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Exquisite Corpse 2020: Isekai I

kintsugi

golden scars
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
It's time. The universe cries out for aid.

The wackiness of Ash Betrayal can only be matched by one incredible and pure creation. In a time of great need, it is said that seven legendary authors must join forces at one to create something so amazing, so magnificent ... that one might even call it exquisite.

The authors of your salvation are in the list below. This list is alphabetized, so there are no spoilers moving forward:
Adamhuarts
DeliriousAbsol
Dragonfree
Equitia
OldSchoolJohto
SparklingEspeon
windskull

The author of each section is named under a spoiler tag so you can have fun trying to guess who wrote what part. Feel free to leave your comments or reactions in this thread! It was awesome seeing this come together, and great work everyone! :quag:

Thousand Roads' Exquisite Corpse 2020
Isekai I

It was a very warm day.

Cairo didn’t remember falling asleep outside. Soft grass rustled beneath him as he rolled onto his back, and the sun soaked through to his skin. A large dandelion bobbed down and tickled his nose, which twitched and fired out a violent sneeze. A few petals flew from the plant to drift down into the gurgling stream.

Yes. He was definitely outside.

Cairo sat up, rubbed his bleary eyes and scratched his chin, and his eyes widened slightly. Either he needed a good shave, or he had suddenly sprouted a coating of fur.
He looked down at himself, pawing at his substantially shortened body. Creamy fur spread over his torso, while the rest of him was covered in a navy velvet coat. Of fur. Not the elaborate kind Victorians used to wear.

“No, no, no. This has to be a dream.”

Cairo raised his head, picking up a briny smell on the air. His long muzzle pointed towards the stream and he ran towards it. It was more of a scramble, as his impulse was to walk on two legs. But his body wouldn’t co-operate, and during that short stretch of distance he resigned himself to running on all-fours.

The stream was too quick for a clear reflection, but a little way away, water had collected in a small rock-pool by the bank. He peered into it, meeting the surprised face of a cyndaquil.

“What is happening?” he whined. “When did this happen? And why?”

The last thing he remembered before going to sleep was chatting with his friends on Discord. They’d been discussing the need for a new Generation 8 Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game. Surely this was all just a dream? He’d wake up soon, back in his own bed, in his own furrless body.

Right?

Cairo sat down heavily and screwed his eyes shut. This was so frustrating. It all felt so real. When dreams took an unsettling turn, he could usually just wake himself back up. So why wasn’t he awake yet?

It suddenly felt a lot warmer. As if the sun had cranked itself up a few degrees. A soft crackle reached his ears and he snapped his eyes back open again. The grass around him was smoldering, and small flames stretched out from around him. He jerked his head back, noting the flames now erupting from his back.

“Yikes!”

He leapt up and began wafting his paws at the grass, begging the fire to stop. But the fanning only seemed to make it worse. And in his panic, he had set an entire stretch of bullrushes alite.

“Oh no, no, no!” He bounced from foot to foot as he stared in horror at the rapidly expanding forest fire he had managed to single-handedly create. “I have to do something! But what?!”

He turned back to the stream. Of course. Water.

He scooped some up in his cupped paws and tossed it onto the grass, where it sizzled.

“Well that didn’t do much,” he scoffed.

He tried again, scooping and tossing the water as fast as his small body would allow. The wet grass made it harder for the fire to spread, but it was still spreading faster than he could extinguish it. He tried to pick up his pace, using all limbs to fire water from the stream like a dog kicking up grass. But the rocky bank became slick with water and after a few minutes he lost his footing and, with a splash and a sizzle, toppled in. He flailed his paws to keep afloat, watching with terror as the stream washed him away from the burning grass.

He opened his mouth to yell, but water flooded in and he vanished beneath the current. He kicked his legs to push himself back up again and grabbed onto the nearest rock. It was coated with algae and his claws slipped on it. He yelped as the stream snatched him further along, soaking through his coat and chilling him to the bone.

“Hang on!” came a shrill voice. “I’ve got you!”

A long vine looped down from a thick branch stretching out above him, and fastened around his torso. With a ‘hup!’ the vine plucked him from the stream and set him down on the opposite bank. A stumpy pokemon dropped from the branch to the bank beside him. It didn’t look built to climb trees, yet it had made it look a lot easier than his attempt to walk on two legs. Its vines retracted into a bulb on its back and it gave him a toothy grin.

“You look old enough to know fire-types don’t do well in water!” she said.

