in the bag, if you want it. Why?”

“Just writing a note,” Espurr responded.

“To whom?” Audino asked.

“Tricky.” Espurr dug in the pair of stuffed exploration bags, finding the pieces of paper that were crumpled up inside and extracting one. Once the note was written, she packed up the quill and ink the best she could. And then she was out the door again.

She left the note stuck to the door on her way out:

“Living here now. Gone to Poliwrath River on a mission. ~ Espurr”

I mean, it's only the place Tricky told you about when she brought up how she got Budew killed. Why would you think it's a good idea to go there on your own?

Espurr walked through the woods, trying to crush as little foliage as possible with the exploration bag. It was a ways out from the village (to the south), and the ground was muddy here. She checked the sun. Afternoon. And it looked like she was almost there.

The breeze blew in her direction, and Espurr caught a whiff of that familiar stench – the stench of a mystery dungeon. The wind was blowing from her right, so she looked that way. Just through the trees, she could see what looked like an unusually shrouded grove of forest, all viney and tangled. That must have been it. Espurr trudged through a small stream as she headed for that.

Espurr: "... Why am I suddenly getting the weirdest feeling that this was an absolutely terrible idea?" ._.;

It was definitely a mystery dungeon. And a powerful one too. Espurr could feel its presence practically hovering in the air around her. Even from outside, the dungeon felt malevolent. Maybe this had been a bad idea. Maybe it was better to go back. She could tackle this another time with Tricky.

But could she? For all she knew this mission wouldn’t even be here the next time she looked. And how much of a difference would Tricky make? It wasn’t like Espurr was helpless herself. She took a deep breath, then stepped forwards, and felt the air vanish into Mystery Dungeon.

I mean, if you had consulted Tricky, she'd probably have hard-vetoed this mission from the sheer degree to which you're tempting fate right now... so... yeah, just some minor differences there. :V

Tricky walked down towards the village square. If Espurr was going to be anywhere, she’d be there. Right?

In passing, she noticed that the old vacant house next the village square that had always been empty had its windows open. That was worthy of Tricky’s attention. Had somemon broken in?

She walked up towards the house, glancing up towards the window. Inside, she spied… Nurse Audino! Reading a book! Tricky gasped sharply, then quickly dived down under the window before Audino could notice her. This was Nurse Audino’s house!!

Tricky: "... Boy Nurse Audino has really let this place go. Espurr wasn't kidding about the dust bunnies and cobwebs."
Audino: "Hm? That shouldn't be an issue anymore, we spent the entire time cleaning up the inside of the house!"
Tricky: "... You realize there's also an outside that you haven't touched in like a year, right?" >_>;

Then she noticed the note taped to the door. She walked over to it, and read what was on it.

Tricky’s heart skipped a beat. Then sank. She wanted to scream in horror. She began to shake all over with terror, her mind running in circles. Espurr had gone to… she couldn’t have! She just couldn’t!

- Meanwhile back in Poliwrath River, Espurr hears a voice shouting from off in the far distance -

- Beat moment as Espurr sighs -
Espurr: "... Guess she wasn't too thrilled about me skipping out ahead of her. I'd better find that scarf and hurry back to explain why I went off taking missions behind her back." -_-;

But the note was there, right in front of her, and no matter how much Tricky wished it would change it didn’t. Espurr had gone to Poliwrath Woods. She didn’t know. She didn’t know. Tricky hadn’t told her yet.

Tricky eventually broke out of her stupor, taking a deep breath and trying to hold in a sob of horror. She had to help Espurr! She couldn’t go back to Poliwrath River… But she had to! She just… she’d die if another one of her friends died in there too, and she knew it. It was better if they both died instead of only her living.

And with that one thought lingering in her mind, Tricky quickly took off in the direction of Poliwrath River. If she kept her mind straight, she could almost remember the way there.

You'd think that Ampharos would've insisted these two go through orientation of basic dos and don'ts together in the Exploration Society, since I can't imagine that this is normally considered good practice in his ranks.

The place was deserted, even for a mystery dungeon. Espurr trudged through the marsh that was doing a horrible job of masquerading as mud, looking for that scarf. She hoped she found it soon. This place was absolutely putrid.

