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WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Just line by line reactions here for Ch2.



[In the ten seconds afforded to her before her neck bleeds out into the dirt, she remembered ten years.]
“Her neck” is getting too much agency here. Could just be “before she bleeds out into the dirt.”

[They walked on eggshells around each other. Kana didn’t believe that her daughter would ever truly have a place in this world that was learning to devour itself alive.]
OOF that’s a lot to carry.

[Machines were fascinating and boring to her in the same way that people weren’t: they were predictable.]
Great line. Great character insight.

[There was the little boy who flew a small biplane and discovered a floating castle in the clouds.]
👀

[He sang her a quiet song from his homeland and told her a surprise story he’d saved just for her birthday.]

Ugh this kills me. The patience to hold in a story, the preciousness of stories when the world is crumbling. Also UM HI Giving Tree. Very interesting hint at the real relationship between people and pokémon that’s happening outside and under and beyond the stuff with shadow pokémon.

[A warrior had weapons, for fighting and killing. But a guardian had nothing more than its body, for the strength of a guardian was in its heart.]
My heart! Wow, and HI Iron Giant, welcome to the party. Here for it.

The last few lines completely threw me, but I trust I’ll learn more soon. Would like to keep reading but now I’m terribly tired so I’ll have to just come back sometime soon. :)
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Shy spends the ten seconds Vajrin has before she bleeds out into the dirt weighing these two thoughts. He hopes that she spends hers better.
I hope you don't think I'm being snooty or that I dislike the story because I'm picking at individual lines, because those are not my feelings at all. BUT, I think this would be stronger if it read In the ten seconds before Vajrin bleeds out, Shy weighs... Still gives you the call-back to the semi-delirious impossibly stretched-out 10 seconds, but reads a little cleaner. (Because they're Shy's 10 seconds too -- he's deciding, and there's loss involved.)

when the clouds come so dark and thick that it seems like the sea itself has descended from the skies
(y)

Naturally, this being Orre, it has been quite a long time since that last happened.
Because the shadow pokemon phenomenon has messed things up, or because it's a desert? IDK what part of the world you live in, but I did grow up in a desert (adjacent to Orre if it = Arizona) and I can add that in mid-summer there are usually daily thunderstorms in the afternoon. Not much rain though. And it doesn't necessarily conflict with this sentence -- this is Orre, not Arizona, and clearly things Are Not Right here.

Pokémon don’t have any of that. The fight is all they know.
This is a really interesting way of looking at the reason pokemon are willing to fight for humans.

She was always so smart. And she is, even now, even when it’s frustrating.
This is love.

I hadn't quit realized until this chapter that Shy was partly sharing a body with Rin -- I thought he was more hovering over her shoulder. It seems like maybe Rin thought so too, and Shy seems to think that's how she saw it... And it does explain why he was misread ad her imaginary friend at first. Except she does admit to being a pokemorph at the end of chapter 1, so there's either something additional going on, or she was more aware than he realized.

Shy is such a sweet, gentle soul. I love how he again and again tries to soothe and teach with stories. I also like that he calls her by her full name -- even if she's lost some of the meaning and association with the name, preferring Rin, he still sees her holistically.

Now that we've seen Astra through Shy's eyes, I'm very excited to see what has changed in her in the next chapter.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Finally replying to Ch4 --

I really enjoyed seeing more of the relationship between Astra and Asi. The way it "talks," but only in impressions. The way she definitely is forced into action by it... but killing Rin was clearly her own mistake. She's out of control. She seems really torn-up about it, and yet also has no recourse.

I'm also noticing, again, the importance of names. Vajrin meaning one thing, Rin meaning something else -- original meaning divorced from her. Shy a temporary name because his real one is unpronounceable. Astra a burdensome prophecy. And Asi? (Wondering if the Spanish meaning of the word is a happy accident or if it was chosen.)

And all the while she knows she should know better than to wish.
Adrenaline surges through her like a wildfire,
Liked these lines.

Curious to see how the psychic's message comes into play.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Ch 5 --

They had to focus, they say,
*have to focus?

Can't tell yet if Astra is "dream-woman" or not.

“I will not forgive you for this.”
Unclear if this is aimed at Astra or Shy.

it hurt in all the ways that having their head cut off hadn’t.
Oof.

Life had its way of being confusing sometimes.
This one felt vague, not in a helpful way.

They were like a puzzle with too many pieces; some were duplicates and some were missing, and yet none of them fit together.
Like this. ❤ Also reminds me, weirdly, of that bit Daniel Sloss does about relationships and puzzle pieces.

There weren’t eyes to close when the outside world was too scary
Should this be the inside world?

Once upon a time, there was a story,
And interesting twist on the usual once upon a time.

Humans were the only species to put on and take off masks.
I know a few ghosts that would beg to differ. Sounds like Shy might be one. Also, I do feel like the following passages help make this statement feel earned.

lanterns filled with vileplume powder that could burn with blue fire when lit aflame, a strange piece of ice from the east that was not cold and would never melt... They told a funny story about a group of forest pokémon who accidentally mistook a shining pidgeotto for the goddess ho-oh, and a sad story about a minior that tried to make a wish on itself,
Cool details.

They told a funny story about a group of forest pokémon who accidentally mistook a shining pidgeotto for the goddess ho-oh, and a sad story about a minior that tried to make a wish on itself,
an altogether confusing and very long, rambling rhyme about a girl’s misadventures with her murkrow.
👀 I see what you did there.

Her toe stubbed it first,
She stubbed her toe on it first,

something she’d come to expect only from the kinds of adults who spent their time reading books, not the kinds of people who wrought with their hands.
Love this twist and how it parallels the gentle cleverness in both Shy and Rin.

this was to save Triss the trouble of acting out two people kissing each other when she was just the one person in the mask.
Hahahaha

A fire-vulpix and an ice-vulpix who fell in love with one another, and yet their clans were sworn enemies, so when the two finally met as enemies on the battlefield, she slew him with her flames and, as he melted, he quenched her fire. A froslass who smiled sweetly as she guided human children up a frigid mountain, and they lit her aflame her in an attempt to bring an end to the blizzard that had buried their village.
Ooh big feels on these.

Cubone punchline was 👌

Oh, rough that they were addressing her mother the entire time. Nice. I mean, not nice, but.

“Our minds have been fused for almost ten years,”
Unclear if this is happening shortly after their both jump into the golurk body or if there's been a time skip.

I enjoyed this, but I wish there was a little more intrusion from Shy / confusion in the sections bookending the Cubone-girl story.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Shy would love to explore if they still had Vajrin’s body,
This highlights how the body is also a loss for him in ways I hadn’t considered.

Sometimes he would fixate her eyes on a bit of cloth that hadn’t faded too fully in the sun, or on the flash of an emerald in someone’s necklace.
Unsure of the tenses in this. Sounds like this is from before they lost her body, pre-Agate visit, but also it doesn’t seem like emerald necklaces would be common in the wastes.
crawling with the familiar touch of telepathy up the back of his skull. {How did you learn this name?}
Oooh nice.

they think best in terms of beginnings and endings.
Nice — feels very true. And I like the cosmology. Those roles make sense to me. Tense slippage earlier in this paragraph too though. You’ve got a description of who’s worshipped most, present tense, and then how humans “tended” to think.

Tough titty.
That’s a surprise!


There’s something off with how the flap of the petal-like wings on her back line up with the speed of her movements; they’re blown by an unseen wind and unaffected by her momentum; she’s zipping through time in a way that doesn’t line up with her trajectory in space.
Oh that’s an interesting idea! I hadn’t thought to handle celebi that way, but it makes sense. I’m enjoying how she talks to Shy, flippantly naming what the future will be, planning to reminisce by dipping back into the past.

the sands of time
I see what you did there!!


Endure enough centuries and disasters start meaning nothing to you. The world has a way of burning itself to the ground and rebuilding from the ashes once every thousand or so years. Cross enough of those off your to-do list and nothing matters any more. And if you’re the Celebi, and time is a dimension that you can travel through as easily as someone else might go north or south, not only does nothing matter any more. Nothing else matters ever again; nothing else ever mattered to begin with. Urgency stops existing right alongside the barriers into the fourth dimension.
This feels like not Shy’s POV.

A monument to all that time can do.
Symbolically very fitting! Also reminder if our conversation about oil execs flexing with giant fossil displays — I guess there are many reasons to keep a fossil. Loved the description of Shy trying to see the aerodactyl in it and seeing his own reflection instead.

So I guess it remains to find out if Shy can do it! He’s good at gently showing her things with stories. And I can imagine ways Astra needs to change too...!

