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Pokémon Obsession


Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
The story of Jirarudan, the foolish art collector who tried to capture the great god Lugia, and the influences that brought him to that point. Started in 2001 and posted here for its 20th anniversary. Contains material that may be upsetting to some readers, such as the death of a parent, betrayal, growing up too fast, and loss of innocence. Please read at your own risk. Also yes I'm aware the first chapters could use some punching up but I'll revise when the whole thing is done. As it stands, enjoy 20 years of writing development!

obsession: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling...

Why do I do it? What is it about Collecting that keeps me in its clutches? Is it as simple as greed?

I doubt that. If it was pure greed, I would not feel like this. No, it is an addiction.

Every time I think about it, I lose a little bit of my humanity. Someday I shall be completely at its mercy, unable to connect with any aspect of the man I once was.

Perhaps you think me harmless, despite my disconnection. I ask you, would a harmless man have done what I did? I do not know which of us is the bigger fool, you, for thinking such things, or me, for allowing myself to become this.

Perhaps I should begin from the beginning. My earliest memory is a simple enough one. I was looking through my mother's heirloom chest with her, and came across a small envelope. With her permission, I opened it.

The contents of that envelope changed my life forever.

Inside was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Even in the dim light of the attic, it shone with its full magnificence and splendor.

Entranced, I turned my eyes towards my mother, who smiled. "That's the Ancient Mew card, dear. You can have it if you want. But be careful with it, it's very valuable."

If it was important enough to merit a warning, I knew it had to be very special. From that moment on, it was, and still remains, my most treasured possession.

My mother was a wonderful woman. She was tall, with a shock of emerald hair, and eyes that reflected the universe. She was a healer, studying the restorative powers of herbs and plants, and the entire world respected her.

Except my hometown. We lived far from any respectable place, on a the distant shore, where such mysterious practices were considered to be the domain of lesser people. Her potions and elixirs were effective, to be sure, but the townspeople always regarded us with scorn. During the day, they would turn their backs on us and curse us when we left, but at night, they would sneak out and purchase her wares. Hypocrites. I learned very young to be distrusting.

Mother was the opposite. She told me that everyone has good within them, but I did not believe her. Oh, mother, how you would recant if you saw me now! But I digress...

When I was but eight years of age, Mother took ill. She sent for my father, who lived apart from us, and warned me that she may leave me soon. One day, she called me to her bedside, and removed the red ring from her finger. "Jirarudan," she addressed me, "this ring has been in my family for many years, and I want you to have it." She put it gently in my outstretched palm, and smiled weakly. "Jiri, when you feel alone, clutch the ring, and I'll be there."

My eyes widened in shock. She was dying, and this was her way of telling me. It was no longer a possibility, but a cold fact.

"Jiri, dear," she continued, "I want you to know something, and carry it with you forever." Her voice was getting fainter, and her eyes drooped shut. I lay down next to her and hugged her. "You've always been my shining star," she whispered.

"I'll be your angel."

And with that, she was gone.
Obsession 2

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
I stayed with her for hours, my young mind unable to comprehend life without her. Finally, I came to the conclusion that it was simply a bad dream, and if I went to sleep, I would awaken in the true world, and she would be there, and everything would be all right. So I curled up and slept for what I later discovered was two days.

When I awoke, I was in my own bed, and my first reaction was joy. I was right, it was only a dream. But then I heard voices outside my room.

"He's going to have to live with his father from now on." "Oh yes, the poor thing. But maybe now, he can grow up right."

If they saw me now, they, too, would recant.

I curled up into a ball, clutching the ring to my chest. Mother, you told me you'd be there for me. Where were you when I needed you the most? My hands shook, and I choked back sobs, for I feared what would happen if the women outside heard me.

I spent the night like that, sobbing quietly to myself, with the ring to my heart. Early in the morning, I heard someone at the door. My father had arrived.

As the door to my room opened, I ducked down into the covers and pretended to be asleep.

"I can wait," he said. Slowly, I opened my eyes and peeked out. He smiled, and knelt down at the bedside. "Jiri, I'm sorry I wasn't here earlier. My work kept me away until now. I'm just...sorry I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to her."

"Papa..." was the only word I could say. I tried to hold them back, but the tears flowed freely now. He took me in his arms and stroked the back of my head, whispering softly to me. And only then could I return to sleep.
Obsession 3

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
I tried to attend her funeral, which was held in the backyard of our simple home, but I could not bear the sight. My mother, who had been as exuberant and lively as ever just a short time before, being lowered into the ground...it was far too much for me to take. Again, I took refuge in my room, and again I held the ring to my chest.

Certain rituals, especially to a broken mind, provide comfort. But mine was quickly leading to frustration. She told me she would be there for me. So where was she? I needed her more than ever before and she was not here! Distraught, I pounded the cabinet as hard as I could.

A flash of gold, and the card fell to the ground.

I know I said earlier that the Ancient Mew card is my most valued possession. That is because I do not consider the ring to be mine, but rather still belonging to my mother. Even after all these years--lifetimes in themselves--her presence remains with me.

However, I am positive that, had she lived to see who I am today, she would want nothing to do with me.

I stared at that card for a long time, not moving to pick it up, just observing it where it lay, taking in all the details. Gradually, my hand crept out to retrieve it; but I was interrupted by my father's entrance to my room.


I averted my gaze, fixated on the card. But I wasn't looking at it, not really.

"You know, tomorrow I'm going back to Seafoam...you'll be coming with me..."

*...mother, where are you? You told me you'd be here...*

"You may want to say goodbye. The...burial is...already over..."

*...you didn't lie to me, did you? Mother, you promised me...*

I didn't hear most of what he said. I managed to catch that he loved me, and that he'd help me gather my things, and that I should say farewell to my friends--foolish man, I have no friends, don't you know that?

The image of the card was growing fainter, my father's voice more distant. I was withdrawing, and soon I would be gone entirely.

*...mother, please, I need you now...*
Obsession 4

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
...i have never liked the water...

from my earliest memories, the water has been my downfall...

right now i can feel the water around me, pulling me farther and farther away from the world, and I can feel the white wings around me, just like before...

...like before...

mother never really did believe me...she clung to her belief of there being good in us all...in her world, she never believed that someone could do something like that...

...perhaps her world was like this...

...they held me down, beneath the water...i struggled in vain, out of reflex. they were going to kill me, i knew that, and gave in.

and then i saw it. white wings coming to me. i knew not if it was a demon or an angel, but it was coming to take me away from there, far away.

the great bird calmed me, took me in its wings as the breath left me, and I could feel the world melting away. death had no fear for me, not as long as this creature held me.

there was silence, and peace, and warmth, and stillness...

and then the world returned.

i was no longer beneath the waves, in the wings of the white bird. instead, i was in the chair by the fireplace, a blanket wrapped around me. for a brief second, i thought i had imagined it, but then i felt the water still on my skin.

mother told me there were many spirits of the water, but my tale of a white bird perplexed her. perhaps i had imagined it after all, imagined the safety it provided, the respite from a cruel world.

despite this, i have kept the image of the bird in my heart. perhaps one day i shall see it again, if only in a dream.

i am beginning to awaken. there is a calm about this place, as different as it is from the world beneath the waves. so this is where father has taken me; this is my new home.

it is like the water. this time, there will be no white bird to save me.

When I came to, in my father's home, the first thing I heard, through the open window, were the waves of the ocean.
Obsession 5

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
Despite my thoughts, the sound of the water was soothing, almost like the backdrop to a dream.

But I had had enough of dreams for the time being, at least the sort one has while asleep. My dreams have always been concurrent to my goals.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I lay in bed for a few more minutes, getting my bearings. I was in Kanto, in Seafoam, at my father's home; that much I knew. I had been here only once before, but too long ago to clearly remember it.

The room was sparse, with a few cardboard boxes stacked against the wall. That was all that remained of what my life had been, just whatever could be brought along.

Only a week ago, my life was untouched. Now I may as well be adrift on the open ocean.

There were voices down the hallway, and I slid out of bed to crawl to the door--having been bedridden for the time I was left me unable to properly walk. I recognized my father's voice, as he spoke to a woman I did not know.