Cairo retracted into himself and blushed. “I was trying to put out that fire.”

The bulbasaur looked up to the opposite bank where smoke curled up from the smoldering ground.

“Looks like the marshtomp are already on it,” she said, turning her attention back to him. “I don’t recall seeing any cyndaquil around here. Where are you from?”
‘She wouldn’t believe me if I told her,’ Cairo thought. ‘Should I say anything?’

The bulbasaur inclined her head on one side. “You’re a funny little thing.”

‘Well, she already thinks I’m weird.’

Cairo sighed and wound his claws together. “I woke up here. You see… I’m not actually a cyndaquil. I’m a human.”

The bulbasaur’s eyes widened briefly. Then she burst into fits of giggles.

“A human!” she gasped out. “That’s a good one!”

Cairo sank slightly. “You don’t believe me?”

“I think your dunk in the stream has got to your head.” The bulbasaur smiled at him. “The name’s Ivy. What’s yours?”

The cyndaquil glanced back towards the stream. “It’s Cairo.”

“All right, Cairo!” Ivy stood up and offered a vine. “Come with me. If you’re lost, there’s only one place to take you.”

Cairo shuffled his feet, trying to decide if this was really a good idea. He eyed Ivy curiously, noting the blue and white scarf around her neck. A small badge shaped like a lion’s head was fixed to it, shimmering gold in the sunlight. Yet she was still a bulbasaur, offering him help. Bulbasaur didn’t exist. But only moments ago, he’d still been human. Things were definitely out of the norm, and he was in a world he didn’t understand. So did he really have much choice?

No. No he didn’t.

The cyndaquil nodded and followed Ivy along the river bank.

---​

"But seriously, who would've thought that a goddess would become a little cyndaquil," Ivy said, sighing I'm melancholy.

"It's because you forcibly dragged me out along with you! Being the summoned hero is your job! I shouldn't have anything to do with this!" Cyndaquil yellowed, flailing her arms repeatedly.

"I had to. I didn't want to be lonely," Ivy cleared her throat and glared at Cyndaquil. "Besides… Don't you guys only ever bring in socially oppressed shut ins who dropped out of college?"

"What?"

"Yes! Don't think I haven't heard a thing or two about this tired anime trope! I don't even fit the bill at all! I was outgoing and cheerful, had a lot of friends in high school, had graduated high school!!! I was on the college tennis team. I was going to have a big game that weekend which would've given me a future in sports," Ivy said, oozing more melancholic energy.

"And now you've been sent here to save this world. " Cyndaquil nodded in understanding.

"Whose bloody damn fault do you think this is!"

"Wait, wait, wait, wait! Hero, stop this at once! KYAAAA!"

Ivy picked Cyndaquil by the head and was about to chuck her into the river when two figures caught her peripheral vision. They were a pair of demons. The first one had long dark pink hair that probably needed a lot of hair gel, and the other was a purple haired dude. He looked chill.

"The hell are you two looking at?" Ivy asked, midway through pitching Cyndaquil.

"When someone asks 'the hell are you two looking at?', then it is our duty to answer properly! To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all peoples within our nation!"

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"

"Mujessie!"

"Kojames!"

"Demon Lord Army Team Rocket blasts off at the speed of light!"

"Surrender now or prepare to fight!"

"Meowth! That's right!" said Meowth, blinking into existence right then and there.

"Oh no, it's a demon lord general! Team Rocket!" Cyndaquil said, wriggling out of Ivy's hold. "Oh, so you've heard about us? That must mean we're famous," Mujessie said with a boisterous laugh.

"Hero, you must watch out for their special skill! It's called [OVERLY COMPLICATED CONTRAPTIONS CRAFTSMANSHIP]!" Cyndaquil warned.

"What kind of stupid name for a skill is that?!" Ivy wheezed.

"Well, I don't make the naming rules," Cyndaquil replied with a shrug.

Ivy then narrowed her eyes at the trio, completely unimpressed. "So, the demon lord hires clowns to do his dirty work huh? Let's see if they even have good stats."

---​

The group of Mr. Mime advanced menacingly, brandishing invisible weapons. One cocked an imaginary gun and aimed it at Alex. Ugh, those things were even creepier when they weren’t separated from Alex by a screen. But still, he wasn’t worried. He selected two pokéballs from his bag, smirking.

