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Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
Hey Bench! Back for your Review Blitz prize review. I read the rest of what you've got up, from chapters six through eight!

My favorite scene was the purification ritual with Tapu Fini. I enjoyed the strange rules they had to follow and the stilted formalism of their speech. It does a good job establishing Tapu Fini as someone not to cross. There's also the implication that if she gets pissed off, she'll stop doing the purifications, which raises interesting questions about the relationship between the legendary pokemon and the regular ones. It seems to be a bit more of an old fashioned deity relationship, where gods demand a certain level of worship, or in this case, nervous compliments about their chambers, in exchange for performing miracles.

The mention of the town being consumed by the mystery dungeon was really terrifying--I was a bit surprised by how mild the reaction was, that's some scary stuff! I wonder how quickly it happens--sounds like the inhabitants had some time to evacuate. I hope we get more details, that sounds like a really creepy thing to experience first-hand.

A lot of super-powers cropped up in these chapters. Gen can dynamax--the others seemed not to recognize it, so I wondered whether this is a known thing in the PMD world or something unique to Gen. I thought the way he went out of control was nicely done and made a lot of sense. And then we get Saltriv being able to access some shadow abilities. Presumably that's from what happened in the opening sequence. Were all those other pokemon in the shadows not purified then? Rough. This is sure going to be a big burden for Saltriv to carry--the thought that you could suddenly turn into a raging shadow pokemon and hurt your family and friends is a scary one. Was the opening segment from the perspective of a pokemon that was turning into a shadow pokemon? From looking back at the earlier chapters, I suppose that was Leon's POV. I have to admit that I had forgotten about him, since his situation was only mentioned in passing.

I found myself a bit confused by how readily Gen volunteers to join the search team and stick with it. His fear of being alone feels a bit nebulous--there are other people in the town who have been kind to him, why does he think he'll be alone if he doesn't go with Saltriv and Burhalla? Does this fixation have anything to do with his past? It seems like he had friends in the human world, at least.

I was also a bit confused about how dangerous searching is or is not, and why children are allowed to do it. Saltriv and crew come off as pretty young--like middleschoolers, at most, particularly with the references to sleepovers. (On the note of age, to have a job at a casino Gen is probably at least in his late teens, though I haven't really gotten a sense of his maturity level since he's so fish out of water.) Why are adults letting them do this, particularly Saltriv's parents, who just saw them vanish for months--I would think they would be more protective? And, why aren't the adults doing this themselves? It seems like we have all these missing pokemon who are fairly easy to track down, and no one is doing anything to find them except these kids?

This two personalities in the same body gag you have going on is fun. I was completely lost when those two made their first appearance in the earlier chapters, but this time their conversation gave me more context. Seems like they're not actually a villain, just trying to get some help. And, sounds like a confrontation between them and Burhalla is upcoming! I'm not sure they made the best choice with him--he seems the type to attack first and ask questions later!

Good luck with the rest of your story! I know you have a lot in store!

Keep running. Don’t stop. Don’t let them find you. Don’t let them know what you have become.
This was an attention grabbing opening.

A horde of dungeon mon dropped down, and yet I felt nothing but fear and anger as I threw a one-shot orb at the Thwackey in front of me.
I'm not sure why this is "and yet." Is it strange to only feel fear and anger when a horde of enemies drop down to attack you?

I ran up the stairs, yet I felt no sense of accomplishment.
Again, why is that odd? It doesn't sound like the narrator is doing this because they want to, so why would they feel accomplishment?

I had to keep running. I had to.

Or my clan will find me, and discover what I had become.
The tense is off here. You need, "Or my clan would find me . . ."

I felt no desire to sell it, so I ate it then and there as I ran.
This struck me as strange--why even mention that they have no desire to sell it? Obviously they don't, they're frantically running.

Why couldn’t I feel anything for them, my family? Why did I only feel this fear and sadness towards them?
These two lines contradict each other--first it says not feeling anything, but then mentions feeling fear and sadness.

Light shined onto my face, as I opened my eyes, the round orange room revealing itself to me.
Passive constructions like this read a little strangely. The room revealed itself makes it sound like the room was personhood. You're probably better off with saying something more active, like, "I opened my eyes, revealing the round orange room."

“WAIT!” I yelled reflexively. Both of them stared at me.

I had just yelled that on reflex,
This tells us that he yelled on reflex twice. I'd recommend picking on or the other.

What if I died out there? Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

No. I couldn’t back down now.

Besides, Burhalla and Saltriv would hopefully have my back.
This decision felt a little quick. Being alone vs being dead . . .

I slapped myself with my glowing right arm in frustration, grimacing at the pain. Why couldn’t I pull off just one move?! Why did I have to do all this just to not be alone?!

Wait a minute.

Glowing?

I pulled my right arm back, and looked at it. It was glowing darkly, as if it had been shrouded in darkness.
I like Gen's delayed reaction in realizing his arm is glowing.

The last line reads a little oddly. How does something glow darkly? And there's some redundancy with saying something glows darkly like it's shrouded in darkness.

My right arm darkened again. So it’s caused by frustration! Now I have at least one move I can rely on.
Those last two sentences are present tense. You can't do that in a past tense narration unless you italicize them to show they're thoughts Gen is having at that exact moment.

As another tentacle was thrust at me, I thrust my darkened arm at a small cut on Grapploct, knocking them back a bit.
I wasn't sure what this small cut was?

“Bye mom! Bye dad!
Just a quick grammar note, when a word like Mom or Dad is replacing a proper name, it's capitalized after a comma. So, "Bye, Mom! Bye, Dad!"

A faint “Have fun! Stay safe!” from Meganium was heard, and we left the area.
She seems pretty blase about her kid going out to explore right after they've been missing for so long and another pokemon has just been attacked!

“Why don’t we go anyways?” Saltriv suggested, to my surprise.

“What do you mean?” Burhalla asked, eyes widening.

“There’s nothing stopping us, is there? You already checked in with your father, I already told my parents, Gen learned a move, we can go!” they answered.

A few seconds passed. Burhalla’s smile returned. “You have a point,” he said. “I’ll triple check to make sure our items are enough, then we’ll begin our search!
I wasn't quite sure, by the end, whether this was a rash thing to have done or not. What extra protection do those items give them or not give them?

The sand was black, not the light tan I was used to. I’d never seen anything quite like it before.
This was a nice scene-setting detail.

I walked in place to keep my feet from burning, though it was awkward to do so with how short my new legs were.
I was a bit confused here. What does walking in place mean? To me that sounds like it means you're not moving at all, but that can't be right? And how does doing this stop his feet from burning?

Barrage emeras are purple, and are the best ones. They let you do two moves in a row!”

That explains what happened to the purple gemstone Burhalla had, and how he was able to do two Embers that quickly back in Twig Woodland.
It still seems very odd to me that Gen, disoriented and not a pokemon trainer, would have even noticed this two ember thing or found it at all out of the ordinary. What frame of reference does he have for how long it should take a charmander to fire off a second ember?

“Why would you want something that makes you confused?”

“They’re good for hostile dungeon mon! Throw one at them, and they’ll never hit you!”

Why would the dungeon mons eat them, though? Maybe it’s best not to question it.
Hm, why is it best not to question it? He's asked plenty of questions so far, and they know he doesn't know things.

Next to the shore, three Tirtougas laid, one of which was looking right at us.
It's "lay" and you generally have to lay on something or near something or by something. So, "Three Tirtougas lay near the shore. One of them was looking right at us."

It cried, before it lunged at me, and before I knew it, its jaws were around my neck in a Bite.
I think this sentence would read a lot snappier if you left out those last few words. We can see from context that it's a bite attack.

"It cried out and lunged at me; before I could react, its jaws were around my neck."

This way your sentence ends on the more impactful image of jaws around my neck.

I wasn’t dying here. I’d see them again. I’d make it out of here, and I’d make this Krokorok pay!

My right arm glowed with a dark aura.
I thought his Assurance attack was triggered when he felt frustrated, but here it seems to happen when he feels determined/hopeful?

I started to back away, readying an Assurance, but the Sandygast Astonished me, causing me to flinch, and fall into the beam of red light.
My mental image of what's happening here sort of cuts out when we get to Sandygast Astonishing him, since I don't know what that's supposed to look like. Could you describe what Sandygast does that causes the flinch?

I didn’t take any mind to a familiar voice yelping as I did that move again, the clouds around me starting to dissipate, rain beginning to fall, or a fleeing Growlithe as I completely drenched the entire area. None of that mattered. What mattered was just how much fun this was!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Oh boy, someone's little power crazed.

(I got a little confused by the mention of the growlithe. In general, in a list, the last thing mentioned is what sticks with the reader the most, but out of all of what's happening, I'm not sure fleeing growlithe is the most important part. I was also a little confused by the clouds dissipating and then rain falling--usually less clouds equals less rain.)

Blistering Shore 4F
It wasn’t long until we found the stairway to the next floor. We didn’t have any more battles on that floor after what Gen had done.
The POV switch here was a little jarring. I wonder if you could label these switches by POV character, rather than physical location?

I should ask mom for one once we’re home.
Mentioned earlier, but when Mom is being used in place of a proper name, it's capitalized. "I should ask Mom later" vs "I should ask my mom later."

“Hold on, what’s a shadow move?” Gen asked.

“They’re moves shadowy Pokemon can do,” Burhalla explained.
Heh, I'm not sure Burhalla really explained anything there. Maybe use a different speech tag and give Gen a bit more of a reaction? Like

[“Hold on, what’s a shadow move?” Gen asked.

“They’re moves shadowy Pokemon can do,” Burhalla said.

As if that answered anything.]

Back to Saltriv, where would they have been purified? Wouldn’t the news of them being found and purified have reached Overcast Village? And why would they be purified, and then just dumped in Twig Woodland? Unless they were purified there? Who would have done it, then? None of the Pokemon who could had been in there, as far as I know, and I don’t think they would just leave Saltriv in there. Did Gen somehow manage to purify them, and that cost him his memory? Was Gen secretly a legendary or mythical Pokemon, like Leviene was? Then why didn’t he even remember how to use moves? Was he secretly a human? Then how did Saltriv get purified, and why would he lie about that?
This passage was a bit confusing to read, since as a reader I don't really know what purification entails yet, and so it's hard to follow Burhalla's speculation.

No. No no no no no.

I couldn’t have been a shadowy Pokemon. I couldn’t have. I couldn’t have.

But what if Burhalla was right? What if I was?

What if I hurt them? What if I hurt Gen or Burhalla or Leon or mom or dad?

I couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t.

I saw shadowy wisps began to form around me. No no no no no.

Keep calm. Calm down. Stop panicking. Maybe then they’ll disappear.

Deep breaths, in and out. Feel the sunshine with my leaf. Let it energize and restore me, physically and mentally.

The shadowy wisps disappeared. Gen and Burhalla didn’t notice.

Keep calm, at least for now. Don’t let them figure out what’s going on. Don’t cause them to worry over you.
This was a scary moment for Saltriv!

I found it a bit distracting to read, the way every sentence had its own line. I think you could group them into paragraphs for a bit of a smoother read.

[No. No no no no no.

I couldn’t have been a shadowy Pokemon. I couldn’t have. I couldn’t have. But what if Burhalla was right? What if I was? What if I hurt them? What if I hurt Gen or Burhalla or Leon or mom or dad?

I couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t.

I saw shadowy wisps began to form around me. No, no, no, no, no. Keep calm. Calm down. Stop panicking. Maybe then they’ll disappear. Deep breaths, in and out. Feel the sunshine with my leaf. Let it energize and restore me, physically and mentally.

