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Pokémon Dragon's Dance

Interlude: The Puppetmaster

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partner
dratini
Gonna be some time until Part Two, but for now, here is the Interlude!

Interlude
The Puppetmaster

Archer is worried.

How do you know? He’s certainly not clearing his throat or shuffling his weight from foot to foot. If he were doing either of those things you’d send your persian straight for his throat, convinced it was a ditto imposter here with you in the room.

It’s not any particular sound or a movement that clues you in, just a sense you honed back in that interminable crossing, when your life hung on a sugar-sheet peg. And you know Archer. You know Archer better than he knows himself.

“How’s the boy doing?” you ask, just to push him further off-balance. Archer hates discussing this: he’s paranoid you mean to promote Athena up over him, just because she happened to have a womb and be convenient. A ridiculous fear. If he’d had a womb you’d have been just as happy to use him. Best not to say that, though. You prefer Archer a little stained by self-doubt.

“Silver?”

Of course Silver. Irritated, you finally spin your chair to get a good look at him. Did he suffer some horrible injury and not bother to tell you? Is that why he’s so slow this morning?

No, his uniform is pressed and spotless. Not a hair out of place on his glossy head. And if anything’s paining him, he’s hiding it well with his posture.

Well—not the guilty conscience. He’s not hiding that well. But you’ll let him get to it in his own time. Archer’s earned that much from you, and he’s never tried keeping secrets yet.

You don’t end up having to clarify. He’s already speaking when your eyes meet.

“Silver is doing well. Yesterday he pushed his playmate off the top of the playground tower and lied about it when asked.”

That’s your boy all right. Loosened up by fatherly pride, you drape one well-heeled leg over the other.

“And how is your boy doing?” you say, deciding to throw Archer a bone. It’s endearing how he’s found his own little prodigy to bring up, as if he thinks you’ll forget about your son if he can present a superior child in his place. Even got the hair color right. The whole thing amuses you, so you’ve let it take its course. And it could come in handy, if your flesh offspring grows into any concerning quirks.

Archer’s straightened, though. Amazing he could get much straighter.

“Sir, I’ve made a mistake.”

You lean back in your chair, eyes narrowing. Archer doesn’t make mistakes, so that’s a little distressing. On the other hand, it’s nice to have things to hold over him, provided the mistake isn’t disastrous. You wait for him to continue.

“The boy I’ve been training. He ended up on a mission he shouldn’t have been on. A code red. You know Proton isn't always the most . . . efficient with these things.”

“He’s effective,” you say mildly.

“Yes. But the boy saw and took off. It was too early.”

Not disastrous. To you, at least. Archer’s looking crushed, though.

“Your dragon-wielding prodigy,” you muse, just to twist the knife in further. “I assume you’ve already pulled back operations in the relevant areas.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then that’s all there is to be done. You win some, you lose some, Archer.”

It was a foolish idea in the first place. You don’t think you actually would have given up on your flesh and blood. That’s not the Fiorelli way.

Though you find yourself liking the unnamed boy a lot more now that he’s run away. Running away shows character and leadership. It made you everything you are.

There’s nothing you could do that would send Archer running away. This is why he will never be a leader.

“Keep an eye out, though,” you continue, “in case he pops up again and does anything interesting. He has a dragon, you’ve said?”

“Two of them, actually.”

Two dragons! Certainly worth some oversight. And since Archer’s bound to do it anyway, better that you’ve made it an order.

Actually. That was a little cheeky, wasn’t it? And Archer still sounds too proud.

“Any other failures to report?” you ask.

“No, sir.”

His left eye twitches slightly. Good. Got to keep the troops in line.

“Then get on with things.”

As Archer closes the door, you look out the window, where the sun glares at you with a furious orange eye. It looks to be a beautiful day, maybe even warm enough to make you think you’re home if you close your eyes.

Things are going well, really. You can’t complain. And you’ve decided Archer’s mistake is more amusing than annoying.

Your dear persian stirs in the corner and you coo to her. Time to get back to work.

~*~​

Gym leaders meetings are certainly the highlight of your month. There are other pleasures, certainly, such as crushing the dreams of single-badge trainers and marking off politicians as fatly and thoroughly bribed, but gym leader meetings hold a special charm for you.

The gym-leaders fall into two groups: those who have power and influence, and those who do not. And you, of course.

Natsume’s early, though her eyes are shut and her legs crossed like she’s meditating. Natsume’s an ally. You try not to dwell on her much, in case she decides to drop in on your thoughts.

Erika nods to you when she walks through the door. A smart woman, with an ambition within her capacity. You appreciate her tasteful kimono, exquisite manners, and complete lack of sentimentality in business matters. She also thinks the apex of success is a multi-million dollar perfume company, so you don’t spend much time worrying about her.

Then there’s the ruffage. Muno from Pewter, his face permanently fixed into a scowl. Hamako of Cerulean, who is courting irrelevance with her staunch and wholly futile opposition to her city’s tourism industry. The Unovan, who preserves a mullish silence every month. Sometimes you doubt he even has the language ability to follow along. Vermillion’s leaders thought it was good imaging for trade relations, and you don’t really mind. He’s a non-factor, like the other two.

Koga ought to be a non-factor, but he nags at you. Fuschia’s a nowhere town with its own code law and a half-hearted tourist economy. But the ninjas have respect. In time immemorial, they swooped in to save Kanto from invaders and for that they have the nation’s enduring gratitude. When the nation remembers they exist, that is. You’ve been careful to keep your people out of Fuschia. If you’ve read Koga right, he won’t bother anyone who doesn’t bother him first. Some kind of ninja principle. Some motto of caution or restraint. You wouldn’t know.

Katsura skips these meetings. Nobody misses him.

The meeting begins when Erika clears her throat gently. You lean back in your seat, aquiver with quiet pleasure. Everyone gives badge reports. Muno complains again about faulty riggings. Erika reminds him again that it's not gym business. Natsume smiles, but doesn’t say anything, even though everyone knows the problems come from Saffron. Hamako complains about ships clogging her port. Honestly, does this woman understand the first thing about economic power?

Koga watches everybody. The Unovan watches the clock.

It’s a quiet crowd, so it falls to you to maintain a pleasant back and forth with Erika. You can tell she appreciates it; in her opinion, the others are complete bores.

Kanto has a problem. They’ve lost track of where power lies. Between the gyms, the assembly, the league, and the emergent industry sector, it’s a muddle. The game will go to the first person to consolidate. That’s you.

The gyms are nearly neutralized now. Natsume’s appointment was a coupe, of course. Killed several pidgey with one stone. Silph’s president stayed late at Friday’s gala just to give you a handshake for it.