Beyond the Mr. Mime, there loomed the lord of the Distortion World, Giratina. But this Giratina didn’t quite resemble the Giratina Alex knew, either canon Giratina’s Origin or Altered Forme. This Giratina had a snake-like, inky black body, with jagged red protrusions curving along its back. A half dozen ghostly wings waved in the still air. Or, Alex thought they were supposed to be wings? They kind of looked like over-sized banners. Whoever had designed it evidently wasn’t the best sprite artist.

All of the Pokémon games to get sucked into, Alex never expected it to be some weird Platinum bootleg. But hell, he would take it.

“Mwahaha!!” said Giratina, or, as it had introduced itself, Demon Lord Giratina. “You cannot stop me! My minions will kill you, and I will bring this wolrd into my hell!!” The typo came out in Giratina’s speech.

“Bring it on,” Alex said, throwing out his Pokémon.

Two of the Mr. Mime lunged, mouthing battle cries.

“Weavile, Fake-out!” Alex ordered. “Staraptor, Aerial Ace!”

As soon as she solidified, Weavile clapped. When her paws came together, a pair of disembodied hands in white gloves manifested from nothing and smacked a Mr. Mime across the face. Its companion growled, raising its arms. A shining barrier formed between its palms. But, before it could complete its move, Staraptor blurred and smashed into it. The Mr. Mime was thrown back toward its comrades. It hit the ground and lay there, unconscious.

Nuuuuu!!!!!” Giratina screeched.

Hah. I knew these things would have no EVs. Night Slash!” Alex said. Weavile lunged and quickly dispatched the conscious Mr. Mime with her gleaming black claws.

The remaining Mr. Mine sweat-dropped and quickly engaged each other in rapid games of rock-paper-scissors. Above them, Giratina flailed in the air like the world’s most infuriated noodle.

“No, no!!!” it shouted. “Minions, attack!!!!”

Two more Mr. Mime were shoved out by the others. “Aerial Ace! Night Slash!” Staraptor and Weavile unceremoniously OHKO’ed them as well.

Well, this was almost a shame, Alex thought as he watched his Pokémon faint the Mr. Mime two by two. He had thought a Mime might have been able to take one Aerial Ace, at least long enough to set up a Reflect. If they managed to slash his offense, then it might have gotten interesting, but alas. Maybe he had EV trained too hard. He must have challenged good old Greg from Route 215 over a hundred times; guy kept dutifully healing his Machop after Alex knocked them out. A shame… Now that he was at the end-game, he had been expecting at least a little bit of a challenge.

Giratina’s screeches grew more enraged with each defeated clown. After the last Mr. Mime went down, it reared back and let out an ear-shattering roar. It slammed itself to the ground in front of Alex; the impact cracked the stone beneath its body.

“You may have have been able to defeat my mercenaries,” it snarled, slithering forward, “but you’ll never defeat me, the lord of this dimensoin… and soon to be the entire world!!!”

“I doubt that,” Alex said, recalling Weavile and Staraptor. “Maybe your creator pumped up your numbers, but I’ve beaten everything else this game has thrown at me.” He selected his next Pokémon. “But sure, bring it on, Demon Lord Giratina.”

“Ah, but this isn’t even my final form!”

Giratina let out another roar, flaring its smoky wings. The wings expanded, growing larger and larger, until they curled to cocoon their owner. Giratina flashed with red light, then its new form was revealed.

Again, the mediocrity of whoever sprited this thing was obvious. This Giratina form was some kind of centipede: it had long rows of spiky, dark-red legs, but they were ill-defined and stuck out at weird angles. The artist had maybe tried to give it some kind of toothy maw, but it just looked like it had a grayish blur on its face. Something like a cape billowed behind the creature, it edges tattered and dyed scarlet.

Still, however it looked, maybe this creature had some new tricks up its sleeve.

I, Hell King Giratina, shall crush you into dust!” the new Giratina declared after Alex took in its form.

I almost hope you could.” Alex threw out his Pokémon, ready to bring down the next boss of this edgy Pokémon bootleg.

---​

Walrein formed in front of him in a shower of blinding light that forced Alex to shield his eyes. (He had to admit this VR was pretty impressive, especially for a bootleg.) Giratina chuckled, the sound echoing from everywhere at once.

"You truly believe that one mere Pokémon can defeat me?!" its voice boomed. "Insolent youth."

Now what? He didn't seem to have any buttons or menus - the game really could use some quality of life improvements. "Walrein, Ice Beam!" Alex tried saying out loud. He hated when video games had this sort of voice or motion control gimmick. Realistic, his ass.

