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Pokémon Wandersword (redux)

kyeugh

onion witch
Location
florida
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. farfetchd-galar


A story of medieval Kalos, shadowy plots, onions, ancient gods, knights who know pokémon, living blades, kingdoms at war, and a lucario who never wanted to be a knight, but must become one anyway.

This fic is intended for mature audiences on account of violence, strong language, and potential character death.
hey guys! i'm back at last. this is a revision of my story, wandersword, which can be found in its original version here. i jumped into the first version of this story without any plans, hoping that by pantsing, i'd be more motivated to write, but that lack of foresight meant the beginning of the fic was riddled with big problems that couldn't be solved without rewriting the story, so here we are. i'm optimistic about this rewrite; already i've trimmed a lot of the fat, and the path ahead looks pretty clear. i'm hoping this new, updated version of the story is a little brighter, cooler, more hopeful, and easier to read than the last. please let me know how i'm doing! i hope you enjoy reading this story as much as i'm enjoying telling it.
i'm open to any kind of feedback! please dig into my prose and tear it apart, no holds barred—i want this story to make the most sense it can, and to flow as well as possible. would also love to hear your thoughts on my worldbuilding and characterization. good? gratuitous? lacking? let me know what you think! i'd love to have a conversation with you about my story—feel free to hit up my dms on discord (@kyeugh#0046) and expect review replies! ♥

Chapter Index​

Part I: Curtains​

  1. Helical
 
Last edited:
I: Helical

kyeugh

onion witch
Location
florida
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. farfetchd-galar
  • Feb. 21, 2021: Prim no longer kills the zoroark, and merely scares it off instead.

Part I: Curtains​


⟡⟡⟡

I: Helical​


I wouldn’t wish the almighty burden of saving the world on my worst enemy. Yet I must shoulder it all the same. Everything depends on it.


The journey to Laverre had taken five days, but it felt like a lifetime. Ferrycloth the lucario had grown dreadfully tired of sitting and waiting, and now that he’d finally made it to Laverre, he was sitting and waiting here too.

Waiting to meet the knight who would be his new master.

Before the clerk had stepped out to wait for the Wandersword, he'd ordered Ferry to sit down on one of the stools lined up against the wall. But Ferry wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of spending more time in a seat after having spent so long on the wagon, so as soon as the clerk was gone, the lucario had sprung up to stretch his legs. The room was cramped, though, divided in half by a counter, leaving him with only a few feet to pace around in.

The city of Laverre was just outside. The little window on the building’s front face was so coated in grime that he could hardly see out it, but he could hear the sounds of the street even through the walls: the clopping hoofs of a passerby gogoat, the hollow whooping of a vendor advertising their wares, or when people passed close enough to the building, even a few words from their conversation. The multitude of auras outside was overwhelming, and Ferry’s aura feelers had been aching dully since they’d approached the city walls.

He’d never been somewhere with so much life packed so closely together. His master—no, former master now—never had cause to take him to a human city. Ferry had been a hunting dog all his life, tasked with detecting game with his aura sense, and there was no hunting to be done in a place like this. The thought of making his way through the city alone, a solitary mon in a sea of humans, was a frightening one, but part of him still longed to explore anyway. It felt like some kind of punishment that he was forced to wait in here with only the inches-thick wall separating him from the sights and sounds of the city.

The Wandersword was supposed to be here by now anyway. “They’ll arrive a night before we do,” the Wandersword that had escorted him here had said when they’d set out. “Wanderswords ride alone. They have no wagons to bring, no passengers to carry. Compared to us, they’ll ride like the wind.” Yet here he was, stomach roiling as he waited for his new master to show up. So far they weren’t leaving the best impression.

Until the knight arrived, Ferry had only his thoughts for company, just as it had been on the wagon. He found himself unable to wrangle his mind as he sat still in the quiet. It loped to the strangest places and fished up the most obscure memories: hunts in the sunlight-dappled forest; petty arguments and play-fights with his brother; the savory delight of the luxurious table scraps he’d been allowed on feast nights, the hearty laughs of his master’s guests audible even from the dank kennels. He’d hated his life at the manor, but some of the memories had been good, and it was hard not to dwell on them. He’d even enjoyed the thrill of the hunt, odd though it felt to derive pleasure from his servitude. And at least he had been with others of his kind then. Ever since he left, he’d felt so small and alone.

More than anything he thought of the words he’d exchanged the night before leaving the manor for Laverre, the night before he’d left his family behind for a new, uncertain life under a new master. “My heart will ache for you every day,” his mother had said mournfully. Unlike Ferry, who had been born at the manor and had only ever known servitude, his mother had been born free. She remembered a time when lucario were a free people, and reminded him that things had been different, once. “But this is an opportunity,” she had added. “Take from it what you can, and become strong. Hold onto your anger. Don’t you forget for a moment what they took from us. Once you become powerful, you can shape the world to your will.” They were good words. He said them over and over in his head, trying his hardest to form them in his mother’s voice. He wondered how long it would be before he forgot what she sounded like.

Greyscar had spoken to him too. He was an old fool, but for once Ferry had been glad to hear his words. “When the time is right, you must climb Mount Molteau,” the elder had told him urgently. He was normally so mellow and even-keeled, but he had been dead serious that night, more serious than Ferry had ever seen him in his life. “I left an old relic there long ago, far and safe from the prying hands of humans… It goes to you now. It must.” When Ferry had asked him when the right time would be, the old wolf had just chuckled. “Would that I could answer that question for you, rio-lu.” Little one. “You will simply know.”

Ferry had always hated that hoary bastard, who spoke in riddles and urged them not to bare their teeth at their oppressors. His mother told him that before the Siege of Lucar, before the humans had taken their people as servants, Greyscar had been the chief of the lucario and the most powerful warrior in the tribe, but Ferry found that hard to believe. He didn’t see how someone with such a weak will could have ever commanded respect.

Voices sounded from just outside, causing Ferry’s ears to prick and snapping him from his reverie. One of the voices was feminine and low. The other he recognized as the voice of the clerk—suddenly panicked, he scrambled back to the stool and seated himself hurriedly. He very rapidly became unbearably nervous as he waited for the door to swing open, heart suddenly hammering and blood rushing hot. He struggled to keep his tongue from falling slack in a pant.

The clerk entered first. He looked slight compared to the Wandersword behind him, whose wide, towering silhouette occupied most of the doorframe. Ferry blinked rapidly. As his eyes acclimated to the light, the Wandersword’s features came into view.

Her pale blue eyes were sunken into a face creased with worry lines and marred with a single pale scar that ran from her left cheek to the edge of her square jaw. Some of her wavy blonde hair was tied back, and some of it fell in locks that framed her face, accentuating the rectangular shape of her head. Boiled leather armor covered her body, all straps and gleaming buckles, and a huge sword was slung over her back, its brass hilt visible over her shou lder. Ferry thought she looked like a woman who had seen many battles and had spent many nights beneath the stars. Her aura was like a graveler, weighty and impenetrable. In those instants, although he found himself unable to read through her impassive facade, he knew that she was sizing him up just as much as he was her.

“A lucario, huh?” she said at least, her voice bold and deliberate as a terrakion. Something about the words made Ferry feel small and angry at once. “Yeah, okay.”

“Yes,” the clerk said, shuffling his way around the counter and producing some paperwork from beneath it. “I hope that’s to your liking.”

“My liking?” The knight grunted. “It would have been to my liking not to have to lug another body around at all. But yes, he’ll do fine. Er, he, right?”

It took Ferry a moment to realize she was speaking to him. “Yes,” he said. “He. My name is Ferrycloth, of Lucar.”

“Yeah, I pretty much figured you were ‘of Lucar,’” she said, making an amused-sounding grunt that wasn’t quite a chuckle. “Right, names. I’m Primeveire. Just Prim’s good.”

“Primeveire,” Ferry echoed. It was hard for him to pronounce. He was glad she’d allowed him to shorten it. “You can call me Ferry.”

“Ferry,” she said, drawing the name out as if testing it. “That’s cute.” Heat rose to Ferry’s face, and his aura feelers prickled. He couldn’t decide if he was embarrassed or indignant—probably both. Before he could formulate a response, Prim turned to the clerk. “So that’s it, then? We can go?”

“Well, nearly,” the clerk said, shuffling the papers he’d retrieved. “Record-keeping and all that. If you could just sign here…” He offered her a quill. “Yes, good. And Ferrycloth—can you spell?”

“No,” he said. He wasn’t sure why he was ashamed to admit that. What need did lucario have for markings on a page? Letters and writing were irrelevant to a pack in perfect aural sync; maps and figures had no use when one could sense the environment and all things in it. His tail swished in irritation.

No matter,” the clerk said. “I’ll give it my best guess then. F… A… I… R…” He fell silent for a moment, then set his quill down. “That does it. Let it be known that I have officially borne witness to the transfer of ownership of one lucario called Ferrycloth to Ser Primeveire Wanderling, on this twelfth of September… and so on, you get it.”

Prim pressed her lips into a line. “Great, thanks,” she said. “If that’s everything…”

“Yes, that’s all. God with you,” he said with a bow of his head.

“You too,” Prim replied, waving a hand dismissively. Then she turned her attention to Ferry. “Let’s go then. I’ve got a few things to pick up now that you’re coming along, but I don’t plan on sticking around here. Never been a big fan of cities. Hopefully we can get some distance behind us before the sun sets.”

Ferry nodded and stood, legs a little shaky, then followed her out the door. He looked back at the dingy little building as they walked away from it. The waiting was over; this was really happening now. It was real.

“You coming?” Prim asked.

He managed to pry his eyes away, heart fluttering, and they made their way into the city.

It was hot for a September day, but the sun was perched behind a cloud, so it at least less bright and warm outside than it had been before. The cobblestones were still unpleasantly hot, though, and he winced when his paws made contact with them.

“Are you hurt?” Prim asked. The question caught him off guard. Why did she care? His master had always left it to him to heal up, and the Wandersword that had accompanied him on the wagon during the journey to Laverre had hardly made so much as small talk once the wagon was in motion, much less expressed concern for his wellbeing.

“I’m fine,” he said. “The cobblestones are just hot.”

“Oh. I guess it would kind of hurt to walk around barefoot in this weather.” She looked down at her own feet, which were clad in sturdy leather boots that reached halfway up her knee. “We can do something about that. I doubt they sell any shoes that’ll fit feet like yours around here, but I can put something together. I’ll just need a few things from the apothecary.”

Huh? Ferry almost stopped in his tracks. “You’ll… Really?” He thought of his former master’s brother, who had visited the manor to hunt a few times a year and always gave treats of jerky and bone to the lucario he borrowed. He and his peers had appreciated his kindness but also thought it strange. Perhaps it wasn’t so strange after all…?

Prim looked down at him, an eyebrow arched. He felt her aura squirm slightly with befuddlement. “Yeah, it’ll be a few silver, it’s not a big deal. Why are you looking at me like that?”

