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Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Partners
  1. mew-adam
  2. celebi-shiny
  3. roserade-adam
Decided to read Chapter 5 this morning, and it was a pleasant chapter to spend my morning on honestly. Quite a lot of stuff happened in this chapter and I struggle a bit to talk about any specific events because they're all worth talking about. I think part of my biggest appeal with Spring is that it feels like a slice of life trainer fic as the focus is a lot more on the character interactions and much less on "go new town, fight gym, go next town, rinse and repeat".

It's also nice seeing how both of the protagonists are helping each other to grow as people. Little by little they understand each other's worlds. Chris helps Una learn about the present day world while she helps him learn all kinds of things he didn't know about before either. Like how to survive an incoming grizzly bear that would've ripped him apart if he'd been alone on his journey. That was an intense short segment in particular.

We also got to learn a fair good amount about Chris' life here. The flashback between him and his mother was pretty wholesome and I'm all here for that sort of content. I wonder if they'll be reaching Blackthorn next chapter, and how Una would react to witnessing a proper gym battle for the first time.
 

zion of arcadia

too much of my own quietness is with me
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. marowak-alola
First of all, curse you for your lovely banners. It’s not fair that other people have multiple artistic talents. I’m going to have to file a complaint over this.

Second, when I started writing this review, my plan was to discuss both the prologue and chapter one, as that’s what I usually like to do with any story featuring a prologue. But I found myself talking so much about genre conventions/genre blending/random literary geeky things that I wound up shelving that decision so I could give the first chapter more focus in another review (which will come… I don’t know when. Hopefully soonish lmao).

I mentioned it on Discord, but what drew me to this story was the concept of a realist fairy tale. It’s such an inherent contradiction and yet, considering contradiction is often at the heart of many fairy tales, somehow made perfect sense.

Since I’ll be babbling a lot about fairy tales, I figured I’d start by touching on the literary realism aspects. You pretty much nail this from what I can tell. The prologue features tons of tiny details that come together to make the characters feel fully-formed, with complex behaviors and motives or hints of complex behaviors and motives. My two favorite minor details were the lines about Jasmine bringing the Nakano family a fruit basket, and where Chris’s mom starts showing up to watch his battles. Such simple moments that manage to say a lot.

I really like how well you capture Jasmine, too. Her empathy and compassion, her stuttering, mild speech patterns, the way she cheered when Chris won, all of it was just so… kind and gentle, simultaneously highlighting the sad events that hover over them all like a cloud. Definitely a beautiful sort of bittersweet. Something about kindness from strangers/near-strangers also always gets to me.

Other ways in which the prologue fulfills its obligations to realism: naturalistic dialogue, events that were plausible and logical, natural character relationships to each other and their circumstances, and emphasis on character over plot and action. While complex ethical decisions weren’t ever presented to us (unless you count Jasmine not throwing, which, valid), that’s something I could see making an appearance down the line, given you tend to often bring up ethical scenarios in much of your writing.

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about fairy tales, and how two very different approaches to storytelling are being used/can be used to tell a coming of age story.

One of the things I scribbled in my notes in big bold letters while writing this was that Chris’s father is dead. A dead parent is very common in fairy tales--although usually it’s the mother who’s dead, because fairy tales were originally oral storytelling between women, often while at work (a lot of scholars think this is why looms are such a common motif), and fear of what would happen to a child if the mother passed away was very common. Not that I mind the change. Dads can die too, dads can die too! Chris coming to terms with his grief should play an important thematic role in the story.

Donald Winsicott coined the term intermediate area of experience. It’s the idea that children and adults are always in the process of trying to accept reality. Fairy tales, meanwhile, are considered a relief from the strain of relating to reality. These two concepts being opposed creates a natural dichotomy that allows us to examine certain elements in ways we might not have bothered otherwise. Double so because fairy tales are often about places of unknowing, containing contradictory ideas.

Death is the great unknown. It’s something we don’t really have an answer for, that realism doesn’t have an answer for. Fairy tales aren’t about answering the questions they raise, though--why does Rumplestiltskin want a baby? Who knows. Who cares. Chris grappling with his father’s death as he grows up over the years puts you in a position to straddle that line really well.

An area where fairy tales and realism often intersect, interestingly enough, is matters of class. Both often deal with people of the middle and lower class. Transformation is a large part of fairy tales, and not just physical transformation; a lot of time you’ll see them going from being impoverished to rich (Hansel and Gretal), or from a pauper to a princess (Cinderella). I could see that coming into play somehow in this story.

Characters in fairy tales tend to be flat, which is in direct defiance of realism’s emphasis on complex characters. I thought it was neat how you worked around that by framing the prologue from Jasmine’s POV. Chris feels less like a person and more like a force of nature throughout much of the prologue, driven by something (grief?) that gives him a stubborn, determined edge that could border on obsessive if taken to its negative conclusion. He’s The Boy with the Dead Dad, that’s all we really truly know about him, and it engulfs Jasmine’s and, ultimately, our perspective of him. The idea of him being viewed almost as a cipher through the lens of everyone else fascinates me, but I already know that won’t last beyond the prologue.

Some elements I might’ve liked to see integrated into the prologue/integrated into the story more in the future:

-Part of me wishes Chris had gone unnamed throughout the prologue. It’s not something that I would want to last beyond the prologue, but I like the idea because it fits well with the way fairy tale protagonists are often nameless, and helps drive home how little Jasmine truly knows about him.
-More use of triplicate narrative. I liked how Chris said thank you to Jasmine three times in the prologue.
-Magical clothes. I need this, somehow, someway. The vast majority of trainer characters having hats has all been in preparation for this moment.
-Intuitive logic and abstraction. I want things to just exist just because they can. I’d also like to see color used in broad strokes more often to highlight important thematic moments, particularly red, black, and gold.
-An incorporation of oral tradition and the idea of the same story being told multiple times with certain things changed.
-Use of Kant's sublime. I want beauty that moves toward terror, a combination of the grotesque and the beautiful, things that terrify and fascinate, that candy house in the woods. I want to feel enchanted.

And, umm, hmmm, I think that covers everything. A lot of what I talked about stems from Episode 67 of the Eleventh Hour Podcast, if you want to fact check me or anything. This was lovely, thanks for the great read. Keep up the good work! A poem for your wonderful efforts:

I look for you in the spaces
between bodies of trees. The quiet
keen on your lack,
your elbows are loud
in the unseeable air.

We never made the plan
for where we'd meet up
the day the oil runs out.

It's not as simple as ghosts or stars
falling from sockets.
The way autumn tilts
itself from yellow to brown.

--last three stanzas of The Thought of Writing A Whole Letter To You
By MÓNICA GOMERY
 
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WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. moka-mark
  2. solrock
I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a review quite like this one! This was fun! Lots to think about.

First of all:
While complex ethical decisions weren’t ever presented to us (unless you count Jasmine not throwing, which, valid), that’s something I could see making an appearance down the line, given you tend to often bring up ethical scenarios in much of your writing.
Well, hello there! Review Blitz is apparently the season to learn that everyone has been stealth-reading your ish.

So! I’m not sure if you’ve read further ahead or not! But you did touch on a few things that come up later, so I might talk about those and just spoilerize them if I get too specific.

Aaand I worry a little I might be setting up false expectations for you re: fairy tales. I appreciate the analysis here, and I think some of it fits! Some of it might not. It’s less that I consciously tried to follow a structure (though I am really interested in fairy tales, so in places it might’ve happened accidentally) than it is that I was trying to name this thing I’d created. I still feel like it fits a story that features both survivalist camping skills and inexplicably becoming friends with Suicune, but not necessarily in all the ways outlined in your expectations.

One of the things I scribbled in my notes in big bold letters while writing this was that Chris’s father is dead.
the idea that children and adults are always in the process of trying to accept reality.
Haha, you found me out! Spring is partly me trying to recreate this story that meant a lot to me and my friends as kids ... and partly me constructing a framework for coping with loss and death in my own life! I think that’s part of the fairy tale vibe for me.

Magical clothes. I need this, somehow, someway. The vast majority of trainer characters having hats has all been in preparation for this moment.
Next chapter for sure! And chapter 3. And, come on, hiking boots are magical AF!

An incorporation of oral tradition and the idea of the same story being told multiple times with certain things changed.
In some ways, the entire story is retelling and reframing a story from canon, but it’ll be a while before that’s totally clear. Like, you’re gonna have to wait for me to finish a few more chapters to clear that up. I’ll be back to finish it eventually, I promise. Meanwhile, Chapters 5 and 11 will definitely scratch this itch. (And if you like myths in pokefic, I have to direct you to Kint’s envy of eden and, like, most things by Pen. In particular, The Crystal Prince and The Last Con stand out to me.)

I really like how well you capture Jasmine, too. Her empathy and compassion, her stuttering, mild speech patterns, the way she cheered when Chris won, all of it was just so… kind and gentle, simultaneously highlighting the sad events that hover over them all like a cloud. Definitely a beautiful sort of bittersweet. Something about kindness from strangers/near-strangers also always gets to me.
I love her. ❤️ If that’s your vibe, you’ll enjoy Spring. Um, Divides does not have a ton of that lolololol.

Transformation will also definitely come up though, again, not right away. And nature as both fearsome and beautiful. You’ll like Chapter 4 and the interlude.

Lovely poem, thanks for sharing!

I’ll be curious to hear what you make of Chapter 1! It’s got the oldest prose, so I won’t be shocked if you find some funky pieces. But it’ll also be interesting to revisit some of these fairy tales themes you’ve brought up. ;) Thanks so much for reading!

First of all, curse you for your lovely banners. It’s not fair that other people have multiple artistic talents. I’m going to have to file a complaint over this.
HR has been notified! (Thank you! ❤ )
 

zion of arcadia

too much of my own quietness is with me
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. marowak-alola
I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a review quite like this one! This was fun! Lots to think about.

I took a pretty different tack with this review, myself. If I only focused on the story itself in a vacuum, I probably would've just gushed for 1k words haha. I had fun too! There's something innately enjoyable about sitting down and analyzing well-written stories, as well as pinpointing potential weak spots.

Well, hello there! Review Blitz is apparently the season to learn that everyone has been stealth-reading your ish.

I am ninja. :cool:

Aaand I worry a little I might be setting up false expectations for you re: fairy tales. I appreciate the analysis here, and I think some of it fits! Some of it might not. It’s less that I consciously tried to follow a structure (though I am really interested in fairy tales, so in places it might’ve happened accidentally) than it is that I was trying to name this thing I’d created.

Ah, that's understandable. Genre conventions are, at the end of the day, looking back at famous/well-known stories and analyzing common patterns. And it's not like you need to follow those patterns, of course! That's also why I wanted to make that the primary focus for the prologue, so I could move past that framework as the story progressed and became its own thing.

Haha, you found me out! Spring is partly me trying to recreate this story that meant a lot to me and my friends as kids ... and partly me constructing a framework for coping with loss and death in my own life! I think that’s part of the fairy tale vibe for me.

Ah, yes, I feel that. I find a lot of my stories tend to be about coping with loss, too. It's always interesting to see how things are viewed as children vs adults. Might also be what drew me to this story. Something something shared human experiences.

And, come on, hiking boots are magical AF!

That's what I like to hear. 🥾

(And if you like myths in pokefic, I have to direct you to Kint’s envy of eden and, like, most things by Pen. In particular, The Crystal Prince and The Last Con stand out to me.)

I have read both of their works! Very talented writers. Haven't quite caught up on everything Pen has posted, though, so I'll try to correct that.

I’ll be curious to hear what you make of Chapter 1! It’s got the oldest prose, so I won’t be shocked if you find some funky pieces. But it’ll also be interesting to revisit some of these fairy tales themes you’ve brought up. ;) Thanks so much for reading!

I usually don't talk much about old prose. You've mentioned enjoying editing, though, so if it helps I can point stuff out. And I look forward to it. You're welcome! Thanks for all your hard work!

HR has been notified! (Thank you! ❤ )

:devilish:
 

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. booper-kintsugi
  5. meloetta-kint-muse
  6. meloetta-kint-dancer
  7. murkrow
  8. yveltal
  9. celebi
"And then a face floated towards her From out of the shadows. It was, of course, her own reflection. However, she had never seen a mirror before—or a bronzor—and she had no idea how she had grown and changed on her journey. So she mistook it for the beautiful face of her mother."
I like the through-line here of embracing the past and seeing how it shapes us still. For Una it's partially literal; for Chris, it's not. But this is a really beautiful way to capture this idea of growing up--you can't recognize yourself, but maybe you've become someone you would've loved and respected instead. Bronzor is a really nice centerpiece for the chapter, both as an ancient relic and for how it ties into the central themes of reflection, light, facing yourself. And it's hard to do, as our protagonists are slowly learning! Far easier to think that the world has changed as its own miracle and the bronzor has your mother's face than to accept that you as a person will need to grow and move forward from this (or even to extend appreciate to the growth that you've already done).

(sidebar, wild capital From here)

Cynthia's a good appearance in this, too. I think the duo desperately needed an outside hand to right the ship a little, and Cynthia's spirituality here is a good touch as a parallel/opposite to Una's. It's kind of wild how much of this was about to fall apart simply because Chris was too awkward to say anything, and Cynthia has to show up to pull things back from the brink.

Cynthia's more assured and confident than Una, and she's willing to drop the hard truths that both Una and Chris need to learn, but in stories! You capture the idea that she doesn't really give a fuck what other people think, and she has no qualms pushing out people she doesn't think she needs to impress--contrasts nicely with Chris oggling over Gary and Gary resignedly scribbling out a quick autograph; maybe the tournament won't hold all your answers, hmmm? The twist on the Sinnoh myths is nice, and I like the added touch of asking everyone permission and uh,,, respecting when they say no instead of cutting them up with a sword or holding them to one promise that their ancestor made a long long time ago.

Really lovely chapter. Always here for studies on how myths and stories can inspire us. I know that we're in Hoenn for a while, but this is a lovely story you've got here and I'm glad that it's still somewhere on the backburner.

some line-specific thoughts:
He noticed then that she was wearing the long skirt from the Mahogany hospital lost and found again. She'd been carrying it around the entire time. Chris wasn't sure whether to shake his head or smile.
yeah what kind of idiot would keep old stuff out of sentimentality
So he and Una stood without speaking—as if she were already gone, even though she was standing right there—until the cable car lurched into view.
I liked this understated moment--often we think it's the last goodbyes that really mean things, but what do we end up doing in those moments that actually matter? Sometimes they stick with us, but often the more powerful moments came way before the end.
Then she was already turning away, and Chris only managed to give her backpack a clumsy pat.
oh yes this is great
But, thinking of his own pokemon—Hero the offspring of Dad's own fearsome typhlosion and his lapras named as a nod to Mom—Chris thought he understood Gary's choices.
I think some commas are missing here
"If you want to. It's for you." Then to Chris, Cynthia added, "We've been talking about ways to honor home and homesickness. A little self-care ritual. You can do one too, if you want."
I like the casual no-fucks that Cynthia gives here. She's helping someone, Chris can be here if he doesn't annoy her, I guess.
Would she have stayed if he had asked?
bruh
"How do you know of her?"