You’ll be replacing Hamako soon; after the gyarados fiasco, it’s all but inevitable. Maybe with one of those bright young things from that delightful watershow you watched—what was it now, the Sensational Sisters they’d called themselves? Vendors outside the performance hall had sold conch-shells and garish starmie-patterned shirts. You occupy yourself with picturing Hamako’s expression, should she have happened to have wandered inside. Oh, that settles it. The Sensational Sisters it is.

Muno’s a defeatist, so you don’t worry about him. Maybe you’ll stop by Pewter and tour one of his horrible, dusty camps. Remind him that Viridian is also suffering beneath the cruel yoke of the city industries. That will make him feel very cared for. It's attention Pewter craves, not solutions.

You’d feel better if Koga were gone as well—but no. You’ll let the ninja issue lie. They can’t fight a whole country. If worst comes to worst, they’ll secede and you won’t miss them.

You feel a headache coming on. That’s Natsume. She does it because petty displays of power amuse her, and you take it because you understand how power actually works. It’s not the way she thinks it does—for a psychic trainer, she’s fairly obtuse.

When the meeting ends, you give her a short nod, ignoring the small smirk that crosses her lips. Soon construction will begin in Cinnabar—

Ah, but that’s a thought for another time and place.

~*~​

When you return home, you shrug off your double-breasted blazer and unknot your tie. Your vest hanging loose and your shirt half unbuttoned, you pause to examine your reflection in the broad mirror that overhangs your rose-veined marble sink.

You’re 36. That’s the age your grandmother always answered, if anyone was uncouth enough to ask. “I’m thirty-six,” she said, white hair severely bunned and ribboned, diamond choker clasped tightly around her sagging neck.

Everyone would let out a gentle titter at this charming response, but you were the only one who knew Grandmother believed those words with all her heart. She believed she could make the world anything she wanted it to be by the strength of her belief.

You pull the purple velveteen ribbon from your pocket. Her diamond choker you sold long ago, back in that desperate crossing, but the ribbon you kept. It was of no value to anyone, and perhaps not even to you. Still. Your jaw is square, your eyebrows sharp, your hair silky, and your gaze keen. She would have been proud of this face, had she lived to see it. Though it’s not exactly your face you’re counting on to make your ancestors proud.

Political power’s not enough. You need real power. You need an empire.

And when you’ve got that—

Well.

You study your face again. Do you have your father’s jaw? You think not. Yours is sterner. Your eyes are harder and more relentless.

Once you’ve got that, maybe then it will come time to pay your homeland a little return visit. Remind them that the Fiorelli name is not one to be thrown lightly aside.

Your hand clenches around the worn ribbon. No, not lightly.

~*~​

Your gym, newly built, is the tallest building in Viridian. Of course, taller buildings stand upon every single street in Saffron, but they’re far enough away that the comparison isn’t worth making. Distance alters things. The name you are making here, the name you left behind in Etalia—one day they will be measured against each other. But not yet.

For now, you are circulating, the gracious host at a rather fabulous gala. The attendance is excellent. More than half of the assembly have clocked in, and not just the ones you’ve bribed either. All the major corporations are represented. You catch the rosy pink of Erika’s kimono, hear Jiro’s bright laugh, find Muno off in the corner nursing a glass of sake and his own resentments, and—

Oh my.

“The champion, at my humble gathering?” you call out. “You do me too great an honor, Lady Kikuko.”

She turns to face you slowly, in her own time. She’s wearing purple tonight and a shrewd expression on her haggard face. You think of your grandmother for an instant, then banish the thought before it shows in your eyes.

“Modesty doesn’t suit you, Giovanni Fiorelli.”

The knowing way she pronounces your full name makes you twitch. Witch, they call her in Viridian—in polite company, at least. And you know witches, the shadow-benders back home who plied their trade in forgotten alleyways. Once, when you were plagued with sleepless nights and haunting dreams, your mother brought you to one of their shadow dens. She did so at night, woke you from your bed and bundled you into a dark jacket. Father never heard about it. He would have castigated you both, locked you away for nights and days with only bread to eat.

You never saw the face of the woman who treated you, only her gnarled hands in the flickering candlelight. Something seemed to move in the corner of your vision as you lay there, stiff with fright and dizzy from the sweet incense. A shadow of a shadow, darker than the night.

Had she cured you? Or had the terror of the experience taught you to clear your own mind?

Kikuko stares at you knowingly, and you bow your head to hide your sudden loss of words.

“I hope you have found everything here to your satisfaction,” you say. A plain, fumbling phrase, but you were not expecting her here tonight.

“You’ve built yourself a magnificent gym.”

The words are delivered tonelessly. You can’t tell if the compliment is perfunctory, bitter, or sincere. The Lavender Town gym was a humble building, a single floor, low-roofed and dark. The air tingled with sickly-sweet incense and rattata skittered behind the walls. Perhaps the Lady Kikuko thinks you are too big for your boots.

“Why, thank you. Perhaps you’ll honor me with your presence some other time, when I can attend to you with the attention you deserve? I am sure you have much to teach me.”

Kikuko studies you from beneath thinly drawn brows. “Perhaps so, Mr. Fiorelli. Perhaps so.”

~*~​

Battle hall matches are an exercise in tedium. The infantile groaning of the crowd, the trainers parading in their ostentatious kit, the terrible refreshments—you would have left already, if it weren’t for the dragonite. It’s massive, meter upon meter of bulging gold muscle. Behind the dragonite stands a trainer with blazing red hair, a garish red cape, and a cheap festival mask. You could safely write off the whole ensemble as ridiculous if the dragonite weren’t currently tearing its way through the best the Kanto battle hall scene seems able to offer.

Idly, you wonder how the armor of your rhyperior would stand up against that assault.

That evening, you cut off Archer mid-sentence as he makes the evening report. “Has your young protege been—busy?”

“Three battle hall tournaments this month,” Archer answers promptly, as if he’d been anticipating the question. Then he hesitates. “Also, potentially, the sabotage at the Power Station project.”

Your eyes narrow into slits. The rogue generator your people had assembled was found ruptured in half one cold morning. The last you’d heard, they suspected a rogue wild onyx.

“There were claw marks,” Archer adds.

You lean back in your chair, digesting this. So he’s on a mission now, is he, this little red-head and his dragons? What does he want? What’s he trying to achieve?

It’s all small potatoes so far. Annoying, but nothing that could alter the inextricable trajectory of Team Rocket. If he were standing here, you might pat him on the back and tell him with a fatherly air, “True power doesn’t come from your dragonite’s claws, my boy. And until you understand that, you’ll never meet me eye to eye.”

