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Pokémon Places We Call Home

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Partners
  1. leafeon
Thoughts on chapter 15

The moment Haru decided she wanted to go watch Nip and Tempest filled me with dread. Not because I think they will attack her, but because I just know she's going to do something—as the kids would say—really cringy. I guess Vale wasn't aware she got kicked out last time she was around him? Because otherwise I feel like he would be a little hesitant to let her do this.

Nip, too, was up against the bars, stretching a paw across the small space between the two cells to just barely brush his claws through Tempest’s fur. He barely glanced at Haru, then spoke to Tempest in a low voice, his voice so quiet that Haru couldn’t hear the words.

I really hope this ship is canon, because I'm sailing it

“Come on, just fess up. Or should I tell Whisper that you’re plotting something, because that’s the only thing I can think of that you’d want to keep quiet.”

HARU STOP PLEASE

“W-well, your actions speak louder than your words. You try to act like you feel remorse, but you’re just scared of the consequences! Here you are, hiding behind the village’s protection, doing the bare minimum to act like you’ve changed. But in the end, you’re the one that went and stole an egg from the mons that helped you like some… some lawless wildener!”

We've been over this already Haru aaaaah

Whisper tilted her head, skeptical. “Really now? Even though you had no interest in helping out?”

This is a good point, I think. Get rekt.

An ill omen? Looking to Anu instead of a pokemon that could help with the injured, like Lecha? That was dumb. This was obviously something serious, but how was she supposed to take it seriously if all anyone was doing was striking it up as some sign from the gods?

She kind of has a point there

Anyway, I felt like it was an odd choice to have Haru antagonize Nip again, because by this point I think I already get the picture. She doesn't like him, but I think she has a fixation on him. At least she apologized to Toshi, though.

It's hard for me to say how much anything that happened in this chapter will matter, now that Celebi has crashed in. Speaking of which, I think the impact should have been described more clearly, because when I read it initially I really had no idea how bad it was. I figured something as small as Celebi wouldn't have caused that much damage.

Anyway, there were a few filter verbs you could get rid of pretty quick if you wanted to (ex. "She caught sight of her father and began to make her way towards him, then saw Shimmer pushing her way through the gathered pokemon."; pretty sure there were some others, but I'm not feeling very picky about prose today)

Also, I wonder if Shimmer and Roselei shouldn't be helping harvest a little while they're watching Nip? Even if they don't like him, it seems a little rude. They don't seem like they have much else occupying them.

Anyway, I find myself indifferent to the whole Celebi thing right now. Like, I'm invested in Nip and Tempest and how the whole situation with Jhorlo and Umbra is going to be resolved, and right now it isn't clear how Celebi is going to play into that. I hope to find out, though. There's just a lot going on in this story, and it seems we are still only at the beginning.
 

LukerUpgradez

Bug Catcher
Pronouns
He/him
Partners
  1. custom/meowth-alola-luker
Hey Wind, it’s me again! I intended to send you another review on fanfiction.net like I did with the last one, and I intended to do it again because Thousand Roads is more focused on textual help and I lean more towards conceptual help, but considering how screwy that website has been recently, it’s probably a better idea to post this on a website that I know will actually send the post. Hopefully I don’t seem too out of place here.

Just a warning, this is kind of a more serious review compared to my last one. Be prepared going into it.

About Chapter 15:

So... I don’t want to say I am disappointed with the new chapter, because I’m not. But... It does somewhat feel like a bit of a “bone of the story skeleton sticking out of the skin” moment, and it’s got me worried. Up to this chapter, I felt like, though the pacing was slow, the logic of the progression of the story was relatively natural. However, chapter 15 exposed some things about the past few chapters that I had given some leeway to in my original review, but I now realize might be worth talking about. (Hindsight is 20/20, I know.)

If I were to assess the identity of chapters 11 through 15, I would call them the lull between ideas. As in, the story is currently between two crucial structural points that you had set in stone, being the egg incident with Nip and whatever is coming next. In the lull, you have a bunch of ideas of things that should happen, but the ideas are very fluid from a chronological standpoint and don’t really connect with one another in a meaningful way (this would be things like Tempest’s arrival, Umbra getting contracted and allying with Vale, Celebi’s situation, Haru getting called out for being a jerk, etc). What ends up happening is that these ideas play out very arbitrarily, jumping from one idea to the next with not much intent behind what is shown where.

I say all this because chapter 15 was so egregious with its fluidity that made me realize that you were in the lull. I fully understand why, author-wise, this chapter happens — to set up the state of Haru’s character for development. But, from a structural standpoint, I fail to understand why this chapter happens the way it does at all. Why is there only now an issue with Nip and Whisper’s imprisonment that requires volunteer helpers that is coincidentally almost all of the major characters? Why are Haru and Toshi having this conversation about Toshi’s future at this particular point? Why is Vale shirking work with Haru, of all characters? I can no longer see the structural through-line tethering everything together like the first nine chapters, and I’d like to believe (I could be wrong! I haven’t read the past chapters in a bit!) that is because PWCH is in the midst of the lull between ideas.

The thing that has me most concerned about the future of the story is the argument between Haru and Nip. First off, this entire scene is happening solely because of the arbitrary elements that were implemented with the express purpose of setting it up, which already makes it feel forced. Secondly...this is just the scene from chapter 11 again with Tempest in the background! Haru and Nip have already had this conversation — the one where Haru demonstrates that she’s taken Nip’s actions personally by trying to get into his business and refuses to listen when Nip explains himself at all. The only difference here is the nuance is gone — Haru is solely portrayed as the perpetrator for the sake of setting her up for development. That, and we’re establishing hard feelings about the egg incident six chapters after the fact, instead of one.

I’m not suggesting that you should tactical nuke this part of the story (at least, not until the arc is done and you have the hindsight to know how to keep the story moving). Because I totally get why this happened. The lull between ideas is a pain in the butt, and a easy place for a story to die off, like mine did. The good news about this chapter is that, assuming we’re going to immediately dive into some heavy crap next chapter, the lull of ideas is over! Your story survived! Good job! But, if somehow Celebi’s arrival is a still a part of the lull, I would recommended getting to your next plot point as soon as possible — because, if that scene is any indication, your well of ideas is starting to run out, and it could spell disaster for Places We Call Home’s future.

Regardless, good job making relatively consistent progress on writing the story. I hope my analysis of the current situation is of use to you. Best of luck in your future chapters, Wind!
 
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Starlight Aurate

Ad Jesum per Mariam
Location
Route 123
Partners
  1. mightyena
Hey hey! Here for another Blacklight review. I'll do chapters 6-10 for this round.

Chapter 6

There were a few typos I noticed in the chapter, though I also see that you said you won't be giving chapters from here on out as many edits, so I didn't include them in my review (I feel like pointing out typos/grammatical errors can be a nagging thing and I don't want to bog you down!). If you're curious, feel free to ask and I can send them your way.

Shimmer had climbed down from Muse’s back, and walked forward to stand beside Haru. “With all due respect, miss scary mawile, we kinda have our own reasons for looking for him. He’s in biiiig trouble with our village, see. Maybe we should team up?”
lol Shimmer. Calling someone "miss scary mawile" the first time you meet her is not the way to make a good first impression.

Wrriting style-wise, you use a couple of filter words. Example:
She could feel the sticky sensation of blood on her back and could see an oozing row of punctures along her stomach.
You could leave out the coulds and instead just say, "She felt the stickiness of blood on her back and saw an oozing row of punctures along her stomach," or something along those lines to make it less wordy.

She could recall a time when a younger Shimmer had tried to teleport her away so that she could talk to Toshi alone. She’d only succeeded in accidently dropping her into the nearby river.
This is such a great detail! It gave me a chuckle : P

"Haru… my leg hurts real bad." His voice came out a hoarse whisper.
Awww poor Toshi : (

Also, I don't know why, but I've started rreading Umbra's voice with that of Lady Eboshi from Princess Mononoke.

"If you'll excuse me speaking out of line, I think we have a right to know what crime he caused," Jaques, one of Jhorlo's purrloin guards, said.
Purely because his name is Jacques, I imagine him with a French accent.

So now we have a story for Nip's departure and Umbra's motivations! Whether or not it's a true story is yet to be seen. I think all of the character's in this chapter were well-written: Haru being concerned about Toshi, Muse distrustful of Umbra's story, and and Shimmer going along with Muse. I think she has a fair point to doubt Umbra (though it may be because I'm a reader) and it looks like Nip is about to head into a boatload of trouble. I'm definitely more intigued with Muse's backstory now--what's the story behind her parents dying? What are her prremonitions like, and what does this one bode?

I do find it a little odd that Umbra is invited to stay at the mayor's place instead of being put in jail after seriously injuring Toshi and hurting the others--but that's the only nitpick I have.

The thing I brought up about writing style is still something I noticed throughout the chapter, though I may rectify that statement when I read more.

Chapter 7

Yay, Nip is back!
Even if stealing an egg from his saviors was cruel, the ends justified the means.
I love exploring this theme in different media. I'm glad it comes up here!

I n hindsight, he could have just stolen meat from the mandibuzz and cubone; he would have had enough time, even factoring in the longer walk there, and if they had caught him, he would have had the advantage against both of them.
Yeah, great thinking, Nip.

And would it not be cruel to kill a child that had a much better chance at a good life than any of those from his homelands? Even if some of the rules of the village seemed senseless, it still seemed like a better life than what he had been offered, for the most part.
Interesting how he only thinks of the fact that the child would have had a good life, and doesn't take into consideration the cruelty of ending life in general.

Did eating an egg stolen from people that saved him out of the goodness of their heart make him a monster? If it did, could he live with that?
00

By the time he reached the fourth division, all that remained was a lingering sense of guilt, and littered pieces of shell that would be swept away by the dungeon winds.
Nooooooooooo I hope it was delicious

“Oh, hush darling, it’s written all over your face. I may not be able to read the mind of a dark type like you, but I know a troubled soul when I see one.”
Awwww

He always considered himself a loner; he never expected that he would actually miss the companionship of pokemon - or at least some pokemon - that cared.
I always considered myself a loner and at the time of writing have been in isolation for almost 7 weeks and this hits hard.

When Nip finally drifted to sleep, he dreamt of a barren cliff of dry grass and dust, an ocean soaked crimson by the setting sun, and the ebony silhouette of a flying pokemon soaring across the dimming sky as stars began to twinkle.
This is a pretty image!

Heh, interesting to see Umbra so puzzled by the way of life in the village, with her mind constantly set to who resides at what position in the food chain.

He then sat back down, placing one paw next to the well. “Well.”
Heh, that's funny.

“Do you have any idea how disrespectful it would be to leave a tribemate to be scavenged? Yveltal’s code says that any pokemon that’s been a friend to you should be given proper burial.”
I like this. It's a little glimpse at the kind of mon Umbra is and shows a more decent side that we haven't seen yet.

This was a nice chapter! It was good to see more of Nip again and see more of the challenges he had again. (And noooooo not the egg!) I'm not sure if Jhorlo is sinister or if he's just acting in accordance with nature and out of best interest--it makes sense he wouldn't want fresh meat to go to waste, but eating someone you've met feels like on a different level than even what Nip would do.

Chapter 8

The fourth zone was a bit less forgiving.

“Don’t just stand there, run!” cried Haru as she barely rolled out of the way of an ursaring’s claws.
Heh, nice transition.

“I think I hate this dungeon,” she mumbled under her breath as she pushed further through the grass, only to almost bump up against Muse’s leg.
lol sounds like something any of my nephews would say : P

“Who cares about some ancient battle in the past. It happened so long ago, it doesn’t really matter anymore. We should be looking to the future instead. Or the present, at least. Come on, we’re wasting time.”

Muse turned to look at the bidoof for a moment. “I would argue it still matters, since mystery dungeons still exist, but I can’t fault you for your feelings.”
Definitely on Muse's side here--erasing history and forgetting the past doesn't help anyone (though it's perfectly in-character for Haru to say something like this!).

“Aw you really do care about me, future sister in law!” Shimmer remarked with a squeal.
omg Shimmer

She let out a battle cry as she fell, crashing into his back with all forty pounds of raw bidoof power and fury, sending him sprawling to the ground.
"Raw bidoof power and fury" sounds like a truly formidable force!

Haru watched as the dangling aura sensors on either side of his head stiffened, raising up slightly.
Huh, I had never thought of those as aura sensors--or I never knew that's what they were supposed to be. But it totally makes sense. Today I learned a thing.

“Can you both just shut up!” Haru called out!

“No!” Nip and Umbra yelled in unison.
Hahaha, not the response I was expecting, but it did not disappoint!

I do have a question: why do you always refer to it as "serviper"? Do you mean "seviper"? I thought it was a one-off typo but I see you've used it every time.

“That’s why. They’re taking in the wildeners that started the fight in for questioning. The serviper and steenee at least. The teddiursa is just a kid, and we wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of an angry mother ursaring.”
This is an interesting legal system, or at least line of thinking. You've done quite a lot with worldbuilding in this fic, and it's neat to see how village mon deal with wildeners. I'd have thought they'd just leave the wildeners in the Mystery Dungeon alone, but it makes sense to see them stand up for their own Pokemon.

Although this begs the question: if a Pokemon from the village deliberately goes into the Mystery Dungeon to try and get through it, are wildeners who attack them still taken in for questioning or put on trial? I'd think no, in that case, considering how different the dungeon is from the village and that the village mon decided to go in on their own. But perhaps it was already explained and I missed it.

There was no serious damage, but several lacerations lined her arms and torso, the small cuts staining her fur red
Hm, when I think "lacerations," a serious injury usually comes to mind--for example, a lacerated spleen, which is life-threatening. "Laceration" implies a deep cut, I'm pretty sure.

This was quite chapter with some payoff! It's nice to see that Nip and Umbra are both detained (for lack of a better word for Umbra, at least) and heading to the village for Nip's trial. His accusations against Umbra were at least heard by Haru, and I have a feeling they'll be out in the open before long. I thought this chapter was well-written; it was posted over a year ago, so avoid going into grammatical errors I noticed.

I'm reeeeaaally worried for Nip here--he's eaten Anu and Whisper's egg, and that will not bode well for him any way I look at it. I know he'll get out of it and end up in Blacklight but that won't be easy for him to get through, I'm sure. And seeing how Anu and Whisper will deal with it will be quite something--I'm always interested in seeing how various authors and characters deal with grief, forgiveness and moving on. You've definitely set this up for us to have quite an interesting story ahead of us! Otherwise, I don't have too much else to say, other than that I'm looking forward to whatever explanation Nip has for Umbra being on his tail!

Chapter 9

“It was… a very poor lapse of judgement. At the time, I felt like I was saving those poor souls from a life of restriction and suffering. By the time it occurred to me that there were better ways of doing that, I’d already gone through with it.”
adfajklds what

“I suppose we can open up the floor for questions from everyone now. Go ahead.”
NO Whisper, opening up the floor for anyone to ask questions is always a TERRIBLE idea.

She was supposed to be my mate.
Ah, running away from an arranged marriage. *shudder*

“We were,” Umbra clarified. “Obviously that was considered null and void after what he did.”
And their arranged marriage was annulled. Interesting! I wonder what counts for an annulment in this world, since getting annulments where I leave can be either simple or near-impossible, depending on the situation and circumstances.

More pokemon stepped forward: the quagsire, the flaffy, and a vibrava, as well as Zylar - the cubone from the butcher shop - Romi, and Roselei.

...

She wasn’t alone, though. Tor, Essra, and Roselei all stepped forward, as well as a pidove, a slurpuff, a mienshao, and a swallot.
Ooooh Roselei voted twice.

I think Toshi's speech on why he voted the way he did was a bit cheesy, though it did make for a more dramatic moment and was in line with Toshi's character.
“We could have done without the long-winded explanation. But very well.”
Ha, nice response, Whisper.

“Anyways, I wanna get back to the villa before dark. Just think about it Haru, and I think you’ll find that I’m right. You know kirlia’s can sense emotion, don’t you?”

“You sure do a lousy job of it with Toshi!” Haru snapped.
Omg. I had never considered that. So Shimmer isn't an airhead. She knows exactly what she's doing and she's going along with it for kicks and giggles. Holy crap.

No. It had to be ridiculous. There was absolutely no reason for her to take things personally, after all.
Hm! Looks like Haru's feeling rather betrayed. Poor girl.

But on top of that, a huge banner hung from the front, a design of a vaporeon’s face painted on it, with the words “expedition society” carefully painted underneath.
Ohohoho NOW we're seeing where your Christmas mafia character is from!

And an interesting end! So we finally have a glimpse of the Society Blue that Toshi so adores. I'm definitely intrigued with whatever is going on with Progne and Maneth--and who this Tinny is and what they were talking about! Not sure how well Nip will handle rehabilitation; I'm hoping it goes well for him, but if Umbra is free to walk around and do as she pleases, I wouldn't put it past her to try and take his life anyway. I've not much else to say on this chapter, other than that it was well-done and you've certainly got more plot lines going to keep us intrigued!

Chapter 10

Starting a new arc! Definitely fits with the wrap up of the first segment of this fic and the little intro you gve us at the end of chapter 9.

I like the different perspectives of time you give us with Celebi--it reminds me of different perspectives I've heard in different media (even in religion, since several religions believe God/gods to be outside of time) and it's cool!

"Put your back into it!"

Well, as close as it could be, all things considered.

"I'm trying, okay!" Nip snapped.
Heh, this made me chuckle.

"Eat it or don't but shut up. Or I'll make you shut up. I don't give a shit if you starve or get poisoned or whatever, so long as you give me some respect and some peace. And. Quiet."
Wow, I think this is the first swear word we've seen in thsi fic o_o Definitely sets the tone that things are a bit darker.

"Oh, come on, Chip. Why should I be nice to him? He stole and probably ate Whisper's egg. He killed an unborn child from our village! He should have been locked up at best, or else executed. But no, I'm stuck out here babysitting a murderer because the village voted to rehabilitate him."
This little snippet leads me to draw a comparison with a real-life situation--one that's controversial and probably best left out of this review. But this has definitely given me something to think about.

For the battel scene, I feel like your descriptions of what happen are a bit wordy--in something as high-paced and intense as the fight between Umbra and Vale, you could benefit from fewer filter words, shorter sentences and more concision. Example:
She reached up to throw a punch against his jaw, causing the manectric to yelp. She tried to attack again, but her muscles seized up again at the worst possible time.
This could easily be:
"Vale yelped as Umbra punched his jaw. Umbra readied another punch--but her muscles seized up at the worst possible time."

Just an example of decreasing wordiness and cutting down the sentence lengths.

Down here, civilized pokemon don't hunt, as you might already know. They harvest bodies of the pokemon that die in the wilds. Or at least… that's what they'd like to believe.
!!!

What a reveal to end the chapter on! I totally bought that, up until now, they just scavenged Pokemon found dead to feed the obligatory carnivores in the village. Turns out it's not so! And the moral ambiguity of this whole setting comes to light even more: just what constitutes a necessary evil? What makes it evil? To what point is it really necessary? Definitely already shown with Nip stealing and eating the egg, now showcased on a much grander scale. This also begs the question as to whether or not Jhorlo is actually sorry that that Anu's and Whisper's egg was eaten--I could imagine so, as nobody likes hearing the news of the death of an unborn. But he might view Nip's actions more sympathetically in this way.

You've got a good story going here, and this was a pleasure to read! Again, let me know if you'd like to see the typos I spotted and I can send them your way! Good luck!
 

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
hiya windskull! here for blitz; partying up in chapters 10-13.

quick note--I think your table of contents in the front page isn't updated? I was surprised that I only had one chapter to go (ch10 is the last one on there), but that's not the case!

chapter 10

Celebi interlude! This can only be very important later, I assume. I like how you structured this, with Celebi casually remarking on a bloody eyesore that's full of corpses, more upset at the fact that something is fucking with time than all the loss of life--it's a very abstract POV but I think you write decent justification for why a time-travelling god wouldn't care about the comings and goings of a few random pokemon. And then the ending bit where it's casually revealed that Theran Village is this place--it's a nice way to put all of the petty squabbles in perspective! The story opened with timeless legends and then very quickly narrowed in on a tight scope about one dude making some Very Good Decisions and the immediate fallout of that, so I thought the zoom out here was really effective. Curious to see what events Celebi regularly influences, and why he picks those events and not just, like, everything? Time travel is fun.

I thought this was a nice follow-up from the trial chapter--I wasn't really sure what direction things were going to end up going in after that, honestly. Nip at the worksite reminds me of that bit in Cars, but I like how you justify that he's doing this so that Umbra can't attack him in public. It's a nice way to get around why he'd actually buy in to this punishment given that he doesn't see himself as having done anything wrong and has zero desire to "rehabilitate" or whatever the village actually wants him to do. His paranoia that the villagers are still trying to poison him makes sense; I think it's a subtle way of showing the cultural differences that are at play here, and how Nip isn't really in the mindset to believe that anyone else can believe in redemption. (and besides, they're doing a shitty job of trying to rehab him lol)

I think we get a glimpse of Haru wanting to take over her family's business here? Not sure if this is a new addition or if I've just forgotten it from earlier chapters, but it's nice to see something she actively wants to pursue (even if she hasn't done anything on it this entire time) rather than a reactive goal. Her guilt at potentially having a hand in what Nip did is interesting, but also I think a little understated? If she believes she's at all responsible for this, then she's taking on responsibility for death of a friend's child--which is super dark and I think would linger with her longer? I like that it drives her to confront Nip, but it's hard to tell what answers she wants to get out of him to clear herself since she's not really blaming herself. Also, haha, I took note of one line that's like "she was eager to move on from the trial", which I find hilarious, since she's passing judgment and now annoyed at the burden even though she has to face no repercussions for it.

"Truth is, that's just not sustainable, you see. Too many pokemon need to eat meat to live. I may be a bit underhanded, my dear, but I have no interest in seeing good pokemon starve just because of a few little rules. So, since you've already got a bit of experience in hunting, I have some interest in… recruiting you.
I thought the Jhorlo development here was really big! It's an interesting answer to the question you've been poking at since the story began--and it would seem that there isn't a way for everyone to get along peacefully, and that it's simply unsustainable for carnivores and herbivores to live together. I'm curious about what this will mean for Haru in the future, since, like Nip, it represents a key part in her cultural believes being shattered. And from a fridge horror perspective, yeah, it's super terrifying to think that my mayor would be okay eating me if he really wanted to, and that he does in fact have secret child-eating hit squads that go around to make sure that the child-eaters are kept satisfied and are eating the right children. It casts a very grim light on how they judge Nip, honestly--his mistake was just eating the wrong child, a sentence I never thought I'd type in my life.

And the shoe drops on the "can Umbra read?" question from before! Nice. But I'm not really sure why he'd bother threatening her with the contract in the first place, since the real threat that has teeth (because it's the one she obviously understands) is the threat to use lethal force. I get that maybe he'd want the contract to cover his ass later if anyone wants to know why he keeps narc'ing people who come into the village, but I don't see why he was so insistent on bringing it up to her here when she repeatedly says she doesn't give a fuck about it--and it's only the shows of force that end up working on her anyway.

chapter 11
But dragging around materials more than twice his size for hours on end with only a short break in the middle? Slicing and chopping wood for so long it made his paws bleed? No, that was not normal. But it was his new routine. And now, he found himself exhausted at the end of every day.
in which nip learns about capitalism and the 40 hour work week
Somehow, he figured that was the point. Afterall, he knew far too well that an exhausted pokemon caused no trouble.
in which nip REALLY learns about capitalism and the 40 hour work week

The conversation between Nip and Haru is good, but I think you spend a little too long rehashing some of the old arguments that were at the trial--why didn't you steal from the meat shop, why don't you understand why I was running from my tribe, why were you running so fast--and I feel sort of guilty since I've been staunchly in the "I want to know more answers to why Nip did this", but at the same time I'm not sure if these are the answers I wanted from this conversation, since they've all been answered before. A lot of this convo is just a paraphrase of most of the trial--but I think the more valuable parts come in the second half, where Haru doesn't and refuses to understand Nip's abuse. This is adds a new and personal dynamic to Haru/Nip's disagreement here, and I think that's the part of the conversation that landed more solidly for me since it's a) stuff that we couldn't have learned before or during Nip's public trial and b) guides Haru's character development for the next few chapters. I did like how Haru is so deadset that meat farming is feasible though; it's nice to revisit that one now that there's context and we definitively know she's buying into a lie.

I also struggled a bit to understand what Nip gets out of this. There's a line where he's like "great, arguing again. this would get us nowhere", which I didn't quite follow--what is he trying to achieve out of this? He doesn't really respect her and he even says he doesn't want her forgiveness. S also did just publicly vote for him to go to harsh jail so he wouldn't be her problem--what does he think of Haru in this situation? Why does he feel the need to justify himself to her again, especially if she keeps being so horrible to him? I think there's definite room for a reason here! I just couldn't quite put it together from what was given.

At the end of this conversation I'm honestly torn--I don't know if I like anyone at this point. Haru brushing of abuse because she's never seen it and doesn't believe it happened/was that bad/whatever is hard to read, but it's realistically self-centered for a child who's never left her village full of soylent green. I struggle to wrap my head around Nip's justification for childmurder (specifically the one at his tribe, not the egg one), but at this point his life has just spiraled out of control and he's stuck with all of these verbally abusive strangers who keep telling him how much they want him to die and how they'd poison him if they had the chance, but also, he did kill one of their children. It's tricky--I think there's a really delicate line between writing a story with flawed characters and writing a story with no hope. At this point I'm roughly 70k words in and I still wish I had a sense of what these characters were running towards (rather than running from)--things they choose to act in order to get, vs reactions they make as a result of their circumstances. I think part of this is also with the large cast size where you have to repeat conversations or reasonings--i.e. in this one Haru really doesn't Get why Nip has done the thing, so she asks him again, even though we the audience have seen him explain most of these reasons for doing the thing already--it gives the sensation that a lot of grim things are happening over and over again with no actual improvement in events. I find myself really clinging to those warmer moments, like Bruxi being kind in the dungeon or Haru wanting to do her dad's job or Nip and Tempest just staring at each other vibin'--while the darker moments show us what happens when our characters are pushed too far, these lighter ones remind us why we root for them to come back in the first place.

There were some cute worldbuilding bits here--Chip and Nip (heh, surprised I haven't made that pun before) discussing defensive architecture was a nice moment. Haru showing up and making her dad's arthritis about herself is a :( but it's in character for her. I thought the chapter ending was really nicely done and dramatic too, and I like how you drop Tempest in a little early and then really build up to that dramatic final line--this was a really nice story structuring. You portray Nip's desperation really well and it makes for a great closer.

chapter 12
It’s fine. It’s fiiiine.
in which shimmer experiences 2020

It's a little crazy that Shimmer is currently the character I empathize the most with--in this chapter you do a good job of establishing the weight on her shoulders in Jhorlo's absence, and you do a good job of showing her try to rationalize through more mature decisions once she understands that people are relying on her. I like the more mature angle for her and it's nice that someone at least isn't just going through their one-way flowchart of "stranger bad". I'm reminded a bit of Sokka from ATLA--someone trying to fill shoes without even knowing that filling those shoes means; a conflict of wanting to have duty but not knowing if you're ready for it. For the most part it's really grounded in this chapter and I like how you balance this with her! She's trying her best. I wonder if she's currently aware of the whole soylent green/mandibuzz is actually selling hunted kills drama, or what she'll do if she ends up finding out later.

The mind-reading thing seems like a new development--lots of ethical and plot issues in the works! I'm surprised Jhorlo doesn't actively encourage her to train this more tbh; seems like a really useful tool he'd want to have in his shady toolkit. I also like how Haru is the one to suggest the mindreading, because of course she'd be down for that.

The mindreading sequence itself was clever, and I feel like some portions of it will be important later/soon.
His eyes are closed, or else it is dark, He nuzzles up to someone, to his mate, and tells her the story of Kyurem.
Accidental capital here, but I liked this bookend with the prologue! I was wondering when we were going to see the others, and this one feels really sad now that we know what happens to Tempest's mate.

chapter 13
“What choice do I have? He can’t speak to us. And asking yes and no questions will only give us part of the story. I either have to have someone dictate his directed thoughts – which is less dangerous but allows him to lie – or we have to dive into his mind again.”
in which, why didn't they do this with Nip? Is it because he's a dark-type? Are most of their trials employing forced mind-reading or is this specifically because he can't speak? Since you can also lie with spoken words.

