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Pokémon The Chatot and the Honey Tree (one-shot)

The Chatot and the Honey Tree

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
The cliffs over Sinnoh Route 213 have been overrun with a pernicious breed of pest: shiny hunters. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and that means Sonny has a lot of painting to do.



Word count: 4,865
Genre: Gen
Rating: PG (some cursing)




The Chatot and the Honey Tree

The old couple looked gentle and sweet, but Sonny wasn't fooled. They wore matching olive green t-shirts with a logo above the pocket and, of course, binoculars. Assholes. Just like all the others.

No one under the age of fifty lived on the cliffside, but the old couple were still obvious tourists. The locals were poor, tough, and proud. When the younger generations had left for work opportunities, the old heads had stayed, scraping out a living on wurmple silk farming and scraggly vegetable gardens. No car could manage the narrow trails, so to carry down raw silk for sale and bring up things like canned goods and batteries, the less able-bodied relied on Sonny and the other assorted grandchildren. The old folks still called her Miss Sonora no matter how many times she said, "Please, Auntie, it's Sonny." (In fairness, none of them were her aunties either.) Most of them were hard-of-hearing and illiterate—but they would never, ever trample a lum berry sprout.

Mr. Binoculars was standing in the midst of the tender leaves, the pink tip of his tongue poking out, too busy writing painstakingly in a tiny notebook to see what lay at his feet. His wife was half a step from another patch of lum sprouts. She shaded her eyes with one hand, binoculars raised halfway, and Sonny knew without having to ask that she was searching for a flicker of red among the branches.

That stupid chatot.

Sonny cleared her throat and said in her brightest voice, "Good morning!"

The old woman hissed through her teeth and let her binoculars fall flat against her chest. "There it goes."

"You folks lost?"

"No, thank you, but …." The woman put on a strained smile; Sonny blinked back innocently. "We are hoping to spot a very rare bird, so we'd like to avoid making a lot of noise."

Louder, Sonny offered, "I just figured you must be lost since the path is back that way."

The old man stood and dusted off his knees. "Er, perhaps further down the trail would be better, dear ?"

The couple exchanged a look. "Yes, I think so. Well, you take care, young lady."

Grumbling, they made their way back to the trail, but Sonny knew they'd step right back into the underbrush the second they were out of her sight. No chatot would sit in plain view along the path. "Watch your feet!" she shouted after them. "We got lots of ekans around here!" It was worth a try.

Then she crouched to examine the seedlings, or what was left. A few of the plants had been completely crushed, green shreds in the sunken center of a boot print. Others were bedraggled but looked like they might survive … assuming nothing else disturbed them. She sighed.

For a moment she indulged in the fantasy of returning with signposts, police tape—something. But she could hardly put signs around every single lum plant on the cliffside, and the tourists probably wouldn't bother to read them if she did. In the meantime, Oma was waiting.

Sonny picked her way through the creepers and hanging branches, careful where she put her feet, until she came to the place where she'd lain her bike at the path edge. She tightened her backpack straps, double-checked that Oma's basket was secured to the pannier, and then she was off. The trail was steep, but Sonny's legs were strong from a lifetime of zipping up and down the mountain, and she followed the forking path as easily as a magikarp in a stream. Over a wooden footbridge, past the lightning-split tree, a sharp right took her to the thatch-roof cabin she knew so well. She leaned her bike against the porch, took up Oma's basket, and started around the back of the house. "Oma!" she called. "I brought your tobacco!"

Oma was exactly where Sonny expected to find her, under the mulberry trees with a step ladder and a sickle. She cut cocoons from the branches and tossed each into one of two wooden baskets, one for the fine, white silcoon and another for the darker, pearlescent cascoon. Their slow-blinking eyes made Sonny sudder because she knew what came next: the hot bath that would both soften the silk and kill the pupae inside. But Oma was methodical and unflinching.

Sonny stood out of the way and waited. Oma's hearing was still sharp—she knew Sonny was there—but she wouldn't come down until she was ready for a break. When at last her sickle couldn't reach any more cocoons without her moving the stepladder, she climbed down and turned expectantly toward Sonny.

"Good morning, Oma," she said, bowing her head.

"Almost afternoon, ain't it? Well, let's see what you got, girl."

Sonny handed Oma the basket and watched her pick through chocolate bars, duct tape, and evaporated milk until she found the pipe tobacco. "Unova Blue. Good girl—you remembered."

She'd been nimble on the ladder, but as she tried to open the tobacco tin, her hands trembled so badly she nearly dropped it.

"Oma, can I help? Maybe the lum salve?"

She grunted. But after a moment, she doddered to the chair in the shade and said, "It's in the drawer."

Sonny knew the one. By the time she fetched the jar and returned, Oma had settled deep into the chair, pipe between her lips. Kneeling at Oma's feet, Sonny unscrewed the lid. The bitter, medicinal tang of lum berries cut through the earthy tobacco smell—but her heart sank when she saw the salve jar was almost empty.

Oma refused to come down from the cliffs to see a doctor for any reason. Instead, like most of the cliffside silk farmers, she used her homemade lum berry concoctions for almost every conceivable ailment: joint pain, coughs and colds, nausea, and even toothaches. And it seemed to work. Something had kept her going for ninety-odd years.

"Is there more of this somewhere?" Sonny asked, taking one of Oma's knobbly hands in both of hers.

With her free hand, Oma held onto her pipe. "When the berries come in, we'll make a new batch. Time you learned."

Sure, if the tourists didn't trample all the plants before they fruited.

Lum berries were special. They were delicate and rare, preferring a little cold but not too much, alkaline soil, and the shade of a nanab tree. Native lum berries didn't grow anywhere in Sinnoh but the cliffs over Route 213. The berries imported from Unova and Kalos were expensive even though they were waxed on the outside and tasted like water. Oma wouldn't touch them.

Sonny tried to focus on Oma's hands, massaging the swollen knuckles and papery skin. But she couldn't help muttering, "I wish the chatot would fly south for the winter already."

Oma sucked her teeth. "No chatot, no lum berries."

That halted Sonny. "What do you mean?"

"They got a way of spreading around what they eat, and they love berries."

Sonny saw immediately what she meant: lum seeds were hard as pebbles, impossible to digest. If a bird swallowed one, it could only pass straight through. She wrinkled her nose.

Ignoring Sonny's disgusted face, Oma said, "Balance." With her pipe, she gestured toward the cocoons still hanging from the eaves, never to be harvested. Her neighbors always did the same. Some of the pupae had to be spared to grow into beautifly or dustox and lay the eggs of future wurmple, starting the cycle all over.

"Alright," Sonny sighed. "Then I wish the tourists would go away."

"So do I," Oma said darkly. She took a few thoughtful puffs and then added, "Could maybe learn something from the chatot about that, you know."

"Like what?"

"You remember the story of Cousin Chatot and the honey tree?"

Sonny smiled. "Tell me again."

Oma switched hands, puffed on her pipe, and then began.