"TV."

"I see," she said, meaning
meaning "chris what the fuck is a tee vee"
"—I mistook her for my sister. Her hair, mostly. She did not much resemble Suki once I saw her face. Of course, I knew that it could not possibly be her. Suki has been gone for a long time. But it set me to weeping all the same." She reached to touch Suki the slowpoke, who licked her hand.
hi pls can we stop naming pokemon after our friends who have left us this is really sad and ibuki needs to do laundry
Chris gawked. "You mean—?"

Una gazed back unblinkingly.
I like how there's a lot unspoken here, how Chris is surprised she'd tell anyone else. That was our secret! But you were doing a bad job with it and not helping.
"Where I come from," she said, "fire-types are rare. We have to be a bit more clever to light our campfires."
haha, is this an intentional reference to D/P having like two fire-types? i am a fan.
Cynthia crouched beside the fire pit, tilting the mirror from side to side until the glint of it struck the paper kindling. She focused the reflected light to a pinprick that quickly began to smoke and glow red. Then, all at once, the fire caught and swept its way up the kindling pile. Only then did Chris settle himself onto a boulder, feeling foolish for doubting, and leave Cynthia to tend the fire.
I wanted either more explanation or less--either Chris has seen a concave mirror before and this isn't new to him, or it's not behaving in a way that he'd expect a flat mirror to behave. I like the setup for the story though; Cynthia certainly has a flare for dramatic openings and lessons.
or an attemptedstudy
heyo dropped a space here
"No two people will interpret a story the same way, and that's alright. But here's what I think: I think each of us is a mirror. We reflect our own histories, the histories of our ancestors, the places we've been … and even who we could become. All of those reflections cast new light onto the world. Do you know what you want to reflect into the world, Una?"
<3 this is a really beautiful concept. stories are how we live on indeed.
Chris tried, "Maybe you should let her—"

Cynthia ignored him. "You are the last person alive who can reflect the light of a world that no longer exists."
I like the difference here, how Chris' gut reaction is to protect/shelter Una (because of course homeboy would support the route that involves being quite and not talking about your problems what do you MEAN), how Cynthia presses with duty. Perhaps it's not the softest option but I think it's the one that Una needed in this moment (compared to the other listening that Cynthia did earlier). Self-care is twofold; you have to figure out where you want to move to as well as away from.

Slowly, Una released her breath. "I will tell you my stories."
okay but like Una POV when
 
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WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. moka-mark
  2. solrock
I forgot that you hadn’t done this one yet, even though you remembered that you’d forgotten and brought it up recently!

you can't recognize yourself, but maybe you've become someone you would've loved and respected instead.
Aww, yeah, it’s me talking to baby-OSJ-who-no-longer-exists by writing this fic.

(sidebar, wild capital From here)
An invader!

It's kind of wild how much of this was about to fall apart simply because Chris was too awkward to say anything,
Otherworldly social awkwardness.

maybe the tournament won't hold all your answers, hmmm?
Blasphemy.

uh,,, respecting when they say no instead of cutting them up with a sword or holding them to one promise that their ancestor made a long long time ago.
Who would ever

I know that we're in Hoenn for a while, but this is a lovely story you've got here and I'm glad that it's still somewhere on the backburner.
❤️
Confirmation: it IS still on the back burner. Part of it’s just that switching between the two is hard. It’s quite a seesaw. The other thing is that I need to re-outline some things. And work Suicune back in oops.

okay but like Una POV when
Next interlude!

I think some commas are missing here
I think you’re right. I’ll add it to the pile.

haha, is this an intentional reference to D/P having like two fire-types?
IT IS
Sinnoh is a cold, muddy swamp. 2/10

I wanted either more explanation or less--either Chris has seen a concave mirror before and this isn't new to him, or it's not behaving in a way that he'd expect a flat mirror to behave. I like the setup for the story though; Cynthia certainly has a flare for dramatic openings and lessons.
Hmm fair! I think was worried people wouldn’t buy it.

heyo dropped a space here
More for the pile.

Self-care is twofold; you have to figure out where you want to move to as well as away from.
Wise. 💚

Thanks for stopping by to give the quiet child some love.
 

Persephone

Infinite Screms
Pronouns
her/hers
Partners
  1. mawile
  2. vulpix-alola
Ah see never reviewing ever is actually a brilliant strategy and not just being lazy. Behold my brilliance.

I forget if I stole "carol of delibird" from you or if you stole it from me. If it is the latter, this is just one step closer to my quest of getting something, anything, in the Alola Dex to be fanon. I did like your depiction of delibird as scavengers of human things. It doesn't work quite as well with the new prologue, but it's the sort of small worldbuilding detail I like.

Speaking of the prologue, I actually think I liked the old one better on a thematic level. It set up the idea of trainers dying in the snow, right before an arc that focused on very narrowly averting that. And it was just a better stand alone chapter than the new one. This works to show Chris's dedication and how much he wants to do well in the league, but that was already set up well enough by the time it mattered in my opinion. And the idea of trainers dying for fame, while not literally applicable to Chris, does foreshadow how much he's willing to sacrifice his one (1) friendship with another human so he can keep on going. A different sacrifice, but one that still hits pretty hard in the feels.

Hmm. Let's talk about battles next. Both of the ones I remember off the top of my head were aquatic battles and I did like them. Better than the usual "stand on platform and fire in thunderbolts until win" deal that most fics that make it to Cerulean employ. Especially since it had some fun Lapras action iirc. And fencing! Sort of. I mean, not during the gym battle. But adjacent to it. Dragon leaders knowing how to fence isn't something I knew I needed. Then Jolteon v. Lanturn (?) was good stuff. How to fight a water-type when you can't really do much direct harm or get into the water. Need to properly reread that one when I get the time. Chris being bad at battling in front of massive crowds also tracks. Not something that's shown often, in part because few fics actually make it to the league lol. You CHEATED by skipping badges two through seven. Unfair. Go to cheater's jail, you monster.

Cynthia! Cynthia being very, very interested in a time traveler tracks. She's also probably more likely than Sabrina to be able to actually find Celebi and/or Palkia to fix the situation. If Una still wants to. Because you know I ship them. Una deserves better than Boring Protagonist Man. Speaking of, she's easily my favorite character here. There are a few things that she has somewhat understated reactions to in my opinion - future tech and linguistic drift, among them. English from even ~1800 is very much not modern English, and there has apparently been colonialism in Johto since then that disrupted the language up even more than English has been. Also she doesn't exactly seem shocked by seeing all the languages and people on the League iirc. I guess that Ye Olde Johto didn't have the same isolationism that Ye Olde Japan did. Very modern sensibilities, that Una. Also kind of weird that she didn't freak out about future tech and have a breakdown until she saw her home city. I get that her brain had just been shot to hell, but still.

On less critical notes, I love her way of seeing the world. Cute slowpoke fren. Best flower crown. Lives in what you'd expect to be a more violent world but actually abhors the casual violence of modern society. And her language, while not actually Ye Olde English, is still formal enough to set her apart.

Sonic, of course, is the key to understanding that this fic is not what it appears to be. Is also very cute. That part is important.

Celebi misplacing a human in time is hilarious lol.
 

zion of arcadia

too much of my own quietness is with me
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. marowak-alola
And, I’m back! I’ll give overall thoughts and then segue into some thoughts on prose, since you did ask me to share.

I like how the opening is just Chris surviving out in the wild. Gave me minor Hatchet vibes, haha. There’s a comfortable sort of loneliness to it.

The way Chris uses his pokemon feels smoothly integrated into the narrative as well. His names for them are also a treat: simplistic, yet thoughtful. Hero was particularly inspired, I thought. Although I did kind of giggle at Sonic, as all I could think of was the hedgehog, haha. You can’t just use the name of a mascot from another company like that, it’s illegal.

It was somewhat odd to picture delibird flying, though, considering they’re based on penguins. But they can learn to fly in-game, so I guess we’re just running with game logic here. It was also cool how you integrated their defining characteristic of giving people presents, but with a morbid twist to it. This also does a good job setting the melancholic tone and touching back on the theme of death and grief. Chris contemplating his own mortality was a somber moment.

I found it interesting how his father is mentioned in passing at several points, but the actual passing is never explicitly touched upon. Another detail I noticed is that Chris seems to draw upon words/memories of his father for strength when he feels uncertain/anxious. Once when steeling himself to traverse the rest of the ravine, and then again while waiting for the paramedics to arrive.

Another minor character detail I adored--Chris’s pride over never using the PLB leading him to briefly consider sending her off on the back of his skarmory. I found that morbidly amusing. The scene weaves character, exposition, and backstory together in a manner that really grounds the story. Your love of camping definitely shines through here, and the grounded atmosphere further highlights the moment of magic when Chris moves the girl, discovering the vivid green grass beneath. It also reinforces that Chris is really good at handling himself out in the wilderness, even if he does flail awkwardly when coming into contact with pretty comatose girls. Then again, I’d probably be a little concerned if he didn’t.

Yay, give me more cloak of potentially magical origin goodness. I was instantly reminded of little red riding hood, although there’s also the cloak of invisibility from Celtic mythology. I did a little digging, and stumbled across The Cloak of Dreams (which is now on my Kindle, lol, I love stumbling across new stuff while researching for reviews) which had this on the blurb: “... the tales and pictures accentuate the motifs and themes that run throughout Balázs’s work: wandering protagonists, mysterious woods and mountains, solitude, and magical transformation. His fairy tales express our deepest desires and the hope that, even in the midst of tragedy, we can transcend our difficulties and forge our own destinies.”

And there we go, circling back around to tragedy and transformation. The girl seems to be related to Ho-Oh somehow, at least as far as I can tell… right now, my guess is either that she’s Suicune, or she’s a friend/caretaker of Suicune.

The thought that this story will involve Chris planning on getting his final badge and constantly being waylaid by shenanigans amuses me. That said, it was genuinely sweet that he wanted to ensure the girl was okay and that she got her cloak back.

Random prose musings:

On the first day in the ravine, a carol of delibirds bombarded Chris.

I was expecting the transition into the next day to parallel this opening line. And while it does, loosely, I’d personally have preferred a tighter, cleaner repetition. Also also, there’s something slightly off putting about the chapter ultimately only spanning the course of two days. The opening implied a longer time frame. Is this me shilling for more triplicate narrative? Yes. Yes it is.

That said, a carol of delibirds is a delightful turn of phrase.

The first one's talons grazed his shoulder as it passed, tearing the fabric. He batted it away, only to be struck sidelong by a second. Two more slammed onto his backpack, jostling for purchase. Before he could shake them off or grab a pokeball, several more landed on his shoulder and pack. The combined weight pulled him backward. With a crash and a yelp, he hit the ground and slid partway down the hill through crusted-over mud.

I had a hard time putting my finger on the why of it all, exactly, but something about this scene felt oddly lacking in tension. Arguably you could apply that criticism to a lot of the chapter. It comes across as intentional, since Chris is used to dealing with pokemon and even says so, but… hmm I dunno, you can’t use verbs like bombarded and not invest more of a sense of danger into the scene, I think. The sentences just rattle off actions, and Chris’s reactions, without further detailing other senses. Like the verbiage makes it seems like it’d hurt, but I don’t really feel it, if that makes sense.

It might also be because there isn’t much in the way of build up to the actual mobbing.

The only way out is through, he imagined his dad saying.

Looking back just once more, he shouldered his pack and continued deeper into the canyon.

Really liked the contrast here, showcasing Chris’s nerves.

Old snow was scribbled over by fallen pine needles here, disappearing once more under the fresh snow.

The first part of the sentence is rather passive. Would probably have written, ‘Fallen pine scribbled over old snow’ or something along those lines.

She was very pretty, he realized. What was she doing here?

I ship it.

His heart was still pounding, but the air was still.

Something about this felt incomplete (was still hushed, perhaps? Tranquil? Silent?). Or maybe it’s just the repetition of still that thuds for me.


Okay are all Chris’s pokemon’s names going to be based off famous video game characters? Haha.

If Chris woke up a little early, his reward was a cup of tea and a few quiet moments in the kitchen with Dad—without Keiko's surliness and Kaden finger-drumming on the table. Mom taught him how to ride a bike, but Dad taught him how to make breakfast: omelet, natto, miso soup. And a proper cup of tea. After a moment, Chris resealed the bag and pocketed it. He listened to the hiss of his camp stove, staring at nothing…

I really loved all the little details in this paragraph. I did think the mention of Chris’s siblings added one detail too many. It takes some of the focus off Chris’s parents, who are the focal point of the paragraph. I would’ve just mentioned them in passing and unnamed.

Here’s a poem. I briefly considered sharing the whole thing but decided against it because it ran a little long. But there are two parts I really like so I’m going to share both. :)

Ocean, don’t be afraid.
The end of the road is so far ahead
it is already behind us.
Don’t worry. Your father is only your father
until one of you forgets. Like how the spine
won’t remember its wings
no matter how many times our knees
kiss the pavement.



& remember,
loneliness is still time spent
with the world. Here’s
the room with everyone in it.
Your dead friends passing
through you like wind
through a wind chime. Here’s a desk
with the gimp leg & a brick
to make it last. Yes, here’s a room
so warm & blood-close,
I swear, you will wake—
& mistake these walls
for skin.

--”Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong”, by Ocean Vuong
 
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WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. moka-mark
  2. solrock
Some review replies! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

Overall--far less shitpost than I expected? I'm scared. Who are you and what have you done with Persephone?

I forget if I stole "carol of delibird" from you or if you stole it from me.
I stole it from you, you mad genius.

Speaking of the prologue, I actually think I liked the old one better on a thematic level. It set up the idea of trainers dying in the snow, right before an arc that focused on very narrowly averting that.
Interesting! I think the old prologue fits this first chapter (and Zion has given me some thoughts about revising tone here), but the theme of survival really doesn't carry through to the other half of the story. But themes of loss and grief and moving through it will. Might be hard to tell when you can't see where I'm going yet though. When I've got more of the story laid down, let's touch base again, haha.

Both of the ones I remember off the top of my head were aquatic battles and I did like them.
Omg, no more water battles. My soul can't handle any more. I'm glad you liked them, though!

Go to cheater's jail, you monster.
Get_out_of_jail_free.jpg


Cynthia being very, very interested in a time traveler tracks. She's also probably more likely than Sabrina to be able to actually find Celebi and/or Palkia to fix the situation.
Haha, right? A better tool for the job.

There are a few things that she has somewhat understated reactions to in my opinion - future tech and linguistic drift, among them. English from even ~1800 is very much not modern English, and there has apparently been colonialism in Johto since then that disrupted the language up even more than English has been
I decided to minimize a lot of this because I thought it would be tedious. I can consider adding some of it back in next time I'm working on this fic, though!

Thanks for taking the time to formalize your thoughts! A real treat.

Hi, welcome back!

Gave me minor Hatchet vibes, haha.
Ooh, that checks out. I think that novel and pokemon came into my life around the same time, so they're stored in the same parts of my brain.