A human has never looked out for me like this, he wanted to say. But he thought of his mother and her warning words. She had known the hearts of humans better than he did. She’d seen their violent, callous nature firsthand. He decided to remain cautious and said, “It’s nothing. I just wasn’t sure where you would find shoes for me at first. But what you say makes sense.” He paused for a moment. Then: “Thank you.”

“Don’t sweat it,” she said despite the doubt he felt emanating from her, and they pressed on.

Their visit to the apothecary was quick. She came out with a roll of bandages and a small vial of rawst salve; she applied the stuff liberally to the bottom of his paws, which was a little embarrassing, then wrapped them thickly with the bandages, leaving the end open so he could wiggle his toes. At first, he found the slimy feeling of the salve at the bottom of his new makeshift sandals offputting, and they threw off his balance slightly, but before long he was walking confidently, and his paws felt strangely cool. He felt his chest swell with gratitude.

Was Mother wrong about the humans after all? He pushed the thought away. Time would tell.

Prim effortlessly navigated the sea of bodies that flooded the merchants’ district, and it wasn’t hard to see how—people gave the towering armored woman a comfortable berth. Ferry had a bit more trouble making his way, however. He only came up to the average person’s chest and no one seemed to have any reservations about pushing him out of their way. One shove would cause him to stumble forward into the another passerby, who pushed him again in turn. His anger climbed with each successive shove, and it wasn’t long before he had half a mind to shove someone right back, but he could scarcely imagine what hell would befall him if he were to try something so foolish. Fortunately, Prim was tall enough that her head bobbed above the crowd, so Ferry was able to make his way back to her easily even when the roughness of the crowd caused him to lag behind.

They stopped at a few more shops after the apothecary. When they came to the butcher, she let him pick out a jerky, and he thought of his former master’s brother again. At all the other stops he waited outside for her, chewing on his new jerky and soaking in the sights and smells and sounds of the city. A massive tree loomed in the distance, casting the rooftops in its shadow, and the roads were littered with its gilded leaves. Prim explained to him that the tree was older than the city itself and that some revered it as a nature god. It was only early autumn, she said, but at the season’s peak the streets were flooded with the tree’s huge golden leaves.

He found himself staring at the tree blankly while he waited for her outside the shops, losing himself in the myriad auras, so loud and numerous that the air around him seemed to tremble. So many people poured through the streets, and there were mon abound, too. He spotted more than a few people walking their dogs—boltund and furfrou—and countless pidove hopped on the cobblestones and nestled on windowsills. He was unable to latch onto any single aura in the cacophony—the chaos of auras washed over him as one. As he acclimatized, the roar subsided into an ambient buzz, almost pleasant. But as the hours slipped by the edge began to creep back. When Prim said she was done shopping and it was time to go, he was all too ready.

Her gogoat was waiting for her at a stable near the city’s outer wall. It had a strange odor, like the earthy smells of soil and manure speared through by the sharp scents of basil and mint. Prim dumped a handful of bronze coins into the stableboy’s cupped palm, then took her gogoat’s reins and scratched the animal behind the ears.

“Hey, Scout,” she said. “Thanks for waiting up.” The gogoat bleated softly in response. “Listen, this guy here is joining us now.” She gestured at Ferry. “He doesn’t have a steed of his own, so you’re going to have to carry both of us for now, okay?” Scout snorted—Ferry felt his aura flicker with irritation. “I know, I know. I’m sorry. But I know you’re strong enough for it, right?” The gogoat tilted its head to the side and then shook it, curling its lip. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

She loaded her new purchases into the saddlebags hanging from Scout’s sides, then put her foot into a stirrup and swung her leg over the gogoat’s back in one fluid motion.

“You too,” she said to Ferry. “Up.”

He nervously approached the gogoat and watched as its flank rose and fell, the lush foliage on its back matted beneath the weight of Prim and the saddle.

“He won’t bite,” Prim assured him. Ferry placed his foot in the stirrup and then paused, nervous. Prim extended an arm, and he reluctantly grabbed it; she pulled him upward with some difficulty, and after a bit of struggle he was seated safely on its back. He concluded very quickly that it was not a saddle made for two.

“Arms around me,” Prim instructed. Ferry winced, embarrassed by the odd embrace, but did as he was told. To his surprise, she barely felt like a living thing—her solid frame and suit of leather made it feel more like hugging a barrel.

Prim steered Scout away from the stable and away from Laverre, onto the road. The city’s cobblestones eventually gave way to packed dirt, and the road seemed to unfurl endlessly before them, disappearing into the horizon like an infinite ribbon of twine wrapping up the world. As they traveled further and further from the city walls, the wilds came to life—fletchling darted between towering pines, skwovet dashed up the trunks, and even the odd fletchinder could be seen roosting in the upper branches. Much to his chagrin, Ferry quickly discovered that riding a gogoat was far worse than riding on a wagon pulled by one. Each step sent a jarring shock through his bones, and it took no time at all for soreness to invade every part of him.

After a while, Prim spoke up. “There’s a small village I know not far from here. We probably won’t make it there today, so we’ll have to make camp, but we’ll get there tomorrow for sure. I don’t think we’ll have trouble finding work there.”

“Find work?” Ferry cocked his head. “Are you not a knight already? A Wandersword?”

He felt a jolt of surprise bounce from Prim. “Huh? I mean, yes, but… Well, that’s not how this works. They really didn’t tell you anything, huh?” She looked over her shoulder at Ferry, and he shook his head. “Well, basically, we’re really good at dealing with mon. People pay us to do it.”

“Dealing with mon…?”

“Sure. Like taking down a rampaging haxorus, helping a snorlax give birth, taking care of a skorupi infestation, whatever. It’s all part of the job.”

A prong of discomfort stabbed at Ferry. He was a mon.

“And you just wander around, hoping you bump into someone who needs help?” he asked.

“Yeah, pretty much. It’s more common than you think. We’re the only ones who know how to do most of the stuff we do, and there aren’t many of us, relatively speaking. Fewer and fewer by the day.” She let those words linger for a moment. “Most folks go a long time without seeing a Wandersword. By the time one of us makes our way to a town, they’ve stacked up a whole list of shit they need taken care of.” Despite the harshness of her words, she didn’t sound frustrated. “‘Course, not all of us really live up to the ‘wander’ part. Lots of Wanderswords, especially the younger ones, set up shop in a city and suck up all the jobs there forever. But for me, exploring the country is part of what makes the job exciting. All that ‘settling down’ business was never for me. Didn’t used to be, anyway.” Ferry expected her to say something else, but she didn’t. He sensed a twinge of longing and decided not to press the matter further.

“So what do you need me for then?” he asked.

Prim scoffed. Ferry couldn’t help but feel a little offended by that. “Need? Any Wandersword worth half their salt doesn’t need anyone for anything. That’s the point.” She paused, then added, “But the folks at headquarters like pairing us up with mon when they can. Say it ‘augments’ our abilities. You lucario are supposed to have some kind of aura sense, right? That’ll probably be useful. I’m sure that’s what they were thinking.”

Aura sense. Useful. Ferry felt something inside him sink. Back at the manor, his job had been to accompany his master on hunts and detect prey with his aura sensors, then either retrieve it or lead his master to it. That didn’t sound too different from what Prim was describing. So this would be more of the same, then. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected.

This is an opportunity, he could hear his mother saying. Take from it what you can, and become strong. There was more to this than being used as a tool again, he thought. Prim was a highly experienced warrior. He could learn from her.

“When does my training begin?” he asked meekly.

“Training?” He felt the confusion radiating off her, but it quickly reshaped into revelation, tall and rigid. “Oh.” She pulled up on the reins, bringing Scout to a stop, and turned around to face him best she could. The sky was waxing indigo now, and a few stars had twinkled to life. The mournful song of a distant kricketune broke the silence first.

“Listen, Ferry…” He felt his stomach drop at the sound of his name. Whatever she was about to say, he doubted he was going to like it. He’d tried to remain hopeful about this situation, tried to cling to his mother’s words, but he felt the cracks in his optimism beginning to form. “I don’t know who put it in your head that I was going to train you, because most Wanderswords don’t train their mon. You do the aura sensing, I do the combat. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Now, I’m not like the rest of them, and I admit that if things were different, I might think about teaching you a thing or two, but…” He felt sympathy spilling from her in waves. At first the tender feeling soothed him, but then he felt his anxiety ignite into anger. Why was she doing this to him? Why couldn’t she just train him? Then came the answer: “I don’t plan on keeping this up much longer. Not long enough to pass on anything worth knowing.”

“What?” Ferry demanded, the word coming out more forcefully than he’d intended. Speaking seemed to have opened the floodgates of his emotion; anger washed over him now. Anger at the injustice of his situation, anger at her apathy. Everything had been taken from him so he could serve under her, and his only solace had been the hope that he would learn from her. Only for her to now reveal she was planning on jumping ship as soon as possible? His vision blurred slightly, and his aura feelers burned hot. He felt a brief spur of fear flare off Prim, but it quickly solidified into stern resolve.

“I’ve been at this a long time, okay? Almost thirty years now. I’m ready to hang my sword up. And if I want do that, that’s my business, you understand? I don’t owe you anything just because the Wandersword Corps decided I needed another partner. Buying supplies to accommodate you has set me back a little, but all I need is a few more jobs and I’ll finally be able to afford to rest. So… I can’t train you.” She stared at him intensely, and he felt his hot anger transform into cool fury. “I’m sorry,” she choked out, and he could feel that she meant it, but it bounced right off him. She turned around and spurred Scout onward.

They rode in silence after that. Ferry wasn’t sure for how long—he felt frozen in place, his mind at once racing and perfectly still. The landscape blurred past him, nothing more than strokes of color in his periphery. He barely noticed when she led Scout off the path and into the woods. Eventually she dismounted, lit a torch, and began to set up camp in a small clearing. Somehow, a part of him still wanted to offer to help, but it didn’t outweigh the numbness, the inertia of sitting on the gogoat’s back and staring at nothing.

This is all for nothing, he thought. This wasn’t an opportunity. He wouldn’t become stronger. He’d just been handed off to another master, one with a softer tone but just as firm a grip. His mother, his siblings… He’d never see them again, and for what? To play servant for some defeated old knight who didn’t want him there, who didn’t even want to be there herself? He had nothing now, no future and no people and no home.

He was barely aware of anything but his thoughts until Prim spoke. She didn’t have a sleeping place for him yet, she explained after a while. He nodded, somehow extracting meaning despite barely hearing the words. She’d laid out some of Scout’s hay for him, which was better than nothing, she said. Some distant part of him wanted to thank her, but he didn’t say anything. Instead he dismounted the gogoat mechanically, landing harder than he’d expected on the makeshift sandals Prim had made him. By the time he had reached the ground, Prim was already laying in her sleeping roll, torch extinguished, eyes screwed shut.