“Should I—”

But you cut Archer off with a wave of your hand.

~*~
Katsura, it is universally agreed, makes for unpleasant company. Since he is arguably one of the brightest minds of his generation and a ferocious battler to boot, the league’s stuck him in Cinnabar, where he doesn’t bother anyone, except you on the days you’re forced to visit.

Luckily, Katsura doesn’t suffer from an excess of morals. You clink mimosas as you wait on the last of the permitting, the product of several handsome bribes, a few hideously expensive bottles of champagne, and the agony of enduring the rare prolonged conversation with the man.

You sip your mimosa, and wince. Oversweet. Of course. Why had you expected any different?

“What sun rises from blue to orange, and never sinks?” Katsura asks suddenly, with an airy wave of his hand.

The inane riddles are yet another one of Katsura’s less-than-charming tendencies. Most of them are homebrewn, and impossible to answer sensibly, even if you’d been inclined to that sort of childish wordplay to begin with. Although—

“A sun that’s a dragonite,” you answer.

Katsura’s bushy eyebrows lift in surprise.

“You’re a learned man, Mr Fiorelli,” he exclaims as if that’s some sort of revelation. You had the best tutors Etalia had to offer for the first twelve years of your life, and your learning never stopped afterwards, either.

“Why a dragonite riddle?” you ask, setting down your drink.

It’s just the mildest of suspicions, but Katsura chuckles and says, “Fought one of the damned things just last week, if you can believe it. My magmar’s fire-blast couldn’t even touch that thick hide.”

Your face must stay just a little too still, because Katsura chuckles again, wagging his eyebrows knowingly.

“Has he hit your gym yet? No? Ah, but you’re waiting for it.”

The words don’t leave your mind as you lay kiku flowers down on Isami’s gravestone and take the helicopter back to Viridian. Perhaps you are waiting. Enough of rumor, hear-say and ridiculous festival masks. Meet your enemies in the light of day, even if you stab them in the shadows, they said back home. At least, your grandmother did.

“Arrange a meeting,” you tell Archer. You’re a little disconcerted when he doesn’t even ask who with, just nods, worry flattening his lips. But he doesn’t leave. You watch him for a while, the way your darling watches the rattata when she is fed and lazy.

“Do you think that’s wise, sir?” he says at last.

Questioning you? Rare enough that you actually take a moment to consider. With one hand you pat your darling, with the other you finger the ribbon curled in your pocket. The silence stretches. You are sifting through conversations, fitting problems against each other like puzzle pieces, seeing where the edges fit.

And then you have it.

“We wait,” you tell Archer, who nods his head and removes himself with poorly-veiled relief.

Because you have a plan now. It’s a darling, this plan. It’s not just going to kill two pidgeys—it will kill a dragonite, metaphorically at least, and more besides.

If the boy comes, you’ll give him a gym battle and every courtesy he’s owed. But he’s on your board now and, though he doesn’t know it, soon he’ll be playing for you.
 
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OldschoolJohto

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
he’s paranoid you mean to promote Athena up over him, just because she happened to have a womb and be convenient.
Brutal.

If he’d had a womb you’d have been just as happy to use him.
Double brutal. Also, I think it’s very statistically likely that this exists somewhere on the wide, weird internet.

Sir, I’ve made a mistake.”
Oof. Takes a lot for him to say that.

Archer’s looking crushed, though.
LANCE WAS TOO.

Then that’s all there is to be done. You win some, you lose some, Archer.”
I think this is a good character play! He’s got other fish to fry.

Though you find yourself liking the unnamed boy a lot more now that he’s run away. Running away shows character and leadership. It made you everything you are.
👀

where the sun glares at you with a furious orange eye.
Love this. He’s watchin’.

There are other pleasures, certainly, such as crushing the dreams of single-badge trainers and marking off politicians as fatly and thoroughly bribed, but gym leader meetings hold a special charm for you.
Wowee this says so much.

Koga ought to be a non-factor, but he nags at you. Fuschia’s a nowhere town with its own code law
👀

It's attention Pewter craves, not solutions.
Oof.

In time immemorial they swooped in to save Kanto from invaders and for that they have the nation’s enduring gratitude.
Missing comma.

You feel a headache coming on. That’s Natsume. She does it because petty displays of power amuse her, and you take it because you understand how power actually works. It’s not the way she thinks it does—for a psychic trainer, she’s fairly obtuse.
Interesting. I hope we get to learn more about her!

Everyone would let out a gentle titter at this charming response, but you were the only one who knew Grandmother believed those words with all her heart. She believed she could make the world anything she wanted it to be by the strength of her belief.
I like seeing the hold Grandma has on him. She sounds cutthroat.

The champion, at my humble gathering?” you call out. “You do me too great an honor, Lady Kikuko.”
Agatha as former champion makes a lot of sense.

Once, when you were plagued with sleepless nights and haunting dreams, your mother brought you to one of their shadow dens.
This is so juicy.

“Also, potentially, the sabotage at the Power Station project
YES, Lance! Make me proud.

The rogue generator your people had assembled was found ruptured in two one cold morning.
The one + two right next to each other reads awkwardly though.

Meet your enemies in the light of day, even if you stab them in the shadows, they said back home. At least, your grandmother did.
This is excellent.

You are sifting through conversations, fitting problems against each other like puzzle pieces, seeing where the edges fit.
Ooh, a lovely visual.

This was a fun peek behind the curtain! I love that Gio has made himself both rival and master in the same stroke, and Lance doesn’t necessarily even know yet that he exists. Gio is obsessed with control. I wonder how Lance is going to confront that.

Poor Hamako. We knew this was coming, but I feel for her. I like her.

This really does paint a picture of how fractured Kanto is, though. And that’s not even dealing with the question of Johto! Such large pants to fill.

Part two when??? We’ll make it part of your homework: I’ll sue you for the rest of it. 🤔
 
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  • Quag
Reactions: Pen

Negrek

Chill Certainty
Staff
Ugh, didn't think it would take another assignment to get me to show up here again. I've read quite a bit farther in the story at this point, but... here's chapter two.

First some replies to replies.