The shadowy wisps disappeared. Gen and Burhalla hadn't noticed. Keep calm, at least for now. Don’t let them figure out what’s going on. Don’t cause them to worry over you.]

“Rainbow and DX ones can even give you Rare Qualities!”

“And what are those?”

“They’re like emera effects, but even work outside of dungeons, and affect everyone you’re connected with. Some people call them Team Skills. I’ll explain more once we find Flapple.”
The dialogue here feels a little video-game-y. I wonder how much these in-depth item/dungeon mechanics aid the story you're telling here. For someone who's very familiar with PMD, this info will be a retread, and for someone who isn't, it's not really interesting or meaningful unless it furthers the story in some way.

The shadowy aura flared up once more, obscuring him, before disappearing, leaving Flapple looking exactly how he was when we first found him, aside from the injuries.

We...we did it. We actually did it! We actually managed to knock Flapple out!
The way the shadowy aura disappeared here made me think at first that they had purified him by knocking him out.

"Purify?" I asked, now that I had time to do so. What exactly did that entail, and why was it apparently so terrifying?

"Purifying shadowy Pokemon returns them to normal. There used to be four ways of purifying shadowy Pokemon, but two of them have disappeared. There's only two left now," Burhalla answered with another shudder. "Neither are pleasant, but they're the only ways."

I was filled with questions. Why was purification unpleasant? Why had two of the methods disappeared? Wha-
I wonder if this could come a little earlier.

Suddenly, I heard a voice in my head. You shouldn't think of prying into our affairs, hehehe. I know where you are.

I froze up.

Nope, not continuing that line of thought. Not after whatever the hell that was.
This read a little strangely to me. I think in general it's hard to just shut down a line of thought when something disturbing happens. The old cliche of 'don't think about elephants'--and all you can do is think about elephants.

"Wait, what do you mean? Why?" I asked, startled by the sudden demands.

"I can't tell you until after we leave. They'll know. Just follow my lead, and you should be alright," Burhalla said. He hesitated, before continuing. "If anything happens to me, don't react. Calmly exit the shrine."
I wasn't sure why Burhalla had to be so mysterious here? Can't he just say something along the lines of 'it's important that we don't piss off the shrine's guardian, so be polite and don't make any sudden moves'? It feels like by not preparing Gen better they're putting themselves in danger.

The four crystal walls of the temple were a vibrant blue, and coated in several intricate patterns. A sparkling pool of water laid in the center of the room, perfectly still. Two marble pillars were at the back of the room, reaching from the lavender floor to the violet ceiling. On the left and right sides of the room, waterfalls rained down into pits I couldn't see the bottoms of. The entire place was shrouded in light fog.
The scene-setting is nice here! I got a good sense of what the room looks like.

"My name is Gen," I said, trying to keep myself from shaking under the pressure. Stay calm, like Burhalla said. "It is a pleasure to meet you."

"My name is Saltriv," Saltriv introduced themself, echoing my words. "It is a pleasure to meet you."
"I am! Good thing I had memorized what I was going to say if I ever met Tapu Fini!" Saltriv exclaimed. "I think I'd still be in there if I hadn't!"
I think maybe Saltriv should speak first, and Gen should echo, considering Saltriv is the one who has planned out their words in advance?

"Au revoir, Tapu Fini."
Why the french goodbye here?

"Careful speaking about them. You could incur their wrath. Especially her's," Drakloak spoke up, floating towards us.

Hehehehehe.

I shuddered. Maybe it was best if I didn't ask any more questions about purification.
So is this voice meant to be Tapu Fini?

"You went missing, right?" Drakloak said. "Strange, I don't remember seeing you get purified here. Or perhaps you never went shadowy at all. I don't know what happened when you were found, after all."

I saw Saltriv wince.
Is there a reason Drakloak doesn't follow up on this? Would he be curious how Saltriv got purified, since the options are so limited?

Entire towns could become mystery dungeons? How did something even become a mystery dungeon? Could it happen to Overcast Village?
Ooh, terrifying.

"First the method in Coulomb City, then the one in Mossy Town. If Tapu Fini disappears too, we're in far more trouble than before," Drakloak said. "That's why we guard the shrine."
Hm, will guarding the shrine really do anything if the town transformed into a mystery dungeon? How could they guard against that?

Pardon me, Oshawott, but what is your primary name? If you're not comfortable saying it in public, I ca-"

"My name is Gen," I answered before she finished, hoping that primary name meant what I thought it did.

The Pokemon seemed taken aback. Oh no. Was I wrong?
I wasn't sure what primary name meant. It seems odd it hasn't come up before, whatever it is?

"We're both proud of you for finding Flapple," Meganium comforted.
'Comforted' on its own can't be used as a speech verb. It needs to take an object. So

["We're both proud of you for finding Flapple." Meganium comforted them.] OR ["We're both proud of you for finding Flapple," Meganium said in a comforting voice.]

Just because I can't walk anywhere like this without your cooperation doesn't mean you get to decide everything we do!

Yes it does, actually! You thought.
Hah, this exchange was amusing.

(Thoughts follow the same rules as dialogue. So that 'you' is going to be uncapitalized.)

If those three starters
I wasn't sure why they called them starters here? Isn't that a human world concept?

You're wasting this opportunity!

You'd get us killed!
Two very different mindsets on display here!
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Hey, Bench! Here for Chapter 3!

I know you were a little nervous about the reception of this chapter ... but I really don't think you had anything to worry about. I think Chapter 2 is probably your best chapter from what I've read so far, but there was definitely a little bit of character development for Gen here, so that's good. Plus a new layer of the mystery.

There was an element of strangeness and mystery here with the unnamed speaker in the opening scene, and I thought you did a better job here than in Chapter 1 of making things feel surreal. So nice job there. I also appreciate how the switch to 1st/2nd person made it clear that we were dealing with a new character. I struggled with the switch between Bruhalla and Gen last chapter, but this time the strangeness made it clear right away that something else was going on. My current theory is that this is someone who's maybe in the process of being taken over by shadows but still has some awareness? I'm not really sure. We don't know much yet. I found the weirdness of their POV compelling and wish we would've spent more time playing that out and less moving through the dungeon. I liked the bickering between these two entities--that says a lot about their dynamic right away--but found their encounters with the mystery dungeon pokemon kinda empty.

I guess the charmander they're pursuing must be Bruhalla? Either that or they're going to mistake him for their actual quarry. Could be interesting going forward, but I do wish we had one or two more little hints about what that's about here. You don't have to explain everything, but more clues will make your foreshadowing (and therefore the mystery!) stronger. But! I expect we'll find out sooner or later.

Elsewhere in the dungeon, we learn that, oops, Gen really cannot fight. Doesn't seem like he had any fistfights in his human past, haha. (I wonder how this compares to pokemon battles for him! We actually don't know if he was a trainer or just a human of the trainer-verse, and I wish we knew which! Had he ever thought before about how pokemon might feel about fights?) I also wonder how old he was in his human life! I can't quite tell.

Regardless, it looks like his inability to trust even a tiny bit and his companions' willingness to take everything he says at face value are already turning into a real problem. I can easily imagine that they're going to trust him to be able to sense danger now ... and that could so easily get them into even more danger than they might otherwise!

I felt your grip tighten on what we held. A strange orb with a bright light inside, and an oran berry, both picked up on this floor.
Suggestion on sentence structure/grammar here:
I felt your grip tighten on what we held: an oran berry and a strange orb with a bright light inside, both picked up on this floor.

You had an extra comma and a lot of short, choppy sentences. I swapped for a colon to make things flow a little more nicely (since what follows is a short list) and I also swapped the order of the orb and the berry to emphasize the more important object.

Something buzzed within my snow.
Huh, I have zero idea what this pokemon is or if it's corrupted or what.

Our Pokedexes, stored away.
Oh, I guess Gen isn't the only human here! Weird that they have pokedexes though--it didn't seem like Gen was able to bring anything over.

Bloody Unovan. I thought back, as we resumed down the corridor, and ended up in a wide room.


Your region is the one that manufactures the freaks of nature we’re stuck as! You thought,
Heads up that the colored text, although playful, might be hard for color blind folks to read (especially in Bright Skies mode).

Content-wise, the dialogue here confused me with its specificity. It feels less like two characters talking than like a riddle, and it means I don't know what to picture. So, they're not Unovan but they're something manmade? But there are flippers and snow and electricity and ... ?????

You've also got two punctuation errors here: 1) the period after "Unovan" should be a comma because what follows is a dialogue tag, continuing the same sentence. 2) For the same reason, "you" in the next sentence should be lowercased. It's part of one continuous sentence even though there's an exclamation point, just like it would be in dialogue with quotes.

I tried my best to run over, internally cursing how slow my new method of locomotion was, as the Phantump grew closer. Just before it reached us, we made it down the stairs.


Twig Woodland B2F

Immediately, we were ambushed by a Sewaddle, who promptly snatched your oran berry and ran. I heard your curses, both internally and externally. I’d make sure it never saw the light of day again.
I know I mentioned this in my review of Chapter 2, so I won't harp on it much longer, but I don't get anything out of these floor splits. The video game-y quality of it takes me out of the narrative a bit, especially because in this case (and a few others in this chapter) it needlessly interrupts what would otherwise be a continuous scene.

Once we get out of this, I’m strangling you. If we get out of this.
Oh shucks, there goes my theory that they're two spirits in one body or two mashed-together pokemon.

You threw it at a Skiddo right as it lunged for us. A pillar of light enveloped us,
The banter right before this went long enough that I forgot what "it" referred to. I'd replace with "the orb" for clarity.

trees, with gaps in many places.
Extra comma here.

It’s not safe to stay in one place in a Mystery Dungeon
Ooh ominous. And a fun reversal from the games, where standing still is actually a way to prevent foes from advancing!

This would've been a good place for an emotional/physical reaction from Gen!

Wait a minute.


That clearing was too rectangular, and this path too straight, to be natural.


Something was up with this. Is this what they were talking about with this being a Mystery Dungeon?
This would've flowed more smoothly as one paragraph.

“The layout hasn’t changed, so not very long.
I thought the layout normally changed? This felt a little convenient.

I wondered who the Kecleon brothers were.
Well, as the name implies--

“I need to tell you something,” he said, looking at Saltriv.


“Huh?” Saltriv responded.


“Let’s go to the next floor first.” He started walking up the stairs, and Saltriv and I followed behind.


What was that all about?
This also felt video game-y. I didn't see why Bruhalla would start a conversation he didn't want to finish right there.

I also felt like this was a missed opportunity to play with the weirdness of the stairs! If this is a place where "reality doesn't work right," what does it feel like to go up these stairs? (Vertigo? Change in temperature? Weird smells?) How does Gen feel when he looks back only to find the stairs already gone?

Once I turned in that direction, I saw a bird Pokemon with black, white, and red feathers as well as a long, narrow beak flying down the corridor towards me. Did that Pokemon know anything about what was happening?
I had zero idea which pokemon this was and didn't see a reason to obscure its species. If Gen is from Johto and still knows what an oshawott is, why wouldn't he recognize this pokemon too?

This Pokemon was behaving like the wild Pokemon back home. Did those exist here, too?
Ooh this is interesting! Does this mean that the training industry in his world is somehow distantly linked to whatever causes pokemon to become corrupted and shadowy here?

Both of them had their eyes wet with tears.
This felt a little extreme!

You can’t just yell the name of the move and have it work!” Saltriv answered between giggles.
Haha, I liked this callout of Gen's lack of genre savviness.