I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something in the chronology between this chapter and the last. I’m unclear about when the visit to mom happened and why that happened first. I’m also surprised that Shy is heavily mixed into Rin’s inner monologue now but not vice versa. I guess he’s got a better handle, but still. I forgot she was mixed in there with him a few times throughout.
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Location
waiting for the fog to roll out
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
Read chapter 2 and boy, was that depressing 😭. The chapter was an emotional thrill to read from the beginning of the end, and I'm sad Rin ended up dying after all. I really liked how you showed her life in small segments. It went from her living in a happy world as a three year old and then everything just went down hill from there. Even after she was the only survivor in her village, a random Astra showed up out of nowhere and went for the head. FeelsBadMan.
fate has a funny way of not letting my characters be happy

I didn't understand it all that much, but the ending bit implies she fused with the golurk? Or at least her consciousness now resides in Shy's shell as well, which means Rin is technically still alive, though it'd seem her identity did die nonetheless. For a story about a broken world, I'm surprised I'm enjoying it this much lol.
but! she will be coming back! she is 1/3 of the narrative voice of this story when she's not, like, lying facedown in a ditch somewhere...

thank you for reading! even though it's probably a bit more grim than your usual fare, haha

Been too long away from this one! Unfortunately I started a review earlier, but it got eaten, so there won't be so many quotes from chapters 3/4 in particular, I'm afraid. Still loads to talk about, though! Obviously a thing or two has happened since I last was reviewing here...
this may seem very weird, but I am so so blown away by your review. Thank you for thinking so hard about this story and taking the time to write up all your thoughts like this; it really means a lot.

...I'm a bad person, because my primary thought during all this was why the mightyena wouldn't eat Rin/the electivire/the dead mightyena. They might not be scavengers, but this lot has been dead for like 15 minutes tops, it's perfectly good food. :P
oh no, you're totally right... looks like I can't have my grim starving world cake and eat it too. I picked mightyena since I wanted something wolfish, but looking at the name I'm pretty sure hyenas would have no qualms lol.

I was a bit surprised by how little Shy seemed to react to Astra's behavior after she killed Rin. He was kind of sitting there, narrating it in a fair amount of detail, but didn't seem to react to it at all. Which, yeah, he was a bit distracted by having to handle Rin's soul at the moment, but even after she leaves and it seems there's a bit of downtime, nothing. How does he feel about Astra's apparent remorse? Does he feel some sympathy for despite what she did? Is he angry or disgusted, thinking that her display is hypocritical, or bitter because no amount of regret on her part can undo what happened? The chapter starts on a good melancholy note, with Shy grieving what happened to Rin, but most of Shy's narration is rather detached.
Definitely something I'm still trying to balance. I think Shy is by nature really detached from these vague human concepts of life and death; he doesn't like not-knowing, but he also doesn't really understand. I wanted to capture that feeling of clinical observation/information gathering, but I do think his chapters end up rather aimless.

With this new development, this story is actually reminding me quite a bit of Ninefox Gambit... rather different genre, rather different circumstances with the body-sharing, but similar tone and some similarity in the prose style, I think.
ooh! this looks fun. I will try to check it out from a library once the world is back to normal

But does it have its own angle besides wanting blood and to survive? Is the sword necessarily malicious, or is it also not too pleased to be stuck with this constant hunger thing? Asi seems a lot less loquacious than Shy, so perhaps it doesn't have as much of a real personality or spirit, or perhaps it/Astra are simply not as good at communicating as Rin and Shy. In any case, it's a fun dynamic between these two, where they don't necessarily like each other, and Astra at least is in fact rather uncomfortable with Asi, but they're stuck together and have to cooperate, at least to some extent. And it seems like of the two of them... Astra's the one who has less say in what they do, at least in the heat of the moment.
Asi doesn't talk much, haha. The rest of the points you touched upon do get explored in later bit, so I don't want to spoil too much, but they're definitely things I considered! To me the dex entry here (it drains the soul of the wielder) is just too tempting to not use as an exploration for what violent paths do to those who choose them.

It seemed odd to me that Asi would announce Fati as "witch" and let Astra quietly freak out over who might be coming, when Astra knows Fati, and Asi is presumably aware of this and that Fati's not a threat? Or perhaps the sword has a rather different opinion of Fati than its owner/knows more than she does, heh.
Mostly the second thing! Unlike Shy/Rin, Asi/Astra don't really have a deeper communication beyond what gets shown here. Asi senses Fati, she is ~~weiiiiiiird~~, and that's really all Asi knows.

Very cool to see Fati here, in any case; she definitely felt like a character that the Orre games could have done a lot more with, so it'll be fun to see her get more screentime here.
she's actually in Orre! Fateen just has 0 screentime and I really have a soft spot for prophetic characters haha.

Verrry interesting that Shy, a ghost, is the soul of a pokémon that now inhabits a robot shell. He goes by a three-letter name that derives from something longer. Meanwhile, Asi is a ghost inhabiting a sword, with a three-letter name. Does it come from something longer? Does Asi also have a history from before it was a sword, and are we ever going to learn more about it? I wonder whether all ghost pokémon are literally the ghosts of former pokémon, or whether they can arise independently, be their own unique souls with no previous life. Might just be a coincidence, but I'm definitely curious!
👀

The next chapter is a bit of a departure, although having already read six I'm guessing this is what Kala was talking about with regards to Rin "time-traveling," although if that's actually the case I'm not sure why you put this one before six instead of after. One way or another, we appear to have both the future and either the distant past or myth going on here--maybe an alternate future where Shy and Rin are still stuck together, maybe a look at the actual future of this story.
Haha, the more I read people's feedback on Rin's chapter, the more I'm torn on it -- I wanted her to be trying to escape this shitty narrative that she's stuck in, to the point that she's literally refusing to participate in the shitty narrative that she's stuck in and is instead telling fairytale stories. They're the ones that Shy told her when she was growing up, so they're in the past (I think on rewriting I'll make that more clear). But she can't quite get away from all of it, so she's still drawn in to the ones that are darkly relevant to the reality she's trying to escape.

The tenses in these sentences are pretty tricky, but I believe it should be "isn't much to say [...] she might have had a happier life."
oh yup I'm bad at grammar

I cannot believe you made this pun, lol.
95% of what I write precipitates on puns that I should not have made :')

Hmmm, is that a little self-shade I see?
Orre is the land of shadow pokemon it DEMANDS shade

The story here is interesting, but I don't know that I buy the central conceit about humans being more inclined to wear masks/more reckless about doing so, more likely to try to become whatever they pretend to be. I mean, one of the primary characteristics of pokémon is that a lot of them evolve, thus permanently and irrevocably changing their nature sometimes multiple times during their life. It's not quite the same thing, since this story is more about acting and that's about literally becoming, but it still didn't sit quite right for me. I would tend to say that pokémon are more changeable than humans!
The central conceit I wanted to convey wasn't that pokemon have an inability to change, but an inability to pretend. (Or at least that's what the pokemon who made up this story thinks...) I think the flowery prose at the end definitely covered that up though, so when I do rewrites I'll probably cull that.

Also a very cool interpretation of cubone... Given the mask and the ghostly themes of this story so far, I was definitely expecting Triss to end up as a yamask instead!
oh shit that... would've been smart lol

Not totally sure what to make of the framing scene here. "Kana" instead of "Kala" makes me think, again, that this is some kind of alternate future Rin's picking up on somehow, but too early to say, really. On to the next chapter!
Ah! My bad since there was so long between updates and there is conceivably no way for anyone to remember it -- Kana is Rin's mother (she gets mentioned in ch2). There is no AU here haha.

Your description makes Kala sound *tiny* here, which is honestly a very fitting way to go for a forest god sprite thing; adds to the magical, fae sort of atmosphere that pervades this scene. In general I thought the descriptions of Kala's realm were very nicely done, vivid and appropriately otherworldly. The door that ages out of existence I thought was a particularly neat touch. And this scene did give you a chance to go big with your description, which was a joy to read. This scene has a rather fairytale atmosphere to it, which combined with the literal fairytale in the previous chapter make for a very different tone than the sort of gritty cyberpunk tone that the rest of the story has had. Makes sense, in a way, since Agate Village is its own isolated place, a kind of respite from all the rest of the region.
!!!

(If pokémon communicate primarily through battle, shouldn't these two have fought instead of having a fairly normal conversation?)
Yes! I think I'll add dialogue to point on it more, but basically -- the golurk body is humanmade and can't heal in the same way pokemon do. Rin used to repair it, but now that she's not physically there, that's somewhat out the window. As such, Shy can't really express himself through battle, and fighting has to be a only-when-necessary thing for him -- a physical limitation on his long list of physical limitations that really grinds his proverbial gears.