Cousin Chatot was a greedy fool who loved nothing more than to fill his belly all day long. When one day he spotted a pecha tree with the most luscious fruit he ever did see, he flew straight down.

But there were two things Cousin Chatot didn't know about this particular pecha tree. The first was that a swarm of combee had recently passed some time there, and the bark and branches were sticky with honey. The very moment he landed, Cousin Chatot was stuck and out of luck. He got to hollering and flapping, but the more he flopped around, the more sticky and stuck he got.

The second thing he didn't know was that pecha tree belonged to an old farmer. And when that farmer came upon Cousin Chatot stuck to his tree, looking fine and fat from stuffing himself with so many berries, he decided he'd found himself a nice dinner.

But Cousin Chatot was clever when he needed to be, and he had other plans. So as the old farmer got him cleaned up and ready for his stew pot, Chatot heaved a sigh and said, "Well, I suppose you're gonna season me up real good with salt and pepper, then."

"That's right," the farmer agreed.

"And I suppose," Cousin Chatot said, all droopy and glum, "you'll probably squeeze sitrus berries on me so I stay nice and moist and juicy."

And the farmer said, "You know, I hadn't thought of that, but that's a good idea."

"Probably all that parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, too."

"Probably that, too."

"And I guess it can't be helped," Cousin Chatot said with a little twinkle in his eye, "that surely you're gonna roast me up with some fresh fennel."

Well, then the farmer had to stop what he was doing to say, "I haven't got any of that."

Cousin Chatot puffed himself up, all offended-like, and said, "Hardly worth the trouble of cooking a beautiful, plump, self-respecting bird like myself if you ain't gonna throw some fennel in with me. It's really the only way to do it."

"I suppose I could pay a visit to Lady Leafeon and see what she has in that garden of hers."

"That's a good idea," said Cousin Chatot. "Why don't you go do that, and I'll wait right here 'til you get back."

So the farmer went to see about some fennel—and he'd hardly turned around before Cousin Chatot was out the window, taking some of that farmer's bread for his trouble.

Remember, girl: just because someone is a fool don't mean he can't fool you, too.



As Sonny whipped down the narrow path, Oma's story bouncing around her head, she passed a girl and two boys on their way up. She skidded to a stop and looked over her shoulder to confirm what she'd only glimpsed in a blur: backpacks, athletic wear, pokeballs shining at their belts. Definitely trainers. Still straddling her bike, she drew herself up to her full height and called, "Can I help you folks?"

"Just having a look around," said the girl, as if the cliffs were a trendy little boutique.

"She might have advice about finding chatot, Suze," scolded the first of the two boys. Then, shifting his gaze to Sonny, he asked, "You live around here?"

"Yup, and my advice is to keep to the paths if you don't want to get bitten by an ekans. It's their breeding season."

The third trainer snorted. "Don't worry, we're professionals. I've got a medicham, and Suze has a hippopotas—no ekans is gonna bother us."

Sonny could see by the grins the three exchanged that she'd made it worse: a challenge would only make the red chatot a more worthy prize, one they were certain they had a right to.

She snapped, "It's just a regular pokemon, you know. The color doesn't make a difference."

The boy who'd claimed to be a professional cut in, "Makes a difference to the collector who's gonna pay us."

"Hush," said the girl. With forced politeness, she told Sonny, "We won't hold you up. You have a good day. " Tugging her companion by the backpack strap, she continued up the path.

With the same cheer, Sonny called back, "Go fall in a ditch!" Fuming at them and at herself, she watched them clomp along the trail. Stupid. It wouldn't help anything for her to play the bigger fool.

She channeled her anger into her pedaling.

As always, coming down from the cliffs felt like traveling through time: Dirt paths gave way to pavement and electric cables, the hum of kricketune to the drone of cars. The peaceful shade of Oma's yard was far behind now, but the afternoon heat had left the streets a little emptier than normal, something in between the normal rhythms of cliff and town. Worn out but lighter of spirit, Sonny breathed in the mossy lake smell that wafted up the hill and allowed herself a smile—

—until she saw the flyer. Large, red text impossible to miss even from her bike: New at the Valor Inn, the Red Bird Special! Cool off with a watmel berry slush! Sonny clawed the flyer down, balled the paper, and tossed it into her bike basket.

But on the next lamppost was another: Valor Inn, home of the red chatot! Ten percent off for trainers through the season.

Sonny's anger rose like a signal flare then sank and sputtered, leaving her standing limply in the middle of the street with a wad of paper in her hand. She couldn't chase every trainer off the mountain, she couldn't protect every lum seedling, and she couldn't tear down every poster. The inn would have more up by tomorrow anyway.

The managers of Valor Inn didn't care what happened to the cliffs or anything that lived there except to the extent that it affected their profits. And the red chatot rumor was good for business, drawing in shiny hunters like dustox to a flame. If the inn had it right, they'd move toward anything with the word chatot stamped on it.

And maybe, she realized with a delicious rush of clarity, maybe it was that simple.



After all the spindly flowers and vines she'd assembled for her portfolio, Sonny figured she could handle sculpting a bird. She knew her way around a band saw, a lathe, and her father's chisel set, but she needed her chatot to be lightweight enough to carry and hang by herself. Paper, she thought, would flex nicely in the wind. It wouldn't last forever, but if she was judicious with wood glue and sealant, she could get a few weeks out of it. Besides, she liked the idea of fighting paper flyers with a paper mache flier.

She began with a skeleton of wire, cardboard, and aluminum foil. To hold and twist it between her hands was satisfying: this bird would do what she wanted. Then, with a bowl of paste on her left and a heap of paper strips on her right, she settled herself cross-legged under the veranda and got to work.

Eventually, Mom brought out a jug of sweet tea and watched her lay paper over the wire skeleton. "I thought you already submitted your portfolio. You're making starly now?"

"It's a chatot," Sonny said grimly.

"Aha. Well, it's looking good, sweetie. You might even get the inn to sell it in the cafe."

Sonny stopped to wipe the sweat from her forehead and gulp down tea. "The point isn't to sell it. It's more like … a scarecrow. Or maybe an anti-scarecrow."

"I'm not sure a chatot is going to scare off any murkrow …."

"That's not what I—" Sonny made an exasperated sound, but Mom was grinning when she looked up.

"I'm just pulling your leg, Sonny. Goodness."

"Sorry." She softened and gave in to Mom's idle chatter, trading news about the inn and the neighbors for news about Oma and her health. All the while, she kept her hands moving: dip, draw off excess, drape, repeat. When the heat became too much, Mom went back inside, but Sonny stayed where she was.

The trouble was that, once she had the shape right, it was too smooth, too unnatural. So she layered on more paper, leaving bumps and ends sticking up to create feathers. Her first attempts were too regular, so she scraped some off and tried again. Between layers, while she waited for the paper to solidify, she napped. Over the winter, she'd had to borrow a neighbor's surly magmar to help the layers dry faster, but now the summer air was doing the job. At dusk, Sonny fetched a clamp light, and its heat sped the drying along, too.