It was somewhat odd to picture delibird flying, though, considering they’re based on penguins. But they can learn to fly in-game, so I guess we’re just running with game logic here.
Yeah, I decided to extrapolate on the game logic: if it can fly, it must not be a true penguin. I think they've got sort of a hopping, short-distance flight ... but I let them have it. :)

I found it interesting how his father is mentioned in passing at several points, but the actual passing is never explicitly touched upon.
It does come up in detail later! Hard for our boy to talk about. And! He's about to have other things to deal with.

also reinforces that Chris is really good at handling himself out in the wilderness, even if he does flail awkwardly when coming into contact with pretty comatose girls. Then again, I’d probably be a little concerned if he didn’t.
This is a reoccurring theme for him. He's definitely competent in some ways, none of which involve other humans.

The Cloak of Dreams
Ooh, this was fascinating. Nice find.

That said, a carol of delibirds is a delightful turn of phrase.
I stole it from The Alola Pokedex!

but… hmm I dunno, you can’t use verbs like bombarded and not invest more of a sense of danger into the scene, I think. The sentences just rattle off actions, and Chris’s reactions, without further detailing other senses.
Fair! I think it suited the old prologue better. I think you're right that this opening passage wants to shift a little in a tone.

Okay are all Chris’s pokemon’s names going to be based off famous video game characters? Haha.
A few of them are, yes! He's got Sonic and Tikal (both Sonic franchise characters) and Samus. Then he's got Pocky and two pokemon named for his parents. You know, just teenage boy things.

I'm pretty shameless about naming pokemon for pop culture references. 🙃

Thanks for the prose catches. I'll address those next time I'm editing. And I'll think about what you said about sets of three, too!

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts here!
 

NebulaDreams

Ace Trainer
Partners
  1. luxray
  2. hypno
Review of chapters 1-2 (including the prologue)

Hello, fellow catnipper here! I've been curious to check this out for a while now, particularly because your watercolour banners really caught my eye, and I'm glad I did because it's great stuff so far! I don't have much to offer in terms of critique, so this review will just be expanding on what I liked about it, so I thought I'd flag that up now.

For starters, it was easy for me to get immersed in your worldbuilding. This is what I'd imagine a Pokemon novelisation would read like, with a grounded take on the world that mirrors lots of elements of the games down to the whole experience of being a trainer, except of course, nature does not mess around. So far, I think you handled the issue of Pokemon intelligence well in a way that feels consistent and matches the story's tone, so I don't mind that they're closer to animals here. This, along with the rest of the worldbuilding and the verisimilitude of the story's style (alongside the references to real life iconography such as the M&Ms, the Reader's Digest magazine, etc.) reminded me of Persephone's works.

My favourite part of the fic, by far, is its atmosphere. Good god, I love the atmosphere here. I've heard about your camping experiences before and I don't know how much of that informed Spring, but another reason why the story felt so immersive was how much attention to detail you paid to the descriptions of nature and camping equipment and such. This world feels alive, and while the setting is harsh in its indifference, showing how oppressive the weather can be and how there's danger potentially lurking in every corner of the wild (the delibird encounter, the way Chris has to tread carefully around the ursaring), there's also a sense of wonder and warmth in it captured through these descriptions.

That's where the deliberate pacing of the story shines, by showing all these hoops Chris has to go through as well as the little things in the world that add comfort to it and expand on the characters, such as the cups of tea Chris enjoys, the taiyaki pastry he buys, the sights of the limestone cliffs he chances upon and his fascination with the patterns stitched in Jane's robe. Even the side characters, such as the overworked hostel manager or the odd trader who sold Chris the dried Pokemon food, have personality to them for the brief time they're there. I don't know whether or not the story would be considered slow compared to other trainer fics, but to me, the reading session flew by because of how invested I was in the setting, and there wouldn't be moments like this if it didn't stop to smell the roses.

This atmosphere is what carries the story and the characters for me so far. While Chris doesn't stick out to me that much yet and we've yet to explore Jane's character in much depth, they are relateable because of how they interact with the world and there's enough there (such as Chris' backstory, Jane's teleportation-induced trauma and the awkward dynamic they have together) that I want to read more to get to know them.

My one minor quibble so far is that the battles don't feel like they have much weight in the story yet, since it's taken for granted that the reader is already familiar with how fights work in this world. Well, on the one hand, not every battle needs to have much focus, especially not the ones where Chris is just sparring for pocket change, so I expect this will be reserved for more important fights. On the other hand, this made the prologue seem a bit emotionally detached considering the themes of grief and passing the torch that are being expressed there. Though it serves its purpose by setting up Hiro and Chris without lingering on it for too long, so again, minor quibble.

So yeah, once again, I'm glad I picked up this story! I don't know when I'll get around to reading the rest, but it will definitely be on my radar.
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. moka-mark
  2. solrock
Hi, Nebby! Thanks so much for the kind words.

So far, I think you handled the issue of Pokemon intelligence well in a way that feels consistent and matches the story's tone, so I don't mind that they're closer to animals here.
It's a consistent thing in my works, but I do think it's one of the weaker points in Spring. There are some nice, cute moments I'm proud of, but the pokemon slide off the map in places. I think Training Data and Continental Divides are better at rendering pokemon as inhuman while still giving them personalities (though a lot of them times in CD they're still mostly proxies for what the human characters are feeling). It is what it is. Like you said, it's part of the tone and mood of this world.

This, along with the rest of the worldbuilding and the verisimilitude of the story's style (alongside the references to real life iconography such as the M&Ms, the Reader's Digest magazine, etc.) reminded me of Persephone's works.
Aww, beeg compliment. <3 Yeah, I'm a big believer in specificity and brand names. I do make up my own brands in places, but the wall between our reality and the fiction is a little thin in places.

Good god, I love the atmosphere here. ... there's also a sense of wonder and warmth in it captured through these descriptions.
<3 🙏 Glad to hear it!

This atmosphere is what carries the story and the characters for me so far. While Chris doesn't stick out to me that much yet and we've yet to explore Jane's character in much depth, they are relateable because of how they interact with the world and there's enough there (such as Chris' backstory, Jane's teleportation-induced trauma and the awkward dynamic they have together) that I want to read more to get to know them.
I don't think it would be inaccurate to say that the setting is a character unto itself in this fic, more than in any of my other works. We do get a lot more from Chris and [name redacted] in the next two chapters, so that's something to look forward to, perhaps.

My one minor quibble so far is that the battles don't feel like they have much weight in the story yet, since it's taken for granted that the reader is already familiar with how fights work in this world.
Yeah, the fights aren't the star of this story! I try to keep them out of the way of the character stuff. Chapter 6 is mostly a battle, and so is Chapter ... I think 10? And there's a very short battle in chapter 4. But there are a lot more conversations. CD, on the other hand, has something like a battle in almost every chapter. (5,6,7, and 11 stand out for not having a physical conflict, lol.)

And no worries about not being sure when you'll make it back--I'm not sure when I will either! Eventually. But my permanent residence is definitely Hoenn right now, not Johto. ... Despite the name.
 

thenatureking

Bug Catcher
Pronouns
He/Him
Partners
  1. lopunny
Heey~oo! Pretty big review, though it's less of a review and more of a chill, casual "tnk reacts" haha. The 2nd Anniversary Review Blitz has given me the much-needed kick in the behind to properly read and rave over your writing! I've read only a little of Spring (like half of ch2), so I'm happy to finally revisit and leave some comments on the parts that stand out to me. I'll be talking about Chapters 0, 1, 2, and 3; and hope to catch up on the rest another time!

Prologue
I always come back to this story, like I return to it a lot despite only having read a little of it because I love the prose, the simplicity of it mixed with how purposeful the language is. And I love this prologue a lot. (Just remembered the scrapped one and it made me sad lmfao...)
Jasmine didn't immediately recognize the young trainer. He'd arrived early for his scheduled challenge, the first morning slot. Not typical for the fall, but not unheard of either. The Olivine gym slowed down this time of year—most new trainers came at the end of spring, after graduation, and the middling trainers always tried to cram their challenges in before the winter conference.
This inspired me to write a similar scene like this week; I almost wrote it from the perspective of the gym leader too but thought that would be too close for comfort haha there's something just fun and special about writing a trainer's first gym battle, i think. you can really pick up a lot/learn a lot about your characters from writing them. always pleasantly surprised by how much i can/do learn from your writing :)
The third time Chris Nakano challenged the Olivine gym his mother came too, a little after the battle started. Jasmine saw her creep in and take a seat in the empty bleachers, still wearing her hospital scrubs.

Over the years, Jasmine had hosted Indigo League Elites in her gym. Celebrity researchers. Foreign dignitaries. Even once, unknowingly, a mob boss. Being watched by Hiro's widow made her more nervous than any of them.

Jasmine stammered her commands to Radican. She won anyway.
Idk why, but I've always enjoyed the image of Chris's mom sneaking in and watching quietly while Jasmine gets nervous lol. The fact that the mom is in her work clothes really shows how she's actively making seeing her son battle a part of her presumably busy routine.
His face was grim. "I need this badge. I have—I want to start things right."

She nodded. "Well. Then. Go ahead and choose your pokemon."
This is such good motivation. Filtered in from Jasmine's perspective makes this even better. The tone of the story would have definitely been different if it was narrated from Chris's point of view.
But then his smile faded. He took the badge and turned away to pin it carefully to the first slot in his worn leather case.
aww :( poor lil chris, i just imagine him like a precious bean here. remembering he's 18 makes this image even sweeter, i think. But also, with future me in mind, he's really grown a lot in two years.


Chapter 1
On the first day in the ravine, a carol of delibirds bombarded Chris.

At first, there was only one, gliding from tree to tree a few feet behind him. Then a second one landed on a tree up the path with a coo and a thump of snow dropping to the ground. Then a third appeared. As he walked on, they took flight and followed. He continued down the path for perhaps a quarter mile or so, watching the number of delibirds in the trees nearby growing steadily. Their coos grew louder and louder and more insistent—

Until they dove on him in a rush of wings.

The first one's talons grazed his shoulder as it passed, tearing the fabric. He batted it away, only to be struck sidelong by a second. Two more slammed onto his backpack, jostling for purchase. Before he could shake them off or grab a pokeball, several more landed on his shoulder and pack. The combined weight pulled him backward. With a crash and a yelp, he hit the ground and slid partway down the hill through crusted-over mud.

He skidded to a stop against a tree, and even more delibirds came to land on his chest and raised knees. Some of the delibirds scattered at impact but immediately returned with thrusting beaks, squawking. More were landing in the tree above or flapping towards them down the hill. Chris covered his face in his arms.
reading this again after so long and knowing just how grim pokemon training in your world can turn, i'm actually amazed at how i never even picked up on the element of danger delibirds posses here. how quickly a swarm of delibirds can be overwhelming and terrifying to an unexpecting, unprepared, not-calm trainer lol. this opener is so stealthy in the way it creates tension with its many subtle suggestions and also how it cements the reality of your world.
He removed a glove to touchscreen-swipe past the sections that listed height and weight relative to humans. Then came common battle strategies and pop culture notes. Then finally, the screen lagging with each swipe, Chris found the habitat description and map. They most commonly inhabit mountainous forests, the screen read, rarely living at elevations higher than 1,200 feet. In winter months, they dig dens for hibernation, often favoring hillsides.
interesting how this information comes AFTER the battle strategies and pop culture notes, as if these facts might not be AS important lmao. capitalism in the trainer world is so crazy to think about lol
Biting the inside of his cheek, he recalled Sonic. He didn't want to provoke a territorial ursaring. Without Sonic's panting, paw scrabbling, and occasional yips that meant all clear … the canyon was quiet. Chris strained his ears for sounds of wild pokemon, and his own thoughts grew loud.
ah! ah! tension everywhere! so crazy....

(future me [@ ch.3]: now that i've read far enough to know that he'll be going back,,,,i wonder if this lucky bear will return LOL if so, that's CRAZY foreshadowing work!!)

Pulling away, he sat back on his heels and chewed the inside of his cheek. He pinched her sleeve and found it damp, as he knew it would be. "Oh man," he said, breath ghosting in front of him. He stared up through the skeletal branches and snowflakes. The daylight was dimming. He removed his other glove, rubbed his face, and returned his gaze to the girl. "Oh man."
these "oh, man"s have aged like fine wine. i remember thinking "chris is pretty neat" when i first read this and the feelings have not changed. chris is a good kid.
After a moment, he stood, pocketed his gloves, and at last released his typhlosion, Hero, from his pokeball.
It's really been two years lol
Hero raised his bearlike face and sniffed the air. He stretched as he materialized, raking his claws across the frozen ground. Fully solidified, on all fours, his head was at the right height to nudge Chris's hand for a scratch.
Kinda like the bear-parallels, makes me think Hero is perfectly capable of taking on Ursaring.
As he pulled away, he saw that she held a downy red delibird feather between two fingers. It must have been stuck to his coat. "Rainbow wings," she mumbled.

"You're going to be alright," he repeated, turning her onto her side.
"rainbow wings..."

"alright, grandpa. let's get you to bed"
The PLB—personal locator beacon—hung from an outside strap on his pack. It resembled a small, squat flashlight without a bulb, heavy for its size. The switch at the bottom was difficult to move on purpose. He had never had to flip that switch before. Not in Union Cave, seized by panic that he'd never find his way back up to daylight. Not after wandering Ilex Forest for days, unsure whether he was walking in circles. He had never planned to use it, but this time there was no other option.

He briefly indulged in the idea of loading the girl onto Sammus, his skarmory. But he knew that Sammus wasn't quite big enough to carry the two of them and that, clever as she was, she couldn't get back to Mahogany without guidance. He also didn't think it would be good to have takeoff and turbulence jostling the girl's head.

"Suck it up," he scolded himself. Chris flicked the switch with an audible snap.

Nothing happened. Or, at least, nothing immediately obvious. The signal beaming SOS out to orbital satellites, the screaming alarms at the local receptor station on the ground, orders being barked, the emergency team donning their suits, the computer technician reading the output and tracking the location of the metal cylinder clutched in Chris's hand—this all had to be imagined.
i'm not even a big survivalist guy, but it does seem silly that trainers don't have emergency service-related things so now i feel inclined to mention something like this in every trainerfic i write now lmfaooo oh gosh
If Chris woke up a little early, his reward was a cup of tea and a few quiet moments in the kitchen with Dad—without Keiko's surliness and Kaden finger-drumming on the table. Mom taught him how to ride a bike, but Dad taught him how to make breakfast: omelet, natto, miso soup. And a proper cup of tea.
loved the reverse traditional family dynamics here haha and aw :( he really was a daddy's boy
t was blockier than the Johto 'Geottos logo
brand names? fashion brand? sports team? i wonder...
Where the girl had lain was a patch of perfect storybook green, lush grass and clover dotted with tiny flowers. He hadn't seen anything that green anywhere in the canyon. He prodded at the surrounding snow with the toe of his boot and revealed nothing beneath but black earth and pine needles. No grass there. On a whim, he ruffled the grass with his hand and found it wet but warm.
omg she crushed celebi..... LOL, just kidding. But if there's one thing Celebi's gon do, it's make your lawn look a lil greener.