Every once in a while, Espurr got the feeling she was being watched by something. Things that swam in the water, taking care to stay far out of view. Even though she never caught full sight of any creature other than herself, Espurr kept a wary eye on her surroundings anyway. She didn’t want to get jumped by a dungeon ‘mon in this nasty sticky marsh.

The first floor of the dungeon was cleared without any major occurrences.

Espurr: "... Okay, I'm suddenly getting that voice back in my head screaming that this was a terrible idea all over again. I don't know why though. Was this one of the Mystery Dungeons that Tricky and I read about in the library?" ._.;

On the second floor, the dungeon suddenly went cold. It wasn’t the cold found on top of a frigid mountain – rather the kind that sent chills down one’s back and made them feel like they were being watched from all sides, and that was how Espurr felt as she traversed the dungeon’s second floor. This was an evil place. More evil than all the mystery dungeons she had encountered so far. And she still hadn’t found that scarf. Maybe it had been lost to the marshes long ago. And Espurr wasn’t so interested in completing the mission anymore as she was just clearing the dungeon and getting out. She passed the second floor without finding the scarf as well.

Maybe something had happened here, Espurr wondered as she walked through the third floor. The absence of dungeon ‘mon was beginning to unnerve her a little. Dungeons were almost never deserted like this. Not unless there was something worse around. And there was something worse lurking around – Espurr could feel it in the air, getting closer with every floor. And eventually, she’d have to pass it. All she could do was be ready.

Espurr: "... I did bring an Escape Orb with me right now, right?"

The dungeon only got more overgrown as she went, and the marsh deeper. It almost sucked in her whole legs now, and the bottom of the exploration bag was practically dragging through the muck. The only relief was that it seemed to be thinning out into swamp water instead of just thick mud, and it was getting easier and easier to walk through the dungeon. But even so… any higher, and Espurr might not be able to cross. She’d be trapped.

She did not find the scarf on the third floor, either. Instead, she found the stairs, half-submerged by the marsh. Espurr didn’t ask questions. She just pulled herself out of the mud, and hurried up to the next floor as quickly as she could.

The next floor led onto dry land, and Espurr was finally free to move her mud-caked legs again. But her relief didn’t last long- if the last couple of floors had crept her out, then this floor terrified her. It seemed like the dungeon was practically looming over her, and Espurr was hard-pressed to keep her wits about her as she traversed the soggy wet land. Where was that stupid scarf?

Espurr: "Seriously, this place is giving me the creeps. Though 'Poliwrath River'... why does that sound so familiar to me right now...?" ._.;

And then she came to the borders of a proper marsh. It was expansive, and looked too deep for Espurr to trudge through even if she submerged herself all the way up to her neck. Espurr took a step back. How was she going to get past that? Her eyes wavered to one of the ridiculously big lily pads floating on the water above. Could she… it seemed ridiculous.

But could she?

- Espurr eyes the lilypads suspiciously -
Espurr: "... This sounds like the world's most blatant setup to step onto a waiting Carnivine and getting a leg bitten through. Pretty sure there was a story in the library where that happened."

The dungeon suddenly roared. It was all Espurr could do to turn around and face the wind as it buffeted her towards the marsh ahead, but it didn’t knock her to her feet or blow her back like the winds of Foreboding Forest had. It felt weak. And then just like that, it died. Espurr slowly uncovered her face. That hadn’t sounded good. there was no time to waste.

Espurr snapped a vine off a low-hanging tree. She picked a stone up from the ground and tied it to the vine. Then she threw it. It landed on one of the lily pads in the distance. The stone caught on the edges of the lily pad, and stayed there. Espurr tugged gently on the vine. The rock didn’t budge. That seemed like a good sign. Slowly, Espurr began to pull the vine back towards her, tugging the lily pad across the river as it went. Soon, it was close enough to the shore that Espurr could touch it if she reached really hard. Then it bumped up against the shore. That was close enough. Espurr took a deep breath, and then slowly put her front paws on it.

Espurr: "This is such a terrible idea right now. But... yeah, I kinda need to get out of here. Now." ._.

It felt fragile, but it didn’t break. That was a good sign. Espurr slowly climbed onto the rest of the lily pad, staying on all fours to spread out her weight. She put a paw in the marsh, and gently began to paddle across.