Hm, was there anything in particular that stood out to you as being too young? He is roughly twelve in this chapter, but not a very wordly or sophisticated twelve.
It's hard for me to pin down, but I guess it's a general sense of obliviousness? I think some of it's really just down to him not seeming to think about/realize some aspects of the world around him that I think I would usually expect people to start thinking about by the time they're going on thirteen. I guess a lot of it comes back to how he doesn't realize how dire it is for him to show Airi around, and to the Dragon's Den, specifically. Totally something I can see a younger child doing, just seeing, ooh, potential new friend/person to impress and have the context fly completely over his head. Like, he's skipped out on history lessons, but his peers presumably haven't, and for a culture where isolation is so important, it seems like that kind of thing would be hard to miss. Like, he hasn't heard people in the village comment disparagingly about the traders or their wares before, gotten the sense that it's fine for them to come and sell things but they aren't really welcome in the village proper? His classmates haven't made shitty jokes about him wanting to "steal" Toku, or other ryu, or similar? These are the sorts of things I expect younger children to just not notice/understand (or uncritically internalize), but by preteen age I feel like they would be starting to work out why it is that the Ryu's Gift is so hidden, even if they persistently didn't show up for the day they went over that episode in class. I keep coming back to the fact that Wataru's only a year or two off from high school in US terms, heh.

Uh, think you may have accidentally copy-pasted this from some other review?
lol, looks like part of a Tumblr post, maybe? I don't thiiiink it got pasted over anything important, but unfortunately I don't have the original review around to compare. Not sure how it got into my review document, one way or another. Sorry about that.

And now... We're on to Johto at large! I liked how you had Toku end up smuggled along with Wataru; clever to add an additional, covert element to Ibuki's "gift," and it made for a really cute scene when Toku was getting restless in there and Wataru was freaking out over her potential discovery. The pokémon continue to be a delight, and Kana seems like an interesting addition to Wataru's team--both she and Toku want to get stronger, I'd say, but Kana seems a bit more businesslike and restless about it. Almost more like Wataru than Toku is, maybe. The attention to detail and body language with Toku, especially, continues to be great. She's so snakey! It'll be fun seeing how her way of interacting with the world changes as she grows and evolves.

I quite like the portrayal of Oak here, too. He has a sort of arrogance about him that definitely speaks to the hotshot trainer canon often alludes to in his past. The way he casually assumes that Wataru's helping him out because he wants an autograph and the way he both tries to use his reputation as a weapon and is pleased when Mr. Inushi recognizes him really speak of someone who both enjoys the spotlight and is accustomed to having it. It's an interesting midpoint between the presumed pro trainer of the past and the affable professor we see in R/B/Y. He's not a malicious character, but there's also an obvious degree of self-interest in taking Wataru (and his dratini!) to Kanto, and I'm curious how their relationship will develop in the future. I also like how you manage to work in Oak's taste for poetry here.

I liked the bits of culture clash we get in this chapter--Wataru being surprised and horrified by the pokéball, for example. (But a clever solution to that from Mr. Inushi!) The foreignness of the "trainer" concept is particularly interesting... I guess the dragon clan isolated themselves pre-pokéball, and "training" as such only became viable after its invention? Or perhaps they've always had a different relationship with pokémon than Johto at large. Cherrygrove is a strange place, and it's only natural that Wataru hates it. Nothing is going to compare favorably with home right now.

If anything, I would have liked to see more of that in this chapter, and overall more of a sense of place for Cherrygrove. The lights are a big strange thing for Wataru to encounter, which makes sense, and there's some mentions of the weird materials that things are made out of and how many buildings there are in the place, but I don't think I got much of a sense of the rhythms of life in Cherrygrove the way I did in Wataru's village, and at times I got a bit turned around as to what I thought the time period we were in was (I think it's supposed to be basically the equivalent of the 1970s?). To some extent that makes sense because Wataru isn't part of life here in Cherrygrove like he was at home, so he certainly doesn't know what's up, and he mostly sticks to the pokécenter and avoids talking to people he doesn't know, but on the other hand this seems like a good opportunity to bring in some interesting observations on "life in 'modern' Johto" from an outsider's perspective. (In which vein, I enjoyed the little scene of Wataru getting signed up for his trainer card for this reason.) There's so much here that's new and strange to him... Certainly he's shell-shocked from his exile, but one way or another I'd expect him to be especially aware of the differences between Cherrygrove and home. Are there strange pokémon he's never seen before coming through the center? Does he actually recognize some things here (what does Mr. Inushi sell to the dragon clan, anyhow?) but find it weird for them to be common instead of exotic items? Clothing styles that are even stranger than the ones he's seen on traders, or strange gestures or figures of speech? I felt like you could have done more with the setting and Wataru's reaction to it.

Love the dramatic irony and bittersweet in Wataru and Toku's decision that they just need to get stronger to be accepted back into their home. If only! It makes perfect sense, of course, especially given the stories Wataru knows, but I imagine we're going to get the scene of his grand return later on, and I imagine it's not going to be pretty. It feels realistic as an idea he (and Toku) would cling to, of course, and it certainly gives him an excellent motivation to go journeying! Taking refuge in being strong has obviously been Wataru's preferred tactic for a while now (and why not, he's good at it!), and I look forward to seeing how he handles things when it simply doesn't work. (One way or another, Blackthorn City is hardly a secret by the time of G/S/C... very curious to see how that comes about, and what part Lance has in it.) Professor Oak's riddle at the end of the chapter was a great way to wrap everything up and send us on our way, thematically--and what a great character moment for Wataru! He's quite the pragmatic type, heh.

All in all, though, I thought this chapter was a lot of fun and a good follow-on to the first. It feels like we're really setting off on a journey with Lance here, and I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun! And, you know, heartbreak. There's the sense that the story's now begun properly. Onward!

Tears burned behind his eyes.
From personal experience I'd say they usually feel like they're burning on the front, or maybe around the sides a little bit. "Behind" his eyes doesn't seem right to me.

Uncle wasn't waiting for him alone. The stranger was about Uncle's age, but that was where the similarity ended.
The transition between these two sentences strikes me as a little off. The second sentence leads off with "the stranger," like he's already been introduced, but there's no mention of him earlier.

Turning back to Wataru, her voice softened.
Here Ibuki's voice is turning back to Wataru.

Then, on impulse, he threw his arms around Ibuki, pressing them into a tight hug.
The "them" here is ambiguous, and while I get that you mean "Wataru and Ibuki," the structure of the sentence makes my thoughts go first to Wataru's arms.

He'd watch Ibuki work the fabric for months, determined that her debut in the hakuryu odori be nothing less than perfect.
*watched

Mr. Inushi made a show of raising his hand to zip up his mouth. True to his word, he kept silent after that.
Does Lance know what a zipper is, if he's never heard of trains?

Dusky light streamed in from the low-sunken sun, casting long, trailing shadows.
This one bothers me a little; light doesn't cast shadows, objects do.