Chapter 2
Note: okay so his whole next day/the lake scene is completely new to me :)
The old man licked his fingers again to count the bills. Then he began to fill out the ledger in spidery scrawl. "I'll take that card now."
this is especially disgusting in my covid-world influenced brain lol

Chris ordered a magikarp-shaped pancake filled with red bean. It heated his hands through the tinfoil wrapping. He paid the small sum and then, balancing the pancake in the crook of an elbow, he retreated to a distance to count the remainder of his cash more carefully. He had a little over two hundred dollars in hand and not much more than that on his OneCard. With a sigh, he returned the money to his belt buckle compartment.
tough times, kid. not much different from me at 20 though (i say, as a 21-year-old ctfu)
The houndoom's trainer was handing the other trainer a few bills. Chris was close enough to see his scowl. The pidgeot perched atop the fallen houndoom, holding one bloodied wing away from its body but keeping its head high. Its trainer recalled it and she looked up to see Chris approaching.
whew...pokemon training is something kinda gruelsome/brutal in this setting haha Team Plasma definitely would've had a case in this world lmao
(my quote got cut off, but it's the one where Chris and the trainer are discussing what to wager)
pokemon training is certainly for adults cuz this is straight up gambling lol
The houndoom trainer smoked a cigarette beneath a tree and watched the gengar sink in on itself and fall.
Justice...

The other trainer fiddled with her necklace. "What's your TN handle? I'll tag you."

"My what?"

"Your Trainer Network profile?"

"Oh, I don't really use it." He hadn't realized she'd been filming the fight, but now he saw the glint of a camera lens in the necklace charm she wore. He wished she would've warned him or asked. "It's … not really my thing."

"To each his own, I guess. You can make decent money as a brand-promoter though, you know. Takes some of the pressure off."
oh wow! i've been experimenting with a social platform for pokemon trainers a little in my own writing (my go-tos are like Talon/twitter and Battlr/review-site for trainers), but i've never considered "influencers" or brand-promoters in this capacity.... it's giving me many-an-idea....possibly for a rewrite as well hmmm....
The girl smiled again, but it was a sad smile. "I fear I cannot remember much from before you found me. They say it is shock. Most likely my memory will return before long. For now, they call me Jane."
she wants to be in pokemon mystery dungeon so badly lol
She had gasped loudly, and when Chris turned to look he saw her face had gone white. She pointed a shaking finger. "Why is that beast here?"

Benny laughed. "Hotshot? He's not gonna hurt you." Seeing the look on the doctor's face, he recalled his pokemon.

But Jane kept backing away until she was against the wall.

"What is it, Jane? I know you don't know him yet, but Benny is very responsible. He's escorted people between here and Ecruteak lots of times."

She shook her head. "I cannot go with him. Forgive me, but I cannot."

"I have other pokemon," Benny chimed in. "You could meet my furret if you want."

"No, no, no." Jane spoke to the doctor, not the trainer. "Please, I cannot. Not with him."
this queen. i think that she slays actually lol. kinda sad that houndoum's kinda have the negative/violent pitbull image back in the day.
A nurse arrived to check out the commotion, and Dr. Stratus asked her to escort Jane back to the room. "I'm sorry, Benny," he said with a sigh. "Thank you for your time."

"I don't even get what I did." He rolled a pokeball between his palms.
poor Benny lol.


Chapter 3

Yeeesss, finally. After I read this chapter, I will officially have made significant progress lol. The end of chapter 2 definitely added some much needed momentum. I really like "Jane".
She looked aghast. "I cannot eat the flesh of another creature. I know it is disrespectful to reject a gift, but …. What if it were my sister?"
ahhh she's a natural comedian, she is. i love her. can't help but imagine fun Shia and "Jane" interactions as I read along. Shia would have a field day showing her around Mauville.
She sat up straight, wide-eyed. "That is my name!"

He scrambled to find a name in what he'd said. Finally he tried, "Medialuna?" He thought of it as the name of a pastry, but—was she somehow associated with the cafe? Wait, no—"Or, Luna?"

"No, Una." A slow smile spread across her face, and he could see her posture relax. "My name is Una."
awwww im so happy for her. it's like watching a kid take their first steps, you just sit there, waiting and smiling
Breaking in was how the online articles had recommended Chris handle his newly-caught lapras. But the phrase caught inside him. From their first meeting, he'd noticed the cleverness in her gaze. Shamed though he'd been when she dunked him, he still recognized it as both a challenge and an invitation to play. Those weren't things he had any desire to break. What he offered her instead was quiet, patient companionship, sitting on the bank for hours without saying a word, hair dripping. A love of silence turned out to be the first of many things they shared in common.
no, but you can really learn a lot about an animal from looking into their eyes and just chilling...i fully respect him for that. also, love how each pokemon is kinda fleshed out a little. there's always a good memory to seal the deal.

Una frowned. "I suppose this will do." She blew out the match and made an X over each of their heads in smoke—"North, south, east, west. Cleanse me with fire. North, south, east, west. Cleanse him with fire."

The hair on the back of Chris's neck stood on end.

She folded her hands together over the extinguished match and closed her eyes.
gosh, she's right! every time she opens her mouth to say something, it's the undoubted truth! the people of today are really slacking smh
Once seated, she squeezed her eyes shut, one hand to the feather around her neck and chanted under her breath, "As the sun rises in the east, as the sun sets in the sea. As the sun rises in the east, as the sun sets in the sea …." Both hands flew out to brace her each time the bus braked or made a sudden turn.
ugh, i'm captivated by her, truly. #ShootersForUna
At last, he herded her onto the bus—she covered her nose and mouth at the diesel smell—and swiped his OneCard for the both of them.

yeah, modern world is lowkey disgusting and ugly, i agree queen
The Brass Tower was built during the Itun period (1300 A.D.) to honor a mythical bird pokemon. It burned down mysteriously in 1519, possibly due to a lightning strike. The tower was later reconstructed but burned down a second time during the Third Wave Tohjo wars (1589-1599). In 1950, the tower was set on fire for a third time by an unknown arsonist, and it was never rebuilt. The ruins were demolished in 1983 during the development of the Grand Hyatt Ecruteak Hotel. Remaining tiles and replicas of the original pillars were relocated to this historic monument site in 1985.

damn poor tower has had it rough ctfu and not this hotel destroying what was left of the ruins omg... i'd be sick, too
He found Una sitting on a bench facing away from the site, knees drawn to her chest. Her face was splotchy red. "The gods have gone," she said. "They could not possibly linger in this place. This is not my home."
yeah girl....it's rough out in these streets...i love this expression tho "the gods have gone" like it just evokes such a strong emotion of despair and disgust and hopelessness for current day mankind. i love that she's able to just intuitively feel this. definitely feel like the rise of technology leads to that feeling of lesser spirituality (i think it's called disenchantment? lol idk)
"This is some of the finest embroidery Sister Talia has done." She closed her eyes. "If what you say is true and these robes are from another time … from five hundred years ago … then perhaps they will be valuable to someone else now."
my girl catches on quick! someone get her into accounting or appraising or real estate or idk any job with money and numbers!!
Chris took a deep breath. "Yeah, this could maybe do it, but …. I don't know that you'd like the kind of traveling I'm doing. You could still use this money to get yourself set up in an apartment until you can find a job … something for now, at least? This could be an opportunity to start over."
Respectfully, this is a HORRIBLE idea, Chris. *crying emojis* Who would want to WILLINGLY live AND WORK (???) in this hellish, capitalistic wasteland? (me projecting a pinch, but it rly can't be too different lol)


Overall

No idea what to say here, but I just like Spring. It's just a story I can turn my brain off to and enjoy the good read. Thanks for writing. Kinda nervous what spiritual journey this will take my heart on lol
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. moka-mark
  2. solrock
Thanks so much! 🥰 This was a lovely treat.

This inspired me to write a similar scene like this week; I almost wrote it from the perspective of the gym leader too but thought that would be too close for comfort haha
I have to imagine that with different characters, this would play out radically differently. I definitely think you can write the scene from the gym leader's perspective if you want to.

i'm actually amazed at how i never even picked up on the element of danger delibirds posses here.
That's probably because they are canonically little bundles of holiday joy.

interesting how this information comes AFTER the battle strategies and pop culture notes, as if these facts might not be AS important lmao. capitalism in the trainer world is so crazy to think about lol
Hmmmmm you know ... it's that way for pacing, not in-universe logic, and that might be a problem.

loved the reverse traditional family dynamics here haha and aw :( he really was a daddy's boy
Hello and welcome to Daddy Issues: The Fic.
Like, CD has a lot of daddy issues too (a lot!) but here it's kinda the meat of what's at stake.

brand names? fashion brand? sports team? i wonder...
Unsure! Bet definitely one of those :)

Note: okay so his whole next day/the lake scene is completely new to me :)
Oh yeah, never not editing! At some point I did a round of back-editing that was just to add in more Dad.

this is especially disgusting in my covid-world influenced brain lol
Oh man, yeah, a lot of this stuff hits real different now. CD is funny because half of the time everyone is wearing bandanas (ready for the plague by total accident) and the other half of the time they're in bars lol.

Team Plasma definitely would've had a case in this world lmao
They definitely do. :c

pokemon training is certainly for adults cuz this is straight up gambling lol
I wasn't sure how trainers would sustain their lifestyle otherwise!

oh wow! i've been experimenting with a social platform for pokemon trainers a little in my own writing (my go-tos are like Talon/twitter and Battlr/review-site for trainers), but i've never considered "influencers" or brand-promoters in this capacity.... it's giving me many-an-idea....possibly for a rewrite as well hmmm....
I initially expected it to be a much bigger thing here than it is. (Which is why I swapped out the old prologue. It's still on AO3 as a standalone, btw!) Maybe another fic! My one-shot Training Data touches on it a bit more.

she wants to be in pokemon mystery dungeon so badly lol
Una is kind of a reverse PMD isekai.

this queen. i think that she slays actually lol. kinda sad that houndoum's kinda have the negative/violent pitbull image back in the day.
Trusting yourself enough to say no is powerful--sometimes that's all it takes.

Shia would have a field day showing her around Mauville.
❤️

damn poor tower has had it rough ctfu and not this hotel destroying what was left of the ruins omg... i'd be sick, too
Took inspiration in part from the history of the real kinkaku-ji and from the original presidents' house here in Philly. The floor is all glass so you can see down into the original foundation.

Kinda nervous what spiritual journey this will take my heart on lol
The learning is so slow, the steps so smol. There's definitely some good stuff in what's been written, but Chris has a long way to go.
 

bluesidra

Mood
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. hoppip-bluesidra-reup
  2. hoppip-bluesidra-pink
  3. hoppip-bluesidra3
Hi Boots!

After I commented so often now how beautiful your cover art in various other fics is, I finally got the brilliant idea to check your stories out, too! And oh my, not only are they all up my alley, but there's even more boots-art in them! My brain is somewhat fuzzy today, so this will not be a super analytical review.

Ooooooooh! Either Pen or Dragonfree rec'd this fic, and they were not wrong. Johto? Gym leaders? Gym leaders in Johto? I love it! I'm taking a heckin lot of notes on how Jasmine's GL life and work is going. Though, how long before or after GSC are we here? Wasn't Jasmine super young? Like, barely able to even have the job and take over the gym? Here, she is already very seasoned. Also, if my observations are correct, she took the gym over at least three years ago.
The yearly schedule of the challengers and how they should start in violet or azalea. Though, I'd recommend to not set foot into azalea for personal reasons.
Chris so far seems a bit curt but also very stubborn. Very protagonist-y to come back five times. But he is also smart enough to build a lovely army of mice. His mom seems nice too (though I was shortly scared of a Karen-moment when she came with him at the third try :D )
Two more slammed onto his backpack, jostling for purchase. Before he could shake them off or grab a pokeball, several more landed on his shoulder and pack.
Reverse-Present. Even the most nonthreatening looking pokemon can be annoying, huh?
Moments later Chris sent out his jolteon, Sonic, who whisked down the hill in a spray of snow and sparks.
Hero. Samus. And now Sonic? Damn, Chris has a hit and miss style with his names,
It was an older model, one of the big, heavy-duty ones that looked like a graphing calculator. The old pokedex ran on newer software, which made it slow.
What is this, some kind of hipster thing? Or the opposite of running doom on a pregnancy test or sth?
Chris paused to finger the grooves, stretching above his head to reach. His fingers came away sap sticky, and he bent to clean them with snow before slipping his glove on again. Tipping his head back, he stood beneath the tree for a moment and chewed his lip. At last, he shifted his backpack forward by tugging on the shoulders straps, and then he continued up the slope.
Chris Irvin
Her gaze was unfocused for a moment before locking onto Chris, freezing him to the spot.
That is one cool new ice-type move!
He pulled the sleeping bag around her face, wet hair and all. Then he tucked in her exposed arm.
How to get away with murder
She was very pretty, he realized. What was she doing here?
Chris, what are the implications here?!?!
The PLB—personal locator beacon—hung from an outside strap on his pack. It resembled a small, squat flashlight without a bulb, heavy for its size. The switch at the bottom was difficult to move on purpose. He had never had to flip that switch before.
:quag: How long has it been since I read Suicune's Choice? Three days? And here the emergency beacon is once more!
Where the girl had lain was a patch of perfect storybook green, lush grass and clover dotted with tiny flowers. He hadn't seen anything that green anywhere in the canyon. He prodded at the surrounding snow with the toe of his boot and revealed nothing beneath but black earth and pine needles. No grass there. On a whim, he ruffled the grass with his hand and found it wet but warm.
Ooooooo that is so cool. Well, not cool... rather warm. But fascinating nonetheless!
A side door marked with a red plus sign slid open,
A red plus sign? That description sounds so weird. If your worldbuilding doesn't have the Red Cross, because there is no Christianity, I get that. But why would they choose a plus-sign as their emblem?
was a full set of six masterballs. He had never seen them carried by anyone other than a police officer. That was one way to subdue an attacking pokemon, he supposed.
Holy sh*! It's effective, yes. But also costly. But heck. Come to think of it, making masterballs widely available to government agencies makes us acquiring them in the game way more sensible. Like, I'm now not a 10yo with the latest high-tech device. I just got the one kind of ball that civilians and especially trainers on their journey aren't supposed to have.
Perhaps his final gym badge could wait a few more days.
Noooooooo! Why did we skip all the tasty gym stuff?
Chris dropped off his belt in the other wing of the building and came back. As he walked, he realized he did in fact recognize the beige tile and the waiting room chairs that looked like they had last been upholstered in the '70s. He chose the seat that looked the least worn, propped his feet up on his backpack, and tried to make some progress on his paperback. The book was an easy read, nothing of real substance, but he struggled to concentrate on it. Each time someone went in or out of the door he snapped to attention, but it was always a nurse bringing out paperwork or fresh coffee for his coworker. Chris kept catching himself staring into space. Finally, he stood to buy peanut M&M's from the nearby vending machine—something to occupy his hands.
The phone line rang and rang at Chris's wrist as he walked. It was much warmer on this side of the mountain, and Chris had to stop and stuff his coat into his pack. Humidity nullified all other sounds but the crickets. Fireflies hovered over puddles, and the sky was thick with crisp stars so unlike the flat purplish wash of light pollution above home. Here, the line between town and wilderness was tricky to distinguish.