Then, late into the night, came the puzzle of mixing the right shades of blue for the head, the shadows along the neck ruff, the yellows and browns of the beak. The red wings. She had to admit the birds were beautiful, though she preferred the photos to the real thing. At times, her vision swam as she threaded each feather with fine pink lines, but her mind was calm and clear. There was only the certainty of her vision and the need to see it through.

She woke the next morning with stiff limbs and a headache, but it didn't matter: in the golden light, her creation looked nearly ready to take flight. Sonny had captured the red chatot. Now, it was time to send it out into the wild.



Biking with the thing was harder than she'd expected. The paper chatot wasn't heavy, but every time its half-opened wings caught a breeze, the entire bike wobbled. She took the path slowly, worried the sculpture would slide loose and fall.

Finally, Sonny dismounted and leaned her bike against a tree, setting the chatot down with excruciating care, then continued on foot. She wasn't exactly sure what she was looking for but trusted she'd know the place for her chatot installation when she saw it. She couldn't hang it too close to the path—that would seem too obvious—but it had to be close enough that trainers passing from Veilstone would notice it.

How many people would need to see it to validate a claim that the red chatot wasn't on the cliffs at all but north, near the lakefront? At least a few, probably. She wondered if she should assemble more chatot, one for the road from Pastoria and another for the road from Sunyshore, to better the odds. Even the idea exhausted her. And then there would be confusion about where the bird supposedly was, and tourists would still be mucking around everywhere. She wanted them all in one place, far from Oma and the lum berries.

She found a tree that looked promising, with dense, broad leaves to offer her creation a little coverage, a little mystery. But then she had a bigger question: how was she going to get the chatot up there? Sonny had brought rope, wire, and nails, but there had been no way to bike with a ladder. A rock, she decided, tied to one end of the rope as a counterweight and tossed over a branch. It was a crude solution that would leave the rope visible—she felt a pang of worry—but it would have to do for now. So she marked the trail with a few fallen branches and doubled back for the rope and the bird.

When she rounded the bend, she stopped in her tracks. Under the tree next to her bike stood a trainer with a pachirisu on his shoulder. Something metallic hovered jerkily in front of them, a phone or a dex animated by a rotom. And in his arms like a trophy was her paper chatot.

As Sonny surged forward, the words ripped from her mouth. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

The trainer whirled to face her, which prompted the pachirisu to leap from his shoulder to his arm, chattering in admonishment—and knocking the paper chatot from his grip. He fumbled after it but missed widely. It landed with a crunch.

Hesitantly, the trainer bent down. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to—"

"Don't touch it!" Sonny snarled, stopping him short. She stomped closer and he skittered back, the pachirisu scampering down his leg, this time to scold her. Sonny's hair bristled with static electricity, but she ignored it, scooping up the chatot and cradling it against her like it was a living, injured pokemon.

"Sorry!" the trainer said again. "I figured it was, like, a promotional thing, and …."

She swatted the air and snapped, "Would you just get out of here?"

With a final, "Sorry again," he ducked his head, waved his pokemon away from her, and hurried down the path.

Sonny plopped herself at the base of the tree and assessed the damage. One wing had bent back, cracking nearly in two. Wood glue would probably fix it, or maybe a paper mache patch and a paint-over, some drying time …. But that wasn't the real problem.

There was no difference between repairing the wing and sticking the broken sculpture in the tree. Either way, it was obviously meant to be a chatot … and it was also obviously an inanimate object, a freaking piñata. No one would mistake it for a real bird. And even if it had fooled a trainer by a miracle of poor lighting, what would've happened when they inevitably tried to catch it?

This had been a waste of time.

She shoved the chatot aside and tucked her chin to her knees, despair and embarrassment weighing too heavily for her to consider getting up and biking home yet.

Sonny had been sitting for quite some time, absentmindedly picking off shreds of the paper mache, when overhead something mewled. A glameow? That didn't make any sense. Sonny sensed a prank but, helpless to her curiosity, she looked up into the branches anyway. She didn't actually see the chatot, only a flash of blue and gold among the leaves, but that was all she needed.

"Go away," she groaned.

As if in response, another meow rang out, almost like a word. Hellooo!

She jumped to her feet, shouting this time. "Go away!"

In a wild rustling of leaves, the chatot sprang out of the tree and arced into the next like a blue arrow. "Go away!" it called, a perfect imitation of Sonny's voice. Echoes of it rang out from the surrounding trees. Go away, go away.

Even as Sonny set her jaw, flushed and half-ready to chase them off with sticks and stones, another part of her was taking notes: she only glimpsed the birds in pieces, not the shape of the body but the way it bobbed along a branch, and she saw fewer of them than she heard. She never should have bothered with painting individual feathers.

Not a single bird that she could see was red. Maybe someone had already captured the red chatot, plucked it from a branch like a ripe fruit. But then surely they would've been bragging about it all over town—having a rare pokemon was only half as good as letting everyone know you had one. So, no, it hadn't been caught yet. The tourists would've left by now if it had, and wouldn't the inn hate that.

She wondered if there even was a real red chatot.

Now that she thought about it, fabricating a pokemon to draw in customers sounded exactly like the kind of thing the inn would do. It didn't matter whether the red chatot was real as long as trainers far and wide believed it was. An imaginary bird might even be better bait than a real one: it would never be caught.

Sonny scowled down at her paper bird, lying on its back like a trapped turtwig. Her chatot was less convincing than a web of rumor around a chatot-shaped absence.

"Goaway!" The innumerable chatot warbled, trading Sonny's words back and forth until they ran together. Way go a, waygoa. It only sounded like words if you were listening for them, squeezing meaning from the chatter. Would a passing trainer recognize the chatot's admonishment, or would it only sound like noise?

As Sonny listened to the chatot, she thought of Oma's story and slowly began to smile. Cousin Chatot was a fool, but he never made the same mistake twice: not even for the promise of the sweetest berries would he set foot on a honey tree again. She'd been faking berries when she should've been faking honey.



"I told you it was too good to be true."

Among the weeds, Sonny grinned.

The voices and footsteps grew louder until a pair of trainers broke through the trees. A buizel flowed between and around their legs, and a machoke brought up the rear, swatting gnats from its face. One of the trainers, sunburned and sweaty, continued loudly, "I mean, the hotel was advertising it. An obvious sign."

"I said we should go to Veilstone, remember?" snapped the other trainer. "You're the smartass who said we had to travel south."

Time to seal the deal. Stepping onto the path, Sonny said, "You boys looking for a guide? Fifteen dollars and I can show you where to find the famous red chatot of the southern shore."

The suburned trainer glared at his companion. "Obvious. Sign." He pushed past Sonny without so much as a word to acknowledge her, forcing the other to jog to catch up.