When his bowl was empty, Wataru followed Airi and Mr. Inushi to a small room, with stacked cots.
No comma after "room."

He crawled into the lower one and remained there huddled, as Mr Inushi bustled back and forth through the room.
No comma after "huddled."

The miniryu was snaking determinedly across the floor, towards the meal room.
lol, good snek

Mr. Inushi had insisted they come here before eating breakfast and Wataru's stomach felt decidedly hollow.
Comma after "breakfast."

Wataru thought the ordeal was finally over, then, but there was one more stop, a small building with a blue overhanging.
*overhang

The miniryu's eyes widened and she let out a low whine.
Comma after "widened."

He patted around his pockets and his face fell.
No comma after "pockets."

This room was bigger than the one Wataru was staying in, and only had a single bed.
No comma in this sentence. (And reading this out of context in my notes... "Oh no, only one bed??" Wrong genre. :P)

Toku raised herself up high on her belly as she faced the charmander. Wataru smiled at the change in her body-language. If Toku was trying to make herself look big, that meant she thought the charmander would make a decent fight.
Very cute image of Toku trying to make herself look intimidating.

Letting out a short hiss, she suddenly sprung forward, stubby claws flashing.
*sprang

"Wrap it now," said Wataru, when the angle of the charmander's strike left her off-balance.
No comma after "Wataru."

Before the charmander could recover her bearings, Toku's sinuous body curved tight around her, pinning her arms to her side.
*sides, assuming it's one to each side

The skin-to-skin contact of the wrap attack became a rippling static.
To me it seems kind of weird to talk about "rippling" static, or anything that implies motion, since "static" is motionless.

And they can cut through solid rock.
Huh, interesting. I don't really associate dragonite with that sort of thing; they can learn a couple claw attacks, but they've always struck me as more energy-based or blunt-force fighters as opposed to the type to carve their way through rock. This detail felt a bit artificial to me, like something inserted just to give an opening for introducing Kana's metal claw attack, but I also just might not be up on dragonite lore.

The brick slammed into her chest and sent her tumbling backwards, letting out a howl of pain.
The brick's the one howling here.

The old man, the professor smiled.
You want another comma after "professor."

Wataru felt a cold feeling sweep through him at the professor's words.
"Felt a cold feeling" strikes me as redundant. "A cold feeling swept through Wataru at the professor's words" or "A wave of cold swept through Wataru at the professor's words," maybe?

Wataru sank into a deep, full bow, the kind he would have made a dragon master.
made *to a dragon master?

His eyes tracked him across the room.
Might want to reword this so "he" and "him" aren't referring to two different people here.

The question was asked with a skeptical air, as his eyes moved from Wataru's sharp features and blazingly red hair to Mr. Inushi's squat and rounded face.
Mmm, not wrong as such, but it reads odd to me to describe a face as "sqaut."

Wataru didn't have to stretch his imagination very far to imagine it.
Going imagination/imagine here seems a little off. Something like "didn't have to stretch his thoughts very far to imagine it," "didn't have to work very hard to imagine it," etc. would clear that up.

He sunk into a deep stupor, giving only single-word answers to the professor's questions, until the man eventually switched his attention over to Airi and Mr. Inushi.
*sank

"You're right," Wataru said. "All we've got to do is get strong."
Oof. :(

At this point I'm wondering how long it usually takes for a dratini to evolve into a dragonite. How long does Wataru think he's looking at away from home, here?

Wataru woke in the mornings and raced to the professor's room, where the charmander was waiting.
Mmm, something about "mornings" here doesn't seem right to me. I like something along the lines of, "Wataru woke every morning and raced to the professor's room, where the charmander would be waiting," better, although I couldn't say why.
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Pronouns
she/her
Partner
silvally-grass
the agent

And we won't see home until she becomes a kairyu.
ah yes good thing they can see home as soon as that happens, yup, nothing to see here

I'm struck because I tend to find myself telling people no, stop doing summaries instead of fiction, they don't work, you need description and individual scenes to tell a story. But this chapter strikes a very strange and delicate balance of a bunch of summary-like scenes that do tell a story, and the character trajectory is crystal clear throughout. It's masterfully done and looking back I'm still not sure how it's done--I think the bookends about yearning for home, as well as the comparison of the final mission to the sneasel date, establish the through-themes and give a sense of interconnectedness, but I don't really know what makes this read so well. It just does lol.

Other standout moments--Lance seeing that you can train pokemon through means specific to their personalities while not catching on that he's being groomed himself, all of the good raticate this chapter, and you can't be scared of ursaring because they're nice and murder is illegal more breaking news at 7. Archer dialogue on the sneasel date is on-point, as is the building feeling of Lance trying to prove himself. Hamako staring off into the dock is sad and why do we have to hurt our fictional grannies like this.

Lance and Toku had met when he was seven and she was just a year old, still living with her fellow hatchlings. When the elders had led Lance into the nursery, she hadn't looked up. Her focus had been exclusively on digesting a very ripe berry. As another miniryu clambered over her, in hopes of stealing a bite, she'd flicked her tail and sent her sibling flying. Lance's laugh made her raise her dark eyes. He'd offered her another berry and his arm, and that had been that.
There was this moment and the one where Lance calms down Toku that felt very ATLA wholesome to me. If there's an arc about Toku being stolen that finally breaks Lance even more, I will personally be very sad pls don't i tried to think of a good threat here but i'm pretty sure i'd just be sad

The magneton's one open eye swiveled, and it sent back an electric spark. A conversation! Lance thought, wondering if he was dreaming. Kaisho was too in awe of Toku to speak much to her, and he shied away from Ibuki and especially from Kana, who'd made the mistake of greeting the miniryu with a friendly fire blast. He was glad Kaisho had made a friend—he just hadn't expected that friend to be an impassive metal automaton.
yes see so bolts of lightning are jagged and so is kintsugi it's ALL coming together now
memes aside I am 1000% here for steel automaton frens trying to emote in whatever way they think is best while everyone else just applauds and they get to live their best lives and be happy for it.

Her expression reminded Lance so strongly of Hunter's demeanor during training camp dinners that he took to calling the sneasel Hunter.
yeah we gotta stop doing this
I forget! Does he still have the sneasel or does she, like Hunter, end up leaving him to expertly chop scallions

"Must have gotten hungry," someone else cracked, and nervous laughter wafted into the air.

Gyarados don't eat humans. But Lance knew enough now to hold his tongue.
On second or third read it's pretty clear that the point is that the crowd doesn't really know gyarados habits and aren't assessing them genuinely, but the first time through I thought they were just like! there are more fish closer to the shore, possibly because the influx of boats are trawling up coastal areas and somehow that means more fish (which I don't think it would). Maybe "Must have gotten hungry. Whole crowd gathered on a dock for a buffet" or something?