Whisper hesitated. “That’s… I don’t think that would work, Haru. Most wildeners don’t have a writing system. We can’t rely on the idea that Nip and Tempest can write. Besides, that poses the same reliability issue as thought reading.”
I like Nip's sarcastic response here, and it's another good example of lumping all of the wildeners into a nefarious other and not bothering to understand anything deeper, but in this case I'm a bit confused--how long was Tempest mentoring Nip? Do they have a common spoken language but not a common written one?

And I do like that we get a little leveling from Toshi about all of this, and that Haru doesn't understand that a) you can be wrong and b) even if you're right, you can be cruel. It feels like a realistic moment between the two of them and I'm glad that we're at least seeing some of the friend group try to confront the craziness of Haru's choices so far. I also like how Toshi knows to put this in terms of personal metaphors so that Haru will actually understand him, and that the moment that finally clicks for her is when her not believing Nip is compared to a hypothetical about Toshi not believing her. It helps cement that she's fundamentally failing to look at Nip as any sort of equal here.

(I thought it was a bit strange that Whisper is the lead interrogator here when she was explicitly excluded from the trial vote for being too biased.)

There was a long pause. Phoel hesitated when she next spoke. “’Can he really be held to those laws if he did not know them?’”

“It’s common sense!” Whisper snapped. “You don’t kill the ‘mon that saved you!”
I'm! Really interested in how Phoel reaches this conclusion since, for the most part, the village is a bit of a hivemind when it comes to justice.

Overall this arc has been an interesting one coming off of the trial. I think the addition of Tempest helps shunt this into a new direction where we can really examine some of the deeper questions, although perhaps not immediately--for now he's effectively another Umbra in that he's a figure from Nip's past who can't/won't speak on Nip's behalf and whose presence is causing additional tension in the village. There's some interesting hooks here for why he was following Nip in the first place, who tried to silence him (Jhorlo???), if the conspiracy gets deeper, and in general I think he helps give this follow-up arc a lot of structure that might not have been possible with a different character in his stead. Fun stuff!

line edits and grammar notes. I lost track of which chapter started where so these are all in a lump; sorry:
Why couldn't you do this yourself Dia?
Comma before subject when you're addressing someone:
> Why couldn't you do this yourself, Dia?
The sky was a deep red above him stars beginning to appear in the sky.
Grammatically this one doesn't quite parse for me. Maybe?:
> The sky was a deep red above him, with stars beginning to appear in the sky.
No, no bad, you idiot.
Didn't quite understand this one.
Celebi placed his hands on his hips.
This ... struck me as a strange mental image? Does Celebi even have hands? Or hips?
Chip let out a hum as Haru shuffled out from the bag
Wasn't sure if the implication here was that she was literally in the bag the entire time--maybe she shuffled out from under the strap? She shuffled some packages out of the back?
It audibly smacked the sneasel in the face.
This felt a bit anime/comic in a fic that's mostly devoid of that.
You're a prisoner, not a charity case, and razz, bluk, nanab, and wepear berries have all been ruled as safe emergency food sources for obligate carnivores."

"I think you're making that up. I've never seen, let alone heard of one of these 'bulkberries.'
The "bulkberries" comment seems confusing to me since the bulk/bluk syllables don't really strike me as audibly similar, just written anagrams. Plus when it's all listed out like this, he'd hear "bluk nanab", not "bluk berry", right?
Eat it or don't but shut up
This one looks like it's missing a bit of punctuation:
> Eat it or don't, but shut up.
> Eat it or don't eat it. But shut up.
I don't give a shit if you starve or get poisoned or whatever
I didn't really get the vibe that they used the same curse words as us! But that's neat. Strange it didn't come up earlier though; this does stick out a little.
"And you, Vale," Grombert added, turning his attention to the disgruntled manectric, "insulting Toshi was absolutely uncalled for."
Punctuation's a bit funky here as well. I think it'd work better as:
> "And you, Vale—" Grombert turned his attention to the disgruntled manectric "—insulting Toshi was absolutely uncalled for."
Letting out a sigh he turned his attention back to Chip. "Right, good point. Maybe it isn't the best idea to have him around the nursery… but then again, they can watch him and the eggs at the same time. So…"
dropped a comma:
> Letting out a sigh, he turned his attention back to Chip
I also struggled a bit to understand why they had the "we shouldn't talk about this in front of Nip" talk, only to immediately keep discussing in front of Nip.
I better get going then, I'll see you tonight, Dad. Goodbye Grombert. Goodbye Vale."
> Goodbye, Grombert. Goodbye, Vale.
> Goodnight, moon.
And anger. Thinking about Nip, and how he'd wronged the community stung. His answers during the trial had been unsatisfying, as well.
This one is either too many or too few commas.
> Thinking about Nip and how he'd wronged the community stung.
> Thinking about Nip, and how he'd wrong the community, stung.
Waiting for food to arrive, she had stuck around, trying to curb her restlessness by doing things like grooming, or reciting stories and legends from her Tribe, refreshing memories of the story, as was tradition.
(I liked this little glimpse into her ties to her culture! Nip openly scorns their tripe, so it's nice to see what it looks like from someone who buys into it more)
The repetition of "stories" felt a little redundant:
> ... trying to curb her restlessness by doing things like grooming or reciting legends from her tribe—refreshing memories of the story, as was tradition.
Now, as late-afternoon light poured in
this one can just be "late afternoon light"
Even on her travels, when was the last time she'd gone nearly a whole day without food? It had to have been at least a few winters ago.
I thought this was another nice foil to Nip's memories of how the tribe is dark and cold and everyone is miserable and starving. They definitely had different experiences (in no small part because of who Umbra specifically is, I imagine)
Jaques had other obligations to attend to. He will be back in the evening."
hmmm yes I'm sure this is fine.
"Oh, Musey, Look!" the kirila said
should be "kirlia" here
"Why should I? She's not being nice either?"
I think you dropped another question mark on that last bit when it should be a statement.
Come on Musey
> Come on, Musey
Fabric had been pulled over the opening - the window - in the back of the room
I liked this little detail about how the words are different for her.
Lotte couldn't find a good topic to start a conversation with, and Umbra had absolutely no interest in speaking.
I wasn't sure if you meant to swap into omniscient third? Usually the narration feels at least a little more limited.
The underhanded jab was not missed by Umbra. "Are you... trying to antagonize me?"
yeah she's got a real high passive perception
"Do I really need to be here for all this?" A voice barked from the corner. Umbra immediately whipped around and spotted a manectric lounging on his side, a bored expression on his face.
a real high passive perception, part 2: not noticing the bright yellow elephant dog in the room
> "Do I really need to be here for all this?" a voice barked from the corner.
If you cannot control those idiots, I do not see how this is my fault?"
Dropped another question mark on this one as well.
You were the one that signed it without looking, I can't have helped if I didn't know, right?"
Some comma splices here:
> You were the one who signed it without even looking. I can't have helped if I didn't know, right?
"Watch where you're flinging that electricity!" Jhorlo snapped. Use something less destructive!
I think you dropped the quotes on "use something less destructive" or a stray note slipped into the draft?
"She was biting me, get off my pace!"
Haven't heard this idiom before! Wasn't sure if it was a typo.
He understood why they were upset, but death and cruelty were just facts of life, and he was only doing what he thought he had to for survival. How would taking Haru hostage help with that? In fact, it was more likely to get him killed.
"And you”—he turned to face Nip, thumping his heavy tail on the ground a couple times in a threatening manner—"you better be on your best behavior."
even when intimidating quag is still best quag
“Just a second,” she said quickly. “I’m trying to figure out how to word it.” The silence stretched on for just a bit longer, before she finally sucked in a breath and answered. “I just… I don’t get it. What’s your problem?”
Seems strange that she's still trying to "figure out how to word it" even when she's been waiting for so long? Maybe she's just nervous about confronting him?
the flaffy guard
some more flaaffy slip-ups
That pairing was something he had been curious about for a long time, but an explanation would have to wait for another day.
Couldn't quite follow why this pairing of all things was strange to him? He's seen plenty of mixed-species pairings before, including toxic ones and ones in the village.
It's a bit colder today, don’t you think, really doing a number on these joints of mine.
Some dropped punctuation here as well:
> It's a bit colder today, don't you think? Really doing a number on these joints of mine.
It's not my decision Myo.
> It's not my decision, Myo
"Tor, the sneasel’s back! Why won't you make him go away?" he heard the child cry out.
> "Tor, the sneasel's back! Why don't you make him go away?" He heard the child cry out.
I just need you to be brave for a few more days. Can you do that for me?
I wasn't sure what the implication of "more days" was here--what happened before?
Nip snapped back to attention as a pink paw waved in front of his face. He turned his head slightly towards the flaffy
Would flaaffy have paws instead of hooves?
"She still doesn't want Toshi up and about, walking all the way to the square yet after his injury, so she sent me instead."
This felt a bit wordy--especially since Haru showed up last chapter at the jobsite with no explanation either. Maybe just "She still doesn't want Toshi walking all the way to the square yet because of his injury, so she sent me instead", or nothing? Idk if you needed to justify this.
“What… Who did this to you?” Nip asked breathlessly.

Tempest said nothing, only holding Nip’s gaze.
I thought this was a really interesting development! But couldn't Tempest like, nod, or shake his head, or do anything?
Could he answer? Perhaps the injury kept him from speaking. Was it temporary or permanent? He knew Tempest knew how to take care of himself; even a wound this bad should have been better taken care of than this. So why wasn’t it?
* frantically googling if mawile can learn throat chop *
My fighting skills, hu… how to track something and survive in the wilderness, all of that.
I liked this little detail about how he trails off before saying "hunting" here.
Before either of them could make a move, though, Whisper stepped between the two, holding up a wing on either side. “Both of you stand down. Nip, if you so much as raise a claw at me, I’ll call a new vote and let that mawile drag you out of town, I swear to any god you hold dear.
I also liked this detail about how Whisper sees them both as equal threats even though Nip is just standing and peacefully answering her questions.
What if he doesn’t change. What if other pokemon end up getting hurt, and it’s our fault because we decided to give him a second chance.
Dropped some question marks here? Or maybe these are meant to be accusatory--but then it'd help to call them out in the dialogue.
Cheered up a bit, Shimmer was back to her normal, bubbly mood. Was it a façade? Kind of. But considering how ugly her real feelings were, and how much disrespect she’d receive as a leader for showing that side of herself, she could bottle it up and put on a cheerful look.
This dip into really close third narrator felt a bit strange to me
a few trinkets her dad had found or bought for her over the years, a couple pillows, a sundial that had gone unused for some time now, and a carefully constructed bidoof plush that she’d had to go to the next town over for
I like the detail of what she has in her room here! Is having a bidoof plushie as a pokemon the same level of creepy as having a waifu pillow?
Absentmindedly, she brushed a hand against her injured ear, taking a few moments to inspect it impressed with how much and how well it had healed already.
Bit of a run-on here. I'd split into like:
> Absentmindedly, she brushed a hand against her injured ear, taking a few moments to inspect it. She was impressed with how well it had healed already.
“Well if you want to know what’s going on Haruru
> "Well, if you want to know what's going on, Haruru"
Ideally, they’d hold a meeting and pass judgement, but it’s hard to pass judgement on someone who wouldn’t explain themselves…
sad nip sounds
It wasn’t very fancy; a couple of straw nests for beds and one big cushion bed – which is where Shimmer was laying – a low-laying table with cushion seats in the center, and a couple of chests full of equipment were the only furnishings.
Switch into present for "which is where Shimmer was laying"
“Are you sure you’re up to this?” She asked quietly, nosing Shimmer’s shoulder.
> "Are you sure you're up to this?" she asked quietly
His tail and ear feathers drooped, suggesting wariness.
This one felt unnecessarily word. "His tail and ear feather drooped warily" would probably fill as well.
“I’m sorry. I just… this is all very personal. I… really shouldn’t be in charge of this whole operation, but… I don’t trust many others to handle things fairly. Anu is in the same situation as I am. Romi and Siles don’t have time to be involved in overseeing this. I don’t trust Vale and Stati to take care of things fairly.”
Prose-wise I thought the repetition of "things fairly" felt redundant
“Well, for what it’s worth,” Phoel began, “the big guy says it wouldn’t surprise him if it was Umbra. But… He doesn’t know for sure. Everything happened so fast, he didn’t get a good look at his attacker. He is certain that it was a member of the tribe, though. He remembers the smell.”
This felt strange that he could scent Umbra all the way here, remembers a smell, but couldn't get a good read on who it was?
 

Flaze

Don't stop, keep walking
Location
Chile
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. infernape
Hello there. I'm coming in here as my "blitz review" in favor of Zion of Arcadia, they got to have a review from me but said they'd rather I review your story. What this basically means is that I'll be doing an overall up to date review of your fic but for the purpose of the blitz and all I've decided to divide that into multi-part reviews where I look at a different set of chapters as I get up to date.

With that cleared up, this review will cover the prologue up to chapter 3 of what's out so far.

Going over the prologue real quick, I really like the air of tension you build up to by showing us the different points of views of the characters we might be following in this story. Two of those were for Haru and Nip, so I'm gonna assume that we'll also see more of the others that were mentioned.

I think the standout thing there is how you showcase the different beliefs and philosophies that each character follows, setting us up for when we learn more about them and those beliefs later on in the story. I also like the varied systems that each pokemon culture follows, with Nip's tribe following Yveltal as a way to lend respect to death, which surrounds every aspect of their life, or Haru's village worshipping Regigigas for its place as a protector (though originally I thought it was Zygarde).

That aspect of varied pokemon cultures is a big point of these first four chapters. It's easy to tell that it's the aspect of worldbuilding you've put more thought in as you go into more detail on the mythology and philosophy that each group believes in. It's definitely interesting too, as it's also something that influences their character and their thoughts about the world. It's really great stuff, because it explains their actions and ideals, especially as your chapters ask some philosophical questions like whether it's okay for pokemon to hunt and the different reasons for their hunting.

At the same time I like how you don't decry one specific philosophy as right or wrong, at least not quite yet, instead, so far the story treats each pokemon's views and beliefs with validation. They're different, but they each have their strong and weakpoints and those points are the ones that keep people alive and help them push forward in their life.

This sentiment is carried over especially to pokemon like the mandibuzz and aromatisse which are more mindful on how they interact with different pokemon. On that note Nip and Haru are also perfect foils and point of view characters because of their different views, with Nip's more devoted belief of Yveltal and Haru's borderline atheism towards religion. It also helps because they're two characters that clearly haven't learned much about the world, ironically since Nip has traveled.

On the subject of the characters, so far I think Nip and Haru are the ones we've gotten the most focused on. We've known a lot of character in the first three chapters, that's for sure, but the majority of them are mostly secondary characters. That doesn't mean it's back though, you're able to sell the town and its culture very eloquently, allowing us to see how Haru's family operates and then showing us the town's different aspects, I particularly like how you highlighted Haru's family business and the daycare and how that's the reason Shimmer go to know Toshi without actively saying it in the story.

That aspect of the world and its characters will be important going forward, it's a bit unclear to me in how this story will progress since I still don't have much of an idea of where it could go, but I do like the notion of exploring Nip's character and his past more and how that'll affect Haru and her community.

Now, I'm gonna be pointing out some highlights I took note of while reading the chapters, these can be any notes you can correct or just things that jumped out at me and I really liked.

What’s more important than spending time with your future in-law?”

“You do realize you’re not my brother’s mate, right?”

“Yet.”

Not gonna lie, I really like Shimmer and Muse and how you quickly establish their place in Haru's life. I really do enjoy how you've developed that sense of community and how they each relate to one another, especially when it comes to Haru. Since she's in the banner on the first post I wonder if Shimmer and Muse will be more important, or if maybe they'll just be highlight characters of the first part of the story.

Once their bellies were full of delicious bread and jam, and Muse’s back had been laden with satchels for herbs and a bundle of berries and sweets for an afternoon snack, the trio set off, following the path up the river towards the northern forest. Shimmer sat atop Muse’s back, softly stroking the absol’s mane and chatting about her plans for the evening and about her father’s plan for expanding the village daycare to add a separate, permanent nursery.

It is...a little weird that Shimmer literally rides Muse, I know it's supposed to get that feel across that Muse is her bodyguard and kind of like a butler that's also her limo...but it's a little strange because it kind of seems like the story wants to paint them as friends, but the idea of Shimmer using her as a mount makes me feel otherwise and the story doesn't really give too much detail on that yet.

If she was going to be out and about, she would much rather take a trip to one of the neighboring settlements, helping spread her parents’ business. Her dad’s lumber work – both felling and the finer art of carpentry – was the finest in the village (though, to be fair, her family were the only lumberjacks in the village.) And her mother’s wooden sculptures were uniquely beautiful – not that her lumberjacking was subpar. Oh, if only she could spend all day working away at processing lumber, it would make her a very happy bidoof!

I really like the contrast in Haru's character. She enjoys her life in her town and her life with her family, but it's also really curious about the outside world, not so much in an adventurous kind of sense but because that same pride she holds for her family and legacy extends to wanting to spread out and making the rest of the world aware of them. It's an interesting difference for how a lot of main characters in PMD stories operate.

The sneasel tried to force himself to his feet, fighting the dizziness and nausea that the movement produced. This area was too open, and yet left him cornered at the same time. He strained his senses for any sign of danger. He needed to move. To escape. To hide. To shroud himself in the bushes or in the trees, away from the sight of any would-be predator or prey.

You manage to convey Snip's survivalist personality pretty spot on in just one paragraph I think. It's very focused, to the point, yet also unstable and uneasy to reflect the current state his body is in.

The aromatisse sighed, shaking her head. “I know you’re young and this is your first time dealing with something like this, but not every wildener is out to get you. Many of them are quite nice, in fact. Honestly, what have your parents been teaching you?” With a firm shake, she looked down to her bundle for a moment. A pause, then she turned her head back.

I agree with her here. And I really like how so far your stories tries to give more of a balanced viewpoint for different cultures, not just treating pokemon that don't live in settlements as "ferals" and characters calling out the idea of treating them differently just because of where they choose to live and what they choose to believe. I hope the story goes into more detail about those points.

“So, you’re not from around you, are you, dear?”

I think you meant "So you're not form around here".

“You’re in Theran village pal,”

You need a comma right before pal.

moment of awkward silence filled the room as Nip gave the bug-type a blank expression, until Lecha broke the void by clearing her throat. “Now, now,” the aromatisse started, waving a paw. “You know it’s not that simple, Twi. Besides, every loner pokemon and wildling makes their choice, you can’t force a pokemon to change the ways that their fathers and forefathers taught them.” She shook her head, adding with a mumble, “I really need to speak to your father about what he’s been telling you next time he’s in town.”

This was just funny to me.

The bibarel continued to stare at her daughter for a few seconds before giving a terse grunt.

Considering that both Haru's parents are bibarels it's a little hard to know which parent you're referring to here.

Though… Perhaps it would be worth it to learn more about Nip’s god. Not because she cared about it, per say, but because passing on new information might help build her reputation. And the more she got her name out there, the better chance she had of expanding the family business.

And here we also see Haru's biggest flaw clearly. She's...kind of single-minded, she's constantly thinking about how things should or aren't good for her and can be kind of judgy of anyone that doesn't adhere to her own ideals, while also caring more about how others could help her. She has things to work on I think.

“So, this is Theran Village’s central square. You’ll notice that there are a lot of small vendors around here. Ruffle - that’s the bellossom over there - has a stand where she sells the berries that she and Rosalei grow. The building next to it is a food shop that works with them for supplies. It’s run by a swalot, but you’d be surprised how careful he is about keeping his workspace clean. There’s a slurpuff that sets up shop around here sometimes but… it’s really just a bunch of junk. But she’ll buy some of the weirdest things from you for high prices! Don’t ask where she gets all that money, you won’t get an answer. Let’s see, what else…”

Again, I really like how well defined the town is and how you've worked out every aspect of its community and the place they all have in it.

The bird that waddled inside was nearly four times Haru’s size, her head nearly devoid of feathers with a thick, tan, feathery collar around her neck.

Of course the one pokemon selling meat in the town is a mandibuzz, lol.

Of course! Every tribe marks their members with something. Dyeing fur or skin with berry juices are the most common ways, but some of them use more permanent marks, like specific scars or piercings. Hunting down another tribe could start a skirmish; everyone knows better than to do that.”

Pretty good worldbuilding detail here and I do like how you build on Nip's tribe as much as you did with the town.

Whisper things we have another moon or so to wait.

Should be thinks here.

Something was wrong. It took only a few seconds before she realized the forest around her had silent silent.

You say silent twice here and I think you meant to say "had grown silent".

Nip was nearby. And if he was alive, he could not have gotten far.

Dramatic, it's a pretty effective closer and it makes me wonder what'll happen now that this mawile will come into the equation.

Anyways, I'm really liking how the story is being set up so far and I'll keep on reading to see where it goes from here.
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
Location
The Yangverse
Pronouns
Any
Partners
  1. reshiram
I'm back for Catnip! Reading Chapter 4 this time - alas it did take me a few months.

And this chapter is special! It is the post-e g g chapter! :D

I live how Haru wakes up at the beginning of this like "everything's gonna be great today! :D" and NOPE, scared crowd and angry mob. And now they have to hunt down Nip. (i will note they alternate between he and they a lot before mentioning Nip's identity, is that intentional?)

I do also like the fight scene with the Flechinder. Especially Shimmer just fucking swinging one. I might draw that.

And now the mysterious weird-looking Mawile is here. I'm still wondering what the HELL they want. I presume I find out next time. Whenever that is.

For now I leave you with this final message:

1612032645056.png
 

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partners
  1. custom/sneasel-nip
  2. bidoof
  3. absol
  4. kirlia
  5. custom/windskull-bidoof
Review reply megapost, some very belated! As always, thanks to everyone for all your comments, praises, and criticisms. Even if I don't reply to all of it, I really appreciate it.
I came to the conclusion that he’s a massive hypocrite myself, yet I was only able to because you laid it all out in front of me. Well done.
Glad you picked up on this, because it was very much intentional
There’s not always anything wrong with that, but in the case of deciding if someone lives or dies, it had me raising my eyebrows at him for sure.
Toshi is still very much a bright-eyed optimist. I wouldn't call him sheltered, but he's the kind of guy that wants to give someone a second chance. Even if they reaaallly didn't deserve it.

This makes me wonder what exactly it was that drove Haru to reject the existence of gods, especially if it's so ingrained in her home's culture. Is it rebelling against her parents in a sort of teenage way?
It's something that came up later (I don't remember if you got to it yet, guess I'll find out as I'm going through and replying to these). Though it's something I would probably do well to update sometime in the future to hint at better in the earlier chapters.
I find this last line interesting. Is she using "stars" as a sort of exclamation, like "goodness," or "jeez," or is she referring to the Stars as something they ask for help from, like how modern Christians might say, "God"? If it's the latter, even thought I know it's unintentional, I still find it amusing how ingrained into her it is.
Yeah, I was going for something more like goodness or god.
The presence of thick brush defies it also being a clearing. "A clearing" implies that it can be walked through, but if the brush is so thick that they can hardly do that, then it contradicts itself.
I could probably better describe it, but what I was trying to get at is that the clearing was surrounded by thick brush.
That Blissey, Tor intrigues me--he seems to got a lot of personality, and it's interesting you made him a while the games only have female Blissey.
I'll be honest, the short answer is that I totally forgot blissey is an all-female species in game.

That being said, Nip on the other is pessimistic, refuses to believe the world or himself can be better. I particularly noticed this line:
I like that you noticed that. Nip is... definitely very complex.
I felt like the first point was established quickly then went a bit on, and I don’t see why exactly Shimmer had to sense Vale and be temporarily worried rather than Vale just coming in.
Ah, the point I was trying to get at with that was exactly how her ability works, but it could probably be trimmed down. I'll keep that in mind.
I wish we had seen more of this, especially with the dropping that their grandpa died on some sort of religious quest. There was a bit in early chapters… I think? But I think it would have been better if there was something in this section of the story to bring this conflict to the forefront.
I'll be 100% honest, it's mainly because I didn't work out Haru's motivations until around this point. At some time I want to better-integrate that into earlier chapters.

I’m not totally sure what it means in this context for the gods to be absent. It seems like some of the pokémon we saw believe the gods will come back, like they’ve just gone out for eggs and bread and took too long returning. Others seem to doubt they ever existed. There’s a bit of a tension there for me with regards to sense of time passed.
I have some stuff written about that, but it's not super integrated into the main story. It would probably be a good idea to do that at some point in edits.
I didn’t get much of a sense of Muse’s personality, but Shimmer is ... I can’t quite put my finger on how much she’s ditzy and oblivious and how much she’s choosing to put on that face like a kind of armor.
8)

Suffice to say, I think I'll be picking up this fic again. I've already grown out of my pmd content avoidance phase and any hard feelings I've had concerning this fic have since faded. I'm ready to give it another shot.
While I don't have much to say about your review, I'm glad to hear that you felt it was an improvement.

Like with Chapter 14, I feel like the beginning of this chapter could have been condensed. Toshi volunteering and sparring with Whisper is a good catalyst for Haru to angst about her brother leaving, but I don't think we needed to explicitly see the volunteering happening. Maybe just cut to Haru learning that Toshi (and Shimmer and Muse) are going to be tested for volunteer guard duty?
A fair point. While I probably won't completely condense the scene, I may trim it down in the future.
Celebi's in the village, finally, and I hadn't even considered he would be seen like a deity to the pokemon (though that should have been obvious). Haru being this universe's version of an atheist, I wonder how she will respond to that. I see a lot of interesting reactions from various characters, and of course there's the mystery of how Celebi got injured in the first place.
8)

I guess Vale wasn't aware she got kicked out last time she was around him?
He probably was. He also really wouldn't care unless she was the one that got hurt.
Anyway, I felt like it was an odd choice to have Haru antagonize Nip again, because by this point I think I already get the picture. She doesn't like him, but I think she has a fixation on him. At least she apologized to Toshi, though.
I'll be honest, this scene originally had a different plan, but it really didn't work out because Haru wasn't ready to talk neutrally.
Speaking of which, I think the impact should have been described more clearly, because when I read it initially I really had no idea how bad it was. I figured something as small as Celebi wouldn't have caused that much damage.
Fair point. THis scene was probably a bit too anime leaning. Conceptually, the idea was that Celebi landed hard enough to leave an impact crater.
Also, I wonder if Shimmer and Roselei shouldn't be helping harvest a little while they're watching Nip? Even if they don't like him, it seems a little rude. They don't seem like they have much else occupying them.
I probably could have better implied that Roselei was doing something, at least. The implication was supposed to be that Roselei was dealing with packing away the harvested berries.

If I were to assess the identity of chapters 11 through 15, I would call them the lull between ideas.
I believe I already talked to you about this already, but I believe I said that if I could do one thing over, it would be to introduce Tempest at a later period for the sake of pacing. But I've already gone this far so it doesn't feel like something easily changed. Things to not for future works, I suppose.

lol Shimmer. Calling someone "miss scary mawile" the first time you meet her is not the way to make a good first impression.
Shimmer just be like that sometimes, lol.
I do find it a little odd that Umbra is invited to stay at the mayor's place instead of being put in jail after seriously injuring Toshi and hurting the others--but that's the only nitpick I have.
A fair point, but all I'll say is that Jhorlo saw an opportunity.
I do have a question: why do you always refer to it as "serviper"? Do you mean "seviper"? I thought it was a one-off typo but I see you've used it every time.
oops
Although this begs the question: if a Pokemon from the village deliberately goes into the Mystery Dungeon to try and get through it, are wildeners who attack them still taken in for questioning or put on trial?
In this case it's more because they viewed them as "helping" Nip. Normally they'd be left alone (probably).