As their voices faded, Sonny leaned against the nearest tree trunk and tipped her head back to admire her work. From directly under the tree, the dangling shapes looked exactly like what they were: abstract sculptures of paper and wire mesh. From down the path, though, the colorful pieces aligned and became birds shifting from side to side among the leaves, each seeming to flutter its red wings.

Once she'd stopped worrying about silly things like feathers, Sonny could prefabricate dozens of chatot in a single sitting; her floor at home was stacked with un-birds, curve fitted to curve. Hanging was simple with a little help: in exchange for work around the house, one of the cliffside aunties lent Sonny her kadabra whenever she needed. Regardless of wind, rain, or vandalism, her flock would fly on.

The installation extended far beyond the cliffside, though, Sonny's biggest yet; she'd put up her own flyers alongside the inn's, listing her phone number under the title cliffside guide. To her astonishment and delight, more than one trainer had already hired her to lead them to her sculptures, following the path that carefully wound away from the young lum plants. The trainers had made no secret of their disappointment when they saw the truth of her birds, but she felt no guilt charging what she thought of as an admission fee. After all, as she cheerfully explained, she'd made each one with love and care.

Today she'd come up the cliff without any clients—though she was always happy to advise passing travelers about the chatot. Instead she'd brought Oma her basket, plus a screwdriver and a pack of batteries, the two things she needed to maintain the final piece of her multimedia exhibit. She'd memorized where the speakers were hidden, each in a plastic bag to protect it from the rain. If she ever forgot, her own voice would lead her to the right places: "Almost there! Hello! Come closer! Turn left! No, your other left!"

Sometimes, sitting under Oma's mulberries, she caught snatches of her words drifting over the treetops and knew the real chatot were repeating them, too. Between the chatot and the disgruntled trainers, the entire region would soon know that the only red chatot on this cliff were made of paper.

Where the path was quieter than it should be, Sonny knelt to pull the dead speaker from the bushes. As she pried open the back, she sang to herself. "Underneath the honey tree, my honey and I can gaze at the sea. Underneath the honey tree, my honey and I sweeter than two combee …."

Old batteries out, new batteries in, and then the speaker informed her, "Not far now!"

It's true, she thought, grinning. Only one speaker left.

Then from somewhere in the trees came a burst of song. "Underneath the honey tree …." The voice sounded like Sonny's, but she hadn't recorded those words on any of the speakers. One of the real chatot was nearby.

Sonny automatically scanned for the telltale flash of blue but saw nothing. The chatot must've already flown away.

Then, so fast she almost missed it, something red darted through the leaves, calling, "Underneath the honey tree!" When she turned, three red birds rocked back and forth in the leafy shadows, and Sonny couldn't tell which one was singing. From where she stood, each looked equally real.

She threw her head back in laughter, and the red chatot laughed back in her voice. Sonny laughed long and loud until she couldn't tell anymore where her voice stopped and the chatot's began. When finally both fell quiet and the branches stilled, it was like the bird had never been there at all.
 

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Partners
  1. leafeon
"Just having a look around," said the girl, as if the cliffs were a trendy little boutique.

I can feel Sonny's rage.

With her free hand, Oma held onto her pipe. "When the berries come in, we'll make a new batch. Time you learned."

Optimistic way to say no.

This story is edited with the high quality that I have come to expect from your stories. I only noticed three things that seemed like mistakes.

"sudder" should be "shudder"

"Good morning, Oma," she said, bowing her head.

I expected that Oma would actually be the one speaking here, I guess because she was the subject of the previous sentence.

Sonny's anger rose like a signal flare then sank and sputtered

My understanding has been that you need a comma before "then" if it's used in this way

But at any rate, this is a sweet story with environmental themes. Funnily enough, Sonny's final plan was actually what I thought she was going to do initially, as she was making the first sculpture. Though I didn't expect that she was going to scale it up that much.

I guess you could say it was a... craft-y plan? And it's nice how we see hints of Sonny's cleverness even right at the start.

I appreciated that the wellbeing of the Lum berries was tied, indirectly, to Oma's. The defense of nature here feels more personally motivated than in, say, Continental Divides. Those darn tourists.

Welp anyway that's all I got right now.
 

slamdunkrai

ask me about the Lunar Duo
Pronouns
they/them
This was a charming read! It's really impressive just how much character is crammed into such a short story, especially one that is openly and admirably pre-occupied with this particular theme of ungrateful, shitty tourists commodifying the wildlife -- an interesting take on the source material, but one that makes a lot of sense; after all, the concept of shiny hunting is essentially just gamifying nature in the games themselves. Anyway. This was a very fun and (perhaps fittingly) very colourful story! I think the tale of cousin Chatot, and the little prose shift to tell that in the style of a little old-time folk ramble, best exemplified this. It's implemented very naturally, and just makes it feel like what it is -- a story passed down from Oma to Sonny when she was younger.

Speaking of: Sonny's a compelling protagonist to follow. We learn a lot about her here, and all of it's just delightful. She's full of that "loud but well-meaning kid" energy that I adore. She's a ray of sunshine, but she's also got a strong sense of justice, and she's not going to hesitate to tell people to fall in a ditch when needed, nor will she pass up the opportunity to get one over on the aforementioned shiny hunters even when it requires this massive amount of energy to come up with. And, honestly, good for her on that. It's hard not to root for her here -- but also, I do like how it's her of all characters that the local Chatot act as a mirror towards. I mean this less thematically (though obviously it works well here) and more from the perspective of her being a loud kid with the exact sort of temperament to make a compelling friendly rival to these funky little creatures. They rib each other, but it's all in good fun and there's a fun mutual respect in there. It's good stuff!
 

WildBoots

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

I agree with all those mistake call-outs! I've fixed them in my working doc and will make those changes live ... sometime soon.

I guess you could say it was a... craft-y plan?
😈

You're right—she's not a trainer, so she's got to be craftier than most of my protagonists if she wants to make waves. Brute force isn't an option here. Even if she could brute force it, I don't think she would: too much risk of shooting herself in the foot, or rather the lum berries. (I can think of a few someones who ought to tear a page out of her book on that front ....)

Yeah, the stakes here are smaller, and I think that probably makes her more passionate about her cause: it feels both closer to home and more achievable.

Thanks for taking the time to drop a line!

Well, hello! I'm so glad that it sounds like you've enjoyed my little story.

They rib each other, but it's all in good fun and there's a fun mutual respect in there.
Funny you should mention this. I don't think this is true for her until the final scenes! For someone who harps about nature so much, she really doesn't respect or understand the chatot at first. She wishes they would go away, then that she could control them. Her plan doesn't work until she stops seeing them as rivals, as you said, and instead as collaborators.

You're totally right about them being mirrors for her, though! Cheeky and loud the both of them for sure. And lovers of both song and fruits. ❤️

Cheers!
 