When asked why she didn't step in at once, the gym leader delivered this baffling response, "The gyarados clearly didn't mean any harm."
oh wow ouch stop please this article is written so realistically and i hate it how did you reproduce poorly-researched clickbait posing as news so well

"Yes," Lance lied.
the good decisions club welcomes its king lol

He saw a dark uniform, a pale face, a red R. And a blocked exit.

Lance saw a neat beard, laugh-lined skin, blown pupils in a bloodless face.
I really liked the POV-switch away, which is a sentence I've never found myself saying before--but to me it works because it really says how Lance sees himself.

Then the ursaring's claw cleaved down.
It shattered against the ursaring's claw.
wasn't a huge fan of "claw" as the singular here. I feel like bears lack the dexterity to do just single claw stuff. I'd just do "Then the ursaring cleaved down" and "It shattered against the ursaring's claws"

Ahead of him, Toku dipped down, offering the long, blue curve of her back. As he swung his leg over, her body flared white. Blue burst into golden yellow like a rising sun. His arms wrapped around Toku's neck and she rose, above the tips of the trees behind them, above the white fluff of the low-lying clouds.
ugh babies no

"I am a kairyu. Proud, yet humble. Powerful, yet kind. All of these are mine: the broad sky, the running stream, the green earth. Wherever the strong trouble the weak, I am there. So do I—"

Swear.
we've come so far from "don't let the gaijin steal our cool shit"

the puppetmaster

oh wow pen i can't believe you published porn on the site

Giovanni's voice is a really strong one and it makes sense that we get him as the interlude narrator--in a sense he's been the shadowy force behind everything after chapter 2, but I imagine that in Act II he's going to be much more active. It's also nice to get an insider perspective on politics and Kanto in general; for me, this chapter drives home that Lance doesn't truly doesn't know what he's up against both in terms of fighting Giovanni and changing Kanto in general.

Giovanni also continues to be a compelling foil for Lance--their circumstances are so similar, but the way they reacted is so different. Good antagonist shit. Both of them abandoned their homes; Giovanni partially by choice and Lance by being forced to do so. Both of them earn the respect of their peers; Giovanni by being a conniving bastard and Lance by having cool dragons and being friendly. Both of them prioritize the respect (or general goodwill? I think) of their peers; Giovanni does it because it's optimal to have good puppets and Lance does it because friends are cool guys please stop picking me last for kickball and exiling me. "Running away shows character" put this into a bow for me--at the end of the day, they both stand by this choice.

I'm struck by the image of Lance wearing a literal mask here. Everyone knows it's him, and even if they didn't, it's not like he's really got any other career besides fucking up team rocket and living in difficult-to-track locations. Does he know this, and this is his way of hiding his face from them not because he's afraid they'll recognize him, but because he's afraid to face them as himself?

Sad Isami vibes and good dragonite riddles. I like the grounding of Giovanni in personal strokes, the fierce admiration for his grandmother and the staunch pride in his kid--he's set in his convictions, they are horrible, and he has the skills to do what he wants. Easy wins for Lance; great type-matchup; he's fine.

“Silver?”

Of course Silver.
I like this both because Archer is probably thinking of Lance, and because Giovanni figures this out immediately after

“Silver is doing well. Yesterday he pushed his playmate off the top of the playground tower and lied about it when asked.”
amazing.

Fuschia’s a nowhere town with its own code law and a half-hearted tourist economy
Hamako of Cerulean, who is courting irrelevance with her staunch and wholly futile opposition to her city’s tourism industry.
wasn't entirely sure why Giovanni's focus is on tourism exactly? I see some connections for tourism->globalism/better commerce, but I wasn't sure what Giovanni was trying to say here.

Muno complains again about faulty riggings.
wasn't sure if this was bad structural rigging (like building structure) or rigging gym matches poorly

Natsume’s appointment was a coupe, of course.
I think "coupe" is the zoom-zoom car and "coup" is the overthrowing, but I do like the idea that Natsume appoints a sportscar as interim leader

You feel a headache coming on. That’s Natsume. She does it because petty displays of power amuse her, and you take it because you understand how power actually works. It’s not the way she thinks it does—for a psychic trainer, she’s fairly obtuse.

When the meeting ends, you give her a short nod, ignoring the small smirk that crosses her lips. Soon construction will begin in Cinnabar—
oh yeah this can only end well

She believed she could make the world anything she wanted it to be by the strength of her belief.
Giovanni's grandmother is N; this confirms a lot

The name you are making here, the name you left behind in Etalia
believe it or not it took me 2.5 months to realize that this is Italy

overall

I struggle with actually saying concrete things about this beyond general enjoyment. I don't actively critique or mentally comment published fiction when I'm reading it either, which I understand is not a fair analogy because I also don't light up published fiction author DM's with shitposts and cries for help about ferris wheels.

This is a good story lol. Looking back on things I've said before I don't even think there'd be much I'd change; some of the early pacing I might've done differently but that would've been a different story, and this one works at what it's trying to tell. It's interesting to me for reasons I mentioned in "The Agent"--it's more distilled than standard journeys like this would be, we aren't reading about a million Wataru fetchquests, and it both works and I think tells a more sophisticated story as a result. Sort of like an anthology of interesting images, which I've never seen work before but is executed fantastically here, and lets you tell way more in the wordcount than most people would've lance leaves team rocket chapter 40 let's GO.

hi yes your prose is good but i feel like we both know i feel that way?

I struggle with saying things and instead bog myself down in questions like ! how long are gyarados actually? would gyarados be released indoors when clearly in this fic they are aquatic sneks? why are tiles the most thematically and visually interesting type of flooring while being the least practical in a battle scenario because they would immediately shatter? what the hell is reptile anatomy? can gyarados ever close their mouths or would they look so dumb that the universe would combust? why are beeg whiskers geometrically just a pair of parallel squiggles and why are parallel squiggles impossible to make identical? what is a kairyu and why are they shaped like butternut squash? scales? if i can't use rim lighting, who am i? and of course, who the fuck is kintsugi?

so anyway i've been sitting on this/these questions for a while and I'd say it's 70/30 why this review is stupid late, the other 30 just being my general inability to comment conclusively on things I think are already good, please enjoy the phase of my life where I stop trying to put things in words in these situations and just do fanart instead, cool, have an excellent day and please stop doing real life stuff so act ii can happen
 
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Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partner
charizard
Hey Pen! This time I'm here for a BLEC prize and read through chapter 2 / The Exile!