"--don't know, Helen. He's still asleep, so it'll have to wait." My father's voice was even and calm as always.

The woman paused. "I've never seen anything like that...What did you do with that ring of his?"

I gasped, looking around for it. What if he had forgotten it? What if it was lost in the move?

"It's on the desk. Can't have it getting lost in the covers..."

A low sigh escaped from my parted lips, and with shaking legs, I stood, leaning against the wall for support. The desk was only a few steps away by normal measure, but it took my entire focus to reach it. The ring shone, glimmering like the waves of the ocean, as I took it in my hand, clasping it to my chest and sinking to my weary knees. It was back with me now, the treasure that just a short time ago still adorned my mother's hand. My grip around it tightened, and I felt safer.

Seafoam is a small town, despite the crowds that pass through it every year. My father's home and shop were atop a cliff, which was not only necessary for his business but kept us away from the areas people congregated.

I have always valued solitude, even before that. So I was grateful for the silence, the only sounds around being from the hangar. My father was, and I would presume still is, a renowned airship engineer, attracting clientèle from the world over.

Although I did not know it, my future was being set at that very moment.

The next thing I remember was several hours later, the sound of the door opening. At first I did not notice, until I felt someone in the room with me.

"Jiri? Are you here with me now?" My father knelt down to me, resting a hand on my shoulder. "What's that in your hand?"

Reluctantly, I opened my fist, revealing the ring on my palm. In the past hours, it had left an imprint in my skin. Oddly fitting, I thought.

"Gloria's ring..." he whispered, a faint twinge of sadness in his voice. "I thought that was it..."

I tried to say something, but could not find my voice.

"Jiri," he continued, moving his hand to my face and brushing away a tear I did not know had formed. "Jiri, I'm sorry I wasn't there earlier...I wanted to be, but..."

I held up my hand, the one with the mark most evident. There was no need for him to explain.

He took me close, sighing. "Jiri, I want to hear your voice."

Again, I was unable to speak, so I merely shook my head against his chest.

"My beautiful boy..." he muttered as his hand found the back of my head. "My little angel..."

I gasped. I couldn't be an angel, no, not while mother was my angel.

"Jiri? Jiri, what's wrong?"

With a flat tone that surprised even me, I managed to whisper "...mama's gone..."

He nodded. "...yes. I'm sorry."

The ring glimmered in my hand, the light reflected from the waves outside catching it, and I mimicked his nod. "Yes," I echoed, as he picked me up and lay me back in bed.

"You should take it easy," he whispered, tucking the covers around me once more. The ring now shone from the bedside table, its ruby twinkling casting a dance on the ceiling.

I could not listen to his further words, although I was aware he continued to speak. Lying there, the light put me in a trance, and I fell asleep once again, thinking of the ocean.
Obsession 6

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
The next few weeks passed, strangely uneventful, given my acclimation. It was most peculiar, for I do not recall anything of those weeks clearly.

I know I spent a great deal of time in my room, looking out the window. Seafoam is a pleasant enough town for others, but for me it was like being in another world.

But the sky...the sky was the same, and it brought comfort. The sky would be always as it was at home. And it was safe, as home had been, as the wings of the white bird had been.

I would see it again, where the sky met the ocean. But that day would be a long way off, and I still had much to happen in my life.

One thing I know only from the stories of my father and his assistant Helen was that I would do things that startled the both of them greatly. I have no memory of this incident, but he would tell me that I insisted on drawing angels. I do not doubt him, as I dreamed of angels and white wings nearly every night.

After a particularly disturbing day, to hear him tell it, wherein I had locked myself in my room and covered every inch of paper with images of angels, he decided something had to change.

Hoping to play on my artistic nature, he began taking me to his workshop. He would show me sketches and models of the ships he was constructing, and how they were made. I took to them quickly; it seems I was eager for an outlet.

This part I remember with considerably more clarity than the weeks before it.

Most of the patrons came to know me by name, but did not pay me much mind. But I learned to read people from my dealings with them. I could tell much about a person from the things I saw. Most people were the idle rich, those wishing to show off their wealth with a custom-made token from the famous airship engineer Corbin.

But one man stood out from the rest. He had a regal bearing, and an air of eternal calm, as though he knew how to take exactly what he wanted from life. He would smile kindly at me during his conversations with my father and the other engineers, but we had never spoken until one day.

Had that day never come, I cannot imagine where fate would have taken me.

Father had set up a station for me to work on my drawings, and I had an idea for that day's project. I would sketch my Ancient Mew card; see if I could capture its essence on paper.

I had barely gotten set up when I heard a sharp gasp from behind me. The regal man was there, wide green eyes fixated on the card. "M...my boy!" he stammered. "Wherever did you get that card?"

I looked at it, then at him. "My mother gave it to me," I said simply as I returned to the picture.

"I see...You know, it's not often that you see one of those, much less in the hands of one as young as you."

"Not often," I repeated, only to find his extended hand between me and the paper.

"My name is Asaph," he introduced.

"Jirarudan." I shook his hand firmly and tried to turn my attention back to the picture.

"Do you think I...could get a closer look?" That calm of his was rapidly fading, so I nodded.

"Be careful with it," I added, very close to my mother's own tone when she had issued such a warning to me.

He turned the thin card over in his hands, the gold sheet and gemstones glinting in the half-light. "Incredible. Do you know where she got this?"

"From her parents, I presume." My short answers sufficed for most people, but I could tell Asaph wanted to know more. "She only told me that it was a family heirloom."

A slow nod of his head. "I see..."

I started shading in a part I had already drawn. "Why do you take such interest in it?"

He set the card back next to me and drew himself up to full height, like a regal speaker about to deliver an address. "Well, my boy, I...am a Collector."
Obsession 7

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
A Collector... I had heard of such people before, those who lived their lives for artifacts of the ancient world. The idea had intrigued me in mention, but I had not paid it much mind past that. But now I had to know more.

"A Collector..." I repeated softly, evidently enough to cause him to duck down to my level.

"Yes..." he smiled gently, meeting my gaze.

Eye contact was intensely uncomfortable for me at that time, so I looked away, back at the card. "...what do you know of this?" I asked him, running my finger over the thin gold sheet.

His smile broadened and his eyes danced. "I'm surprised your mother hasn't told you yet."

"...mother isn't here," I whispered, but evidently he did not hear me.

"It's a remarkable relic, really. There's only been a few on the market in recent years..." He paused to clear his throat before continuing. "Many years ago, that picture was found on the wall of an ancient building, deep in the jungle. One of the explorers who found it that day made a painting of it, but found that he could not capture the brilliant gold sheen of the original. So he hired a goldsmith and a jeweler to make these cards, and gave them to everyone involved in the expedition. There were over two hundred people who took part, so the cards are just common enough that people 'discover' them in their heirlooms, and rare and fine enough that people will pay dearly for them."

I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, still focused on the card. "Mama said it was in her family for many years. She told me it was called Ancient Mew."

"Yes, yes, that's what people have taken to calling it."

He still seemed excited by his find, but was calming, so I turned to look at him again. "...Tell me more."

"...more?" His eyebrows raised elegantly. "What did you have in mind, my boy?"

I looked back at the card, running my finger down the jeweled face. "...what does the writing say?"

"Hmm..." He put his hand to his face as though lost in thought. "It's based on a game they found around the same area, but I'm really not certain what it says. I'm sure some cursory research could be done to find out, though."

For the time, that was good enough for me. I later found out, but that is neither here nor there for the continuation of my tale.

Asaph was enthralling, regaling me with tales of his own treasures, and I listened, enraptured, to every word. But then he was called away to check on some specifications for his ship, leaving me to absorb everything he had told me.

A slow smile spread across my face, although at the time I did not know why.
Obsession 8

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
I could not wait to speak to him again. That night and the following morning, I was quite frustrated. Speaking with Asaph had been as though I was shown another world, brighter than this, but his departure me shoved back into the grey tones of reality.

It felt different with him. He spoke of things so distant and strange, but in such a way that felt as though I had known them my entire life, and I craved more.