Pen

the cat is mightier than the pen
Staff
Partners
  1. dratini
  2. custom/dratini-pen
  3. custom/dratini-pen2
This was a fun one and a real pleasure to read. I enjoyed how focused and defensive Sonny is of her home (and her grandmother) and how extra she is in her interactions with the tourists. The scene-setting, as usual, was charming and excellent. I love the details of Oma's silk-farming and the paper mache crafting process. The Cousin Chatot story was a big highlight--I think you nailed the vibe of that kind of story, and you got to pick up on a side of folk heroes I wasn't able to in Zoroark Stories--the idea that they're often flawed and rascally, but triumph in the end. All the pieces come together well, and Sonny's scheme felt very plausible as a solution. You make her earn it, as well! There's not too much of a character arc here--the focus is really on problem and solution--but I like Sonny's change of heart towards the chatot, from annoying pests that draw tourists to a vibrant and necessary part of her home. It's definitely a story that left me with a smile.

The old couple looked gentle and sweet, but Sonny wasn't fooled. They wore matching olive green t-shirts with a logo above the pocket and, of course, binoculars. Assholes. Just like all the others.
I am amazed at the level of Bootness here just in the opening paragraph. You and your characters who judge people for their hiking gear.

No one under the age of fifty lived on the cliffside, but the old couple were still obvious tourists. The locals were poor, tough, and proud. When the younger generations had left for work opportunities, the old heads had stayed, scraping out a living on wurmple silk farming and scraggly vegetable gardens. No car could manage the narrow trails, so to carry down raw silk for sale and bring up things like canned goods and batteries, the less able-bodied relied on Sonny and the other assorted grandchildren. The old folks still called her Miss Sonora no matter how many times she said, "Please, Auntie, it's Sonny." (In fairness, none of them were her aunties either.) Most of them were hard-of-hearing and illiterate—but they would never, ever trample a lum berry sprout.
Really nice, dense scene-setter.

Sonny cleared her throat and said in her brightest voice, "Good morning!"
Hah I already love her.

"We are hoping to spot a very rare bird, so we'd like to avoid making a lot of noise."

Louder, Sonny offered, "I just figured you must be lost since the path is back that way."
So extra.

"We got lots of ekans around here!" It was worth a try.
Think 'It was worth a try' should be it's on paragraph.

For a moment she indulged in the fantasy of returning with signposts, police tape—something.
The police tape metaphor is a really telling moment--she conceptualizes what they're doing as a crime.

Oma was exactly where Sonny expected to find her, under the mulberry trees with a step ladder and a sickle.
I always enjoy how you use objects to create atmosphere. Mulberry tree/ step ladder/ sickle. Just the choice in objects creates a little world.

made Sonny sudder
*shudder

"Good morning, Oma," she said, bowing her head.

"Almost afternoon, ain't it?
I love Oma.

She'd been nimble on the ladder, but as she tried to open the tobacco tin, her hands trembled so badly she nearly dropped it.
:( :( :(


Oma refused to come down from the cliffs to see a doctor for any reason. Instead, like most of the cliffside silk farmers, she used her homemade lum berry concoctions for almost every conceivable ailment: joint pain, coughs and colds, nausea, and even toothaches. And it seemed to work. Something had kept her going for ninety-odd years.
So real, god.

Sure, if the tourists didn't trample all the plants before they fruited.
This line has a lot of voice in it.

But there were two things Cousin Chatot didn't know about this particular pecha tree. The first was that a swarm of combee had recently passed some time there, and the bark and branches were sticky with honey. The very moment he landed, Cousin Chatot was stuck and out of luck. He got to hollering and flapping, but the more he flopped around, the more sticky and stuck he got.
Love the verb and syntax choices with "hollering and flapping" and "sticky and stuck."

But Cousin Chatot was clever when he needed to be, and he had other plans. So as the old farmer got him cleaned up and ready for his stew pot, Chatot heaved a sigh and said, "Well, I suppose you're gonna season me up real good with salt and pepper, then."
Heh this is so fun. I like "and he had other plans" like this is just a minor inconvenience for Chatot.

"And I guess it can't be helped," Cousin Chatot said with a little twinkle in his eye, "that surely you're gonna roast me up with some fresh fennel."
This has that great arcing energy these old stories have.

"Just having a look around," said the girl, as if the cliffs were a trendy little boutique.
I can hear it. Lovely snide simile.

Worn out but lighter of spirit, Sonny breathed in the mossy lake smell that wafted up the hill and allowed herself a smile—
If I were on a google doc I think I'd be striking out 'Worn out but lighter of spirit.'

Besides, she liked the idea of fighting paper flyers with a paper mache flier.
❤️

"I'm not sure a chatot is going to scare off any murkrow …."

"That's not what I—" Sonny made an exasperated sound, but Mom was grinning when she looked up.
Mom is good. Enjoying how loving Sonny's whole family is.

Over the winter, she'd had to borrow a neighbor's surly magmar to help the layers dry faster, but now the summer air was doing the job.
I like the thought put into the process.

And in his arms like a trophy was her paper chatot.
This moment, which is pretty big, felt a bit inconspicuous in the text.

Sonny sensed a prank but, helpless to her curiosity, she looked up into the branches anyway.
This sentence struck me as odd--wasn't sure where the prank idea comes in, or what work "helpless to her curiosity" is doing.

As if in response, another meow rang out, almost like a word. Hellooo!
I have trouble envisioning how a meow sounds like helloo.

she only glimpsed the birds in pieces, not the shape of the body but the way it bobbed along a branch, and she saw fewer of them than she heard.
This was the only plot point that confused me. If Sonny is frequently in the area, and the chatot are basically the main bird life (because they're needed to spread the lum berries) why does she have so little experience with them?

Now that she thought about it, fabricating a pokemon to draw in customers sounded exactly like the kind of thing the inn would do. It didn't matter whether the red chatot was real as long as trainers far and wide believed it was. An imaginary bird might even be better bait than a real one: it would never be caught.

Sonny scowled down at her paper bird, lying on its back like a trapped turtwig. Her chatot was less convincing than a web of rumor around a chatot-shaped absence.
The train of thought flows really nicely here.

"Goaway!" The innumerable chatot warbled, trading Sonny's words back and forth until they ran together. Way go a, waygoa. It only sounded like words if you were listening for them, squeezing meaning from the chatter. Would a passing trainer recognize the chatot's admonishment, or would it only sound like noise?

As Sonny listened to the chatot, she thought of Oma's story and slowly began to smile. Cousin Chatot was a fool, but he never made the same mistake twice: not even for the promise of the sweetest berries would he set foot on a honey tree again. She'd been faking berries when she should've been faking honey.
This second part of her realization flowed a little less well for me. I wasn't sure how the bird sounds in particular were what tipped her over. I wonder if thinking of herself as a fool would make a good bridge back to Cousin Chatot?

On first read I tripped over the berries/honey metaphor. I get it now: she wants people to leave the tree, and the way to do that is to fake a thing that will create a bad situation for them, instead of a good one. But I think what threw me off was that in this metaphor, the tourists are Cousin Chatot.