Ferry looked down at his feet, and then at the hay she’d laid out for him, and his cool anger receded slightly. Prim had made him these sandals to protect his feet, and let him pick out any jerky he wanted, and had made this bed for him. All things considered, this was an improvement over his old life. He hadn’t realized it until now, but today had been one of the best days in his life. He was still being used as a resource, yes, but at least he was to some extent finally being treated as something more than that, too. It wouldn’t be everything he’d hoped for, but he could learn to live this way. Tomorrow would be a new day. It was painful, carrying so much anger. It was tiring. He could make amends and learn to find happiness in his new life, just as he had in his old one.

But once again he thought of his mother. He thought of her words: hold onto your anger. He thought of the stories she told him, stories of the humans laying waste to his ancestral home. Then he thought of his former master’s harshness, the years he spent in those dank kennels with his stomach growling, the hours he spent toiling against his will just for the right to live. His sympathy for Prim withered up. The sandals, the jerky—none of that mattered. They were nice gestures, yes, and he was grateful for them, but gestures couldn’t erase the thing that mattered. She was one of them, and he had been handed over to her like an object. I’m still being used as a tool, he thought, cold fury heavy in his chest. This anger, this injustice he felt—it wasn’t arbitrary, it wasn’t a mere reaction. Carrying it was his birthright, and his duty. The fact that his new master was somewhat kinder than his old one didn’t make her any less unjust. It didn’t make things different. His mother was right.

Nothing has fundamentally changed. I was a fool for thinking for even a moment that it would.

Yet he had to become strong. That’s what his mother had told him. Once you become powerful, you can shape the world to your will. And that’s what he would do. He would become powerful, and he would create a world where his people were free.

If Prim—if this woman wasn’t going to help him do that, he would have to get there on his own.

His training could start now.

“Prim,” he whispered. No response. “Prim,” he said again, louder this time. Again, no response. She was definitely asleep.

Ferry felt oddly calm now, as though his anger had frozen over entirely into cool determination. He stood up and began to walk away from the camp and away from the road, further into the wilderness. Scout bleated at him, quiet but stern. Ferry felt the scorn rising off him. He answered with a scowl. Quiet, the scowl said. He knew the gogoat understood it. With that he took off into the forest, tail swishing behind him.

He walked in a straight line until he was far enough that he was sure Prim wouldn’t be able to hear him. Then he squared his stance, held his arms at his side, and took a deep breath.

A memory played out in his mind’s eye.

Greyscar used to wake up before anyone else. He would walk to the corner of the room and start in the same square, neutral stance Ferry held now. Then he would move one arm, slowly but so deliberately, and then the next. He’d lift a leg, hold it there, then gradually drop it. The movements were practiced and slow as anything, but at the same time fluid and intentional. He would inch along, almost imperceptibly slow but ever in motion, like an avalugg in migration. He’d had some strange name for it, something in the old lucario tongue, complicated and impossible for Ferry to pronounce. In Kalosian, he had simply called it “Agility.”

Ferry took another deep breath, trying his best to clear his mind, and then attempted to replicate the motions. He’d never memorized them and found himself regretting it now. He had no love for that old fool, but it would have been something to ground him physically and remind him of home. Instead he had nothing. Still, eyes clamped shut and breaths shallow, he tried.

The movements themselves had never been the impressive part. But after a few hours, something special would happen: Greyscar’s aura, so intensely focused and rigid, would leak from his body, coating his fists in iridescent blue flame. Some days he would let the riolu gather around and watch him with sparkles in their eyes, hearts aflutter at the spectacle. “Aura given form,” Greyscar used to call it. It never got more intense than the flames, and after a dozen times or so Ferry had become bored of the old wolf’s parlor trick.

But there was something more to it, Ferry knew. He’d grown up hearing fanciful tales of the “old magic,” of just a few lucario beating back armies of men, blasting them away with deluges of blue flame and swords made from aura. The old magic was mostly gone, his mother had said. There were only a few left who knew it. Greyscar was one. She was just a riolu when he’d challenged the chief at the time for his position. They’d dueled publicly in the town square, and they fought with blue flame and phantom blades and all the weapons and magic of legend. She’d never forgotten it. As a riolu, it had sounded just as fantastic as any other story Ferry had been told. It didn’t seem right that the spineless old wolf he knew Greyscar to be could wield a power so intense. It was the stuff of bedtime stories, not reality. But as he grew, he began to think it might be true. Greyscar had been the chief. And Ferry had seen that blue fire with his own eyes…

“The old ways cannot die with me,” Greyscar had said to him once. “They must live on. One day, when the time is right, I’ll pass them on to you and your siblings.”

When the time is right. The old fool was always saying that. Well, now the time was never. Ferry would never see Greyscar again, and whatever knowledge he might have had to pass on was as good as gone now.

Before long Ferry found himself lost in his physical motions, inexact as they were. At first, his mind focused solely on the gentle ebb and flow of his breath. In and out, like the endless tug-of-war of the ocean and the shore. But as his thoughts turned to what he’d lost and his feelings soured, the movements began to make his limbs feel heavy instead, and the peace was replaced with budding frustration.

Meditation was a powerful thing for a lucario, Ferry knew, but a volatile one too. Turning one’s aura sense inward compounded one’s own emotions many times over. For a mind at peace, this resulted in complete, all-encompassing tranquility. But the slightest falter could trigger a perilous downward spiral.

He’d simply wanted to calm himself down, but he should have known better than to try it when he was feeling so raw. The experience of being in his body, so deeply attuned to his flesh, suddenly became uncomfortable rather than soothing, and his discomfort was redoubled back on him through his aura sense. The negative feedback loop made his aura feelers feel itchy and somehow restless, the same way his legs had felt after hours spent sitting on the cart without a break.

The hopelessness gnawing at his mind expanded and rapidly engulfed him. He thought of the things that the humans had taken from his people, and the fact that he had been divided from the others too, forced to serve a new master alone without the comforts of family, of community. He would never hear his mother’s voice again, never hear her stories, never learn the old ways, never engage with what fragments of his culture still existed. He was a lone individual with no home to return to, only a prison, and with no family by his side. He had been born a slave, he had lived his whole life a slave, and now he was going to spend the rest of his life a slave, too. And why? What had he, what had any of his people done wrong? Was he brought into the world only to be used and die?

The rush of thoughts just kept coming, so quick that they were indistinct and barely formed, rapid punches of emotion. He caught a fragment here and there—his mother, Greyscar, the smell of smoke on the air, his master’s wrath, Prim’s words, stolen memories of constellations and fairytales.

He tried to take a deep breath to calm himself down, but his chest was too tight to allow it. His failure to even breathe the way he wanted made him feel worse. When it all became too much to bear, his fist went flying toward the tree in front of him. A shower of bark exploded from the collision. A dagger of pain shot up through his hand, and he pulled back reflexively. His knuckles were striped red, little hot beads of ruby blood collecting on the fur like condensation.

The pain coalesced all his muddled emotions into anger, twice as strong and bright and dense as the sum of its parts, and then he heard a voice.

"Are you okay?"

The voice spoke in the old lucario tongue, rough but not rougher than his own. His old master hadn't liked it when they spoke in a language he couldn't understand.

Ferry whipped his head around to view the speaker. It was a lucario, sure enough, standing there between the trees, tail wagging slowly just a few inches above the ground—a friendly, cautious stance. Confusion and relief whirled through his head at once.

Are you okay?” the lucario repeated.

“I… Who are you? How did you find me here?”

The lucario grimaced. “Lucario, like you,” he said, language fragmented. “Sensed your aura.” Ferry suddenly became aware of his heart pounding in his throat. The moment didn’t feel real. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine.” It wasn’t true, but even as he said it, he felt some of the tension leave his body. His arms stopped shaking. “What are you doing out here?” he asked, switching to the old tongue. “Are you with a blade-walking, too?” Wandersword was a human designation, and a recent one too. There was no analog for it in the Lucario tongue. He hoped the other lucario would understand.

Mm.” The lucario looked thoughtful. “Yes. Blade-walking, like you.” Then he held out a hand. “Come here. Something for you.”

Ferry squinted at him and took a cautious step forward, then another. The other lucario just stood there, unblinking and smiling slightly, hand suspended in the air. Something seemed off about his appearance, Ferry thought. It was the eyes—from another tribe, perhaps?

But as he approached more closely, he realized that wasn’t it. Ferry hesitated. It wasn’t the shape, or the color, but the way they flickered at the edges, and the smile too. “What—,” Ferry began, and then the lucario’s form slanted into nothing, gone entirely like a candle’s flame extinguished by a sudden gust.

Crimson claws thrust forward in his place, glinting silver. Ferry didn’t register what was happening until the claws had already dug triple trenches into his shoulder. He felt the blood before he felt the pain—warm and slightly uncomfortable, then white-hot and screaming. A shout escaped him, equal parts surprise and anguish.

Blue eyes flashed at him from where the other lucario had stood moments before. Ferry realized with a start what he was facing.

A zoroark.

The impostor lashed out with their claws again, so swift and furious, but this time Ferry tumbled out of the way in time. Of course they’re a zoroark, he thought as he reoriented himself. Why would there be another—

The zoroark swept his legs out from under him. All his breath was squeezed from his lungs in a single puff as his back slammed into the ground, his vision swimming. Then the zoroark was descending on him, all knotted black fur and ruby claws, eyes like a moonlit pond, aura like a violet flame.

He tried to scramble out of the way, but the zoroark pinned him by his wrists in no time. They were two heads taller than him, and their limbs seemed twice as long as his. “So lonely, your kind,” they said, blasting him with its hot breath. Their voice was different now, icy and venomous where it had been warm and inviting before, but they still spoke in the old lucario tongue, which felt obscene. “So trusting. And so foolish.”

The words barely registered. Ferry resisted with all the energy he had in him, bucking and scratching, but it was little use. The zoroark was lithe but sturdy, slender but powerful and tall—the finely-tuned body of a solitary predator. Ferry had the build of a pack hunter. One on one, there was no contest between the two. He was feeling that disparity now as he squirmed and kicked desperately at the zoroark’s ribcage. The blows earned nothing but grunts from his assailant, not so much as breaking their gaze. “You don’t fight like they used to. Disappointing.” They stared right into him so intensely Ferry wondered if they could read his aura, too, feel the way it was flickering and oscillating.

He continued jerking his body violently against their grasp, but the zoroark just tightened their grip, eventually drawing blood as their claws sank into his wrists. Eventually they released one of his wrists, and he pushed his palm into their face frantically, trying with everything in him to push them off of him, but they didn’t seem deterred. They brought their hand to Ferry’s face as if in kind, unflinching despite Ferry’s kicks. They looked almost curious. “The things hunger drives us to… Hunting another hunter. How strange,” they remarked casually. “The hunter of all hunters rises.”

Then they dug their claws into his cranium and dragged them downward, across his face.

Ferry screamed as hot blood trickled into his eye, blurring his vision. He thrashed harder than ever, still to no avail. The zoroark’s claws seemed to penetrate through his skull into his very being, his very soul. They were playing with him. Helplessness and fear and anger and shame and desperation all whirled madly in his core like a wild tempest.