Nip at the worksite reminds me of that bit in Cars
Lol I hadn't even thought of that but you're right and I don't know if I love that or hate it.
But I'm not really sure why he'd bother threatening her with the contract in the first place, since the real threat that has teeth (because it's the one she obviously understands) is the threat to use lethal force.
The idea I was going for was that he place nice first, but then proves that he's not afraid to back up his claims.
The conversation between Nip and Haru is good, but I think you spend a little too long rehashing some of the old arguments that were at the trial--why didn't you steal from the meat shop, why don't you understand why I was running from my tribe, why were you running so fast--and I feel sort of guilty since I've been staunchly in the "I want to know more answers to why Nip did this", but at the same time I'm not sure if these are the answers I wanted from this conversation, since they've all been answered before.
A fair point. I'll probably clean this up when I get around to editing this chapter
I'm surprised Jhorlo doesn't actively encourage her to train this more tbh; seems like a really useful tool he'd want to have in his shady toolkit.
I have answers I will withhold this information.
in which, why didn't they do this with Nip? Is it because he's a dark-type? Are most of their trials employing forced mind-reading or is this specifically because he can't speak? Since you can also lie with spoken words.
Could probably do good to explain in story better (there's some implications, such as Shimmer noting that she can't pick up on Muses emotions.). But to answer your question
they didn't do it on nip because reading a dark type requires certain techniques or pokemon with incredibly powerful psychic powers. It's typically not used on low level trials, but would likely see use in more serious cases. In this case though, it's specifically because he can't speak, and because his communication methods are limited.

Not gonna lie, I really like Shimmer and Muse and how you quickly establish their place in Haru's life. I really do enjoy how you've developed that sense of community and how they each relate to one another, especially when it comes to Haru. Since she's in the banner on the first post I wonder if Shimmer and Muse will be more important, or if maybe they'll just be highlight characters of the first part of the story.
It's pretty common that people don't like Shimmer at first, so it's neat to see someone that likes her from the beginning.

I do also like the fight scene with the Flechinder. Especially Shimmer just fucking swinging one. I might draw that.
And thank you for doing so lol
 
Chapter 16

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partners
  1. custom/sneasel-nip
  2. bidoof
  3. absol
  4. kirlia
  5. custom/windskull-bidoof
Chapter 16: Broken Expectations

Celebi. In front of him was Celebi. The great messenger of time. Prophet of doom and fortune. Struck down as if little more than prey.

Fear struck at Nip’s chest like burning claws. His fur bristled, but he couldn’t look away from the horrifying scene. He felt Shimmer push past him, bumping against his side as she hurried towards Celebi, healing energy already at her fingertips. He paid her little mind, his eyes still stuck on Celebi. Were they breathing? Were they alive? What could do something like this to a god?

It seemed the villagers had similar questions. Around him, he heard hushed whispers, uncertain mumbles, and panicked mumblings. He ignored them, the blood pounding in his ears drowning out their sound.

Oh Yveltal, he silently prayed. What could do such a horrible thing?

“Out of the way!”

A yowl, louder than any other voice, finally cut through the fog of panic.

His head held high, Jhorlo carefully picked his way through the crowd, each pawstep careful. He did not look at any of the gathered pokemon, keeping his gaze forward as the two purrloin moved ahead of him in sync, clearing onlookers out of his path. Near Muse, he came to a stop, staring down at the Celebi with an unreadable expression.

“What happened?” He asked Lecha, his voice silky smooth. “Has anyone seen what did this?”

“Don’t bother me right now,” Lecha snapped, her voice uncharacteristically sharp. “I need focus if you want me to save the fallen god. Twi! Prep a rawst and sitrus poultice. Shimmer, keep using that healing pulse. We need to stabilize him before we can move him.”

Jhorlo stared a moment longer, his eyes narrowed to slits. For a heartbeat, Nip thought he might strike Lecha for daring to talk to him like that. But instead, he turned back to the crowd, raising his voice.

“Pokemon of Theran Village. Please return to your daily routine, if you would. Standing around gawking will help no one. Allow Lecha to do her work, and then perhaps when she is done we will get our answers.”

A few pokemon quieted to anxious mutters, fidgeting and glancing between the felled god and the mayor. They seemed like they didn’t want to leave, and Nip couldn’t blame them.

Jhorlo cleared his throat and spoke again, his voice dropping into the slightest of growls. “That was an order from your mayor. You all have work to do, and waiting here helps no one. For the sake of the village, and all the pokemon who live here, return to your work. Or at least return to your homes and stop crowding the square. If something important changes, we will summon you all, understand?”

Reluctantly, a few of the pokemon began leaving, casting glances over their shoulders. Ruffle returned to her berry stand — or what was left of it — and heaved a sigh before beginning to inspect the wreckage for anything salvageable. From the back of the crowd, Chip approached her and began to speak in a low voice before raising a paw and waving in Nip’s general direction.

“Haru, Muse, Nip! Why don’t you three come over here and help sort this mess out.”

Nip suppressed a wince, trying to ignore the tiredness in his limbs. Muse turned and began to walk towards the bibarel, and Nip looked over his shoulder back at Celebi. Anu was there now, having brought a sturdy wooden board to place Celebi on, in hopes of safely transporting them into Lecha’s hut. Reluctantly, he turned his attention back to the ruined stand.

“Can you believe it?” Chip said when they drew close, keeping his voice low. “Celebi. Here. In our lifetime. When was the last time anyone heard of gods just appearing?”

“Did you call us over to gossip?” Haru grumbled. Nip shot a glance out of the corner of his eye. Despite her tone, her expression betrayed stormy feelings, surprising Nip. The way she had talked before, he was surprised she’d feel anything about the appearance of a god among them.

“Right. Sorry,” Chip mumbled. “Anyways, I figured we could clean up while, well, while we wait. Y’know? Be good neighbors and all. Figured Nip could help, too. Doubt there would be any point in returning to what he was doing right now, right?”

“That’s quite fine, I think,” Muse said. She turned her head to look towards the medic hut. Shimmer was just disappearing through the entrance. She kneaded the ground anxiously before returning her attention to the small gathering. “I believe Whisper would be fine with that arrangement. I… don’t want to go too far away, myself.”

Sensing that he would not get out of more manual labor, Nip sighed and began to pick over the splintered bits of wood. He, Haru, and Chip spent some time in silence, gathering pieces up and into a neat pile. At some point, Toshi joined them, taking one quick look before falling in order. Muse kept her eye on Nip, occasionally casting glances back to the hut. Ruffle worked her away around the group, gathering the smashed berries and inspecting them to see if anything was salvageable. At some point, her mate joined her and began helping, consoling the shaken Ruffle. But her eyes, too, betrayed troubled thoughts. Was she upset about the berry stand? Celebi? Or perhaps something else entirely.

“Do you think Celebi is here for a reason, Dad?”

Toshi’s voice shook Nip out of his thoughts. The younger bidoof had sat down for a minute and was currently working at a splinter that had managed to lodge itself in his paw. Chip bent down to sniff at the paw, before reaching down to carefully pull the woodchip loose. When he stood back up, he sighed.

“I don’t know,” the bibarel admitted. “Your Grandpa Catkin might would’a known. He studied the legends in the area, back in his youth. But I’m afraid I only ever really memorized the stories about old ‘Gigas.”

“Celebi always shows up for a reason. If he’s here, and in that condition, it can only mean trouble for all of us.” The words were out of Nip’s mouth before he even realized it. Six pairs of eyes were on him before he even finished talking.

“Do you know something about Celebi?” Toshi asked. Haru scoffed and continued to work, though Nip didn’t miss the curious glance she shot his way.

“Why wouldn’t I?” Nip replied. “Celebi may be one of the lesser gods, but he’s the emissary of Dialga, ruler of time. Even after the gods all vanished, Celebi still appeared to mortals from time to time, often in times of great change, or great peril, to offer a choice or to offer a warning. If he’s here...” He paused, letting his words hang in the air, “then it means that something will happen that could alter the history of the world.”

His words were met with silence and stares, no one moving as the weight of his words sank in. At least, until Haru let out a huff and continued to work. “You can’t really believe that, can you? First off, that’s assuming that someone like Celebi has our best interest at heart. And second, even if that were true — which I highly doubt — why would he come here, to a frontier village, to say something?”

“Why not?” Nip countered. “It means that this, here—” he swept his paw out, gesturing to the area around him “—is where the trouble will be. Or else there’s someone here that can change it.”

“You sure know a lot about these things,” Chip said. “Did you study these sort of things?”

“Sort of.” Nip scowled. “Not by my choice. But I guess the knowledge has come in handy. And… it is rather interesting, I suppose.”

Haru paused to squint at him, but pointedly turned her back and said nothing more.

Muse was the next one to break the silence. “I just hope Shimmer is okay,” she mumbled. “I should be in there watching over her. She still hasn’t fully recovered from the mind reading accident. What if something goes wrong? What if she gets hurt?” Her paws worked at the ground as she glanced between Nip and the medic hut.

Before she could fret further, Toshi stepped up and comfortingly pressed up against her leg. “Come on, Muse. It’s Shimmer. When have you ever known her to let something like that get her down? She’ll be fine.”

Muse glanced down at the bidoof, her fur still ruffled, but his words seemed to make her relax slightly. She sat down, taking a deep breath. “You… you’re right. I shouldn’t worry so much. Thank you, Toshi. It seems my fears were unfounded anyways. Look.”

She tilted her head up, gesturing with her nose to the medic hut, where Shimmer was emerging. The kirlia turned her head back and forth for a moment, then made eye-contact with Muse and crossed the square. Her expression was tired and serious. But as far as Nip could tell, she was fine. And before she had slowed to a stop, she was already speaking.

“Celebi has awoken. Muse, I need you to get my dad, please.”

Muse stood up. “Jhorlo? Now? But what about—”

“Nip can come with me,” she said. “The others too, if they want. But… well, Celebi looks ready to talk. And we shouldn’t keep him waiting.”

Hesitating a heartbeat longer, Muse let out a grunt before turning to run off in the direction she’d seen Jhorlo go. Shimmer gestured for Nip and the others to follow her in the opposite direction.

Nip’s heart skipped a beat as he stood up a bit straighter. He was about to be an audience to a god. The messenger of one of the greats, at that. His shoulders tensed as he thought about what he should say. Was there anything he could say to a god? Was it even appropriate for mortals like him or any of the others to be there?

He stole a glance at Haru and narrowed his eyes. Her expression was serious, and she began to move ahead of Shimmer. Was she going too? What business did she have a meeting with a god when she’d done nothing but decry them? Would she say something? Do something to put them in bad favor with Celebi? He flexed his claws without thinking. As he followed Shimmer, he just had to hope that Haru’s presence wouldn’t ruin everything.

***​

The inside of the medic hut was exactly as Nip remembered. The same clean environment. The same pungent smell of berries. Just as he remembered it.

But one thing was off now; a god flitted about the room, floating unsteadily and mumbling under his breath. But as Celebi heard the sound of approaching pokemon, he stopped in place and slowly raised his head to stare. His pupils shrank as he looked all of them over, and a tense silence hung in the air as everyone waited breathlessly for him to speak.

“Wow, tough crowd. You’d think that none of ya had seen me before. Oh, wait.”

There was a bright flash, and suddenly Celebi was gone. Before he could process the teleportation, Nip felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned his head, then sprang backward, hissing with fur bristling, as he found himself face to face with the little god.

“But that’s alright, you mortals are always speechless when you meet me.” Celebi giggled, then floated back into the air. “It’s good to see your village doing so well. Looks like the rebuilding efforts went great!”

Shimmer blinked. “Wait, what?”

Celebi turned away, looking at Haru. He stared at her for an uncomfortably long time before flashing a grin. “Oh, I thought for sure you were a bibarel. Saku, right? Well, congrats on finding yourself a mate. I’m sure the kids will be lovely.”

“E-excuse me?” Haru stammered. “I’m not Saku, you got me mixed up for my mom.” She paused for a second. “Wait, how do you know Mom?”

But Celebi did not answer. Instead, he raised up into the air, so that he was hovering over the entire group again. “You guys are gonna be the talk of the world soon enough, you know that? Dialga has taken great interest in the events that have transpired here. Or will transpire? I don’t remember. Maybe I hit my head too hard? I dunno. It’s all relative to the moment. But I’m here for a reason. And, well, I might as well deliver it to you all. Time stops for no one after all! Not even me!”

Nip felt frozen in place. This was Celebi, messenger of Dialga. A powerful god for all to revere. But he was behaving so… childishly? Scatterbrained, maybe? Nip struggled to follow his leaps in logic. And from the looks of the other pokemon, they were equally lost.

Hoping for answers, he took a deep breath and stepped forward. “Celebi, you say you have a message for us. Please tell us, so that we might understand Dialga’s will!”

He heard Haru huff behind him and suppressed a wince. How could she dare show such disrespect, when a god had shown himself here, physically in front of her, proving her wrong? Even if both his sudden appearance and personality were… disconcerting, did she dare risk being smitten?

Celebi, too, noticed her sound. With another flash of light, he disappeared and reappeared, lounging on the floor beside her.

“What? Enamored by my power, little bidoof?”

Haru squeaked and stumbled backwards. “A-as if I would ever want anything to do with the likes of you! You come in here acting like you’re something special, but you’re just mocking us!”

Celebi placed a hand to his chest, a mock wounded expression crossing his face. “Oh, I’m hurt Haru. Hurt!” Another flash, and he was on her other side. His voice dropped into a low tone as he slung one arm behind her neck, speaking directly into her ear. “You best watch yourself, dear. Not all of us take well to insults. If you stood before the great Dialga, you’d be nothing more than a sad little pile of bidoof ash.”

In response, Haru growled, but before she could say anything more Celebi looped around to face everyone again. “Ah, if I knew how rude you guys would be, I never woulda agreed to warning you all. But a deals a deal, and I supoooose I should do my job.”

The light flashed again, and Celebi was gone. Nip whipped around, ears swiveling as he tried to pinpoint where Celebi had disappeared to.

“Where did-” Toshi cut off as a commotion sounded from outside.

“Citizens of Theran Village, gather to me!” Nip startled at the sound of Celebi’s voice. It came from far away, but was abnormally loud, booming loud enough to still be heard clearly.

Shimmer turned back towards the doorway. “Come on!” She urged before rushing out. Toshi and Haru stumbled after her. Nip followed at a slower, more cautious pace, his gut twisting with apprehension. Lecha followed slower still, bringing up the rear as they exited the building.

A small group of pokemon that had remained in the square after Jhorlo’s dismissal was gathered now at the center. Celebi hovered unsteadily above them, his hands raised high as if performing some sort of ritual motion to make his voice louder.

Ruffle was there, as was Roselei. Whisper and Anu stood just in front of the group, the hawlucha placing her claws on her mate’s shoulder as a sign of comfort. A few other pokemon that Nip recognized were also there. And from the north, Muse was rushing back. Jaques, Lotte, and Jhorlo followed just behind.

“Great Celebi,” Anu said, lowering his paws to his side with palms facing outward. “You, voice of the forest, messenger to Dialga, the keeper of time-”

“Yeah yeah I love the praises and all. Go on, tell me more.” Celebi’s voice had returned to normal, no longer thundering across the square.

Anu blinked and sucked in a breath, but with a sudden jerk, Celebi dipped downwards to place a finger to his muzzle.

“Shhh. Shhhh. Shhhhhhhhhhh. I was kidding. Come on. I may have all day but you don’t. My life is eternal. Yours is a fleeting speck of dust.”

The lucario stared but stayed silent. Good, Nip thought. At least someone in this village knows how to be respectful. But the respect did little to put his heart at ease. The way Celebi was behaving. None of it lined up with the stories he’d been told as a child. Celebi was supposed to be calm. Elegant. Perhaps a bit emotionless. But the god that he saw in front of him was anything but.

Celebi held his position for just a few seconds longer, before returning to his original position. “Now, as you were saying?”

“Right…” Anu brought a paw to just below his chest spike. “I, Anu, ask of you, what brings you to our quaint village?”

For just a heartbeat, there was a mischievous gleam in Celebi’s eyes. When he spoke, it was once again in the cacophonous voice that made Nip’s ears ring. “I have been sent here with a message… of doom!”

A few pokemon gasped. Nip’s fur began to bristle, and he could see even Anu’s tail starting to dip, like he wanted to tuck it between his legs. But a squeeze on the shoulder from Whisper made the Lucario hold strong.

Celebi let his words hang for a little longer, then continued back in his normal voice. “Although… I don’t actually know what time I ended up in. Maybe the doom already happened. I dunno. Then it would make this point all moot. Let me think. Was anyone supposed to die? The square does seem to be in mostly good shape. Hm…” He pointed at someone near the front. Nip stood up on the tips of his toes and could see he was gesturing to Vale. “I don’t remember seeing you so… either I’m just in time or way wayyyy too late.”

“E-excuse me?” Vale stuttered. Static made his fur fluff up. Then he growled, eyes blazing with anger. Roselei stepped in front of him before he could do anything rash, though.

Celebi returned to his echoed voice. “Okay, okay, here’s what we’ll do. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A bunch of strange pokemon show up, cause chaos, and then a bunch of pokemon die. Sound familiar?”

“Some of it does,” Vale growled, turning away from Celebi now. He began to stalk towards Nip. Alarm seized the sneasel’s chest, and he stumbled backward.

“Is more death coming, Celebi?” Vale growled. “Just say the word. Say it, and I’ll rip his throat out.”Sparks danced at the manectrics jaws. Those snapping jaws that could crunch bone and snap necks and rip flesh. Nip’s breath came shallow.

“Vale!” Whisper snapped, stepping away from her mate. “We don’t have time for this. Stand. Down.”

“But you heard him,” Vale argued. “More death is coming.”

“That’s an order, Vale. Think. We haven’t heard the whole story yet.”

“No no, go on,” Celebi said. “I wanna see a fight. It should be interesting.”

A vine reached up to brush Vale’s side. Roselei walked up to stand beside him. “Just a moment ago, you were ready to round on Celebi himself. Calm down, Vale. Let us hear the whole story, first.”

The manectric growled, his lips curled into a nasty snarl, and for a heartbeat, it looked as if he might spring on Roselei. But the roserade kept her composure, and finally, he backed down, pointedly turning his back on Nip.

“Aww, I was looking forward to that,” Celebi whined. “But I know how it would have turned out anyways. Or probably, at least. I only saw one of you two. Maybe you just went and changed history. But no. He’s not one of the strange pokemon I was talking about. Trust me, you’ll know them when you see them.”

Nip’s heartbeat slowed and his breathing began returning to normal. But the apprehensive feeling in his gut remained. He brought his claws up in front of him, staring at his palms, only distantly listening to Celebi now.

“Anyways, I should wrap this up or something. So I’ll just say this. Trouble is coming. Biiiig trouble. Trouble that will affect the entire world if you don’t do something. Big scary pokemon are gonna come here and kill you all. Or something like that. I don’t remember the details. But it sure was scary. There was fire and screaming. And blood. Oh. Can’t forget about the dead bodies. At least I think they were dead. I dunno. I wasn’t there for long before the little scary guy started chasing me. And then I woke up here. Funny how that worked out. For me. Anyways. Do something or I’m going to be very, very cross with you. If there’s any of you left, anyways.”

Celebi stood up straighter, dusting his hands off. “Anyways. I think that just about covers everything I needed to tell you? I should get going before the big wispy guy gets angry- oh right I wasn’t supposed to say that. Whoops. Forget I said anything about that. Just remember the warning of doom and all that. Fix it so Dialga doesn’t get mad at me.”

“Wait, Celebi!” Anu reached out towards the little god, but he was already floating upwards. “If you have any care for us mortals, tell us what this danger is, so that we may prepare. Please!”

But Celebi ignored his pleas. He held his hands up, creating a square with his fingers. A beam shot into the air, and a square-shaped ripple appeared in the sky. He stopped just outside. “Good luck everyone, you’re gonna need it! And remember! Reality is more than it seems, life is fleeting and worthless! Buy gold! Bye!”

And with that, Celebi vanished into the ripple, and the gate through time disappeared, leaving Celebi’s parting words hanging in the minds of the distraught village pokemon.

Ruffle was the first to break the silence in a hesitant voice. “What… what should we do?”

Whisper’s expression was unreadable. “Anu… this is your area of expertise. Was that really Celebi?”

Anu grunted. He didn’t try to hide his troubled emotions. “He certainly looked like depictions of Celebi. But… his behavior, it doesn’t line up with stories about him at all.” He took a deep breath, then shook out his nerves. “Right. A plan. Regardless of… Celebi’s personality, we can’t deny the fact that he came here with a warning, and it would be foolish to ignore it. Whisper, I… I think our best course of action is to be vigilant.”

“Have you lost your mind?” Vale growled. “You’re going to take the word of that… that… whatever that thing was? I refuse to believe that that thing was Celebi How do we know he wasn’t just trying to cause chaos and distrust?”

“Aw Vale, don’t be like that,” Shimmer chided, stepping forward. “You seemed perfectly happy to believe him just a moment ago, when you could spin the story to fit your desires.”

Vale snarled, sparks dancing along his pelt. He didn’t turn to face Shimmer, but Nip could tell from his crouched posture and wild eyes that he was more than ready for a fight.

“Enough!”

Jhorlo’s voice brought silence to the small crowd. The purugly took slow, methodical steps until he was nose to nose with Vale. His eyes were narrow slits as he hissed at the manectric. “You. No matter how reasonable your concerns. You do not threaten my daughter. Do you understand me?”

Sparks danced for just a few heartbeats longer. Then Vale slumped, breaking his stare. “Yes, sir.

“Glad we could come to an understanding.” Slowly, Jhorlo turned, walking back to stand beside Anu.”

“That aside, both Vale and Anu have a point. It is hard to trust the word of a creature as chaotic as Celebi - or whatever he may have been. But it would also be foolish to ignore it entirely, when there may be a threat to our village’s well-being. We can’t just turn away any pokemon that passes by. It would ruin our reputation, and denying entry to any rescuers or explorers going about their job would be foolhardy.

“But at the same time, we cannot just let any pokemon go about as they please during these troubled times. Here is my proposal, though I am willing to modify it if you, the villagers desire. All pokemon that pass through must keep to the village square to do their business. Those that wish to stay the night will have a curfew. Does this seem reasonable?”

The pokemon muttered amongst themselves. Nip could catch bits and pieces of their conversation. Some seemed uncertain, but most seemed amicable to the idea.

“That brings me to the next point.” The purugly turned, and Nip couldn’t help but shrink back beneath his fierce gaze. “Our current…guests and prisoners. We cannot deny the fact that they could be the pokemon Celebi was talking about. I have misgivings about continuing their community service at the moment. Whisper, how have the sneasel and ninetales been doing thus far?”

Whisper quickly stood at attention. “Well, Jhorlo, the ninetales has been doing well. He’s hardworking, and although he has his ornery moments, he generally seems to be interested in doing his best and seems willing to adapt to our culture. Though he does act up if Nip does not return before dark. It would be best if he didn’t start a ice storm in the guard’s hut, but I’m certain it’s something we can work out with time.”

Jhorlo’s gaze was unwavering. “And the sneasel?”

Whisper hesitated, and Nip’s gut twisted as the silence grew longer and longer. “He… does seem to be a hard worker. I can’t deny that. But… he, too, has a temper. And one that he is not good at checking. I want to believe he’s getting better. That he’s understanding how to behave in our society. But I’m... concerned that all he’s done thus far has been little more than an act.”

“I see.” He sat down and began to rasp his tongue over a paw. Nip wasn’t sure anyone else saw the purugly’s claws unsheath. Was Jhorlo threatening him?

“You know, Whisper,” Jhorlo continued. “I know you’ve put a lot of work into this. No one can deny that you’ve tried. But perhaps it’s time to admit that this sneasel is unfixable. I understand your hesitations on working with the Enforcers, but perhaps it’s time to pass him off to them. I’m sure they know how to take care of someone like him.”

Nip’s breath hitched. His legs went weak, and he felt like a stiff breeze would knock him over. After all his hard work, putting up with intensive labor and barbed comments, would they just kill him anyways? Or pass him off to someone who would? How cruel could they be? He stumbled backward, his fur bristling.

But instead of acting defeated, Whisper puffed up her feathers and stood up a bit taller. “No. I’m not giving up after doing this much. I’ve worked too hard to give up now. Please, let me work with him a bit longer.”

Jhorlo stared at her for a moment, then let out a long sigh. “Very well. You may continue to work with both of them. But their hours must be limited, and they will be under the same curfew that any passing pokemon would . And I would like to request one other thing from you.” He turned to face Vale. “As you know, we do have one other foreign pokemon among us. Umbra has been staying with me for some time now. And while I do trust her, I would like to request a guard remain with her while she goes about her business, just in case she is one of the pokemon Celebi mentioned. Allow me to borrow Vale for the next moon, until we can… ascertain what pokemon Celebi spoke of, or else that the threat has passed.”

Whisper tilted her head. “If you believe that is the best course of action, I will defer to your judgment. But only for the moon. If you wish to use him longer, we’ll have to discuss this again then. Fair?”

“Very,” Jhorlo replied. “But we will be revisiting the sneasel’s progress on the same day. Those are my terms. Not every pokemon is suited for village life, but when they wrong us on our territory, well. Someone has to pay the price.”

Jhorlo let his words hang between Whisper and Nip before speaking louder, addressing the entire gathered group of pokemon. “This day has shaken many of you, I am certain. But in these trying times, we must remain vigilant in heart and in faith. Celebi may not have met our expectations, but we must believe that doesn’t apply to all gods. Stay on guard, watch out for one another, and if you see any suspicious activity, report it to myself or Whisper. That is all.”

With that, Jhorlo turned and began to pad methodically back home. Whisper gave Vale an acknowledging grunt, then the manectric followed after. Slowly, the crowd began to disperse, uneasy mutters filling the air.

Nip, however, did not move. Not until he felt a nudge along his back. He spun, letting out an alarmed squeak.

The gentle eyes of Muse faced him down. “Come on,” she said in a gentle tone. “We should get you back to your cell, before any other... excitement happens.”

For a second the thought of making a run for it bubbled up in Nip’s head. Jhorlo had nearly sent him away, despite everything he’d done thus far. But if he tried to run again, Umbra would follow. And then she’d kill him, if someone else didn’t first.

And he was so, so tired.

With a bit of coaxing, he began to shuffle forward, his gaze kept to the ground. Despite all that, Whisper, of all pokemon, had insisted on giving him another chance. It didn’t make sense. Even with everything he’d been told about her, he couldn’t fathom why she’d be willing to help him now.

But that was only the tip of his iceberg of troubled thoughts. His mind drifted back to Celebi. To his fickle and flippant nature.

Celebi is one of the calmest, most composed gods of all, he remembered hearing once, on a cold winter night. He must be, to be able to travel through time undeterred by the horrors he’d see.

Nip had been taken to the Wall of Stories, a place within the caves where the elders painted their history. It was there where he’d learned of Xerneas and Yveltal and the Original One and many others. Including Celebi. But the Celebi in those stories was so, so different. Were the stories about Celebi wrong?

Here, in front of him, Celebi had proven to be anything but calm and composed. And if Celebi, a god known by most all, a common point in many pokemon cultures, was nothing like the stories, then what did that say about other stories. Were they wrong as well?

What did that say about Yveltal? What did that say about him? Everything he had done in his life, he’d done so because he believed it was just in the eyes of Yveltal. Or, if nothing else, that Yveltal would understand his flaws and his reasons, and make her judgment accordingly. But what if Yeveltal was as callous and flippant as Celebi? Or what if Yveltal was harsh and uncaring? What if she cared not for his reasons, only for his actions?

As he stumbled through the doorway into the hut, he didn’t even look up to greet Tempest. His eyes were glued to his claws. Bits of shell and fluid clung to them, glistening even in the darkness of the nursery den. The unmoving form of a half-formed child lay at his feet. It would take a long time to wash it out, and even then, the image would still be seared into his mind-

He blinked and the vision was gone. The ground below him wasn’t dirt and dried grass, but roughly cut wood. He was in the guard hut, not in the tribe. Not with the pokemon that he had spurned and run from, but amongst pokemon that hated him for different reasons.

For nearly the past moon, he’d put up with the hard labor, viewing it as a safe haven to protect him from Umbra. But his heart was never in it. It was just a means to an end. When it was over, he’d return to his lonely life and live wild, but free, until Yveltal felt it necessary to reclaim him.