Eagerly, I sat at the desk my father had set up for me, and waited for Asaph to arrive. I was so excited that I could not work on the sketch from the day before, though my Mew card lay before me, glimmering in the light from the entryway.

Hours I waited, not moving from that spot. The swirls of work around me went unnoticed, the sounds and sweat of the factory passing me by, until finally he entered. Instead of heading off to speak with one of the engineers as he usually did, he immediately looked in my direction, and his face lit up to see that I was indeed present.

I smiled at him, the only thing I could think to do, and he approached me. "Young master Jirarudan, how does the day find you today?" he asked.

"Quite well, and you?"

He placed a hand on my shoulder, and I did not struggle away as I did from others who did the same. "Very well, now that I'm here. I was looking forward to seeing you again." A warm smile settled on his face, and he leaned down to whisper to me. "I could hardly wait to come here today. We have much to talk about, don't we?"

I nodded. "I think so, yes. I could hardly wait for you to arrive," I confessed, hoping that my expression conveyed my thoughts as well as the words I spoke. "I dreamed of what tales you might tell me."

"Very well then!" he proclaimed, pulling a chair over from against the wall and setting it near my own. "Tell me, my boy, have you ever heard the tale of the Eye of Dawn?"

We spoke for hours; or rather he did, and I listened with utmost attention. Several times I noticed my father watching us, but he did not disturb us until nearly an hour to close, when he took Asaph into the factory proper with him. But I was satisfied, at least momentarily. Asaph's stories had left me in a near-trance, as though my mind had left my body and was ensconced in the legends of which he spoke. With a tired smile, I slumped down in my chair and closed my eyes, letting the etherealness that still hung in the air linger as long as I could.

For a brief moment, I thought I heard my mother call my name. But I opened my eyes and it was only Helen.

"Jiri?" she repeated, leaning down to my level. "Your father told me to come get you. He has something he wants to ask you."

Reluctantly I slid off the chair and away from the desk, feeling as though I was abandoning a part of myself. I was pleased to notice that Asaph was in my father's office, but even his presence could not alleviate the feeling that I had been torn from a dream world. My father gestured for me to sit down and I did, and the weight of the world forced me into place.

Asaph's hand closed lightly around my shoulder and I felt slightly better, but not enough to make a difference.

"Jiri, as you know," my father began, "my work keeps me very busy. I'm not able to spend the time with you that you need."

I nodded absently, not really caring what he said.

"I know how much you love art, and when I saw you and Asaph hit it off, well..." His voice cracked as he spoke, and he paused to clear his throat. "Jiri...I've spoken with Asaph, and we came up with an idea I think you'll like."

Looking back, I may not have considered it if my father had said it. But he yielded the floor to Asaph to finish the thought. Asaph squeezed my shoulder to get my attention, and smiled at me when I looked up at him. "Jiri...how would you like to spend some time with me?"

I have no clear memory of the moment immediately following his words, as I am fairly certain that I blacked out for a split second. I grabbed his hand--hard, I recall, as he winced slightly--and jolted up from the chair to face him. "I would love it!" I blurted. "I...I would love to!"

In the background, my father continued, something about socializing me or some such rot. But I didn't care.

We made plans to meet in three days time, when Asaph would take me to the Viridian museum. The days between were the longest in my life.
Obsession 9

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
Fun fact, I wrote part of this chapter during a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005

On the appointed day, I awoke before dawn, although Asaph was not to fetch me until nine. My sleep the night before had been restless, and I'd dreamed of a city of brilliant green. As the light of day gradually lightened my room, I imagined what wonders the day held for me. I had never been to Viridian, of course, and pictured it as the glistening emerald set into the land that people described it as.

The night before I had laid out the finest clothes I had. At the time, I thought them exquisite apparel, but looking back I can only shake my head at how simple my tastes were. Mass-produced cotton and twill are a far cry to the sumptuous hand-woven silks I was to become accustomed to.

A white bird landed on my windowsill, but it wasn't the one I dreamed of.

I hurried through breakfast, being careful not to get anything on my clothing, and waited at the door for Asaph. Shortly after nine am, I saw his personal craft--one of my father's custom dual-rotor helicopters; the proper airship he had commissioned was still in production--land at the docking port outside the factory. Out of courtesy, I waited until he knocked to open the door.

He was an elegant sight, in a green greatcoat that brought out the glimmer in his blue eyes, the eyes that lit up when he greeted me. "Are you ready?" he asked me, and when I nodded my assent he brought a hand to my shoulder and let it rest for a moment as he looked me up and down. "You look very distinguished today," he said, and I smiled.

In the next room, my father, who had already opened the factory for the day but was waiting in the house for my departure, looked on. "Asaph, I want to thank you again," he called, and Asaph nodded. "Have everything?" he asked me, and I nodded to him as well. "Enjoy the museum!" he called, having to return to work. I was glad to be rid of him, even though I would be without him for the entire day.

Asaph and I sat in the middle section of his ship, as a chauffeur took the controls. It was about a half-hour ride from Seafoam to Viridian, and in that time Asaph told me more tales of the world's treasures, including a sculpture from an ancient age that the museum had recently acquired. He was quite eager to see it in person, although he seemed disappointed that he was unable to possess it.

We docked on the roof of the museum, among other ships. I recognized my father's seal on many of them, particularly the finer crafts.

There was a spiral staircase leading down, nothing particularly notable about it except that it lead to the grand entryway, which was a remarkable thing. Marble columns--that had been excavated from ancient ruins, Asaph told me--framed the doors, which were glass and tinted dark.

He held the door for me, and I held my breath upon entering, only to release it the second I entered, for I was greeted by a marvelous sight. One hand held out as though in welcome, a statue of a warrior woman, hair cascading down her shoulders and other hand held on the hilt of her sword as if to say that she was the guardian of the treasures within, stood in the foyer. I could not help but raise my hand to return her gesture of welcome.

Once he had bought our tickets, Asaph smiled at me. "Now, shall we explore?"

I nodded emphatically.

We took our time, dawdling at various masterpieces, with Asaph explaining technique and the histories of the artists to me.

I listened enraptured through the hours, and finally we reached the sculpture he had mentioned on the way. It stood on a pedestal, the centerpiece of a room. He gasped, taken in by the soft features of the statue's subject; a young woman with a Jigglypuff and a basket of flowers.

I found it nothing special. Admittedly it was lifelike, with the pokémon looking as though it would burst into song, but the mood did not strike me as it did Asaph. Instead I occupied myself with the nearby statue of a Gengar that had supposedly belonged to a master trainer ages ago.

"Asaph?" The voice from behind us was sharp yet dignified. He turned, I did not.

"Lucrezia!" he exclaimed, extricating himself from the sculpture and greeting the newcomer.

I wondered if I should involve myself. If I ignored them, I would seem rude, but same if I approached them outright. So I remained where I was and listened intently with my back turned.

"How did the Moreo turn out?" Asaph asked her. I would discover later that he was speaking of an artist.

"Oh, so-so," Lucrezia admitted. "I wound up trading it in for a Hidcomb."

"Hidcomb was an overrated drunken bastard," a third voice interrupted, that of a man younger than either of them. They ignored him.

After a few minutes of discussion of names I had never heard of, during which time I turned my attention to a statue of an ivory butterfly alighting on a silver flower, Asaph returned to me and rested a hand on my shoulder. "How about you go on to the next room without me? Lucrezia and I have some business to discuss, and I know you're eager to keep going."

I nodded. "I didn't want to say anything."

"You've been a very good boy about it," he smiled, his hand falling back to his side. "You're a very patient young man."

Returning his smile, I nodded my head and continued into the next room.

I didn't notice it at first, as the paintings nearest me had my immediate attention, but when I turned to the far wall, it was as though everything around me ceased to exist.