Though the street lights were dim, the trainer hostel was not difficult to find. It was as he remembered: one block north of the gym, a narrow, a two-story cabin with a wooden sign hanging crookedly above the front door, across from a small grocery market (closed at this hour). Like most other buildings in town, The Indigo Chateau was built from blocks of blue-gray stone, but it was the only one besides the gym taller than a single story. Only one of the downstairs lights was lit.
By the light spilling in from the back room, the old manager found the light switch. The lobby remained dim, however, partly on account of the single bulb in the old fashioned light fixture and partly because of the dark-colored furniture. Against one wall stood a longcase clock, atop which perched a horrifying taxidermy hoothoot that looked centuries old.
I love all of these environmental descriptions. Tbh, the descriptions of every single movement are a bit too in detail for my taste, but these here? Moar pls!
"Hullo, Indigo Chateau. Hello?"
"You left just a coupla days ago."
Is it supposed to say "hullo" and "coupla"?
The old man licked his fingers again to count the bills.
That's how you get corona
Between the irregularly spaced houses, The Lake of Rage shone through, dark and glittering. A grassy slope gave Chris a lookout point into the bowl carved by the lake's high and low years. Around the docks, the men of the town clustered, baiting and casting fishing lines. On the western lip of the lake, a pair of trainers battled. Fortunately for the fishermen, the battle was driving the magikarp towards them. To the east, the gradual curve of highlands cut up sharply into the Dragon's Spine Mountains.
Aaaaaaw :veelove: This reminds me why I love love love love LOVE Johto so much!
"To each his own, I guess. You can make decent money as a brand-promoter though, you know. Takes some of the pressure off."
👀
I am not sure how I ended away home
Is it supposed to say "ended away from home"?
I thought you might like to touch base before we send you off into the wilderness with him.
How does this work here? They have helicopters and a ranger infrastructure, but no bus between Mahagony and Ecruteak? Or at least Mahagony and Violet?
"I have other pokemon," Benny chimed in. "You could meet my furret if you want."
13/10, Benny is trustworthy and the best character in this fic so far!
As Dr. Stratus had promised, they left first thing in the morning.
Aaaaand Chris had to book another night in the hostel and get some really dumb comments from the grumpy old man!
Next chapter is Ecruteak? Guess I'll have to continue...
So... Ecruteak. I am here. Here for the thieving. And the stealing.
"Hey, we just learned you're a vegetarian. That's something!"
Hm... How does the language barrier here work? I don't think "vegetarian" was a word 500years ago. So why doesn't she ask for clarification or sth?
He scrambled to find a name in what he'd said. Finally he tried, "Medialuna?" He thought of it as the name of a pastry, but—was she somehow associated with the cafe? Wait, no—"Or, Luna?"

"No, Una." A slow smile spread across her face, and he could see her posture relax. "My name is Una."
Awww... that is one sweet way of finding her name
Breaking in was how the online articles had recommended Chris handle his newly-caught lapras. But the phrase caught inside him. From their first meeting, he'd noticed the cleverness in her gaze. Shamed though he'd been when she dunked him, he still recognized it as both a challenge and an invitation to play. Those weren't things he had any desire to break. What he offered her instead was quiet, patient companionship, sitting on the bank for hours without saying a word, hair dripping. A love of silence turned out to be the first of many things they shared in common.
So cute!
and the lapras's gentle rocking motion
Oh, I can hear the GSC soundtrack!
"There should be a basket of sage smudges and striking flints hanging from the crossbar so we may purify ourselves before we enter the city."
*takes notes*
He took back the pack, struck a match, and carefully passed it back to her.
Una: "What whitchery is this?!"
They passed an old woman seated on a bench with an eevee beside her. She laughed at something on her tablet screen, and the gibbering of young children chimed from the speakers. Chris dipped his head to her in greeting, and she returned the gesture.
:veelove:
"This is all wrong," she said, hugging herself. She flinched as a car passed. "This is not Ecruteak."
Oh no! I want to hug her!
The Brass Tower was built during the Itun period (1300 A.D.) to honor a mythical bird pokemon. It burned down mysteriously in 1519, possibly due to a lightning strike. The tower was later reconstructed but burned down a second time during the Third Wave Tohjo wars (1589-1599). In 1950, the tower was set on fire for a third time by an unknown arsonist, and it was never rebuilt. The ruins were demolished in 1983 during the development of the Grand Hyatt Ecruteak Hotel. Remaining tiles and replicas of the original pillars were relocated to this historic monument site in 1985.
Hehe... I know what wikipedia article this is from and that makes me feel smert!
But that tidbit about the Hyatt is heartbreaking
"The gods have gone," she said. "They could not possibly linger in this place. This is not my home."
... Well, at least he doesn't have to break that to her, too ...
"Sister Talia's signature. She always stitched a maple leaf inside the left sleeve."

For a moment Dr. Lamia only stared. Then, begrudgingly, she turned out the sleeve of Una's robe. Just as Una said, there was a maple leaf done in perfect blue stitches, invisible from the outside. Chris held his breath as she reached to check the red robe.

The lines were faded and missing stitches … but it was there. Same leaf, same place.
Clever Girl!

Okay, so as a fellow Johto enjoyer, I'm sure you already know of that, but in case not: Check out Johto Redrawn! It was the thing that settled me on the region for my fic. And it is such a beautiful reference!
I like the vibe that this fic has! You more than live up to your tumblr-alt's name, that's for sure (if you are OldSchoolJohto). Also, for some reason, Una gives me strong 90s anime vibes, and I'm very down for that!
 

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. moka-mark
  2. solrock
I've been Bluesidra'd! 😲🤩

I actually really needed a pleasant distraction this evening, so wonderful timing, thank you very much. Also good timing because I'm hoping to do some edits on this story relatively soon (?) and then hoooopefully get started on the next chapter soon after that, so cheers for the feedback.

Though, how long before or after GSC are we here? Wasn't Jasmine super young? Like, barely able to even have the job and take over the gym? Here, she is already very seasoned. Also, if my observations are correct, she took the gym over at least three years ago.
This story takes place somewhere between RBY and GSC. (Later on there's a reference to the Viridian Gym still being out of commission.) Buuuut I've also rarely been known to be super canon-compliant, so. Take that with a grain of salt.

Jasmine in this setting is fairly young for a gym leader, but no character in my settings is super young. Training is dangerous in my settings, so you have to be 18+ to go traipsing through the wilderness with a murderous praying mantis or what have you. Becoming a gym leader also takes a little while, as Chris discusses in a bit more detail in Chapter 7; it's personally relevant to him, so he has a few things to say about it.

Though, I'd recommend to not set foot into azalea for personal reasons.
Don't like bugs?

Hero. Samus. And now Sonic? Damn, Chris has a hit and miss style with his names,
You don't like video games? :D

Actually, his typhlosion's name is one of those things I've already updated in my draft but haven't posted here yet since I need to do other edits. Dad's typhlosion is Usu (which can refer to a volcano, like Mt. Mortar, but also means big grinding bowl) so his cyndaquil, bred from Dad's, is Kosho (pepper!) You can imagine that name in place of Hero if you like. Updates soon(ish)! 🤞

What is this, some kind of hipster thing? Or the opposite of running doom on a pregnancy test or sth?
So, I was thinking of people like my mom who cling to their old outdated phone but can't stop automatic updates from installing. So this happens. I can definitely make this clearer. Thanks for flagging.

Chris Irvin
This one went over my head, unfortunately.

That is one cool new ice-type move!
HA. You're a silly goose.

Chris, what are the implications here?!?!
He's just generally confused by her existence and is short-circuiting.

:quag: How long has it been since I read Suicune's Choice? Three days? And here the emergency beacon is once more!
ACTUALLY, I'm 99.9999% sure that Pen got that detail from me! Spring predates SC by a couple of years. And, obviously, I love SC. Inject it into my veins.

A red plus sign? That description sounds so weird. If your worldbuilding doesn't have the Red Cross, because there is no Christianity, I get that. But why would they choose a plus-sign as their emblem?
You know, now that you mention it ... damn, you right. I guess I'd been thinking that it belonged in this setting because it's the symbol on the pokecenter as well buuuuuuut this also isn't a pokecenter helicopter! I'll change it. Easy enough.

Holy sh*! It's effective, yes. But also costly. But heck. Come to think of it, making masterballs widely available to government agencies makes us acquiring them in the game way more sensible. Like, I'm now not a 10yo with the latest high-tech device. I just got the one kind of ball that civilians and especially trainers on their journey aren't supposed to have.
Yeah, this setting assumes the average trainer would not have access to a masterball, not because they're rare but because they're not authorized.

Noooooooo! Why did we skip all the tasty gym stuff?
We're not skipping it! You'll get to meet Claire in an upcoming chapter! We'll also spend quite a bit of time on the Indigo Plateau. This isn't a terribly battle-heavy fic, but it definitely has a few. (If you wanted battles in water, you've come to the right place.)

CD kicks off with much more of a, uh, bang and has a LOT more fights.

I love all of these environmental descriptions. Tbh, the descriptions of every single movement are a bit too in detail for my taste, but these here? Moar pls!
Glad you like these passages! Spring is very about wilderness as a threat but also wilderness as beautiful and sacred, so there's lots more where that came from.

As far as body language goes, that's prrrrobably just a personal preference where I'm going to agree to disagree. I strongly prefer storytelling that uses visible cues to relay information about characters' emotional states more than telling, BUT I do overdo it sometime so if there are any specific instances that jump out at you feel free to call them out for me to reevaluate.

Is it supposed to say "hullo" and "coupla"?
Yup. I was trying to capture that this character is a) just waking up and b) an old man who talks differently than Chris does.

That's how you get corona
Honestly, that's how you get a lot of ish, but this story predates covid so he'll prooooooobably be fine??

Aaaaaaw :veelove: This reminds me why I love love love love LOVE Johto so much!
That's so nice to hear! That's definitely one of my hopes for this story!

Is it supposed to say "ended away from home"?
Probably? Like I said, I've got to do some editing anyway, so I'll keep my eyes peeled for this one while I'm reading back through.

How does this work here? They have helicopters and a ranger infrastructure, but no bus between Mahagony and Ecruteak? Or at least Mahagony and Violet?
Yeah, so, my rendition of Johto is sort of unusual. I don't often follow canon very closely, but I decided to interpret the game map rather literally, so this setting features small cities separated by nearly absolute wilderness. Some of that is likely from lingering spiritual practices from Una's time, and now that I'm thinking about it, there's a place in Chapter 4 where I could easily have Chris think or say something about that. (⛳ Note to self.) There are ways to get between cities like renting a pokemon or an airlander (mentioned in a later chapter!), but it would cost money that Una doesn't have.

So... Ecruteak. I am here. Here for the thieving. And the stealing.
Hey, who took my wallet?

Hm... How does the language barrier here work? I don't think "vegetarian" was a word 500years ago. So why doesn't she ask for clarification or sth?
Well, I've got a couple of thoughts on this:

1) This story cherry picks what kinds of things carry over between past and present. I wasn't interested in a TON of "But what does that mean? What does that mean???" There are definitely lots of misunderstandings between the two of them as time goes on, and there are a few places I'm likely to fiddle with the text and add more or expand, though in this case ...

2) Vegetarianism isn't a new concept, especially in places like India; Una's religion has a lot more in common with Hinduism than with the Abrahamic religions, so this wouldn't be a new concept for her. (My version of Johto isn't perfectly equivalent to Japan. It's definitely got some Japanese-ish things in it, but also some stuff that's definitely not Japan.)

Oh, I can hear the GSC soundtrack!
Aww that's so nice to hear.

Una: "What whitchery is this?!"
Matches WERE invented within the last 500 years. That one I researched.

Hehe... I know what wikipedia article this is from and that makes me feel smert!
But that tidbit about the Hyatt is heartbreaking
It's a little bit Kinkakuji, yes, but I was also thinking about the original president's house (pre-White House) which is here in Philly. It's been relocated at least once and now you can look down into the exposed foundation, protected by heavy-duty glass.

Okay, so as a fellow Johto enjoyer, I'm sure you already know of that, but in case not: Check out Johto Redrawn! It was the thing that settled me on the region for my fic.
I have not heard of it! Thanks for the recommendation.

You more than live up to your tumblr-alt's name, that's for sure (if you are OldSchoolJohto).
I *was* OSJ, yes! When this was my only fic, the name fit, but now I've got a bunch of other scattered bits and bobs, and in particular I'm a real ho for Hoenn. The tumblr URL has been updated to WildBootsAppeared, and so's my Instagram!

Overall, thanks so much for taking the time to read! Time travel isekai squad represent!

I also have to say holy cow you're killin it with Blitz???!?!?!??? Like, I am stunned a) by how many points you've racked up so fast b) that you're somehow reviewing in the aftermath of your Covid booster. Unreal. I was dead for a day and a half and did zero critical thinking. You're a true hero.
 

bluesidra

Mood
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. hoppip-bluesidra-reup
  2. hoppip-bluesidra-pink
  3. hoppip-bluesidra3
Hi!!!
Thanks! Well, my critical thinking was down, too. But I got addicted to Broken Things, and after 50k was still not able to form a coherent sentence about it other than it's addicting. So... that's my covid experience
Don't like bugs?
Wrote 30k about how my MCs are snowed in there over the winter and slowly lose their minds detest it.
This one went over my head, unfortunately.
Steve Irwin was that outdoors-y guy that unfortunately got killed by that stingray.
I just thought for a moment that Chris never returned to civilisation in the two-year-timeskip and is now some sort of track reading expert.
You don't like video games? :D
Have seen some cursed imagery of Sonic.
CD kicks off with much more of a, uh, bang and has a LOT more fights.
Nah, not even in for the fights, but for the characters. Gen I and II GLs (or NPCs in general) are so underdeveloped and I want to see every rendition anyone comes up with.
As far as body language goes, that's prrrrobably just a personal preference where I'm going to agree to disagree. I strongly prefer storytelling that uses visible cues to relay information about characters' emotional states more than telling, BUT I do overdo it sometime so if there are any specific instances that jump out at you feel free to call them out for me to reevaluate.
It's a personal thing for me, don't worry. I kinda underdescribe in that department. I just noticed that you tend to describe handmovements in places where I would never had put them. Or where they aren't communicating anything (like, some nonverbal cues). But your descriptions of it are definitely very visual. Keep it up! Doesn't have to be the same all across the board.
Yeah, so, my rendition of Johto is sort of unusual. I don't often follow canon very closely, but I decided to interpret the game map rather literally, so this setting features small cities separated by nearly absolute wilderness. Some of that is likely from lingering spiritual practices from Una's time, and now that I'm thinking about it, there's a place in Chapter 4 where I could easily have Chris think or say something about that. (⛳ Note to self.) There are ways to get between cities like renting a pokemon or an airlander (mentioned in a later chapter!), but it would cost money that Una doesn't have.
Interesting. Yep, the forests being (or rather having been) sacred is a theme I picked up, too. (Hence three annoying Farfetch'd in what is the pokemon equivalent of noninvasive foresting)
But if they are so insular, how do they get daily use goods? Like grocery, or even the scrubs and all the one-time-use things at the hospital? They would have to be delivered via airtransport, and then I guess the old man would hear a lot of helicopters taking off :quag: Just some food for thought i guess.
Well, I've got a couple of thoughts on this:

1) This story cherry picks what kinds of things carry over between past and present. I wasn't interested in a TON of "But what does that mean? What does that mean???" There are definitely lots of misunderstandings between the two of them as time goes on, and there are a few places I'm likely to fiddle with the text and add more or expand, though in this case ...