But now, with his future uncertain, the guilt of what he’d done here, and the guilt of what he’d done all those moons ago, was catching up fast.
 

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Partners
  1. leafeon
Howdy, Wind, hitting you with a quick review for chapter 16 because I like this story. We haven't really talked at all in a while, but I hope you're doing great.

His head held high, Jhorlo carefully picked his way through the crowd, each pawstep careful.

Repetition with "carefully"/careful

Despite her tone, her expression betrayed stormy feelings,

I wonder if her expression could be described a bit more concretely. I found myself wondering what in her face is tipping him off to what he thinks are stormy feelings

At some point, her mate joined her and began helping, consoling the shaken Ruffle

This felt awkward to me. To me "Ruffle" feels like it should be a pronoun, even though it can't be because of how the sentence is written. I just feel like this one needs to be rewritten.

But her eyes, too, betrayed troubled thoughts.

I felt similarly about this sentence as I felt about the "stormy feelings" sentence. I like concrete details.

His words were met with silence and stares, no one moving as the weight of his words sank in.

This felt a little wordy to me. "His words were met with silent[grave?] stares." might be enough.

“You can’t really believe that, can you? First off, that’s assuming that someone like Celebi has our best interest at heart. And second, even if that were true — which I highly doubt — why would he come here, to a frontier village, to say something?”

HARU STOOOOP

“You sure know a lot about these things,” Chip said. “Did you study these sort of things?”

Kind of repetitive ("These things"/"These sorts of things")

What if something goes wrong? What if she gets hurt?

Excessive concern for Shimmer is probably a character flaw for her... This might have been implied before, I forget

When have you ever known her to let something like that get her down

Might sound better as "When has she ever let something like that get her down?" Also, I don't know if this makes sense, because Muse seems concerned about the possibility that Shimmer will get hurt, but Toshi's reassurance doesn't seem to address that.

What business did she have a meeting with a god when she’d done nothing but decry them?

I think you have to get rid of the first "a" or something

Would she say something?

Oh I'm sure she will, Nip

What business did she have a meeting with a god when she’d done nothing but decry them?

Oh yeah, Haru is an atheist, right? This is kind of a big deal for her (okay, in retrospect, apparently she doesn't find it that difficult of a transition to go from not believing in gods to being like "okay fine they exist, but I hate them" which I guess is fair enough)

The inside of the medic hut was exactly as Nip remembered. The same clean environment. The same pungent smell of berries. Just as he remembered it.

I'd cut the last sentence, since it's basically the same as the first.

Celebi giggled, then floated back into the air.

I thought he was already floating, but I guess this implies that he clung to Nip's shoulder? It's a bit unclear to me.

You best watch yourself, dear. Not all of us take well to insults. If you stood before the great Dialga, you’d be nothing more than a sad little pile of bidoof ash.

I like this dynamic

Whisper and Anu stood just in front of the group, the hawlucha placing her claws on her mate’s shoulder as a sign of comfort.

"as a sign of comfort" sounds kind of weird to me (maybe just "placing her claws comfortingly on her mate's shoulder" or something)

Shhh. Shhhh. Shhhhhhhhhhh. I was kidding. Come on. I may have all day but you don’t. My life is eternal. Yours is a fleeting speck of dust.

Rude >:(

Anu brought a paw to just below his chest spike.

"Anu placed a paw just below his chest spike"?

You seemed perfectly happy to believe him just a moment ago, when you could spin the story to fit your desires.

*Airhorn.wav*

We cannot deny the fact that they could be the pokemon Celebi was talking about

Celebi specifically said that Nip wasn't one of them, no? Is he choosing to disregard that for some reason? But then why doesn't anyone else point this out?

But their hours must be limited, and they will be under the same curfew that any passing pokemon would

Sounds like good news for Nip. I wonder if they shouldn't be doing more to prepare, but it doesn't seem like they're taking the warning that seriously, since Celebi sure wasn't.

The gentle eyes of Muse faced him down.

I don't know if "face down" is the right phrase to use for something gentle, and I also want to say "Muse's gentle eyes faced him down" would be a nicer-sounding way to structure it

she said in a gentle tone.

Kinda doubling up on the "gentle" there

It would take a long time to wash it out

Kind of seems like "It" refers to the child

He was in the guard hut, not in the tribe.

I guess "the tribe" doesn't work here because "the tribe" isn't really a location, if we want to get technical about things

Well, Celebi's appearance didn't change things as much as I thought it would—at least not outwardly. But Nip's questioning whether Yveltal is really like he thinks she is, and the inner turmoil that results from that (along with Whisper nearly giving up on him) interested me and gives me some sense that his arc is progressing. His vision/hallucination makes for a nice closing to an otherwise uneventful chapter. I also like Celebi, because he *was* pretty funny (though I think earlier in the chapter he was referred to with "they" pronouns?) and I think at this point in the story a little levity is nice. At the same time, having him disappear might have been the right move; I'm sure you could have done some interesting stuff with him if he had stuck around somehow, but there are already a ton of characters to juggle in the story.

As an aside, I wonder if this Celebi was inspired by the Celebi in Warped Skies, because I hear she's pretty kooky.
 

K_S

Pokémon Trainer
Here's your review per the catnip event, I'd hoped to do five chapters but circumstances have curtailed my computer time drastically so here we are.

Review of the Prologue and Chapter one

The idea of having the Legend tales introduced alongside some of the cast to emphasis mindset and culture of that character ecetera is an interesting ploy. A perk is that the Legends were not named, adding to their mystery to the reader and characters both.

A weakness I'm noting is the use of 'mon names as an end-all descriptor. There's also some lost opportunities here because of it. What does the place the elder's tale telling takes place in? What does it look like? What of the other "children"? If I hadn't known this was a PMD piece going in I'd of wondered at the gathering's species... and considering it is one I was again wondering but mainly of 'mon types. What of the bidoof family hut? While we're getting snippets of potential cast and their mythologies, that's it, it'd be easy to build up a bit here and there to make if more well rounded and nod towards setting.

Of the intro blurbs the "Proud" nine tails scene seems weakest. Why is he proud? Why is he telling "father's old tales? Did something in the scenery inspire him to think of them and share it with his mate? Are they cuddling together for warmth in a snow storm and he was inspired by al the snow flying about?

In contrast the bisharps section works the best as we have setting (forest) action (her rally towards prayers) previous actions (hunting shown in words and the pelt) and hinting of world building. Because a PMD that the characters are hunting for food in and it's a norm (at least in the bisharp's region) and they are hunting 'mon that might be sentient is a doozy to throw down opening scenes. So kudos with that. It was a lure that kept me going in a genre I normally don't look twice at.

The italics that bracket each introduction put me to mind of many of the human "team" antagonists. I was getting serious Team Flare/Lysandre vibes from Mr. Italics, or perhaps Cyrus/Team Galactic. Wouldn't that be a kicker, to have one of the two reincarnated into a 'mon world and try to pick up where they left off...

Speculation aside I think I've played too much Hollow Knight "No Sacrifice too great"... if I see or hear a room full of buzz saws, I'm sorry, but I'm gone, one round of the Path of Pain was one too many.

Back to business then....

I'm guessing the fire kitten evolved during his prayer but I'm not one-hundred percent as the scene was vague at best and nearly as fuzzy as the "proud one".

Moving on to chapter 1

Haru is definitely in the running for home-body of the year.

We start with her stretching but rewind time in the second paragraph to her doing it... and it was on a reread I realized she'd spent a whole paragraph thinking about doing it. Because the second and the third paragraph so heavily echo the first (she thinks of doing something paragraph one, then she does it a paragraph later, or two paragraphs later) I could easily see the whole first section dropped. Tabbing in a line about her going through the motions. Or humming about how it was like any other day would substitute for the whole first span easily.

Remember how I talked about descriptive opportunities I want to give you a sampling real fast.

The life of a bidoof was hard work, certainly, but it went by at a slow and steady pace that would make many a pokemon jealous.

But unfortunately, for the last few months her days seemed far less normal than she would like.

“Is that Haru?”

“I assume so.”

“Hey! Hey Haru! Helloooo! Good mooorrrning!”

Haru let out a groan, tilting her head up, a scowl on her face. Of course, her morning would be interrupted by those two.



Your italiced text (above unaltered) could easily be shuffled to pop in some character descriptors and keep the text from free floating there.

One route is by having the "hey!" lead, skip the unnamed back and forth which could lead to Haru looking back to path, back to hollers, recognize and throw a few descriptors, and go "Oh great" and start the grand verbal shuffle out of adventures claws.

The other option would be to have her recognize the speakers as they spoke
"Is that Haru?"
respone: Looks up, (ineternalized) oh great, (launch into description) it was the bond haired kirlia, she was riding the white pelted absol like a ponyta....

She paused for a second before a realization seemed to hit her.

What would realization look like in a kirlia anyway?

I like of the wildener 'mon are slowly introduced. Although considering how we've seen hinting of savage or at least hunt happy societies I wonder if this is going to be more a lifestyle choice than actual mystery dungeon bleed out....


The absol followed behind their bibarel host, lowering her head

Wouldn't the horn cause problems I can easily imagine some hard core tipping and tilting to get through as the bidoof line are kinda tube-ish and absol are... well spiny... horned..?

So it sounds like Shimmer's the kid of a noble man... 'mon sort of with thier own person in waiting and what not... I'm curious how classism isn't an issue at this point... But perhaps one trade isn't seen as lesser than another. Seeing the 'mon world from a non-exploerer perspective has been a perk thus far....

I'm surprised that it took this long for the "brother to be names... I'd expect at the sighting of that green hair coming around the river bend it'd of been Haru's first thing to think, throw a mental complaint skyward at the idiot Toshi and his bad choice in potential significant others.... It'd come across as more peeved then "brother" anyway....

Haru considered snapping back that no, she meant that he doesn't care about her. Not like that at least. But she held her tongue. They had been over this dozens of times the last several months, but it never did any good. Shimmer’s long-standing crush had always been annoying, but lately it had been the cause of most of the stress in her life.

“Sure,” she finally grumbled with an edge of sarcasm. “That’s definitely why.”

She turned away as the kirlia bent down to begin gathering up flowers, fuming. She could hear Shimmer and Muse talking behind her as Shimmer put the flowers in one of the baskets on Muse’s back.


So there's patches where a lot of her and shes are in used back to back... I pulled one section here.. In 8 sentences there are examples of she/her used 8 times. It's visual jarring and you could easily swap out a few of the she/hers with descriptors or other work around to break the trend.

The sneasel's discovery, their description, and scene built them up to be a seemingly important figure. More so than the rest of the cast thus far actually for all the attention devoted to it. As I'm unsure (as I've more to read and plan to do so later) if that's deliberate I can only say the closing with the discovery of the "body" feels like a character focus shift is coming up and that the sneasal might be more important than everything else presented thus far.

Only next chapter will tell I guess.

In closing I liked the ideas you're putting together. Even if the vagueness and lack of character physical descriptor is a bit jarring. Hopefully what I put together helps if these are issues you're interested in perusing and if not... well, regardless thank you for the pleasent read it's been fun.

KS.
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
Hi windskull, I'm here for Catnip!

I feel like I've heard a lot about Places We Call Home (though a lot of it was egg memes) so it's nice to be checking it out! I'm intrigued by the title and the myth-centric prologue--questions of home and mythology are two things I really enjoy reading about. I thought the prologue set a nice tone despite its brevity, giving a sense of the variety of cultures and stories in this world, as well as seeding a sense of the ominous. I liked how it's not just the gods that are different, but what each group wants or expects from them--wanting their gods to come back versus hoping that the legends aren't real. I thought it was an effective way to gesture at a broader world, in a story whose initial protagonist inhabits a very small one.

On that note, Haru makes for an unusual protagonist in that she's content with her current life, a homebody and consciously so. Her satisfaction in doing the same thing today that she did yesterday rings true. From the summary it's clear that her slow-moving lifestyle will be disrupted, but I'm glad we got to taste normal first. Your pmd world doesn't strike me as quite as animalistic as The Desert Cat's, but the use of smell and the body-language of the pokemon as they scented danger in the forest felt grounded. Overall, this does a nice job setting the scene before the appearance of an outsider upsets the wagon.

A young sneasel sits at attention, wide awake as the other children have drifted on to sleep, entranced by his elder’s stories.
The tense/preposition mix is a bit odd here, which was jarring in the opening line. The final phrase is confusing since it's not clear whether it applies to the sneasel or the children--both could make logical sense.

Perhaps something like, "A young sneasel sits at attention, wide awake long after other children have drifted on to sleep."

Her mother had brought bread home the day before and had planned to make fresh blukberry jam this morning, a break from the usual leafy greens and a treat she eagerly awaited. She could still smell the lingering scent of berries, despite her mother having got up early to finish it in the first place.
I didn't follow the logic of the last sentence here. Her mother planned to make blukberry jam, why is it strange that Haru can smell bluk berries?

lapping at the shallow pools created by the family dam, quenching her thirst after a long, restful night and contemplating the same old schedule she kept to every day.

She continued on to the edge of the pool, slowly lapping at the water as she contemplated her day.
You use some very similar verbs as your opening paragraph here.


Then, satisfied with her peek into the outside world, she would return home for the day to finish her chores and eat a well-earned dinner.
A nice bit of self-awareness!

The kirlia’s long hair had been bound together by thick, pink bands on either side of her head. Seeing her, Haru considered returning to bed.
Heh. Nice show not tell here. It's clear in an instant what Haru thinks of this kirlia.

In truth, her brother was probably still asleep. And she was sure he would rather stay asleep than deal with Shimmer’s antics.
I wonder how reliable a narrator Haru is on this. She certainly dislikes the kirlia, but her brother might like her!

“But what if the other pokemon survived?” Haru pointed out uneasily, trying to relax as she turned to look at the absol and kirlia. “And beyond that, what if they’re not a wildener? What if they’re just some unfortunate traveler?”

The absol seemed to consider Haru’s explanation for a moment,
I'm not sure if "explanation" is really the correct word here. Haru's not really explaining, she's expressing a concern.

The absol tilted her head back and motioned for silence as she crawled under a bush, poking through with her nose low to the ground. Haru took note of a streak of blood on the leaves.

Suddenly, the leader stopped,
I found the switch to calling Absol "the leader" a bit jarring.
 
Interlude: Troubled Spirits

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partners
  1. custom/sneasel-nip
  2. bidoof
  3. absol
  4. kirlia
  5. custom/windskull-bidoof
Next update coming early 2022, the rest of the year is being used to write out the remainder of another work. As always, thanks for reviews, even if I don't get around to responding individually. Special thanks to Fobbie, Bench, ShadowVulpi, and love for looking over parts or all of this chapter.

Interlude: Troubled Spirits

"Let's see. Merry's team is out logging for firewood and building supplies right now. They'll need rest when they get back, but then I could shift half of them on to this project…"

A blue furred paw pressed on a piece of paper. In the corner of a tent, a vaporeon lay in a nest of dried grass and braken, studying the list of duties he'd created. Occasionally, he would pause, his tail flicking, and mumble some thought before continuing down the list, oblivious to the sounds of construction outside.

Across from him, a gogoat stood at attention, waiting for orders. His gaze drifted to the list, to the vaporeon, then to other paperwork scattered about. He shuffled slightly, letting out a puff. His breath drifted away in a cloud of mist, and he shifted, letting his attention waver again. It was far, far too cold for his liking.

The vaporeon finally paused, though he did not look up from the list.

"Ganlon, has Farrin returned from his scouting mission yet?"

Ganlon snapped back to attention, scraping a hoof across the ground. "Not yet, Blue, sir. But he should be back any minute now."

Blue did not look up. "Good, good. When he gets back, tell him to report to me. In the meantime, gather up all the obligates and tell them to report to the center of camp by sunhigh. I need to discuss hunting with them."

Ganlon's expression shifted into unease. He shuffled one hoof across the ground, catching on the cloth covering. "Sir, with all due respect, you can't seriously plan to let pokemon hunt, right?"

Blue finally looked up. His gaze was cool, emotionless. "What choice do I have? Traveling through the Ravine was more arduous than I expected. We've already used up a significant portion of our jerky stores on the journey here, and the remainder can only feed us for so long. I understand your concern." He locked eyes with the gogoat. "But we're in uncharted territory now. Outside of civilization. I have pokemon I have to take care of. And if I have to bend the rules a little to make sure everyone is fed, I will."

He paused, tilting his head up. His finned tail thumped against the ground twice before he continued. "It's not ideal. I understand that it's dangerous to hunt when we don't know the type of pokemon that live here or how they might react. I can't even be certain how many teams will bring themselves to kill, even for survival's sake. But that's the reality the Original One left behind for us. Everyone knew that, and what they were getting into when they signed up for this expedition."

Ganlon hesitated before finally relaxing his posture, though his grim expression remained. "Very well," he grumbled. "I don't like it, but I understand. I'll be taking my leave."

The gogoat turned and pushed through the tent flap muttering under his breath. Before Blue could continue his work, however, another pokemon — a lithe boltund — poked her head through the tent flap.

"Sorry to disturb you, sir, but Mago has contacted the courier on duty. She said she has an urgent message for you."

Blue's expression darkened. "Urgent? I'll be right there."

He waited until the boltund left, then stood and stretched. He'd been working on his list of responsibilities for his followers since dawn, and there were still more assignments to sort out. Of the most concern at the moment was hunting. Every pokemon he'd brought knew how to fight; defending oneself outside of societal boundaries was an important skill for any explorer. But even among the carnivores on his crew, few of them had ever had to hunt for their own food — or at least, few had ever admitted to it. And despite knowing they might have to live without society's laws for a time, he wondered how many of them would find it within them to go through with it.

As he exited his tent, midmorning light and the sounds of construction greeted him. Several pokemon milled about, either working on a chore or else waiting for orders. He waved his tail to greet a team consisting of a fennekin, an espeon, and a vulpix, who were busily cleaning out a fire pit. And he nodded his head to a haxourus and meganium as they passed carrying lumber, headed to a dugout where their other team members were assembling the framework of what would eventually be a basement. And above it, there would be a cabin. It wouldn't be the finest structure they'd ever built, but the gold and brown leaves that filtered from the trees signified that autumn had already sunk its claws into the region. Winter would come soon after. He didn't want his society members to be without shelter when the frost came.

Near the center of camp, a wood platform had been hastily constructed. Several essential jobs were performed on or around it. On one side, a pawful of pokemon were busy preparing lumber. On the other, a line of pokemon waiting for their daily rations stretched from a larger tent and wrapped around the side.

Blue squeezed between the queue, passing a sunflora and a panpour heatedly debating whether they had time to plant any of their berry seeds and which ones were hearty enough to survive the winter. On the center of the platform, an indeedee lounged against a tall wooden stool. Her eyes were closed, and her pensive expression told Blue that she was likely deep in telepathic conversation with someone far away. She opened her eyes just as Blue reached her and gestured for him to follow her to a secluded corner a little further past the mess tent.

Blue wasted no time once they were away from any prying ears, speaking before he had even sat down. "Echo, you said you received a message from Mago? What news has she sent?"

Echo shook her head, taking a seat on a haphazardly assembled stool in the corner of the tent. "Impatient today, sir? Mago sends her regards. She's glad to hear we made it through the dungeon. On her end, she says things have been mostly smooth."

Blue tilted his head. The tip of his tail thumped against the ground. "Mostly?"

The indeedee closed her eyes, crossing her arms. "She said a zoroark came through about half a moon ago. Came to speak to her and claimed trouble was coming. Unfortunately, we were in the dungeon already when the message arrived, and the psychics couldn't pick up our signal until I reestablished the connection this morning."

His tail stopped. Maneth? He let out a slow breath. It was probably nothing, but… "What sort of trouble?"

Echo shrugged. "Don't know. I was told the details were too sensitive to transmit. That it's probably nothing, but that Mago didn't want to take any unnecessary risks."

Anxiety churned in Blue's belly. He took a deep breath to fight off urge to let it consume him. Relax. Don't let it show. You've hidden worse. Still, even as he shook out his nerves, the unsettled feeling remained. The last thing he needed right now was trouble bad enough that Maneth and Progne were contacting him over it.

"Very well," he finally said, relieved that his voice remained steady and authoritative. "My message to Mago is that she is to continue to monitor the situation. Let me know if anything changes."

The indeedee closed her eyes. "Understood."

Blue waited for some time, in case there was anything else important that he needed to hear. When it seemed like there would be nothing more, he prepared to excuse himself. But just as he stood, Echo spoke up again.

"I'm receiving another transmission. You have a message from Yellow. She's requesting a direct link."

Really? Wasn't he dealing with enough stress already? Blue suppressed a groan. But saying no would just create more issues later. Might as well get it over with.

He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he cleared his mind, locking away sensitive thoughts and memories that he didn't want prodded. Although he trusted Echo to be as safe as possible and not try to dig into his memories, he learned long ago that he could never be too careful. "Very well."

A few heartbeats passed as he felt a small, sharp prick in his head, followed by a building, unpleasant pressure at the back of his skull. Then the pressure suddenly vanished and almost at once a voice echoed in his head.

Finally, Yellow grumbled, her voice as sharp as always. Mind telling me why you crossed the ravine without talking to Red and I?

Just what he expected. Trouble. He pictured the jolteon in his head, remembering her spiky yellow fur and ever-intense expression before he replied. It's honestly nothing nefarious, Yellow. We were in a hurry. We need to make a permanent base before first snowfall, and we couldn't wait for you or red to send us help.

You're making excuses. Why didn't you just wait until spring? We could have had enforcers and guild members arrive ahead of time and help you with preparations, if going now is such a big deal. Or, Mew's Curse, here's a better idea. Just wait. We can't even solve our own problems right now. Why go looking for more?


Blue tried to suppress a sigh, but it still escaped into his mental stream of thoughts. I understand your point. But I didn't feel comfortable waiting any longer. Northern society has been isolated since the Great War. The longer we wait to make contact, the more likely it'll be that contact brings trouble.

Maybe they're better without our help
. The thought must have escaped Yellow's mind before she could contain it, because she quickly added, Would it really have made a difference if you'd waited a few more seasons? We waited this long.

I'm not talking about this right now,
Blue replied sharply.

A silence passed where both kept their thoughts private. Then, with a sigh, Yellow conceded. Well, you're already there, so you might as well see this through. Just keep us updated. And remember, we can't send any help until spring. You're on your own now.

I knew the risks when I came here, you don't have to remind me.


Another sigh. …Ho-Oh's blessings go with you, Blue. I pray you don't need them.

There was a quiet pop sound as the two psychics severed the connection, then Blue was alone with his thoughts. And a massive headache. The throbbing pain only worsened as he let his worries loose, no longer shielding them from prying minds.

As much as he hated to admit it, Yellow was right. At least, partially right. They had enough issues to deal with just trying to keep society running without going and trying to find out if there were any settlements north of one of the world's deadliest dungeons.

After giving a quiet thanks to the indeedee, he slipped out of the tent and returned to his own, curling up in the grassy nest.

What were they doing here, trying to fold more pokemon into society? As it was, they were already struggling to keep all their pokemon fed and happy while still keeping peace with wildeners. Scavenging only went so far, and Yellow's capital punishment for violent offenders was a shoddy dressing for an infected wound. How could the creators be so cruel? To gift all pokemon with knowledge, but curse some to need to eat others to survive?

Oh, right. They let a war fester under them until it got so bad that they had to intervene. They'd always been careless. At least one of them was working to make amends, though. Not that it had done much good so far.

But that's why I'm really here, he tried to tell himself. If we're lucky, perhaps the pokemon up here have a better solution.

And if they didn't?

Blue curled into a tighter ball. If they didn't have answers… Well, he just hoped he hadn't come for nothing.

***​

The forest was unnaturally silent. The thick canopy of leaves shrouded the depths of The Forest of Ancients. What little light made it to the ground dappled dirt paths and thick undergrowth. Giant trees stretched high into the sky, their boughs obscured by smaller ones. No wind blew through the depths. No leaves stirred. No pokemon stirred, either, but one exception.

Head low, a single stantler trudged down one of the twisting paths, occasionally swaying with exhaustion. His eyes seemed to hint at wariness. But he was far more weary. There were no other pokemon here. He'd made certain of that.

The path opened into a clearing, a dead end with the largest tree yet at its center. For just a second, he glanced back, tapping one hoof on the ground. Then he charged directly towards the tree.

And passed right through it.

He was in another clearing, this one empty. The stantler shook his head, then the illusion dissolved, leaving an exhausted-looking zoroark in his place. He looked around the clearing, blinked, then reached into his bag and pulled out a gnarled, twisted piece of wood that looked like had seen better days.

Maneth may have created these illusions himself, but he was too tired to remember the path forward.

Holding the guiding wand up, the tip lit up with energy, glowing brighter when he pointed it in a specific direction. He followed the light, letting it take him through layer after layer of distortion. Backups of backups of illusions. Until he finally reached the true center of the dungeon.

Mew's Temple had seen better days. Much of the once-polished stone had become overgrown with moss, ivy and all sorts of plant matter. He'd done what he could to preserve any art or text, as had the attendants who had come before him. But he was only one pokemon. Once, there had been many attendants, keeping the temple in pristine condition. But that had been well before his time. When the war was still fresh on everyone's minds. Before Arceus' order. Now it was only him. Him and…

"Uncle Maneth! You're back!"

From the yawning opening of the temple entrance, a sentret scurried out, scampering over boulders and down dilapidated steps. He ran a circle around Maneth, jumping into the zoroark's fluffy mane.

Seeing the tiny scrap returned a bit of energy to Maneth's eyes. "Whoa there, Junior! Give me some time to settle down. We can't all be full of energy like you." The sentret laughed, then sprang out of Maneth's hair to land in his arms. Maneth shifted so that he was holding the sentret in one arm, putting away the wand before giving him a scratch behind the ears. "What are you doing out here, squirt?"

"I came to see you. I learned a new move yesterday. Watch! Watch!"

The sentret sprang out of his arms. He frowned, concentrating as he raised himself onto his tail. Then he sprang forward, lashing out blindly with his claws before turning back. "Did you see? Did you like it? Progne called it 'fury swipes!' Isn't it cool?"

Maneth smiled with a level of tenderness he gave few others. The kid was growing up so fast. A far cry from the tiny scrap he'd frightened moons ago.

"Amazing work, Junior. Keep it up." He dropped down on all fours to give the sentret an affectionate nuzzle and a lick behind the ears. "Another season or two and you just might be ready to evolve." Junior's eyes widened, then he cheered and began running circles around the zoroark again. Maneth stood back up. "Now, I'd love to see more, but it'll have to be later. Right now I need to talk to Progne. Do you know where he is?"

Junior's smile faltered. He curled inward, flicking his tail anxiously. For heartbeats, Maneth stopped breathing, a pit forming in his stomach. His ears swiveled back and forth, as if searching for some unknown danger.

"They're inside," Junior finally said, voice quieter than before. "They've been no fun lately. Always worrying. They were very upset just before you came home…"

"Well, Progne has a lot to worry about," Maneth said, his tone serious. "I'll go check on him. Stay near the temple."

Before the sentret could say anything more, Maneth leapt over him, scrambling up the crumbling steps and into the old temple, hoping that his fear-scent would go unnoticed by Junior. He did not stop to admire the old drawings, or to crawl into his nest, a simple bed of moss and ferns situated near the entrance. All his weariness had left him.

He found his patron at the back of the temple, floating in front of an old, disused altar. Tiny pink forepaws clutched at the side of their head, and their tail hung limp, the tip twitching slightly. Maneth couldn't hear from where he stood, but he could tell they were muttering under their breath. Heart sinking, he rushed forward, but Progne didn't turn to acknowledge him.

It was terrifying, seeing Mew in this state.

Maneth opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it, letting out a slow breath. No matter how long he served the god, he never found it easier to comfort them. Slowly, he leaned in and pressed his forehead against Progne's back, and after a pause, the mew's tail brushed against Maneth's side.

For some time, they stayed there in silence. God and humble servant. Only the sound of Maneth shifting into a more comfortable position broke the quiet.

"I lost contact with Victini."

Maneth didn't react right away, caught off guard by the mew's broken silence. Then he stiffened, ears perking up as he turned to stare at Progne.