I'm not my father. I don't lie about things like that.”
Uh oh, daddy issues.

“I just sorta...felt it, I guess,” I lied. I was digging myself deeper, but it was too late at this point for me to be honest.
This certainly won't have any negative consequences for the group, like setting up an expectation that he can do something for the group that he really can't. 🙃

I had no idea what that was about, but I’ll take it.
*I'd

Even if stuff like stores and houses were a thing here, I didn’t have any of this world’s money. Did it even have any, actually? Were goods here provided on some other merit, like battles won or something?


I did not know in the slightest. And if I didn’t wake up back home in Goldenrod tomorrow, I’d need to know.
These are big considerations for Gen! Glad he's starting to think some of it through. I'm surprised his reaction here is so muted. If I were him, I might be having a panic attack right now. More emotional cues (especially body language!) from him here would really sell the direness of his situation.

I needed someone to help show me how this world worked, and maybe get me a place to stay, at least until I get back home.


I looked over towards Saltriv and Burhalla. The two were conversing about something, though I wasn’t paying attention about what.


They were the only two I had met since I arrived here. Maybe they could help me.


Hopefully they’d be willing to.
This is another spot that could be condensed to one paragraph.

I asked the two.
Repeated: we already know from the dialogue that he's talking to the two of them.

Gen has an awful lot to learn about the culture of pokemon in this universe! It should be fun to see him react to the town when they arrive. And it sounds like Bruhalla is gonna have some ish to unpack with Dad. I can't imagine he'll be happy that Bruhalla went off on his own. I wonder if brining home not one but two rescued pokemon will help things at all.

Well, I hope these thoughts were helpful next time you're doing revisions or when you're working through your next chapter! As always, feel free to reach out for follow-up. Good luck! (y)
 

Flaze

Don't stop, keep walking
Location
Chile
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. infernape
Catnip review! sorry that I'm super ultra late with his, I didn't want this to take so long but life and time took a bit of an unexpected swing.

Anyways, on to the review. For the purposes of catnip I only really had time to read up to chapter 3 of your story. For what I've read so far I think it's a pretty interesting introduction. You lay out a series of mysteries that help in keeping us engaged with the overall road the story will take. I also like the slight level of self-awareness that are hinted throughout these three chapters, such as the fact that Gen isn't actually amnesiac, he's just pretending to be because he has no idea what's going on around him.

Other details I liked is how you set up the problem that's currently plaguing the town with the missing pokemon and the pokemon turning shadowy. I think it's a great way to present the stakes quickly and give us a good idea of what's going on and what we can look forward to as the story develops.

The characters...have potential, and I think that if carried out well they could fully live up to the potential their personalities highlight, I'm particularly curious about Satriv's and Burhalla's pasts and relationships.

Now. Before I move forward I want to highlight that I'll try and make the rest of the review to come off as constructive as I think it can because sometimes I might sound a little too critical. However, I do think that this story, like all stories, has a lot of potential and all of these points are ones that you can use going forward or take into account if you ever edit these past chapters.

I'll be going over the things that jumped at me during these reviews but the crux of it comes down to the way you carry out your prose and the way the story is paced.

In the case of the former. You end up relying on a lot of telling instead of showing. What this means is that the story just kind of breezes through everything, giving us sentence after sentence of stream of consciousness but we don't get any detail on what the characters are feeling, what they're thinking or why we should care, instead we only get descriptions of what they see.

Another way of looking at it is as if you were constantly moving around, just barely recognizing what's going on around you, but you never fully register what you see or take note of or go into detail on what you experience. This is bad because it causes the story to feel like it's going too fast....which in turn throws the reader off, it affects the flow and that in turn makes it hard for us as readers to become engaged in what we're reading. It also affects the characters because you could have the best characters in the world but if we don't get a chance to get to know them...it'll be hard to appreciate it. This is especially true of first-person pov since it has the advantage of being the pov where we can get to know the character the most.

I'll be going into some examples of what I mean and try and give some guidelines on how I think you could make it better.

I headed over to the nearest deposit box to get everything I’d need, putting it all in my bag. Apple in case I get hungry, check! Max ether in case I get exhausted, check! A slumber wand to incapacitate Saltriv if they’ve gone shadowy, check! Two oran berries in case I get hurt, check! A tiny reviver seed just in case, check! Connection orb to find where Saltriv was, check! I still had my pecha scarf and looplet on in case they were in a Mystery Dungeon. I was all ready.

Okay, here for example. You don't need to tell us everything that Burhalla is picking up for his adventure. You can keep the first three things, maybe list the most important items in one sentence. Why do I say this? because we don't need two know everything he's packing, we know he's gathering what he'll need for going in a dungeon, and the last sentence of him saying he was ready is redundant because the rest of the paragraph made that clear.

If you shorten this paragraph here you can then use the second half of it to maybe give us more context on why he's picking up these items, or maybe more details on the items themselves, not necessarily descriptions of them. Maybe you can even give us more detail on what Burhalla is feeling, especially as he has to set out into the forest.

I walked out of the main square and off the path to a small stone slab behind the house Flapple lived in before he disappeared. I took out the connection orb and threw it down at the ground. SMASH! The connection orb shattered into tiny pieces on the ground. Hopefully no one heard that. I’ll have to ask PNS-NT later to Recycle it.

See, this is a good example of a place in which you can give us more detail. Who is Flapple? what comes to Burhalla's mind when he thinks of them and what's his relationship with them. What does PNS-NT mean? it's a bit of a confusing arguing for me as someone that hasn't played too much PMD. Maybe you can even give us more description on what Burhalla does at the sound of the orb like him jumping in shock or yelping at the sound.

I could do this. I could do this. I already helped find Patrat. I did it before. I could do it again.

Saltriv was in there somewhere, and I would find them.

As the clouds parted, letting the sun fully shine down, I entered the Mystery Dungeon.

Hopefully, I wouldn’t be the next one missing.

Once more, I'm intrigued as to Burhalla's past. Who was this patrat that he helped before? Can you give more detail on what that encounter was like and what happened to them or how it affected Burhalla?

Also delving more into his feelings and thoughts as he's about to go into the Mystery Dungeon is great too, and it would help if you went into more detail on his friendship with Saltriv and how them going missing makes him feel. Is he scared? What's pushing him towards doing this so adamantly?

The journey towards the dungeon itself also happens relatively quickly, we don't get too much detail on the first or the environment around the dungeon, something that helps the town and its surroundings feel lived in.

Those were Oshawott arms. Just like in that reflection in that place.

Saying "in that reflection in that place" is too vague. We know what you mean, but it's a very simple way of referring to it when you could also come up with a more evoking statement for it.

Also, you make it clear that Gen is from a pokemon world where humans live with pokemon. It'd be pretty cool if we could get more information on his world and his past since we're constantly in his head. That's a bit of an issue I have because it's hard to really tell who Gen is as a character when we don't really know anything about it. Especially since he's not even amnesiac.

I took a step forward, only to stumble and lose my balance. I waved my arms wildly as I face-planted into the ground. They felt a lot shorter than they did before, somehow. My legs felt much shorter as well, as if they were barely there at all. Actually, come to think of it, my whole body felt strange.

This is another chance of giving us more detail on Gen's past and who he was before the start of the story. Also maybe spreading out each one of those sentences could help too.

How did this happen. Why did this happen.
“What the hell is happening?!” I yelled towards the sky.

“Where...am I?”

The first part of that quote is kind of redundant with the quote that's above it because it essentially states the same thing. Not to mention that Gen screaming it out all of a sudden feels a little awkward.

I froze. I recognized that voice. That was the Chikorita that fell with me after...whatever that hand thing was shattered the platform.

I turned around towards the voice, and saw that same Chikorita as before—the same red leaf and everything. They looked much larger now, though.

I feel like both of those paragraphs could be fused into one, also he could've turned around towards the voice just as he recognized it. You already tell us in the first one that it's the chikorita so the second one ends up restating it.

I sighed. I was stuck who-knows-where as an Oshawott with a talking Chikorita, with no idea what was going on, and it didn’t seem like they knew, either.

I actually liked this one. Not all paragraphs hat reveal detail on what the character thinks need to be overly descriptive and this one has a good flow. Telling has its place in prose as well and here it's a good place to use it.

Saltriv turned back towards me. “I was walking down the path to visit Burhalla. The next thing I knew, I woke up in this strange place with a weird sky, and there was this tall thing that looked just like the humans of legends! They approached me, and I asked who they were. Then...for some reason I couldn’t move anymore. The human looked up, then grabbed me and ran, just as something smashed down where we were. Then I woke up here. I think that human saved me! Or maybe it was just a dream,” they said, before pausing.

Saltriv's dialogue here is...really wordy. It's almost expository which ends up being a little off since we already know what she's gonna tell him. I think you can summarize it by writing out a sentence where Gen tells us what she told him and then his reaction to it or you can spread out the paragraph more. Maybe have her take breaths and react or tell us what Gen sees in her as she talks such as her facial expression or body language. He can even react to the different things she says as she says them in his pov.

Through an opening in the trees, an orange figure approached, lighting up the forest around him as he drew near. Soon, that light was recognizable as a fire on the tip of a tail. A Charmander. He wore a pink scarf around his neck and had a bag slung around his shoulder. On his wrist was some sort of strange bracelet, with a purple gemstone, and two indentations in the same shape as that gemstone.

This paragraph worked well too because it gives us a quick intro to Burhalla in Gen's eyes. Though I still would like to find out more about how Gen assimilates this in his thoughts.

“I don’t remember,” I blurted out. That was a complete lie, but I had to roll with it now.

We know it's a lie. I mean, the last part of that paragraph could be excluded since we already know he's lying and blurting out already tells us that he said it without thinking.


You zapped them with a Thundershock, and they fainted. Something buzzed within my snow. Our Pokedexes, stored away. I had completely forgotten about those. You hadn’t.


Forget about that for now! That Charmander’s probably on the next floor by now!
You thought.


Bloody Unovan. I thought back, as we resumed down the corridor, and ended up in a wide room.

This segment of chapter three is...weird. I don't get why you suddenly have the fonts in different colors. At first I thought they were meant to be dialogue, but then you also use them in place of prose. It's hard to tell what they're meant to represent and how we should read it. Plus the mix up between second person and third person later in the same chapter also marks a strange shift.

Immediately, we were ambushed by a Sewaddle, who promptly snatched your oran berry and ran. I heard your curses, both internally and externally. I’d make sure it never saw the light of day again.

The same could be said here, it's a little hard to figure out the differences between both proses.

This didn’t sound like anything I’ve heard of back in Johto. Really, nothing here did. Reality being unstable in places? Humans being legends? Pokemon that lived in towns without humans? Everything here was so strange and foreign, including my own body.

Okay so we finally start getting some hints on what Gen's past is and what his world was like.

“B-Burhalla…I've really been gone for that long?”

“You have, but you're here now. Come on. Let's go home.”

I know Gen isn't looking at them here, but considering he still listens to them we should probably get his pov on how they're reacting to each other. That would also give us more hints as to their friendship.

This was a lot to take in. First off, Pokemon had school here?! Was there an entire civilization of Pokemon in this world? Leon, whoever that was, and Saltriv had both gone missing for quite a while, apparently. And there was a Patrat that had gone shadowy, whatever that meant, and Burhalla had thought Saltriv did too? Did that have anything to do with that shadowy aura I saw around the Pokemon back on that platform, including Saltriv?

Gee Gen, you're doing my job for me here man.

But really for some reason we get this paragraph that's kind of like a recap of everything that's been said. Which I don't really think is necessary. I like it in the sense that it helps us get into Gen's mindset, but we don't really learn anything new about him or the situation from it.