Time to seal the deal. Stepping onto the path, Sonny said, "You boys looking for a guide? Fifteen dollars and I can show you where to find the famous red chatot of the southern shore."
So, so very extra.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
@Pen —Late reply is late because I thought I'd just present my fixes, but I haven't gotten to it yet and I'm not sure when I will. Instead ...

Overall, agreed on those typos and small line edits. I'm on it.

I think you nailed the vibe of that kind of story, and you got to pick up on a side of folk heroes I wasn't able to in Zoroark Stories--the idea that they're often flawed and rascally, but triumph in the end.
With our powers combined ...!

So extra.
Hahaha, this is fun because I think Sonny's behavior in moments like these is much closer to my own than, say, Mark's. Very unlikely to blow something up, very likely to sass a stranger.

This sentence struck me as odd--wasn't sure where the prank idea comes in, or what work "helpless to her curiosity" is doing.
I'll add some lines to clarify. The idea was that it sounds like a glameow, but she knows logically it can't be one. She feels foolish about turning to look when she suspects it's a trick ... but she can't help looking.

I have trouble envisioning how a meow sounds like helloo.
Ah, I was trying to capture that particular whiny yowl I've heard cats do that sounds to me like a hell-OH. But I can see how writing it out that way isn't quite working. I'll find another descriptor since the hello of it all isn't the most important part.

This was the only plot point that confused me. If Sonny is frequently in the area, and the chatot are basically the main bird life (because they're needed to spread the lum berries) why does she have so little experience with them?
I mean, I see lots of sparrows around but I don't know a ton about them and I'd have trouble drawing one from memory. That was the idea, looking without really seeing, so I'll try to add in more of that sentiment here.

This second part of her realization flowed a little less well for me. I wasn't sure how the bird sounds in particular were what tipped her over. I wonder if thinking of herself as a fool would make a good bridge back to Cousin Chatot?

On first read I tripped over the berries/honey metaphor. I get it now: she wants people to leave the tree, and the way to do that is to fake a thing that will create a bad situation for them, instead of a good one. But I think what threw me off was that in this metaphor, the tourists are Cousin Chatot.
Yeah, it's a little sticky (literally). What I was thinking about is how the sound of a bird is often what we actually notice before we see it. I wanted to show that she'd emphasized the wrong parts if she wanted to actually fool someone. I'll try to clarify.

For the second part, it sounds like it might help if I just spell it out a little more clearly?

Cheers and thanks as always for the kind words. <3
 
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kyeugh

onion witch
Staff
Location
the freaking swamp
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
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hey boots! here with a review for you at last. there's a lot to love about this story, but before getting into the specifics, i wanna zoom out and say that it was really neat seeing this kind of story from you. admittedly not having read spring, i feel i can categorize your shorter form stuff into two main categories: dramatic, revelatory, even life-changing character arcs (ballast and basic mineral components on the extreme side of this category, with training data being a bit less dramatic but still of the same basic stock imo), and very quick flashes of the world, a feeling, a character (postcards, embr). this story is something different from either one—you paint a strong picture of place here and a lot of the fun comes from just getting to exist in the world you've built, but as pen observed there's no major character arc here so much as a problem being presented and a character solving it in a scrappy and very personalized way. i think this kind of story really plays to your strengths as a writer; you're great at quickly and strongly establishing characters, immersing us in a neat and fun world, and throwing problems at your characters that they work their way out of, or don't. it all comes together very fluidly here and i'd love to see more of this kind of thing from you; had a lot of fun hanging out with sonny and getting to see her corner of the world!

now for the content itself. i was really impressed with how quickly you establish the world, the conflict, and the characters. within the first couple lines we have a pretty good understanding of at least the outline of the context this story is taking place in, and it never feels dry or info-dumpy. in general the first quarter or so of this story is very tightly written, and i find myself appreciating that more each time i read back over it. i liked the various ways the community is tied into the natural landscape—you'd expect to see a lot of this kind of thing in pokémon! the line about the locals "never, ever trampling a lum berry sprout" just screamed boots to me for some reason, i don't know why, but as soon as i got to that line i was like yeah this is her and i didn't second-guess it much after that.

i'm not sure if i'm just reading what i know into the setting here, but to me it felt like it had a bit of a southern flair, and i enjoyed that. their connection to the land, manner of speaking, and stubborn insistence on traditional medicine reminded me a lot of my family in the sticks of kentucky, and the little fable sort of evoked br'er rabbit and co for me. unsure if it was intentional, but it's what i got from it, and it's something you don't see very often in pokéfic and certainly something i'm keen to see (and write) more of!

all that said, there are a few things i found a little lacking in the worldbuilding, that i wanted to see discussed a little more clearly. a big thing that was sort of popping up in my head while reading is that, to me, the obvious solution to the tourists trampling the lum sprouts is not trying to corral them onto the path, but rather ensuring that the berries are planted somewhere that tourists don't have free reign. why aren't they partitioned off into a growing area or something? you sort of touch on some answers—the community probably isn't wealthy enough to arrange something like that, the berries are picky about where they grow—but i was waiting for this to get addressed directly and it never really is, at least not head-on. especially considering that lum berries are quite useful in-game and you're explicit that the best ones in the world are grown here and here alone, it seems like there would have been at least some effort to get a growing operation there at some point.

i also found it a bit strange that sonny is very personally invested in this stuff but at the same time doesn't have much experience with it. she doesn't know how to make lum salve, doesn't have much experience with the chatot, and the degree to which she's involved with silk production or lum harvesting is kind of unclear. on the one hand her specific level of familiarity has utility to the story as she's able to explain stuff to us, the reader, while leaving some stuff for her to figure out throughout the course of the story, but it did just feel a bit odd and i wanted some explanation there.

sonny is a great character with a lot of charm, and echoing the others' takes that she is absolutely crammed full of personality. i love how how obviously weary she is of these dumb bumbling outsiders stumbling around in her woods, and how prepared she is to tell them exactly what she's thinking as soon as they get a little bit annoying. everything she does is just so full of emotion and purpose.

it goes without saying that the crafting sequences are great. i felt very sucked into her creative process, and you managed to convey the time and effort well without making it drag. her embarrassment and anger when her first plan fails felt very real. i also liked the way that she turns her back for, like, seriously five seconds and there's just immediately a guy fucking with her shit. really underscored how invasive the damn tourists are and gave me a good laugh.

i don't have a whole lot to say on the specifics of the plot maybe because there just isn't much to say; it's well-written, engaging, and ties well into the world you've built. for me, it does a great job of showing off the world and placing sonny in situations where here character can really shine, and otherwise staying out of the way. i did really appreciate all the layers of fooling that are going on here—sonny fooling the tourists, the inn fooling sonny, sonny kind of fooling herself—and think you fit the prompt really well, which nice job and also:
1637043952096.png

anyway wow i really did not think i had that much to say about this story and have been rambling for way too long. i really liked this story—it's warm and feels genuine and in general it's absolutely excellent at what it's trying to be, and i'd really like to see more like this from you if you've got it in you!
The old man stood and dusted off his knees. "Er, perhaps further down the trail would be better, dear ?"
rogue space before the question mark here.