"Wait, Tinny? How? What happened? Was he still being chased?"

The mew took a long breath and lowered their paws, leaning against the edge of the altar as if to steady themselves. There was a vacant look in their eyes that put Maneth on edge. "He was. At least, he thought he was. Last night, he told me he thought he was still being followed. He cut the connection so he could focus on moving. I tried to reconnect with him after the sun rose but… nothing. He hasn't replied. What if something went wrong? Oh, stars, I should be out there looking for him but-"

Maneth rested a forepaw on Progne's back. "You're doing everything you can without drawing attention to yourself," the zoroark soothed. "I'm sure Tinny is fine. I mean, by the stars, Progne, he may not be as powerful as you, but he's still a god!"

Progne's response was dull, sullen. "Then why hasn't he answered me?"

The zoroark's paw shifted slightly, as if starting to hesitantly shift away. The subtle change told Progne all he needed to know. Maneth didn't have an answer to that. But then he pressed his paw back, firmer this time.

"Give him time. I know it's concerning but… you have so much to worry about. Focus on one thing at a time. If you don't hear from him soon, then you can worry."

Another long, slow breath escaped Progne as they tried to relax. "You… are probably right. I need to prioritize." They pushed off of the altar to free float, and Maneth's paw slipped away. "I guess I should ask you how your visits went, since they're… slightly related."

Pushing himself to his feet, Maneth stood at attention. The comforting moment had passed, and now they were back to business. "Red and Yellow are doing well. They said they would keep an eye out for trouble."

Progne tilted his head. "Only Red and Yellow? What about Blue?"

"Blue wasn't there. He has… pushed head to the next stage of Unity. I spoke with Mago, who told me he was headed north. By now, he's probably through the Great Misty Ravine."

"Already?" A subtle wave of psychic energy pulsed from Progne, disturbing the dust around them. Their tail twitched, though whether out of worry, agitation, or something else, Maneth wasn't sure. "Well… it's early, but I guess we'll just have to hope he can make contact with some of the others. Stars, finding Cresselia and getting her to contact me would be ideal. It would make assessing the state of northern society so much easier." They hesitated. "If Blue has already moved this far along, you might as well nudge the others on your next trip out. The sooner he has backup, the better."

Maneth hunched, drawing inward, and did his best to suppress a sigh. He only just got back, and Progne was already talking about his next trip. Didn't he deserve a break? Or at least a nap?

Then again… he owed his life to Progne. It wasn't right to be ungrateful. Pushing his exhaustion away, he stood back up. "Right. Understood. Do you have anything else you want me to do?"

"Hm? Oh! Yes, actually. Yesterday, about half a day before I lost contact with Victini, I briefly sensed Celebi's presence. Not in the same place, and not for long. But Celebi wouldn't let me establish a connection." Progne shook their head, drooping slightly. "Seems like that's becoming more or more common these days." They perked up again. "But that's besides the point. I need to know why Celebi showed up."

Maneth's hind claws dug into the stone, and his ears flattened for a few heartbeats before he realized what he was doing. He shook away any signs of frustration, but the negative feeling still seeped into his tone. "Let me guess, you want me to go check out the area he showed up in. And do damage control if necessary?"

"Correct. The sooner, the better."

"Understood. But…" Maneth sank to the ground, letting out a yawn. "Could I maybe rest for an evening first?"

The mew blinked, as if they hadn't even thought about the mortal need for sleep. Then, after a heartbeat of hesitation, they floated forward to brush their muzzle against Maneth's. "Of course you can. In fact, I think I'll join you. You have no idea how much I need to relax right now."

***​

The flickering flame of a dying campfire lit up a forest clearing, creating a small, bright spot against the darkened trees. A small pot hung over the fire, though the food inside had long since been eaten. Two pokemon sat on a flat rock near the fire bed, watching the flames die. One was a treecko, a small bag with a badge pinned to it slung over her shoulder. The other was a charmander, her eyes half closed as exhaustion from the day's travels caught up with her. Still, she wore a content smile on her face as she leaned against the treecko. Each held a cup in their hands.

"Good job out there today," she mumbled, puffing out a contented sigh.

The treecko gave her a pat on the shoulder. "You too. I think we made great progress on our research. Do you think Blue will be proud?"

"I hope so. I hope he checks in with headquarters soon. You think he's finished crossing the dungeon yet?"

"Probably. I'm sure Mago can tell us when we get back to headquarters."

Treecko glanced down to her cup, watching the tiny ripples of water as she tilted it slightly. Then she smiled and lifted it. "Here's to another successful expedition!"

The charmander giggled and toasted, then the two settled into playful banter and laughter as the last of the fire died away. For once they could relax, their world at peace.

Then there was a loud crack in the distance, followed by rustling and the creaking of wood. Both girls went dead silent, the jovial atmosphere evaporating in an instant. Even the distant sounds of local wildeners had fallen to uncomfortable emptiness.

"What was that?" the treecko whispered.

"I don't know," the charmander replied in an equally hushed voice, cupping her claws over her tail flame as if it would make any difference. After a couple seconds, she tossed away her water and tried to hide it with her cup, with slightly more success. "We didn't catalog any large wildeners living in the area…"

The two went silent again. Though there were no other sounds as loud as the crack, there were certainly other noises. Raised voices, barked instructions, someone crashing through undergrowth.

The charmander glanced uncertainly at her partner. "Should we… check it out?"

"I think we have to," the treecko said as she stood up, hastily kicking dirt over their campfire. "It's our job as explorers to investigate anomalies." One hand went into her bag, readying an iron thorn. The charmander, meanwhile, pulled her tail in front of her, keeping the flame hidden as she kicked dirt to snuff out the last of the campfire.

For a while, they followed the sounds, aided only by moonlight and the bit of flame that escaped the charmander's cover. The voices soon grew louder, and before long, they began to see flickers of light ahead. The duo slowed down, moving at a cautious crawl as they approached the voices, some of which were now loud enough to hear.

"Hold it down!"

"Careful! You don't want to damage it too much!"

"Commander Zaid will be here soon! Hurry up!"

The treecko pointed to a nearby tree and began to climb it as quietly as she could, clinging to the trunk with sticky fingers while holding the thorn in her mouth. The charmander watched as her partner crept out onto a branch, guiding her forward with the wave of one hand. She moved forward past a few more trunks and then behind the shelter of a rock. Carefully, she peeked over the edge. They were finally close enough to see. There was a whole group of pokemon in a clearing ahead - at least, she thought they were pokemon. Some of them certainly looked like pokemon, like the honchkrow at the center. But others…

There was something… off about their appearance. Something wrong. There was one that looked vaguely avian, similar in size to a staravia. But it's body was geometric. Angular. Inorganic. Another one was similar to a wartortle, but much bigger. And then there were some that looked almost like pokemon they knew, but not quite right. Like a torchic that had two tufts of orange feathers on either side of their head, instead of the normal orange and yellow crest.

The nearest pokemon were facing away from them, forming a loose circle around the honchkrow, who seemed to be holding something down. Or… someone? One of the pokemon, a short-eared umbreon, stepped towards the center, holding a paw up for silence.

"You gave us a good chase for quite a while, didn't you?" The umbreon said. "But we finally caught you."

She looked around to the rest of the gathered pokemon. "Now that we've captured Victini, we are one step closer to our goals. Finding and acquiring the rest of our targets should be much easier with his powers."

"Like I would help the likes of you, you-" The insult was cut off by dull thud and a shrill cry. The charmander cupped her hands over her jaws, stifling the gasp that threatened to escape.

"That's right, keep quiet. We have ways of making you work."

The charmander's gaze tilted upwards into the tree. She could see anxious eyes looking down at her and knew her partner was on the same page. They needed to do something. But they had no hopes of winning this fight. And by the time they got to the nearest town and got help, these pokemon would be long gone.

Suddenly, Treecko's eyes widened. She opened her mouth to cry out an alarm, but before she could make a sound, something whizzed by overhead. It collided with the tree and then with a cacophonous boom, it exploded in a blaze of fire, shredding the tree and sending shards of burning wood in all directions. Charmander dropped to the ground, deafened. Something sharp struck her in the side, and she opened her mouth to scream, a plume of smoke escaping her jaws.

Before she could recover, someone picked her up from behind, grabbing her just beneath the arms. She let out a small cry. At least, she thought she did, but she couldn't hear it. Her eyes darted to the side, and she saw the treecko on the ground, burnt and unmoving. She had to be alive, right? But Charmander couldn't tell.

Her hearing was starting to return now, and she caught snippets of rough, angry voices.

"… You bring… forest why don't you?" one unfamiliar voice said. "Was that really necessary?

Someone behind her, though not the one that was holding her, replied, "You have no right to question me. It was ab-so-lutely necessary. The Lady ordered no witnesses. Staying hidden is a necessity. I am simply carrying out her demand."

"But sir, people are going to notice this, don't you think? Every feral in this forest would have heard that!"

"And they'd know better than to come here. Are you questioning your commander?"

"N-no, of course not, sir!"

"Then get to it."

Before anything could happen, however, the honchkrow let out a startled cry. Victini struggled to his feet, wreathed in flames. In some last-ditch effort, he threw the honchkrow off and charged towards the pokemon holding the charmander, colliding with them. She was thrown from the pokemon's grip, tumbling to a heap a few steps away.

Victini bounced to the ground nearby, landing unsteadily on his feet. He screeched an unintelligible warning to the charmander, flinging her away from the attackers using psychic energy and taking off on his own. She recovered quickly this time, scrambling forward on all fours with wide, terrified eyes.

She made it out of the clearing before catching a glimpse of something in the corner of her eye.

A blur of movement. She felt pain at her neck, then something sticky running down her scales. She collapsed, thrashing, blood pooling around her.

No no no, not here! I have to get back! Have to… warn…

She could still hear the voices far away, muffled as if she were underwater. She swore she heard something about a presence. A small creature, barely more than a blur of white and orange, passed in front of her vision. She heard the victini screaming before his screams suddenly cut off. For a moment, she swore she saw the flickering vision of a tree, leafless and decaying. And then, even that faded, and her world went dark.
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Ace Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Partners
  1. nidoran-f
  2. druddigon
  3. swellow
Heya, dipping my toes into another story. Though I admittedly don't see myself getting to it on a more regular basis post-Review Blitz until some other review series that I have going on are done and dusted. It is my intention though to do a full series over PWCH's run in the coming new year.

Alright, so for some background, Places We Call Home has a bit of a special place in my heart as a reader, since it's one that I know from authorial commentary drew influence from my and @Virgil134 's writings. That's not to say it's a clone by any means, it's very much its own beast with its own vibe, and I have to commend you for taking building blocks, adding your own twist, and covering topics and takes on concepts that made me go "man, I wish I'd thought of that" at times.

On the other hand, this is also a series that I've never properly reviewed before. And since you've been pretty generous in the past with feedback, I figured that I'd pay things forward and help signal boost a bit.

Alright, kicking things right off:

Prologue

There are many legends in this world…

...

A young sneasel sits at attention, wide awake as the other children have drifted on to sleep, entranced by his elder’s stories. Stories of a great bird, with wings of black and red, the ender of lives. A deity that grants them favor in the afterlife.

The sneasel looks up to the night sky before puffing out his chest, and proudly declares that one day, he’s going to be the one to find their god.

The elder gives him a warm chuckle and reminds him that he needs to rest if he wants to grow big and strong enough to find them.

That's at once adorable and more than a little unsettling given how peppy Nip was being about the prospect of finding a death god.
:unquag:


Though I suppose I shouldn't be so quick to judge. After all, an attribute doesn't necessarily match up with a personality as those up to date with PWCH saw in force with Celebi.

Some share stories of power. Others provide comfort or promise safety.

...

A bidoof settles down to bed next to her younger brother. He asks their dad for a story in a chipper tone. [Just one more, please?]

Their father huffs, but settles down in the straw to share the legends of the mountain. Of the great beast that slumbers there. The mountain mover, the continent tower, the protector of the small. He tells of his father before him, who went up the mountain in search of the great god.

The big sister rolls her eyes and declares that those legends are for babies. But her brother’s eyes are full of stars. Her father insists the story is true, that one day, the king will reawaken, and that when he does, he’ll protect them all from the coming calamity.

Some minor wording tweaks I'd suggest there for better parallelism. I'd also personally do Toshi's dialogue as explicit but inline dialogue there along something like ["Just one more, please?" he pleads.]

But meh, stylistic choices. It's still a cute snippet regardless, even if I see that Haru's skeptic tendencies were out in full force even as a kid. It makes sense for just about every world except a Pokémon one, where there's always at least a kernel of truth to legends.

Many of these stories are nothing more than that. Legends. But the gods? Oh, the gods are very real.

...

A proud ninetales sits with his mate, murmuring the stories his father used to tell him. Of a deity far to the north. A dragon that had lost its purpose. A dragon that was as empty inside as the people that followed it, that blew icy winds from the mountain tops and froze their hearts, so they might be strong enough to survive.

His mate tells him what a horribly sad story it is, and he gives her a grunt of agreement. He hopes that they’re only tall tales.

Kyurem: "Am I a joke to you?"
:what:


Also, I assume that this is a vanilla Ninetales given that IIRC, Alolapix and other Ice-type regional morphs are indeed the product of Kyurem's intervention in this setting, but you probably want to make that explicit in your description. Can be something as simple as describing the Ninetales' pelt as something along the likes of 'warm, golden' or 'snowy white' or something along those lines.

These gods… they may be useful to us. The life in this world is filthy, like vermin. We seek to cleanse it.

...

A bisharp stands in a clearing, the pelt of a slain mamoswine draped over her shoulders. She speaks to her fellow pokemon of the teachings of their deity, of the life-giver. Of their importance. For if the forest were to quit providing life to the prey mon, then surely they would perish as well.

She raises a hand into the air and asks for their deity's blessing.

>dat narration

I actually completely forgot about that from my first readthrough months ago. Clever way to hint at your villains and their motivations there, getting some really strong Cyrus vibes from it.

For our people, we will do whatever it takes. We will find these gods. We will bend them to our will. We will use their power to reshape the world.



A litten takes his place in front of the sacred stones, sitting down between the two for his vigil, closing his eyes as he recalls the inscriptions.

We give thanks to the Sun Devourer. We give thanks to the Moon Bringer. We ask for their blessings and we pray for their safe returns.

He raises his head and lets out a mournful cry.

I actually can't tell if the middle paragraph is supposed to be the narration revealing what the inscriptions are, or the Litten saying/thinking that out loud. If it's the former, you might find it appropriate to add a colon or something after 'inscriptions' . Dunno if it'd also make sense to add quotes of some sort around the contents of the inscription or not, but that's a stylistic nitpick of mine.

We must succeed. I will stop at nothing to make this world ours.



A tired torracat waits for his gods. A scarred bisharp commands her followers. A world-weary ninetales listens in horror. A stubborn bidoof gets in an argument. A terrified sneasel flees his kin, and the place he once called home.

A ship runs ashore in an underpopulated bay, teeming with activity as the pokemon on deck get to work, putting their plans into motion.

Pretty sure that those Pokémon enumerated in that list are all major cast members slated for appearances. I don't recognize the Torracat though from where I left off in your story. So that'll be someone for me to keep an eye out for.

For me, there is no sacrifice too great.

:fearfullaugh:


Anyhow, that was a bit on the short side, so I'll throw in Chapter 1 for good measure:

Chapter 1

Haru’s morning routine typically started out with a slow stretch in front of her family’s hut, watching twigs and leaves float by in the river’s lazy current. She’d make her way to the water’s edge, lapping at the shallow pools created by the family dam, quenching her thirst after a long, restful night and contemplating the same old schedule she kept to every day.

Today as she exited the hut, she found herself blinking in the mid-morning light. One by one, she stretched her legs, sniffing at the air in hopes of catching a whiff of breakfast on the breeze. Her mother had brought bread home the day before and had planned to make fresh blukberry jam this morning, a break from the usual leafy greens and a treat she eagerly awaited. She could still smell the lingering scent of berries, despite her mother having got up early to finish it in the first place.

I'll admit, Bidoof wouldn't have crossed my mind as a species to have cast as a protagonist. But you do a pretty good job at playing your casting to the hilt. Getting strong SE1 vibes from Sky here.

She continued on to the edge of the pool, slowly lapping at the water as she contemplated her day. After breakfast she would head out into the yard for her day’s work, helping her father by prepping the trees he had brought back the day before, chipping away at the branches and gnawing away at jagged cuts, cleaning the leaves from the wood and stripping the bark from the trunk. Perhaps she would head to the village around lunch time, trading her money for vegetables or a trinket or two as she listened in on the day’s news. Perhaps, if she was lucky, an expedition team would pass through, with news from some far-off village, with new stories that the village pokemon had yet to hear. Then, satisfied with her peek into the outside world, she would return home for the day to finish her chores and eat a well-earned dinner.

Alright, a couple nitpicks here. The first is that I'm not fully sure "contemplated her day" works since it feels more like Haru's reflecting her day with that word choice, but her day's quite literally just begun. It might make sense to either drop in a different verb than "contemplated" or turn "day" into "day's plans" or something like that.

The other is that it probably makes sense to axe one "village" in between "far-off village" and "village pokemon" when they're that close to each other for the sake of dodging repetition. You could on the one hand do something like "far-off town" if you feel the former is an easier cut, or else something like "local pokemon" if you're more a fan of axing the second one.

The life of a bidoof was hard work, certainly, but it went by at a slow and steady pace that would make many a pokemon jealous.

But unfortunately, for the last few months her days seemed far less normal than she would've liked.

“Is that Haru?”

“I assume so.”

“Hey! Hey Haru! Helloooo! Good mooorrrning!”

Haru let out a groan, tilting her head up, a scowl on her face. Of course her morning would be interrupted by those two.

She turned to look up the path that led to their house. Headed down the dirt and gravel path was an absol, who looked calm and composed. On her back sat a much more cheerful-looking kirlia, waving down at Haru from her vantage point. The kirlia’s long hair had been bound together by thick, pink bands on either side of her head. Seeing her, Haru considered returning to bed.

Threw in some minor suggestions for some tweaks here and there. The big one that IMO is the most necessary is the tense disagreement between "had seemed" and "would like". Also, I personally would've given more to distinguish between Shimmer and Muse's lines such as assigning a voice description to each. But meh, they get introduced right after this so it's not the end of the world.

“Good morning, Shimmer, Muse,” the bidoof called out, holding back a sigh.

The absol, Muse, carefully made her way down the bank. “Good morning, Miss Haru,” she greeted with a dip of her head. “Shimmer was hoping that your brother might be home this morning.”

The bidoof stole a glance back towards the house. In truth, her brother was probably still asleep. And she was sure he would rather stay asleep than deal with Shimmer’s antics. “I’m afraid he’s a bit busy at the moment,” she lied.

Shimmer: "... You do realize my species is empathic by nature and I can tell you're stressed right now."
:gardexhausted:

Haru: "Gee, I wonder why I'm feeling stressed when you're around." >_>;

“Aww, and I was really hoping we could talk to him!” Shimmer pouted, shaking her head. “It’s been foreeever since we got to talk!”

[ ]

“Sorry to disappoint,” Haru responded perhaps a bit too bluntly. “Some of us have to make a day to day living. Besides, you talked to him just a couple days ago.”

If the kirlia realized the statement was meant to be passive aggressive remark, she did not show it. “Exactly! We had been hoping he’d come with us to pick wild herbs in the forest today.” She paused for a second before a realization seemed to hit her. “Oh! Why don’t you come with us instead then! It would be fun! Besides,” she added in a teasing voice, “you could really stand to get out more.”

It's not strictly necessary, since sometimes having more of an air of mystery works better. But if you wanted a convenient way of introducing Shimmer and Muse to the readers in greater depth, one way of doing it would be through Haru going "oh yeah, that's who these guys are" in a paragraph right after Shimmer's line of dialogue. Since it's obvious just from the dialogue that she's opinionated about those two, and it might be nice to get a firmer grounding on why from the jump.
:blepgia:


Also, I can't tell if it's funnier to imagine Shimmer having understood Haru's intent with her remark but dismissed it, or having been blissfully oblivious. :V

“As nice as it sounds,” Haru began, trying to stay tactful, “I really have a lot of work to do. More important things.”

“What’s more important than spending time with your future in-law?”

“You do realize you’re not my brother’s mate, right?”

“Yet.”

Oh right, this is why you were being cloak-and-dagger with Shimmer's introduction.
:hoodLUL:


“You’re not even dating!” The bidoof let out an indignant huff and turned away. Why did every conversation with Shimmer seem to end up like this?

Because you two just have some chemistry with each other. :^)

The kirlia waved a hand dismissively. “That’s beside the point. I’m sure we will eventually. So.” She paused to clasp her hands together. "Are you coming or not?”

Haru turned back to stare down the kirlia. “I just said-”

“I think you should go with them, dear.”

Everyone turned their attention towards the speaker, a bibarel that had lumbered out from the hut, stretching in the morning sun. Muse dipped her head in respect to the older pokemon. “Good morning, Mrs. Saku.”

Haru: "(Mom, why would you even-?)" ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)

“But Mom!” Haru began to protest.

“No buts!” the bibarel chided. “You’ve been so busy with work lately, I say you could use a day off. Besides, I could use some more dandelion crowns, if you can still find any this late in the summer. And it’s not safe to go into the forest alone, so why not go now while the opportunity's there?”

“It’s not that dangerous in this part of the woods,” Haru argued. “I could take care of it myself if you really need them.”

I think Saku's last line works better with that one comma cut.

Haru: "Also, my definition of a day off doesn't include Shimmer in it." >_>;
Shimmer: "I'm right here, you know!"

“But why risk it? Besides, Anu stopped by this morning - on his way back from patrol - to say he spotted signs of a wildener kangaskhan nesting not far from here. You know how territorial they can be. None of you should be facing something like that alone, should things go wrong.”

Haru opened her mouth, but bit back a reply, and instead let out a groan. There was no winning with her mom when her mind was made up. She lowered her head. “Okay, Mom, fine.”

Behind her, Shimmer clapped her hands once. “Great! Muse and I already have our gathering supplies, so we’ll leave once you’re ready!”

Haru:
8b4.gif

Shimmer: "Oh don't be so dramatic, Haru. It'll be fun!" ^^

“Just give me a moment to eat,” the bidoof responded sullenly, turning back to try to scoot past her mother by the door.

“Have you two eaten?” the bibarel asked, turning her attention to her guests. “We have day old bread and fresh blukberry jam, if you’re hungry.”

Minor word choice quibble I have there. Though wow, Mrs. Saku really can't read a room with her daughter, huh?
:loltias:


Muse took a second to look towards her kirlia companion, who gave her an excited nod. She dipped her head to the bibarel. “We would appreciate it. Thank you for your hospitality.”

The absol followed behind their bibarel host, lowering her head to speak quietly into Haru’s ear as she passed by. “Sorry about this,” she mumbled. “But look at the bright side. There’s always something to find or something to do in the forest.”

“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.”

I see that Haru's just little Mrs. Positivity right now, even if I suspect her answer back to Muse would be different if she didn't have to be with Shimmer.

Once their bellies were full of delicious bread and jam, and Muse’s back had been laden with satchels for herbs and a bundle of berries and sweets for an afternoon snack, the trio set off, following the path up the river towards the northern forest. Shimmer sat atop Muse’s back, softly stroking the absol’s mane and chatting about her plans for the evening and about her father’s plan for expanding the village daycare to add a separate, permanent nursery.

Haru brought up the rear, ignoring the conversation entirely. Instead, she found herself lost in thought about where she’d rather be: back at home helping her dad prepare trees for carpentry. Did she enjoy getting out and exploring from time to time, or taking long walks after a stressful day? Sure! Did that mean she wanted to be out here spending time with Shimmer and just wasting her time when there was work to do? Absolutely not!

I suspect if you axed 'Shimmer' from that last paragraph, Haru would suddenly be a lot more gung ho about 'wasting her time'. She just gives off that kind of vibe as a character.
:silvlully:


If she was going to be out and about, she would much rather take a trip to one of the neighboring settlements, helping spread her parents’ business. Her dad’s lumber work – both felling and the finer art of carpentry – was the finest in the village (though, to be fair, her family were the only lumberjacks in the village.) And her mother’s wooden sculptures were uniquely beautiful – not that her lumberjacking was subpar. Oh, if only she could spend all day working away at processing lumber, it would make her a very happy bidoof!

But no, she just had to be out here with one of the few pokemon she couldn’t stand to be around. Maybe her brother could try to ignore it and be nice for civility's sake, but Shimmer drove her nuts! At least Muse was nowhere near so as bad. In fact, as they made their way deeper into the woods, Muse at least made an effort to try and keep the conversation away from Shimmer cooing about her brother.

Minor word tweak there. Though I actually am morbidly curious if Haru's opinion on Shimmer would be different if she was a 'mon who could be competent at woodworking herself, or if the personality conflict would just be too much to tolerate. :V

Muse had always been an interesting case, in Haru’s opinion. She had never known the details about Muse’s early life, only that she had been working and living alone in the mayor’s – Shimmer’s father’s – estate. At a younger age, she served just as a friend and companion for the kirlia. But as they grew older, she also took up the mantle of bodyguard, especially when the two ventured to a neighboring village or into the surrounding forest.

Haru did not envy her one bit.

Considering what we find out about Shimmer's father later on in the story and the sort of 'mon he is, this entire sequence reads pretty differently a second time around.
:fearfullaugh:


“Hey Haru! What would your brother think about these flowers?”

The bidoof snapped out of her thoughts just a little too late, accidently bumping into Muse’s legs. After a hasty apology, she turned her attention to the kirlia, only to close her eyes and take a deep breath after giving the patch of flowers a quick glance-over. “Well, I think they're nice, but the flowers won't matter to Toshi because he doesn't-”

“-Care about the kind of flowers, he cares about me? Aw, that's so sweet of him!”

:LULgia:


I've gotta say, you certainly did a good job at illustrating a character dynamic in your first chapter. :V

Haru: "Honestly, at this rate, I should've told mom I had a stomachache." >_>;
Shimmer: "Oh silly Haru, you did that last time already! There's no need to pretend you're ill if you're worrying about wearing little old me down!" ^^
Haru: "(That's not why I did that!)" >.<

Haru considered snapping back that no, she meant that he doesn't care about her. Not like that at least. But she held her tongue. They had been over this dozens of times the last several months, but it never did any good. Shimmer’s long-standing crush had always been annoying, but lately it had been the cause of most of the stress in her life.

“Sure,” she finally grumbled with an edge of sarcasm. “That’s definitely why.”

She turned away as the kirlia bent down to begin gathering up flowers, fuming. She could hear Shimmer and Muse talking behind her as Shimmer put the flowers in one of the baskets on Muse’s back. Wasn’t this trip supposed to be for gathering wild herbs and other edible plants, not the cutest flowers for a love bouquet?

Shimmer:
both-is-good-both.gif%27


Also, I'm pretty convinced that Shimmer knows about Haru's intended meaning from these ribbings and just doesn't care or else likes watching Haru get annoyed.
:loltias:


In desperate need of a distraction, she took a moment to look out for trouble, sniffing at the air. The wind carried the scents of the forest. Moist earth, wild herbs, the smell of a rattata that had ventured from its burrow. The rancid scent of some long-dead pokemon. And some scent that seemed familiar, and yet a little odd at the same time. Perhaps someone from another village had passed through recently? Nothing too out of the ordinary.

Satisfied with her assessment for the moment, she closed her eyes and settled down in the grass to wait for the other two girls to finish what they were doing, listening to the sound of the forest around her.

I like how you leaned into the nonhuman sensory angle here. It does a good job at selling the sense of who Haru is in terms as a being, as well as giving subtle senses of what their world is like given the sorts of scents she's able to pick up and how she finds all of it normal.

Haru: "... Could've done without the rotting corpse smell, though."
:TailsEww:


Then she heard it.

Her head jerked up in alarm as a fierce screech sounded from somewhere beyond the trees. And a roar. The sounds of a battle raging nearby. At once she was on her feet in a defensive stance, should the combatants come barging in their direction.