Nothing happened. It pecked at me again. Ow. I think that one broke the skin.

Okay, that one was actually funny. I don't know if it was meant to be but if it was it got a chuckle out of me.

“I'd have told you if they weren't. I'm not my father. I don't lie about things like that.”


There was bitterness in Burhalla’s voice as he said that.

Okay, pretty interesting seed of foreshadowing you're dropping there. I like it.

So yeah, I'm sorry if this review ends up coming off a lot harsher than I wanted it to be. I just think the story has a lot of things that are, definitely, workable and I think if you do take these things into account and practice with them you can definitely improve them. I mean at the end of the day we're all still improving anyway, god knows I have a lot of stuff to work on myself.

Anyways, I will be reading the rest of the story later since I did plan on getting up to date with this. So. Excitement!
 

Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
It's pretty exciting that I got your fic for catnip! I'm actually all caught up reading so I'm happy to be able to leave a review!

First up, what a chapter! I think overall you do a good job pacing and splitting the chapters. Having short chapters is actually refreshing and works very well for the type of story you're doing.

I think you did a good job so far giving us some new information about your characters! Gen and Burhalla have finally escaped the dungeon and been reunited. Burhalla is clearly that gruffer one, and he's quite adamant that telling the truth. Saltriv seems more easygoing and kind, outwardly friendly. They were very ready to help out Gen without a second thought!

Gen's motives are well established. Poor Gen is such an anxious little bean! Rereading, I really felt bad for him, getting himself caught up in this lie that's just growing bigger and bigger. I can semi sympathize with that paranoid fear that everyone's gonna dislike him (especially after what Burhalla's dad said). I think you did a good job showing his internal thoughts. Near the end of the chapter, as Gen's thoughts kinda spiral out of control though, I do think you could add even more impact by adding some physical descriptors!

For example, maybe Gen is trembling or his eyes start to water. Perhaps his throat closes up or he feels his heart beating rapidly. Maybe he hugs himself tightly or has some other coping mechanism? I think little details like that at key moments can really help create that connection. Speaking of physical descriptors, I don't think I've ever seen Gen mention his scalchop? Does he have one? If he doesn't, I'd expect that someone might bring this up. Unless Oshawott's don't have scalchops in your world. (Feel free to correct me if you did mention it, and I forgot.)

The last reveal at the end of Spersua is intriguing! What does that bow mean? Will he get sucked into PMD too? I also assume he's just a casual coworker of Gen's because he only seems slightly saddened and surprised to see Gen missing. Hmm....

Just a few line by lines
I shuddered as the memory came back. Listening to the news about how Kyogre and Groudon were rampaging near Hoenn, frantically packing only the necessities before leaving the house, getting lost in the crowd and separated from my family as everyone in Goldenrod evacuated, calling out for help to no avail...If that brawl had made its way to Johto—
OOooo I love these little tidbits! Hoenn and Johto must be fairly close, for them to evacuate. And that sounds terrifying for poor Gen!
Eventually, the others stopped, as we came to a house that looked like four massive pumpkins joined together, with gigantic leaves topping two of them, and a tree on top of a third.
What a cute sounding house omg
In one corner of the room I was in, on the wall, were several cabinets, with small handles that resembled loops more than anything else.
I think you can cut 'the room I was in' as the reader can naturally assume this.
What kind of literature did Pokemon have? I’d have to check that out later, assuming it was in a language I could read.
Now I'm curious! I hope we get a little peek at Poke-literature sometime
I don’t want a repeat of last time.”
Oh! I wonder what happened last time then
I pulled the rectangle out of my pocket, and sent a quick “U ok?” message to Gen
Having him describe his phone as a rectangle seems very jarring. Unless you have some kind of really specific reason for him to call his phone a rectangle(?), I'd just call it a phone. It's simple to read

I think that's all I have to say. My big suggestion is I'd like to see a little more physical details from Gen, to show his emotions. You have a lovely stream of thought way of writing that can be complemented by those details. I also think you can trim just a wee bit of internal monologue. Especially from Gen's final thoughts. Otherwise I thought this chapter was good! It reveals a lot of information and makes some advancements to the plot.

If you have any questions or anything, feel free to message!!
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Location
waiting for the fog to roll out
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
hi bench! apologies for the delay; real life picked up for me a bit post-Blitz! and also during blitz I'd been meaning to get into the other half of this story for quite some time and kept getting wrapped up in other things, but I'm glad to sit down with it again! This is kind of a weird-format review that covers chapters 3 through 8. I get the feeling that you aren't a huge fan of line-edits/quotepulls, so I didn't really bother with those, but if I misassumed there, please let me know!

plot
Things definitely pick up once they get dungeon spleunking. I remember touching on some of the plothooks in the first few chapters that I'd found interesting, and it's nice to see that those are starting to get more focus now that the plot is starting to thicken. I definitely get the vibe that there's bigger stuff afoot than any of the kids are particularly aware of, and I'm kind of curious to see how that'll unfold with them--right now, all of the problems are solved through very childish solutions, for lack of a better word. Gen's embarrassed about coming clean about being a human, so he continues to lie and dig the hole deeper. There's nowhere for Gen to stay/go, so he ends up tagging along with the first two people he's met. Burhalla yells at his dad and his dad yells back--the problems right now are small-scale, as are all of the ways that the team has invented to solve them, but there's definitely hints of bigger things on the horizon.

The biggest conflict so far (beyond the holes that each of the characters are digging for themselves, lol) seems to be the ongoing shadow pokemon crisis and the general unease that it's causing the entire world. The cutaway to all of the previous humans, including Other Gen, seems to support that, and I'm curious what role Gen/Burhalla/Saltriv will play in this, if any--these seem like events that are far beyond them, but PMD in particular has a habit of not really caring about that.

characters
I think the bulk of the plot so far has been driven more by the characters, their decisions, and their lack thereof.

Gen's a cute bean who needs a hug, although he strikes me as a bit of a blank slate, and I did find myself struggling to understand why he was making certain decisions. His choice to join the rescue team despite his anxiety and unfamiliarity with the world felt a bit contrived, for example--is the idea that he's too afraid to reach out to anyone else, so he'll risk his life in these dungeons rather than find anyone beyond the first two people he met? Does he feel some obligation to Saltriv from the prologue dream? I'm sure there's a deeper reason, but I struggled to find it in the moment. For the most part I think Gen ends up falling into a bit of an isekai role, where he's shepherded from worldbuilding tutorial to worldbuilding tutorial while the rest of the characters explain how things work to him, but his own agency feels a bit lacking. I like how you portray his decision to lie and how he has to continue to double-down on it, but I'm kind of curious what the actual repercussions of being found out would be--there'd be some sense of betrayal, I imagine, and Burhalla would certainly be peeved, but Gen's lie is one that's actively stripping him of attention/status that he'd get normally. He's trying to avoid the added pressure/attention of being known as the human (compared to a regular pokemon lying about this and seeking it out/exploiting others)--in a sense, Gen doesn't really have much to gain from this lie, so I struggle to see the ramifications of what he'd have to lose. I think someone who's younger, like Burhalla, might struggle to see the nuance there, especially with Burhalla's history with his father, but for the most part I think any sane adult would be able to recognize that this was a lie, but wasn't a particularly harmful one. I'm curious to see how this ends up playing out outside of the context of sane adults, though; these kids are hopping into rescue missions and doing tons of silly stuff, so I expect "peaceful and mature conflict resolution" is pretty low on the list, alas.

Saltriv I admit I mostly know from Blacklight, and they mostly strike me as another cute bean who needs a hug lol. I wish I knew more about them! They kind of take the backseat for a lot of things, and it doesn't super help that the bulk of their first major viewpoint chapter is a diary entry/recap of what happened before, with not much added context from Saltriv. I think there's a lot of potential here for horror since Saltriv doesn't remember what they did while they were shadowy--did they hurt anyone? Will we find out what happened in that time period? What affects are still lingering that allow them to use shadow moves? I'm sure that whatever the answer is, it isn't going to be cheerful. I can't help but wonder if Saltriv's fixations on getting Gen's memories back are tied somewhat to their own small-range amnesia while they were shadowy--a sort of, maybe if I can't help me, I can help you, sort of thing.

Burhalla's angggy! He strikes me as a little bit older than Saltriv and Gen, but just enough to rage against the world like a younger teenager, lol. He kind of reminds me of Sokka from ATLA, where he's trying to put on a brave front for everyone else because he thinks that's expected of him, but inside he's still, like his friends, a cute bean who needs a hug. He seems like the main thing keeping the team together, if only because he's largely the one who wants to be picking missions for it, so I wouldn't be surprised if, once Gen's secrets come out, Burhalla's the one who ends up driving them apart. So far he seems understanding of everything in a way that's really mature, and he rolls well with Gen's anxiety so far, even when it puts him in great danger, so he does seem like he might still be a voice of reason in the end. Dunno. He also has a weird schtick where he feels the need to go to the next floor/location before explaining things? I thought that was kind of strange tbh, and I couldn't quite put my finger on why he felt the need to do this haha.

I really liked the Arctozolt narration and think it's a clever use of the forum formatting to have their dialogue in two different colors. They almost don't feel like a villain at this point--they are, like the main trio, just a lil' bit lost and aggressively self-loathing, a cute bean who needs a hug (or two). I'm curious what their backstory is, since everyone here seems to recognize their original species as extant, so is there a pokemon who's out there making Frankenstein? Deeply horrifying, especially since they survive.

The other side characters are pretty delegated to the sidelines, but I think the fic functions better that way--four (or really four and a half) is a lot to juggle, so I respect that you're keeping the cast size a little limited and focusing on the interpersonal conflicts that would arise between them rather than spreading things too thin.

worldbuilding
The setting of this world is kind of terrifying! It's kind of eye-opening to see how quickly everyone has reacted to the impending apocalypse, and about a year ago I would've told you that it'd be ridiculous for societies to just become blase to some sort of encroaching disease that can just suddenly steal members of the community away, but -- * gestures vaguely around at 2020 * I like how the "choose one to save" from the prologue seems to have come true in a literal sense here, and I wonder if the rest of the people Gen didn't pick will come up later, and how he'll react to that.

I liked the little glimpses into the world that we got, like the house shapes and the beds. I found myself kind of confused about Gen's fixations on how certain things have to behave, like Burhalla being able to attack twice in a row--I'm not super familiar with PSMD, but those feel like adaptations of game mechanics/items, which can be tricky to pull off! From a player perspective, as someone who understands the basis of turn-based combat, I can see how it'd be pretty disconcerting to see another AI attacking twice in one turn; however, if I were Gen just living in a world where (as far as I know?) turn-based combat isn't a thing and fighting is just a matter of doing what you want when you can, I don't quite follow his basis for why two actions in a turn is weird, since I don't really know what his perception of a turn would be.

(Sidebar, I also don't quite follow why some people get names here and some don't--I thought originally in Burhalla's first chapter species names were for people you don't know well, but the mayor and Flapple both don't get named, so I struggled to follow that).

The tying of moves to emotions is an interesting mechanic, and it makes me wonder if different pokemon would be able to learn moves that would otherwise be locked to them--if using Assurance is just a matter of channeling your frustration, for example, could a very frustrated Burhalla use a dark-type tinted Ember or something? I dunno, nor do I think it's necessary to break the rules that hard, but I think it's a cool way to tie some emotional urgency to the fights--if you need to stay calm to use water moves or whatever, going into fights angry or nervous would be a definite disadvantage. Can't way to see what type of moves shadow-types are lol.