And then it all exploded from inside him.

He gasped as he felt his raw emotion become real, every hair on his body standing straight up on end, his breath suddenly cold and crisp—and his fists cloaked in blue flame, so brilliant it was almost white, bathing the trees in soft ethereal light. He was somehow profoundly angry and wholly calm at once, both detached from and fueled by his fury. The zoroark’s face slackened with disbelief or fear, not a moment before Ferry’s flaming fist slammed into it with such force it sent the zoroark tumbling.

And then, just as suddenly as they had appeared, the flames evaporated. Everything was very dark again, save for the stars twinkling overhead, and the wan glow of the zoroark’s eyes. They burned with unadulterated fury. Ferry suddenly felt very small, and so empty his heartbeat seemed to echo.

The zoroark was really going to kill him now. He was going to die.

Not quite paralyzed with fear, he scooted backward frantically, kicking up a storm of crunchy leaves and soft detritus as he did. The zoroark lunged at him, their ruby claws held forward as they leaped, their white teeth flashing.

But they never reached him. Instead a boot collided with their body mid-leap, and their trajectory was cut short; they hit the ground suddenly with a shrill yelp. Ferry watched as a towering figure lowered its leg drew a blade, moonlight dancing off the metal. “I’m giving you a chance to fuck off,” Prim said, her voice almost a whisper but radiating authority, “before I kill you.” The zoroark didn’t need a second warning. They faded into the night in the blink of an eye.

The sound of Prim’s sword being re-sheathed snapped Ferry back to his senses. His whole body throbbed, sharp pain biting into his wrists, his skull, his neck. He groaned involuntarily. The sound barely made its way through his constricted throat.

“You just couldn’t stay put, could you?” Prim chided. Leaves crunched as she moved toward him. “Damn it, Ferry. It’s only been a day and you’re already a pain in my ass.” Despite everything, he felt something inside him shrink. “Come on.” She bent over and stuck her hands under his armpits, then hefted him over his shoulder. Pain lanced through every part of him. His head felt like it was being struck by lightning. He groaned loudly in anguish. “Oh, stuff it. You’re fine. Just scratched up. Kind of a mess, though. Hmm.”

He felt very small and pathetic, being carried through the forest, and very hurt. But through the humiliation and exhaustion, there was relief too. Relief that it was over, and that he had been rescued. A pang of gratitude for Prim pulled at him, but the thought of her dragged up his anger at her too, and the defeat, and the hopelessness. The powerful negative feelings battled with his relief and gratitude on some level of his consciousness, but Ferry was too tired to follow it. He just stared at the ground underfoot as Prim approached the camp, suppressing a grunt as a new round of pain stabbed him with each step.

“About what I said earlier,” Prim said at length. Ferry screwed his eyes shut. “I’ll do it. I’ll train you.”

He wrenched his eyes back open. “What?” he croaked.

“I said I’ll train you,” she repeated, not unkindly. “What just happened can’t happen again. I can’t come running to your rescue every time you get yourself into trouble.”

I don’t expect you to, Ferry thought. I never expected you to. But he stayed silent.

“I’ll train you so shit like this doesn’t happen again.”

So it wasn’t all for nothing. He would become stronger. The seeds of hope took root deep within him once more.

“And I saw what you did back there,” she added. “Whatever that was… it was something. We can talk about it later.”

Somehow, he’d nearly forgotten about that. The emotion, the clarity, the fire. The night painted blue. The old magic, like from the stories. He’d made it real.

Perhaps he could do it again.
 
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SGMijumaru

Hero in their dreams
Location
London
Pronouns
They/them, She/her,
Here for Catnip. I have to say, this is the fastest I've ever gotten one done because I was so at home with everything surrounding this story, so it was easy for me to gather my thoughts.


...


I like stories like this. No, I love stories like this. Stories that take a spin on Pokémon and its lore by placing them in their own creative world. Right from the start, Wandersword makes it clear what it is with utmost confidence, and it never stops to compare itself to whatever headcanon the reader might have. It has talking Pokémon, people who can understand and fight alongside those Pokémon, and all without pokéballs or whatever fantasy technology the games make up. You have to like what the story gives you, and that’s that.

This does however mean that there’s a difficult pacing pattern to establish. When you create your own Pokémon world from the ground up like this, by default you have a million things that need explaining in order to settle into consistency. First chapters of stories like these unintentionally fall into the trap of being exposition-heavy, and if the writer absolutely can’t avoid it, they weave explanations into conveniently placed happenings, almost like a video game tutorial. Your tolerance for this determines right away whether this this is a readable story or not, because if the story doesn’t do these things, the reader is left with intentionally vague storytelling. So the question now is of course: Does Wandersword fall into any of these traps?

The answer is a no, but with some musings. For me personally, I was fine with the pacing and movement of this first chapter, but this is only because of my personal preference for worlds like this that give me a high tolerance and patience for the steady presentation they require. By no means is the first chapter a slog of explanations or robotic dialogue, but it does have to be mentioned that it dwells on the main character’s backstory a lot. It’s not filled with flashbacks to interrupt flow or anything. However, it does repeat itself a few times and really ensures that you know and understand why Ferry the Lucario behaves the way he does by hammering in thoughts related to his history and the world around him.

If you’re not into the premise or lose focus for a little bit, you’re going to miss out on varied setting descriptions or important points that establish character goals. These are doubly important because you don’t really learn what’s going on in the present time until maybe a third of the way into the chapter. It’s an unusual way of ordering that works well for stories like these, but could trip up less patient readers who aren’t hooked by the first sentence or paragraph, neither of which do much to engage the reader.

Again, I must express that I loved this chapter, but only because I kept reading with the hopes that the story would pay off (and it did). The content of the text itself is fine – words are varied, descriptions are lively, characters don’t waste a word in their dialogue or presentation. But if it’s possible at all, perhaps the events of this chapter could be rearranged in a way that moves the story forward earlier. Say for example, meeting Prim and embarking on the trip before stopping to explain Ferry’s life at the manor and his aversion to humans? I feel like doing so would help to make things engaging quicker, and might even make Ferry’s thoughts more interesting.

The only point in this chapter where I felt the story and the writing tripped up was the conflict with the Zoroark towards the end. Action is very difficult to balance, but in a chapter like this, its issues show through a bit clearer. The steady pace and description-heavy focus that’s used in worldbuilding is used in the action as well, where it doesn’t work. Action is fast paced and doesn’t need details on every last movement and position of the characters in order to be engaging.

The fight scene isn’t criminally overcooked still, but it did leave a bit to be desired in terms of being less wordy here and there. Think of it this way: the less intricate you get with describing individual movements and actions during conflict, the more words you can put into the number of actions, leading to a faster pace where lots of things happen in a short time – like an actual fight or action scene. I was also pulled out of immersion a bit due to the fact that the seasoned hunter Ferry, who we know is confident in his strength and experienced in fighting, could be pinned down so helplessly by a single feral Zoroark. Maybe if he was ambushed by a number of Pokémon instead?

Overall, this chapter does everything it set out to do. I learnt a lot about the lead characters, the world the story is set in, and why the story is titled what it is. The story can only go forward from here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s almost like I’ve watched the opening episode of a promising new Netflix original that everyone will be musing over until the next part. Some won’t like it only due to the pacing, but rearrange a few things and speed up the action and they’ll be hooked like a Magikarp to an old rod. If I had to give it a numbered rating, it’d be 9/10, and I’d be very happy to read onward.



-SGMijumaru-
 

Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Partners
  1. custom/mew-adam
  2. custom/celebi-shiny
New Wandersword, let's just jump right into it shall we?

To start off, I have to admit I didn't expect the revisions to be this much different compared to the first version of the fic. The broad strokes are still the same, and notable differences include Ferry having not lived through his tribe's subjugation or that narcissist sociopath religious dude not being introduced to us yet, assuming he'll still be a character in this one.

Another notable difference here is that Prim's a seasoned Wandersword, having already done this for decades at this point whereas in the previous version I think she was still a newly assigned Wandersword? This first chapter also condenses the events that happened in the first three of the previous one. Zoroark makes a return and die as quickly as they appeared. Rip.

Seeing Terry's thoughts and him recalling past events including his mother and the old chief he held contempt over was pretty cool to see. It really strengthened Terry's character because we got a very good idea of his driving motivations and even saw bits of his trauma. Never let go of your hatred, my good bludoge fellow. I am curious though how deeply the slavery analogies are going to go in this story. It's still early to say whether it'll be a central focus of this story or just supplementary.

I must say though, I like all of these changes you've made in this version. Ferry and Prim's characterizations feel a lot stronger and cohesive, plus Ferry has an actual goal this time around. Biggest upgrade tho is Prim being a toll lady. That alone elevates this to a 11/10 for me. Jokes aside however, this revision was a very good read and makes me excited about where the story is headed from here.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. custom/moka-mark
  2. solrock
When I saw the word count for this chapter I was like, okay, buckle up. 😤 But it went fast! More plz.

I definitely recognize a few familiar beats here, but things flow more smoothly and more quickly. The zoroark encounter makes way more sense to me now--I can see what's motivating the zoroark much more clearly, and I can see why Ferry's wandered off. Couldn't sleep, had to do Tai Chi, Mom. :c

I don't feel like I'm missing much by not seeing Prim arm-wrestle a dude and strut around. Her personality comes through loud and clear! Though I am looking forward to getting to know her more. Being middle aged makes sense because it allows the conceit of to train/not to train Ferry, but it also means she must have a lot of badass tales of ye olde adventures. It's also a nice character difference between her and Ferry: she's more likely to be cautious and skilled, having Seen Some Shit, and Ferry is probably going to be more rash. And, of course, he'll be able to do things she can't ...!

I get the sense here that magic is leaving the world. (Probably due to humans actively stamping it out with breeding and oppressive tactics.) The Lucario used to be more magical ... and now they've forgotten how to do it all. I wonder what he's going to find on that mountain? I imagine it could be something that could help him learn the techniques that Prim won't be able to teach him, being a human. The tension between them is juicy--lots of room for things to come to a head with Prim's liberal tendencies x casual ignorance and dismissal. They're not at each other's throats as much in this version, but they're still not besties.

Also: major Witcher vibes here! Ferry is a solid stand-in for Ciri, actually! (LOL.) I've often thought about what a Witcher x Pokemon crossover might look like, since a duoblade would turn his relationship with his swords ... into an actual relationship. Very interested to see what that's going to look like in this setting and where it's going to come from!

The prose is stronger too, BTW.

kyeugh said:
Ferrycloth had hoped getting off that dreadful wagon would mean the journey was over, but of course he still had more waiting to do.
The structure of these two statements isn't quite as parallel as I'd like them to be--the comparison/contradiction between the journey and the waiting isn't quiiiite complete.

kyeugh said:
The building he was in now was a small and cramped one, squeezed between a pair of other buildings just like it and opening out into the street. A counter cut through the middle of the building’s single room, halving its traversable area. There were a few stools lined up against the walls, and before stepping outside to await the Wandersword, the clerk had instructed Ferry to stay put on one. Ferry wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of spending more time in a seat after having spent so long on the wagon though, so as soon as the clerk had stepped out, Ferry had sprung up to stretch his legs and walk around.
This paragraphs was funky for me re: ordering.