She cut cocoons from the branches and tossed each into one of two wooden baskets, one for the fine, white silcoon and another for the darker, pearlescent cascoon. Their slow-blinking eyes made Sonny sudder because she knew what came next: the hot bath that would both soften the silk and kill the pupae inside.
i'm in love with the detail about sorting the cocoons. very down-to-earth and really pulls you into the world. i think you want *shudder here, btw.

"They got a way of spreading around what they eat, and they love berries."

Sonny saw immediately what she meant: lum seeds were hard as pebbles, impossible to digest. If a bird swallowed one, it could only pass straight through. She wrinkled her nose.
i love this detail on its own, but the way you presented it really makes it for me. neat bit of ecology but yes bird shit, ew.

"We won't hold you up. You have a good day. " Tugging her companion by the backpack strap, she continued up the path.
another rogue space before the close quote here.

Her chatot was less convincing than a web of rumor around a chatot-shaped absence.
this didn't really land for me. i think i get what you were going for but it's a bit unwieldy imo—and if i'm reading it correctly, it seems a bit odd to unfavorably compare her model's convincingness to the web of rumors that she, a local to the area, hadn't thought to question until just now.

The suburned trainer glared at his companion.
*sunburned, although "suburned" is very fun to say

Once she'd stopped worrying about silly things like feathers, Sonny could prefabricate dozens of chatot in a single sitting; her floor at home was stacked with un-birds, curve fitted to curve.
i love "un-birds" a lot.
 

kibigo

Delinquent
Location
Inland Northwest, United States
Pronouns
she/her
ayy watch out, it’s a nother dreaded kibigo! review

🗺 it’s been mentioned above but i think you do a good job with setting, and also community, and showing that those things are really both part of the same thing. i think this is very important for a Sinnoh fic; Sinnoh more than any other region feels to me like a place of locality. i appreciated the depiction of silk production; it’s something you don’t see nearly enough in pokémon fics considering how important it has been in the real world.

i disagree with kyeugh that this feels southern; it’s clear to me that the people living here have been living here a very long time. (nothing against reading it that way, but) i did not get settler vibes from them. and i personally appreciated that, although i do think there is some room for improvement……

🔬 i think there is a bit of a contradiction in your writing between Traditional Knowledges (folktales and cultural understandings) and Reason (logically formulated arguments) which is never quite addressed. i say this because Sonny seems primarily to be a figure of reason and rationality, or at the very least a translator to such for the reader. take for example this bit :—

Oma sucked her teeth. "No chatot, no lum berries."

That halted Sonny. "What do you mean?"

"They got a way of spreading around what they eat, and they love berries."

this is a great example of traditional knowledge at work, but immediately after this Sonny goes and provides a translation into what we might consider a Western scientific argument :—

Sonny saw immediately what she meant: lum seeds were hard as pebbles, impossible to digest. If a bird swallowed one, it could only pass straight through.

what i feel like needs stressing is that while the exact mechanisms by which Chatot spread lum berries around might be an interesting curiosity to the scientifically‐minded reader, they aren’t actually necessary or important to the situation. the necessary and important bit is the part Oma said: ‘No chatot, no lum berries.’

in situations like this, although it is minor and subtle, i think that by including a logical argument justifying the phrase, you introduce doubt, as if the knowledge is not to be trusted on its own. what if no scientific explanation were forthcoming? is Sonny not trusting enough to take Oma at her word? and while this is a small, trivial example, i think this is a tension which runs throughout the work, be it regarding the lum berries, the silcoon/cascoon, &c: they’re consistently explained to the reader in scientific terms, not in folkloric terms. it is problematic because it feels inconsistent with the rest of Sonny’s character, for her to be at once so adamant on preserving Route 213, and yet still feeling (or rather, demonstrating through her narration) like those traditions need some explanation or justification beyond just being what they are. that contradiction could be the source of a very interesting fic / character study, but you don’t explore it here.

📜 regarding the folktale of Chatot and the Honey‐Tree itself, its placement in the story felt a little strange, largely because it is still not clear (to me) why Oma thought it was a relevant story to the situation. the obvious solution it offers (of making someone seek something desirable elsewhere, to leave you alone) turns out to be the wrong one. of course, i don’t think Oma actually told Sonny the story because she wanted her to go building a bird, but it seemed like an odd story to bring up and her final remark (“just because someone is a fool don't mean he can't fool you, too”) seemed unsatisfying and not connected enough to the rest of the story (who is the fool, in the end?).

possible different lessons, which i think are still somewhat in‐line with the lesson Sonny actually eventually learns :—
  • don’t look for a complicated solution when a simple one is in your hands
  • don’t travel elsewhere when what you need is there at home
as it is, this fic is clever, but i think the lessons could stand to be a little more explicit.

📈 i think this story has a bit of a structural pain point from the moment where Sonny decides to build the original brd to the moment where it is broken. at this point, the reader more‐or‐less knows what is going to happen: Sonny will put the bird somewhere, and either it will work or it won’t. they’re impatiently waiting to find out which. and that impatience (in my case) makes it somewhat hard to care about all the little things happening along the journey; it made me want to skim ahead to where that question would be resolved, instead of appreciating the scene where she is actually building the thing.

i wonder if telling the story in a slightly less linear fashion might resolve this. i found the scene with the broken bird to be very striking from a visual perspective, and emotionally weighty because of the amount of time Sonny had put into making it. i wonder if there isn’t a way to put the creation and destruction of the bird closer together, and also put the question and answer regarding Sonny’s initial strategy closer together, so that the reader isn’t bouncing between them. or to move the destruction of the bird prior to its creation, so that the reader understands why that part is so important. these are just ideas; i don’t have any firm answers here.

🆚 i think, by‐and‐large, you do a very good job of depicting the conflict between Sonny and the tourists. at times it seems a bit juvenile, but that’s not really a criticism because Sonny seems like a somewhat juvenile sort of character. i think if you wanted to add a bit more of an “adult” perspective, you could narrate some further history regarding the inn and tourist activities encroaching on the cliffs, but it’s not necessary: being frustrated at people trampling lum plants is enough. (it is a little hard to discern how exactly the elders on the cliffs view things, though.)

i especially appreciate all of the subtle gender dynamics at play in all the interactions between Sonny and the tourists. you can definitely tell, without anything much needing to be said, how all of the tourists’ opinions of Sonny are shaped by the fact that she is (a) a local, and (b) a young girl, and i think it feeds into her passion towards successfully showing them all up.



i could probably nitpick further but i think you’ve suffered my criticisms enough 😅. my hope is that these comments expose new possibilities which make you hungry to get writing and explore, rather than being discouraging. this is definitely a very solid piece of story and i love reading Sinnoh fics which explore these aspects of the world!