I thought that the Tapu Fini scene was probably the most interesting so far, and I'm not sure if this is a canon adaptation or something that you added, but I like how you portray her as more petty/fickle than a standard deity would be, and how everyone's adapted anyway because they have no other choice. At first I thought it was kind of silly that there were such weird purification rules--it has to be those three, they have to go here, etc--but with the context that this is Tapu Fini's party and you gotta do what she says because those are her rules, I think it really works. And it's kind of darkly humorous, in a sense, that you have to curtsy and compliment the wallpaper, and if you don't, your friend will stay a zombie killer monster forever.

overall
This has some nice character interactions and a lot of Bad Decisions being made, with a big plot looming overhead while the kiddos keep paddling cheerfully further and further into Bad Decisions Creek. It's fun so far, and in general the chapters are pretty snappy, so it makes for a solid read. Thanks for sharing!
 

Equitial

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. espurr
  2. inkay
  3. woobat
Review for Chapter 6

Keep running. Don’t stop. Don’t let them find you. Don’t let them know what you have become.

I buffeted the Sigilyph with an Ancient Power, knocking it out of the sky. I ran past it, through the alleyway between two abandoned houses. Keep running.

From the start, I like how the choppy sentences and repeated phrases create a taut and urgent atmosphere. This chapter jumps right into the action, and I’m immediately reeling to try to figure out what’s happening. I originally picked out a lot of sections from this scene, but really I just liked it all. You use words well here; nice job.

I exited the alleyway-like corridor, coming to a clearing. A horde of dungeon mon dropped down, and yet I felt nothing but fear and anger as I threw a one-shot orb at the Thwackey in front of me.

Once the smoke cleared, I was the only survivor.

I kept running, throwing a Foongus in my way into a wall. I didn’t bother to check which kind of dungeon mon it was.

These kinds of things make me wonder more about the mechanics of Eternal Shadow’s dungeons. What exactly did that one-shot orb do; what does it mean that Kecleon was the ‘only survivor’? Though I’m a bit confused about what “which kind of dungeons mon it was” meant to convey.

Or my clan will find me, and discover what I had become.

Mmm. It’s like with PNS – you use first person really well to tell this story. I’m immediately attached to characters after only moments in their head, and because not all detail revealed it’s all very mysterious. It’s been a couple months since reading the first part of this fic, but I’m already remembering what I like about your writing style.


“So what do you think of my home? Pretty cool place!” they said, a bright smile on their face.

“Uh, yeah. Pretty neat,” I told them, not sure what else to say.

Their smile lessened a bit, “So, what do you remember?”

oof, awkward. Gen is such an anxious babey ahhhh

A search party? I wondered what that entailed. From the looks of it, they’d be looking for Pokemon that had gone missing. How often would that happen? I probably wouldn’t be able to see them very much. What would I do then? I would be without my guides to this world. I’d be alone.

I didn’t want to be alone.

Oof, again Gen anxious bean, very stressed and I want to give hug. I kind of feel like Gen's emotions went up too quickly here, though? Gen was okay (as he ever gets) before, so his outburst seemed a bit overdramatic. I think this maybe would have flowed better if Gen spent a bit more time catastrophizing.

I had just yelled that on reflex, but now I had their attention. Maybe I could convince them not to do this? No, Burhalla seemed really adamant about doing this, and that might turn him against me.

Maybe...

Something that struck me here is that Gen is pretty calculating here. He's weighing the odds, manipulating things in a way that's almost a bit selfish, more than a bit distrustful. Again, I wonder if Gen had some bad experience in his past, or if he just does have very bad brain worms. How many times have I said "oof" in this review? Anyway, I'm saying it again. Oof. Gen's a very good depiction of a kid with anxiety.

“Please? I...I don’t want to be alone,” I pleaded.

Something I especially like about this conversation is that Gen resolves the problem by actually being honest. This really amplifies the character flaws Gen has going on. He's so concerned about what other people think that he turns to lies because of false risks. Alas, I don't think his other lie can be fixed so easily.

All in all, this chapter was short but sweet. It feels a bit transitory, but it moved along quickly and covered both a good amount of character and plot for its length.
 
Chapter 9: Under the Stars

IFBench

Rescue Team Member
Location
Pokemon Paradise
Partners
  1. custom/chikorita-saltriv
Chapter 9: Under the Stars

Lapras Travel Liner


“How much farther is it?” Leviene asked, looking up at the cloudless sky.


“We should be nearly there,” Lapras answered, swimming past a school of Wishiwashi.


“I can barely believe it’s been this long since we’ve been there!” Leviene said, before turning towards me. “Can you, Ayueg?”


“Well, it is the hardest continent to get to,” I pointed out. “Makes sense we didn’t come back after mapping it.”


“Yeah, but we should have come back here sooner anyways! This place was so cool!” Leviene said.


“It was,” I replied. “I wonder how much it’s changed since we were there last.”


“Well, we’re about to find out!” Leviene replied. “Look, we’re almost there!”


I looked out into the distance, and saw that thunderclouds had appeared over the horizon. Not much farther now.


Soon, the perpetual thunderstorm encircling the continent came fully into view. Lightning struck the sea rapidly, and the sound of thunder grew louder and louder.


The only safe way through was the tiny gap in the clouds directly in front of us.


“Hold on tight!” Lapras said, a glint appearing in their eyes as a Protect barrier formed around us.


I grabbed onto one of the spikes on Lapras’ shell with a wing, while Leviene wrapped a vine around the same spike, just in time for us to reach the thunderclouds.


Lightning struck down into the ocean on both sides of us. The thunderclaps were almost deafening. One lightning bolt almost struck Lapras, causing Leviene to shriek. I laid my other wing on their back to reassure them.


Before we knew it, the sounds of thunder had quieted down. We had made it through.


In the distance was the Thunder Continent, now in clear view. Several steep cliffs jutted out, adorned with trees. A river delta poured out into the ocean. Sticking out from it all was a large town just above sea level, with buildings the color of the night sky.


The ocean around us started to grow darker as we approached the town. Stars started appearing in the sky, and the sun faded away. We were entering Moonlight Town’s nighttime veil.


As the docks grew closer, we began to slow down. Just before we stopped, the moon appeared high in the sky.


“We’ve arrived at Moonlight Town of the Thunder Continent!” Lapras announced.


Moonlight Town


I hopped off Lapras with a wave, after Leviene climbed down from their back.


“Thanks for the ride!” I said. Lapras smiled back at me.


I turned away from the ocean, and towards the town. Leviene was already running across the candlelit docks. I opened my beak in a smile as I ran after them.


Leviene was such a joy to be around. Ever since I had met them in Serene Village, I scarcely ever wanted to leave their side. We’d been through so much together. We even saved the world together!


If I hadn’t been able to bring Leviene back after they disappeared, I didn’t know what I would do.


I was so happy to be partners with them.


It wasn’t long before we came to the end of the docks, where Gothitelle waited for us, holding a weathered map in her hands.


“Greetings. Team Travelers, correct?” she greeted, a small smile appearing on her face.


“Indeed! Only the best Expedition Team the world has ever seen!” I said with a wide smile. “It’s nice to see you again, mayor Gothitelle.”


“The same to you both. It’s a pleasure to see again the two who saved the world from Dark Matter,” Gothitelle spoke, looking back down at her map. “You do remember the way to the plaza, correct? I know it’s been a long time since you were here last.”


“Nope!” Leviene said, looking up at the starry sky overhead. “Could you remind us?”


Gothitelle stared intensely at her map for several seconds, before looking back at us.


“Go forwards until you hit a three-way split in the road. Turn around, then take the second road on the left. Make sure to walk on that road, not run yet. Once you reach a dead end, turn around and now run, until you pass by a road that goes downhill. Walk backwards down it. Once you feel the ground turn flat again, look up. If the constellation above is Cresselia, take the road to the left, otherwise, take the one to the right. Once you reach a dead end with a painting of Lunala, spin once, then walk forwards until you arrive in the plaza,” Gothitelle explained.


“With how weird the layout of this place is, you’d almost think it’s a mystery dungeon!” Leviene joked, turning to me. “Did you get all that, Ayueg? I spaced out in the middle of it.”


“Of course,” I said. It was mostly the case, although I couldn’t quite remember if it was the downhill road or the road after the constellation that needed to be walked down backwards.


We’ll just have to figure that out when we get there. I didn’t want to annoy Gothitelle by asking again.


“See ya, mayor Gothitelle!” I said with a wave, before we both passed by her, and entered the lamplit roads of Moonlight Town proper.


It wasn’t long until we reached the downhill road. Were we supposed to walk backwards here, or after the constellation?


“Uh, Leviene? Did you remember if we’re supposed to walk backwards yet?” I asked, hoping that maybe they had remembered that part.


“Nope!” they answered. “You forgot?”


“Yeah...any ideas?” I asked.


They looked around the area a bit, before their eyes stopped on a Zoroark, Morgrem, and Meowstic gathered together a short distance away.


“Team Gibbous!” they exclaimed. “Let’s go ask them! I’ve been wanting to meet them!”


“Never heard of them before,” I said. “Who are they?”


“They’re one of the top search parties of the continent! Pahelia told me about them a few meetings ago, during the one where you fell asleep,” Leviene explained, beginning to walk towards them. “She called them the Team ACT of the Thunder Continent.”


“Hopefully they didn’t chase someone across half the continent like the real Team ACT,” I commented, before following after Leviene.


As we grew closer to Team Gibbous, I heard them discussing something.


“Illanero! Where are you?” Zoroark cried out.


“We’ll find him,” Meowstic said, laying a paw on Zoroark. “He couldn’t have gone too far by now.”


“What if he became a shadow Pokemon?” Zoroark responded, a look of anguish on his face.


“Then we’ll search for him,” Morgrem said. “And shadow Pokemon can still be found with connection orbs, right? Once we manage to get another one, we’ll find and rescue him in no time flat.”


Illanero...wasn’t he that one of those Pokemon who had been pretending to be a former human? Pahelia mentioned debunking him a few meetings ago.


Well, no matter. Even if he was, he was still a Pokemon who needed help.


“Hey! Need one of these?” Leviene said, pulling a spare connection orb out of their bag.


Meowstic’s eyes widened. “Thank you!” she said, taking the orb, before looking us over. “A Combusken and a Bayleef...you’re Team Travelers, right?”


“Indeed! The heroes of the Tree of Life!” I said with a smile, before switching to a more thoughtful expression. “You need any help looking for Illanero?”


“Thanks, but no thanks,” Zoroark said, a hint of pride in his voice. “We’ll be fine. We’re Team Gibbous, a gold-rank Search Party!”


“And what did that get you?” I said, glancing towards the scratched up badge Zoroark wore.


“...smaller bags and shoddier badges,” Zoroark said, all pride gone from his voice. “Not our fault SaRO is so backwards with its ranks.”


“Seriously, whose idea was it to give the best equipment to the worst search parties and the worst equipment to the best search parties? Anyways, while we appreciate the offer, we don’t need any more help than this orb,” Morgrem said.


“Once we track him down, we’ll be all set!” Zoroark added.


“You just want to be the one to find him so that he’ll think you’re cooler than humans,” Meowstic said, tapping Zoroark on the nose, before leaning over to whisper to us. “I am thankful that you’d be willing to help us, but Stubborn over here is too prideful to let a world-saving team in on our search. He denied the last one that came through here, too. Team Gardeners, I think they were called? They said something about a meeting as they left.”


Oh, right. The meeting. We should ask for directions like we were going to.