A suggestion: Before the clerk had stepped out to wait for the Wandersword, he'd ordered Ferry to sit down on one of the stools lined up against the wall. But Ferry wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of spending more time in a seat after having spent so long on the wagon, so as soon as the clerk was gone, the lucario had sprung up to stretch his legs. The room was cramped, though, divided in half by a counter, leaving him with only a few feet to pace around in.

But I love how even the building is constraining him here. Hemmed in on all sides, both in the physical plane and the social one.

kyeugh said:
but he could hear the sounds of the street even through the walls: the clopping hoofs of a passerby gogoat, the hollow whooping of a vendor advertising their wares, or when people passed close enough to the building, even a few words from their conversation.
Mm nice.

kyeugh said:
Being forced to wait in here, the sounds and auras of the city beckoning to him tantalizingly from just a few feet away through the building’s stone walls, felt like some kind of punishment.
Lots of prepositions here!

But, yeah, cities would be such sensory overload for an empath!!

kyeugh said:
And at least he had been with others of his kind then. Ever since he left, he’d felt so small and alone.
:c

kyeugh said:
“Would that I could answer that question for you, rio-lu.” Little one.
Oooh, I love that!

kyeugh said:
before the Siege of Lucar,
👀

kyeugh said:
He struggled to keep his tongue from falling slack in a pant.
This is a great detail! It makes him feel both inhuman and other and shows how expectations of human culture frame his behavior.

kyeugh said:
He couldn’t tell if he was embarrassed or indignant—probably both.
Maybe "he couldn't decide"? Minor, though. Might just be preference.

kyeugh said:
“Yes, good. And Ferrycloth—how’s that spelled?”

“I don’t know,” he said, scowling. “Lucario can’t—I can’t read. Or spell.”
Interesting that the clerk assumed he might.

kyeugh said:
“I’ll give it my best guess then. F… A… I… R…” He fell silent for a moment, then set his quill down.
Ha!! This sequence was great.

kyeugh said:
When they came to the butcher, she let him pick out a jerky, and he thought of his former master’s brother again.
Oof, a kindness but still an infantilizing one.

kyeugh said:
Prim explained to him that the tree was older than the city itself and that some revered it as a nature god. It was only early autumn, she said, but at the season’s peak the streets were flooded with the tree’s huge golden leaves.
Huh, she's not so closed off after all! A little chatty!

kyeugh said:
It had a strange odor, like the earthy smells of soil and manure speared through by the sharp scents of basil and mint.
Yesssss I love that. Makes sense.

kyeugh said:
“You too,” she said to Ferry. “Up.”
Her stern, no-nonsense vibes come through loud and clear.

kyeugh said:
skwovet dashed up the trnks,
*trunks

kyeugh said:
Well, basically, we’re really good at dealing with mon. People pay us to do it.”
Oh my god, she's a witcher.

kyeugh said:
helping a snorlax give birth,
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

kyeugh said:
“But the folks at headquarters like pairing us up with mon when they can. Say it ‘augments’ our abilities.
Interesting. So they're solitary, but they're still subject to the wants and commands of HQ. Does HQ get a cut of their earnings??

kyeugh said:
He felt the confusion radiating off her, but it quickly reshaped into revelation, tall and rigid.
Ooh, writing an empath gives you a lot of tools for showing what other characters are thinking without having to head-hop! Nice!

kyeugh said:
At first the tender feeling soothed him, but then he felt his anxiety ignite into anger.
Looks like he doesn't have too much trouble sorting his feelings from another's, though. 👌

kyeugh said:
He’d left his family behind for this, and she was planning on jumping ship as soon as possible?
It was a little unclear in this moment how voluntary his leaving was, though I see later that he didn't choose it at all.

kyeugh said:
It was painful, carrying so much anger. It was tiring. He could make amends and learn to find happiness in his new life, just as he had in his old one.

But once again he thought of his mother. He thought of her words: hold onto your anger.
Moooooood.

kyeugh said:
The sandals, the jerky—none of that mattered. They were nice gestures, yes, and he was grateful for them, but gestures couldn’t erase the thing that mattered. She was one of them, and he had been handed over to her like an object. I’m still being used as a tool, he thought, cold fury heavy in his chest.
Hell yeah, Ferry, stay woke.

kyeugh said:
Carrying it was his birthright, and his duty.
👀

kyeugh said:
Then he would move one arm, slowly but so deliberately, and then the next. He’d lift a leg, hold it there, then gradually drop it. The movements were practiced and slow as anything, but at the same time fluid and intentional. He would inch along, almost imperceptibly slow but ever in motion, like an avalugg in migration.
Omg is he doing Tai Chi? Amazing.

kyeugh said:
Meditation was a powerful thing for a lucario, Ferry knew, but a volatile one too.
kyeugh said:
He’d simply wanted to calm himself down, but he should have known better than to try it when he was feeling so raw and volatile.
Double volatile here. I'd ditch the second one and let "raw" carry it by itself.

kyeugh said:
His old master hadn't liked it when they spoke in a language he couldn't understand.
I bet he didn't.

kyeugh said:
Mm.” The lucario looked thoughtful. “Yes. Blade-walking, like you.”
Something tells me this doesn't mean what Ferry thinks it does.

kyeugh said:
“What—,” Ferry began, and then the lucario’s form slanted into nothing, gone entirely like a candle’s flame extinguished by a sudden gust.
Ooh nice!

kyeugh said:
but they still spoke in the old lucario tongue, which felt obscene. “So trusting. And so foolish.”
100%--I could see how this would feel invasive.

kyeugh said:
The zoroark was lithe but sturdy, slender but powerful and tall—the finely-tuned body of a solitary predator. Ferry had the build of a pack hunter. One on one, there was no contest between the two.
That makes sense. I also get the sense that Ferry is just this side of evolution--he baby. (Interesting, though, because it's canonically a friendship evo! I guess not in this setting!!)

Overall, I like this. Do it more.
 

kyeugh

onion witch
Location
florida
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. farfetchd-galar
hey guys!! dropping in to respond to everyone's awesome feedback. thank you guys a ton! i'm really glad to hear that y'all are enjoying the chapter, makes me feel like this revision has been worth the effort so far. chapter 2 is in the works (somewhat, when i manage to pry myself away from the uncompromising clutches of stardew valley)—hopefully shouldn't be too long.

So the question now is of course: Does Wandersword fall into any of these traps?

The answer is a no, but with some musings. For me personally, I was fine with the pacing and movement of this first chapter, but this is only because of my personal preference for worlds like this that give me a high tolerance and patience for the steady presentation they require.
i'm really glad to hear this! though i've tried to improve the pacing with this revision, wandersword is still sort of a slow burn (especially in the context of pokémon fic), so i think people who would be bored by the exposition in this chapter probably aren't going to like this fic all that much in general, haha. choices! it is immensely reassuring that it didn't bother you as someone who is into stories like this—that's my target audience! 😁

The only point in this chapter where I felt the story and the writing tripped up was the conflict with the Zoroark towards the end. Action is very difficult to balance, but in a chapter like this, its issues show through a bit clearer. The steady pace and description-heavy focus that’s used in worldbuilding is used in the action as well, where it doesn’t work. Action is fast paced and doesn’t need details on every last movement and position of the characters in order to be engaging.
i hear you here. action is something i struggle with. i'm going to put a pin in this for now because i don't want to spend too much time languishing on the first chapter or i'll never move forward, but i'll definitely come back to this at a later date, and i'll try my best to keep your words in mind and shoot for brevity when writing future action sequences!

Some won’t like it only due to the pacing, but rearrange a few things and speed up the action and they’ll be hooked like a Magikarp to an old rod. If I had to give it a numbered rating, it’d be 9/10, and I’d be very happy to read onward.
haha, aw! i'm glad you enjoyed it at least. thanks a ton for giving it your time, i hope future chapters continue to satisfy!
The broad strokes are still the same, and notable differences include Ferry having not lived through his tribe's subjugation or that narcissist sociopath religious dude not being introduced to us yet, assuming he'll still be a character in this one.
you'd be right! the original prologue was sort of an attention-grabbing device that i decided was unnecessary and gratuitous, but it's somewhat good background information to have and keep in mind while reading. we'll be revisiting the high priest and his ~dastardly deeds~ eventually.

This first chapter also condenses the events that happened in the first three of the previous one. Zoroark makes a return and die as quickly as they appeared. Rip.
hahahaha. rip to a real one. i actually decided that prim butchering the poor thing was probably too far, so i've actually edited it so she just scares it off. :p

Seeing Terry's thoughts and him recalling past events including his mother and the old chief he held contempt over was pretty cool to see. It really strengthened Terry's character because we got a very good idea of his driving motivations and even saw bits of his trauma. Never let go of your hatred, my good bludoge fellow. I am curious though how deeply the slavery analogies are going to go in this story. It's still early to say whether it'll be a central focus of this story or just supplementary.
i'm happy you thought that stuff was interesting! never can be too sure how exposition like that will go over. bludoge slavery will continue to be a prevalent theme, but i promise to try not to make it quite so doomy. this is probably the angstiest chapter for a while.

I must say though, I like all of these changes you've made in this version. Ferry and Prim's characterizations feel a lot stronger and cohesive, plus Ferry has an actual goal this time around. Biggest upgrade tho is Prim being a toll lady. That alone elevates this to a 11/10 for me. Jokes aside however, this revision was a very good read and makes me excited about where the story is headed from here.
strong gorls get shit done!!!! 😤 💪 ripped prim and actually motivated ferry are the two big things i wanted to change with this revision, so i'm glad you think those changes were positive! thanks for the read and review!
When I saw the word count for this chapter I was like, okay, buckle up. 😤 But it went fast! More plz.
good to hear! it does look a little daunting as a big text wall on my desktop. glad to hear it went by quickly.

I definitely recognize a few familiar beats here, but things flow more smoothly and more quickly. The zoroark encounter makes way more sense to me now--I can see what's motivating the zoroark much more clearly, and I can see why Ferry's wandered off. Couldn't sleep, had to do Tai Chi, Mom. :c
sweet!! \o/ the zoroark thing is something i was very ambivalent about in the old version... i don't think i really achieved anything i wanted to with it in my first trial and it was sort of just a weird Thing, but the idea itself wasn't bad. i had a much clearer idea of what i wanted from it this time, hopefully it hit home a little more effectively!

I don't feel like I'm missing much by not seeing Prim arm-wrestle a dude and strut around.
same lmfao. deleting that chapter from the collective memory, 3, 2, 1...

Being middle aged makes sense because it allows the conceit of to train/not to train Ferry, but it also means she must have a lot of badass tales of ye olde adventures.
i'm looking forward to having a character in my story that's both cool AND not a duck!

