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Pokémon [ONE-SHOT] Starlight

ooh spoopy

Sike Saner

fundead
Location
*aurorus noise*
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. glalie
Happy Halloween, all.

Content advisory: This one's rated T for nausea fuel, gore, character death, and a body-horrorish interpretation of a certain pokémon.

This is a completed work by a since-retired author. I might still pick at it from time to time with minor edits but will probably not be implementing any major changes.

_____

Starlight



The night before, Henry had dreamed of the Goddess.

It hadn’t been the first time. Not the first time She’d drifted into his sleeping mind, overwhelming him with Her invisible yet undeniable otherness.

But it had been the first time, the first dream, in which She’d ever spoken.

Come here, She’d said, and come alone.

Now, Henry walked through the woods She’d shown him with a lantern in hand, trying to keep his composure when no small measure of him wanted to fall to his knees and burst into tears and thank Her, thank Her, thank Her for this blessed opportunity until his voice was no more. What more would She want to do with him if Her first encounter was with a slavering idiot?

He nearly failed himself within the first hour. A mansion easily a third the size of his own village had materialized before him with no warning, and it was all he could do not to fall arse-first into the leaves in surprise.

Henry drew a sharp breath that came out in a huff. This shouldn’t surprise you, he chastised himself. She is a higher being. There’s nothing She can’t do.

Eyes fixed forward, he approached the front gates. They were wrought iron, resembling nothing so much as enormous hands clasped in prayer. Nestled between their palms, there was a ring of iron encircling the silhouette of a murkrow.

Its eye opened, glowing bright, and Henry visibly started for the second time that night. Dignity, he reminded himself. For all he knew, She watched through those eyes. He met the iron bird’s gaze, trying with all his might not to wince or squint. Endure Her light.

He was about to speak, to announce his presence, but of course, of course, She already knew he was there. The gates swung outward without a sound, at which he stepped back, but no more than he had to. They all but grazed his chest as they opened.

He put out the lantern, then proceeded up the long path before him. Lamps stood to either side, glowing golden in the night, and another iron murkrow perched atop each of them. As he approached each pair, their eyes opened, bright as stars. She still watched his every move. Mindful of this, he held his head high on the way to the doors, his hands at his sides, no emotion on his face.

As silently as the gates had, the doors opened. Beyond, he saw chandeliers and marble floors and carpeted staircases winding out of sight. And unless his mind was playing tricks on him, he heard footsteps shuffling his way. He tensed in spite of himself. Could it be…?

He smelled the new arrival before he saw it. It hit him like a wall, reeking of every kind of filth he could name. Eyes watering, he fought against a surge of nausea and very nearly lost.

This is a test, he told himself, gritting his teeth. It has to be… As he wiped away the tears, the source of the stench finally came into view.

She was close to his height, Her skin a moldy shade of green. It had ruptured in several places, something grey-brown and lumpy bulging through the wounds. Another one burst open, right then and there, and a glob of the same filth dropped out. She looked upon him with wide, crusty eyes, breathing noisily through parted, pointed teeth.

“Servant?” She said, Her voice crackling wetly. “Servant, you?”

Henry suppressed a tremor. This couldn’t be happening. His Goddess couldn’t be such a wretched, disgusting creature… and yet, here She was. Here She was, smiling warmly even as She rotted alive. Just a test… He swallowed against his sickness. “If my Lady so wills,” he said, “then yes, I will serve You.” He shut his mouth before anything more solid could escape.

She cocked her head at him. The little piles of muck on top quivered obscenely. Then She burst into laughter, drops of something dark and greasy flying from Her throat. “No! Only Drass.” As She spoke, a metallic tentacle slithered out of Her side, dripping more filth as it curled inward to gesture at Her broad chest. “I serve Nalna. Now, you serve Nalna.”