“Well, best of luck! Hope Illanero is found soon!” Leviene said.


“Also, do you know if we’re supposed to walk backwards here, or after looking up at the constellations in order to get to the plaza?” I asked.


“Right here,” Morgrem said, before quietly chuckling. “I thought the legendary Team Travelers would be better with directions?”


I decided not to dignify that with a response, and neither did Leviene. Both of us turned around, and began walking backwards. “See ya! Good luck finding Illanero!” I said, as Team Gibbous disappeared from view.


Soon, we finally arrived in the crescent-shaped plaza of Moonlight Town, illuminated only by the stars, and the light from the Lunala statue in the center. I could see the other teams of the Council waiting for us next to the statue. Everyone but Lidequir was groaning. Another one of her “jokes” must have just happened.


In the corner of the plaza, I noticed an empty Kecleon shop. When would they be found?


“There’s Team Travelers!” Vernir the Servine said once we reached everyone. “Now we can begin the meeting!”


“Has anything happened since our last meeting?” I asked.


“Saltriv was found!” Acacia the Meganium shouted, smiling widely. “They didn’t even become a shadow Pokemon!”


Cheers rang out from every one of us here, save Apoyime, who simply grinned. That was amazing news!


“Where were they?” Leviene asked.


“Twig Woodland,” Lidequir the Wartortle said. “Acacia’s sister sent us a letter that their best friend rescued them from there.” She paused, then added, “She also mentioned an Oshawott with amnesia being with them.”


“Really?” Vernir asked. “Did she mention if they said they were a human or not?”


“If this is another imitator-” I began, before Acacia cut me off.


“She didn’t mention that. Just that he had amnesia,” Acacia said. “I’m hoping that he might be the one, but I’m doubtful.”


Apoyime the Sceptile nodded, as Pahelia the Empoleon said, “I really hope he’s it. That’ll be one less thing we have to worry about.”


“Speaking of, who’s going to be doing what?” Gen asked.


“I’d like to go to Overcast Village to see Saltriv, and see what’s up with that Oshawott,” Acacia said. “Is that good with you, Lidequir?”


“Of course!” Lidequir said, before looking towards me and my partner. “Leviene and Ayueg, I think you two should come with us. We still need to investigate that monster that was spotted near there You’ve trav —”


“No,” Acacia interrupted the pun, before looking at us. “Are you good with that?”


“Yeah!” Leviene exclaimed. “I want to meet Saltriv!”


“If Leviene’s going, then I’m going,” I said. “I’m interested in meeting them too, as well as finding out about that Oshawott.”


“What about us?” Pahelia asked.


“Maybe you could help the search parties with finding and purifying shadow Pokemon?” Leviene suggested. “On the way here, we ran into a search party that was having some trouble. You could help people like them!”


I didn’t think that even Team Sunset could get through to that team, but it was worth a shot.


“Sounds great!” Pahelia said, while Apoyime gave a grin in our direction. Then Pahelia turned towards Gen and Vernir, and asked, “What about you two?”


“I think me and Gen should help look for the next human,” Vernir said. “His name was in that mailbox.”


“That’s settled, then!” Lidequir said. “Let’s—”


A figure emerged from the darkness of one of the nearby roads. A Pokemon with black and grey fur, red eyes, and wide green bands wrapped around both of its arms. A small smile was on their face.


“Who are you?” I asked.


“You may call me Zarude,” they said. “I have something to tell you.”


“What is it?” Lidequir asked.


“Have you heard of a Pokemon called Eternatus?”


===================================================================


Saltriv’s Home


1st Month of Autumn, 23rd Day


Today, I



I lifted the vine holding my pen into the air. For some reason, the words weren’t coming easily today.


We formed a search party yesterday, so maybe I should write that first?


Today, I formed a search party


No, that didn’t sound right.


Today, I formed a search party created a search party with Burhalla and Gen!


That’s a little better, but it still seems off. And I still need to write about that creature that was on the news, and the search for Flapple, and purifying Flapple, and my plans for the sleepover tomorrow, and the shadow…


That’s ok, though! I could do this! Just need to push through.


We decided to call ourselves Team Searchlights! I came up with the name.


No, I didn’t. I combined Burhalla’s and Gen’s ideas to make it. We made the team name together.


We decided to call ourselves Team Searchlights! I came up with the name. We all helped to make the team name.


That didn’t sound good, either…


We decided to call ourselves Team Searchlights! I came up with the name. We all helped to make the team name.


When did writing get so difficult? I was doing fine with it yesterday! What happened? What made me lose my motiva—


Oh.


That.


Back in Blistering Shore. Burhalla and Gen had both collapsed. Then...I felt overwhelmed...and used Shadow Half.


I couldn’t have been a shadow Pokemon, though, right?


But I used a shadow move…


Maybe it wasn’t me, but from Flapple somehow?


No, I saw the shadowy tendrils come from myself. It was from me.


What if I hurt Gen? Or Burhalla? Or mom or dad or—


No no no. Stay calm. Deep breaths, in and out. Feel the morning sunshine on my leaf.


Just focus on the journal entry. Focus on writing.


We decided to call ourselves Team Searchlights! Other ideas we had were Team Search, Team Light, and Team Adventure.


There, that seems good.


We almost had Aron or Rockruff join us instead of Gen, but he asked if he could join.


That sounds a bit off…


We almost had Aron or Rockruff join us instead of Gen. but he asked if he could join. We were about to go look for them, when Gen yelled for us to wait.


That still doesn’t sound good.


Maybe I should write about a different part for now, and come back to Gen joining the team later?


We had just entered the third floor, when we were ambushed by a Sandygast! It knocked Gen into a beam of red light, and he became giant! Then he did a massive water attack and nearly killed Burhalla.


Maybe I should just skip today.


Or maybe I could just try not to think and just write anything that came to mind? That might work to at least get something down, then I could revise it later.


Gen and Burhalla were both knocked to the ground, but the dungeon Pokemon kept attacking them. I felt overwhelmed, then I


I closed the journal.




Herolich made two tracks to be Gen's themes! I'm really thankful to him for doing this!

Longing For Home

Regaining Hope
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Hey Bench! Responding to Chapter 4 here.

Some overall thoughts:
In this chapter, Gen finds a temporary (?) place to stay with Saltriv. We meet some of the parents and get a glimpse at what's happening with Gen's family back in Goldenrod.

We get a little hint about some drama with Burhalla's family and his history with liars--seems like there's more going on with him. I'm sure some of that will be revealed in time, but I do feel like knowing his history with being lied to would create more narrative tension as Gen is stacking his lies, because their friendship currently hinges on lies and also seems to be threatened by them.

I'm happy to finally get some information about Gen's life before oshawott stuff. I wish we'd had that information sooner, and I kinda wish we had more! Like, Dad is here and sad, but I feel like it would mean more to me if I knew what their relationship was like. Are they close? Is it strained? Does Gen see anything in Burhalla and Saltriv's interactions with their families that reminds him of his own? Or that he wishes were like his own? You could get so much more mileage out of Dad!

I'm also still confused about what Gen's previous relationship to pokemon was! Did he only work at the game corner, or was he a trainer? That seems important to know. I get that he's confused and disoriented now, but I wish we had some inkling of what his goals and wants had been before oshawott shenanigans threw a wrench into his life. What is this interrupting for him? We don't even know if he's happy to have escaped something back home or if he feels like he has unfinished business back in Goldenrod. Knowing this would also make it even more powerful (and stressful!) when he lies because we'd know more what it means to him.

I enjoyed seeing more of the pokemon village! The houses shaped like fruits and vegetables were cute. I wonder what Burhalla's house looks like?

Overall grammar notes: watch out for wordiness and unnecessary commas!

Light flooded my vision, before fading.
You don't need this comma.

Before me, was a dirt path leading
This comma is also incorrect.

I shuddered as the memory came back. Listening to the news about how Kyogre and Groudon were rampaging near Hoenn, frantically packing only the necessities before leaving the house, getting lost in the crowd and separated from my family as everyone in Goldenrod evacuated, calling out for help to no avail...If that brawl had made its way to Johto—
So this is the first actual thing we've learned about Gen. 🙌 At this point, I'm desperate for any kind of information about Gen beyond "haha oshawott go brr brrr brrrr," so I'm happy to have it. However, it doesn't seem to follow from what Saltriv was just saying. In the line before this, Saltriv is excited to see their family again after not seeing them for a long time. In this flashback, Gen seems to be with his family already and is worried about another threat. If it's meant to echo Saltriv's joy at seeing their family, then the flashback should emphasize Gen's family! What does he miss about them? What role did his dad play in packing up their things? What did Gen do when he saw his family again after they were split up?

Or ...did he see them again? I'm confused about how recent this flashback is. Is this what's happening back home right now? (The Goldenrod scene later doesn't make it seem like that's the case, and it definitely should've come up before now if it were happening right now--how would he be able to think about anything but his family?) I'm also confused how the Kyogre/Groudon battle is related to Goldenrod. If you're using a map that treats the first three regions as Japan, Goldenrod/Osaka is pretty far from Hoenn/Kyushu, and the emphasis on them being "near Hoenn" makes it feel further away. Some things you could do to make the problem feel closer and more urgent: what's the weather doing over Goldenrod? What's on the news? Is there an emergency alert sounding right now? Etc.

This also raises some questions for me about where we are. Are we on a distant part of the mainline game world or a parallel universe, or what? How does where we are now relate to where Gen was before?

I needed to focus on the task at hand, that being going with Burhalla and Saltriv.
This is unnecessarily wordy in a way that makes it read awkwardly.

Suggestion: I needed to focus on Burhalla and Saltriv.

I ran towards the two, and together, the three of us headed along the path towards the sunset.
Again, wordy/awkward.

Suggestion: I ran towards them, and then the three of us started along the path, into the sunset.

As we climbed the hill, I started to hear unfamiliar voices, though I couldn’t quite make out what they were saying. I slowed my pace a bit. I looked towards the other two, and they didn’t seem to notice them. Was I just hearing things?

Should I tell the others? Would they believe me? Would it be a good idea to keep this a secret from them after what Burhalla had said?
I wanted more detail about this to help me put it into context. Like, do these voices sound close or far away? Threatening or something else? Can he pick out a direction?

Without any details, I assumed at first that this was the group of parents and was confused why Gen wouldn't just say something to the group.

Porygon-Z.
Huh. What does it mean for a manmade pokemon to be in this place without humans? How did it get there?

“Hi, dad,” Burhalla responded after a pause.
The punctuation here is correct! 🎉 However, Dad should be capitalized, because it's being used as the character's name here.

“I understand what you were doing. Really, I do. And I’m glad that you found Saltriv. But you should have known better! You could have gone missing, or worse!” Burhalla’s father roared at him. “What if you had? What would I do? What would Valorch do? I need to have a stern talk with you once we’re home.”
This doesn't quite land because, although Dad's tone seems to change partway through here, it's all swept up under "Burhalla’s father roared." It's hard to imagine “I understand what you were doing. Really, I do. And I’m glad that you found Saltriv" being roared. It would be much better to break this dialogue up in more places--show us how Dad's body language changes as he becomes more angry and lets loose. I'm also not quite sure what to do with "I need to have a stern talk with you once we’re home." Like, is he not already having a stern talk with him in front of everyone? I can't imagine what else he'd say in private, TBH. After getting roared at in front of your friends, expecting "a stern talk at home" feels underwhelming.