There before me was the most brilliant and beautiful and terrifying thing I'd ever seen. To other lives, it would not have had such a profound effect, but to me it was as though the rest of the world had dropped away and existence was defined entirely by paint on canvas. She was beautiful, in a white robe that matched her flawless wings with every feather defined and looked as they could begin motion at any moment. Her hand extended in assistance, she bore a look of sorrow that the man she wished to help was unaware of her presence, a look that broke my heart to behold. Whatever was left of the world was walled up as the words /I'll be your angel/ resonated through my mind.

My knees gave out, and I was vaguely aware that I somehow was able to find purchase on the seat in the center of the room.

Nothing I had ever seen before could compare. It was at once the ideal and the dread as every detail of the painting sunk into me, filling me as nothing had before. I existed, the painting existed, and there was nothing else.

A faint cracking at the shell of the world, and a hand came to rest on my shoulder. "Beautiful, isn't she?" the man from before asked, and the spell was gone.

Instinctively, I pulled away, to the end of the bench, and he chuckled. "Shy? That's all right."

My view disrupted, I could only stare at the floor, and even the details of that escaped me.

"You're Corbin's boy, aren't you?" the man continued. "I've heard about you. My mother does frequent business with him." When he realized that I was not going to reply, he kept on. "I've never found the art world to be all that interesting myself, but I suppose it has its charm."

He was harsh, his manner cold, his words without feel to them. Or perhaps that was how the world was; I couldn't tell the difference. I edged away from him an inch at a time and I don't think he noticed, for he continued on about things I didn't care about.

I could feel the blankness around me, the empty world breaking and forming and I hated it. I wanted out, to lose myself in the picture that I couldn't bring myself to look at. I wanted the angels, the spirits and the wonder and I couldn't find them; I couldn't bear to see them again.

I'm not sure at what point he left, but when Asaph came to retrieve me, he was gone.

There were two dining rooms in the museum. The first was a simple café, and I started to turn to go into it, but Asaph cleared his throat to catch my attention. "We don't go to places like that," he told me, directing me to the more formal restaurant.

At our booth, he squeezed my hand. "So, I see that painting spoke to you."

I nodded slowly, the angels still dancing in my mind. "Yes..." was my simple, distracted answer.

"You know, there's going to be a Tonio exhibit in Goldenrod in a few months if you'd like to see it."

"That's nice..." I muttered, twining my free hand's fingers in loops in the thin chain that held my mother's ring around my throat.

"Isn't it though?" he asked and I surmised it was meant to be rhetorical. "Some of those pieces have never left Kanto before. I know it's not far, but it's still impressive."

I nodded again, a million miles away.

"Jiri, are you having a good time?"

My head picked up. "Um? Yes, yes I am. Why do you ask?"

He smiled warmly. "You seem so distant. Lost in thought?"

"Yes..." Again I fingered the necklace chain.

He took a sip of a drink that I hadn't noticed him order. "Tell me about that ring," he said, and it was neither a request nor a demand.

"It was my mother's," I told him. Unlike when he had asked about my Mew card, I offered no further information.

He shook his head, smiling sadly, and whispered something in a language I did not recognize. "Your father told me about her," he continued. "I'm so sorry."

I tucked the chain back under my shirt. "I'd rather not speak of that now."

"I understand," he assured.

We returned to Seafoam later that night, after exploring the rest of the museum. It was early evening, but I was exhausted, my divine experience had indeed weakened my constitution. My father accepted me from Asaph and took me upstairs, where I fell asleep and dreamed of angels.
Obsession 10

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
Although that day had been divine, time has no respect for such things, and life found itself as it always was. And once again, I found myself caught in boredom's snare. The world seemed so much dimmer and duller after beholding such wonders that it was rare for something to hold my attention for very long. Even Asaph was absent, his life taking him overseas for several weeks.

One morning I came down for breakfast, and my father greeted me in the kitchen, the smell of fried eggs heavy in the air. "Jiri," he welcomed with a hand on my shoulder, "I'm taking the day off. How about you and me do something?"

I shrugged, partially noncommittal, partially to extricate his hand. "I presume you had something in mind."

"Well, let's see..." he thought aloud, putting a slice of toast on a plate next to an apple half and the aforementioned eggs. "We could go shopping, we could go swimming...Oh! I know!" He snapped his fingers, handing me the plate with his other hand. "How about we play some chess?"

I took my seat at the kitchen table. "All right," I agreed. It was better than nothing, I reasoned.

"All right, how about after breakfast?" The eagerness in his voice was rather annoying.

"If you want," was my short reply.

He frowned. "When you're around Asaph, you just come alive. What happens to that spark, Jiri?"

I shrugged, saying nothing, and starting on my breakfast.

Sitting across from me, he tousled my hair. "Come on...something's gotta bring you out of your shell. You know, we could take the chessboard down to the beach and get some sun while we play. Wanna do that?"

"No, not especially."

He sighed heavily, looking away briefly. "Oh, right, right, your accident..."

I stared blankly at him before asking him what he meant by that.

"Your mother told me about when she found you face-down in the pond," he replied, laying his hands on the table.

He couldn't even get something as major as my near-drowning right. "That's not how it happened," I corrected.

He leaned in. "Oh?"

Prompting me. He was waiting for me to fill the silence, and I gave in. "They held me under. It wasn't an accident. They wanted me dead."

He was still for a moment, then he nodded. "Jiri, you know, your mother saw the whole thing. She told me that they tried to throw you in, but you fainted. They got scared and ran off. I know what they did was inexcusable, but..." He trailed off. "What reason would anyone have to try to kill you, anyway?"

"Because of Mother." It was so simple and he couldn't grasp it.

"O...kayyyy..." He drew the word out, looking confused. "It was really that strong even after all that time? I knew there was animosity there, but it's really that bad?"

Did he have to be such an enigma? "What do you mean 'after all that time'?"

"You know, about your grandfather?" he prodded.

I shook my head. "I don't know what you're talking about." Why did he have to be like this?

"Oh, she...she never told you about that? That's strange..." He paused, no doubt wondering if he should reveal the secret. And of course he continued. "Your grandfather was the mayor of the town, and he decided against having the town be a stop on a train route. The townspeople were convinced that the town would have thrived had the train stopped there, and it got so bad that he was forced to resign. I guess some people never got over that."

The lies the man could tell. "That isn't true," I insisted.

"No, no, it's true. Why, what did she tell you?"

He wasn't worth my time. I shoved my plate aside and left the table, heading back up to my room.

I came back down a short time later, hoping that my father had given up and returned to work, but this was not to be. In my absence, he had set up the chessboard on the living room coffee table, and arranged a chair at the end opposite the couch. His audacity astounded me.

"Jiri! Want to play that chess game now?" he asked, coming out from the kitchen.

I wasn't going to win, I figured. "All right, I suppose," I sighed, taking a seat in the chair.

He took his place on the couch. "Which side do you want?"

"It doesn't matter."

"All right then." He adjusted the board so that the white pieces were facing me. "You'll start off. Know how to play?"

"Of course." Mother had taught me once during a thunderstorm, but we had only played that one time. I remembered all the moves, but could not formulate a strategy or anything advanced. But I was not about to let that man talk down to me.

"Good! We'll say, what, half an hour allotment per turn?"

I moved my first piece, the Queen's Knight, without a word, and turned my attention more to the pieces themselves. White like the feathers of the bird. But that just lead to thoughts of our earlier conversation.

Maybe he was telling the truth. But that would mean that there was no white bird, wouldn't it? That there was mother, and nothing else.

And I could not accept that, for reasons I could not fathom. I knew in my heart, as much as I loved my mother, that the bird had saved me.

It puzzled even me, that I would resist his idea so much, but I knew my memory was true.

"So," he said, breaking my line of thought, "I haven't gotten a chance to sit down and talk with you about your trip to Viridian. How was it?"

I shrugged, slightly disturbed by the sudden intrusion. "I liked it."

He smiled at me. Even with my gaze leveled at the chessboard I could tell. "It's been ages since I was at the museum. A lot of my clients went to some party they had there a few months ago."

Why did he insist on telling me things that I couldn't care less about? "It was nice," I offered, hoping it would make him silent.

"See anything good?" he asked. "I like the silver room, myself..."

I nodded. "That was nice...I liked the statues..." There was no way I was going to tell him about the angel.