Interesting that Shy went to see Kala, the sustainer, instead of what I'm presuming is Ho-Oh, since resurrection is kind of that guy's thing. And Kala thought that Ho-Oh might behind the pokémorphs, too... What's up with that guy, then? Are the other pokémon wary of them for some reason, are willing to believe they might be causing some of the problems that plague Orre, maybe? Or is it maybe more that nobody knows where they've gone off to, and they could have been captured/corrupted by Cipher, or something along those lines?
👀

I love how complicated the relationships are between the characters. We actually haven't seen too much of Rin and Shy interacting, since Rin's been pretty out of it the whole time we've been in one of their POVs, but I think it'll be fun to see how they come to terms with their situation and try to move forward from here. I think I'm even more interested in the relationship between Astra and Asi, and what it's going to mean for Astra in the future. And, since I assume Shyrin and Astrasi are going to cross paths again at some point, I imagine that's going to be a lot of fun--and very, very Complicated.
I feel! this is very much a fic about people disguised as a fic about the apocalypse

Things have moved a little slowly so far, I think. Part of this is because 1/3 of the chapters so far haven't taken place in the present (or at least the majority of the chapter hasn't). I'm not totally sure what's up with Chapter V, and I'm willing to reserve judgement if you think it's important for it to be as and where it is now, but I think you definitely want to be mindful of how you introduce all of your background lore while still keeping the A-plot moving at a reasonable clip. For example, I enjoyed Chapter II and definitely appreciated getting to learn more about Rin and Shy, but where I am now I think if that chapter hadn't been there I honestly wouldn't think I had missed anything. Perhaps some of that backstory could have been spread out a bit over multiple chapters, or perhaps that exposition could have come at a different time. Part of it's the length of the chapters--we aren't actually that far into the story, word-wise--but it feels like while we've covered a lot of background material, we only have a sketchy idea of where the main characters' story is going to go from here, especially in Astra's case.
No, I definitely feel this too! This is very relevant feedback. I think originally I had ch2 where it is because it's like, hey, hey, it's okay this girl isn't ACTUALLY dead -- but have been hitting my head against the wall for pacing on this. I think in the future I'll rewrite to make this intro arc more streamlined/get to the good stuff faster, but for now I don't want to lose what little writing momentum I have left, if that makes sen.

Anyhow, this continues to be a super interesting story, with a fantastic setting and fascinating characters. I will do my best to keep up a lot better from now on, but I resolve to do that a lot, lol. I will try! And I hope you'll have a good time putting more of this story together. I'm definitely in for the long haul with this one.
!! ahhhh. thank you again for writing so many lovely thoughts here; I really appreciate it and I'm sorry I didn't respond earlier!

First and foremost, love the chapter titles. Juicy stuff on the horizon. Wondering why the title for this one uses “your” though.
All of Astra's chapter titles (like the title of the fic) are quotes from "The Wasteland", actually! All of the other chapter titles are quotes from other works as well, but since they're less obvious I won't give them away just yet 👀

Something tells me the girl will survive the attack. A battle of wills incoming.
👀

Specifics (grammar and line-by-line reactions):
I took pretty much all of these into edits lmao. Thank you for continuing to call out my overly-loquacious prose!

Passive voice — suggestion: she yanks her blade... (Also eliminates confusion with “it” at the top of the next sentence. As-is, wasn’t sure if “it” referred to the creature or the blade.)
okay actually I kept this one -- it isn't actually Astra doing the yanking, or at least she likes to think of it that way. Fixed the "it" stuff though!

The use of golem threw me because I immediately thought of the rock/ground type, but it sounds like this is a literal golem — a human construction. I’m seeing golurk in the tags, but it’s not what I’m picturing from this passage.
Yes, I've finally run into the one place where capitalizing Pokemon would really help, fml. I... don't really know how to get around this though? It is a literal golem and I can't find a good synonym that conveys what I want.

I love ladies in steel-toed boots!
these wardrobes are OSHA approved!

[In the ten seconds afforded to her before her neck bleeds out into the dirt, she remembered ten years.] “Her neck” is getting too much agency here. Could just be “before she bleeds out into the dirt.”
Oh yup that's a fair one. I gotta stop attributing human's actions to objects; that's becoming an unfortunate tell.

[There was the little boy who flew a small biplane and discovered a floating castle in the clouds.]
👀
:quag!:

Ugh this kills me. The patience to hold in a story, the preciousness of stories when the world is crumbling. Also UM HI Giving Tree. Very interesting hint at the real relationship between people and pokémon that’s happening outside and under and beyond the stuff with shadow pokémon.
I'm glad you enjoyed this bit! Shy/Rin dynamics are hard to write for me fml; metal boi is too pure for my heart


I hope you don't think I'm being snooty or that I dislike the story because I'm picking at individual lines, because those are not my feelings at all. BUT, I think this would be stronger if it read In the ten seconds before Vajrin bleeds out, Shy weighs... Still gives you the call-back to the semi-delirious impossibly stretched-out 10 seconds, but reads a little cleaner. (Because they're Shy's 10 seconds too -- he's deciding, and there's loss involved.)
No no that's totally fair! I think that's a better change.

Because the shadow pokemon phenomenon has messed things up, or because it's a desert? IDK what part of the world you live in, but I did grow up in a desert (adjacent to Orre if it = Arizona) and I can add that in mid-summer there are usually daily thunderstorms in the afternoon. Not much rain though. And it doesn't necessarily conflict with this sentence -- this is Orre, not Arizona, and clearly things Are Not Right here.
there is a Reason for this that doesn't have to do with my subpar understanding of weather patterns in the american southwest haha

This is a really interesting way of looking at the reason pokemon are willing to fight for humans.
I gotta figure out SOME way to justify it :'))))))))))))
It'll also get delved into later, but casual pokemon battles are a lot less common than they are in the larger game canon. Orre has some hints at battling for sport, but it's literally called a colosseum fight; outside of that, a huge portion of the battles you fight are specifically to stop evil people; the regular fun of gym/e4 challenges doesn't really seem to be a thing.

I hadn't quit realized until this chapter that Shy was partly sharing a body with Rin -- I thought he was more hovering over her shoulder. It seems like maybe Rin thought so too, and Shy seems to think that's how she saw it... And it does explain why he was misread ad her imaginary friend at first. Except she does admit to being a pokemorph at the end of chapter 1, so there's either something additional going on, or she was more aware than he realized.
Mmm, I see why this would be really difficult to understand haha. I think I will try to edit this one out shortly.

Finally replying to Ch4 --
finally replying to YOU :')

I really enjoyed seeing more of the relationship between Astra and Asi. The way it "talks," but only in impressions. The way she definitely is forced into action by it... but killing Rin was clearly her own mistake. She's out of control. She seems really torn-up about it, and yet also has no recourse.
Ahhhh! This was a dynamic I really wanted to figure out. I knew early that Astra was going to kill Rin, but I wanted a way to have her be a protagonist still, but how do you have a protagonist who is also getting over being a childmurderer? And the answer appears to be: they don't get over being a childmurderer haha.

I'm also noticing, again, the importance of names. Vajrin meaning one thing, Rin meaning something else -- original meaning divorced from her. Shy a temporary name because his real one is unpronounceable. Astra a burdensome prophecy. And Asi? (Wondering if the Spanish meaning of the word is a happy accident or if it was chosen.)
You've caught me in my central weakness for storytelling where all of the names are intensely symbolic and horrible, yes. In this case I'm just going to pretend that the parents are all really obsessed with baby-naming books. Asi is named by Astra.

*have to focus?
actually, that one is intentional. everything else, not so much

Can't tell yet if Astra is "dream-woman" or not.
This was a common source of confusion. I think I wanted to have my cake and eat it too -- Rin is dissociating from what's going on, but it's not like the readers can recognize her mother either lol. I think I will change this to be more clear.

Unclear if this is aimed at Astra or Shy.
This one too -- it's Shy, not being forgiven by Rin's mother for turning her daughter into an inhuman.

This one felt vague, not in a helpful way.
yeah I agree! axed lol

Should this be the inside world?
Yes and no? Rin can't control the golurk body very well, so when they're walking across Orre and there are things she doesn't want to see, she cannot look away.

And interesting twist on the usual once upon a time.
Rin is an A++++ storyteller she'll have you KNOW

She stubbed her toe on it first,
yup there I go again making body parts do things -- I changed it to "it stubbed her toe" since I wanted to dichotomy between not-Triss instigating/Triss responding, but yes, toes gotta stop.

I enjoyed this, but I wish there was a little more intrusion from Shy / confusion in the sections bookending the Cubone-girl story.
I feel that too! A main critique I've been getting is that nothing is actually happening in this story, lol, which is not helped by the fact that 1/3 of the narrators refuse to tell the story.

Unsure of the tenses in this. Sounds like this is from before they lost her body, pre-Agate visit, but also it doesn’t seem like emerald necklaces would be common in the wastes.
They are not common, but Shy does know about them from before being in the wastes.

Nice — feels very true. And I like the cosmology. Those roles make sense to me. Tense slippage earlier in this paragraph too though. You’ve got a description of who’s worshipped most, present tense, and then how humans “tended” to think.
oh yup caught that!