Henry took a moment to make sense of that. Then he felt relief wash over him like cool water. This horrid thing might not be the Goddess after all. The possibility almost made the stench more tolerable somehow. “If you’ll take me to Her,” he said, “I will gladly serve however She wills.”

“Yes, yes!” Drass turned toward the stairs at the opposite side of the room, beckoning Henry to follow. He did so, as close as he could stand, doggedly keeping his sights turned forward. Every so often, his boot squelched into something half-solid in the carpet. He didn’t need to see it. It was hard enough to keep from reacting as it was.

Drass led him up one flight of stairs, and then another. And then several more, without pausing. Henry wiped sweat from his brow in vain, his joints threatening to lock and his breath burning in his chest, and wondered just how many floors the mansion actually had. More than he’d have counted from the outside for sure. As many as it took, no doubt, to prove to his Goddess that he’d endure anything for Her.

Finally, finally, the climb came to an end. His legs wanted to turn to jelly, but he couldn’t sit yet. Drass was waving him forward again, toward another pair of towering doors.

This, he dared to hope, was it. Every shudder he’d suppressed, every heave he’d choked back, every step he’d taken in a body that screamed for rest would prove worthwhile in the most glorious ways imaginable.

The doors opened all on their own, noiselessly, as he’d come to expect by this point. And there, in the middle of a room that looked for all the world like the night sky itself… there, as far as he could guess, She stood.

She was perfectly visible, despite the surrounding darkness. Shorter than he’d expected. Pale purple, dressed in a black gown with white bows adorning the front, hair or horns or something without a name standing out from Her head in discs the size of Her face. She moved a little closer, and he realized Her clothes weren’t clothes at all. Don’t look away. No surprise. No mortification. Nothing else. It wasn’t his place to decide what She should or shouldn’t wear in his presence.

<Enter,> She said.

Henry’s mind skipped a beat. Then he nodded, and without a word, he stepped into the sparkling void.

As soon as he was past the threshold, the hall outside vanished. There was only star-studded blackness where the doors should have been. Whatever unseen floor lay beneath his feet disappeared next—the sky now surrounded him from all sides—but he didn’t fall. He hung in midair, cradled by Her power as She rose to meet his gaze.

<So,> She said. <You’ve barely arrived, and already you’ve managed to disappoint me.>

Henry’s mouth dropped open, but no sound came out. Distantly, he realized he wasn’t breathing, and apparently no longer needed to. But first and foremost in his thoughts were Her words, echoing in his mind. His heart seemed to turn to stone inside him. No…

<I cast my sentries in the form of carrion birds to unnerve you,> She elaborated. <I conjured the foulest creature I could imagine to disgust you. I intended you to crawl up those stairs. To collapse before you ever reached me. And yet you refused to break down, refused to cry out, refused to give me anything I wanted.>

He stared through wild, bulging eyes, desperate to assure Her that yes, yes he could suffer for Her, yes he could stop holding back and let any further misery show, if only She’d give him another chance. But he couldn’t speak. Couldn’t breathe. Didn’t need to.

Until She lay Her hands upon him.

Suddenly his lungs burned in their emptiness. Suddenly his tears dried away, and he flailed helplessly in the air-that-wasn’t, reaching out to Her with swollen hands. But She drifted back out of reach, Her form still crystal clear as the stars dimmed all around him.

<I should have known,> he thought he heard, before it all went black and he knew no more. <I should have known you’d only bore me.>
 
Last edited:

Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Partners
  1. custom/mew-adam
  2. custom/celebi-shiny
  3. custom/roserade-adam
Holy crap, this was quite the spooky read. I really missed your writing style, and I'm glad I read this story to remind me of how good it's been.

From what I could infer, this is a story about a guy getting manipulated by a sadistic Gothitelle, but her victim turned out to be more resilient than she'd hope, which bored her. I feel bad for the dude, because even though he otherwise had the characteristics for an ideal lackey, it just wasn't what the antagonist here was looking for. Wrong place at the wrong time I suppose.