A few moves later, he spoke again. "You know...there's something I've wanted to talk to you about for a while." He paused, thinking of how to phrase it. "Recently, Helen and I have...gotten closer. We've been dating for about a year now."

I suppose it was obvious from the way they acted around each other, but hearing a confirmation was still quite interesting. Helen was a good woman, very kind to me, and she never spoke down to me like he did. "Oh?" was still all I could say to his statement.

"Yeah..." He smiled at me, patting my hand as I made a move. I waited for him to finish before completing it. "Just wanted to let you know in case you saw us kissing or something."

And I couldn't have figured it out on my own? Putting aside the fact that I hadn't yet, it was unlikely to traumatize me. My parents had been divorced for several years, it was only natural that at least one of them would find a new partner. Why did he insist on treating me like an imbecile? "All right," I said, nodding to myself.

His attention back on the game, we continued in near silence, for which I was extremely grateful. Soon, the game was over, and again he ruffled my hair in that way he had. "That was fun. You know, you're a pretty good player."

I pointed to the board. "But you won."

"I know, but you put up quite the fight." He smiled, and I suppose it was meant to be warm. "You could be quite the master if you keep it up."

Fine, anything to get him to stop this forced socialization. "I'm going to my room," I said, and he didn't stop me.
Obsession 11

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
While my home life may have been less than ideal, my life with Asaph continued to blossom. He told me frequently how impressed he was with me, how much I was growing with him. I noticed differences too, that I was more outgoing, more eager for even the everyday things. My drawings were getting better, I thought, probably due to my increased focus.

Asaph was the best thing that had happened to me in a long time, and I was grateful to have met him.

It was the duty and expectation that a man of his station present a distinguished manner to the rest of society, so he and my father decided that he would instruct me in the ways of gentlemen. Why my father was interested in such a thing, I still do not know. I can only suppose it was to represent the money his factory made, but we did not live like society people, not like Asaph.

In addition to comportment, he had begun teaching me languages, both past and present, and I was thriving under his tutelage. "You're quite the polyglot," he told me one day as he tousled my hair, and was surprised that I knew what the word meant.

He called me a prodigy, something I felt was a bit too lofty. I was simply a good student, that was all. Of course, looking back on it, I realize I may have sold myself short in that regard.

One day we were on our way to another museum, one across the seas in Hoenn, and I went to him and asked him how he came to have such a charmed life. "I think I've been very fortunate," he told me, looking out the window of his ship at the ocean waters below. "My family was quite wealthy, and I took an early interest in the finer things in life. I always loved art, and vowed to surround myself with the world's treasures." He smiled at me and gestured for me to come closer, which I did. His hand came to rest on my shoulder. "I'm grateful that I've found someone to share these things with, Jiri. I never thought I'd find a protégé like you. Truly I've been blessed."

I smiled back at him, resting my hand on his. "I'm glad I found you. My life would be so boring without something like our excursions to fill it."

He chuckled. "You're a good boy, Jiri. A very good boy." That said, he moved from the window to the chair of his ship, which was finally completed. Being a C-Class, it consisted of two rooms; the control room in which we presently stood, and the entrance, which was slightly lower and had a lift to reach it. "It should be about an hour before we reach Lilycove. What say we have a lesson in the meantime?"

We were in Lilycove before I knew it, and we would be staying the night, so we set up the hotel arrangements first. Waiting in the hall of the grand hotel made me feel like a prince. This was the sort of place my father would never go, with the gilt and the glamour and the opulent grandeur that he so avoided. Not like Asaph, he was in his element in such a palatial place.

On our way up to the room, with the bellhop handling our bags, Asaph took my hand in his and gave it a squeeze. "Is this your first night away from home, Jiri?" he asked.

"First time without one of my parents," I said. Mother and I had taken a few overnight trips, nothing really outstanding.

He nodded. "I hope I make a good host for you."

Once in the room, he tipped the bellhop generously, and then we were alone. I sat on the end of one of the two twin beds and looked up at Asaph. "Shall we head to the museum now?"

A smile crossed his face, creasing the lines by his eyes. "We should relax first. It was a long trip, and the museum will be there after we've rested up. Here, I've got something for you." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a candy, which he unwrapped and pushed into my mouth. The taste of butterscotch dissolved onto my tongue. "Is that good?"

"Yes, yes, you just surprised me." I swallowed deeply, the sweet confection heavy in my mouth. "It's very good. Did you get it in Seafoam?"

He chuckled to himself, discarding the wrapper. "My boy, there's so much you know, but so much you have yet to learn." And I knew he wasn't talking about the candy, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out what he meant.
Obsession 12

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
In those times, I fully believed the childhood adage that I could be anything I wanted. The problem was that there was nothing I wanted to do in life.

Until the day Asaph took me to Mandarin.

It was a few weeks after our excursion to Lilycove. We hadn't seen each other since, and he greeted me with a demonstrative embrace that nearly squeezed the wind from me. We were outside my father's factory, with the hot air of machinery emanating from the open doors. A breeze blew inland from across the sea as Asaph took me to his ship, his greying blond hair waving slightly as we boarded. My father waved goodbye as we took off, soaring over the cliffs and to the open ocean. I watched the factory become a small dot on the horizon before turning to Asaph.

"Where are we going today?" I asked him. It didn't really matter to me; any trip I took with him was bound to be full of wonders.

"Mandarin Island. Ever been?"

I shook my head. I'd never been to the Orange region at all, nor do I think I would ever have were it not for his interventions.

"Oh, it's delightful. The museum is running a special exhibit of historical interest to the area. Some of that primitive art is really incredible." He smiled and came to stand next to me, running his fingers through my hair. "It promises to be an eventful day."

Little did I know how right he would prove to be.

Mandarin Island had a bustling port, but the rest of the city was relatively relaxed. We landed at a pier on a quiet side of the land--Asaph had paid extra for a ship that could land in water--and headed directly to the museum. It was a large building, unassuming, looking more like a university than a repository for ancient treasures.

Within the hallowed halls, we quickly found the special display room. Native music greeted us on the breeze, piped in softly over the sound system. Asaph gasped, spotting a large stone statue, and herded me over to it. "Jiri, doll, look at this!" he whispered, his hand on my shoulder.

I read the museum's summary of the piece, noting that it was thought to be over five thousand years old. "It's certainly ancient," I said, nearly kicking myself for the obviousness of the statement.

But Asaph didn't notice. "Isn't it lovely? The curves and lines are so playful, one would think it was done recently!"

"What is it?" I asked him. It looked like a lump to me. Of course, I was naive then.

"Why Jiri, you don't see it? It's a woman! Notice the wide curving hips and the full breasts?"

I shook my head. "No, sorry."

"Well, it is a little abstract," he admitted, patting my shoulder. "Want to move on?"

"Oh yes."

The next object was a tablet, and Asaph told me it was written in the language of the Shamouti Islanders. This was not the one I was to acquire later in life, but it was similar. Asaph was familiar with some of the Orange languages, and was pointing out the words he knew. I learned "Aqu'hala", which meant "mainland", or more literally, "land without water".

We looked in awe at several more objects, both artistic and mundane, before happening upon some small carvings. They were ancient, but still shone with lustre and life. They were of birds, the Legendary Birds, it said.

The largest one looked familiar, and it took me a second before I realized it was the white bird.

Of course, I couldn't tell Asaph, what would he say? But how I wanted to! My stomach was twirling about, and I'm positive that my face conveyed my shock. My white bird, finally back to me after all this!

According to the summary, the creature was known as Lugia. I finally had a name to go with my beautiful bird! I took a deep breath, noting that I was becoming light headed. I expected a more dramatic reaction from myself, especially after what had happened in Viridian, but as it was, I felt elated. How dare my father tell me that the white bird was a dream? I had evidence it existed, or at least that someone else had seen it.

"Oh, you certainly like those, don't you?" Asaph asked, tousling my hair once again. "They say that the Legendary Birds of the Orange region are special, more so than the same species from other regions."

"Tell me about the one in the middle." It wasn't a request, it was a demand, and I regretted my tone the moment I said it.