2) Vegetarianism isn't a new concept, especially in places like India; Una's religion has a lot more in common with Hinduism than with the Abrahamic religions, so this wouldn't be a new concept for her. (My version of Johto isn't perfectly equivalent to Japan. It's definitely got some Japanese-ish things in it, but also some stuff that's definitely not Japan.)
Aha. I noticed that, especially with the rebirth thing. That's sorta unique to Hinduism. But I meant more the word "vegetarian." I didn't know that categorising people based on their diets was a thing until 50 years ago
Matches WERE invented within the last 500 years. That one I researched.
What???? Oh wow, didn't know that! I always thought the "ingredients" for the match were reserved either for the landlords with their cannons in their towers or witches. Which got burnt on the stake! Dark times in europe, indeed.
 
4: The Exchange

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. moka-mark
  2. solrock
4.jpg

4: The Exchange

"I'm so sorry, Una." The words sounded dull even to Chris's own ears, but what else was there to say?

She dropped her face into her hands. "I wish to be alone."

He glanced uneasily at the street. There were no cars in the historic sector, but if she bolted, she'd hit traffic eventually. And what if she got lost? "I'm not sure that's—"

"Please. I need a moment." Her voice was ragged with tears.

He only hesitated a moment. "Yeah. Alright."

Shuffling away, he bent for his backpack. When he looked up again, Una was leaning against the pillar with her face buried in the crook of her arm, shoulders shaking soundlessly. He walked quickly around the corner.

Half a block away, Chris spotted a QuickMart, the answer to all small problems, a beacon of normalcy. He wandered up and down the aisles, barely looking before grabbing things off the shelves—except to make sure to avoid jerky. Past the key chains and postcards, he found the self-serve coffee station. He reached for a small cup, then changed his mind and opted for a large one instead. Then he paid and slowly made his way back to the burned tower memorial site, trying not to think about the money he'd just spent.

He found Una on a bench facing away from the ruins, knees drawn to her chest, her cheeks splotchy red. Without looking up at him, she asked, "Do the people here still visit Tin Tower to give thanks for the rain?"

Chris hesitated, thinking of his first visit to Ecruteak when he'd taken a tour of Bell Tower. Inside had been like any museum: wall signs explaining what had been done to protect or restore the furniture, glass cases to display scrolls and hand bells turned green with age. He didn't remember the words the tour guide had used, but he could imagine. Long ago, the people here worshipped pokemon as gods …

"No. I don't think so."

"And what of invaders? Does no one worry?" Her voice took on a shrill edge. "Without offerings, how can they expect protection?"

"That doesn't really happen anymore, Una."

"I see." She closed her eyes, breathing as if it pained her. "Then the gods have truly gone."

Chris thought there had probably never been any gods at all, just pokemon, but he didn't imagine it would help to say so. When it was clear she wasn't going to say more, he sat beside her and offered her the styrofoam cup.

She shook her head.

Neither spoke for some time. Chris alternated between sipping coffee and breaking off pieces of the wooden stirring stick until he was left with a handful of splinters. The silence sat on him like a wet sweater.

Finally Una asked, "Where will you go now?"

"I was on my way to Blackthorn City." Automatically, he turned eastward, but he couldn't see the mountains from here. He let the splinters fall to the grass. "If I can get there in time, I'll go to the Indigo Plateau in Kanto. I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it, but I gotta try."

"Could I come with you?"

He snapped his head around to look at her and made several sounds that were not words. After a moment he managed to choke out, "It's dangerous where I'm going!"

She said nothing but held his gaze.

"For one thing, you'd need all new gear. A good coat alone is gonna be—gods—at least one twenty, probably more. A backpack is probably …. What am I saying. There's no point. It's not possible."

He raked a hand through his hair. "Maybe … you could stay and work with the museum?" He reached into his memory for names, anyone he might be able to call on. There had to be someone. "Maybe the dance hall? I bet I could get you a place to stay with one of the dancers, at least for a start."

"Please."

He shut his mouth and looked down at his feet.

"Please, I cannot bear to stay here. This is not my home. I do not even know these streets. Let me come with you, at least until I can sort out—" Her breath caught. "Until I can sort out —"

Chris grimaced but still said nothing.

"I will find a way to be helpful to you."

"Listen, I'm sorry, but the bottom line is I can't afford to take you with me. I'm out of time, and neither of us has the resources it would take to prepare you for this kind of journey. I wish I could—I really do—but I don't have more help to offer you. Sorry."

She was quiet for a moment. "What if we could get the necessary supplies?"

"I dunno, Una. It would take a lot more than I have. I don't even know where we could find that type of money in a short amount of time. And I'm already behind schedule."

Una closed her hands around her feather, bending her head as if in prayer. Chris was testing his next words in his head when she cut in, "Where are my robes?"

Chris had bundled them up in his pack for her when they set out from Mahogany. Now, he handed her the roll of fabric.

She hugged the cloth bundle to herself for a moment. Then she unrolled the fabric and spread it across her lap, running a finger along the embroidered patterns. She spoke slowly, as if remembering as she went. "How could I have forgotten what this meant? This was to be my bridal gown."

Chris gaped at her. "You were getting married?" She seemed too young, but maybe she was older than she looked. Or maybe things like that hadn't mattered so much five hundred years ago.

An expression Chris couldn't read flickered across Una's face. "In a matter of speaking." She spoke haltingly, as if toeing for the next step down a dark staircase. "My family could not afford a traditional dowry, especially after—oh. After Suki fell ill with fever. So my father planned to apprentice a village boy, and I … I was to serve under the priests and be a bride to the gods instead."

Chris could only listen, dumbfounded by her matter-of-fact delivery. Her parents had sold her to the temple and she was fine with it?

She seemed not to notice his horror, tracing the embroidered lines down her robe. "You see? Here is Brass Tower surrounded by trees in bloom. And on the other side is Tin Tower. Two towers, two gods. The dawn and the night. The sun and the rain. One to nurture all that gives us life and one to defend against our enemies."

She turned her eyes to the sky, prompting Chris to follow suit, as if they would see her gods circling above.

She really believes this stuff, he thought pityingly.

After a moment, she returned her gaze to the robe, touching a sleeve covered in raindrops and flowers. "All the rest represents their gifts to us. I was meant to offer my own gifts to them, of course. Of all the colors in the rainbow, the priests said they saw blue in me. Blue for water, blue for peaceful skies." Voice quavering, she added, "Perhaps blue because I cry so easily."

Chris knew he should say something to comfort her, but when he opened his mouth, no words came. He pressed his hands tightly between his knees until Una finally cleared her throat and started again.

"The woods were my bridal chamber. I set out to fast, pray, and wait for a sign that the gods had accepted me for the vocation. It is no easy life to be a bride to the gods, but I was ready to do my best. But then I was attacked, and …."

She shook her head. "I cannot explain it, but I was here when life was … different." Then she looked up and searched his face like a drowning girl looking for a hand to grab onto.

There was no mistaking the conviction in her voice, growing stronger with each word. She wasn't inventing things, and she didn't sound crazy—even though it absolutely was crazy.

"I believe you," Chris said.

Staring at her lap, she said, "This is some of the finest embroidery Sister Talia has done. Perhaps this will be valuable to someone else now."

Chris stammered, "Are you sure? Don't you want to keep it?"

Una squeezed the fabric in her hands. "The gods have gone from here," she repeated firmly. Then she folded the robe and cloak into a neat stack. "If this is what must be done, then so be it. But I cannot stay here. I cannot bear it."

"I wouldn't even know where to begin to try to sell something like this."

Still, she had a point. If these robes were really hundreds of years old, they might be valuable to a collector. His gaze slid to the long, concrete building ahead of them. "I guess we could see if someone at the museum has ideas …. There's no guarantee we'll find anything helpful, though. It might not even be worth enough."

She lifted her chin. "We must try."

Chris didn't have any other ideas, so he shouldered his bag, poured out the rest of the coffee, and waved for Una to follow him into the museum.

Inside was all sharp lines and soft light. Chris was immediately aware of the dirt on his boots. Even as he approached the admissions kiosk, he felt his face redden.

For her part, the greeter was either genuinely unbothered by his appearance or did a good job hiding it. "Good afternoon and welcome to the Ecruteak History Museum. Is this your first visit with us?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Wonderful. So will that be two tickets?"

"Actually …. I'm sorry, I know this is a weird request, but I was actually hoping I might be able to show these items to someone. If it's convenient. They're, um, antique."

The receptionist squinted. "I can see if someone is available. What kind of items did you want her to look at?"

"It's an embroidered robe." He glanced at Una. "A bridal gown. We think."

He saw the doubt in the reception's face. "Let me go find out." She rose and went to a wall phone. Chris watched her but couldn't hear what was said from where he stood. Moments later she returned and said, "You're in luck. Normally our curators don't take drop-ins, but Dr. Tegu has a free moment. She'll be right out if you'd like to take a seat while you wait."

They settled into a corner near the entrance and sat in stiff silence.

Shortly after, a woman wearing a cardigan and latex gloves approached them. She pulled one off to shake their hands. "I'm Dr. Ann Tegu. You have a costume—a garment—you wanted to show me? Let's see it."

Quiet as a shadow, Una unrolled the robe. She was careful not to let it touch the floor.

Dr. Tegu sucked in a breath. She pulled a small black light from her pocket and swept it over the fabric, turning a sleeve over in her gloved hands. Then, swapping the light for a magnifying glass, she followed along the embroidery like it was a maze she was trying to solve. "The details in this piece are definitely intriguing."

Chris's heart swelled with hope in spite of himself. That was a better reaction than he'd dare to expect.

"This is a very good replica. Looks like there are some grass stains, though. Is there a story behind how this robe came to you?"

"Replica?"

"Uh …." Chris shot a warning look at Una, and she gave him a stern look in return. "She found it … in her family's attic. Family heirloom."

Her chin jutted forward, but she said nothing.

"Was there another piece?"

Una opened the cloak, and they repeated the process.

After a few more moments of fussing and study, punctuated by hums of fascination, Dr. Tegu stood straighter. She looked like she was resisting a smile. "The robe is definitely an interesting piece. I'd love to take some photos and have you leave your contact information with Mary Beth in case we decide your garments fit into our board's acquisition plan."

Chris's heart sank. "Oh. Well, you see …. I'm a trainer, and I …." He stole another glance at Una, deflating further at the confusion on her face. "We were hoping to leave for Blackthorn City tonight. Or, I guess, maybe tomorrow."

Dr. Tegu frowned. "That's too bad. This isn't official yet, but—" a conspiratorial smile crept across her face and she leaned forward to speak in low tones, "—we're planning an exhibit on folk religion, and these pieces could pair well with a few costumes from our permanent collection that we're considering."

She laced her fingers together and brought them up to her mouth. "Darn it …."

He waited.

"You know," Dr. Tegu said, brightening, "It couldn't hurt to compare it with the pieces we already have, right? Just to see. Do you have a little time to visit the archives with me?"

Chris and Una exchanged wide-eyed looks. "Sure," he answered for the both of them.

"Well then. Let's take a look."

She led them past glass cases of arrowheads, painted vases, brush and ink drawings, and a wall of theater masks. Along one wall was a door marked, Employees Only. Glancing around guiltily, Dr. Tegu unlocked it and ushered them through. They found themselves in a dimly lit corridor. As Chris's eyes adjusted, he saw boxes stacked all along the walls on each side. He caught snatches of a few of the labels as they passed: coat (winter, embroidered), coat (farmer), dusting cloths, futon cover (hemp), mosquito netting.

"Here." Dr. Tegu pulled a coffin-sized box from the shelf and set it on a table that ran between the shelves. With the giddiness of a kid opening Solstice presents, she lifted the lid and parted a layer of tissue paper to reveal the faded red bell sleeve of a robe, and in the layer below, another in gold.

Una gasped. She reached to touch, but Dr. Tegu held up a hand.

"They're very fragile. But they're beautiful, aren't they?" With a handheld light, she swept a line down the fabric. "Look at the clouds stitched into this one."

Chris was tempted to feel that papery sleeve too. Like Una's, both robes in the storage box were brocaded in geometric shapes filled with intricate scenes, though the museum robes were frayed, worn bare in places.

There was no doubt in his mind anymore that Una's story was true.

"These remind me of your costume," Dr. Tegu said, "but yours must be much newer, since real indigo infamously fades over the years. It certainly looks a lot like early century work, though. It's so close. They'd look lovely together." She held the sleeve of Una's robe for a moment longer, then let it fall with a sigh. "I don't want to waste your time. It's a very close match, but I don't see how I could convince the board to make a purchase within your timeframe, especially for an imitation, no matter how—"

"An imitation of what?" Una cried. "There is no seamstress in the village who did not learn the craft from Sister Talia."

Dr. Tegu drew back in surprise.

"Una." Chris had the sensation of standing on a narrow ledge over an abyss. He felt powerless to stop her from stepping over the edge of it.

"I'm sorry if you'd been lead to believe—"

"Look inside the left-hand sleeve and you will see this is no mere imitation," Una said, jabbing a finger.

"Excuse me?"

"Sister Talia's signature. She always stitched a maple leaf inside the left sleeve."

For a moment Dr. Tegu only stared. Then, begrudgingly, she turned out the sleeve of Una's robe. Just as Una said, there was a maple leaf done in perfect blue stitches, invisible from the outside.

"Very pretty, but I'm afraid it doesn't—"

"Look at the others. Please."

Chris held his breath as Dr. Tegu reached to check the red robe. When she folded the fabric over, the lines were faded and missing stitches … but it was there: same leaf, same place.

Dr. Tegu was visibly shaken. She looked at Una as if seeing a ghost. With quivering hands, she searched the yellow robes and found the same maple leaf in the left sleeve. Finally, she spoke in a near-whisper. "Where did you really get this?"

"Does it matter?" Chris cut in, not trusting what Una might say. "That means something, doesn't it?"

Dr. Tegu let out a long sigh, twisting her fingers together. "Oh, I wish I hadn't lent Greg my xatu. Crates would know for sure …." She patted her waist for a pokeball that wasn't there and sighed again. Then her hand slipped into her pocket for her wallet. She flipped through the bills inside and said, "Look, I can't authorize museum funds for this, but I have two hundred in cash."

Chris couldn't help wincing. "That's not …. We were hoping for more. A lot more."

"It would've helped to have a little more notice," Dr. Tegu said, irritation creeping into her voice.

He shot Una a pained look, both apology and surrender. This isn't working.