She had paddled for almost five minutes when she thought she saw something ripple in the marsh to the left. Espurr barely held in a sharp gasp. There was something in the water with her. And on this lily pad she was almost helpless to do anything about it. Except keep calm. And get to the other side. And so Espurr began to continue paddling like she had been before, breathing a little harder this time.

A minute later she saw the water ripple ahead of her, and it occurred to her that whatever was in the water might just be toying with her. If that was true… she might never reach the other side of the marsh. But she was so close… Espurr began to paddle faster.

Small typo there. And yeah, this is why you don't go into Mystery Dungeons on your own, Espurr.

Then the poliwrath attacked. A blue slimy fist suddenly punched through the underside of Espurr’s lily pad and grabbed Espurr by the stomach—

—Espurr screamed and bit down on the hand with her fangs. It let go of her stomach and sank back into the water, but its absence left a large hole in the middle of her lily pad. And she was taking on water fast. Espurr began to scramble for something to do—something to fill the hole with, but there was nothing. It was going to sink and then she was going to die and—

—And the shoreline was just over there. If Espurr swam for it she could make it. She was sure of it.

Espurr: "Oh, s-so that's why the name felt familiar! This is where Budew got eaten!" O.O

Another blue hand suddenly grabbed the edge of the lily pad behind her and then before she knew it Espurr was flipped into the water—

—She caught her bearings fast and began to swim for it. The shore was right over there. She was going to make it.

Not fast enough. Something grabbed her and pulled her underwater and then Espurr finally saw the poliwrath in all its glory for the first time. And she hated it. She directed all her mental energy in a straight beam towards the poliwrath, and it was knocked back a good six feet in the water. Espurr didn’t waste any time getting to the shore.


She pulled herself onto dry (muddy) land, grabbing the waterlogged exploration bag from the water and standing up, but then she found herself face to face with another poliwrath. Espurr let out a whimper of fear, and then in the space of a second the poliwrath kicked her straight back into the water.

The water was cold and foggy, and Espurr felt herself sink down into it, still woozy from the punch to the gut she had taken. She saw the underwater poliwrath swim up towards her, and it made to grab her head—

—But then there was a muffled explosion from above. The poliwrath looked up. Espurr, who was not suited to underwater conditions at all, tried not to die. And then the poliwrath swam up towards the surface. Like she had never even existed in the first place.

Fine by Espurr. She was finally beginning to collect her bearings again, most importantly the fact that she was completely out of air. She began to swim towards the top, trying not to lose the exploration bag in the process.

Espurr: "Wh-What on-? Why on earth did they just stop like-?"

Espurr pulled herself onto the shore once more, checking around the immediate area for any more poliwrath. The sounds of a battle reverberated behind her. Espurr turned to look. Both poliwrath were on the shore, being barraged with attacks from…

…Was that Tricky?

Espurr: "... Oh no."

Espurr quickly stood up, coughing a bit but keeping her balance. “Tricky!” she yelled.

Tricky looked up at Espurr, but then the poliwrath took the opportunity to land a pair of twin attacks against her. Espurr took a couple of steps forward. She had to help!

Tricky tried to get up from the muddy ditch she had been punched into, but the poliwrath were already on top of her before she could. She was punched again. Then suddenly an invisible force yanked one of the poliwrath back away from her, leaving one side completely open for Tricky to escape. She looked in the distance—it was Espurr! But there was something Tricky had to do first. She spun and spat an ember into the second poliwrath’s face, scampering away before it could do anything. Espurr’s hold on the first poliwrath slipped – it was too strong! But it couldn’t stop what it had been trying to do for the last ten seconds: Charge forward. It collided headfirst with the other poliwrath that had been charging after Tricky. Tricky ran across the length of the shore towards Espurr.

“Go! Run!!” she screamed. Espurr unfroze. She didn’t question those orders. She quickly shouldered the exploration bag, and then the both of them bolted off into the foliage together.

Tricky: "Again. Espurr, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!"

Espurr: "We'll talk it over sometime when we're not about to be ripped to bloody shreds!" O_O;

Espurr didn’t know how close the poliwrath were to them, only that they were following them and that she could smell the small of something burning in the distance, and that was what she asked Tricky as they quickly made their way to the forest: “Is something burning?”

“I…” Tricky panted as they ran. “I kinda sorta maybe by accident… set something on fire a few floors down."