This was a very hefty chapter and it covered quite a lot of ground. I feel like it could have been split in two at around the time the professor showed up. But that aside, I think the biggest highlight/takeaway that I got from this is the little mystery of whether Toku was intentionally brought with Wataru or not. And this actually touches upon a bit of a clever meta you have going on with this story. Now, as far as I'm aware, this doesn't seem like a particularly AU-form story. With that assumption, I don't think it's too farfetched to say that Wataru is going to eventually become the Pokemon Champion somewhere down the line, and I'm already seeing his team forming from the canon now that he has a Charmander joining him as his... starter? Funny how that goes.

But where that diverges is the fact that you're using that as a meta guideline for Wataru's progress while still keeping the actual ending of the story unknown--because the main conflict is not what happens with him in terms of his success as a trainer. It's about whether he will be allowed back home or not, because that part of his story is either not something well known (by me, at least), or is not something brushed upon at all in canon. The real story is therefore that, and is also the main hook at the end of this chapter--his goal of how he can go back. By proving himself and essentially overriding the conditions for his exile. It makes me wonder if it's some kind of elaborate test, but it seems too contrived for that to be the case.

I'm biased so I enjoyed the Charmander scenes greatly, particularly the Metal Claw learning and so on. I suppose if I wasn't so biased I might comment on it going on for a little while longer than perhaps necessary, but I dunno man, Charmander.

One of the biggest highlights of the chapter, though, is something that I'm hoping is explored in future parts, or at least acknowledged or explored further--Wataru's budding codependency on Toku. While understandable that he's in an unknown place with unknown things happening, Toku disappearing before Wataru was extremely acute, and I'm wondering if there will be other times where Wataru will have to work without Toku. It also makes me wonder just what Wataru would be able to do without her, had she never come along on this journey to begin with. Would he be totally helpless? This is actually one thing that makes me wonder if Toku coming along was planned.

Anyway, though, I don't have a whole lot to say in terms of critique beyond the length of the chapter and the stretch of some scenes, but they're fairly minor nitpicks all things considered. Good stuff, thanks for the read!
 
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  • Quag
Reactions: Pen

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Chapter 1

The cheri bush wasn't empty when they reached it.
Somehow it seemed odd to me to describe a bush that way.

Wataru felt compelled to shout, catching the miserable look on the gaijin boy's face as he got to his feet.
I wasn't sure if he actually said this or not until after his uncle responded to it.

I think chapter 1 established what it needed to. Wataru is kind of mistreated and also rather brash. Like Naruto, I guess. I like how the chapter establishes his bond with Toku, because I can always appreciate a man or woman who appreciates their pokemon. Kind of balances out the more negative impression that I got from some of his other actions. Anyway, he's definitely taking her with him.

Now, I wonder if, in a sense, exhiling him isn't a bad idea. I mean, doesn't that expose him to more temptation to tell people about the dragonite? If he still lives in the village, they can control him to some extent. Sort of like "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." That's my thinking, anyway.

Chapter 2

When Ibuki handed him the soap, he saw that her nails had gouged deep impressions into it.
A nice detail

The dark blue cloak from her hakuryu odori was clutched in her hands.
Hm, I wonder what could possibly be in that cloak... ;)

They're dumb things, trains, need the tracks to be laid down for them to get anywhere.
PREACH

"I really need to learn to say no to books," he said as he followed Wataru in.
I wonder if this paragraph could be combined with the one above or something? Because for a moment I assumed it would be Wataru speaking, but really it's just the same guy.

Toku managed to move between the blows
I think this could be phrased more effectively---I would probably cut out "managed to" and change "move" to a more interesting verb. Maybe describe her as narrowly avoiding the attacks if it's important to convey that it isn't easy for her.

I like the exchange between Wataru and the charmander. I guess he kind of has an affinity for pokemon, which would make sense for an outcast-y sort. Probably found more companionship in Toku than in most humans. Combine that with the village's reverence for dragons, which he seems to have picked up on, and it makes sense he would be that way.

The miniryu's pahrump informed Wataru that she was well aware of her own brilliance, thank you.
I think by this chapter I'm getting a pretty good sense of her personality.

And then, all at once, Wataru had it. "You mean, like with Master Kaisho! He returned on the back of the kairyu and that's how they knew he belonged to the clan. Toku, that's brilliant!"
Didn't know that that story would set up for this moment, but it's cool that it did. I believe that is what those in the industry would refer to as "good storytelling."

Part 2 of chapter 2 was super wholesome, yay! Initially I thought the setup was kind of contrived, but I suppose it makes sense when Hamako reveals that she is a gym leader and also trains a gyarados. I like the ambiguity of the shed skins, as well---they represent loss as much as they represent hope, at a time when Wataru's future is ultimately still very unclear. Anyway, an awful lot happened here; at this rate, the story will be over in a few chapters ;)

Casino arc notes

The people there were similarly intent
I am not sure what the people are being compared to in this instance

Wataru walked forward, past red-tinted waterfalls that crashed down from nowhere
Was not sure what this was referring to.

I am kind of disappointed he didn't whip out Toku when he was talking to the floor manager. He hasn't exactly kept Toku hidden all this time, and he needs to reveal her in order to use her in battles, so the fact that he is hesitant now just seemed odd to me. Not that I expected him to spill his whole backstory, but like, he could have made something up? I don't know, just seemed weird to me.

When Wataru had lugged over the rocks, the kadabra lifted the miniryu with a lazy wave of its spoon out of the tank
phrasing is odd to me

His expression reminded Wataru of a kairyu he'd once seen, challenged by a miniryu over a juicy berry. The kairyu had stared down, arrogance mingling with disbelief at the miniryu's impudence. His wings had flared out; he'd raised his head and his chest had swelled. I am bigger than you, the posture said, I am stronger than you. I am your elder and your better and I know secrets you do not. So don't try me.
I like

Wataru found himself in one of the resort's deluxe suits
suites?

The man turned. "Then why in the world are you frittering away your life here?"
This is a very fair question. I mean, damn, after 6 months, you'd think he'd consider giving up or trying something else...

"More experienced than someone who's actually raised a miniryu?"
NOW you tell them? I guess it's just because he's mad, but I am still having a hard time buying it

There was no way Wataru was bringing Toku within a mile of this place. But he could bring this man to Toku.
So now we're trusting some casino guy to see Toku? He's banking an awful lot on a first (okay... second) impression

And then he also more or less reveals his backstory to him too.