That’s a surprise!
Celebi, Giver of 0 Fucks, is the only headcanon I stan harder than N lol.

This feels like not Shy’s POV.
It's kind of not? He's explaining how he knows how the Celebi views the world. I changed the language at the beginning of that paragraph to flag that better.

Symbolically very fitting! Also reminder if our conversation about oil execs flexing with giant fossil displays — I guess there are many reasons to keep a fossil. Loved the description of Shy trying to see the aerodactyl in it and seeing his own reflection instead.
yes or maybe they can sneak into tombs for dream runes!!
haha yes this was something I actually am happy with -- Shy sees his own reflection! And then later: {I only see my reflection from every timeline, every angle, a monument to all the things long past that I can experience, but that I cannot share with others. All the fractured things I cannot mend.}

So I guess it remains to find out if Shy can do it! He’s good at gently showing her things with stories. And I can imagine ways Astra needs to change too...!
gentle iron giant! will! help the babies be happy! jk they're all fucked

I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something in the chronology between this chapter and the last. I’m unclear about when the visit to mom happened and why that happened first. I’m also surprised that Shy is heavily mixed into Rin’s inner monologue now but not vice versa. I guess he’s got a better handle, but still. I forgot she was mixed in there with him a few times throughout.
Yes, big old mixed back here of trying not to over-explain and not explaining enough. I'm sorry haha; I think I'll have to iron this out in edits.
Rin's narrations are before the current story -- she's the only narrator in the past tense because she's only talking about things that happened before the story began. She's remembering the last time she saw her mother before the events of the first chapter, where her town gets attacked. There is a lot of unspoken guilt mixed in with me not wanting to tip all my cards at once, but I don't think I juggled it very well.
Shy intrudes on Rin's dialogue and not vice versa because he's more adept at screening her out, yeah -- he's spent the past decade aware that he's stuck in someone else's brain while she just think it's normal to have headfrens tell you bedtime stories. Also, she's very much not in the present right now -- she's frankly not interested in what Shy's doing .-.

Thank you so so much for reading and leaving all of these comments though! I'm glad you enjoyed this rambling passion project of mine, and thank you for taking the time to write out all of your thoughts so nicely. <3
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Yes, I've finally run into the one place where capitalizing Pokemon would really help, fml. I... don't really know how to get around this though? It is a literal golem and I can't find a good synonym that conveys what I want.
Maybe describing the golem-body in a little more detail? Color alone would do it, but it also occurs to me that by virtue of being handmade, Shy might look different from a typical golurk and that might be fun to see. Has Astra seen one before? Sounds like they're rare in Orre.

Oh yup that's a fair one. I gotta stop attributing human's actions to objects; that's becoming an unfortunate tell.
I catch myself at it too! I think that's why I'm able to spot yours so easily -- trying to be vigilant.

subpar understanding of weather patterns in the american southwest haha
Eh, that wasn't really meant as a correction though. More of a "also, this!"

This was a common source of confusion. I think I wanted to have my cake and eat it too -- Rin is dissociating from what's going on, but it's not like the readers can recognize her mother either lol. I think I will change this to be more clear.
Right, especially because in dream-knowledge you know it's your mother/your room/your dog even when the dream doesn't actually resemble them.

And the answer appears to be: they don't get over being a childmurderer haha.
HA! I still do find her sympathetic though, so seems okay to me so far.

o when they're walking across Orre and there are things she doesn't want to see, she cannot look away.
I think seeing this play out would help clarify -- could probably do it with a sentence or two.

which is not helped by the fact that 1/3 of the narrators refuse to tell the story.
LOLLL I understand this problem too.

Celebi, Giver of 0 Fucks, is the only headcanon I stan harder than N lol.
It's SO different from my head canon of them... but nothing wrong with that!

yes or maybe they can sneak into tombs for dream runes!!
👀 More on that...eventually. Exciting messes to make.

I'm sorry haha; I think I'll have to iron this out in edits.
Hush. Writing is editing. And I'm the queen of back-editing. One of my projects today is rewriting the prologue for the fic I posted almost two years ago! Haha.

he's more adept at screening her out,
I think one or two acknowledgements that he's choosing to ignore or override her would help make this clearer. Could easily be either internal monologue -- No, Rin, I will not xyz -- or summary -- he felt Rin's anxiety but pushed past it.

Looking forward to seeing more eventually! (Though I'm not mad if N is taking precedence.) And, wow, I know nothing about The Wasteland. I should get on that.
 

NebulaDreams

Ace Trainer
Partners
  1. luxray
Review of Chapters 1 - 3

Okay, so before I get into the meat of the review, instead of doing line by line comments, I wanted to point out the confusion I experienced trying to figure out what Shy's deal was, as in, how he was conceived and how he ended up hosting Rin's body. By the end of this, I was able to piece together that he was born somehow, he became bonded to Rin's body (either through natural happenstance or an experiment through galvanism), that Rin built him a new one, and upon Rin's death, her soul became bonded to his body instead.

We have the what here, but unfortunately, because of the way things are laid out and ordered, we don't get how it happened. That might be the intent since your writing style veers heavily on showing instead of telling, but I think it could've been clearer in a few places, and I'd like to pinpoint where it could be clarified. It might be a case that I'm not getting it, so take it with a grain of salt.

Astra sees the golem unfurl second.

Okay, so this was my first source of confusion. Golurk are closer to actual golems (from Jewish folklore) in that they're automatons used to fulfil a purpose from their creator. And yet, Golem is already a Pokemon, and a completely different type of Pokemon from the Geodude evolution line. I mean, it's confusing on Game Freak's part since they decided to make a line based off of actual golems after already calling one Pokemon Golem, but since this is the first line mentioning Shy's species, that really threw me off.

It was at age seven that she finally made her first friend.

They talked all night and all day. While her mother spent the days and nights fighting to make her world safe, her new friend told her stories of far-off places, of fantasy and daydream. He kept her company when she played in the scrap heaps, gave her advice on how to wire the circuits up in the lights so she could read even at night. He even helped her practice her spelling out her letters to her father.

This was my second source of confusion. At some point, Shy's soul bonded to Rin's body, but the exact point it happened and how is really unclear. Since the prose of the flashback is intentionally distant, we don't get to see a moment where Rin questions the presence of this invasive soul and if it's even real. Or the moment it actually happened and Rin feels a change in her body.

In return, Shy told her a story of a faraway land filled with longago people. They had once created machines like this one, and in the cores of those engines they believed their resided a soul. They shaped each of these creations to be guardians, not warriors. The difference was important, you see. A warrior had weapons, for fighting and killing. But a guardian had nothing more than its body, for the strength of a guardian was in its heart.

Later, she would ask him what happened to those longago people who lived faraway, and the answer was quite sad indeed. But for now, Rin rolled a new name across her tongue, the name that Shy told her came with the his new form. He flexed his overlarge fingers, ran one of his hands over the crack before his beating heart. In the voicebox that replaced his tongue, he hesitantly grated out the name for his new body.

Golurk.

Shouldn't it be 'they believed there resided a soul'? But anyway, so the souls are bonded to Golurk, which makes sense given that it's a ghost type, but it still didn't fully explain how it was able to switch bodies and gain new forms. Again, show don't tell is important, but since this seems to be quite a new concept, it would require more explanation the first time around, though it's hard to do that without grinding the story to a halt with an infodump.

Naturally, this being Orre, it has been quite a long time since that last happened. Unnaturally, instead of becoming Frankenstein’s monster, after the most recent death, Shy was reborn into the heart of a human child.

So by dying, they switched to a new form, which is fine enough, but it doesn't seem to stop it taking the form of a Golurk once Rin builds it. Are they able to take over the hearts/engines of machines just like that, or does there need to be a catalyst (dying again) for it to happen?

---

Sorry about starting off with that. It might be the case that it's really nitpicky, so again, grain of salt. With that out of the way though, I can gush about how much I enjoyed this fic and how much potential it has going forward.

I freaking love the prose. Love it, love it, love it. Whenever there's action, it feels very immediate and in the moment. Whenever there are slow moments, you're able to sprinkle in some great imagery, like Shy's simile of pouring a bucket of water into a glass. And again, you trust that the reader will pick up on details instead of needing to spoonfeed them with it, which works most of the time. It also serves to set the overall tone of the fic, which is very melancholic from the outset.

The hook was solid from the start and provided us with a good amount of questions to carry us through the rest. Like, how did Astra end up with the Honedge? To what extent can the Honedge think/how long can it go on for until its thirst for blood becomes uncontrollable? (what really got me thinking was how it started chuckling after drinking one Pokemon's blood) How did this post-apocalyptic scenario happen with the Shadow Pokemon?

It's all very interesting stuff, with a clear tone and clear stakes. Given how fatalist the outlook of Astra's world is, it's easy to understand her actions and why she ultimately goes for Rin in the end, however harrowing it is. Way to book end the chapter with the first and last lines as well; that was a nice touch.