Anyhow, it was a good read. Had some spookiness and suspense. I give it a solid thumbs up.
 

Sike Saner

fundead
Location
*aurorus noise*
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. glalie
Adamhuarts: Yep! Basically, he assumed he was signing up for one job when the reality was that she was scouting for another. If he'd gone into the situation with fewer assumptions about what she'd wanted from him, he might have given her enough of a show to avoid being killed outright. But in that case, he might've been in store for a very long string of increasingly horrible experiences. Either way, he loses!

Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
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
  5. custom/meloetta-kint-muse
  6. custom/meloetta-kint-dancer
Hey, long time no talk. I can't say I've read any of your horrorfics before, but this *does* feel like a natural extension to some of the more terrifying prose I saw in Communication, and I learned a new word (slavering). Great stuff.

I liked how abstract you keep things in your prose. Horror is hard to write since you don't really have the benefit of a jumpscare; it's far more effective to try to go for a slow burn by keeping some things unrevealed for a while. Not knowing who She is while making it immensely clear that She's important to Henry creates a great sense of dissonance -- we get that things are wrong while we can't quite explain why or just how wrong they are.

I think on some levels your prose is a little abstract. Horror and Pokemon are a great mix of genres, but sometimes it's hard to tell if what you're trying to describe is because of the horror or the pokemon elements -- is Drass a gross zombie apparition, or is she a pokemon? The stench and pointed teeth and tentacle make me think Garbodor, but this also strays far enough into nightmare territory that it could just be a really unsettling humanoid/fake thing. It's also a little unclear to me if Henry literally walked into the atmosphere or not, or if the final chamber is just an illusion -- and hell, maybe the ambiguity is part of the point.

but at the end of the day you have a really great grasp on making things sound gross and disgusting:
“Servant?” She said, Her voice crackling wetly. “Servant, you?”
the word "wetly" here is just... ewwwwwwww. Excellent stuff. This was short and sweet nasty? gross? Idk. It was a great read; thanks for sharing!
 

Sike Saner

fundead
Location
*aurorus noise*
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. glalie
kintsugi: Drass is technically a psychic construct, a tangible illusion made to torment Henry (much like the stairs were). The door as a portal to space, however, was real, because I just had to go and take gothitelle's association with space and stars and whatnot all the way.

I'm not the biggest fan when it comes to reading nausea fuel (with the exception of most gore, which tends not to bother me at all), but I sure did enjoy writing it. :B Glad it worked here!

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. charizard
  3. milotic
  4. custom/zoroark-soda
  5. sceptile
I decided that before I get into your (current) troligy proper, I'd at least get my feet wet with this short one-shot for Halloween. I don't usually read horror (That's probably going to change once I grab Canis' fic) but I wanted to at least take a look at what I had going on here, maybe see what you were capable of. I don't know if this is what you usually write or your typical style (according to previous reviews, this is characteristic of you) but what I see here is interesting! I like it.

While it was a little confusing because no species were named (I thought Drass was some sort of Garbodor) I found myself a bit distracted just trying to figure out exactly what sort of species they were. I think this is a problem exclusive to Pokemon and similar fandoms, though, and if this was an original piece (and, frankly, you'd probably be able to get away with that for how little is described by name here) this probably wouldn't be a problem.

I'd like to echo a previous comment that the writing was very abstract in some places for that reason. By withholding concrete explanations, you gave a more mysterious vibe to the work as a whole, but as a sacrifice, it was difficult for me to ground myself in the scene, particularly at the beginning and ending. Oddly enough, the middle scenes were a bit easier to follow and feel out. It was just the beginning and end that drifted away from me. Perhaps too abstract and distant to really form anything solid, much like the apparition Drass turned out to be.

Anyway, it was still a nice, compact piece. It didn't linger for too long and it didn't cut itself too short. That's hard to do in a one-shot of this size. So for that, good job!
 