It appeared to work: Walrein nodded and gathered an orb of icy energy in her mouth before releasing it in a burst of white - but a casual flick of Giratina's ghostly wing produced a Shadow Ball that met it in mid-air and annihilated it. Giratina's smugness was somehow audible, a sinister hum in the air.

"Hey! That's supposed to be super effective!" Alex tried to remember exactly what moves Walrein knew. "Surf?"

A tidal wave of water rose up from behind them, curved smoothly around Alex and crashed into Giratina's body. It shrugged it off as if entirely unhurt. There was no HP bar or anything either, no way to tell if it'd actually taken any damage. "This boss fight sucks," Alex muttered under his breath.

"Now, let me show you the true meaning of fear!" Giratina hissed, slamming a clawed wing-hand into Walrein's body and flipping her over onto her side. She grunted in surprise, struggling to flip back over. "Stupid boy."

And all of a sudden the claws snatched up Alex, squeezing him as tendrils of shadow enveloped him. "Hey!" Alex yelled. "That's not how Pokémon games are supposed to work! You don't attack the -"

"This is no game, human cretin," Giratina whispered. "Fool! You act like you're invincible, even in the face of a god of this realm."

The claws dug into his arms and torso. It occurred to Alex, suddenly, that he could feel that, and although VR was getting pretty good these days, he had not put on any sort of haptic feedback suit.

"...Hey. Hey! What the hell? Stop touching me!"

Giratina gave a horrible gale of laughter, the ghostly smoke around him twirling in time with the noise, and all Alex could think was that he would definitely be suing this dodgy-ass VR arcade.

---​

Come to think of it ...

Alex puffed his chest out and said, "I want to speak to your manager."He'd seen his mother shut down more than one argument with that one, and it was the last thing he could think to do. He hoped Giratina didn't notice how his voice shook.

Giratina laughed again, a sound like nails down a chalkboard. "My what?"

"That's right," Alex said, pushing past the lump in his throat. "I don't think he--or she--will be too pleased to hear what kind of service I've been getting."

"You fool." Giratina's eyes burned suddenly brighter, and the long shadow He cast across Alex seemed darker and colder than before. "I rule the dark spaces between every particle of every atom in your empty little head. There is none above me."

Alex took a step back and, impossibly, his foot sank into the shadow, into what had been solid floor, and he fell into the darkness.

*​

He awoke to green-tinged sunlight streaming through the leaves ... and a stabbing headache centered between his eyes. With a groan, he closed his eyes again. He didn't open them again until he heard crunching footsteps and a shadow cut across the light. He squinted up at a grookey in an orange neckerchief, its hands on its hips.

"Good, you're awake! I thought I was gonna have to carry you to Iron Town."

"Wuh. Where's Giratina?"

The grookey cocked her head to one side. "You must've had some dream. I'm Olea though, and that--" she turned to point, "--is the tree you knocked me out of when you fell."


Belle looked up at the tree in question and sheepishly rubbed the back of her head. Is that why she her back ached so much? Come to think of it, she couldn’t really remember much of anything that had happened in the last several minutes. She hoped this wasn’t some form of amnesia. The last thing she needed was to be stranded in the middle of a strange land with no memory of how she got there. Because despite what the grookey was claiming, she was quite certain she hadn’t been dreaming.

“Look, Olea,” Belle began, carefully climbing back to her feet, “I really don’t have a clue where I am. Could you just, I don’t know, guide me to the nearest town or something.” She paused, glancing down to her scratched-up arms. “Or, even better, a hospital.”

Olea stared at her for a moment before dashing forward, scampering up Belle’s taller form until she was seated squarely on her shoulder. “Well, I don’t know about taking you to any human towns. But I guess I could take you somewhere safer, at least.”

Reaching up, the grookey plucked a stick from the fur atop her head, pointing it forward towards the base of the hill. “Go that way and keep walking till you reach the edge of the forest. Then I’ll take over from there.”

“And what are you going to do in the meantime,” Belle asked.

Olea yawned. “Well, I think I’ll just rest right here.”

Belle opened her mouth to protest, but the grookey waved the stick in front of her face. With a sigh, Belle took just a second to dust off her clothing, and then she began to walk.