Muse had taken notice too, now on edge and standing in front of the kirlia. Even Shimmer, despite not having as good of hearing as her two four-legged companions, had stood up apprehensively, able to hear the ruckus in the distance. Haru shivered as her mother’s earlier warning about a kangaskhan rang in her ears.

An anguished cry. A victorious roar. Then silence. Slowly, the sound of wildener pokemon around them returned to normal, as if nothing had happened at all. Life continued on.

I personally feel that it might make sense to hack up the second paragraph into two pieces there. Also, that's certainly about the last thing I'd want to hear when going off to pick dandelions as a 1'8" tall rodent.
:unquag:


Haru: "I-I think that we should just move alo-"
:uhhh:


Shimmer immediately turned to her companions. “I’m going to check that out,” she announced.

Haru:


“Shimmer,” Muse responded, shaking out her fur. “I cannot advise that. It is not our place to interfere in the affairs of wildeners. The survivor may be something very territorial as well.”

Haru: "See?! Even Muse agrees with me here! Come on, Shimmer! You can't be serious about wanting to see the aftermath of that wildener fight-!" >_>;

“But what if the other pokemon survived?” Haru pointed out uneasily, trying to relax as she turned to look at the absol and kirlia. “And beyond that, what if they’re not a wildener? What if they’re just some unfortunate traveler?”

The absol seemed to consider Haru’s explanation for a moment, before finally conceding with a sigh. “Very well. We will go look. If they’re alive, we can take them back for medical attention, should they allow us to. And if they’re not… well, I’m sure Mandi will know what to do.”

Haru: "... I'd just like to remind everyone right now that Muse is literally the only one of us that stands more than 3 feet tall."
:uhhh:

Shimmer: "Look, it'll just be a quick peek. 30 seconds. In and out."
Haru: "Uh huh, sure."
:sceptical:


With the decision made, the trio began to move as quietly as possible through the underbrush. Muse took the lead, nearly crouching as she walked, pausing to sniff the air every once in a while. Shimmer and Haru followed closely behind on either side, Shimmer allowing her psychic powers to focus and branch out, keeping an eye out for danger from behind.

Before long, they came across damage to the underbrush, signs of a fierce battle, of a larger pokemon coming through without care of what they destroyed. The odd smell she had noticed earlier was growing stronger, Haru realized, along with the hair-raising smell of fresh blood. They were moving along at barely a crawl now, all senses peeled for danger.

You know, this would've been a really good time to go and find an adult for help given that all three of these characters are still kids.
:fearfullaugh:


Haru: "You know, it's not too late to just cut and run right now-"
:grohno:

Shimmer: "Haru, knock it off already! That other Pokémon's seriously hurt right now!"

Muse stopped in front, raising a paw to stop the other two from advancing, and sniffed at the air. A few seconds later, she lowered herself onto her belly and continued forward at almost a crawl. The two behind her did the same. Or at least, as similar as they could; neither of them were built for sneaking around the forest, after all.

The absol tilted her head back and motioned for silence as she crawled under a bush, poking through with her nose low to the ground. Haru took note of a streak of blood on the leaves.

Suddenly, the leader stopped, backing out of the bush with an unreadable expression. Her attention turned to the bidoof.

“Haru, listen,” she started quietly and firmly. “There’s someone back there. They’re bloodied and unconscious, but still breathing. But… they need medical attention. Fast. I need you to go in there and bring them out. Understand?”

Haru: "Why are you asking me to do this when I'm the smallest and most vulnerable Pokémon here?!" >_>;
Muse: "... You're also the best equipped of us to handle the victim gently? I mean, you can properly grab things with your forepaws, so..."
:joltyshrug~1:

Shimmer: "Haru! Just get out there already! That poor Pokémon's going to die if we dawdle!"

Though hesitant, Haru responded by dipping her head before moving in front of the absol, who stood up straight at attention and sniffed the air, watching for danger. The bidoof crouched low to the ground and shimmied her way inside, following a trail of blood droplets past the bush and through a small thicket of thorns.

At the far end, almost as deep as they could have gone, was the unfortunate victim. They were a sneasel, albeit smaller than the ones she usually saw around the area. And they were an absolute mess.

She took only a second to make the assumption that he was a male, based on the size of his ear feather. Speaking of the feather, it looked as if it had been torn to shreds, and his tail feathers were not in much better shape. The tip of his ear had been sliced away, it and another nick on the side of the ear oozing blood. A nasty bite wound decorated his upper leg, the marks jagged, as if his attacker had thrown him around. And right in the middle of his back was a nasty burn. The scent of singed fur combined with the smell of blood nearly overwhelmed the poor bidoof. Several other small cuts marked him as well, though they were not nearly as bad as the bite or the burn.

Oh hi, Nip. Though you probably want to communicate better that Haru was dispatched to bail Nip out by virtue of being the right size out of the three to actually reach him. Since I didn't pick up on that until the part where you described Haru actually making her way over to him.

Haru: "Yeesh, Shimmer wasn't kidding about this 'mon looking ready to die if we dawdled." ._.

The sneasel’s breathing was labored and shallow. Haru set to work crawling through the brambles until she was right up next to him, angling her head underneath his stomach to roll him onto her back as carefully as possible. Even with him being small for a sneasel, he was still quite a bit bigger than her, his feet and front claws scraping along the ground as she practically dragged herself and the injured sneasel out into the open.

She heard Shimmer let out a gasp as she emerged with the injured pokemon on her back before she felt him lifted up from above. As soon as the weight was off her, she stood up on her hind legs, carefully helping position him so that he was straddled across Muse’s back.

Wait, how did Haru fit through the brambles with Nip also on her back? Or did she and the gang count the extra nicks on the way out as acceptable collateral given that he's kinda on death's door?

Muse: "... Pretty sure that violated at least a couple standards for rendering aid to a wounded Pokémon-"
Haru: "Muse, we're kids okay? Look, let's just hurry and get this guy to the medics while there's still a 'mon to patch up!" >_>;

With the stranger now set, the trio began to make their way back to the main forest path, speaking in hushed voices.

“I’ve never seen a sneasel like him,” Shimmer whispered first, her eyes darting to the unconscious dark type.

Now that she mentioned it, Haru realized Shimmer had a point. The sneasel’s colors were a bit off. Although his fur was fairly close to the grey she was used to - though perhaps with a bit of a more brown undertone – his bent and broken feathers were more of a mint color.

“Neither have I,” Haru agreed. “He doesn’t smell like any of the nearby villages. Where do you think he’s from? Seadra’s Tail Island? He doesn’t smell like Ruffle though.”

I take it that Theran Village hasn't exactly gotten many visiting shinies in the past. Though with how small and secluded it is... yeah, I could honestly buy some village kids being floored by their first shiny encounter.

“Maybe,” Muse muttered. “Ruffle hasn’t lived in Seashoal village for a long time, so she doesn’t have as distinct of a smell. There’s a whole world beyond the Great Misty Canyon; there’s always a chance he came from there. If he survives, maybe we can find out.”



If. That one word managed to sober the trio even more. They were back on the open path now. The absol gave one last wary look back and forth, checking for any danger on their route, then took off at a sprint, bounding into the lead.

On one level that feels like such a terrible thing to do with someone as badly wounded as Nip is on your back right now. On the other... yeah, he's kinda about to die. Might as well roll the dice.

“I’m going on ahead,” she called back to her companions. “Shimmer, you stay with Haru and go get back to the village together. Watch each other’s backs. I want to get him back as soon as possible though, okay?”

Haru set her face with determination and uttered a sound of agreement. She would set aside her complaints about Shimmer. For the moment. The kirlia seemed to hesitate though, running to try and catch up.

But I could teleport back and let them know what’s going on!

“And that would leave Haru alone in the woods,” Muse pointed out.

Waaaaaaaait a minute. Is Shimmer insufficiently in practice with Teleport to take passengers with her? If so, you probably want to communicate that at some point. (Dunno if here, or via adding some sort of throwaway dialogue in an earlier place where it would feel natural.) Since when I re-read that part, I actually did a double take of "wait, but why don't you just take Nip with you?"

“I can take care of myself, you know,” Haru interjected.

“I’m sure you can usually, but whoever - whatever did this could still be nearby. None of us should really be alone here right now.”

“What if I were to teleport him back?”

You know you still have trouble taking companions along. Just trust me, please. We have little time.”

Oh right. You did acknowledge that. It might've made sense to build up to it subtly a bit more, but otherwise it works as an explanation.

The kirlia hesitated again, before giving a sullen nod. “Fine, you win,” she grumbled. “But I’m so going to chew you out when we get back.”

The absol slowly blinked back to Shimmer but said nothing more, darting off down the path.

Haru gave the kirlia an unamused look at her response before continuing at a slower pace. Hoping, for once in her life praying that Muse would make it back in time.

Probably a good thing Nip wasn't able to see all of this to rant about how this sort of transportation back almost certainly was not kind to his torn-up body. :V

Alright, now I'm at the end for the night. My overall thoughts:

I mean, I'm just a little biased, but I thought that the Prologue and Chapter 1 were charming. You put a lot of work into bringing your characters to life and showing off the little quirks that make them them, and it comes through quite well in the text. Something about the way the text also seems to carry a mysterious air, but shows off just enough of the little bit we see of the world to give hints about what it's like and make you want to know more about it and how it works.

For the things that I was less fond of... not much, mostly related to a few bits where I thought the formatting made things a little ambiguous here or there. Or things that might have been served well from having just a little extra description. I personally felt that Chapter 1 was a tad on the light side for length, though it'd be hard for me to really suggest what else you could've added to it. Maybe giving Toshi a chance to pop up onscreen in some capacity given that he's kinda an important character but only mentioned in passing in that Chapter.

All-in-all, your inaugural two chapters carried the same magic I remembered while catching up with your story earlier this year. And I'm looking forward to giving it a closer eye to see what stands out in a second pass that I missed out on the first go around.

Kudos @windskull , and hope you enjoyed the show and review. ^^
 
17: Underyling Tensions

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partners
  1. custom/sneasel-nip
  2. bidoof
  3. absol
  4. kirlia
  5. custom/windskull-bidoof
Chapter 17: Underlying Tensions

No…No!

Muse jerked awake with a gasp, eyes wide with fear. She sprang to her feet, her claws enveloped with shadowy energy. Her gaze darted about the dark room, illuminated only by a sliver of moonlight. No one else was here. It was just her, her nightmares, and the throbbing pain in her horn.

She relaxed slowly, the tension leaving her body. Exhausted, she sank back into her bedding, ignoring the stray bits of straw that she’d thrown about in her sleep. She could fix that in the morning when she wasn’t so distressed.

“Musey?”

Muse had failed to notice the creaking of floorboards outside, or that her door had been opened. Shimmer stood in the doorway, eyes glowing with psychic energy. She crept into the room, kneeling by the absol’s side.

“Muse, what happened? Are you having another premonition?”

Muse looked up towards Shimmer, locking eyes with her. For a moment she was lost in those eyes, and her heart ached to tell Shimmer all her worries, like she used to. But something held her back. She couldn’t tell her. Not yet. The throb in her horn forbade it, made her fear the consequences, scared her of hurting her dearest friend. So, she took a deep breath and, as she always had, hid the pain.

“No, it was only a bad dream.”

Shimmer furrowed her brow, then scooted forward and turned so that she was laying against Muse’s side with an arm draped over her. Her tiny fingers ran through the absol’s fur, providing a hint of comfort. “Oh, Muse. I’m sorry. I wish I could do more to help you.”

Muse bowed her head, resting it against Shimmer. “Your company helps me more than you know.”

For a while, the two stayed in that position, content. Or at least, Muse feigned contentment. But inside, despite Shimmer’s presence, her stomach still churned with worry.

And deep inside, she knew something was very wrong. Something worse than the feeling she’d gotten around that mawile, even. She knew she needed to tell someone else about her premonition. But she couldn’t involve Shimmer, not when it was this bad. Not without running it by someone wiser.

But if she couldn’t involve Shimmer… who else could she trust? Toshi? He was kind, but he had no power to do anything. Perhaps…

As she drifted off, an idea came to her. Someone that, while perhaps not ideal, she felt she could at least trust to help.

But as she closed her eyes and drifted back into sleep, she decided she could worry about that in the morning.



The smell of petrichor clung to Haru’s lungs as she took a deep breath stretched in the weak morning light. The air still felt damp after a shower had passed through before dawn. Perfect weather for a bidoof. She let her breath out slowly, soaking up what little warmth she could get. Autumn was certainly in full swing by now, with the leaves starting to turn a golden color that matched the local mystery dungeon. Soon, short frosty days would drive her to huddle down in her nest for longer and longer.

“Timber!” The sound of her mother’s voice and creaking wood caught Haru’s attention. She turned to watch as a tree several paces down the path tottered before falling away from her. Haru paused her own work of chewing branches off another felled tree, observing as her mom gave the tree a quick look-over and let out a satisfied grunt.

“That one should make for some good firewood,” Saku said, thumping it once with her broad tail. Haru bobbed her head in agreement. Winter was still a couple moons off, but they needed all that time to prepare. The whole town would be needing firewood soon enough.

“Do you want me to start removing the branches after I finish this one?” Haru asked. While waiting for an answer, she turned back and started to gnaw at another branch.

“Yes, but you can do that after lunch. For now, why don’t you load some of those branches and take them back home, dear? Your brother can finish them later.”

When? Haru thought, a frown forming on her face. When he’s done playing guard for the local criminal? To her mother, she didn’t respond right away, taking a moment to finish chewing off the branch she already started. Once done, she dipped her head before dragging a few of the branches into a small cart, stepping into an attached harness. Her mother helped tighten the straps. Then she began to pull, straining against the weight, struggling to take the first few steps. Slowly it began to move, and with momentum now on her side, she took off back towards town at a steady gait.

Her route took her back into the outskirts, where she passed dozens of rows of berry bushes. She’d reached Roselei’s farm. She slowed to a stop and — with a bit of effort — loosed the straps enough to come out of the harness. If she remembered Toshi’s hasty explanation before he’d dashed out on breakfast this morning, this is where he was watching Nip work. Curiosity got the better of her. She stood on her hind legs, then climbed onto one of the wooden rails of the fence running along the path. With the added height she could just barely see the tip of a green feather dipping up and down.

Returning to her cart for only a moment, she wedged one of the branches against the wheel to act as a temporary brake, then scrambled under the wooden fence and into the field. She passed oran bush after oran bush — the most common berry that the grass-type couple grew.

Before long, she reached the row where Nip was working, reaching up to pull the orans from the bush and place them into a straw basket. Roselei was nearby, picking from plants on the opposite side of the path. When one of the baskets filled, she’d raise a vine into the air, and a local avian, an unfezant, would take the basket and fly it back to the farmhouse. He came for another pass just as she arrived, giving Haru the chance to see Nip shrink back when he dove, as if he expected to be carried off like a piece of prey. For the briefest heartbeat, she felt a pang of pity, before reminding herself that he didn’t deserve sympathy.

He could use a little fear, anyways, she thought.

Toshi, who was standing a few paces down the row, noticed Haru approaching. He stood on his hind paws for a moment, then ran over to greet Haru with an affectionate headbutt.

“Hey, sis, what are you doing here?” he asked after taking a step back.

“I was just passing by, and I wanted to see how you were doing,” Haru explained. “How are things?”

“Good.” Toshi glanced back watching as Nip tossed a couple more berries into the basket. “Everything’s been quiet. There’s been no trouble at all.” He hesitated, his cheerful expression faltering. “Actually… I’m getting a little bit worried, if I’m being honest. I know I didn’t have a lot of interactions with Nip, but he’s been acting… weird since the incident with Celebi. Subdued. I think he was really bothered by what happened.”

Haru groaned inwardly. Not the celebi again. The small god’s appearance had been shocking to her, to put it lightly. After all her insistence about how the gods were either useless or non-existent, she’d been proven wrong on one theory, and right on the other. And yet… as much as it made her want to feel smug, to tell everyone else that she told them so, that she knew these godly pokemon were bad news… it left a sour taste in her mouth. Celebi’s ditzy, useless behavior was almost everything she’d feared. The only thing that could have made it worse was if he’d been malevolent; and she still couldn’t be certain he wasn’t.

Instead of that, she voiced another thought that she thought might be controversial. “I don’t see how you can show any sort of sympathy after everything he’s done!” Her voice came out in a loud whisper. She glanced at Nip to see if he showed signs of noticing. But if he did, he said nothing. His posture didn’t change. Not even the twitch of an ear. In fact, he barely looked up from the ground, reaching mindlessly for another berry.

“I know I probably shouldn’t,” Toshi admitted. “But I can’t help it. I keep thinking about how I would have acted in his paws. And… I dunno. He made a lot of mistakes, but don’t we all?”

“Not everyone’s mistakes result in the deaths of children,” Haru pointed out flatly. “I don’t know why I have to keep repeating myself here.”

“Fair…” Toshi hesitated. “But even so… look at him. Have you ever seen a pokemon look so beaten down?”

Haru followed his gaze as he turned to look back at Nip, squinting against the sun to get a better look. Now that he mentioned it… Nip didn’t look as well kept as usual. His fur truck up in spots, as if he hadn’t groomed properly in days, and he worked quietly and sluggishly without looking up.

Her attention was turned back to Toshi as he continued. “Even if you’re not concerned by Nip, think about everyone else affected by this. I know how you feel about pokemon like Celebi or Regigigas, but all those stories are important to some pokemon. I mean… think about how shaken up Anu must be, on top of everything he and Whisper have already been through in the past moon.”

Haru felt a twinge of guilt twist her gut. She wanted to argue but… but it didn’t feel right to. She wanted to say she told them so, to point out that she’d told everyone that the gods either didn’t exist or didn’t care about them. That they weren’t worth wasting breath and prayers over. Even so… though frustrated, she didn’t want to upset pokemon that were already hurting by sticking her paw in her mouth. She’d done enough of that already.

“I should… probably get home,” she finally said, averting her gaze. “I’ve got firewood to get back and other things to take care of. See you tonight?”

Toshi stared at her for several heartbeats. Just a little too long, to make the moment more awkward than it already was. Then he closed his eyes and dipped his head. “Alright. See you tonight, sis.” With that, he turned to pad back to the working group, leaving Haru to walk by herself back to the road.



After dropping off her branches and a brief conversation with her dad – in which she found out that he’d been distracted and burned everyone’s meal - Haru decided to take a lunch break and head to town for food. She suspected this, too, was a result of being stressed by Celebi’s appearance. The way others were acting was really starting to get on their nerves. What had they expected? Before being proven real, the gods had already proven themselves useless, in Haru’s eyes.

On her way to the main square, she passed Umbra and Vale, who were making their way out of town muttering in low voices. Huh, she never expected the two of them to get along. How odd. It had escaped her mind by the time she reached the main square.

In a village this small, most pokemon had to make their own food. There was only one place one could get a hot meal in town, and that was the local tavern: The Lazy Meowstic. It was one of the largest buildings in town, standing two stories and made of sturdy timber. In the spring, the front would be decorated with pots filled with colorful daisies and daffodils and tulips, but at this time of year the storefront was barren.

Haru pushed her way through the lightweight wooden doors and stepped into the main entrance. Light filtered through windows on either side of the building, illuminating a few particles of dust dancing in the sunbeams. To the right was a small dining area, where a quagsire and an espurr – the owner’s daughter – quietly picked at meals of grain and thinly sliced meat. Haru fought the urge to shudder at the thought of whatever poor pokemon had become their meal. At least the meat was unrecognizable as any single pokemon. It made it palatable enough to keep her from gagging.

To the left was a small reception desk, where the tavern owner, a simisear, was speaking with an unfamiliar group of pokemon — a charmander, a charizard, a girafarig, and a raichu. As the charmander shifted in place, Haru caught sight of a badge glinting on her bag. Explorers, by the look of it. Probably passing through for the night. Unimportant. Toshi would be interested, though. He’d want to bombard them with questions about work at the society, and how things had been in the big towns. Maybe Haru would mention them to him when she headed home for the night.

“Just take a seat at any table, Haru,” Meaad, the simisear, called from behind the counter. “I’ll be with you after I get these fine folks settled in.” And then he was no longer paying her any mind. “Now, how long are you looking to stay with us?”

Haru turned her attention away from the desk, taking a seat at a low table close to the window. She found the light soothing. And, as a bonus, it was far enough away from the other patrons that she’d probably be left alone. She wasn’t in the mood for small talk right now. Not that she normally was.

“Sorry about the wait, Haru.”

Looking up, Haru saw the kindly face of Meaad giving him a lopsided grin with his hands clasped together. “Now, what can I get for you today?”

“Veggie sandwich with Mago juice, please,” Haru answered, turning her attention back to the window. She heard Meaad shuffle away and closed her eyes, relaxing on her cushion.

“Hey! Look who it is! Hi Haru!”

The peace couldn’t last long. Haru bit back a groan as she turned her head, seeing Shimmer waving at her from by the door. Muse was by her side, stoic as always. To Haru’s surprise, Tempest was on Muse’s other side, his tails waving slowly behind him. Likely, they were on volunteer guard duty, like Toshi. Haru willed them to turn around and leave, but Shimmer zipped straight to her table, plopping down by her side.

“I won’t keep you long,” the kirlia promised, her grin wide. “I just thought we’d take a minute to catch up. It feels like you’ve been avoiding us, and that’s not very nice, is it?”

“I’m always avoiding you, Shimmer,” Haru replied curtly. “I don’t enjoy spending any more time with you than necessary.”

Shimmer laughed and gave her a dismissive wave. “I know you don’t like me Haruru, but you really gotta learn to get along with people. You’re gonna get yourself in trouble one of these days with that tongue of yours.”

Haru pointedly ignored her and turned her head away. She heard shuffling as Muse and the ninetales stretched out around the other side of the low table. A tingling sensation pricked the back of her mind, and she focused to push it away before turning around to glare at Shimmer. “Could you at least have the decency to stay out of my head?”

Shimmer giggled. “Oh, that’s not me.”

At the same time, Haru lost her focus and heard a faint word echo in her mind. H…lo. He…llo.

“You’ve heard ninetales around here tend to have latent psychic abilities, right?” Shimmer continued. “Well, I figured that Tempest here might have those same abilities, despite having an ice affinity. And I was right! I’ve been teaching him some basic psychic skills, so that it’s easier for him to communicate.” She paused, glancing to Muse. “It’s not perfect. I don’t have a way to help him link with a dark pokemon’s mind. But it’s an improvement!”

Haru stared at her for several heartbeats, processing her explanation. Her paws dug into the hardwood as her mood soured further. This seemed like a mistake. She had to speak her mind here. “Don’t you think that’s a bit… unwise?” Shimmer tilted her head, so Haru continued. “I mean. I know it’s hard for a psychic to take over the mind but think about it. You’re teaching someone who’s in jail techniques that can confuse and manipulate. What if he uses it to break out? Or to hurt someone.?”

A chill settled over the group, and Haru fell silent. She glanced over to the ninetales. Was he the source of the cold? He met her gaze with… disappointment. Sadness maybe. She felt a pang of guilt for just a heartbeat, but then pushed it away and stayed firm.

Shimmer didn’t stay silent for long. She rolled her eyes and leaned forward to pat Haru’s paw. Haru yanked it away. Briefly, Shimmer’s perky facade broke, and she looked genuinely surprised by Haru’s hostility. Then she was back to her usual self. “Look, don’t worry about it Haruru. Tempest’s nice. He’s a surprisingly nice conversationalist, even if he’s still getting the hang of things.”

Haru turned to Muse. “And you’re… okay with this?”

Muse was looking out the window, eyes unfocused. It was only after a long pause she realized she was being addressed. She jolted, then shuffled under Haru’s scrutinizing glare as the bidoof repeated the question.

“Well…” Muse began, “I am… concerned for Shimmer’s safety. It’s my job to make sure she’s safe. But… Tempest has shown no ill will since settling in. If Shimmer thinks it’s okay, then… I trust her judgement.”

Haru blinked. Since when had Shimmer shown good judgement? Was Muse being serious? There was some emotion in her tone that Haru couldn’t place, but the absol didn’t appear to be joking.

She raised a paw sliding it across the table towards the absol. “Are you… feeling okay, Muse?”

“Hm?” Muse’s gaze returned to the window. There was a distant look in her eye. “Oh, I’m fine. Just… thinking about something is all.”

Haru let out a slow breath. This was getting her nowhere. She stood, shook out her fur, then moved to a different table. She didn’t have to deal with this nonsense. She’d eat quickly, then get back to work, where the trio wouldn’t dare bother her. Fortunately, they seemed content to leave her be.

It seemed like everything was flipped upside down lately. She wished Jhorlo would just send the troublemakers off for the Enforcers Union to deal with. Maybe then her life would go back to normal.



Whisper worked by candlelight, making neat lines of dots and dashes across the page. With the new season upon them, she needed to get her expense report finished soon. Jhorlo wasn’t going to like it; taking care of prisoners was expensive, and while they’d done several tasks around the village to help other locals, none of that money was going back to Jhorlo’s pocket.

Her claws faltered as she reached the part of the report where she would request more funds. Were they just wasting time and resources, trying to rehabilitate these two? She was certain Tempest could be a responsible member of society. He was willing to work with others, willing to learn. Nip on the other hand?

She started to reach a claw towards her feathers, then stopped herself. Turning her head, she stared into the darkness. Her night vision was not the best, but she could hear a faint shuffling from Nip’s cell well enough. Occasionally she could see the glint of claws in the moonlight, but they were never raised.

He was pacing again. Over the last several nights, he’d awoken from sleep and begun to pace restlessly, sometimes deep into the night. She figured it had to do with Celebi’s appearance. She didn’t want to sympathize, but it was difficult not to when she knew Anu was going through similar struggles. Not that he could show anyone else; as the village religious leader, he couldn’t show shaken resolve after Celebi’s… lackluster appearance. If he faltered, others would. No, he had explained to her time and time again why he had to be strong. She didn’t think it was fair, but at least she understood.

Her claws went back to the wooden desk, tapping at it as she tried to reign in her focus.

Just as she turned back to her report, though, she heard an out of place noise. A scratching at the hut’s front door. Whisper paused, tensing, and waited. It happened again. Slowly, she stood, picking up the luminous orb she’d been working with, then tip-toed towards the door.

The scratching sounded again. She cracked the door open only a sliver.

“…Muse?”

The absol’s fur glowed in the moonlight, giving Muse the appearance of an otherworldly creature. Whisper opened the door further and caught sight of Muse’s grim expression.

“What’s wrong?” Whisper asked.

Muse crept inside. She kept low, her muscles coiled, as if she expected trouble to spring out at her at any time. Whisper’s heart raced, egged on by the absol’s unusual behavior.

“Can I speak to you? Privately?” Muse’s voice was quiet and tense.

Whisper dipped her head, walking around her and moving into a small, secluded office space. If it weren’t for the prisoners, this was where Whisper would usually conduct business. It was sparsely decorated, just how she liked it. Another wooden desk, a chair, a couple of flowers starting to wilt in a cracked vase. A small, crude painting of herself and Anu sat on the desk. The only other decoration was a line of small portraits lining the wall. At the very end was Whisper’s painting. To its left was an illustration of a fierce looking liepard. And just beyond it, a painting of a luxray with gentle eyes. Muse’s gaze lingered on it for a few heartbeats, and briefly, Whisper saw the fear in Muse’s eyes be replaced with a deep sadness.

“Your father was an incredible pokemon,” Whisper murmured. “I’m sure he would be proud of you.” Muse said nothing in reply but dipped her head. Whisper allowed her a moment to grieve before ruffling her feathers and continuing. “Now, what did you want to talk about?”

Muse looked back up. The fear had returned. “I… wasn’t sure who to talk to. I considered telling Shimmer, and I still might. But…” She trailed off, her tail tucked between her legs. Whisper had only seen Muse act like this once. And it was before one of the worst tragedies to hit the village; the death of both of Muse’s parents, Haru and Toshi’s grandfather, and Shimmer’s mother – the Mayor before Jhorlo. The four of them had perished on a journey to try and find Regigigas, and their deaths had left the town in turmoil for some time.

The absol had to take a deep breath before she was able to speak again. “I… you knew my parents better than anyone. If they trusted you, then I can too. For nearly the past moon, I’ve been plagued by feelings of disaster. They started small; the first one came after Umbra came to the village. But they’ve gotten worse.”