The tension between them is juicy--lots of room for things to come to a head with Prim's liberal tendencies x casual ignorance and dismissal. They're not at each other's throats as much in this version, but they're still not besties.
glad the tension is working! i think the constant bickering was maybe a little exhausting—giving them space to banter and pal around a little should add a bit of levity, i hope. and for sure, once nice thing about ageing prim up is that ascended grilling boomer is much easier for me to write than optimistic naïveté.

I've often thought about what a Witcher x Pokemon crossover might look like, since a duoblade would turn his relationship with his swords ... into an actual relationship. Very interested to see what that's going to look like in this setting and where it's going to come from!
hoho. i have big plans here. hopefully they don't disappoint.

Oh my god, she's a witcher.
definitely an angle i've decided to learn into a liiiittle harder here. :p

Interesting. So they're solitary, but they're still subject to the wants and commands of HQ. Does HQ get a cut of their earnings??
nope! HQ is funded by the church. wanderswords aren't reaaally actually beholden to the whims of HQ, but HQ can be a huge help and has lots of money to throw at the wanderswords, so it's best to just do what they ask every once in a while to stay on their good side. will get more into this later!

Omg is he doing Tai Chi? Amazing.
pretty much! lucario has double team in smash, and the animation for it is essentially a kata, which i always thought looked really cool. tbh i thought it was agility until i just looked it up but whatever.

I also get the sense that Ferry is just this side of evolution--he baby. (Interesting, though, because it's canonically a friendship evo! I guess not in this setting!!)
yeah! ferry's a teenager/young adult, so he's pretty fresh out of "puberty." it is still a friendship evolution, just not with a trainer. :p i hc that friendship evolutions just indicate that a pokémon evolves in response to some social condition, and in a pokémon training context those social conditions are fulfilled by the trainer rather than other pokémon as it would be in the wild.

anyway thanks for your review!! lots of good insights and thoughts. i made all the line edits you provided and tried to clear up the ambiguities you pointed out. hope to see you again next chapter!
 

HelloYellow17

Artsy Whimsical Nerd
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. suicune
Here for Catnip!! And OH BOY, what a treat this was! I’ve been wanting to check out Wandersword for a while, so I was super happy to be rolled for it!

Side note, but I love that you left a link to music for the chapter! And it was very subtle and not intrusive to the reading experience, which was very nice!

Now for some story quotes:

The city of Laverre was just outside. The little window on the building’s front face was so coated in grime that he could hardly see out it, but he could hear the sounds of the street even through the walls: the clopping hoofs of a passerby gogoat, the hollow whooping of a vendor advertising their wares, or when people passed close enough to the building, even a few words from their conversation. The multitude of auras outside was overwhelming, and Ferry’s aura feelers had been aching dully since they’d approached the city walls.

Okay, WOW, I love this. You’ve effectively set the scene, given some hints about Ferry and his comfort level with crowds, and given the reader some hints about the time period this is set in, all at once. Seriously, your scene setting and world building is REALLY impressive all throughout this chapter—I’m honestly a bit envious! Lol. World building is something I’ve struggled with, so it’s really enjoyable to see other writers do it well and see what I can learn from them.

They were good words. He said them over and over in his head, trying his hardest to form them in his mother’s voice. He wondered how long it would be before he forgot what she sounded like.
Ouch, that last sentence :( poor Ferry. Clearly this world isn’t kind to Pokémon, and it’s sad to see. I love that his mother told him to hold onto his anger—don’t become complacent with the way things are, hope and strive for change and use your anger to fuel that. Good stuff.

its brass hilt visible over her shou lder.
Whoops, looks like you have an extra space here!
It took Ferry a moment to realize she was speaking to him. “Yes,” he said. “He. My name is Ferrycloth, of Lucar.”
Oh man, so Pokémon can speak to humans in this world? The slavery/inequality was already terrible, but this just adds yet another layer to the crap cake. Ahhhhh :(
It was hot for a September day, but the sun was perched behind a cloud, so it at least less bright and warm outside than it had been before.
Missing a “was” between “it” and “at least,” I think.
He thought of his former master’s brother, who had visited the manor to hunt a few times a year and always gave treats of jerky and bone to the lucario he borrowed. He and his peers had appreciated his kindness but also thought it strange. Perhaps it wasn’t so strange after all…?
Oh man, even more yikes. All this guy did was give them some extra treats, and it’s a big enough deal for them to be confused? Really speaks volumes about the kind of person their master was, then, if such a small gesture as that left such an impression.
One shove would cause him to stumble forward into the another passerby, who pushed him again in turn. His anger climbed with each successive shove, and it wasn’t long before he had half a mind to shove someone right back, but he could scarcely imagine what hell would befall him if he were to try something so foolish.
Sad inequality noises :( forced to be treated however humans feel like it, and is given no room to retaliate or defend himself. These details are really powerful in giving that sense of helplessness that Ferry feels.
Her gogoat was waiting for her at a stable near the city’s outer wall. It had a strange odor, like the earthy smells of soil and manure speared through by the sharp scents of basil and mint.
Really love the way you’ve been using so many different senses to describe things—not just sight and sound, but also touch (the hot cobblestones) and smell! It breathes so much life into each scene. Don’t mind me, I’m just scribbling notes in the back to remember for my own writing, LOL. :quag:
The city’s cobblestones eventually gave way to packed dirt, and the road seemed to unfurl endlessly before them, disappearing into the horizon like an infinite ribbon of twine wrapping up the world.
Hi, yes, I just REALLY LIKE THIS SENTENCE. *chefs kiss*
He hadn’t realized it until now, but today had been one of the best days in his life.
Even though he’s separated from his family, carted to completely unfamiliar territory, and subjected to a job he never asked for, all against his will? Even though he’s painfully aware that he’ll never see his family again? And this is still the best day of his life? Ouch. Poor baby, I just want to hug him. This sentence really drives home just how awful his life back “home” must have been.
Then he thought of his former master’s harshness, the years he spent in those dank kennels with his stomach growling, the hours he spent toiling against his will just for the right to live.
I can’t help but wonder why his former master hasn’t been mentioned by name? If Ferry spent his whole life with him, surely he would know his name? Though if this is intentional, it still works, especially if you’re going for that very formal, distant and detached dynamic between a ruthless master and his servants.
But once again he thought of his mother. He thought of her words: hold onto your anger. He thought of the stories she told him, stories of the humans laying waste to his ancestral home. Then he thought of his former master’s harshness, the years he spent in those dank kennels with his stomach growling, the hours he spent toiling against his will just for the right to live. His sympathy for Prim withered up. The sandals, the jerky—none of that mattered. They were nice gestures, yes, and he was grateful for them, but gestures couldn’t erase the thing that mattered. She was one of them, and he had been handed over to her like an object. I’m still being used as a tool, he thought, cold fury heavy in his chest. This anger, this injustice he felt—it wasn’t arbitrary, it wasn’t a mere reaction. Carrying it was his birthright, and his duty. The fact that his new master was somewhat kinder than his old one didn’t make her any less unjust. It didn’t make things different. His mother was right.
Bit of a nitpick here, but I think you could get away with breaking this paragraph into a couple of smaller ones, just for the sake of making it a little easier on the eyes. This could just be me, since I have the attention span of a comatose goldfish and my brain tends to wander when paragraphs get to a certain length, but I do think breaking it up could be useful here.

Personally, I think you could start a new paragraph at “His sympathy for Prim withered up,” and another one at “I’m still being used as a tool.”
Meditation was a powerful thing for a lucario, Ferry knew, but a volatile one too. Turning one’s aura sense inward compounded one’s own emotions many times over. For a mind at peace, this resulted in complete, all-encompassing tranquility. But the slightest falter could trigger a perilous downward spiral.
Oof, this is quite true of meditation irl, too. It’s a very effective tool to get in touch with yourself, but it also opens you up to deal with a lot of buried emotions, which can be painful and difficult to deal with. This is probably even more profound for Lucario, what with their aura-sensing abilities.
The zoroark was lithe but sturdy, slender but powerful and tall—the finely-tuned body of a solitary predator.
You did a great job of making this zoroark downright scary. A true lethal predator, and even though he’s starving, he still takes the time to play with his prey. *shivers* Ooooh so sinister, I LOVE IT :D
Ferry watched as a towering figure lowered its leg drew a blade, moonlight dancing off the metal.

PRIM TO THE RESCUE BABY

LOL her reaction was priceless though, like “Really, dude?” I haven’t said much about Prim this chapter, but I really enjoy her character so far! Gruff and independent and tough as nails, but still gentle and kind, even to those that society treats as “lesser” beings. Also I just wanna talk about how much I LOVE the fact that Prim is this massive, strong, yet older protagonist. Most protagonists in just about any form of media are pretty young, so it’s refreshing to see a middle-aged one here, past her prime and getting ready to settle down. In her opinion, she’s had enough adventure—but since this is where the story starts, she’s obviously going to have more of it before she hangs up that sword! Lol

Very nicely done, really enjoyable chapter, and wow what a unique setting for a Pokémon story! You took all the tropes of poké-fic and YEETED them out the window, and I heckin love it. This also taps into that LOTR/Eragon/Brandon Sanderson kind of vibe, and I am ABSOLUTELY here for it. Can’t wait to see where the story goes!!
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
I'm not typically a fan of the 'Pokémon training as servitude/slavery' school of thought in fanfic, but I'll admit that it made for an interesting dynamic here with Ferry having to keep his resentments below the surface while navigating the world around him, and I quite enjoyed all the worldbuilding you put into your take on medieval Kalos.

As a stylistic thing, I would've personally tried to throw a bit more French around to lean into the setting, whether via raiding the French localization as little reminders here and there in what the locals call things in their dialogue ( e.x. "Agility" -> "Häte", "Haxorus" -> "Tranchodon" ) or just straight-up rendering dialogue in Lucario Tongue in French to sell its alienness from the Kalosian dialogue around it that's rendered in English (the fact that "noun-verbing" is a valid noun construction in French as in the case of "bien-pensant" doesn't hurt either). That said, I can understand how that could quickly snowball into a bit more meta work than is reasonable, so I understand if you opt not to go that route.

Great work, and I'll be keeping an eye on where you take Ferry's story from here. And probably taking a couple peeks back at the original to get a rough idea of where you might be headed.
 
Last edited:

love

Memento mori
Pronouns
he/him/it
Partners
  1. leafeon
Review sorta

Ferry is already confined and agitated within the first few paragraphs, which basically encapsulates his life.

He wondered how long it would be before he forgot what she sounded like.

I like this line

To his surprise, she barely felt like a living thing—her solid frame and suit of leather made it feel more like hugging a barrel.

They are physically close but remain emotionally distant

I didn't do my usual thing and comb over every line, but there are two simple revisions I'll suggest.

At first the tender feeling soothed him, but then he felt his anxiety ignite into anger.