She looked at him expectantly until his meaning sunk in and she slumped. Smoothing the sleeve of her robe flat again, she said, "She is gone now like all the rest. This robe is all that is left."

Then her expression hardened. Lifting her head high, she folded the robe and gathered it to her chest. "We will find another buyer, Chris."

He thought they'd be lucky to get forty dollars thrifting Una's robe, but she was already turning for the door. "Una—"

The words twisted out of Dr. Tegu. "Wait. What's your price?" Half to herself, she added, "I'll just have to find a way to make it work."

"Oh, um!" Chris hurriedly calculated: coat, sleeping bag, boots, backpack …. "We were hoping for about a thousand." He stole a glance at Una for confirmation, but she returned a blank stare. Of course. What would a thousand dollars have meant five hundred years ago? It might've been an entire house. Several houses?

Dr. Tegu muttered to herself under her breath, counting off on her fingers. Una watched the curator without blinking or budging.

"I can do eight hundred." Dr. Tegu cleared her throat and added, "That's really the best I can do on the spot."

Chris ran through his checklist again, aware of Una's eyes on him now. At last, he let out a breath and said, "Okay. We can work with that."

Relief broke over the curator's face. "Excellent, excellent," she said, clapping her hands together. I'm assuming you use the OneCard app?"

"I do, yeah."

As Dr. Tegu prodded her phone screen, Chris turned toward Una. Her face was still, but she held the blue robe tightly, running a thumb over the stitches.

Softly, he asked, "Are you sure this is what you want? It's your choice."

She gave the fabric one more squeeze … then set it on the curator's work table. "I am certain."

Una watched with furrowed brows while Chris spelled out his username and Dr. Tegu tapped on her screen. When it was done, the curator put out a hand for Chris to shake. "Pleasure doing business with you."

She offered Una her hand too, but Una ignored it and bowed. Dr. Tegu gave a puzzled smile and slid her hands into her pockets instead, saying, "Well. You'll have to come back to see the finished exhibit."

"We'll do our best," Chris said. "Thank you very much."

He already had one foot out the door, half-blinded by the full light of the museum, when he realized Una hadn't followed. She lingered in the storage corridor, head swiveling between Chris and the robes lying on the table. He felt for her, having to leave behind so much, but if she really wanted to come with him, she was going to have to keep up. "Let's go, Una," he called.

Her first few steps were faltering, then she scurried to catch up and glued herself to his side. As the Employees Only door closed behind them, she said, "Am I to assume someone will meet us outside with the mareep?"

"I … what?" His confusion momentarily brought him to a halt.

Una barely avoided smacking into his backpack. "For the coat, Chris," she said, her voice simmering with impatience.

Chris opened his mouth, whether to explain or ask his own questions he wasn't sure—he didn't even know where to begin. "Uh, don't worry about that. We don't need mareep."

That stumped her into momentary silence. Then with obvious relief she said, "Ah, it was wool." As they made their way back through the museum, Una chattered nervously at his side. "I saw a black walnut not far from here, and I do not imagine it will be difficult to fetch onion skins or beetroot, or even beans, so we should have several options for color."

A pit began to form in Chris's stomach. He had to say something, but he was having trouble completing a thought when Una kept cutting in.

"Do you have a loom in that bag?"

"Actually, Una—"

"I suppose we could borrow one for the afternoon if you have a story to trade. Never mind, I know several."

How was he going to make her understand he'd exchanged her temple priestess robes for invisible credits on a plastic card? Oh gods. Chris swallowed drily and walked faster, suddenly desperate for fresh air. He needed a second to think.

As they pushed through the front doors, Una pressed, "Chris, why did you not ask to verify the quality of the wool before agreeing to the exchange?"

"There's no wool, Una," he snapped in exasperation. "We don't need to make a coat. We can just buy one."

Una shrank away, blinking in stunned silence.

"Sorry, sorry. I didn't mean—I just …." He took a slow breath. He remembered Dad's words: In through the nose, out through the mouth.

Una spoke first. "I can see there is much here I do not understand. I apologize for my offense."

"No, don't be sorry. It's not your fault. Look, I don't think I'm very good at this. You don't have to come with me. You have money now, not a ton but enough for maybe a month or two of rent. You could get a job and …."

He imagined taking her to an ATM and putting eight hundred cash into her hands. And then what? Gods, she'd probably just spend it on mareep. If she bought livestock grade, not battlers, he guessed she probably could afford a small flock. And where did she think she'd put them? She could rent a studio apartment, probably, but a pasture—?

Stop, stop, stop.

The money was hers, but he wouldn't be absolved by simply hanging it to her. What she needed was an education, and he couldn't give that to her in an afternoon.

"I cannot stay here," she said again.

He shouldn't have expected any other response, but …. "It's gonna be hard, even with the right gear," he warned. "It won't be like this morning's hike."

She raised her chin. "I am not as unfamiliar with wilderness as you may think. I will be sure not to be a burden."

Chris thought of the ways one or both of them could be hurt, ways he could be set back even further. In normal circumstances, she would've started training for the Ice Pass weeks ago ….

"I cook well," Una said, counting off on her fingers. "I can sew, wash clothes, and I know which stars are best for navigation. I promise I will be of help."

He looked into her face, and something in him crumbled. They'd already come this far.

"Alright. Let's get you a coat before I start thinking about what a bad idea this is."



Between a palmistry shop and a tattoo parlor, they came to a storefront display of scuffed manequins in secondhand trainer gear. Milk crates full of stained sneakers and badge cases lined the sidewalk, and just inside the door lay garbage bags of clothes yet to be sorted and hung.

"This is it." Chris repeated the list that was becoming almost like a prayer: "Coat, boots, backpack, sleeping bag, pants."

He led Una to the women's clothing racks and showed her how to find the tags. "Cotton is bad. Try to find merino wool if you can. Look for a couple shirts and a good pair of pants. I'm gonna look for a sleeping bag."

She threw him a panicked look, and he took a step back. "I'll be right back. Just see what you can find."

With that, he ducked into the maze of racks and bins. At first, he wandered without even looking at the aisles he passed, relieved to finally have a moment to himself. Beside the overflowing shoe racks, he found a bench and sat. Exhaustion immediately overtook him.

What the hell was he doing?

Coat, boots, backpack, he reminded himself and then got to work.

Passing between cities had given Chris plenty of experience trading his out-of-season equipment for other trainers' discards. As often as not, he'd found almost new equipment sold off by former trainers who'd realized early in their journeys they didn't have what it took. Most trainers ended their careers that way.

Without too much digging, Chris found a zero degree sleeping bag. The shop didn't carry any liners, but he hoped that the down bag would make up the difference—it was nicer than his own sleeping bag. The coat and the backpack were more troublesome. Even secondhand, there was nothing inexpensive of acceptable quality. Combined, the coat and the backpack took up half the money from the museum. The boots were nearly another quarter of it. But there was nothing to do about that. She needed to have the right supplies if she was coming to the Ice Pass.

He tracked Una down again and had her try it all on for size.

"It seems well-made," she said, looking less than certain.

Chris remembered her stubborn stoicism on the hike into Ecruteak and realized she wouldn't admit it if the fit was wrong. "Where does it feel like the weight is hitting?"

He had her try another. After some tugging and adjusting of straps, Chris decided he was as satisfied with it as he'd ever be.

Then he glanced down and saw Una had several skirts draped over her arm. "Um. I don't think you'll need those. For the kind of hike we have coming up, you really need something more like these." He pulled a pair of ski pants off the rack.

She flinched. "But that is men's clothing."

He made himself breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth before he said something unkind. "Not anymore. Look at her." He pointed her towards a salesgirl in rolled-up pants. When Una still looked unconvinced, he said firmly, "If you want to come with me, it has to be pants."

Una furrowed her brow but accepted the hanger from him. "As you say."

He steered her towards a dressing room. As she walked away, Chris rubbed his face and let out a long breath. "You agreed to this," he said under his breath. "You're responsible now."

It took longer than he would've liked, but they finally gathered up their haul and paid. They came away with the sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, the boots, the backpack, the coat, two FlashDry shirts, and the pants. To his surprise, the idea of wearing the same clothes over and over didn't seem to faze Una in the least. Maybe that was what she was used to—what did he know about life five hundred years ago?

After stocking up on a few other small items—a bowl, a tin cup, socks, a headlamp, handwarmers—the museum money was done. For their RediMeal rations (soy protein for Una), they had to dip into Chris's existing funds. He chewed on the inside of his cheek as he handed over his OneCard, but tried to reassure himself that he would've spent the money on food eventually anyway.

But there was still the problem of the tent.

The secondhand store had several in stock, but each was more than what they could afford. He had hoped at least to trade in his two-person tent for a three-person—normally Kosho slept next to him, a huggable lump of energy-efficient heating—but he simply didn't have enough for the upgrade, let alone to buy Una her own tent.

Pulse quickening, he scrolled through the OneCard app without truly seeing any of it, as if refreshing the feed would manifest money from the air. He could see the plan, such as it was, collapsing around him. If the idea of pants bothered her, she was going to hate the idea of sleeping back-to-back with him. Then, in a flash of calm, he realized, Better to split ways now than on the mountain.

With a secret, grim smile in his heart, Chris broke the news to Una. "Just so you know, we're going to have to sleep in the same tent."

But she only regarded him blankly. Whether numb or in shock or truly indifferent, she only asked, "Will it be a problem?"

"Well, um." He thought of the brief period he'd traveled with a group of high school friends, including a girl named Tara who'd thought nothing of air-drying her bras and underwear in their camp or skinny dipping in the river. The others had made fun of Chris for blushing over it. He admitted, "Most people wouldn't make a big deal about it, no."

"I will trust your judgment in these matters, Chris," Una said. "Whatever it takes to prepare for this journey, I will do."

Chris hunched his shoulders under the weight of her words. Una trusted him. Well, she had to if she was going to follow him into the wilderness. He hoped he was worthy of that trust.

Straightening, he said, "Then we're ready."
 
Interlude: Fractals

WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. moka-mark
  2. solrock
interlude1.jpg

Interlude: Fractals

In the shifting shadows beneath the trees, there is a little box with doors that open and close. The box is the color of old bones—or sometimes it's the red of a ripe berry. It depends.

The box is shaped like a human house with a pointed roof and windows, but it's too small. Maybe humans get confused too and accidentally make a house for a baby, who has already grown too large by the time it comes back to open up the box and put something inside.

Something sweet.

Celebi waits out of sight until they're sure the human is gone, and a little longer just in case, then flits over to investigate. Silly human. The box is a bad hiding place, left open wide for anyone to find the warm package wrapped in bamboo leaves, a sticky cake of rice and syrup.

With a gleeful twirl, they snatch up the rice cake and fly straight up to a high branch to enjoy it undisturbed. When there's none left, they sit for a while, kicking their feet and licking rice grains from their fingers, wishing for another.

They remember, suddenly, how to get it.

Such a small jump is easy: they don't even need to move from the branch. All they have to do is reach out to grab the Now, tug, and just like that they're in another Now.

Looking around, they realize they've gone back a little too far: the human hasn't come yet, and the box is all closed up. But that's okay. Celebi doesn't have to be patient, so they won't.

They swipe past birdsong and the motes of pollen swirling down until they hear footsteps and the human comes again, bamboo leaf packet in its hands. (Or maybe it's a different human after all. One human is so like another—just like one Now is like many other Nows—changing how they dress and speak but none of what's beneath.) Celebi can hardly keep still as the human opens the box and sets down the rice cake; the moment its back is turned, they zip down to grab their prize and then disappear into a different Now.

They eat their second rice cake beneath a willow, growing the leaves longer and more lush to hide themself better, snickering. They tear off pieces of rice cake and swallow them one by one, until they reach for the next bite and there's no more already.

Another, they decide.

Celebi knows both that the special rice cakes come from the human village and that going there is trouble. They won't fly past the edge of the trees, even for a rice cake. There are no more in the little box: Celebi already will have eaten it. There will be another, many sun cycles ago or sun cycles from now, but Celebi gets all the Nows jumbled up and it'll take too much searching.

That leaves one option, the riskiest one, which makes it more fun. Celebi is fast—they won't be caught.

They weave their way back to the clearing with the little box in it, continuing past it to the trail where the human walks to and from the village. This is where it will happen. They just have to find the right Now, making tiny jumps, back and forth—until the human comes around the bend again, long robes flapping, palms cupped around a small packet wrapped in bamboo leaves.

Celebi waits in a holly bush for the perfect moment, buzzing in anticipation, leaves unfurling around them. The moment comes and goes, so they jump and wait again. They can have as many chances as they need.

The human rounds the bend once more. As it walks past, Celebi shoots out from among the leaves. They're quick as a raindrop, plucking the bamboo packet from its hands. Cackling, they plunge into another Now—

But as they land, they realize, too late, that the human was saying something.

"By all the gods."

That's bad.

Humans can bring nice things, like rice cakes or steamed buns or pieces of fruit. But they also bring bad things, especially when they take too much notice of Celebi.

There is a time when humans trap Celebi. The humans bring shadow-walkers and things made of blades that bend the light, filling the air at each turn so Celebi can't jump through. The shadows pull Celebi down, down, down, heavy like tar, until their face is pressed into the dirt, wings twitching uselessly.

"What a pretty prize," a human says.

There's a red light and then … nothing.

For an unmeasurable interval, Celebi isn't in any Now at all. Disconnected. Bodiless.

Finally, something happens: the prison shatters around Celebi, tiny pieces flying out in every direction. They don't wait to see what happened or how they were freed—they dive into another Now. Away, away, away.

That's bad enough, but there's worse.

In a different Now, maybe before or maybe after, the humans come to the forest with no companions but each other and their anger. And flame.

It runs from branch to branch like water, roaring. Celebi darts among the burning trees urging them to grow, please, but the fire eats faster than they can work. And the heat, the heat, the heat!

In a panic, Celebi jumps to find the Now when the angry humans first cross the threshold into their forest. The humans are easy to spot by their fire-sticks, glowing like eyes in the dark. Their voices echo.

"Smoke 'em out!"

"You'll have no more of our children!"

Flames climb and strangle the trees like trumpet flower vines.

There is little hope Celebi can stop this—if they could have, they already would have, and it wouldn't ever happen at all—but they jump again. Again. Looking for a moment to act.

They come within breathing distance of one of the humans, only a curtain of leaves between them. If the human turns, it will see them. They want to flee—but the forest needs them.

Without moving, Celebi reaches toward the human and feels its mind, neon and pulsating like a mushroom. They squeeze. You want to leave, they tell it. Be calm and go.

The human's arms slacken.

But another human rips through the branches. "Birka, what's wrong? Snap out of it, man!"

Celebi has no choice but to swing their attention to the newcomer. Take your friend and go home.

As the second slides into a stupor, stumbles, the first wakes with a shout. "It's the monster! Don't let yourself be taken in!" With that, it throws down its fire stick and takes the second human by the arm, dragging it away through the trees.

That fast, the fire is shooting up the holly bushes. Somewhere among the trees, there are more bursts of flame, more shouting.

"You can't hide forever, monster!"