She paused again, and Whisper couldn’t help but feel frustration roil in her gut. Why hadn’t Muse’s powers picked up that the sneasel would bring trouble. His actions had hurt the village. His actions had hurt her. It took all her self-control to remind herself that it wasn’t Muse’s fault.

“Sorry,” Muse mumbled, shrinking back.

Whisper realized she must have been showing signs of aggression and forced herself to relax. “No, you’ve done nothing wrong. Go on.”

“It’s… a lot. It’s hard to talk about. The premonitions worsened after Celebi appeared. And then… last night. Last night I… I had another one. A premonition within my dreams. A horrible nightmare of death and destruction. I… I don’t know who causes it, or even who I could trust. Telling the wrong person could lead us all to our doom.”

Muse tilted her head up, staring at Whisper with a fierceness that threatened to make her heart stop. “All I know is that I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t even know if it can be stopped. And that. That terrifies me.”
 

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partners
  1. custom/sneasel-nip
  2. bidoof
  3. absol
  4. kirlia
  5. custom/windskull-bidoof
Review reply! I forgot to put it in with the chapter proper whoops
Also, I assume that this is a vanilla Ninetales given that IIRC, Alolapix and other Ice-type regional morphs are indeed the product of Kyurem's intervention in this setting, but you probably want to make that explicit in your description. Can be something as simple as describing the Ninetales' pelt as something along the likes of 'warm, golden' or 'snowy white' or something along those lines.
I'll see about adding some clarity in a future edit. But since it wasn't clear I'll just let you know that the ninetales is Tempest.
I actually can't tell if the middle paragraph is supposed to be the narration revealing what the inscriptions are, or the Litten saying/thinking that out loud. If it's the former, you might find it appropriate to add a colon or something after 'inscriptions' . Dunno if it'd also make sense to add quotes of some sort around the contents of the inscription or not, but that's a stylistic nitpick of mine.
I'll keep this in mind. I've got an unpublished oneshot that's going to be used as an interlude chapter somewhere down the road that'll make things clearer.
Shimmer: "... You do realize my species is empathic by nature and I can tell you're stressed right now."
:gardexhausted:

Haru: "Gee, I wonder why I'm feeling stressed when you're around." >_>;
You'd think she'd notice, wouldn't you?
You know, this would've been a really good time to go and find an adult for help given that all three of these characters are still kids.
I feel like I should probably offer some clarification here. All of the main characters are either right at the cusp of adulthood or young adults. In the equivalent 17 to 23 range. I'll see if I can make that clearer in a future edit.
Waaaaaaaait a minute. Is Shimmer insufficiently in practice with Teleport to take passengers with her? If so, you probably want to communicate that at some point.
Good point, because that was what I had in mind here. Teleporting alone can be dangerous enough - if things are moved around or you overshoot you could teleport yourself into a wall and kill yourself - and doing it with other pokemon is even more difficult.

Regardless, I'm glad you enjoyed.

And thanks again to @AceTrainerWesley for the smeargle swap!
 

Ambyssin

Gotta go back. Back to the past.
Location
Etherium
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. silvally-dragon
  2. necrozma-ultra
  3. milotic
  4. dreepy
Blitzy New Year!
Disclaimer: This is mostly stream-of-consciousness thoughts. Take it as you will.

I am here for vengeance. And eggscapdes. I know these earlier chapters are from around two years ago, so maybe some of this won’t apply anymore.

1
-So, if I’m reading that prologue right, we have mentions of Yveltal, Regigiggity, Kyurem, Xerneas, Solgaleo, and Lunala. Interesting that the monologue (which feels familiar as a technique wink wink) appears to be from a potential villain’s POV.
-Not gonna lie, it’s hard not to think of Beastars every time I read Haru. But I think this is the first fic I’ve read to actually show bidoof tending to a dam.
-Well, isn’t Haru a ray of sunshine? Then again, I probably would be, too, if I was a bidoof. I do like the contrast of the bubbly Shimmer and the more subdued Muse. It’s a fun dynamic in writing. Which gets a bit more interesting a little later when their actual relationship is brought up. Might’ve liked to seen it shown more organically, but it is what it is.
-I can’t believe a kirlia is crushing on a bidoof to Amy Rose levels.
-I’m a fan of the smell emphasis on the skirmish site, especially since I’m not given many visual details other than some vague forestry. Nip’s appearance is much more detailed, though it does stop the pacing of the scene to make it happen.
-Using scents to identify locales is a neat, animal kingdom concept. Wonder if you’ll expand on it.

2
-There seems to be a redundancy here where the chapter title is being posted twice? Actually, I think multiple chapters have the chapter name posted twice.
-A dark force trying to drown Nip? Perhaps a premonition about something smothering the world in darkness? Or something related to Yveltal and its cocoon state?
-If Nip is trying to stay guarded and avoid detection, why is he talking to himself instead of just thinking to himself? :P
-An illumise is an interesting choice for a healer’s apprentice.
-Lecha’s explanation about the berry juice helping reads redundantly to me.
-Between the mention of Haru’s father’s business and the way the healer’s hut is described, I can’t help but wonder if the family business made a bunch of the village’s buildings.
-Lmao this illumise has no bedside manner.
-I do find the difference in cultures between Nip’s tribe and Theran Village to be on display clearly in the conversation. Nip shows a surprising amount of maturity (or, perhaps, hardening from past events). More than Twi, that’s for sure.
-Of course, I don’t buy Nip’s “spiritual journey” nonsense. I think he got booted from his tribe, judging from the prologue. Perhaps some sort of blasphemous comment(s) related to Yveltal and now he wants to find out if it really exists?
-Haru mentions Nip “waking up today.” Did I miss the indication of how long he’d been out for?
-If Ruffle is not a rufflet I will be sorely disappointed. But given these ‘mons seem to tribute legends that are close to their typings, they could be, like, a natu or xatu.

3
-I think I recall hearing the whole “meat-eating” conundrum was a big part of this fic. Looks like it’s starting to pop up already.
-I guess this is the “introducing the hub town” scene that most PMD fics tend to have? Much of it is left to the imagination outside of the daycare. I believe Nip’s comments are hinting at egg thievery in his past?
-Am disappoint Ruffle is a bellossom. >:/ But am pleased Mandi is a mandibuzz. I guessed as much since Haru’s monologue made it sound like the meat shop was run by a scavenger and a ‘mon based on a vulture fits that to a tee.
-If the goal is to make Haru seem on the sheltered side with her shock at Nip’s hunting revelations, then mission accomplished. In general she comes off as a bit… insensitive to Nip, but that might be the point? You definitely write her like someone going through culture shock despite her still being home. Also I think Nip had a bit of a Freudian slip there when he said “lived.”
-The hesitance in Nip’s elder explanation makes me think he did something to piss them off.
-lmao a lucario named Anu. 10/10.
-I’m guessing this Expedition Society is but an Easter egg toward PSMD. Same name, perhaps a similar function, but otherwise distinct.
-And so we meet a mawile who, I believe, is from the Half-moon tribe if the markings are correct? Hunting Nip to exact some form of “justice,” I imagine.

4
-Chuckled a bit at Haru’s bluntness endearing her to Nip ever so slightly.
-Is Nip implying any couples in his tribe are arranged? Wait, the mawile isn’t, like, his consort or something, is she?
-I was not expecting Shimmer’s dad to be a purugly. You certainly like using some less common ‘mons.
-Nip’s POV for Shimmer makes her seem like an airhead heiress.
-Some juicy worldbuilding tidbits, here. Seems the village’s half of the world might be a bit more civilized than the half Nip hails from. And we get another Easter egg with Red’s Rescue Team.
-I was honestly expecting them to run into Mawile in the forest, not some random quilava. But I guess you were lulling me into a false sense of security for her stalking Nip back toward the village.
-Similarly, I wasn’t expecting that to lead into Nip just… stealing an egg from the daycare like it was nothing. I guess this is the infamous egg thing that people have memed about across multiple servers? About the biggest bit of self-preservation that came out of this was Nip going into the mystery dungeon for cover. With the way the egg was described, I feel like it would’ve slowed him down more and allowed the guards to catch up. I’m surprised he even held on when he was hit with electricity.
-Though no indication was given as to what egg it was, why do I feel like he swiped Anu and Whisper’s?

5
-Oh no. Anu is at the gathering.
-I’m not sure what to make of Tor being completely monotone.
-Aaaaand I was right. Wow, even when lucario are minor characters in PMD fics they still get bullied.
-Some of Toshi’s characterization reminds me a bit of Explorers’ Bidoof and I refuse to believe that isn’t intentional. Still, Haru’s definitely got the right idea of this group but, well, it wouldn’t drive the plot forward if they didn’t do this dumb thing, I suppose. Kids will be kids and all that. (I don’t buy Haru saying they’re all adults for one second.)
-Time for dungeon crawling. Similar to the source material, this is actually my least favorite part of PMD fics, but I at least applaud you for not going into a fic equivalent of a tutorial about exploring. Though having Haru approach a shiny and get jumped by some birbs is awfully… nostalgic for me, ha ha. Much like Haru and her brother pissing them off just by opening their big mouths.
-Not much to say about fighting said birbs. Just random wild ‘mons.
-Forget Shimmer x Toshi. Shimmer x Muse OTP.
-I feel as though even you get a bit tired of writing dungeon crawling and decide to cut to the chase at the end with Umbra. Not that I’m complaining. If anything can be skipped in these fics, it’s the dungeon crawling, unless it’s used as a way to engage with the overarching plot or develop characters.

6
-At the beginning of the fight with Umbra it’s a bit unclear whose perspective you’re writing it from. It almost seems more omniscient than the limited view you’d used up until this point. I assume Haru is supposed to be the POV character, but she and her brother are referred to as two bidoof when attacking Umbra, which almost makes it seem like the mawile is the POV character. Overall it’s kinda jumbled for me.
-The tonal whiplash of Umbra taking Toshi hostage and Shimmer coming through with the clutch orb teleportation… only for it to be an Escape Orb instead was good for a laugh. Even if this resolution does kind of make the whole fight feel… pointless. Like, Shimmer goes back to the same talking points as before, even. Though it was wise for her to call for backup and I echo others’ sentiments that it’s good she’s resourceful underneath her childlike persona.
-Oh, hey, I was right about Umbra’s relation and motivation. That’s some determination if she trailed Nip for as far as he claimed to have gone. It also seems like I might have been on the right path about a disagreement being the source of his desertion. Though I wonder if he really destroyed the eggs or if something else might’ve happened and he suffered a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s hard to tell, because if Umbra’s telling the truth I’m not sure how I, as the reader, am supposed to feel about any attempts for Nip to redeem himself for his crimes. Which is why I suspect we’re missing pieces of the puzzle. And I’m glad it seems some of the cast agrees with me. Makes me sound not totally crazy.

Overall EGG/10 so far.
 

Persephone

Ace Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. mawile
  2. vulpix-alola
This review covers the story from the Prologue to Chapter 7. No line by lines because it's not really my style.

I liked the prologue. It had a nice hint of mystery at some broader plot about the legendaries or whatever, a brief establishing moment for the bisharp, and a tiny introduction to the other characters that I've already forgotten tbh. Except that Haru is a skeptic which was established pretty quickly in-text.

Tbh I haven't read a whole lot of PMD fic. The setting itself is a little ridiculous to me since different species seem to have absolutely no differing characteristics and all act pretty human. This doesn't go full xenofiction or anything but it still does have a nice mix of characteristics. For the most part that seems limited to predator / prey species dynamics. The prey find the predators gross but as long as the meat is ethically sourced they can deal with it. The idea of scavenged meat itself is interesting. They'd have to be very fast to get to carcasses before wild pokemon do. And I'm not sure how many natural deaths there are in the wild since IRL predators hunt the sick and wounded that would otherwise die of natural causes. The idea is still interesting enough that I can live with it. Also curious that absol seem to be predators here. I've always seen them as ibexes, but I know they have some cat influences.

The plot starts a bit slow to be honest. I might make some cuts before Nip is found. And the "is Nip a bad 'mon" plot is sort of moot since he's prominently in the banner in a way that a starter villain wouldn't be. I mean he totally did a... whatever the equivalent crime of egg killing is... which makes me curious how, exactly, he gets redeemed from that. I am going to very cautiously avoid speculating on what crimes he may have committed because oh boy does that get into hot water fast.

The structure of society is also interesting. Having a peaceful settlement with elements of civilization in an area of abundance while hunter-gatherers fill out the rest of the world makes sense. It's true to human history. The wild / feral dynamic is intriguing. Most PMD writers tend to write dungeon-dwelling / wild pokemon as mindless ferals. They clearly aren't here. Just people who don't want to live in civilization. I do hope that gets explored more since the complaints of the wild 'mons could help expose the flaws of the town and maybe help get protagonists to start really questioning things more. Especially with the hints that the town is run by someone who is totally fine with extrajudicial killings if he gets an exotic meal out of it.

I understand that you're trying to make me think of Umbra as a bad person, but is a mawile. Mawile are adorable. Have you seen their face? There's no way a creature like that could be hiding something unpleasant. 10/10 would pet. Anyone a mawile hates is automatically irredeemable scum. The kangaskhan had it coming.

I am slightly confused by bags / currency. Muse or the bidoof would really struggle to use bags and coins, but apparently everything can only be bought with them. Feels like a weakness of the setting where something like a central ledger with credit scores might work better if there aren't too many travelers. Coins just seem like a big middle finger to quadrupeds or incorporeal ghosts or magneton. It is taken from canon tho so it gets a pass.

Haru is great. Gives me big hobbit vibes. Just wants to do her job but madness keeps creeping in. Admittedly the fame seeking is a nice twist on the everywoman archetype. Kind of wish we saw her doing more work rather than just complaining about how she can't do work. I understand that I'm weird and no one else might want to read / write about manual labor.

Outside of her very dubious understanding of consent I actually like Shimmer. I get that she's supposed to be really annoying but honestly she doesn't rub me the wrong way anymore. She's surprisingly clever and willing to work without her father's knowledge / permission in a way that makes her fun to read about.

I have, like, no read on Muse. I know we have some of the backstory but he just feels like he has no personality or interests beyond being the mayor's servant and being able to fight. Having anything more from his POV or, like, a hobby or strong opinion would be nice for fleshing him out more. Especially since it seems like he'll be a major character moving forward.

Your description of dungeons was cool. Especially with all of the scarring on the ground as if they're remnants of some calamity. Adds a layer of mystery. And the 'stable area' explanation for boss zones makes a lot of sense.

Oh, and I loved the totally apathetic blissey. Great comedic take lol.
 

Persephone

Ace Trainer
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. mawile
  2. vulpix-alola
I am back with a review of the content from Chapters 8 to 12. This includes the first bonus chapter.

I'll start with the bonus. I really liked it, if only because having a lesbian lead instantly makes it more interesting than anything else in the entire story. Bonus points because plants are hermaphrodites so whether that relationship is straight or gay or lesbian is entirely a matter of identification. We stan intersex lesbian queens.

Anyway, good to see that the cops are bastards even in the pokemon world. Find a gathering of a religious minority and promptly lose their minds. And the worship of Hoopa is interesting. Not at all a mythical I expected to see worshipped but I guess it makes sense. Especially if Hoopa is just one god in a pantheon. Plenty of religions have gods / spirits of wealth who are highly revered, even if they aren't the best path to enlightenment or the ruler of heaven. Tying chaos elements in is also interesting since commerce usually depends on order. One thing I didn't like is that it seems like Hoopa was just supposed to bring them wealth or decide to grant their wishes? I'd figure a cult of avarice would encourage doing everything possible to make your way forward. Even if it wasn't ethical. Even if it required, gasp, capitalism!

Gods, why are the only lesbians capitalists...

Haru complaining about work was more of a thing this arc. I thought it partially addressed my prior concerns. She has more of a contentious personality here, too, with her judgment of Nip. She's quite pushy. I like it.

Oh, I guess I should talk about Nip. Yeah, I get that he's supposed to be sympathetic. I get that he was in an abusive relationship. I still can't exactly forgive him for infanticide / murder. Multiple times. Honestly I was annoyed when they weren't for rehabilitation and nothing since then has really changed my mind. This is also a good case for ranked choice voting rather than first past the post. Sixteen people voted for some serious punishment. Ten voted against it. That won because the people who weren't so forgivign were divided. There should really be some electoral reform here.

Also kind of curious how their government works? The judiciary is handled as a democracy but Shimmer is just sort of expected to take over after her father bites it for the ninth time. Speaking of Shimmer I really liked her POV segment in the last (?) chapter. Hints at some darkness. I'm sure whatever went down with her mother will eventually come back to play a role in the plot. Or at least in her characterization. And plushes being the equivalent of body pillows in the pokemon world is not something that I needed to think about at all.

Yeah, still not really liking Muse much for the amount of characterization she gets. More backstory or POV could help there.

Celebi! The second best pixie, behind Her Majesty The Queen of SCREMs. I thought the depiction of the timestream was cool. And it seems like she'll be crashing the plot soon. That's cool. Some confirmation here that the dungeons were formed as a result of a war that may have been fought between Dialga and Palkia.

Called scavenging not being sustainable lol. Also helps make sense of why everyone in the mayor's staff seems to be a carnivore, with the exception of his daughter who has been told not to pry too deeply into things. Huh. A town of anthropomorphized animals with a class struggle between carnivores and herbivores threatening to tear the entire place apart, all while a female rodent teams up with a male street-smart predator to get to the bottom of things. You could probably make a movie out of that. Set it in a utopia of creatures you might find in a zoo.

And a ninetales has arrived. Thank the gods that this fic is worth reading now. Wonder if he's rabid? Could come from the infected bite and would explain the lack of speech. Pokerabies is always a terrifying thought.
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Ace Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Partners
  1. nidoran-f
  2. druddigon
  3. swellow
Heya, feel like getting in another chapterfic review tonight but short on time thanks thanks to competing balls in the air, so I suppose that's as good an excuse as any to come back and throw another one at PWCH. Just in time to see the first good look at something approaching civilization in the story.

Chapter 2

Slowly, the sneasel struggled to open his eyes, his vision spinning. The first thing he noticed was the empty plain that stretched out beyond the horizon. With his vision blurred, he could not make out where the ground ended and where the sky began. Carefully, he pushed himself to his feet, steadying himself as his perception cleared.

He looked down to his paws, and the two wicked-sharp claws that curved over either paw, flexing them experimentally. Narrowing his eyes, he turned his attention to the featureless land that spread out around him. It looked to be around sunset, a deep red tinge just barely clinging to the sky. But there was no sun, moon nor stars here. The ground seemed watery, rippling around his feet, reflecting the bit of the red light back up.

With nothing to tell him where to go, he picked a direction and began to walk, his feet making a quiet splish-splash with every step. After some time, he could make out a small dot on the horizon. He adjusted his trajectory towards it.


Is this a dream? The sneasel wondered quietly. Certainly, he had never seen anything like this. This couldn’t be real, could it?

Preeeeety sure that's you on a near-death experience and tripping out, Nip.
:loltias:


Out in the distance, the dot began to take better form. It appeared to be a small mound made of the same strange, water like material as the ground.. On it, a single, withered, leafless tree.

He began to creep closer, aware of his exposure in the open air as he tried to make sense of what it might be or what it might mean. He took another step in the strange water. But this time, it was far deeper than he expected. The sneasel let out a startled screech as he tumbled in, engulfed by the watery depths. He thrashed and flailed as he sucked in a lungful of water, gagging as he tried to pull himself to the surface. But something seemed to grab hold of him. Dragging him deeper and deeper, his lungs filling with water…

Well, talk about a bad trip there at the end.

He gasped awake with a start, sitting up bolt upright, wheezing as if he was still drowning. No, he was okay. It was a dream. All just a dream.

Even as he came to the realization that it had been a dream, he continued to take wheezing, labored breaths, becoming aware of sharp and throbbing pains in his body. A chill seemed cut through even his thick fur and down into his bones. As he looked himself over, he noticed white bands that wound around his stomach and back, and leg. He pressed a paw to it then quickly pulled away, wincing in pain.

Taking in note of his surroundings, the first thing he noticed was the nest he was in, made of straw and grass woven along with twigs, and lined with a something fluffy and white, like fur but… not. The second thing he noted was the wooden ground beneath him, cut into near perfectly flat boards, something that seemed far too unnatural to him.

Somehow I completely missed in my first readthrough that Nip wasn't familiar with cotton/linen/whatever that's supposed to be. It's definitely a subtle thing about that hints at how the world he comes from is very different from the one he just woke up in.

The wall behind him, however, seemed normal: the wood twisted and warped as if he was inside the trunk of an old, hollowed tree. Near the domed roof, a single hole in the wall allowed light to filter inside, as well as the distant, muffled voices of more pokemon, speaking words he could not make out. Climbing up to it seemed like too difficult a task, in his condition.

More empty nests lined the wall, with a second ring of nests looping around the center with a walk space between them. Across the room was a wooden partition. And beyond it, the single exit: a large, unnatural opening leading down a wooden tunnel.

Ah yes, Capim Town architecture. Can't say it's not cozy for an infirmary, though.

The sneasel tried to force himself to his feet, fighting the dizziness and nausea that the movement produced. This area was too open, and yet left him cornered at the same time. He strained his senses for any sign of danger. He needed to move. To escape. To hide. To shroud himself in the bushes or in the trees, away from the sight of any would-be predator or prey.

Carefully, he sniffed at the air, ears listening for even the tiniest sound of movement. The voices from outside seemed distant. He could hear more voices beyond the wooden barrier, too, but could not make out the scent of what kind of pokemon they might be. The breeze through the window carried their scent away. And what little he could make out was masked by the pungent smell of berries. Lots and lots of berries.

“Pull yourself together, Nip,” the sneasel mumbled to himself, slowly inching forward in a crouching position despite his body’s protests. “Think. You’ve been in worse situations. Just… relax.”

A little flourish, but it honestly feels like something that I would imagine a Sneasel doing that I wouldn't expect Nip to do were he human. Feels like a good use of his senses and instincts.

He paused as he reached the opening, ear twitching, as a buzzing sound caught his attention from beyond the tunnel. Beyond the partition was another space, this one with a small raised wooden platform in the center. Beyond that, the tunnel curved out of sight at an angle. The walls beyond were made of the same unnatural boards as the floor.

The buzzing, as it turned out, was an illumise, who came zipping around the corner a moment later, excitedly blabbering about something until they took notice of dark-type up and about. Their ramblings came to a stop. The sneasel froze, cautiously flexing his claws and baring his fangs in a pitiful threat, considering his physical condition.

For a moment the illumise stared at the slightly larger pokemon, blinking once. And then seemingly without a care, they smiled, and spun around to buzz back down the tunnel. “Lecha!” They called out in an accent unfamiliar to the sneasel. “Your patient is awake.”

I also dunno how I forgot about that detail from my first readthrough, but it makes sense given that Nip's neighborhood and Theran Village don't even share a writing system. It's only logical you'd hear an audible difference in their speech even if it was still mutually intelligible.

The illumise’s reaction disarmed the sneasel, his threatening glare wilting into a confused tilt of the head, pupils still narrowed to slits. Still, he could not stop his escape attempt now. Not now that he’d been noticed. He began to move one foot at a time stumbling a bit along the way. The only ways out were either to follow the illumise back down the tunnel, or to try climbing through the hole in the wall.

As he put weight down on one foot, a sharp pain shot through his leg.

There would be no daring climbing escapes today.

Twi: "... We're gonna wind up having to sedate this guy, aren't we?" -_-;

He managed to get past the partition before his leg gave out. He fell to the ground with a startled screech just before the illumise returned. This time, a fluffy, feathered pink and purple pokemon followed behind. An aromatisse. He bared his fangs at the two of them, letting out a low growl as a pitiful threat.

“See,” the illumise said, gesturing towards him. “I told you they brought in a wildener.”

The aromatisse let out a concerned chirp before placing a bundle she had brought with her to the side, then turned to chide the illumise.

“Now, now, Twi. He’s no less deserving of help than anyone else here.”

A little surprised that Nip didn't cut in with an objection right then and there given that he'd absolutely not see himself as a wildener, but I suppose getting mauled takes the edge off a 'mon like that.

“I know,” the illumise, Twi, responded. “But you think they could have left us with someone who could help out if he got… violent?”

The aromatisse sighed, shaking her head. “I know you’re young and this is your first time dealing with something like this, but not every wildener is out to get you. Many of them are quite nice, in fact. Honestly, what have your parents been teaching you?” With a firm shake, she looked down to her bundle for a moment. A pause, then she turned her head back.

“Besides,” she added with a wink. “I’m stronger than you might think. I’m sure I can handle things should it come to that. Old Lecha still has some tricks up her sleeve yet!”

Nip: "I'm right here, you know!" >_>;
Lecha: "Yes, yes, I heard you. I also heard that growl you gave at me, so excuse me if I'm being a tad blunt right now."
:typhNOsion:


With that out of the way, the aromatisse busied herself with the bundle she had sat down, pulling loose a knot. The fabric fell open around the contents: a couple oran berries, a sitrus berry, and another pale blue berry that Nip did not recognize, as well as a small wooden bowl. She hummed, looking over the contents, then back to the tense, sharp-clawed pokemon.

Finally, she picked up the pale berry and tore it in half, taking one half and the sitrus berry. She passed the other half to the illumise. “Twi, I want you to use the two oran berries and the remainder of the rawst berry to make a poultice. Can you do that?”

“Both oran berries?”

Yes, I don’t want to apply the rawst to the burn itself, but I’m hoping absorbing the juices into the other wounds will still help.”

Twi: "... What on earth did you fight out there to get a burn like that anyways? I could've sworn there weren't a ton of Fire-type wildeners in those woods."
Nip: "I-I have amnesia and don't remember it well?"
:fearfullaugh~1:

Twi: "... Let's just get you patched up." -_-;

The illumise shrugged before landing on the ground. “Whatever you say.” Twi reached an appendage down to lift one of the oran berries to inspect it for a moment, then finally got to work peeling the thick skin away.

Satisfied finally, Lecha turned her attention to the crouched sneasel staring from several steps away, eyes narrowed to slits. She began to approach slowly, and Nip responded with another growl. She held her hands up, only the berries in tow.

“You don’t need to fear me,” she began in a soft tone like she would use to speak to a frightened child. “We do not wish to hurt you, dear. We only want to help you, if you’ll let us.”

The sneasel’s growls quieted, but he still stayed hunched, eying her cautiously, sizing her up.

Nip: "And you didn't say this to me right off the bat why?" :|
Lecha: "Because most patients can recognize a berry poultice and put two and two together about what we're trying to do?" >_>;

“You seem like you went through a terrible ordeal,” she continued, taking another small, calculated step forward. “Some of the pokemon in our village found you collapsed in the forest. We just want to treat your injuries. Okay?”

The sneasel pondered her statement for a moment. When he finally spoke, it was in a cautious, guarded tone. “This is a… village?”

Lecha nodded slowly, taking another step towards the hunched pokemon. “That’s right. You’re in the medic hut of Theran.

I'm actually curious as to what the backstory of 'Theran' name-wise is. Since it reminds me of 'Therian', or something related to animals or especially mammals. But I've never been able to get a solid read on it.

“I have never heard of this… ‘Theran.’”

“We’re a village by the Gorebyss River, famous for our carpentry and our oran berries!” Twi piped up from behind Lecha.

Nip considered their words, scrunching his nose, but at least relaxed a bit for a moment, his fur lying flat.

Nip: "Well that would explain why I've never heard of it. What sort of hamlet's known for oran berries and carpentry?" >_>;
Twi: "... Ours is." >:|

Encouraged by the change of demeanor, the aromatisse closed the gap between them, and offered out the two berries.

“Here, eat these,” she said in a soft tone.

The sneasel gave the berries a skeptical look, but eventually struck out, spearing the berries on the tip of his claws. He gave the sitrus berry a cautious nibble, sucking and licking away the small bit of juice that spurted out.

For some time, he nibbled at the berry in the near silence of the room. But finally, the sound of buzzing made him jerk, his attention springing back to the illumise as his fur began to raise again.