Sike Saner

fundead
Location
*aurorus noise*
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. glalie
Namohysip: Ultimately, the pokémon's species aren't named because Henry's not familiar with them--I think I went a little more limited with the narration this time around for whatever reason; elsewhere, whenever the focal character didn't know what tf they were looking at, I'd often name it anyway and just outright say something to the effect of "[character] had no way of knowing, but [pokémon] was a ______" (Which, now that I'm looking at it out of context, looks like a Mad Libs template. :B)

What's funny is, that limited narration and Henry's unfamiliarity with the species would've been a good, justified opportunity to describe the pokémon, which I'd tended not to do elsewhere, but that ball kind of got dropped pffff. Certainly with Drass, at least. I think what happened there is I got too caught up in giving her all the nastiness I could to stop and give her much clarity. Whoops!

I think my number one concern anytime I was doing a one-shot (all both of them) was matching the length to the story. So I'm especially glad to have hit that mark. :D

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 

NebulaDreams

Ace Trainer
Partners
  1. luxray
  2. hypno
Halloween may have passed, but spoopiness is universally felt throughout the year. I thought I'd give this one a go since I find your Pokemon worlds very interesting on the whole, and this one-shot is no exception. So, on a conceptual level, I was grabbed by this, as it isn't overtly a Pokemon-horror, but the further the fic went on, the references to Pokemon and how the conflict of this story revolved around one particular Pokemon became more obvious. For a short reading time, it had a nice amount of surprises, particularly with the pungent Drass Henry encounters and the reveal of the Goddess not being as much of a Goddess as he initially thought.

I especially like that the Pokemon description didn't reference them by name, but it was still clear what those Pokemon were supposed to be for the most part. As soon as I saw the Goddess for real, I instantly picked up on her being a Gothitelle (also makes sense if she had anticipated his arrival and had beckoned him there from the beginning, being a psychic type), but also liked that Drass was a bit more ambiguous in that regard. It easily could've been a zombified human of some sort (with her moldy grey skin), but the way you described it dropping piles of muck as well as the metallic tentacle slithering out of its side, it could've been a Trubbish or a Garbodor. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

While the concept mostly delivers, I think it went a bit fast for the atmosphere to truly sink in. What description we got was great and it consistently engaged the senses, but considering Henry's infatuation for this Goddess, I think it could've dwelled on that a bit more. Take the second line for example about the Goddess stealing his heart with her otherness. What otherness? What was their first meeting like? How does it affect him before he went on this quest to the mansion for real? It felt like there was a bit of a first act to the story that was missing, since we didn't get to experience Henry's growing obsession for this future-seeing temptress. This would've added a bit more empathy to the story as well as more of a chance to see some of that evocative description.

Same with him meeting the Gothitelle for real towards the end. Again, I liked the implicit description of her species, but I also feel like that initial moment of meeting his idol could've lasted longer to really hammer in the moment. If there was a bit more hesitation and more time to soak in the ambience, it could've made for a more impactful scene, especially with what happens after when that illusion of her benevolent figure is fully shattered.

I was also a bit confused about the nature of the test, as he put it. I guess he still wanted to be polite/appear unflappable if he was being watched, but there was no obligation for him to do so. If the Gothitelle was the one that gave him the test in the first place, it would've been a bit more believable that she did it as a ruse for him to react to something, only to be disappointed when she didn't get what she anticipated.

But yeah, this made for an enjoyable one-shot, and I'll see you around.
 

Sike Saner

fundead
Location
*aurorus noise*
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. glalie
NebulaDreams: Drass is a garbodor, albeit an illusory one. Illusory, but tangible. And smellable. >:D

I think a lot of what Nalna sent Henry via those dreams was more along the lines of impressions rather than experiences, notions put in his head rather than images, from which he drew assumptions that she hadn't intended (along with the ones she had intended). I don't think I gave the matter very much thought prior to now, tbh, but it could've been interesting, yeah.

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 
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