"Lugia? Well..." He brought his hand to his mouth and paused. "Honestly I don't know that much about it. I know it's said to live at the bottom of the ocean, and is considered sacred to many of the islands in Orange. But that's about it."

I nodded absentmindedly, staring at the figure. It was pulling me in, not in the way the angel painting had done, but in a way that made me positively giddy.

"Jiri, are you well? You're breathing awfully strangely..."

Damn. My youthful enthusiasm had gotten away from me there, and I exhaled slowly to calm myself. My behaviour went against Asaph's comportment training, and I was sorry for that. "I apologize. I just got a bit...excited."

He laughed. "The art world can do that to a person. Why, it's done it to me before, especially in my first years as a Collector."

A Collector...

At that point, everything in my life settled into place. I knew what my future had to be. "Asaph!" I addressed sharply, again regretting how stern I sounded. "I want to be a Collector too," I blurted out, prompting a giggle from a nearby woman at my bluntness. But I didn't care.

One may think that I wanted Lugia at such a young age, but that is not the case. I wanted the treasures, the stuff of legends.

Asaph raised an eyebrow at me, a thin smirk on his lips. "You want to be a Collector?" he repeated.

"Yes!" I added an unspoken 'with all my heart'.

"Jiri, I..." He looked away, pensive for a moment, then back at me with a sharp turn of his head. "All right! I can teach you the basics, and if you want to continue on, I can teach you that too!" He looked so happy, like he was about to burst into joyous tears, and he dabbed at his eyes with a silk handkerchief. "Jiri, I'm so proud of you..."

In those fleeting moments, my life was set before me. I smiled to myself.
Obsession 13

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
After that, things moved slowly at first. Asaph began teaching me some art history along with my usual language study, which I soaked up like the proverbial sponge. I found myself far more interested in the creations of the ancient world and those of the Renaissance than those of the modern world, although that had more to do with the quality of individual artists than anything else. I never cared for abstractions, as my reaction to the statue in Mandarin had shown. Things had to show what they meant, or I would pass them by.

One day, Asaph announced that I must have a new outfit, for we would be attending a party at the end of the week. He told me that my museum clothes would not suffice, that I must be dressed the part of the aspiring young Collector that I now was. He gave my father a short list of some suitable designers, but as expected, my father was unable to take me. In return, he gave Asaph some money and told him to purchase what he saw fit. So Asaph and I traveled to a boutique in Viridian, where he bought me a magnificent lavender greatcoat in the finest fabrics. When he saw me in it the first time, he gasped and said that I was a heavenly sight.

Finally, the day of the party arrived. I donned the garment once more and waited at the airship dock for Asaph. It was summer's end, and the wind blowing through my hair had a faint chill as well at the salt smell it usually carried.

Suddenly, a hand rested on my shoulder, and I instinctively pulled away. "You're awfully jumpy today," my father said. "Are you sure you're ready to go to a fancy party?"

I stepped away from him. Anyone would be jumpy if a hand appeared on their shoulder without warning, and he was a fool to assume otherwise. "Of course I am."

"Do you know what goes on at these parties?"

One thing to understand is that my father was never told that it was a Collector party. Asaph had said to keep that a secret, and I knew why. Father would not understand how much it meant to me, nor would he understand why I felt it my destiny. In response to his question, I shook my head. "People will be making society connections there. It's going to be a lot of talk, I think."

He chuckled, and his hand found my shoulder again, against my wishes, but I let it stay there anyway. "I'll never understand why people find those so interesting. Well, if you get bored, Asaph will probably be willing to bring you back. Or you can see Viridian; it's a beautiful city."

"It is," I agreed. I liked it a well sight better than Seafoam, what I had seen of it, anyway. Seafoam, for all the crowds, was a rather dingy town that gave itself body and soul to the ocean.

Asaph's ship arrived then, and I was glad to go.

We landed at a crowded dock in the yard of a mansion, and trekked the few hundred feet to the elaborate doorway, where we were greeted by a doorman. As I had been taught by Asaph, I passed the man a tip as he held the door, and he smiled.

"This party is really rather casual," Asaph muttered to me as we entered. "At the parties of note, they'll have someone announcing you as you come in." But I hardly paid him any mind, although I did fancy the image.

The mansion's entryway was very posh, with classical columns rising over modern checked marble floors that reflected the declining sun from out the window. We were led to a larger room that I assumed was the ballroom. All around were people, and all in their finery. They discussed art mostly, tossing around names I had never heard and prices that made me gasp.

Of course, Asaph was in his element. It was like a whirlwind, the way he introduced me to so many people. Many of them knew me as "Corbin's son", which of course I despised. I regret to say that I remember very little detail, as I was quite overwhelmed. I recall being passed around from person to person like a curiosity, a young boy who already had his life set before him, even though I knew the attendees themselves had been determined that early.

After a time, Asaph spotted the woman we had met at the Viridian Museum, Lucrezia, and left me to talk with her. With him gone, I sighed. This whole endeavor was quite overwhelming, and I found my head spinning from all the excitement. I knew I had to brave these excursions in the future, to make connections and to expand my horizons, but for now, I was still a beginner, so I ducked into the sitting room when no one was looking.

I thought I was alone at first until I heard a girl giggling. "That's it! Now jump!" she said to something, so I looked around. There, kneeling on the floor behind the couch, was a girl probably a few years older than myself. Before her was a pokémon I'd only seen in books, a Ralts. It was jumping at something in her hand, which she held aloft and wiggled. She laughed, and handed it the treat anyway, which it promptly devoured.

I couldn't help but laugh myself, although I wasn't sure why.

At the sound, she and the Ralts turned to face me, her curly blonde hair twisting with her action. "Oh, I didn't know anyone else was in here. My parents aren't looking for me already, are they?" she asked, with a tone indicating that she thought it was far too soon.

I shook my head. "Not that I know of. Sorry to disturb you. Would you rather I leave you alone?"

She stood, and the Ralts ran in front of her. "No, that's ok. It's good to see someone younger around here." With a smile, she held out her hand. "I'm Veronica."

Frankly, I was unsure of what to do. Should I shake her hand or kiss it? Should I bow? Kneel? I took a moment to decide, during which time I took her hand and raised it a little, looking to her for cues. She smiled at me, but otherwise did nothing, so I settled on drawing the offered hand closer and making eye contact. "Jirarudan."

"Interesting name," she said as I let go of her hand. "So who are you with?"

"Me? I'm here with Asaph. Do you know him?"

"I think my parents have done business with him...not sure. I know I've heard the name, though." She grabbed my hand again. "I didn't introduce you to Ralts!" And with that, she pulled me down to the ground, where her pokémon waited. "Ralts, this is Ji...um...no, I've got it, Jira--"

"Jiri is fine," I assured her. "I know, it's a mouthful."

"This is Jiri," she finished with a laugh, and her Ralts laughed too. "Jiri, this is Ralts. I got her for my birthday last month. She's from Hoenn!"

"So I hear. Aren't they pretty rare?"

She nodded. "They're psychic, and people say they can sense emotions. But this one just seems to sense when I've got treats." As if on cue, Ralts went up on tiptoe with arms extended, begging for something. "Oh fine, here's another one." Veronica took another treat from her purse and gave it to the Ralts, who nibbled on it happily. "Now that she's pacified, want to sit down?"

"Oh, all right." I stood first and offered my hand to Veronica, who took it with a slightly coy look. We moved to the couch and I noticed that she sat very ladylike, with her back straight and her legs crossed at the ankle. I had to watch my own posture, remembering what Asaph had taught me in his comportment lessons. Ralts played at her feet, amusing itself with the elaborate lines on the rug beneath us.

"So..." Veronica started after a brief silence, "how do you know Asaph?"

"He's one of my father's patrons. We got to talking one day and I found him fascinating." I had hoped that she wouldn't ask further, but of course she did.

"Oh? What does your father do? Is he an artist?"

I shook my head, reluctant to talk about the man. "He makes ships," was all the information I offered.

"Ooh, sounds exotic. That must take you all over the place! So where are you from?" She leaned in, intrigued.