I actually didn't realize it, but I wonder if Nip's reflexive hostility and aversion to Twi has something to do with type dynamics. Since... yeah, getting hit by Bug moves as a Sneasel is kinda an exercise in pain.

The bug had arisen from their spot across the room, buzzing across to deposit a bowl of blue pulp in front of them.

“Thank you, Twi,” the aromatisse hummed, reaching a paw down into the pulp, inspecting it. “Will you go get some gauze from the shelf?”

Twi buzzed in response, taking to the air. A quick zip to an indentation carved into the walls, and they returned with a white substance that reminded Nip vaguely of woven spinarak silk. The same substance that was already wrapped around his chest and leg, now that he thought about it.

With a hum of thanks, the aromatisse scooped a pawful of the berry pulp and reached over to begin working it into the fur around the sneasel’s ear.

The sting of the juices caught the sneasel off guard. He shrank away from the paw with a warning hiss, narrowing his eyes.

Nip: "Hey, watch it-!" Lecha: "You do realize that your wound will be at serious risk of infection if we don't treat it, right." :|
Nip: "Look, do I really need to be awake to feel all of this right now?" >_>;
Twi: "Lecha, are you sure we can't sedate him?"

The aromatisse seem unconcerned, however, keeping a calm composure as she slowly lowered her arm to hold it in front of Nip. “This is to help you heal, the juices have healing properties that will help with your cuts. Will you allow me to help you?”

For a moment, he stayed stiff, eyeing the paw through narrowed eyes. But after a tense moment, he relented, lowering his head.

The aromatisse let out a cheerful chirp as she returned to her work, spreading the pulp over the stinging wound. Then she moved down, carefully unraveling the old gauze around his leg before doing the same process there.

For a few minutes, she worked in silence. But when the sneasel continued to stay quiet the doctor finally broke the silence.

“So, you’re not from around you, are you, dear?” she questioned, not looking up from her work.

Nip: "... That obvious, huh?"
Lecha: "I mean, I can literally hear it in your voice, but I'm trying to be polite here." -_-;

Are you from the forest?” Twi butted in. “Do you have a name?”

Lecha shot the illumise a sharp glare for a split second before returning to her work.

Nip glanced blankly between the two pokemon, narrowing his eyes suspiciously as he looked over to the illumise, then relaxing slightly as he returned his gaze to the aromatisse.

“Nip,” he finally grunted. “My name is Nip.”

Lecha hummed in response. “Nip? Okay Nip, that’s a start. Do you mind telling me what happened to you? It might help me treat your wounds better after all.”

Actually, wait. Would Twi think to ask that? Since wouldn't Twi logically either:

A: Find Nip's accent to also be strange if he finds theirs strange?
B: If others from Nip's neighborhood in the past have visited, surmise that he's from around there? Since I'm pretty sure that's significantly farther away than just the forest.

Twi: "Lecha, didn't he not answer where he was from-?"
Lecha: "'Not anywhere nearby' is good enough, really."

Another pause. “A kangaskhan,” he admitted with a bitter tone. “Got me with a fire punch in the back.”

[ ]

“Your voice is kinda funny,” Twi interjected.

Your voice is kind of funny,” Nip hissed back.

I feel that if Twi is just now realizing this, it might make sense to drop in a paragraph mentioning her basically stopping and realizing that something is not "normal" with Nip there. Or at least what that looks like from the outside looking in. Though I suppose that resolves the earlier question I had in the last block.

The doctor paused for a moment, looking at Nip curiously before closing her eyes and letting out a hum. She began to wrap the gauze around his leg. “Mhm, that makes sense. You must have gotten too close to the one nesting nearby.”

A pause. “You could say that.”

She bowed her head, closing her eyes. “You really should be more careful, dear. Has no one ever told you to not agitate a kangaskhan? Especially one raising an egg or a baby. I take it she’s responsible your leg and ear also?”

He glanced down to the dressed wound and responded with a grunt. “Yeah.”

Twi: "Oh sweet Continent Tower, please tell me you didn't do something stupid like try to hunt her joey-" >_>;
Nip: "Look, I don't judge you for your life decisions, okay?! Just focus on patching me up here!" >.<

Licking the last remains of the sitrus berry off his claws, he began nibbling on the second berry. Already, he could feel a bit of his strength returning as the berries began to do their work. He began to chew faster as his nurse stood back to look over her handiwork.

A distant sound suddenly caught Nip’s attention. His ear-feather twitched as he sat up, straining in hopes better hearing and identifying the noise.

“Lecha!” A voice called from down the hall. “Are you here? Are you busy?”

The aromatisse’s ear twitched; she turned her head back towards the way she came. “I’m in the back! You can come on back here though.”

There was the sound of shuffling in the distance, then of footsteps from a rushed, waddling gait. Finally, a plump, brown pokemon – a bidoof – came around the corner, a small satchel dragging on the ground behind her.

I can see food is on Nip's mind if that's the first thing he notices about Haru walking in the door.
:fearfullaugh~1:


- Nip's stomach growls and Haru stares at him -
Haru: "I'm... just going to walk a bit closer to the other side of the room, thanks." o_o;

“Oh, Haru,” Lecha called out, turning her attention away from the sneasel. “What are you doing back so soon? Is everything alright?”

Haru bowed her head towards Lecha. “I’m fine. Nothing bad happened, dad is just feeling a little weak this afternoon. I was wondering if maybe I could pick up a few white herbs?”

The aromatisse seemed to consider for a moment. “I believe I’ve only given him two this month… Okay, give me just a minute and I’ll prepare some for him. I can give him three more.”

The bidoof quickly bobbed her head, a grin spreading across her face. “Three sounds perfect.”

I suppose that that would probably be healthier for a Bibarel than caffeine.
:loltias:


Lecha nodded again in return before pausing to wipe her paws off on the cloth she brought the bundle in. “Wait here for a moment while I go jot my patient’s information down in my books, then I'll be back with those for you.” With that, the aromatisse scurried off.

As the bidoof waited, she caught a glance of dark fur behind where Lecha had been standing. She propped herself up on her hind legs, straining to get a better look before recognition seemed to light up in her eyes.

“Oh, you're awake!”

The plump pokemon waddled over with a toothy smile, sniffing at the sneasel, who recoiled as she approached with narrowed eyes.

She paused with a tilt of her head. “What, never met a bidoof before?”

Small typo there.

Nip: "(Don't think of a food-related greeting, don't think of a food-related greeting...)"
Haru: "Uh... mister? Are you alright?" .-.

Nip blinked a couple times in stunned silence. “No, just never one without sense of self preservation.”

The bidoof seemed taken aback by the response at first, but quickly shook it off. “Nah, there’s nothing to fear inside the village gates. We’re safe here.” But she still backed off, regardless. “But I’m glad to see you doing alright. When we brought you in yesterday, we weren’t sure you were going to survive.”

- Nip's stomach growls again -
Haru: "... (Might have spoken a bit too soon there.)"
:fearfullaugh~1:


“Haru here was with the group that found you,” Lecha interjected as she returned from the tunnel. “You should consider yourself lucky.”

Nip looked towards the bidoof, then back to the aromatisse before turning his head away with a grunt. “All I mean is that I have never met a plant eater that wasn’t overly cautious and was so willing to put themselves in harm’s way.”

“You aren’t exactly in any condition to cause anything harm though,” Twi buzzed. “Even if you were, Lecha would never let any harm come to Haru or anyone else here.”

Nip opened his mouth to say something else, but nothing came out and he quickly shut it, lowering his eyes, though not before shooting the illumise a confused look. Earlier they were terrified of him, but now they were oh so confident in the aromatisse?

Lecha: "You do realize I have a type advantage over you, right?" >:|
Nip: "I'm just saying, you all need to make up your minds already about how you see me." >_>;

Stuck between staying and talking or retreating to the room of nests, Nip chose to sit down. “You keep using that term. Villiages?”

“You know, Pokemon settlements. Places where all types of pokemon gather instead of just a single species.”

Finally, something seemed to click with the sneasel. “Oh, you must be speaking of tribes. Yes, I come from the Half-Moon Tribe of the north.” He paused, scrunching his brow before continuing. “Are they known out here?”

The bidoof closed her eyes and shook. “Nope. I've never heard of any village that called themselves a tribe. Let alone any called the Half Moon Tribe. Maybe… I might have heard a passerby mention a tribe in passing, but nothing comes to mind.”

Another neat bit showing off the comparative cultures in this setting. Though I have to wonder if Nip actually does have a conception of a village but under a different term.

Haru: "I'm sorry, how far north did you say you were from again?"
Nip: "Trust me, I'm asking myself that right about now." >_>;

The bidoof closed her eyes and shook. “Nope. I've never heard of any village that called themselves a tribe. Let alone any called the Half Moon Tribe. Maybe… I might have heard a passerby mention a tribe in passing, but nothing comes to mind.”

“I see…”

“Is something the matter?” He scrunched his brow for a second, before perking up, his expression relaxing. “I must have come further south than I realized. You.” He raised a paw to point at Twi. “Where did you say I was, exactly?”

“You’re in Theran village pal,” the illumise chimed in. “Home of the finest oran berries east of Mount Domo.”

Nip: "Oh, so in the middle of nowhere, then." >_>;
Twi: "Oi! It's not nowhere!" >.<

“You guys grow oran berries down here?”

“Of course! They're delicious and make for a great food supplement for anyone traveling through the mists or across the sea.”

“And are an invaluable part of any good medic’s first aid supplies,” Lecha interrupted, returning from the tunnel. “Does that surprise you?”

“No, not totally,” Nip responded. “Even the youngest kits should know the values of oran and sitrus berries. I've just never heard or see anyone actively growing them. Let alone using them as food. Not when they're so hard to come by.”

You see, this is what the likes of Sunny Day spam is for assuming you were once upon a time stuck in those mountains where Kyurem was stomping around. Even if that would be a non-scaling solution.

“Oh, but they grow great here, there's so many produced, that there's no reason not to use them as emergency rations. Are they rare where you come from?”

Nip closed his eyes. “Very. A well protected bush may only yield one or two harvests in the warm season. And the bushes are few and far between. Not to mention the race to gather as much as possible up before outsiders take them for themselves.”

“Outsiders?”

“Pokemon that are not a member of our tribe, whether they be single mons trying to survive on their own or rival tribes trespassing on our territory.”

Oh, right. That's why he didn't object to being called a 'wildener'. The concept literally does not exist under the same term up north.

Haru: "Boy are you doing a good job at convincing me to never set foot anywhere close to where you came from. How on earth do Pokémon live like that?" .-.
Nip: "Hrmph, we managed."

“Oh!” The illumise perked up. “We call the pokemon that live in the forest ‘wildeners,’ since they live off the land and are more on the wild side, what with the usual lack of a code of honor.”

Some of them have morals,” Haru interjected. “Some of the forest mon are just loners that prefer the quiet of life on their own. But living alone has its downsides. There's no one to protect them if another hungry wildener thinks they look like easy prey.”

Twi piped up. “Killing pokemon for food or for sport, instead of trying to settle in and either change their diet or work with a meal vendor? I wouldn’t call that morals.

Wow, that's totally not judgemental at all. Even if it's not exactly hard to imagine a townie coming to a similar place for one reason or another.

A moment of awkward silence filled the room as Nip gave the bug-type a blank expression, until Lecha broke the void by clearing her throat.

"Now, now,” the aromatisse started, waving a paw. “You know it’s not that simple, Twi. Besides, every loner pokemon and wildling makes their choice, you can’t force a pokemon to change the ways that their fathers and forefathers taught them.” She shook her head, adding with a mumble, “I really need to speak to your father about what he’s been telling you next time he’s in town.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel something about this paragraph IMO ought to be broken up. I threw in a suggestion, but I'm sure there's other potential alternatives to choose from.

And somehow I doubt a whole lot will change after that talk with Twi's father. :V

Twi gave a grunt in response. Then their facial expression relaxed before they buzzed their wings, taking to the air, the awkward pause in the air forgotten. “Oh! I should go let the others know that Nip woke up. Shimmer and Muse would want to know, right?”

Haru let out a groan and tilted her head up towards the ceiling. “They were over at my parents’ place when I left. Off pestering my brother, as usual. Let my mom know I’ll be back home soon, would ya?”

Oh boy, I can hear Shimmer's gushing already
:loltias:


“Of course!” The illumise buzzed. And then they were off, zipping down the hallway in a rush, leaving Nip, Haru, and Lecha alone in a slightly more peaceful room.

Nip, who had been quiet during the exchange, continued to stare down the tunnel Twi had disappeared down for a moment. “You mean they don’t-” he began to mumble, before cutting himself off with a shake of his head. Carefully, he began to push himself back to his feet, finding himself with significantly more strength than he had when he had first woken up. Not that the pain had subsided.

“I thank you both for your hospitality,” he began. “But I should take leave as well.” He began to take a step forward, still limping slightly.

Lecha:
:gardexhausted:

Nip: "What? I'm alive, aren't I? I can totally travel like this!"

“Now hold on,” Lecha interjected. “You’re still in an uneasy condition, and in no way in shape to travel. Where do you intend to be rushing off to?”

The sneasel paused mid step before slowly turning his head to the fairy type. How much should he share? “I am on a… spiritual journey of sorts,” he explained after a second of hesitation. “For my tribe. For myself. I really must get going.”

“A spiritual journey you say? I can understand the desire to hurry dear, but you really must rest, at least overnight. I need to keep an eye on those wounds of yours, apply another round of medicine. You’ll never complete any trip in this condition. I find the morning you’re doing significantly better, you can leave then.”

“And if not,” Haru added in, “you can always stay in the village for a day or two. Most of the pokemon around here would love to hear about what the norther part of the land is like. Are you from the other side of the Great Misty Canyon? Actually, you must be. All the land between here and there is charted out, and like I said, I’ve never heard of any ‘half-moon tribe’.”



Nip tilted his head, his ear feather flicking. “A canyon? Well, yeah, I did pass through one, now that you mention it.”

“Not many people risk passing through the canyon,” Lecha added in an impressed tone. “It's the most dangerous known mystery dungeon this side of the continent.”

“That rift?” The sneasel scoffed. “I went through far more dangerous challenges for my coming of age.”

“Who in their right mind other than an explorer or seasoned rescue crew would enter a mystery dungeon?” Haru questioned.

Nip: "Me, obviously."
Haru: "Yes, I think we've established that your judgement is kinda questionable by now." >_>;

“Are you kidding? All kits have to go through a dungeon’s mists to complete a task and earn their final spot in society!”

[ ]

“It sounds like your tribe puts value on different things than our village,” Lecha interjected. “Perhaps you two could continue your discussion over in the resting area? You need rest, after all, my dear guest.”

“Actually…” the bidoof started, her tone drooping. “I should probably get back home.” She bowed her head slightly to Lecha. “Thank you very much for the herbs though. I’m sure my dad will make good use of them.”

She then turned her attention to the sneasel. “Perhaps if you’re in better condition tomorrow, I could show you around that town? You seem like the type that would visit the local shrine, if you’re on a spiritual journey.”

I feel as if the gap between Nip and Lecha's lines there ought to have more of a pause and description of a reaction, since Nip just blurted out something that would take Haru seriously aback, but we don't get a solid read on how she or Lecha react before Lecha goes "whelp, moving on!"

Also, recommending breaking up the last paragraph as a stylistic choice.

Nip closed his eyes for a moment, considering his options. He was in no condition to rush off on his own at the moment, and it certainly would not hurt to find out how things were run around this part of the land. He finally gave the rodent a nod. “It would be appreciated.”

The bidoof gave a signature buck-toothed grin. “That would be great! I’ll see you tomorrow then!” With those parting words, the pudgy pokemon waddled on out around the corner, leaving Nip alone with the nurse.

“Now,” Lecha started. “I can help you back to a nest, if you need me to.”

The sneasel shook his head quickly. “No, no I’m fine.” Slowly, he pushed himself to his feet, testing his strength, then turned and began to limp back into the room he had been in just a short time before. “Trust me, I know how to take care of myself.

youre_serious_futurama.gif


The aromatisse clucked her tongue. “Well, if you insist dear. Don’t push yourself too hard though. You’re safe here.”

Reaching the nest he’d been in before, Nip settled down and closed his eyes. As he listened to Lecha leave the room, he mumbled to himself, “easy for you to say.”

Not that he exactly does a lot to endear himself to Theran Village in the near future, but boy was Nip closer to the mark than he could've imagined. Or that I imagined reading for the first time, for that matter.

As Haru began to make the trek back home, she let her mind wander back to her meeting with the strange sneasel, only giving distracted greetings to pokemon that passed her by. A pokemon from the other side of the Misty Canyon, how rare an occasion! From what she had heard, very few explorers had ever set foot inside, let alone made it to the other side. So, even if she wasn’t interested in the exploring side of things like her brother, surely it would be worth asking Nip more about the other side, right?

>implying he's going to give you a straight answer with how evasive he was in the Medic's Hut

“Yoo-hoo! Haru!”

The bidoof shook her head, clearing it as a familiar voice caught her attention. She slowed to veer off the path towards one of the nearby stands where the voice originated from. The wooden stand was painted a bright, pale yellow, though the paint was chipped and faded with age. Baskets of berries sat out both on top and in front of the stand. Also standing on top was the shop keep: a lone bellossom.

Haru stood up on her hind legs to get a better look, placing her front paws on the shorter end of the counter. “Good evening, Ruffle. How’s the shop been?”

Ruffle: "Nice and solid! She hasn't been budging at all under my weight!" ^^
Haru: "I meant how's business been, Ruffle." -_-;

“Slow today,” the bellossom said with a dismissive wave and a sigh. “Making up for yesterday’s rush, I suppose. But stationed exploration teams returning from the west should pass through in the next moon.

“But enough about me,” Ruffle continued. “I happened to see you leaving Lecha’s. Is everything okay? How’s that sneasel doing?”

“Oh! He woke up sometime today. He looked worse for wear, but alert. In fact, I think he was already ready to leave, not that he was well enough to. Lecha put a stop to that.”

Haru: "Not that I'm fully convinced that was the best idea of hers, since I'm pretty sure that he insinuated that he's eaten Bidoof before in the past." >_>;

“Well, that’s good to hear,” Ruffle responded firmly, smoothing down her petal skirt. “When Muse came rushing through town yesterday with the poor thing on her back, Roselei and I were worried he’d already passed. It’s nice to hear otherwise. Did you happen to find out where he’s from?”

Haru shook her head. “Nope, said something about being from some ‘tribe’ north of the canyon though.”

The bellosom’s eyes grew wide in surprise. “That far away, really?” She paused, waiting for the bidoof to confirm before she continued. “Well, it’s a relief that he’s not a wildener sneasel at least. I’d hate for poor Tor to have even more on his plate to worry about on top of the daycare renovations and those two ghost kids he took in a few moons back.”

You have a good point there,” Haru agreed before pausing. “You’re from one of the barrier islands south of here, right Ruffle? What was it like, traveling here? Did you have to pass through any mystery dungeons?”

Actually, does Haru have a firm idea of how far away Nip came? Or is "from beyond the MD" already sufficiently far away for her to assume that that's why Ruffle is so surprised?

“Indeed I am!” Ruffle responded, following with a pleased hum. “I grew up in Seashoal Village, on Seadra’s Tail Isle. There’s an entrance to an underwater mystery dungeon not far from there, but it can be sailed around, so no. Why do you ask?”

“I was just trying to get an idea of what traveling so far would be like,” she admitted. “Especially travelling through a mystery dungeon alone. At least, I figure he traveled alone.

Not that she's wrong (or at least IIRC, anyways) but that's a really bold assumption there for Haru to make considering how tight-lipped Nip has been thus far.

Haru paused, glancing up to the reddening sky; it would be dark soon. “Oh! I need to get these herbs home to dad. Sorry to cut things Ruffle, but I really gotta go!”

“No worries,” the bellossom replied with a pleasant wave. “Say hello to Saku and Chipper for me, would you?”

“Of course. Take care, Ruffle!” With that, Haru turned, scurrying back along the road home.

Also, it'd probably be wise to pry Shimmer off your bro in the process.
:hoodLUL:


Fortunately, Haru had no more interruptions on her way home, managing to get back to the river before the sun had dipped even halfway below the horizon.

Unfortunately, Shimmer and Muse were still hanging around by the time she got home. Twi also had not returned to Lecha’s clinic yet, but Haru was less concerned about the illumise.

-snerk-

Muse had taken up a spot lying by the river, watching water slowly seep through the bibarel dam, the occasional leaf floating by in the lazy current. Twi was asleep, resting against the abosl’s side. Haru dipped her head to Muse as a greeting when she passed by.

As she entered their home, Haru was greeted by the smell of cooked potatoes and carrots and onions. Her mother had mentioned making a soup today. The bibarel in question was busy at work, carefully balancing filled bowls on her tail as she passed them out to the other occupants of the hut: her father, her brother, and Shimmer. Her dad - another bibarel - had spread himself out on the dirt floor, his eyes closed as he half-dozed. Shimmer had seated herself on the family’s single stool, which was used for guests as they had little use for it. Her brother, Toshi, a slightly smaller bidoof, sat nearby looking like he wanted to be anywhere but here.

6f6.gif


“Oh, there you are Haru,” Saku greeted as she held her tail up to Shimmer and Toshi. The two each took a bowl, Shimmer lifting hers with ease while Toshi carefully balanced his between chubby paws until he could get it to the floor. “I invited Shimmer and Muse to stay for dinner, and Twi too, if they want.”

“That’s…” Don’t be rude, Haru reminded herself. “That’s great. Mom. I just got back with the herbs for Dad.”

Haru:
8b4.gif

Shimmer: "Love you too, Haru." :V

The other bibarel cracked open a single eye, a grin forming on his face. “Oh, thank the gods, he groaned. “I swore I could carry that log, ya know, but I guess I’m not as young as I used to be.”

Haru backed herself out of the satchel’s strap and reached a paw inside to pull out the three herbs, then gingerly grabbed one with her teeth and carried it over to her father.

Shimmer brought the bowl of soup up to her mouth, taking a sip before giggling. “I was just telling Toshi about how we rescued that sneasel yesterday, and how brave I was, isn’t that right, Toshi-kins?”

“Yeah…” her brother, Toshi, began with a nervous chuckle, turning his head in an attempt to hide his discomfort with the pet name. “It sounded… awesome.”

Toshi: "Also, if you're going to give embarrassing affectionate nicknames, can't you at least do Toshi-kun? That certainly sounds a lot more natural..." >_>;
Shimmer: "Wrong localization for that. Plus, I like Toshi-kins better."
:gardeshrug:


Shimmer opened her mouth to say something, but was interrupted when Muse entered the hut with Twi on her back, speaking in her usual even tone. “So, Twi told us that the sneasel woke up and seems to be recovering.”

“That’s right,” Haru responded with a dip of her head while her mother continued to pass out bowls, using a wider, shallow bowl for the four-legged mon in the room. “His name is Nip, and apparently he’s from north of the Great Misty Canyon. He said he came down this way on some sort of spiritual journey, and he’s not planning to stick around for long.”

“Well, I can understand that,” her father chipped in. “You know, your grandfather went on a pilgrimage all the way up to the peak of Mount Domo back in his youth, searching for the Tomb of Regigigas.”

Haru resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “I know, Dad. You’ve told me the story before. And he swore he caught sight of Regigigas in the swirling mists.”

“He did!” Her father insisted. “Now, I know that no one has seen Regigigas for certain in several lifetimes. But perhaps that’s because no one’s bothered to look?”

Narrator: "He totally saw Regigigas."

A frustrated grumble escaped the back of Haru’s throat. “Fewer pokemon go looking because they have more important things to do than to go off chasing legends that might not even exist!”

“Haru. Chipper,” Saku interrupted, her tail slapping the ground impatiently. “I know you two don’t see eye to eye on these things anymore but… can we please be civil in front of our guests?”

For a moment, Haru stared her mother down, then averted her gaze, staring down to her bowl of soup. “Sorry.”

I feel that Saku's tail slap might have worked a bit better as a standalone paragraph thing as a hard break from Haru's dialogue. Kinda like a "table slam, then stern admonishment" sort of dynamic.

“Didn’t mean to start an argument…” Her father grumbled, raising a paw to sheepishly scratch at his neck fur.

The bibarel continued to stare at her daughter for a few seconds before giving a terse grunt. “Good.” She then turned her head to Shimmer, Muse, and Twi, who had taken seats next to each other. “Sorry you three had to hear that. I hope you’ll forgive our inhospitality.”

“It’s all fine,” the kirlia responded, dismissively waving a hand. “Father isn’t the most spiritual mon himself. But he says that it’s important to let everyone follow who they want to. It’s fortunate for some of the pokemon here, since some of those gods wouldn’t be accepted elsewhere. For example… did you know that Ruffle has a small shrine to Hoopa in her house?”

Really?” Toshi interjected. “Hoopa? I find that kind of hard to believe.”

I like how Shimmer is just casually blurting out information about others' patron deities at a dinner table. :V

“It’s true!” Shimmer insisted. “I mean, it’s not just to Hoopa. She and Roselei are also firm followers of the nature gods, but Ruffle says that Hoopa reminds her of home.”

“Huh.” Chipper shook his head. “I don’t know a whole lot Hoopa. But I never thought I’d hear about someone worshiping it, from what I do. Especially someone as… friendly as Ruffle.”

Shimmer brought a hand up and twirled it around her hair. “You’d be surprised. I learn all sorts of things from dad about the other pokemon in this village.”

:fearfullaugh~1:


That has significantly creepier undertones once you get a good view of who Jhorlo is.

At that point, Haru tuned out, her mind drifting between Ruffle and Nip. She found herself wondering what kind of pilgrimage Nip was on, what kind of god he might follow. Could he be traveling down to Seadra’s Tail? Perhaps he too was a follower of Hoopa. What was Hoopa supposedly like?

She had quit listening to the religious tales of other pokemon seasons ago, even though she knew it was probably a poor idea with how ingrained it was in many pokemon’s lives. Sure, it might hurt future working relationships, but it drove her nuts, how much some pokemon depended on the gods. Chasing down legends, putting their lives in danger for something that might not even exist! Even some expedition groups focused less on research and exploration, and more on trying to find some of these mythical pokemon.

I actually need to re-read how on earth Haru parsed Celebi appearing, since... yeah, she gives me the sense that she's going to get really startled once the plot really steps on the gas pedal.

What a waste of time, when there was so much they still did not know about the world! So many places that needed to be charted. The fact that she had never heard of where Nip was from was proof enough of that. And who knew what was really across the sea! Everything they knew about the lands beyond were second-hand stories from aquatic pokemon, and even then, a lot of those stories clashed with each other.

Though… Perhaps it would be worth it to learn more about Nip’s god. Not because she cared about it, per say, but because passing on new information might help build her reputation. And the more she got her name out there, the better chance she had of expanding the family business.

Sounds like a textbook definition of something to be careful about what you wish for given what Nip's patron god is.
:fearfullaugh~1:


Even as their guests said their goodbyes and she settled into bed for the evening, she found herself thinking about what questions she might want to ask, what she might be able to learn. She was going to make the most out of tomorrow.

:sceptical:


Haru: "What? I am, alright?" >_>;

And that's a wrap! As for my overall thoughts...

I'd say that the main strengths of this chapter is that it gives a better sense of what PWCH's world is like. Fuzzy, not fully understood, with things even relatively modest distances away by human standards being prone to hearsay and distortion. It also gives the first glimpses of the main cultural and ethical divides among Pokémon in-setting, as well as how they parse Legendaries that the intro not-so-subtly hinted won't just be fixtures of hazy stories safely in the realm of folklore much like Haru's expecting and what the later chapters of the story have firmly indicated to also be the case.

As for things that didn't quite click with me... there's not a ton of them that I didn't already mention in earlier comments. Perhaps I could gripe over the lack of action a bit, but there's actually quite a bit here that was necessary to set up the story and its dynamics as a whole. And frontloading it was probably the wiser move in the longer term. Otherwise there's nothing really wrong with a transitional chapter here or there to set the scene. After all, Nip's gotta lick his wounds a bit before he goes off getting into too much trouble. And there's worse things to do with narrative downtime than sketching a picture of what the state of your story's world is like.

Congrats @windskull . I'll be looking forward to getting through a few more of these chapters in the near future. ^^
 
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