I locked eyes with the Porygon-Z, before they leaned towards me. “So what’s yo-yo-your deal? I’ve nev-ev-ever seen you around town before,” they asked.
I do like this speech quirk! So often, characters that s-s-stutter are presented as shy, and I like how that's not the case here. Pory's just glitchy, and that's their flavor. ❤️

I didn’t remember if the Porygon line were normal-type or psychic-type.
This seems besides the point, since lots of pokemon that aren't psychic-types can still learn psychic and do psychic things. (I'm thinking especially of golduck and lucario, neither of which is a psychic type at all but both of which can communicate telepathically according to dex entries.)

their tone changing midway through to a more robotic one.
I didn't know what this meant, since I didn't know what Pory's tone had been before aside from stuttering. Plus, the stuttering is already a lot. Stuttering and voice-key changes (I guess?) is maybe too much for one character.

“I’m not sure if I should believe you. You’re not faking it, trying to pretend to be another amnesiac human sent to save the world?” the Typhlosion interrogated. “There’s been four Pokemon who tried lying about that just this month.”
Why is that happening so often??? Is there some kind of appeal to being human?

“Ok. I don’t want to have to deal with more people keeping secrets from me.” He turned back towards the setting sun.
I wish I knew more about what Burhalla means by this. As-is, it rings kinda empty since we got nothing about this in the chapter that was told partly from his perspective. It feels like it should've come up then if it were important. And it sounds like it is! If Burhalla dislikes lies and liars, it means a lot in this blossoming friendship ... with lack of trust and openness at its center. More information about how Burhalla has been lied to in the past would increase the stakes for the reader.

His expression changed to a more neutral one. “Ok. I don’t want to have to deal with more people keeping secrets from me.” He turned back towards the setting sun.

He muttered, “Hopefully dad won’t be too harsh once I’m home.” I decided not to comment.

This lie couldn’t end well.
The final line feels out of place. It's about Gen's own lying, but it comes after Burhalla has already moved on from that subject to talk about something else.

It didn’t seem nearly as big as Goldenrod, but what it lacked in size, it made up for in wonder. I walked towards the center of the circle to get a better look at my surroundings. Right to the left of where the path ended was a bulletin board, filled with posters depicting many Pokemon. A Tyrogue was looking over the papers on it. Next to it, was a large tent in the shape of a Kecleon’s head, underneath which was an assortment of boxes guarded by a Torterra. On the other side of the path was some sort of strange box with many mechanisms on it. Heading away from it was a Pokemon with short arms, a V-shaped head, and a wispy tail, carrying what looked to be its pre-evolution on its head. There were many stone roads leading out of the circle, lined with houses that grew progressively fainter the further into the fog they were. Down one road that a Leafeon was walking across, I could barely see another stone circle like the one I currently stood on.
I love that Gen is comparing this new place to the place he already knows well! Smart move. Though, I gotta say, setting us up for wonder and then making the first item we see ... a bulletin board ... is underwhelming. Like, we have those, too, and they're not especially wondrous. Another line that stands out is "Heading away from it was a Pokemon with short arms, a V-shaped head, and a wispy tail, carrying what looked to be its pre-evolution on its head." I have no idea what this is, so I can't picture anything. Why is Gen so lacking in knowledge about pokemon? Did they not have TV or books in Goldenrod?
I looked over towards the remaining members of our group. The Porygon-Z was already heading down the road Burhalla and his father went down, leaving just me, Saltriv, and the Meganium, the latter two of which were conversing with the Torterra under the Kecleon-shaped tent. I heard a loud shout of “Saltriv!” from an unfamiliar voice. Was that the Torterra?
It's weird to me that nobody bothers to ask if Gen has a place to stay. This town seems small enough that everyone knows everyone, so it should be clear that Gen has nowhere to go. The porygon really stands out. They tagged along on the search mission, but then peaced out almost right away without seeming to follow up much at all with the kids or their families. I'm left wondering why they went at all and what their relationship to the others even is.

I doubted I’d be able to stay much longer, if I was even still here tomorrow, and didn’t wake up back home.
I'm a little skeptical that he believes this is how it works, in part because we know nothing about what happened before he vanished.

The Meganium started towards a road next to an oddly apple-shaped house.
The way this is worded, it made me think that this was the house they were going to.

Suggestion: The meganium lead them down a road lined with buildings that all seemed to be shaped like fruits and vegetables: they passed houses shaped like apples, [insert something else here!], and [one more here!]

Apple-shaped house is a cute idea, though. I appreciate that the architecture here isn't just everything shaped like the heads of various pokemon.
In one corner of the room I was in, on the wall, were several cabinets, with small handles that resembled loops more than anything else.
I'm confused why he's fixating on the loop handles. Like, that's basically what my real-world dresser has? I could maybe see it if they were made of something unusual, like vines, but TBH I think I'd be more concerned with the walls made of pumpkin. Like, what does that look like from the inside?

Worst case scenario, Saltriv’s family kicks me out, Burhalla is told, and I have no one to help me figure out this world.
This deserves to be expanded upon! This is a really serious problem for him!! This would be a really fitting place for his anxiety to rear up in a big way and to watch him try to imagine how he would navigate this world alone! 😱

You've also got some passive voice (Burhalla is told) that takes away from the momentum AND breaks parallel structure. It would read better as--
Worst case scenario, Saltriv’s family kicks me out, they tell Burhalla, and then I have no one to help me figure out this world.

Was that some kind of Pokedex or something?
Ha, makes sense that he might assume that if he's from the trainer world, I guess.

There also was that really soft bow, that changed colors.
Comma not needed here.

I heard the gambler curse as the fourth card he flipped over was revealed to be a Voltorb.
I think this sentence would be much stronger if you reworded it.
Suggestion: The gambler cursed he flipped over the fourth card: a voltorb.

All 930 coins he won during this game were forfeit. I began to shuffle the cards for the next person in line, when the gambler smashed their fist against the table, causing the Doduo near him to flinch.

“Gimme another go! This time I’ll hit the level 8 jackpot!” he demanded. They never learn, do they?

“You’re back down to level 2,”
All throughout, these numbers should be written out. Numbers should usually be spelled out in prose unless it's part of a name (Route 1, for example).

Gen should have been here for his shift hours ago. Where could he be?
Huh, so Gen's life in Goldenrod was maybe not amazing if he was stuck working here.

I felt a faint buzz from my pocket. It must be closing time, then.
I was confused by this. It's odd that an alarm would be telling him that his shift was done rather than another employee taking his place. He can't just leave the table unattended, right?

“Spersua! Have you seen Gen at all? You’re his coworker, right?” he questioned. Right. This was Gen’s father.
I was surprised by a couple things here. 1) The name! I'm kinda disappointed that everyone has odd names. It makes the pokemon seem less special and other. Like, I'd thought at first it was part of their culture, but it seems like ... not. 2) I gotta say, I don't know any of my coworkers' parents. This would imply that Spersua and Gen are really close outside of work ... but Spersua really doesn't act like that's the case. He can hardly be bothered.

All I received in reply was a cry of anguish, as he ran off.
This doesn't ring true for me. Dad gave up way too easily for a parent who's worried about their child! I feel like he should stay and plead with Spersua, even though it's not rational--because it's not rational. That's how strung-out parents do!

I walked down the street from the game corner, past a telephone pole adorned with a poster of a familiar visage.
The high-blown language feels out of place here, especially in first person. Would someone who works in a seedy casino really use words like "adorn" and "visage"?

Suggestion: As I took my usual route home from the game corner, I passed a telephone pole plastered with posters. One of them had a familiar photo on it. Gen.

I stopped, doing a double take. Yep, that was Gen alright, or at least a picture of him. And on a missing poster, too.

Well, this sucked.

Nothing I could do anything about, though.
I gotta say, if Gen is only a few hours late for his shift, that feels rather soon for missing person's poster to go up. The police in our world usually wait a day or two before even declaring someone missing. And, if there was an investigation going on, I would have expected the police to visit the casino to ask Spersua and other coworkers if they'd seen him--that could be a cool scene to play with!

I'm also having trouble pinning down Spersua's tone. He doesn't seem to actually care, which makes me wonder why we're bothering with his POV.

Hopefully Gen would turn up soon. Managing Voltorb Flip all by myself was exhausting.

Plus, I did miss him a bit.
This felt like a strange place to end the chapter. If anything, these sentences could be flipped: Spersua's overall attitude and priorities seem to be way more about his own complaints and boredom.

I hope these observations and questions are helpful! Cheers and good luck with your next chapter!
 

AbraPunk

Generation Guardian
Location
The Circle
Pronouns
She/They
Partners
  1. luxio
My eyes slowly opened, as I woke up, still tired, not ready for whatever today would bring.
(( i'm on mobile, so I apologize for any formatting errors.))

This already might imply that this character is a pessimist. Nice!
This had to be a dream. This couldn’t be real. I pinched my arm, and winced. That pain felt real. This was real
Well, if this character happens to be a lucid dreamer, then pain might not indicate realness at all!
Abruptly, the bow emitted an intense light, and my eyesight went dark.
Ah, blinding lights! Great song.
That looked like an...Oshawott?!
For whatever reason, I was a bit surprised to read this sentence. I hadn't really been expecting Gen to know what an Oshawott is. I just assumed that he came from the regular human world (albeit, one where... pokemon as a franchise didn't exist.)
Well, there was that one Meowth that was on the news once,
Oh, anime world, huh?
A massive hand was reaching down for us.
Oh no, it's Master Hand! Haha, but seriously... perhaps this could be an allusion to something like the "Hand of God" constellation? I don't know, I just thought there would be some kind of connection there.
Many of those that were found were shadowy
Oh? Mention of Shadow Pokémon already? Shaping up to be quite interesting...
today’s fire-type V-Wave.
The glorious V-Wheel! I was actually pleasantly surprised to see something from Gates here. I've always had a soft spot for it.
where Mrs. Meganium
Oh, Meganium is such an underrated pokémon. I always love to see it in any story.
Saltriv was in there somewhere, and I would find them.
Oh! Unless I read this wrong, is this indicating a non-binary character? Awesome!
They were short, furry, and ended in nubs.
You know, I've never thought of Oshawott as furry before, but now that I think about it... that makes so much sense.
the same red leaf
So, that's a shiny, right? Always cool to see one be a character!
The next thing I knew, I woke up in this strange place with a weird sky, and there was this tall thing that looked just like the humans of legends! They approached me, and I asked who they were. Then...for some reason I couldn’t move anymore. The human looked up, then grabbed me and ran, just as something smashed down where we were.
Oh, so it seems that Gen couldn't see (or tell) what was happening, but Saltriv could? Hmm...
I doubted they’d react well to knowing about how Pokemon like them were usually treated in my world
I don't watch the anime, so I'm not entirely sure what this might mean... unless the whole thing "keeping pokemon as pets" thing...? Oh! That's probably it, then.
“I don’t remember,” I blurted out. That was a complete lie,
Well, technically the truth, since Gen wound up on that platform with no explanation or memory for any of that.

-----

Now, since your Review Exchange message says that you prefer story reviews rather than actual writing... I really like the characters so far!

Although I can't quite get a grasp on Saltriv's personality yet, I do love that they're non-binary!

Burhalla seems to be a more extroverted type, as the passing mentions of a few pokemon indicate that he's at least on somewhat friendly terms with all of them.

Gen, the main character, seems to be a bit of a pessimist, as noted in the first quote. However, again, I can't get much else, because he seems pretty preoccupied with asking a bunch of questions.