Admitedly, I was a little turned off since the first chapter ends on such a downer note. Despite the tenacity talk, my impression of the world was that it wasn't worth saving, in that it was just about survival of the fittest and that it was going to follow the anti-hero Astra all of the way through until Orre's eventual slow demise. My problem (aside from personal preference) with stories that start off on such a dark note is that it's hard for me to maintain interest if the rest of the story is going to be similarly hopeless.

The second chapter onwards, however, ended up quelling those fears. Rin's POV made me a lot more invested in the story and got me to see glimpses of normalcy and small comforts within the world, such as her making mechanisms as, well, a coping mechanism, an outlet. And I found her relationship with Shy very sweet, despite the confusion surrounding their soul bonding. It was brief, but the way you managed to condense years of her life leading up to her death and turned that into a sort of countdown throughout the chapter, was brilliantly executed.

What I like the most about this story so far is how it unfolds with the different viewpoints. I think these three chapters work the best when viewed together since they complete the experience. This is essentially the first chapter in function since the three parts all tell different sides of one crucial moment where Astra kills Rin. But by the end of first three chapters, despite the dystopian backdrop, it did leave me with a sense of bittersweet hope.

Astra's speech about humans having tenacity over the Pokemon seemed to serve as your mission statement for this fic. With Rin's perspective, I really got the sense that the world, however much of a shithole it ended up turning out, was worth saving since her moments of solace provided some relief in the midst of all this darkness. And Shy's quest to bring back Rin (somehow) capped off this set of chapters with a sense of purpose against the harshness of Orre.

Granted, I would've liked more of Shy's perspective. Astra is meant to be quite distant since she's only dependent on survival. Rin has more backstory since she strikes me as more of a protagonist/counterpoint to the anti-hero/anti-villain that is Astra. Shy's perspective is really fucking interesting, with lots of great imagery and an intriguing alien mindset, as well as his fatherly attitude towards Rin, but I think it's still a bit murky as to how he managed to communicate with Rin at all, or how he developed such a consciousness being a Pokemon.

My question going forward is how the story will unfold. Now Rin is bonded with Shy, that gives them somewhat of a goal. Shy seems to share Rin's naivety (I wonder if they would be able to bring Rin back, or at least give her a new physical form), so I wonder how his outlook is going to affect how he interacts with the humans if/when he gets there. My theory is that he'll put Rin in another automaton body, or at least see if that's possible. Astra's role is still unclear, and again, she doesn't strike me as a sort of protagonist figure. And right now, we don't know her exact motivation outside of self preservation, but I think we'll find that out as well.

So yeah. I enjoyed this and I'm definitely interested to read the rest when I get to it next. Thanks for sharing and if you have more you want to discuss, hit me up with a reply or through Discord.
 
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Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
Okay, screw ffn, I'm gonna review here. Will copy and paste over when you update in 'the other place.'

Chapter 4:

Nice to see more of Astra, as her POV has been my favorite of the initial three chapters. The setting details continue to be excellent. You bring out the apocalyptic world really well in the small things, which ground the bigger ideas. I really enjoyed your fleshing out of Astra's relationship with Asi and her complicated thoughts on to what extent she is used/user, and herself a weapon. She certainly made a choice by picking the sword up, but I wonder to what extent you can call her willing when it's the kind of weapon you can't put down.

I may be hurt by not knowing anything about Orre, but I'm a bit confused about what Astra wants and how she fits into this society. I thought she was some kind of mercenary/survivalist, but there are several lines that suggest she is working towards some purpose beyond surviving. I expect I will learn more about that in the future, though! I was also left wanting to understand how Fateen and Astra know each other a bit better, and why Fateen is invested in her wellbeing.

She makes camp by the base of her hoverbike. The winds will shift directions as the night goes on, but for a while they’ll blow east.
Hoverbikes ❤ I appreciate details like wind direction that show her competence in this wilderness.

Everything else looks good for now. The only blessing she’ll get today, but she’s thankful for it—one more setback would probably send her reeling.
I get what you mean but "nothing else is currently going wrong" = "a blessing" didn't quite work for me. She also doesn't seem like someone inclined to think in terms of blessings.

Uses Asi to gather the scraggly clumps of scrub and brush that she can find, and tosses them in to burn.
With so much discussion of who is using whom, I was interested in "Uses Asi." Could be interesting if it was "Asi gathers scraggly clumps of scrub" etc, as part of this problem of Asi's agency in her mind.

The embers are the best that she can hope for, and she uses the task of transforming the desiccated wood into a glimpse of warmth to keep her distracted for a little while longer.
This felt a bit wordy. Maybe "Embers are the best that she can hope for, and the task of transforming the desiccated wood into warmth keeps her distracted for a little while longer."

Used to belong to an old man out in the wastes somewhere, but corpses don’t need to stay warm, so it’s hers now. He used to sew patches into it, or someone else in the long chain of handing-me-down did. At night, by the firelight, she’ll trace over the different colors of thread, the different squares of patchwork.
Nice detail!

When it’s blazing hot she wishes for respite; when it’s freezing she wishes for the sun. And all the while she knows she should know better than to wish.
I like the flow here a lot.

They keep their anger and their laughter and their sadness penciled up in the lines around their mouths, and it isn’t until they die that they learn to let it all go at once.
Mmmm

But the sound in her mind is of a sword being pulled from a sheath; defensive, proud. Owned.

Mine.

“I am not yours,” Astra whispers back, her cheek resting on the icy steel.
This was one of my favorite of their interactions, with the ambiguity surrounding "owned."

It would be prettier to think that she was nothing more than an unwilling thrall to the sword, that she was only an arm for the weapon to wield, drawing her to blood.
Prettier struck me as strange. "Easier", perhaps?

When you become an arrow, everything else becomes a target, even if it doesn’t want to be, even if it isn’t.
Nice

The girl had been shrouded in the skeletons in Astra’s closet. That was her only mistake. And for that, Astra—judge, jury, and executioner—had meted out death. It isn’t fair.

But it doesn’t matter if Astra meant it, if she felt bad for it, if those rattling ten seconds would keep playing in a loop louder than the desert wind. So it doesn’t matter if Astra’s sorry, even if she is. The act has already made her into a monster, and there’s nothing in this godforsaken desert that will wipe that away from her.
These paragraphs struck me as a bit repetitive of the earlier stuff and not as strong. I'm not sure you need them. We've had the death looping, we've had Astra labeling herself as a monster. When I see two cliches like "skeletons in closet" and "judge jury and executioner" in consecutive sentences, I get the feeling that you're running out of more interesting ways to discuss this.

An astra is a very specific kind of weapon—it is not one that you wield forever. It is a weapon that is thrown or shot. The ones in the stories were usually arrows. They came in all shapes and sizes. Some summoned rain; some brought guidance and light; some carved an unstoppable path of vengeance and destruction.

All of the arrows come with an ugly truth. The instant after you fire an arrow, you cannot take it back, no matter how much you want it.
Very nice mythic. Makes me think of the Ramayana.

Maya Fateen—Fati to those who know her, which is almost everyone—is very much a true child of Orre, constantly in a state of flux between two extremes. Her eyes are somewhere between blue and brown; she looks like she’s somewhere between twenty and seventy.
I like this flux between extremes thing. Blue and brown don't really strike me as extremes, though. Maybe her hair color changing, if she's going between twenty and seventy?

a lifeline in a stormy sea for those tossed about, seeking answers
I wasn't sure about this simile. It stood out to me bc 1) Orre is a desert so a stormy sea doesn't seem a natural place to jump 2) we're already entering an extended metaphor about Astra herself drowning, and this seems to tie how randos in Orre react to a self-proclaimed psychic to Astra's emotional turmoil after killing a young girl.

The sands haven’t seen rain in years; the earth itself has cracked to form a mosaic a thousand miles wide.
I love this image. Very vivid.

“It’d be a little hard to do that out here.”

“Perhaps.” Whether or not she is bothered by Astra’s show of cynicism, it’s hard to tell; like the rest of her, Fati’s face is constantly in a between-state of amusement and sorrow, as if she’s savoring the punchline of a sad joke no one else can hear.
You use the "amusement and sorrow" dichotomy earlier, in the flux line, but this usage of in-between seems to contradict the earlier description. Being caught between two emotions is very different than alternating between one extreme and the other. And if she's "savoring" a punchline, I don't this she'd look sorrowful, even if the joke is "sad."

She continues, calm as ever, as if unaware that her words are slowly becoming the catalyst to tear down Astra's entire world.
This line struck me as overwrought.

The colors of her hair and grin get picked apart by the headlights of Astra’s hoverbike; she’s pixelated into a sandy image and thrown into the desert night in an instant.
Love the verbs you chose here. "Picked apart" is particularly effective.