The burning smell was coming from ahead. Espurr and Tricky suddenly stopped short—it looked like the dungeon was on fire! And through the burning plants and trees and vines Espurr saw them: A pristine set of stone steps sitting amongst the burning shrubbery.

“Look!” she shouted, pointing into the fire. “The stairs!”

An entire tree was thrown to the wayside behind them. Espurr’s head snapped around, and she saw the slimy blue hides of the Poliwrath as they approached from the other side. Espurr looked between the two hazards—death by poliwrath, or fire?

Reminder to handle your species naming capitalizations consistently, since one Poliwrath is capitalized and the other isn't right now.

Tricky: "... I think I'll take my chances with the fire, thanks-"
Espurr: "Espurr, not all of us are fire-resistant here!" >.<

At least they had a chance of living through the fire. Tricky didn’t even think twice—she bolted off into the inferno, sparing only a single look back at Espurr as she ran.

“Come on Espurr!” she yelled, sounding terrified. “It’s just fire!”

Espurr: "Again. Tricky-" >.<
Tricky: "Look, you can heal a burn a lot easier than you can heal missing chunks of flesh! Seriously, just do it already, Espurr!"

Tricky didn’t seem to understand that not every pokemon was fireproof. But the poliwrath were practically on top of Espurr, and she didn’t have much of a choice. She dashed into the flaming part of the forest, and the poliwrath went after her. Espurr carefully edged and shimmied around the flames—she didn’t want to end up roasted! The poliwrath snuffed out the flames as they went and threw aside entire flaming tree branches and objects. Espurr saw a stone go soaring towards her—

—but it went over her head and landed in a ditch a couple of feet ahead of her. Espurr kept her head down.

She was nearly at the stairs now, where Tricky was waiting impatiently. “Come on!” she yelled once more. Espurr wanted to say that she was going as fast as she could, but that would have taken up too much time. And then she was at the stairs, and the poliwrath entered the clearing, and they began to charge—

—One almost got Espurr’s foot. But then the stairs began to warp, and suddenly Espurr and Tricky were all alone in the cold, dark marsh. And yet Espurr could still smell the burning. It was distant, but still there.

Tricky: "... Why on earth did you think this was a good idea?!" >.<
Espurr: "I'm pretty sure the implication of the text was that I completely forgot about this place?"

Tricky: "Espurr, I told you about how Budew died here like three days ago! How on earth do you just forget that?!"

Tricky caught her breath from before. “What… what were you doing in here?!” she half-yelled at Espurr. “You scared me to death!! Don’t ever do that!

“Do what?” Espurr asked, confused. All she had done was take a mission. How was she supposed to know the dungeon was going to be this terrifying?

Realizing how crazy she sounded, Tricky tried to calm down. “This… this is the place where Budew died,” she said.

Espurr: "Uh... yeah, I'm admittedly feeling pretty dumb right about now. Since I'm pretty sure the text mentioned you told me about this place." ._.;
Tricky: "... Now that I think about it, it was actually kinda unclear. I mean, the readers definitely know about this place, but..."
- Tricky blinks and shakes her head -
Tricky: "B-But that doesn't mean it was okay with you to just come here! Seriously, what got into you, Espurr?!"

Then all of it suddenly made sense to Espurr. No wonder Tricky had come all this way after her!

“…Sorry,” she finally said. “I didn’t know.”

“I never told anymon.” Tricky began to trot off. “I just wanna get out of here,” she said hurriedly, her voice shaking. “Can we do that, please?”

Espurr nodded.

Yeeeeeeah, you probably want to be a bit more explicit about that in earlier chapters, since my initial assumption was that when the scenes revealed the dungeon Budew bit it in a couple chapters back, that that was part of the account that Tricky told Espurr about, and it kinda gives this chapter some unintended undertones as a result.

The dungeon was absolutely overgrown with vines and tangleweeds, which twisted over the ground so badly that not even dungeon ‘mon could survive in it anymore. Even the dungeon itself was deserted. Espurr and Tricky traversed the marsh, searching for the staircase to the next floor. The burning smell had gotten stronger, so much now that Espurr was sure the fire was on the floor somewhere. She wondered why the dungeon hadn’t put it out yet. Then she looked at some of the vines hanging off the dungeon’s gnarled walls, how dead they were. She remembered the wind. This dungeon was a place of death and decay. It must have been dying too. It was too weak to put itself out.