At first the tender feeling soothed him, but then his anxiety ignited into anger

She stared at him intensely, and he felt his hot anger transform into cool fury.

She stared at him intensely, and his hot anger transformed into cool fury.

Number one thing that I think could be improved would be to cut down on the internal monologuing. These paragraphs stood out to me the most:

Ferry looked down at his feet, and then at the hay she’d laid out for him, and his cool anger receded slightly. Prim had made him these sandals to protect his feet, and let him pick out any jerky he wanted, and had made this bed for him. All things considered, this was an improvement over his old life. He hadn’t realized it until now, but today had been one of the best days in his life. He was still being used as a resource, yes, but at least he was to some extent finally being treated as something more than that, too. It wouldn’t be everything he’d hoped for, but he could learn to live this way. Tomorrow would be a new day. It was painful, carrying so much anger. It was tiring. He could make amends and learn to find happiness in his new life, just as he had in his old one.

But once again he thought of his mother. He thought of her words: hold onto your anger. He thought of the stories she told him, stories of the humans laying waste to his ancestral home. Then he thought of his former master’s harshness, the years he spent in those dank kennels with his stomach growling, the hours he spent toiling against his will just for the right to live. His sympathy for Prim withered up. The sandals, the jerky—none of that mattered. They were nice gestures, yes, and he was grateful for them, but gestures couldn’t erase the thing that mattered. She was one of them, and he had been handed over to her like an object. I’m still being used as a tool, he thought, cold fury heavy in his chest. This anger, this injustice he felt—it wasn’t arbitrary, it wasn’t a mere reaction. Carrying it was his birthright, and his duty. The fact that his new master was somewhat kinder than his old one didn’t make her any less unjust. It didn’t make things different. His mother was right.

The hopelessness gnawing at his mind expanded and rapidly engulfed him. He thought of the things that the humans had taken from his people, and the fact that he had been divided from the others too, forced to serve a new master alone without the comforts of family, of community. He would never hear his mother’s voice again, never hear her stories, never learn the old ways, never engage with what fragments of his culture still existed. He was a lone individual with no home to return to, only a prison, and with no family by his side. He had been born a slave, he had lived his whole life a slave, and now he was going to spend the rest of his life a slave, too. And why? What had he, what had any of his people done wrong? Was he brought into the world only to be used and die?

To be honest, I barely skimmed the last one on my first read-through, because I already knew everything it was going to say. His backstory was established in the first third or so of the chapter, and I already get why he's angsty. If 90% or so of those paragraphs could be cut, so that his feelings are conveyed more concisely, I think it would greatly improve the chapter.

I wasn't sure what was meant to happen to Ferry after Prim retires. She wouldn't just turn him loose, right? And he's not going back to his old master. I'm not sure why he's particularly upset about it, because for all I know, it could lead to something better. It could be I missed something.

I had the sense that there could have been more buildup before Ferry uses his aura powers, or something that makes it feel less out-of-nowhere. Maybe *that's* the time to enumerate all the things swirling in his head that have got him pissed off, to really emphasize that his rage and indignity have peaked, before it all explodes.

Ferry certainly is an angsty boi. It is a struggle for him to maintain his sense of identity in a world that oppresses him. It would also be difficult for him to achieve a nuanced view of humanity, but I think he can get there.

His abilities make him prone toward sensory overload in crowded places, and toward emotional death spirals, which I think is interesting. It's a weakness as well as a strength. In a way it makes him more vulnerable and relatable.
 

kintsugi

golden scars
Location
waiting for the fog to roll out
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
heya, here for catnip. tbh I should've been here anyway, so I guess the next one is on the house? or something.

Honestly I was kind of surprised that you were rebooting! I was pretty happy with the ride of the first one, but now that the new model is out, I understand the temptation to upgrade. I like the reimagining (or representation?) of the Wandersword job as one that's got more of a corp/board behind it; it also has some very Witcher-y feels to it that I like. In general I think this flavor of narration lets us get a lot more of the world details across, and I think Ferry's a bit more effective as a narrator this time around as far as conveying information (and specifically how it makes him feel).

I always imagined Prim as young fsr! But explicitly old and grizzled Prim looks like it'll be fun. It kind of reads like a shitpost version of the Up/God of War/Last of Us Dynamic (grizzled angry old adult ends up having to adopt a smol naive child to ferry, heh, around from fetchquest to fetchquest; they learn to love themselves and each other, blah blah blah), except! this time the child is grizzled and angry and the adult is kind of Done With This (but also grizzled and angry). But I like that she's got more experience and a head on her shoulders; someone on the trio might maybe know what's going on now?? A little?? as a treat?? haha jk. I like the insight that she's not enamored with her status as a Wandersword, and she'd be happy to settle down and fuck off from all of the drama; I'm sure that that will definitely happen to her.

Ferry is angy. More on the specific pacing of that in the line edits—just spitballing but I think the back half of the chapter ends up a little repetitive and there could be some restructuring to help with flow, maybe; his thoughts feel a bit circular at the end. I liked the buildup of his gratefulness and confusion about the jerky and the shoes and shit, but I like the acknowledgment that it's mostly trite in the end. Political on main, yes, good. It's not particularly subtle, but I kind of catch myself wondering if first revelations like this ever are.

I like the idea to move the zoroark incident further up as an inciting reason for why they have to work together. The throughline with the old magic being dead, only for it to be born again out of Ferry's fear and desperation, makes for a really nice image. A bit of hope to go with the very oppressive realization that society will probably treat you like a tool until the day you die. I'm also a huge fan of the more oblique addressing of themes of strength and power: Ferry's disbelief that Greyscar could've been a good leader is a little knot that I really like. Was Greyscar originally violent and grew to temper his rage and anger over time, aka Iroh arc best arc? Or was Greyscar a product of a time and culture that Ferry simply can't comprehend, where withholding violence was seen as strength instead of weakness? Both are satisfying to me, and honestly I'm okay if the story never really divulges an answer there—the more interesting conundrum is in the present, with Ferry trying to untangle this paradox and ultimately failing. I sure am glad he's going to discover that physical power will get you what you want, mama was right, and he will become strong enough to shape the world to his will.

some line edits and maybe some spitballing at pacing:
The little window on the building’s front face was so coated in grime that he could hardly see out it, but he could hear the sounds of the street even through the walls: the clopping hoofs of a passerby gogoat, the hollow whooping of a vendor advertising their wares, or when people passed close enough to the building, even a few words from their conversation.
This is a bit rich coming from me, but this sentence is pretty long. The "when people passed close enough to the building" needs a comma before it for the appositive phrase to be grammatically correct, although I'd split this into two sentences before the "but".
It felt like some kind of punishment that he was forced to wait in here with only the inches-thick wall separating him from the sights and sounds of the city.
I like how you lay out the rules and stakes here. If I were Ferry I'd just wander off on my own and stop being owned by people? I don't see what's so hard?
The Wandersword was supposed to be here by now anyway. “They’ll arrive a night before we do,” the Wandersword that had escorted him here had said when they’d set out.
The wording on this one is a bit confusing—the age-old pokefic conundrum of what to do when you want to use a proper noun to refer to two different people. The Pikachu talked to the Pikachu, lol.
More than anything he thought of the words he’d exchanged the night before leaving the manor for Laverre, the night before he’d left his family behind for a new, uncertain life under a new master. “My heart will ache for you every day,” his mother had said mournfully. Unlike Ferry, who had been born at the manor and had only ever known servitude, his mother had been born free. She remembered a time when lucario were a free people, and reminded him that things had been different, once. “But this is an opportunity,” she had added. “Take from it what you can, and become strong. Hold onto your anger. Don’t you forget for a moment what they took from us. Once you become powerful, you can shape the world to your will.” They were good words. He said them over and over in his head, trying his hardest to form them in his mother’s voice. He wondered how long it would be before he forgot what she sounded like.
Mmm, this is a powerful sentiment. These are good words. I'm struck by how difficult these conversations would probably have to be, how much we idolize those who have left us—but these feel short enough to be genuine, while still conveying heavy concepts. In some ways this feels like the core of Ferry's arc that i don't know much about—can you let go of anger like that? Should you?
“When the time is right, you must climb Mount Molteau,” the elder had told him urgently. He was normally so mellow and even-keeled, but he had been dead serious that night, more serious than Ferry had ever seen him in his life.
ah yeah i'm sure this won't be important later.

loving the casual references to geography btw—sneak that worldbuilding in!

morbidly curious for the payoff on this one. I'm like 50/50 on wanting it to be the key to the ultimate weapon (Pacifist Greyscar? You THOUGHT) or beeg mega stone, or like, the real secret relic that you think will save your entire species was you all along. Google is pointing me to an anime location where you can meet moltres, and also the producer of a tv show called The Golden Mustache, so yes, let's go with that second one.
He very rapidly became unbearably nervous as he waited for the door to swing open, heart suddenly hammering and blood rushing hot. He struggled to keep his tongue from falling slack in a pant.
I think there's something about the adverb/phrase stackup that makes me feel like this doesn't need to be this long to convey what you wanted. But also yay xenofic having different behaviors for anxiety!
> In the moment it took the door to swing open, his heart began to hammer and his blood rushed hot. He struggled to keep his tongue from falling slack in a pant.
its brass hilt visible over her shou lder
sp a ce
Ferry thought she looked like a woman who had seen many battles and had spent many nights beneath the stars.
I'm super hypocritical for saying this, but this felt like one of those lines that are pretty on paper but I'm not sure what it actually means. "Seen many battles" is pretty obvious from the scars and demeanor, and especially in the context of Ferry mostly knowing/revering violence it makes sense what this would mean to him, but what's the narrative weight of him meeting someone who's spent many nights beneath the stars? Does he respect that? Does that contrast what he expected from a Wandersword? What about her tips him off to this, and what does it mean to him?
Her aura was like a graveler, weighty and impenetrable.
Yes!! aura is cool. I like this addition.
“My liking?” The knight grunted. “It would have been to my liking not to have to lug another body around at all. But yes, he’ll do fine. Er, he, right?”
I'm curious if she can't like, yeet him into a bush or something. Or if others have; it seems like a lot of Wanderswords would share this sentiment and wouldn't share Prim's reservations about not treating the talking dog like a person.
No matter,” the clerk said. “I’ll give it my best guess then. F… A… I… R…” He fell silent for a moment, then set his quill down.
fairycloth, i am slain
also, oof, no, ouch, hit me with that cultural erasure, thanks
He thought of his former master’s brother, who had visited the manor to hunt a few times a year and always gave treats of jerky and bone to the lucario he borrowed. He and his peers had appreciated his kindness but also thought it strange. Perhaps it wasn’t so strange after all…?
This jump felt a bit quick—sample size of two. I wasn't sure if that's intentional; there's a lot in this chapter to imply that Ferry's just really eager to see the good in people and gets shanked for it, so I could see where that's building.
At first, he found the slimy feeling of the salve at the bottom of his new makeshift sandals offputting, and they threw off his balance slightly, but before long he was walking confidently, and his paws felt strangely cool. He felt his chest swell with gratitude.