Being uneasy of your fate in a world where no one knows for certain is one thing, but denying someone who can see the road ahead is like shouting up to the crow’s nest that the iceberg doesn’t exist, blithering and unaware until they’re all…
Again, I'm not sure about this sailing metaphor. Are you purposely putting in ocean metaphors to tie into the Astra drowning idea?For me, having so many different ocean related metaphors muddies the central metaphor rather than reinforces it.

A stream of lilac sparks dance down the hilt, ghostly pale against the sands. it’s so faint that when Astra blinks, they’re gone.
Second sentence uncapitalized. The pronouns in that sentence are also a bit confusing, you jump from "it" to "they."

The only thing more foolish than swimming to a siren’s call is pretending that it doesn’t exist in the first place.
Is it? I mean, if you pretend the siren call doesn't exist, the worst consequence is that you end up swimming to it anyway. Is the idea that it's better to swim towards the siren knowingly than not? Also, sirens drown people . . . so Astra is trying to escape "drowning" by heeding the siren's call ie risking drowning?

I hope I'm not over analyzing the relationship between these similes. In a piece that is atmospheric to a large part, I look for a kind of coherence in the web of similes, I guess, rather than taking each one in isolation.

The Wasteland is a huge motiff in your work, huh? I can see how it resonates with the Orre setting.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
Chapter 5:

Mm, I love your fairytales. (Reading this chapter sent me rereading "the wizard's word"!) I enjoyed the tale of Triss a lot, and all the story ideas you worked in! I appreciated all the baking-centric similes, which really fit the story.

I was a bit confused as to whether we're supposed to consider Triss' tale as being relevant to Rin. Rin's molded with Shy, in a way that is superficially like Triss molding with the mask, but it wasn't her choice and it didn't arise from her trying to shut out her feelings. In a way, the tale applies more to Astra, who seems to continually be putting on a mask in order to survive and losing herself in the process.

The central conceit of the tale, that humans alone have this tendency towards masks, I didn't buy. What about mimikyu? They continually hide their real form and never revert. You mention a fair amount of transforming pokemon, but transformation =/= masks, and you seem to leave out the more relevant mask-wearing ones. I mean, what about cubone themselves? They are literally always hiding their grief with a mask, as the end of your tale highlights!

There's seemed to be three elements in this chapter 1) the Rin/Shy fusion 2) the fairytale 3) the memory of Rin's mom? Element 1 was far less confusing than I expected, so yay! I loved the fairytale, but I wasn't sure how it was integrating into the story. The thing with Rin's mom left me pretty much baffled. Is this a confrontation the mom had with Shy in the past, over using her daughter as a host?

—a recollection, then, of a woman with laughing eyes framed by harsh wrinkles, her hand clenched into a fist, her kind eyes turned away and portending thunder.
A lot going on here--we gets "laughing eyes" then "kind eyes" in the same sentence, and the laughing/harsh, clenched/kind/portending contradictions weren't working for me. I get a bit of a feeling that everything is being thrown at the wall in this sentence.

They had to focus, they say, even as they were reeling from the thoughts of a lost past that hung over them like a specter.
This confused me. What lost past? Neither has lost their memories, so why is the past lost?

Your head wasn’t actually cut off. It was just a very deep neck wound, one of them pointed out, but that didn’t really make them feel that much better.
Smiled at this one. V helpful, Shy.

They were like a puzzle with too many pieces; some were duplicates and some were missing, and yet none of them fit together.
Good simile! I think this was more effective than the overflowing water one from Ch 3 in describing how there's too much of them.

But it isn’t. Rin, we have to—

How did it go again? Oh, yes. The story went something like this:
I like Rin just tuning him out here.

The transformation reverted, the illusion shattered. That was the normal way that things were supposed to go. Even Mew, who takes all shapes, had a true form and did not forget it.
But mimikyu . . .

Gravity was famously lacking in concern for what your intent was.
This line felt very kintsugi to me.

But that was a story about a human girl, who flew too close to a sun of different sorts.
Didn't feel like the icarus reference makes sense with this story. Icarus tale is cautionary against arrogance and flying too high, and that's not really what's happening in Triss' story.

she was sharp in wit and tongue, but a baker is judged by the work of her hands. Had she been a bard’s child instead, she may have had a happier life.
Liked this a lot. Very nice mythic narrative voice.

lanterns filled with vileplume powder that could burn with blue fire when lit aflame
Oooh!

an altogether confusing and very long, rambling rhyme about a girl’s misadventures with her murkrow.
Is this . . . a reference to something? :wink:

They must have woven mirrors into their costumes, or in their hands, or in their masks, for they then reflected that story back into the eyes of their adoring audience, where it nestled back in hearts as something wholly different.
Liked this a lot too.

It was like adding drops of lavender essence to a frosting you were mixing: the color changed, slowly at first, and then all over, until it was purple everywhere and altogether impossible to remember exactly what shade of cream it had been in the first place.
Baking similes ftw.

There was one about a boy who rode on the back of a mantine to the edge of the world, seeking his lost father, and they went to the very ends of the earth only to mourn her still.
To mourn "her"? It's a boy seeking his father, so where does "her" come in?

But when they tried and pulled, they found that the thing would not come off. It was stuck to her face, almost grafted horrifically to her skin, and although he grabbed his tools and the cartwright used his ox-like strength, nothing they could do could dislodge it from her face.
This whole sequence where the mask becomes stuck was excellently creepy.

And in a hollow, echoing voice, she grated back, “Act… tress.”
And she sticks the pun!

and the villagers had no true answer to say.
"no true answer to give" I think

the incident faded from the village’s memory, like the taste of bread on your lips after an hour has passed you by.
Again, like that the simile is story appropriate and like how simple it is, but effective.

She was stiff, disjointed, like a toy tin soldier, her twisted in a stony mask, when she looked at the golurk and said the words that would begin their undoing: “You took her from me. You took my daughter.”
I do feel like you're trying a bit too hard with this mother memory(?). Rule of "less is more"--stiff/disjointed/toy tin soldier/twisted/stony mask (sidenote: not sure you want to be throwing around mask after a whole story about masks) is throwing a lot at the reader without it really adding up into something more impactful. Stiff and disjointed are movement words, but you link them using "was" rather than through a movement verb. Maybe pare down to "She turned stiffly, disjointed like a tin soldier, and said to the golurk the words that would begin their undoing."

In general I think you have a tendency when a moment is a Big Deal to over-describe in a way that ends up lessening the impact of the moment for me--something to watch maybe?
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
Chapter 6:

What a wonderful chapter. I just love how you portray Celebi in this, how she is so powerful and also, in a way, so powerless. Her relationship with time gives her that power, but it also makes her helpless in some ways. I also really like how she's kind of casual and callous [Tough titty. It won’t. I won’t. ] but clearly does care.

Some exposition in this one--so Shy's definitely a legendary, presumably Zapdos from the tags. The discussion about Rin and time travel--Shy's interpretation that she's stuck in her memories seemed right to me. Not much to say about the main characters, this was the Celebi show for me.

Prose was on point all the way through. When I forget to do line quoting as I'm reading, that means nothing in the writing was striking me as off as I read.

The name Kala is a relic so heavy that it plunged like iron once he uttered; it was all but forgotten, but Shy in his unending lifetime is too old to forget.
"once he uttered"? I think you mean "once uttered" or "once he uttered it"

The trunk in front of him bursts into bloom, pink flowers threading their way up through the bark in a splash of color. The buds are white, and then pink, and then they quickly fade to brown, rot revealing itself all throughout the tree. Most blossoms spiral up around the decay, blossoming and then withering in an exaggeration of life, and the tree itself slowly rots away until it reveals a yawning cavern large enough for Shy to pilot the golurk body through.
This was very cool

There was a little human boy with an eevee who came in here once, tried to beg me to intervene on behalf of humanity and save everyone. “My people are dying, he said. “You have to help us. You’re our only hope. Say, are those fingers?
The tone is so wonderful here, casual and morbid, and we know Sky is carrying a dead human, which makes it all even more so.

And they plated the roof in metals that shone like silver and gold.} She chuckles a little. {The poor things. Thinking we can be bribed by petty, shiny things.} She blinks up at Shy with somber eyes. {And, true, they tried to build me a tower as well, but one thing led to another and I grew a large bellsprout through it instead.}
Ah, l love her.

I did what I could for the few that I could, but time is a river, and I am a tree. My roots cut through time, but time cuts through me as well.
What a brilliant line. So good. Time is a river and I am a tree. Ugh, I love that. Expresses their symbiosis, but also shows how people always misunderstand her relationship with time. The tree can't divert the river.
 

Persephone

Ace Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. vulpix-alola
What? A proper review rather than a collection of shitpost DMs? Inconceivable.

Did not see post-post-apocalyptic Johto twist coming. Was good twist tho. Explains why Ho-oh, Lugia, and Celebi were the most important legends in the Orre games. I suppose that means that the Johto of hod is very, very OldSchool.