Good. Espurr didn’t want to see this place ever again. [Only she didn’t want to be caught in its downfall, and neither did Tricky.]

Something about that last sentence feels a bit off in formulation. I'd suggest something a bit closer to "The only thing she cared about was not being caught up in its downfall, and evidently Tricky felt much the same."

Places all along the floor were even beginning to smoke and smolder now, and the bristling heat of the fire had evaporated almost all the water in the marshes. Espurr was even beginning to feel too hot for comfort. She hoped they found the stairs soon.

“I see the stairs!” Tricky announced a little while later, pointing down the hall. Sure enough, there was the staircase. But no sooner had they begun to walk towards the stairs there came the sound of heavy stomping behind them, and both Espurr and Tricky turned to see only one of the poliwrath from before charging towards them.

Tricky + Espurr:

“Berry crackers run!!” Tricky yelled, and then they both wasted no time getting to the stairs and climbing them before the poliwrath could reach them instead. The stairs warped, and then the poliwarth’s unholy screech of rage was cut off like it had been hit with a brick. Espurr and Tricky both caught the breath in the marsh once again.

“…So it can chase us across floors,” Espurr finally concluded. Tricky nodded hurriedly.

Espurr: "Terrific. Can anything else possibly go wrong right about-?"
Tricky: "Holy Mystery Dungeon, Espurr, don't you dare finish that sentence! Tempt fate sometime when we don't have giant frogs trying to eat us!" >.<

Three more floors passed in silence. They didn’t see either of the poliwrath again, but Espurr was more than sure that the one they had just narrowly escaped from was following them closely. The fires were more persistent. More than once Espurr saw parts of the floor smoldering away or just plain on fire, and the ambient heat that pervaded the entire dungeon was beginning to make her nauseous. On floor seven, there were fires in so many places that Espurr had been genuinely scared they wouldn’t find the staircase before the flames consumed them in the first place. And now she could see the stairs to floor nine, which she hoped was the Anchorstone.

So wait, what does happen to a Mystery Dungeon if you torch it to this extent anyways? Does it just collapse in on itself? Or does it get converted into a "burned environment" MD?

“Tricky the stairs are that way!” Espurr pointed to the right before Tricky could go too far in the wrong direction. Tricky said nothing, just backpedaling and trying to get to the stairs as hastily as possible. Espurr didn’t blame her. The distant screech of the poliwrath sent them both sprinting to the staircase as quickly as possible. It had caught up with them!

And then they were deposited on Floor Nine. It didn’t have walls. There was no labyrinth filled with endless dead ends and a perfect stone staircase hidden within its many twists and turns. There was only a thick, overgrown wilting swamp, and at the other side of the swamp in plain view lay the staircase. Both Espurr and Tricky couldn’t help but grin widely. They were going to get out of this mess!

But then Espurr heard a very familiar sound, and her blood turned to ice. No way.

Espurr: "... I-It's something other than those Poliwrath, I hope?"

But it was. The poliwrath was behind them. It looked like it had been burnt badly by the fire, but that was just making it more angry than anything else. Both Espurr and Tricky looked up at it with wide-eyed horror.

“Oh, COME ON—“ Tricky yelled—and then it punted her straight into the marsh. Espurr ducked and barely avoided one of its punches. She knew she couldn’t beat that thing. Not if she fought fairly. She looked at the burnt spots on the poliwrath’s body and arms. Maybe those… maybe she could do something with those.

I honestly think that it'd be pretty hard to top Tricky's reaction in a cutaway there.

Espurr stayed perfectly still. Like she predicted, the poliwrath raised its left fist to punch her into mush on the ground, and then it brought its powerful fist down. Espurr grabbed a pointy rock from the ground, and before the punch could land she stabbed the poliwrath right where the fire had seared away some of its skin. The poliwrath screeched in pain and rage, and used its other fist to punch Espurr to the side. Espurr recovered quickly—she had to—and glanced at the riverbank that Tricky was quickly pulling herself out of. She didn’t want to bring attention to Tricky. Tricky briefly glanced at Espurr, then quickly began to charge an attack. Espurr tried to make it look like she hadn’t seen Tricky as the poliwrath advanced upon her. Just a second longer…

And then Tricky spat an ember. It landed against the poliwrath’s back. The poliwrath let