Anyway, my concern for this arc is that it feels sort of contrived. It just isn't really making sense to me why Wataru chooses not to show Toku to the floor manager earlier, yet after stubbornly wasting 6 months gambling he shows her to Archer pretty much right away. Maybe there even could have been a way to convince them that he's a dratini expert even without revealing that he has one? Or maybe he could have tried to pull off some badass heist that involves distracting the kadabra and then running off with the dratini (I mean, okay, maybe not, I just think that sounds like fun). I don't know, I just kind of find myself feeling dissatisfied with how poorly he handled the situation. I think part of it is that he struck me as a headstrong character, so even though he has a devotion to the dragons, it's sort of hard for me to buy that he would deal with this situation by meticulously gambling all his money away (also, I guess he doesn't really consider that he may be doing more harm by giving all this money to the same folks who put the dratini in such a terrible situation to begin with?). Same goes for Kana—I'm kind of disappointed that Archer ends up being the one to convince Wataru to abandon that futile path, rather than her.

Maybe part of it was that Wataru got addicted to the gambling? I mean, it would explain his behavior a little, but I didn't get the sense that that's what you were going for.

Anyway, I think it's compliment time. I'm very bad at compliments, so I apologize for that. But anyway, you have some solid prose throughout the story—it doesn't reach for the poetic and sometimes dreamlike heights that your oneshots do, but I saw very few openings to attack, so to speak, and the style is perfectly appropriate for a longer story. I was pleased to see care taken to describe the flowers in Celadon and the moths, etc., and I feel like I can actually imagine what it's like to be there. The battles are easy to follow and convey what they need to. I think it's easy to underestimate how hard all of that stuff is.

I think the "fakeness" of Celadon (a pretty important theme for the chapter) is conveyed pretty well, particularly with the gym battle, and Wataru breaking the perfume bottle was a good reaction to show. I can buy it.

I kept myself from looking at other peoples' reviews on purpose, so I do not know if my opinions will line up with theirs or if I'm an outlier on some things.
 

Flyg0n

Bug Catcher
Pronouns
She/her
Time to give my thoughts on chapter 1. Very good! Love the idea of Lance being mixed. Very cool, would actually explain a lot of details. I thought the prose and flow of the story was lovely as well. The dancing bit was very good, probably as good as one can expect trying to describe something so visual with words.

I don't have any real critique to give. The prose was clean, the story easy to follow, and the pacing good. I was impatient to get the part where Lance inevitably leaves, but everything mentioned seemed fairly necessary to the plot/character development, and was interesting to read! I really enjoyed the insights into the culture of the dragon clans and how they operate. The ritual dances were an awesome idea.

But I will give thoughts and reactions!

The evening was warm and muggy. Birds still chattered softly in the trees. He could spend the rest of the night here, watching the moon light the lake. Maybe, if he was lucky, the gyarados would come out to dance.
I love the implications of Gyarados coming out to dance in the lake. As if they aren't super vicious attack everything on sight rampaging beasts. I've always been vaguely annoyed by pokemon getting widespread generalized as 'bad', so I really like this.

She grabbed him by the wrist and tugged him forward. It was either run or be dragged, so Wataru followed her into a run, stumbling slightly as he tried to keep pace. It wasn't fair. Ibuki was only a year older, but she was already so much taller.

And tonight, she would dance the hakuryu odori.
I really enjoy the prose here, the way he sounds both excited and a little envious of when he'll have the chance to do this ritual dance.

Wataru smelled the bonfire smoke before he saw the lights. Ahead of him, Ibuki's pace quickened. As they came down the rocky path, she sprang ahead without looking back to see if he was following.

Wataru approached the pavilion at a slower pace. The scent of roasted meat and berries hit his nose, setting his stomach rumbling. He'd missed dinner, Wataru realized, and now it was too late to eat. Everyone was splitting off into their groups: Ibuki had already taken her place with the other blue-cloaked dancers. Glancing around, Wataru found his fellow miniryu dancers gathering in a disordered circle to the left. They seemed even smaller than usual in their silly-looking blue headbands.
Nice imagery! I liked how the writing slowed down a little to describe the setting.

The drums began to pound loudly and the elders shook their rattles, creating a sound like wind passing through dry leaves. When Elder Kyo stood and lifted her hands, the children began to rise. Wataru jumped to his feet and raced to the front of the waywardly forming line, ignoring the dirty looks he received. He was the oldest in the group; he had a right to go first.
This is really choice sensory writing, evoking both visual and aural aspects of the setting. Also, nice detail with his moving to the front of the line while everyone gives him dirty looks.

One by one, they spun outwards, positioned like the overlapping petals of a poppy.
*thumb up emoji* MMMMMM nice
Love analogies like this (or is that a simile? I can never remember)

This is the last year I'll wear the miniryu's blue
Or is it?

Elder Kyo's eyes snapped onto him like a spearow spotting a juicy caterpie.
There's nothing I love more than pokemon comparisons for things in pokefics, so I love this

"He flew back," Wataru guessed. "On his kairyu. He flew back with two kairyu," he added defiantly. That sounded like a return worthy of a dragon master.

Elder Kyo's mouth hung slightly open. "Correct," she said after a moment.
:ROFLMAO:
Best subversion ever. Somehow this ignorant kid guessed the right answer. HA! I love that. Shows that even if he doesn't pay attention in class a lot he's earnest and good at like, busting through and just doing stuff.

Two and a hafu doesn't make three.
OOOOOO burn
Also that's rude as heck wow. I don't even have to know the language to know this was such a rude insult. Good context.
(Or else its a really bad spelling error, lol.
jk!)

"Nothing happened,"
Right. Nothing. Young Lance's character seems on point though. Earnest and good hearted, but ignorant.

"Ryu-a?" asked Toku. What now?
I personally would have italicized 'What now' but that's just me, perhaps.

Toku's only a miniryu," Uncle said at last. "I'm sorry, little one," he added, looking down at Toku. "You can't go with him. We can't allow it."
That's not fair though! Its not up to them! Let Toku decide!!!

:mad:
How dare they.

This does make me questions things like how much weight they give to the pokemons desires over their own. Is it because Toku is young? Would a grown Dratini have a choice? Do they not fully recognize a pokemons right to choose? Its a curious thought for sure. Perhaps chapter 2 will reveal more (And have her sneak away to stay where she belongs!!)

Home? Wataru blinked open his eyes as they left the cave. Wetness blurred the sky above into a smear of yellow stars. But it's not. It's not my home anymore
What a poignant, sad ending.

AHHH!

I really did like this story! I'm oh definitely going to read chapter 2. Honestly, I didn't even feel like I would enjoy it as much as I did but I really really do, and so far I like your interpretation of lance.

NOICE
 
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