Mythology! Re:Cubone, the Johto trio. I am vaguely curious about the cultural implications here. Johto in The Raven/Rocket Man seems like a blend of Japanese/(Southeast) U.S. things. Yet the invocation of Creator / Preserver / Destroyer and Rin's name suggest South Asian influences. I suppose that could just be a result of the two apocalypses stacked on top of each other.

Asitra best ship. They deserve each other very much.

No doggos? H*ckin' sad. But there are still pokemon! Celebi / Kara is great as always. Shy is best former cubone (?) turned symbiotic ghost turned golurk turned symbiotic golurk. What a shame. Try to save a girl and you just get the infinite scream bot stuck in your head. Am curious about the implications of changing her. Debatable how much of her is even left after the hardware downgrade. That make it easier to change? Harder? I assume you know. I'm just typing random words.

Honedge! A lot bit more brutal than g-l-s's take on the line. Not the kind of thing you could see a conventional pokemon trainer using at all. Then again, I suppose that this story won't have conventional trainers at all. A good enough weapon for the post-apocalypse. V helpful. Reminds her girlfriend to practice self care. Warns of dangerous witches. Saves her from hyenas. Best girl.

Speaking of hyenas, I am a little bit confused about their presence. They showed up and sniffed around but then didn't eat the already dead human? If they saw the dead one and got nervous you wouldn't expect them to sniff around the area too long. And if they did sniff around the ded one, why didn't Asitra kill them? If she was asleep why didn't the scavengers just kill her? I know that Shy was going through a bit of a hardware/software crash and trying not to look at stuff at the time, but it was still confusing for me.

And if there are still mightyena in the area why didn't Astra just drive somewhere a little bit safer to sleep?

As always I really loved the style. V pretty. Couldn't put story down once I started. I know the review was criticism heavy but I did really, really like it.
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Location
waiting for the fog to roll out
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
ugh i'm sorry my lovelies i am the worst at kicking the responses down the road. thank you all <3

Okay, so before I get into the meat of the review, instead of doing line by line comments, I wanted to point out the confusion I experienced trying to figure out what Shy's deal was, as in, how he was conceived and how he ended up hosting Rin's body. By the end of this, I was able to piece together that he was born somehow, he became bonded to Rin's body (either through natural happenstance or an experiment through galvanism), that Rin built him a new one, and upon Rin's death, her soul became bonded to his body instead.
I think it could've been clearer in a few places, and I'd like to pinpoint where it could be clarified. It might be a case that I'm not getting it, so take it with a grain of salt.
thank you SO much for these line-by-lines -- it's really, really useful for me to get a feel for exactly where the train fell off the tracks for you so I can, like, make neater tracks. No salt here! My intent was to err on "slight mystery" but not so much that some concepts went way over people's heads, so it's good to see what got confusing and what didn't.

And yet, Golem is already a Pokemon, and a completely different type of Pokemon from the Geodude evolution line. I mean, it's confusing on Game Freak's part since they decided to make a line based off of actual golems after already calling one Pokemon Golem, but since this is the first line mentioning Shy's species, that really threw me off.
this is one where I'm not sure how to untie my hands, though -- like you say, golem is the actual name to describe a lil' clay friend. I might switch to automaton, but I really liked the connotations of golem; i might kick this one around for a while more

At some point, Shy's soul bonded to Rin's body, but the exact point it happened and how is really unclear. Since the prose of the flashback is intentionally distant, we don't get to see a moment where Rin questions the presence of this invasive soul and if it's even real.
Again, show don't tell is important, but since this seems to be quite a new concept, it would require more explanation the first time around, though it's hard to do that without grinding the story to a halt with an infodump.
Very fair! I sort of wanted it to be something she's grown up with, something she wouldn't even think to bring up as strange because it's been with her her entire life -- like narrating that you've got two feet -- but I think the central collapse of chapters 1-3 was that there's too much intrinsic knowledge that the narrators aren't divulging. I think I'll rephrase some of Rin's younger lines to make it more clear -- to answer your question, she doesn't know exactly when they joined, but she starts recognizing him in around year 6/7.

'they believed there resided a soul'?
haha english i suck

So by dying, they switched to a new form, which is fine enough, but it doesn't seem to stop it taking the form of a Golurk once Rin builds it. Are they able to take over the hearts/engines of machines just like that, or does there need to be a catalyst (dying again) for it to happen?
Yeah, this one I need to explain more -- I always saw golurk as empty husks (the clay/ground-type) powered by the ghost on the inside (the ghost-type), and for some reason I was convinced that that was canon, but ... it's not? and I should definitely explain that then?

Like, how did Astra end up with the Honedge? To what extent can the Honedge think/how long can it go on for until its thirst for blood becomes uncontrollable? (what really got me thinking was how it started chuckling after drinking one Pokemon's blood) How did this post-apocalyptic scenario happen with the Shadow Pokemon?
oh yes these are all very relevant topics and questions (and the kind i actually wanted to make people ask, unlike the former ones)

Despite the tenacity talk, my impression of the world was that it wasn't worth saving, in that it was just about survival of the fittest and that it was going to follow the anti-hero Astra all of the way through until Orre's eventual slow demise. My problem (aside from personal preference) with stories that start off on such a dark note is that it's hard for me to maintain interest if the rest of the story is going to be similarly hopeless.
Astra's speech about humans having tenacity over the Pokemon seemed to serve as your mission statement for this fic. With Rin's perspective, I really got the sense that the world, however much of a shithole it ended up turning out, was worth saving since her moments of solace provided some relief in the midst of all this darkness. And Shy's quest to bring back Rin (somehow) capped off this set of chapters with a sense of purpose against the harshness of Orre.
yeah! I find that my stuff tends to walk the very thin line of finding hope in the apocalypse, finding hope in other people when the world is burning around you shockingly relevant here -- but like you say, very thin line, and it's easy to tip grimdark. My goal is to have optimism beat out pessimism though.

I think these three chapters work the best when viewed together since they complete the experience. This is essentially the first chapter in function since the three parts all tell different sides of one crucial moment where Astra kills Rin. But by the end of first three chapters, despite the dystopian backdrop, it did leave me with a sense of bittersweet hope.
Definitely! Thank you for taking the time to review all three at once; I know you only had to do one for catnip <3 the other viewpoint chapters are hopefully more distinct, but i sort of cheated here -- rather than establishing three characters with three different inciting events, I tried to focus on the one so that there was a little continuity between everyone

Shy's perspective is really fucking interesting, with lots of great imagery and an intriguing alien mindset, as well as his fatherly attitude towards Rin, but I think it's still a bit murky as to how he managed to communicate with Rin at all, or how he developed such a consciousness being a Pokemon.
he's a sweetheart <3 I think a lot of the rewrites/tweaks would also fit well in his chapter, which always felt a little sparse to me, so ... everyone wins??

So yeah. I enjoyed this and I'm definitely interested to read the rest when I get to it next. Thanks for sharing and if you have more you want to discuss, hit me up with a reply or through Discord.
thank you so much for writing this all out. you're a saint. I accidentally backburnered this project, but fixing the intro chapters is a thing that's very Important to me, so thank you so so much for all of your feedback here. I have taken many notes and will be revising.

Okay, screw ffn, I'm gonna review here. Will copy and paste over when you update in 'the other place.'
haha remember when i updated on ffn

I may be hurt by not knowing anything about Orre, but I'm a bit confused about what Astra wants and how she fits into this society. I thought she was some kind of mercenary/survivalist, but there are several lines that suggest she is working towards some purpose beyond surviving. I expect I will learn more about that in the future, though! I was also left wanting to understand how Fateen and Astra know each other a bit better, and why Fateen is invested in her wellbeing.
partially? definitely a case of how I could've made it more clear. Fateen in the games is this fortune teller who knows *everyone* apparently, and she's the bees knees and everyone's cool grandma and if you get stuck in the game for where to go next she'll literally tell you what part of the map is most relevant.

Astra is edgy-OC and it's on me to establish her properly, so. Lol. She has ... many wants, but I think I might be playing my hand too close for her -- I really forget that alternating viewpoints means that characters move at 1/3 speed. Astra's induction to the Good Decisions Club comes in her next/the next chapter, but at the same time I can see why chapter 7 to get any sort of motivations for 1/3 of the cast is a stretch. I might give her a shorter term goal than "git gud don't die"

I get what you mean but "nothing else is currently going wrong" = "a blessing" didn't quite work for me. She also doesn't seem like someone inclined to think in terms of blessings.
This felt a bit wordy. Maybe "Embers are the best that she can hope for, and the task of transforming the desiccated wood into warmth keeps her distracted for a little while longer."
Prettier struck me as strange. "Easier", perhaps?
these are good rephrasing; will use

When I see two cliches like "skeletons in closet" and "judge jury and executioner" in consecutive sentences, I get the feeling that you're running out of more interesting ways to discuss this.
called OUT but where's the lie

Very nice mythic. Makes me think of the Ramayana.
<3!