i can't not shitpost this tbh.
Prim explained to him that the tree was older than the city itself and that some revered it as a nature god. It was only early autumn, she said, but at the season’s peak the streets were flooded with the tree’s huge golden leaves.
oh yeah good is the tree full of genocide deer please let the tree be full of genocide deer.
To his surprise, she barely felt like a living thing—her solid frame and suit of leather made it feel more like hugging a barrel.
I liked this line. It's like a hair over-emphasizing but "blatantly in your face" is exactly how I like my metaphors, and you do it infrequently enough that these really stand out when they come up.
The city’s cobblestones eventually gave way to packed dirt, and the road seemed to unfurl endlessly before them, disappearing into the horizon like an infinite ribbon of twine wrapping up the world. As they traveled further and further from the city walls, the wilds came to life—fletchling darted between towering pines, skwovet dashed up the trunks, and even the odd fletchinder could be seen roosting in the upper branches.
I thought this description was really pretty, thanks.
“Sure. Like taking down a rampaging haxorus, helping a snorlax give birth, taking care of a skorupi infestation, whatever. It’s all part of the job.”
I like how 2/3 of these probably involve murder, and maybe the middle one involves some child kidnapping. Language is what you make it!
“Need? Any Wandersword worth half their salt doesn’t need anyone for anything. That’s the point.”
Awww look at these babies desperately trying to convince themselves that they're alone by choice.
She stared at him intensely, and he felt his hot anger transform into cool fury. “I’m sorry,” she choked out, and he could feel that she meant it, but it bounced right off him. She turned around and spurred Scout onward.
The word "choked" felt kind of weird here—we shift into Ferry's reaction so we don't fully get to see what Prim's thinking? Not sure. I usually associated "choked" in dialogue as like, holding back tears or something? But that conflicts with the image of Prim that's been building up in this chapter, and also I feel like there'd be an aura flare or something to signify her emotion change?
This wasn’t an opportunity. He wouldn’t become stronger. He’d just been handed off to another master, one with a softer tone but just as firm a grip. His mother, his siblings… He’d never see them again, and for what? To play servant for some defeated old knight who didn’t want him there, who didn’t even want to be there herself? He had nothing now, no future and no people and no home.
The hopelessness gnawing at his mind expanded and rapidly engulfed him. He thought of the things that the humans had taken from his people, and the fact that he had been divided from the others too, forced to serve a new master alone without the comforts of family, of community. He would never hear his mother’s voice again, never hear her stories, never learn the old ways, never engage with what fragments of his culture still existed. He was a lone individual with no home to return to, only a prison, and with no family by his side. He had been born a slave, he had lived his whole life a slave, and now he was going to spend the rest of his life a slave, too. And why? What had he, what had any of his people done wrong? Was he brought into the world only to be used and die?
Spicy. Glad we were getting there, although for what it's worth I think this one was a lot more obvious to me as "what Ferry thinks, but not necessarily okay, and the story is aware of it"—probably a bit of column A and a bit of column B of me not being as dumb this time, and also having more insight into Ferry's mind as he's making these decisions, gratefully accepting his shoes, dreaming hungrily of scraps, helped me piece together his mindset a lot more this time, so I could understand how/why he was making these conclusions even if I didn't necessarily agree with them.

I think this section could be reshuffled a bit. I like the central thread of his anger at the vapidity of this being what drives him to sneak away from camp and train, but structurally this is the lynchpin realization of the chapter, so the meditation sequence that follows inherently doesn't feel like it's building to something (because the important thing was already learned). And I kind of like that from a character perspective, since just realizing things are fucked doesn't bring you emotional peace, but the back half of this chapter spirals in a lot of anger for just a hair too long. Which, again, tough split here, because I'm not really sure if there's an appropriate length of time for being angry that your culture is being destroyed and you will spend the rest of your life as property, and even just writing this out I can see why you'd want to spend a lot of time unpacking and repackaging that anger with him, lmao. Struggling a bit to pin down what I'd tweak about this, but I do think there was a bit of a dip in the pacing towards the end.

I wonder if the scenes could mostly be shuffled around? For me the big push and pull between mother/Greyscar helps form a lot of this emotional turbulence for Ferry—it's back to that question of can/should you release that anger. For me I think it circles back to the fact that the main realization is that Prim's gestures are kind but ultimately useless to him, so anything after that is variations on a theme but they don't seem to build to anything but more grief. I think perhaps reshuffling it so that at the end of the day he's vaguely mad at the idea that Prim won't train him (but still grateful for the rest), so he turns back to Greyscar's meditative philosophies, and then in meditation he realizes that the silver lining is a bowl of hot bullshit and he can't let go of the anger (and his mother's words come back to him), and then the zoroark shows up in his time of vulnerability. Maybe? I don't think the scene is unreadable by any means as it stands, although for how breezily the rest of the chapter is paced I did find myself hung up on this section/this was the first time I blinked and realized this chapter is fairly long.

Some things that were unclear to me—how long has he been apart from his mother? Is that pain fresh, and if so, why was it on the backburner until now?
It was painful, carrying so much anger. It was tiring. He could make amends and learn to find happiness in his new life, just as he had in his old one.
Likewise this is a beautiful sentiment and well-phrased but it does feel weird coming from Ferry lol.

But there was something more to it, Ferry knew. He’d grown up hearing fanciful tales of the “old magic,” of just a few lucario beating back armies of men, blasting them away with deluges of blue flame and swords made from aura. The old magic was mostly gone, his mother had said. There were only a few left who knew it.
I like the setup that lucario are greatly diminished in this one—a lot more clear this time.
Mm.” The lucario looked thoughtful. “Yes. Blade-walking, like you.” Then he held out a hand. “Come here. Something for you.”
This was a good sequence, yes. I thought it was clever that disguised!zoroark is a "he" whereas unmasked zoroark is a "they"—they're copying his form and it's recognizable to him, but he doesn't know the zoroark gender cues.
But as he approached more closely, he realized that wasn’t it. Ferry hesitated. It wasn’t the shape, or the color, but the way they flickered at the edges, and the smile too.
aura tho?
The words barely registered. Ferry resisted with all the energy he had in him, bucking and scratching, but it was little use. The zoroark was lithe but sturdy, slender but powerful and tall—the finely-tuned body of a solitary predator. Ferry had the build of a pack hunter. One on one, there was no contest between the two.
Another nice detail that I think comes across more clearly in the rewritten version—it's much easier to see how this is an imbalanced fight now.
The zoroark was really going to kill him now. He was going to die.
This felt like a strange time to make this realization, and not when it was casually dissecting him. Like it was playing with him before, but it was definitely going to kill him either way, right? The only thing that's changed is the timeline.
The zoroark didn’t need a second warning. They faded into the night in the blink of an eye.
I think maybe a touch more setup here would've helped—they size up her armor and her sword or something. How humans managed to become the dominant species is kind of a core question here, as is being strong enough to shape the world to your will, so it'd be useful to play this out just a little longer to see what it looks like for the people who are actually getting what they want.

good fic update more?? definitely vibing more clearly with the setting in this one, and it's a bit hard to pin down but your prose feels a lot more confident here too.
 
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windskull

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Hey Kyeugh! I believe I originally read part of the original, but only the prologue. I don’t remember a whole lot about it, and it seems to not be the opening for this version, so I’ll mostly be going in blind this time. And oh boy did this first chapter imply that I’m going to be in for a ride if/when I read future chapters.

As much as I enjoyed the story as a whole, I did feel like the beginning was a little bit weak. Fortunately, it quickly picked up, but I want to point out the spots that felt particularly weak to me.

The journey to Laverre had taken five days, but it felt like a lifetime. Ferrycloth the lucario had grown dreadfully tired of sitting and waiting, and now that he’d finally made it to Laverre, he was sitting and waiting here too.

To be honest, the opening paragraph feels just a little weak in my opinion. It feels a little... flat. Mundane, maybe? Or like the progression of thoughts is out of order? It's hard for me to put my finger on. Personally, I would reword like this:

Ferrycloth the lucario had grown dreadfully tired of sitting and waiting. The journey to Laverrer had taken five days, and now that he'd finally made it, he was sitting and waiting here, too.

The city of Laverre was just outside. The little window on the building’s front face was so coated in grime that he could hardly see out it, but he could hear the sounds of the street even through the walls: the clopping hoofs of a passerby gogoat, the hollow whooping of a vendor advertising their wares, or when people passed close enough to the building, even a few words from their conversation. The multitude of auras outside was overwhelming, and Ferry’s aura feelers had been aching dully since they’d approached the city walls.

This paragraph comes across as a little droning imo. Every sentence starts with "The" giving it a bit of a dull rhythm. Maybe that's intentional though?

“Take from it what you can, and become strong. Hold onto your anger. Don’t you forget for a moment what they took from us. Once you become powerful, you can shape the world to your will.”

Very sad 8( The Lucario have it pretty rough here. And from what I remember of the bit of the original I did read, they weren't having a fun time there either.

“I left an old relic there long ago, far and safe from the prying hands of humans… It goes to you now. It must.”

I'm sure this will be important later. Though how much later and how important it will be is of question.

and a huge sword was slung over her back, its brass hilt visible over her shou lder
Was the space in shoulder intentional? It doesn't feel like it should be.

Was Mother wrong about the humans after all? He pushed the thought away. Time would tell.

Oh buddy... I have a feeling she was horribly horribly right and that certain humans are just exceptions.

He was unable to latch onto any single aura in the cacophony—the chaos of auras washed over him as one.

Ooof yeah I would imagine it would be unpleasant for a lucario to be in a busy area like this unless they had a way to shut off the aura sense. At least till they get used to it.

Each step sent a jarring shock through his bones, and it took no time at all for soreness to invade every part of him.

This sentence feels just a wee bit clunky, and I wonder if there's a way to modify it slightly while still getting the same feeling across.

Then he thought of his former master’s harshness, the years he spent in those dank kennels with his stomach growling

The Lucarios are obviously being wronged in this universe, the idea of putting lucario, a pokemon that is shown throughout this chapter to have intelligence similar to humans, in kennels feels extra disturbing.

. Ferry watched as a towering figure lowered its leg drew a blade, moonlight dancing off the metal.

I think you're missing the word "and" between leg and drew.

Perhaps he could do it again.

Oh, you'll be doing it again buddy.


Overall, my impressions from the first chapter are good. The events are clear and easy to follow and you've done a great job of setting up the plight of the lucario and making it clear that they're being wronged. And even if prim is being nice and is in general a better person, it still makes it clear that she has a position of power over Ferry, a fact that I'm very curious to see play out.

The scene with the zorark was pretty intense. And I can't help but wonder if zorark, who appears to be just as smart as lucario, have any similar issues or if they've managed to remain free. I'm also curious if this one will end up showing up again in the future.

Anyways, I think that's all the thoughts I had so I'll leave this off here. Looking forward to more!
 
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