*​

When she’d began the trek to the forest, the sun had been high in the sky. Now, under the dense tree cover, it was hard for Belle to tell what time of day it was. But considering it seemed to be getting darker, she had a feeling it was getting late. She was sweaty, her legs ached, and her stomach was rumbling with hunger. Her mouth was dry as well. Why, oh why couldn’t whatever force dropped her into this world have provided her with water, at least?

“C’mon, we’re almost there!”

Olea had run ahead, stopping every few feet to wait for her to catch up, only to dash forward again. Belle let out a tiny whine and trudged forward. “I’m tired. Can’t we just rest for a few minutes?”

The grookey stopped, turning to give her an incredulous look. “You want to be out here after dark? That’s how the ghosties get you. Come on, don’t you hear the sound of water? That means we’re close!” Then she dashed off again.

Belle groaned and closed her eyes, trudging forward. This was it. She was going to collapse and die out here in the middle of the woods without figuring out why she was here. What a waste of a perfectly good life—

“Stop, stop! Don’t walk any further.”

Olea’s voice snapped Belle back to attention. She paused, opening her eyes, and then let out a cry of alarm. In front of her the ground dropped away sharply. Ahead, she could see more treetops almost level with the ground she was standing on. The sound of a waterfall nearby suggesting running water. And in the dying light, she could just make out the wispy smoke of a campfire rising from further in.

The grookey smiled, waving her stick down towards the lush ravine. “Well, this is the place, Belle. welcome to our paradise!”

---​

It wasn’t really paradise. It was… well, Belle didn’t really know what to call it. It looked like a tree, but had been adorned with several hammocks that hung between the branches and held various things such as fruits and straw. Above, the leaves of the canopy had been woven together into something watertight enough to stop the rain from leaking through and spoiling everything. It was…

…A treehouse.

Bell felt stupid.

The scorbunny slowly hopped forward, watching as Grookey climbed up on a branch and deftly swung on a vine over the river. She landed on the other side and looked back ad Belle.

“Well? Aren’t you coming?”

Belle looked up at the vine she’d have to use to get across to the other side. Then she looked down at the river, which splashed noisily in front of her. Some of it got on her feet, and it was ice-cold to the touch. ..Or technically a little above ice-cold, since it wasn’t ice, but that wasn’t even relevant and stay on topic for god’s sake.

…God help me?

Belle took one last look at the vine, saw that it was a bit frayed at the top, and decided she wasn’t cut out for this world saving business after all.

“Nooooooope. I’m not down for this shit. Have fun, Grookey! I’ll take my chances with the lycanroc!”

“Wh—”

Grookey, already halfway up the tree, had expected to see Belle following in her wake (never mind the fact that Belle wasn’t a monkey). When she heard Belle’s yelling, she glanced back, her face contorting into a position that a human would read as “pure, unchanneled bruh”.

Then she finished climbing up into the tree, and relaxed back into the hammock. Oh well. If that scorbunny couldn’t figure out how to cross the river, the lycanroc would eat well tonight (Never mind the fact that the scorbunny was a fire-type and had a lot more to worry about concerning the river). Wasn’t grookey’s problem.

“Oh shit! I’m sorry Grookey I was wrong! Isn’t there any other way to cross the river? Waa! Don’t eat me!”

Belle’s cries quickly zoomed back over the treetops, followed by the sound of loud snarls and growls. Grookey simply peeled a banana from the neighboring hammock, took a bite, spat out the seeds – too bad she was out of those seedless human world bananas; those were the bomb – and closed her eyes so the sunset wouldn’t bore holes in them.

Wasn’t her problem.

---​
 

Negrek

Triple Cross
Staff
Oh man, great stuff here. Loved the Mr. Mime with invisible weapons, surprise Team Rocket cameo (in the PMD world, no less!), and that ending, oof--ice cold! I like how some people took the "video game" part very seriously and we have in-game mechanics and stats and such, whereas others didn't touch on that at all. I'm curious to see if that'll pop up in the other isekai corpse, too!
 

DeliriousAbsol

*Crazy Absol Noises*
Staff
Location
Behind a laptop, most likely with tea
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. mawile
This was definitely random. As per Exquisite Corpse expectations, names and species changed randomly throughout. Total nonsense, anime cameos, random Giratina boss-fight that went on for three (?) entries. I appreciate the PMD ending to accompany the opening XD that was fun. Total amazing coincidence that both involved a river with fire and grass type pairings - one little fire starter being rescued, the other being abandoned to their fate. Pretty cold ending, too!
 
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