"I'm just from Kanto. Little town, though, far to the east. But now I live in Seafoam."

"Seafoam's nice. We go there sometimes in the winter. I'm from here in Viridian, myself. It's nice too." She paused. "I probably sound like a complete idiot, don't I? 'That's nice, that's nice'."

I laughed, probably a bit too loud given my manner. But I was starting to relax. "It's all right, I'm not the best at conversation myself." After a moment, I added "Veronica? Are you going to be a Collector too, then?"

She looked away for just a moment, then back at me with brown eyes bright. "Well, both my parents are...so I guess I am. But for now, no one talks to me at parties 'cause I'm only twelve."

Was there some reluctance there? I quickly forgot it. "This is my first party, and everyone was treating me like a curiosity since I'm only nine."

"Nine, really? You act so much older...but then, you do look young." She tilted her head at me. "So why do you want to be a Collector anyway?"

"Well..." I smiled, more to myself than to her. "The world fascinates me. I want to know the mysteries of the planet. And what better way than to surround myself with articles of distinction?" It sounded like something Asaph would say, or tell me to say, but I didn't care. I couldn't tell her about the white bird, at least not right away. Besides, it was truth, if not wrapped in a shell of peculiarity.

"Mm." It was a noncommital noise, and she looked as though she was thinking about something. "I've always loved the art world. Have you been to the Viridian Museum?"

"Oh yes, I was there a few months ago with Asaph. It was...breathtaking." Angels flitted through my mind as I remembered the painting that had so possessed me. "What's your favorite part?"

"I like the silver room, myself," she said as she bent to pick up her Ralts. "My parents have a set just like one that's on exhibit. I think it was made by the same crafter. Yours?"

"I like the paintings," I admitted. "Especially the Neo-Classical era ones. I thought they did the best job of conveying emotion." My reaction would never cross my lips.

She petted her Ralts, scratching in between the horns, to which Ralts sighed happily and nuzzled her hand. "So do you have any pokémon? I've just got this one here."

I shook my head. "No, can't say that training ever interested me."

"You don't have to be a trainer, you can just own them. Like I'm no trainer." She laughed. "I'd make a horrible trainer."

"No, I still don't think I'd like one." My father had several, to assist in the factory. Mostly Machamps for transport and construction aid, and some strong fire types to heat the metal to where it was malleable. But I had never wanted one for myself, and thoughts of Lugia were a long time off.

"Well, they're not for everyone. Ralts keeps me more than occupied, anyway." She stood, still holding the creature. "Well, I think I'd best be heading back out there. My parents are probably looking for me by now. It was nice meeting you, Jiri."

I nodded. "I should probably return to the party as well. Asaph is probably tearing the place apart trying to find me." Following her to the door, I opened it for her.

"Oh, a gentleman." She giggled again. "Well, like I said, it was nice meeting you. I hope I see you again. Will you be at the opening in Saffron next month?"

"I hadn't heard about that. I might be." I would have to ask Asaph about that.

"I'll look for you there, then!" And with that, she scampered off, Ralts in hand.

I occupied myself with idle conversation with people I didn't care for the rest of the night, untl the party's end when Asaph, who I hadn't seen in hours, found me and asked me if I was ready to return to Seafoam. I told him I was, but in truth, the dull day-to-day of that town would only depress me.

When we were walking back to the ship, Asaph asked me if I had enjoyed myself, and I thought of Veronica and said yes.


*Crazy Absol Noises*
Behind a laptop, most likely with tea
  1. mawile
Here for Catnip! I read the first five chapters since they're not very long and I wanted to get a feel for this story.

My memories of the second Pokemon movie are pretty vague as I've not watched it in ages, but it's interesting to encounter a character I've never given much thought to! The older me likes to get into the head of a character who is somewhat villainous to explore what set them on that path. You do a good job with this, and I've only read a rather small part of it!

Why do I do it? What is it about Collecting that keeps me in its clutches? Is it as simple as greed?

This is a very catchy opening line. Given you said the first chapters are choppy I didn't really feel that to be honest. This is a great opening hook and I find no fault with the way you've begun this story.

"He's going to have to live with his father from now on." "Oh yes, the poor thing. But maybe now, he can grow up right."

With this, I'd add a break between the two sentences of speech if they're two different people talking. This might be an oversight though as I've not seen anything else like this in the first five chapters.

The first person works so well to get into the head of a character who is on an awful downward spiral. His young age only adds to how blatant that struggle is. I grew rather fond of the first person narrative when I wrote a story about a character dealing with depression, and I can really appreciate how well this works for Jiri.

For example, this was just fantastic:

"You know, tomorrow I'm going back to Seafoam...you'll be coming with me..."

*...mother, where are you? You told me you'd be here...*

"You may want to say goodbye. The...burial is...already over..."

*...you didn't lie to me, did you? Mother, you promised me...*

I didn't hear most of what he said. I managed to catch that he loved me, and that he'd help me gather my things, and that I should say farewell to my friends--foolish man, I have no friends, don't you know that?

The image of the card was growing fainter, my father's voice more distant. I was withdrawing, and soon I would be gone entirely.

*...mother, please, I need you now...*

It's like he's just... broke.

There are little things in this I really like - the attention to detail for example. Mentioning how the hand he raised to stop his Dad was the one with the ring imprint has stuck with me. You've fit a lot into those short chapters. I can't remember if it's mentioned in the movie that he encountered Lugia as a child, but that dream-memory was really well done. I'm rather keen to read more about what set him on his path to capture Lugia.

The way this is written makes me feel like he's telling the story in a letter, or perhaps to whoever arrested him for trying to collect legends (I cannot recall his fate in the movie...).

I could not listen to his further words, although I was aware he continued to speak. Lying there, the light put me in a trance, and I fell asleep once again, thinking of the ocean.

This seemed like a very good stopping point. Already he's fixating on Lugia and his memory of it, and I can only imagine where it's going to go from here. I couldn't think of much that needed correcting save for what I pointed out earlier. All I really have to offer is appreciation! I was going to suggest thread-marks for if I pick this up again, but I noticed much to my delight you've already added them! =D

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
I certainly hope you *do* pick it up again later because I'm very glad you like it!

Haha his fate in the movie is he gets his collection vaporized and he's left standing on the shore in the wreckage like a dumbass who has no one to blame but himself.


Unrepentent Giovanni and Rocket fan
And done, here are chapters 1-5. If no one replies to the review tag in a week or so I'll post up 6-10 to get it moving along but until then just think of this as the start of a whole story thank-you review.

It's just going to come along in bits and bobs.

The analysis:

I actually bumped into this fic, skimmed a bit, found it original, then got distracted and utterly forgot its title so I couldn’t find it again… So it’s quite the happy chance it’s one of yours and I got the opportunity to dig into it again.

Without further ado…

Chapter 1

I’m curious as to who the main viewpoint is talking to at this point. Without the stimulus of a described environ, I take it as an internalized monologue more than anything else. Or... rather reading on it appears to be a precursor to a “how did we get here” bit.

I’m curious as to how the heirloom chest looked, the setting/home, and what the protag’s mother looked like. And while there is a description offered later on of the character… as well as a situation about how they lived (her as a healer and the tensions between the protags home life and family versus the community) the timing felt a bit odd… And the fact that the characters are so segregated from the setting there’s no interaction between the two made the story feel a bit…. Disjointed. As you mentioned this was a ”needs work/touch up” span of your tale I’m not going to go too deep into that trait in your writing as I’m sure it’s improved as times gone on.

On a narrative note, the universal adulation from all outside their hometown also felt more like a child’s fantasy than actuality without any evidence/events to back it up. I don’t know if it was intentional but it was fitting considering the protag’s age of “very young” thus far. (reads more) ah, eight.

And we’ve got the protags name at this point, in the end, Jirarudan… (yes I know it’s in the author’s note but I was curious as to where it landed in the text) and two driving forces for the tale thus far.

The loss of the familiar/family and the starting of Jir’s obsession via the introduction of the card. Though it’s hardly that at this moment it’s curious to see how it started and how everything will develop.