Overall, this was a very entertaining read, and now I can't wait to keep reading! I'm just a sucker for PMD stories in general, but this one does hold a lot of promise. I'm sure it'll be great going forward!
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
Staff
Location
somewhere in spacetime
Pronouns
they/them
Partners
  1. custom/pikachu-chibi
  2. lugia
Chapter 2:

It's interesting that we switched to a new narrator for this one! I actually wasn't expecting it at all, so it took me a few seconds to realize "oh! We're someone else now!" I'm of two minds about it--switching first person narrators can be kind of confusing since the pronouns don't tell us right away who we're following, which can disorient the reader. However, this story clearly relies on all its narrators a lot, and there are times (like at the beginning of Ch. 3) where not knowing who it is adds to the mystery.

I think I have a suggestion--for cases where it's a pretty normal narrator, maybe include their name in the little location tag at the start of the scene? That would help a lot during the times when we swap between Gen/Saltriv/Burhalla in quick succession. Then, for cases where we shouldn't know the narrator (particularly during that one scene with the omen heroes) you could just leave it blank.

Chapter 3:

Man, I was just totally bewildered by this opening way back when I first read it. Obviously, I get the deal now, but I feel very silly for failing to pick it up since it seems like all the other readers had no trouble. I did at least manage to pick up the fact that both of them were sharing a mind, and that both of them were human. I'm curious why they're hunting for Burhalla!

Man, it's really interesting that Saltriv has been gone for months and they just... had no clue. Makes me wonder if all the other missing folks got shadowed. Spaking of being shadowed, I'm sure Saltriv is going to take that news oh-so-well. 🙃

Occasionally there are times where Gen tells us how to feel about something, but his reaction already conveyed it. Like when he was running away from the monster house, he was hyperventilating, so it’s okay to leave out the line where he specifically tells the reader that it’s terrifying. You can trust your readers to work out his emotions from cues like that!

I enjoyed Gen stopping to consider just how little he really knows about the world. I find that one of the big advantages of “fish out of water” stories is playing with their expectations of the world, and it works well since Gen does come from a world with Pokémon, but one where Pokémon live in the wild, so there’s all these preconceived notions he’ll have to let go of.

Chapter 4:

I liked the detail about Gen having lived through the Hoenn crisis, and I imagine it'll be pretty important at some point. It's nice that since he doesn't actually have amnesia, we get to have these details about his life.

At first I found it pretty weird that people are pretending to be human, to the point that people faking it is... actually a widespread problem? But it makes more sense later on once we see just how infamous the actual humans-turned-Pokemon are, enough to have imitators. At first I found it kind of odd that Gen's amnesia claim was getting such a strong "X to doubt" but it makes more sense once we learn this.

Man, I'm surprised Saltriv's mom was so hesitant to allow Gen to stay. It's not just a sleepover--it's literally giving shelter to someone who's got nowhere to go! Harsh.

I liked the bit with Gen's coworker--it's really unusual to get a look at the life that a human-turned-Pokemon left behind in their world.

Chapter 5

"Half an Arctoar and half a Ruzolt" Oh yess, here we go, I was waiting for this. >:3 This whole scene is sinister as heck and really makes you wonder just what Arctozolt is after.

“You wouldn’t have been able to handle learning about her death!” Dayum... I’m with Burhalla on this one--that's messed up that his dad lied about that.

So one of the omen heroes is a Dewott and he's... also named Gen! Huh! I can't quite decide what this is implying, but I definitely think this isn't just a coincidence.

"Time to bring the news to Necrozma." Oh man. See, this is one of the scenes where the unknown narrator thing really works. It just feels like an ordinary 3rd person scene until the bit at the end, which suddenly changes the context of the scene.

(I have notes for chapters 6-9 as well, but I wanna get this review in before the end of the Blacklight round, lol. Be back soon!)
 

Flaze

Don't stop, keep walking
Location
Chile
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. infernape
Catnip time. Hi, I'm sorry it took me this long to get the review out. This review will cover chapter 4, which is where I left off at the end of the review blitz.

Okay so chapter 4 picks up right where 3 left off almost. I actually think this chapter worked a lot better, it was easier for me to follow, especially since chapter 3 was a little off in figuring out who was speaking when and the like, but here it's a lot clearer. That being said though, I do have to note a small issue that I notice with this chapter, particularly in regards to characterization.

What I mean by that is that since we jump to different view points in different instances, it'd be good to showcase each character's personality through their viewpoints. That doesn't mean you don't do this, there's still hints of the differences between each character, Gen is more neurotic and nervous, Burhalla is more serious and the like, but even so there are cases where all these perspectives mix in. Simply put, it can be a little hard to tell who we're focusing on at some points, in this case for when you do the shift to Goldenrod.

That being said, the writing itself, like I said earlier, works a lot better in this chapter and I like the interplay between the characters more. I particularly liked the parent's involvement in the chapter and how you paint the town. I was also intrigued by the slight worldbuilding you throw in by telling us that there are pokemon pretending to be humans to reap the benefits of others treating them as heroes. I thought it was neat and it'd be cool to see it explored in more detail as well.

Outside of that, not much really happens in chapter 4, it's pretty light on content and it mostly consists of the characters going back into town and the aftermath of the last few chapters. That's understandable though and you do give us some indication of what's to come by focusing on Gen's previous coworker at the end. That made me wonder, will we focus more on him? Or was that just to show us what's going on in the real world.

Now to give some few line by lines.

It wasn’t quite like anything I had seen before. There were so many Pokemon here, and yet I felt so alone.

I feel like there's a very clear picture you're trying to paint here in regards to Gen realizing that he's in a world surrounded by pokemon and, partly because of his own worries, he's completely isolated even if everyone is trying to help. That being said, the fact that that feeling is reduced to two sentences makes it lose weight, I think you could afford to expand on it more, maybe dedicate a paragraph or two on how he sees himself around them, maybe even give us some hints of his past and life in the human world.

leaving just me, Saltriv, and the Meganium, the latter two of which were conversing with the Torterra

The sentence is a little wordy here. We're following Gen so there's no need to specify who "the latter two" are.

To my right, there were entrances to the other rooms. In one corner of the room I was in, on the wall, were several cabinets, with small handles that resembled loops more than anything else.

It's a little hard to really visualize this description, not to mention we don't spend too long on any of it to fully get a picture. That doesn't mean you have to go all out and write paragraph upon paragraph of description, but it'd be nice to see what else Gen notices here.

The left side of the room held a bookshelf, every shelf filled with a colorful assortment of books, piquing my interest.

Kind of redundant to say that a bookshelf is filled with books.

There was whatever had happened on that platform in that psychedelic void. There was that mailbox that I put that paper in. What was the deal with that? There also was that really soft bow, that changed colors. Then my reflection turned into an Oshawott, just like I am now. After that was all those Pokemon with shadowy auras, and that note, telling me to save one. Was Saltriv the one I saved? Who wrote that, anyway? Did that have anything to do with what Burhalla said about “going shadowy”? And then there was that terrifying giant hand coming down for me. I’m not sure if I wanted to know what that was. And somehow Saltriv remembered it all? That place had made even less sense than this world did.

Not that this world made much sense, either. I’m somehow an Oshawott now, just like my reflection on that platform. Pokemon lived in towns here, but there were also wild Pokemon, too? Burhalla also did two Embers one after the other back in Twig Woodland. I was almost certain moves couldn’t be used that quickly after each other. There was also that shattering sound once we exited the dungeon. I still had no clue what that was about. Speaking of mystery dungeons, those also didn’t make any sense at all. Something like that happening naturally was an impossibility with the laws of physics as I remembered them.

While I think it makes sense for Gen to go over all the things he's been through, this bit of exposition just feels...kind of like a recap. I think it would work better if you mixed in some new internal observation or opinion in regards to these things. I'd also condense it more because, again, it kind of feels like Gen is talking to the audience itself so it makes it seem a little jarring.

I paid little attention to his actions, instead glancing towards the empty table to my right. Gen should have been here for his shift hours ago. Where could he be?

Hmmm, does this mean Gen knows how to deal cards?

“Spersua! Have you seen Gen at all? You’re his coworker, right?” he questioned. Right. This was Gen’s father

I get that the big point here is that Spersua is very nonchalant about Gen's situation, to the point that he only cares in so far as it conveniences him. And in that regard I really like it and how that influences his POV and the way it's written.
 

ntmymike

Bug Catcher
Pronouns
he/him
Heya Bench. So this will be my review for the first chapter of Eternal Shadow. I'll get to the rest later but I wanna let you know about my first impression first.

So, the beginning is really interesting. It really reminds me of Gates's intro with the shifting area, the part where Gen turning into oshawott and everything. All while still hinting at the hidden threat with the shadow. Though the part with the "save one" really makes me think. I'm sure this is still too soon to draw any conclusion so I'll talk more when I catch up with the plot

Character wise, I really like the way you describe Gen's fear when going through all of this. And with the teaser from the prologue, I can't wait to see how the story will unfold. Overall, it's a great first impression with stake and threat already established. Hope you found my review useful. See you when I read through the rest of it. Have a nice day
 

HelloYellow17

Artsy Whimsical Nerd
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. suicune
  2. umbreon
Late is better than never, right? 😅 Here I am, fulfilling my end of the review exchange!

So many interesting characters this chapter, and a lot of game references—sadly, I think a few of them went over my head because I haven’t played all of the PMD games, but I at least knew enough to suspect which parts were game references!

Lightning struck down into the ocean on both sides of us. The thunderclaps were almost deafening. One lightning bolt almost struck Lapras, causing Leviene to shriek. I laid my other wing on their back to reassure them.
Yikes, this was very vivid and scary! I’d probably be screaming too haha
“The same to you both. It’s a pleasure to see again the two who saved the world from Dark Matter,”
Dark Matter? I’m assuming this is a reference to one of the PMD games and these two are the protagonists of that story, which is cool! Are you planning to tie in all of the games and their characters into the story? That’s the impression I’ve been getting so far, and if so, that’s AWESOME. Ultimate PMD crossover!!
“With how weird the layout of this place is, you’d almost think it’s a mystery dungeon!” Leviene joked, turning to me. “Did you get all that, Ayueg? I spaced out in the middle of it.”
Haha Leviene is a giant mood. 🤣
“Hopefully they didn’t chase someone across half the continent like the real Team ACT,” I commented, before following after Leviene.
Haha, yeah remember that time Team ACT chased a pair of newbie rescue team leaders across the continent based on nothing but rumors? BIG WHOOPS.
“Seriously, whose idea was it to give the best equipment to the worst search parties and the worst equipment to the best search parties? Anyways, while we appreciate the offer, we don’t need any more help than this orb,” Morgrem said.
Is this a mechanic in one of the games? If so, I’m curious which game it’s from...and why it would work like this, lol.
“Have you heard of a Pokemon called Eternatus?”
...OH BOY. Eternatus is possibly linked to the shadow Pokémon??
No no no. Stay calm. Deep breaths, in and out. Feel the morning sunshine on my leaf.


Just focus on the journal entry. Focus on writing.
Aww poor Saltriv deserves a hug. Also, wow, Saltriv has SO MANY similarities to Rui in how they handle anxiety and negative emotions. Suppressing your fears and only showing happiness and joy despite internal struggles? Yeahhh that’s totally healthy, amirite? 😅
Or maybe I could just try not to think and just write anything that came to mind? That might work to at least get something down, then I could revise it later.


Gen and Burhalla were both knocked to the ground, but the dungeon Pokemon kept attacking them. I felt overwhelmed, then I


I closed the journal.

Aw I just want to hug them. Also these writing struggles are SO RELATABLE it hurts haha. IT DO BE LIKE THAT SOMETIMES

So many interesting things are coming to light, and I’m excited to see it! Can’t wait to see Gen meet some of these characters!
 
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