The humans don't know that Celebi is not bound to this place: they can travel anywhere there are green things. But this is Home Forest, where Celebi was born. It's theirs.

They flee anyway.

Buzzing a sad song that makes the leaves tremble, they zigzag from Now to Now, forest to forest. Somewhere along the way, they drop the rice cake. Or maybe they already didn't have it anymore—was that before or after the fire?

It's Now—it's always Now. The seed is already the tree, and the forest is always burning. So much life destroyed, and Celebi can't stop it.

When they can fly no farther, they flop onto a branch, trembling, arms and legs dangling to either side. Below, a human with hair golden like pollen rests against the tree trunk, looking as tired as Celebi feels—harmless, they decide. The air is cool Now, but they still taste the smoke. They press their face against the bark, feeling the tree growing slowly beneath them, still alive, until a new sound makes them raise their head.

The human is weeping. Maybe it feels bad for what the other humans have done to the forest.

Oh, but Celebi knows this human. Or at least, they think so. When they swoop past to check, it breaks from crying with a scream, sending Celebi darting back into the tree.

It is the same human, though, the one they carried with them from some other Now. An accident. Celebi tries to remember where the human had come from but isn't sure. Not here or Now. At least it isn't causing trouble here like the other humans. Maybe leaving it here is no worse than sending it somewhere else.

As Celebi considers the human, branches snap behind them. Something growls, and it sounds big. Then, from out of the trees, a creature of muscle and flame barrels down the hill toward them, teeth bared. One of Entei's terrible children, burning again, always.

Isn't anywhere safe?

Celebi leaps away and does not stop until they land in a cool, soft place that smells like clean water.

Back again so soon?

Suicune!
Celebi tumbles from her back, flipping around midair to wrap both arms around her snout. Everything is burning, they sob.

She holds very still, only her long tails twitching. Did something happen?

The humans are burning Home Forest! All the flowers and trees are dying! They won't stop!


Suicune pulls free with a hard shake, but she speaks gently. That was many long years ago. Then, more pointedly, she adds, They blamed you for the disappearances of their children.

Many children pass through Celebi's forest: climbing trees, chasing each other, startling the spinarak from the bushes. Sometimes they sit under a tree and cry, so Celebi plays games with them until they stop. How should they know which children belong to someone?

I always put them back!

Don't they?

They fly in circles as they try to remember the path of one human child through all the Nows. It's too confusing. For all they know, the children they play with are the same humans who come to their forest with fire and anger in a different Now. Their chest tightens, vibrating their membranes with their sad song.

Suicune's ears lay flat against the sound, but she stands tall, all four paws firmly planted. Uninterrupted by Celebi's song, her voice rings out clearly. But do you return them to place you found them, to the time they came from?

Celebi quiets and falls still but does not answer.

Do you bring them back as they were … or changed?

How can humans even tell?
Celebi cries. In a fresh fit of sorrow, they fling themself onto Suicune's back again, kicking their feet, and bury their face in her mane. It smells like moss and river stones. They dig in their fingers and hold on tight so the buzzing inside them can't sweep them away. It's all the same!

Except there is the human with the pollen-colored hair …

Suicune's sigh sends a cool wind shushing through the leaves. Celebi closes their eyes and listens until the hum of their membranes fades and there's only the rustling of leaves.

Let it pass, Suicune says. She sounds sad but tells Celebi, All will be well.

Celebi thinks for a moment, then springs upright like a crocus after the last frost melts. She's right: Celebi can reach and pull themself into a moment of smoke and ash, but right beside it is a moment of sunbeams and honeybees. The seed already contains the tree contains the seeds. It's all Now.

There's no reason to be sad.

They push off from Suicune's back, already reaching for the sunshine. Okay, bye!

In Home Forest, a clearing opens below them like an invitation. The clearing isn't always here: sometimes, the oak at its center spreads so wide it blots out the light. But Now, there's only a stump split by Raikou's carelessness. From the blackened crack in the wood, green tendrils stretch up to meet the light pouring down from the hole in the canopy. Everything the light touches will grow again, and Celebi is back to help.

With the wave of a hand, they push grass up through the soil and into the light. They draw up clover, ferns, and flowers. So many kinds, so many colors! Laughing, they swoop to smell a few and let the petals tickle their face.

This is a nice Now.

They roll in the clover until, drunk on sun and sap, they curl up and close their eyes. But just as they begin to drift off, a nagging thought sprouts up: isn't there something they're supposed to do?

They sit up, thinking hard.

Oh!

They blink out of the sun—

—and into the chill shade of the pines. This is a forest too, but there's little green, rock and mud and old pine needles crusted with dirty ice. Celebi already misses the warmth of the clearing, so they won't stay long, but they have to find it first.

It should be here … shouldn't it?

Celebi wends through the trees, searching for a spot of color among the snow, ready to flee at the first snap of a twig. But there is no sound at all. Nothing moves but them.

Finally, they see something that shouldn't be there: a green patch of clover and grass in the middle of an icy slope. This is the place! There is no sign of the human, or any human at all, but now that they've found the right place, the rest is easier.

Celebi grabs the Now, gives it a good yank—and there it is, the misplaced human, pollen-colored hair bright on the snow.

They start down toward the human, but at the sound of crunching, sliding footsteps, they swerve for the trees instead. A second human, the wrong human, climbs up the slope. From their hiding place, they watch the second human discover Pollen Hair and kneel there for a long while.

Celebi should jump away to a moment when Pollen Hair is alone, but the other human is doing something strange and they want to see what will happen. The human pulls something like a seed off its body, and it blooms into a big fire beast that crouches over Pollen Hair like it wants to eat her. Celebi smells the air burning and shudders in their hiding place.

Humans and fire—Celebi doesn't understand it. It wasn't nice of Suicune to scold them when it's the humans who insist on making friends with destruction.

But she also said everything will be okay, they remind themself. Despite the fire. Despite their own little mistakes.

And it is okay: the clearing in Home Forest is green and warm and waiting for them to return. Always there, always regrowing. So there's no reason to worry, no reason to be in this Now at all. They want to be where the good things are.

Somewhere, Pollen Hair is already back where it's supposed to be and Suicune isn't mad anymore because Celebi will do it. They will. But first, they want to eat sun-warmed berries and nap in the clover and maybe play some games.

They have all the time they need.
 
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WildBoots

Don’t underestimate seeds.
Pronouns
She/Her
Partners
  1. moka-mark
  2. solrock
Patch Notes July 2023

Hello and welcome back to the wilds of Johto! There have been some changes you might like to know about before you lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail.

If you’re a new reader, this won’t affect you: see you in the prologue! (Just be sure to use the threadmarks or hyperlinks to navigate between chapters; some of them were originally posted in a different order, so you’ll be confused if you try to scroll continuously through the thread.)

If you’re a returning reader and want a recap of what’s new, here you go:

This story is almost as old as I am. I started posting this version in 2018, but it’s based on a game my friends and I played as children. That means there have been some growing pains. I started out trying to capture as much of the nostalgia as possible, even the silly bits that didn’t actually make a lot of sense. Now my goal is to tell the best story I can, so I’ve made some changes (again!). Some of the changes are large-scale and affect the entire fic, and some are more granular. These updates took me a lot longer to finish than I expected—thanks for your patience!

I expect the story to finish in 8 more chapters, but 3 of those are going to be 2k words or less. My best guess is 31k words to the end? So, we’re well past the halfway mark.


Structure: Previously, the story was split into three “acts” or parts, which didn’t add much value. Now it’s not structured that way! Several chapters have also been reordered, and one has even been split in two.
  • Chris’s family: He used to have two siblings, a vestige from many years ago … that doesn’t actually suit the story or his personality. He’s got such strong only child energy.
  • Chris’s team: I’ve renamed most of them! Some of them were originally named after video game characters, which I realized a) distracted readers rather than being taken as a reflection of his character and b) didn’t even make sense for his character anyway, because how does the kid with the overachiever trainer dad even have time for video games??? After the first mention of each pokemon, I’ve decided not to reintroduce them repeatedly, since the story is from Chris’s perspective and he knows who his pokemon are. If you need a quick reference, here’s the list of all of them:
Typhlosion - Kosho
Jolteon - Zip
Lapras - Asagi
Skarmory - Thorn
Heracross - Slapdash (Slaps)
Girafarig - Pocky
Sandslash - Mojimoji (Moji)

(Yes, there are 7.)
  • Suicune: She sort of dropped off the face of the earth in later chapters, which is really unfortunate because she’s an important character. I’ve woven in more reflections from Chris on what meaning he’s making of their encounter.
  • General prose clean-up! Sentence flow, word choice, grammar, stronger ending lines, making Chris a little less distant as a POV character.
Prologue: The Successor:
Quick recap: Jasmine faces a new gym challenger, who turns out to the son of the late former gym leader.
What’s new: The timeline has shifted up just a hair: it’s been about a year since the death of the previous Olivine gym leader, Hiro Nakano. Chapter 1 is still set two years after the prologue, meaning it’s been three years during the main part of the story.

Chapter 1: Green:
Quick recap: On his way to collect his eighth badge, Chris makes his way through the Ice Pass, where he finds something unusual in the snow.
What’s new: Thanks to some feedback from Zion, I rewrote the first few scenes for a more pensive tone and to increase the stakes. I also reworked the delibird bits a little because I’m no longer doing something I’d planned to do with them.

Chapter 2: The Volunteer:
Quick recap: Chris bides his time in Mahogany Town until he can pay a visit at the hospital.
What’s new: Cut a scene that’s not important anymore. Expanded the dialogue with “Jane” in a few places to round it out.

Chapter 3: the Tower:
Quick recap: Chris escorts Jane Doe back to Ecruteak, but it’s not as she remembers it.
What’s new: Split the old Chapter 3 into two chapters to give these beats more room. Now Chapter 3 deals with the journey to Ecruteak and the revelation about Una’s past, and Chapter 4 deals with the decision to travel together, selling the robes, and getting Una new gear. Plus sad mareep hours.

Chapter 4: The Exchange:
Quick recap: Chris and Una ready for a long journey to Blackthorn, but some sacrifices have to be made.
What’s new: Y’all wanted more bewilderment from Una and some feudal economics, so you got it. (Thank you to Kintsugi, Persephone, and Bluesidra especially for your feedback here.) A few other small things: I changed the name of the museum curator. Shifted the scene with Miki into Chapter 5.

Chapter 5: Visitations:
Quick recap: Chris pays a visit to an old friend. Along the road, Una realizes Chris isn’t what she thought, and then someone pays them a visit.
What’s new: Replaced references to Christmas and Easter with something more appropriate to the setting. Adjusted Suicune’s dialogue to be less precious. In the last draft, her vibe was, “You are good and noble and I owe you one,” and now the vibe is more, “Oh, you again. That’s cool. Good luck and see you around, maybe.” I also expanded Chris’s telling of the tower myth. I hadn’t thought it would be important, since it’s already familiar from canon, but I realized that a) Una would have opinions and b) it’s worth laying the ground work because I’ll be deviating from canon in other places later.

Interlude: Compass:
Quick recap: Suicune reflects on the humans she’s known.
What’s new: This appears in a new order (again). The conversation between Entei and Suicune is also a little different now, making an important distinction about how Suicune sees herself in relation to humans.

Chapter 6: The Dead:
Quick recap
: Chris and Una find another surprise in the snow then talk about the past.
What’s new: With Gen 9 out, it felt appropriate to upgrade the ursaring into an ursaluna.

Chapter 7: Backbone:
Quick recap: Chris challenges the Blackthorn gym.
What’s new: I made adjustments to the scene with Chris training his pokemon in the park so it’s less of a checklist and more of a glimpse at how his team does and doesn’t gel (with each other and with him). The battle is almost exactly the same, just tightened up.

Chapter 8: Shougani:
Quick recap: Despite his recent victory at the gym, Chris is more anxious than ever racing to get to the Indigo Plateau before sign-ups close.
What’s new: Most of what’s new here is building out Chris’s inner world, making better bridges between events in previous chapters and later events. There’s also a quick explanation about the chapter title and its emotional relevance for him.

Chapter 9: The Threshold:
Quick recap: Chris registers for the Indigo League and runs into some old friends.
What’s new: There’s a section expanding on Chris’s past visits to the plateau with Dad. I also expanded on the party scene, including a moment where Chris tells Una not to mention time travel stuff.

Chapter 10: Armistice:
Quick recap: Chris and Una watch the Indigo Conference opening ceremony, which creates a problem.
What’s new: I think the previous version of this chapter had a different title, but I’m not actually sure when I changed it. There are a few lines expanding on Indigo League rules.

Chapter 11: The Fluke:
Quick recap: Chris faces his first opponent in the conference, and it doesn’t go well.
What’s new: No major changes!

Interlude: Fractals:
This is completely new content even though it comes before an existing chapter.

Chapter 12: The Mirror:
Quick recap: Una leaves the plateau, but returns shortly after with a new friend who has a story to share.
What’s new: Adjusted Chris’s reactions to Cynthia’s story.

Chapter 13: The Stone:
Coming next! This will be completely new content!
 

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. booper-kintsugi
  5. meloetta-kint-muse
  6. meloetta-kint-dancer
  7. murkrow
  8. yveltal
  9. celebi
Catching up again with the most recent interlude–though I think I’d like to re-catch up after the new chapter drops, looking at this deliciously long list of patch notes. I know you’re on other things~~ rn, but I do enjoy your less flammable fic as well and it’s quite cozy.

Celebi is such a delightful little goblin. I think you set yourself up with an interesting conundrum on this oneshot–how can you tell a story with a character who’s more or less immune from conflict? And how’s the little onion fairy going to get into conflict anyway? And I think the solution you arrived at, with Celebi taking all the wrong lessons from Suicune’s pep talk, is a clever one. Obviously you’re constrained a little, as we know Una can’t get fixed right away and probably can’t get fixed for a while (that’d be a hell of a cliffhanger tho, Celebi teleporting to a random Now in the future and just doing a lil yoink), but I think the end pieces here fit together a lot more smoothly than I remember on the beta.

I liked the bit about Raikou’s anggy stump too. The xeno’s thoroughly confusing, both in terms of descriptions of things and time, but I think it’s done in a way that works and is solvable, and for a short stretch of story I found that it really works. In general I think you had some really nice flower/forest descriptions, I liked how Celebi contextualizes everything down to pokeballs as “blooming”, and there was overall a really nice sense of flow to this one–especially in the middle, when Suicune shows up, and things suddenly feel abruptly grounded and slower. “Did you put them back where and when you found them?” mom asks sternly, lmao. I do like how these two share a sort of relationship that Celebi doesn’t seem to have, and how patient Suicune is with all of this. I went back and reread Compass for shits and giggles, and I think this fits really nicely as a backhalf bookend to it–with Celebi there’s this frantic idea of nothing having meaning because you have access to everything, and with Suicune there’s this radiating calmness even as the world continues to crumble and get propped up a tiny bit at a time. It’s a really nice characterization for these two.

I’m trying to place this in the revised order–I think it would work; it’s nice to have some breathing room between the funnel cake disaster and the rest of the story. Glad you’re still plugging away at this, little by little! <3
 
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