Chapter 2

Jir’s reaction feels very true to life. A slant of denial melding with grief and delusion. Though why he was without others to oversee him during his mother’s death etcetera.. I’d hoped to see that expanded on and more world-building but I get the sense we’re doing flybys on certain life points to build up to other events at this point…

(while you can cut copy and paste segments of the writer's text on the site and it usually will make it as their text as writers quote –an auto feature on the site that seems to trigger when you highlight a bit of text at least on my desktop?- it’s a bit touch and go, as such, I found it easier to copy and paste the writer's story on a word doc and delete as I go. Stopping when I get to a section I want to talk about… like below)


"He's going to have to live with his father from now on." "Oh yes, the poor thing. But maybe now, he can grow up right."

Because it’s two people talking back and forth you might want to do two paragraphs


"He's going to have to live with his father from now on."

"Oh yes, the poor thing. But maybe now, he can grow up right."

There’s also a nice opportunity to add in some descriptors, identify the speakers with either name (EX: Jane from down the street) or descriptors (EX: the first speaker hissed, thinking she was whispering) to a scenario that builds up the tone. Doing so can make the dialogue go from just floating there to it building up the tone (Jir’s scorn of them, their scorn of Jir.) work the setting about them, or even Jir’ even if it’s something as simple as pulling a pillow over his head to blot them out before he curls up in his ball.

The aside with its word choice of “recant” just screams megalomaniac in my head… not too sure why…

Right now at least Jir’s father seems compassionate if distant. Perhaps he’s a workaholic (a totally different type of obsession in and of itself) if he missed his wife’s decline in health to you know… work…. But without fuller information on their situation, I’m going to hold off more speculation on the man until more info’s available.

Chapter 3:

Seriously Jir’s fast-forwarding through the stages of grief here. We’ve got denial, anger, to bargaining right off the cuff.

As this is the third time he’s said someone/everyone would denounce him for what he is I’ll admit I am curious as to what he’s become/done at the present time outside of this flashback narrative.

I like how we see his disconnect, how his attention just fades in and out, how you show this, with Jir’s thoughts overlapping/washing out his fathers… attempts at communicating. It was well done and also shows the disconnect between father and son. The man might be well-meaning but he really has no clue.

I’ll admit the span near the ending “I was withdrawing, would be gone completely” sorta threw me for a bit.

Chapter 4

I wonder if this is foreshadowing the Lugia incident in the movie….

I almost wonder if farther and further would work better than farther and farther…. To show not only physical distance from the world but emotional/mental distance as well… it’s a thought.

I’m wondering when she was meant to have this convo about differing morals with her son. As we never see them interact on this topic, Jir seems wildly introverted (with the no friends line), and he’s eight. It does allude to him being a few cans short of a six-pack however if he’s imagined these conversations in his head with her to that point….

“her world” his mother’s?

While I get this is likely a dream sequence it’s… jumpy enough to lose me quite fast. Also, (funny from me all things considered) basic structure has taken a back seat here. That’s what clued me off to it being a dream along with the ever-changing scenario…

Original text

But it was coming to take me away from there, far away.

I wonder if “them”, should replace there. Taking Jir away from those who were drowning him, as there are several references before and after of distance already being made another seems a bit much? It’d break it up, make the rescue from other people mesh more with Jir’s outlook and help reinforce his loner stance.

At the end of this piece, I was confused as to what was reality, fancy, and dream. And if it was even loosely based in reality wow Jir’s father really doesn’t have a clue considering his kid might have… you know… trauma from nearly being drowned by the old townspeople… And moving right next to the ocean…


This is going to go well, I can just tell.

Chapter 5

I would not call (maybe?) being drowned and despised by the people of the old town untouched… but to each their own. How long was he bedridden? Was it due to grief, sickness, mental disengagement with the real world to the point he went catatonic?

Who is Helen by the way?

How did he feel someone in the room with him, aura, hearing something, shadows moving to warn him? Someone sitting on the side of the bed causing him to feel it dip and therefore gently jar him out of his own head?

Sorry I was left with a lot of questions as I read and just jotted them down as I read, this section left me more questions than answers…

It’s interesting watching the characters Jir and his father fumble through their grief. There’s definitely a sharp awareness of the gap between father and son’s mindsets but points for Jir’s father for trying…

Ending thoughts:

This is an interesting take on a villain that gets precious little screen time. He starts out so mundane, a quiet loner with a sad background of the death of the nurturing parent and the upheaval that causes... And that start is so common and relatable which helps connect the reader to him, even with his... eccentricities... To see that groundwork laid down and watch how it expands to shape him into the villain he becomes in canon, it's promising to be quite the treat. I've enjoyed my read into your tale thus far and look forward to watching its scope and scale expand as it goes along.

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
Actually a lot of the issues you bring up are addressed later! His accounts of things may not be the most...accurate. Even as a kid he has a bit of a disconnect from reality, though it's not nearly as pronounced as it is by the events of the movie. You'll see~~
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*Crazy Absol Noises*
Behind a laptop, most likely with tea
  1. mawile
Back for Catnip!

Chapters 6-9

It was interesting to see how Jiri bonded with Asaph. There were a few curious things I found myself wondering. Jiri's quietness and lack of attention to people talking about things that don't interest him was oddly relatable XD So far, I don't see him developing into the crazed collector from the second movie. But there are clear hints of that developing. It's very well done.

His obsession with Lugia only continues as he likens it to an angel, making them the main focus of his artwork. Has he forgotten what Lugia looks like, or has he never seen it fully? It's a rather striking image though! I'd never thought of it as angelic before, like Reshiram is. I like this.

The white theme keeps coming back too, in more obvious instances such as the white bird that lands on his window, to the ivory butterfly that caught Jiri's eye in the museum.

Things of note:
One thing I know only from the stories of my father and his assistant Helen was that I would do things that startled the both of them greatly. I have no memory of this incident, but he would tell me that I insisted on drawing angels. I do not doubt him, as I dreamed of angels and white wings nearly every night.
So he also dreams of angels? Lugia continues to haunt him.

He set the card back next to me and drew himself up to full height, like a regal speaker about to deliver an address. "Well, my boy, I...am a Collector."
Another collector, huh? I immediately wondered if Jiri would begin to bond with Asaph, or if he'd become a mentor in some way. Going off the development that follows, I'm guessing he doesn't become a mentor, since his focus isn't on catching and trapping legendary pokemon. I wonder how he'd feel if and when he finds out how Jiri would develop over time?

One of the explorers who found it that day made a painting of it, but found that he could not capture the brilliant gold sheen of the original. So he hired a goldsmith and a jeweler to make these cards, and gave them to everyone involved in the expedition.
I don't know if this is canon or not, but the idea of the card being made from gold leaf and jewels is very striking.

One hand held out as though in welcome, a statue of a warrior woman, hair cascading down her shoulders and other hand held on the hilt of her sword as if to say that she was the guardian of the treasures within, stood in the foyer. I could not help but raise my hand to return her gesture of welcome.
This was quite adorable!

I found it nothing special. Admittedly it was lifelike, with the pokémon looking as though it would burst into song, but the mood did not strike me as it did Asaph. Instead I occupied myself with the nearby statue of a Gengar that had supposedly belonged to a master trainer ages ago.
This is one of the points that stood out to me that point him towards the collector from the movie. He's not interested in a statue of a woman, but the gengar? Yup.

he smiled, his hand falling back to his side. "You're a very patient young man."
A quality he needs if he's going to round up the legendary birds!

She was beautiful, in a white robe that matched her flawless wings with every feather defined and looked as they could begin motion at any moment.
Ah the angels again!

Very well done! So many interesting points to think about! It's making me want to watch the second movie again XD

Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
Remember how in the movie his ceiling was decorated with dozens of angels? I had to lean in hard, haha.

The backstory for the Mew card is a Blackjack original! Glad you liked it! I figured it had to be more than cardstock, right? Especially to survive the events of the movie (though gold is still pretty fragile, especially thin like that...bah who even knows any more).

Thanks for reviewing! Come back soon!
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