— kibigo!
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
Hey, thanks, you two! 🥂

Thank you for the lovely analysis! (Wow, I guess Spring is really my only work you haven't dug into yet! Good on you.)

within the first couple lines we have a pretty good understanding of at least the outline of the context this story is taking place in
You know, you're right! I don't think I've ever laid out the central problem quite so quickly, which is a shame for all my other fics! I don't think any of my stories waste their time per se, but it is really nice getting the conflict front and center right away. I'll think on that.

the little fable sort of evoked br'er rabbit and co for me
Yes! The first trickster story that comes to mind for me is Br'er Rabbit and the tar baby, though it turns out there are Native American versions of the same story, usually featuring pine pitch! I didn't base this story on any single existing folk tale, but I was combing through a few to get some ideas.

the obvious solution to the tourists trampling the lum sprouts is not trying to corral them onto the path, but rather ensuring that the berries are planted somewhere that tourists don't have free reign. why aren't they partitioned off into a growing area or something? you sort of touch on some answers—the community probably isn't wealthy enough to arrange something like that, the berries are picky about where they grow—but i was waiting for this to get addressed directly and it never really is, at least not head-on
Ah! This is something I can make clearer. My thought was that none of these are domesticated, so they just grow where chatot (and probably other birds) crap them out. I can make that more obvious with a few sentences. I'll toss it onto my to-do sheet for editing this bad boy. I haven't had much of a chance to sort out the necessary changes yet, but I will at some point. Hopefully soon.

i also found it a bit strange that sonny is very personally invested in this stuff but at the same time doesn't have much experience with it. she doesn't know how to make lum salve, doesn't have much experience with the chatot, and the degree to which she's involved with silk production or lum harvesting is kind of unclear.
This is another place I need to clarify—Pen was raising her eyebrows at this, too. I think Sonny cares about some of the things her grandma cares about, but she doesn't necessarily have her grandma's understanding of these systems. Sonny isn't a tourist, but she doesn't live on the cliffs either. I think she'd feel guilty about not being better at carrying on Oma's culture, getting distracted or being busy with school, so I can inject guilt into some of the places where she's explaining backstory, and that would lend some more motivation to her artistic exploits.

this didn't really land for me. i think i get what you were going for but it's a bit unwieldy imo—and if i'm reading it correctly, it seems a bit odd to unfavorably compare her model's convincingness to the web of rumors that she, a local to the area, hadn't thought to question until just now.
You know, I kinda wondered about that passage, too. I'll reevaluate!

i love "un-birds" a lot.
I like it too! Glad this landed for you.

Hi, Kibigo! Thanks again for reading and taking the time to share some responses.

"Dreaded" feels like maybe a strong word, one that might psych people out (maybe yourself included) before they even read what you say. I don't think you have to set up that expectation for yourself, haha. :)

i disagree with kyeugh that this feels southern; it’s clear to me that the people living here have been living here a very long time. (nothing against reading it that way, but) i did not get settler vibes from them.
Well it is the south of Sinnoh! ;)

But real talk: in the text, I don't take a stance on the colonial history of Sinnoh, so we don't actually know for sure that these aren't the descendants of colonizers, maybe just earlier ones than the trainers who are coming through now. (And, actually, if you choose to interpret Sinnoh as a Hokkaido-analogue, they probably are colonizers: the Japanese people who've been living there for generations now took most of that land from the original Ainu people!) That said, although I think colonization and race are really important subjects in literature and in the real world, I don't think it's the only thing to consider when it comes to establishing sense of place or analyzing local history.

Interesting to think about, though! As an inherently capitalist narrative, the Pokemon franchise could be used to unpack colonial history in a lot of interesting ways! I'd be down to see more fic that tried it. I do have a fic that unpacks colonialism a little bit (one character in particular has to do some hard thinking about what kind of person he's been and what kind of person he wants to be) ... but sadly I do think it's only one right now.

what i feel like needs stressing is that while the exact mechanisms by which Chatot spread lum berries around might be an interesting curiosity to the scientifically‐minded reader, they aren’t actually necessary or important to the situation.
I'm gonna have to beg to differ. I think in a more fabulist story you can get away with dropping obscure hints at unexplained magic (the chatot and the lum berries are ✨ one! ✨ ), but this story's trying to strike a realistic tone, and the ecology is important to both Sonny and her grandma. I want the connection between the two species to be clear and explicit. Also, the paradox you're noticing, that Sonny and Oma understand the ecology of the cliffs in different terms, is exactly what Sonny is grappling with. She doesn't have a super developed arc—it's mostly a cause-effect, problem-solution kind of story—but what does change over the course of her story is how she understands her relationship to the pokemon. By the end, she sees them as collaborators instead of rivals, and that revelation is partly inspired by thinking about her grandma's story.

regarding the folktale of Chatot and the Honey‐Tree itself, its placement in the story felt a little strange, largely because it is still not clear (to me) why Oma thought it was a relevant story to the situation.
It would feel like a plot hole to me if Oma's story mapped onto Sonny's future too closely. Like, if she thinks she knows the solution to the tourist problem, why not just say so? Oma is otherwise very direct and no-frills. Or, even better, why not just take a crack at solving things herself? The point isn't that Oma is handing her a solution but that Oma's folk tale inspires Sonny's approach.

That said, I'll reevaluate the dialogue leading into the story, because I agree it's set up like Oma is trying to steer Sonny to specific actions when really she's just trying to steer her away from an attitude of antagonism toward the chatot.

i think this story has a bit of a structural pain point from the moment where Sonny decides to build the original brd to the moment where it is broken. at this point, the reader more‐or‐less knows what is going to happen: Sonny will put the bird somewhere, and either it will work or it won’t. they’re impatiently waiting to find out which. and that impatience (in my case) makes it somewhat hard to care about all the little things happening along the journey; it made me want to skim ahead to where that question would be resolved, instead of appreciating the scene where she is actually building the thing.
Again, I'm gonna have to agree to disagree. Sorry it this passage didn't work for you, but so far it sounds like you're an outlier. If I get more complaints about it, I'd consider cutting it down, but right now I've mostly gotten positive responses to that passage. I also think the destruction of her first bird weighs less if we don't see how much effort she put into making it.

i think if you wanted to add a bit more of an “adult” perspective, you could narrate some further history regarding the inn and tourist activities encroaching on the cliffs, but it’s not necessary: being frustrated at people trampling lum plants is enough. (it is a little hard to discern how exactly the elders on the cliffs view things, though.)
Well, like you said: she is a little juvenile. This is a close 3rd person story, so added adult narration would feel out of place to me.

As for how the elders feel, it's right in the text:
"Alright," Sonny sighed. "Then I wish the tourists would go away."

"So do I," Oma said darkly.

Glad it sounds like you mostly enjoyed it, and I'm glad it inspired so many other thoughts for you. Thanks for giving me some more ideas to consider! 🍻

👋 😘
 
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