I like this flux between extremes thing. Blue and brown don't really strike me as extremes, though. Maybe her hair color changing, if she's going between twenty and seventy?
I'm torn -- she's not, like, literally changing ages, she just is very hard to pin a particular trait/age to. Babyface one second and then she frowns in a way that makes her look ancient sort of thing.

I wasn't sure about this simile. It stood out to me bc 1) Orre is a desert so a stormy sea doesn't seem a natural place to jump 2) we're already entering an extended metaphor about Astra herself drowning, and this seems to tie how randos in Orre react to a self-proclaimed psychic to Astra's emotional turmoil after killing a young girl.
I like having Fateen be the only one referencing water in the desert -- will change this.

You use the "amusement and sorrow" dichotomy earlier, in the flux line, but this usage of in-between seems to contradict the earlier description. Being caught between two emotions is very different than alternating between one extreme and the other. And if she's "savoring" a punchline, I don't this she'd look sorrowful, even if the joke is "sad."
where's the lie part ii, electric bugaloo

This line struck me as overwrought.
and it was! Astra's less dramatic than my prose implies I think; I will change this.

Is it? I mean, if you pretend the siren call doesn't exist, the worst consequence is that you end up swimming to it anyway. Is the idea that it's better to swim towards the siren knowingly than not? Also, sirens drown people . . . so Astra is trying to escape "drowning" by heeding the siren's call ie risking drowning?
above note about drama, yeah, + above-above one about changing the ocean metaphors away from Astra. will fix this one too.

The central conceit of the tale, that humans alone have this tendency towards masks, I didn't buy. What about mimikyu? They continually hide their real form and never revert. You mention a fair amount of transforming pokemon, but transformation =/= masks, and you seem to leave out the more relevant mask-wearing ones. I mean, what about cubone themselves? They are literally always hiding their grief with a mask, as the end of your tale highlights!
I definitely! ran headlong into this one I think.

For me I wanted to emphasize that all the pokemon who change shape eventually change back -- mimikyu dresses up, but if you hit them once their disguise breaks. Cubone grows into the mask though, which sort of jengas my entire setup. I think based on this + OSJ + Negrek's feedback I'll rewrite the moral here to make it more clear -- the central point of this chapter is that Rin is diving too deep, that if she stays in her memories for too long she'll never be able to get out of them, but the metaphor gets very muddled.

A lot going on here--we gets "laughing eyes" then "kind eyes" in the same sentence, and the laughing/harsh, clenched/kind/portending contradictions weren't working for me. I get a bit of a feeling that everything is being thrown at the wall in this sentence.
show me the lie part iii, revenge of the lie
tells not shows

To mourn "her"? It's a boy seeking his father, so where does "her" come in?
"she" comes in when i edit badly and got tired of fridging women but accidentally fridge her pronouns instead

And she sticks the pun!
💯

I do feel like you're trying a bit too hard with this mother memory(?). Rule of "less is more"--stiff/disjointed/toy tin soldier/twisted/stony mask (sidenote: not sure you want to be throwing around mask after a whole story about masks) is throwing a lot at the reader without it really adding up into something more impactful.
:101:

In general I think you have a tendency when a moment is a Big Deal to over-describe in a way that ends up lessening the impact of the moment for me--something to watch maybe?
please don't have me for zoroark you are nailing my tells rn lol

Some exposition in this one--so Shy's definitely a legendary, presumably Zapdos from the tags
:eyes intensify:

What a brilliant line. So good. Time is a river and I am a tree. Ugh, I love that. Expresses their symbiosis, but also shows how people always misunderstand her relationship with time. The tree can't divert the river.
Celebi is! My favorite character to explore ngl. I'm glad you enjoyed.

hnnngh thank you for the line edits as well as the overarching thoughts here! a lot of good changes to come I think post nfic, so ... one day

What? A proper review rather than a collection of shitpost DMs? Inconceivable.
1591062757795.png

Did not see post-post-apocalyptic Johto twist coming. Was good twist tho. Explains why Ho-oh, Lugia, and Celebi were the most important legends in the Orre games. I suppose that means that the Johto of hod is very, very OldSchool.
look i have one joke setting
if it's apocalypse would it be newschooljohto?

Johto in The Raven/Rocket Man seems like a blend of Japanese/(Southeast) U.S. things. Yet the invocation of Creator / Preserver / Destroyer and Rin's name suggest South Asian influences. I suppose that could just be a result of the two apocalypses stacked on top of each other.
Things I didn't fully have time to explain/that may or may not become relevant here/that I should work better into the overarching mythos -- OSJohto was very Japanese-inspired, but ~a century before plot start there was an influx of immigrants from what would loosely be described as South Asia. Rin's a halfie; her mom (Kana) is Japanese and her father was an immigrant -- hence why she has the last name but her mother eventually shortens her full name to a more Japanese-sounding one.

Asitra best ship.
it is with great honor that i join the ranks of shipdom

Speaking of hyenas, I am a little bit confused about their presence. They showed up and sniffed around but then didn't eat the already dead human? If they saw the dead one and got nervous you wouldn't expect them to sniff around the area too long. And if they did sniff around the ded one, why didn't Asitra kill them? If she was asleep why didn't the scavengers just kill her?
nope this is very valid lol. I need to rewrite this section anyway.

I know the review was criticism heavy but I did really, really like it.
SO MEAN.

thank you.
 

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Partners
  1. leafeon
Hello, it is me, love, reviewing the first chapter of this story, Handfuls of Dust, written by you, kintsugi

sick opening sentence

It has enough features to make it unrecognizable if she doesn't look too carefully

"features" on its own doesn't seem like the right term (foreign features? foreignness?)

the way that its tail, banded in shocks of gold and black, lashes wildly behind it with a mind of its own.

I'd cut "with a mind of its own" ("wildly" creates that impression for me already)

It isn't a strange sight to her any more, but it hasn't gotten any easier in the passing years.

"easier to tolerate"? "more tolerable"?

Astra can feel its weight on her arm, can hear its parched growls almost like a heartbeat deeply in synch with her own.

This sentence seemed kind of off---I think "almost" and "deeply" kind of conflict in my head. One attenuates the impression, the other strengthens it.

this one is long, drawn out, some strange mix of the bass undertones of a charizard interwoven with the keening trill of an electabuzz.

I like this one. I can get some sense of what it sounds like from this. And it struck me as different from how I would describe a voice.

never told herself what she'd think when she finally—

I feel a little bit weird about that em-dash? It gives me the impression that the human's scream interrupts her thought process, but the sound is the very thing she is thinking about...

But what they did get was far worse, far more deadly, far more beneficial in keeping them alive in this hellscape.

Is there a better word than "worse" (since whatever this thing is is "better" in the sense that it is practical/effective for survival)?

there's a huge explosion of metal as a huge, hulking humanoid figure seems to form out of shards of metal around her tiny form.

This one could probably use another look (we've got 2 "huge"s and 2 "metal"s pretty close to each other, and a "seems to" that I feel inclined to remove).

Unfazed, the mechanical humanoid barrels onward. Fists erupt into flashes of silvery light, propelling it easily over the makeshift barricade and clipping the electivire between the eyes.

So the electivire's punch created a barrier of some kind. And there is perhaps some relation between the silvery flash of the golem's fists and its propulsion over the barrier? I am not super clear on this one.

It isn't enough to knock it entirely off course—stopping it with a body would be like jumping in front of a train—but it's enough to send them both skidding into the dirt beside her, enough to jolt Astra out of her half-concussed state.

Something about this just seems inelegant to me (partly the simile). Basically it doesn't stop it, but diverts its course slightly, is what it seems to be saying.

I sensed a very detached and broody tone from this piece, even during the actiony bits. I find that to be pretty congruous with the subject matter. Meant to reflect Astra's cynicism, I guess, and perhaps the extent to which she must distance herself in order to do all the killing she does.

It's nice how we get bookends between the morph and the electabuzz.

The name "Astra" makes me think of the word "Astral"; I wonder if that's the meaning.

The end of the chapter got a kind of "well huh, that's weird" reaction from me. I am trying to see it from Astra's perspective. I guess she thinks that morphs are simply too dangerous to leave alive. I wonder how far she takes the idea of "if it can kill you, you must kill it." Most people are fairly capable of killing most other people, so I don't know, should everyone just kill each other? I presume she doesn't extend that line of reasoning that far---but if not, why? And is the difference between a morph and a human fused with a super-powerful sword really that significant in this context? Both are still a good deal more powerful than a normal human. Maybe she has justifications, or maybe she just avoids thinking about it that deeply. I wonder if anything will challenge Astra's mentality in the future.
 
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