TEEN: Pletora's Story

Discussion in 'Writers Workshop' started by canisaries, Sep 19, 2018.

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    canisaries

    canisaries now in mint flavor

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    Holy crap, could it be? Is Canis writing non-TPP content? And it isn't incredibly edgy?!?

    Yep, it's true! I've had an idea for a long, loosely PMD story forming lately, and I've decided to test out the world and a character in a demo story of sorts. This story isn't too long, I'm estimating it to be only three parts at the moment (with this first one being around 3500 words), but I realized I'd get better readership and critique if I didn't just dump it all at once.

    Anyway, like said, this story is "loosely PMD" in the sense that the characters are Pokémon, there are no humans to be seen, civilization still isn't too advanced and some things that are called Guilds exist, but dungeon exploration isn't the focus and the Guilds are more like city-states than associations - in summary, setting and story focus differ considerably from the source material. Most of you have probably bumped into similar "PMD" fics, so you know what I mean.

    Okay, enough with my life story. This story's rated teen for violence (not too brutal) and possibly language. It may slip to everyone depending on how the story turns out. Alright, enjoy!

    ---

    PLETORA'S STORY

    Synopsis:
    Scolipede Pletora lives a quiet, solitary life in the forest she calls home, and she likes it that way. One day, however, an odd creature arrives - and so do rumors of a monster.

    Genre:
    Slice of Life, Drama, Action

    Started:
    15 September 2018
    (first uploaded to Serebii)

    Status:
    Ongoing

    Length:
    N/A

    ---

    Part One

    ---

    Okay. I should make a strong entrance. It’ll be intimidated and give me what I want. Easy as that. I won’t be hungry for much longer.

    Realizing it’s being talked about, Pletora’s belly growls. She freezes in place.

    It didn’t hear me, did it?

    She peeks through the leaves. The oddish is still there. Pletora allows herself to exhale.

    Okay, bad start. But second time’s the charm.

    The scolipede draws another deep breath in, then lets it out. She creeps her back legs closer to her front legs, arching her long, segmented back.

    Then she pounces.

    Her four feet glide through the bushes and land on the mold with muffled thumps. She raises her head up high, staring down the deep blue mon before her.

    The oddish has now frozen in place, eyes as wide as they can get for its kind. The large fan of gray-tipped leaves atop its head closes up in fear.

    “You! Oddish!” Pletora booms, and the oddish jumps in its skin. “Give me one of your leaves!”

    The walking plant shivers for a while, but eventually gathers its courage to speak up. “I-I won’t!” it puffs, its voice male and old. “I need them to ph-ph-photo-”

    “You don’t need all of them,” Pletora interrupts. “I only need one. Let me take it peacefully or it’ll hurt far more.”

    The oddish stutters, not knowing what to say. The moustache of leaves on his face twitches. Pletora stands still and stern, waiting for the mon’s answer. Eventually, she gets it - in the form of a blast of purple powder from the center of the oddish’s leaves.

    Pletora is blinded by the grainy cloud, but only momentarily. She snorts and shakes the spores out of her way and rushes onward, following the pitter-patter her antennae pick up. Nice try, but I’m a poison type too!

    She now sees the oddish scramble along the path, surprisingly quickly for his stubby legs. Either you know I’d find you if you hid among the plants, or you’re really dumb... She speeds up to a gallop, easily gaining on the mon. His troubled breathing is now audible.

    “Just stop,” Pletora yells, right behind her target. “Otherwise I’m gonna yank it out!”

    The oddish cries out something incoherent, continuing to run. Fine, your loss.

    Pletora chomps on the closest leaf and holds onto it tight with her jaws. She shoves her feet into the ground, driving deep grooves in the mold. A loud snap and a distressed wail can be heard.

    The oddish, now short one leaf, keeps running as fast as he can. Soon he disappears from Pletora’s vision. Pletora lies down on the mold, catching her breath and admiring her trophy.

    ---

    After finding a fitting, mulchy spot and digging it loose with her forefeet, Pletora lowers her leaf onto the ground. Her mouth waters already, and her gut awakens from its numbed state to demand food even louder.

    But she need not wait long - the mulch begins to move. A shiny, pale-green head emerges through the deep brown. It wriggles its way out of its underground bed, revealing more of its thick, translucent, pink-striped, delicious body. Pletora, trying to contain her drool in her mouth, sizes up the larva, determining it to be the length of her horns’ last segment. This digbeetle larva is huge!

    The larva bends its neck to the leaf’s edge and begins munching. Knowing it's now sufficiently distracted, Pletora dives for the juicy bug and seizes it between her mandibles. She wastes no time and gobbles up the thing, barely breathing in the midst of her greedy dining. Oh, joy, such pure, pure joy! she only thinks as her shrunken belly finally gets some filling.

    Something rustles the bushes ahead. Pletora’s tail-antennae perk up. She swallows her last mouthful of the larva’s flesh and hops on top of the oddish leaf. Oh, no no no. You're not stealing my bait, whoever you are.

    The source of the rustling approaches. Pletora can make out steps on the mold. That’s two legs… and their owner is small. Is this the oddish again? It knows it can’t just stick the leaf back, right?

    The leaves nearest to Pletora move, and the creature finally shows itself.

    It’s not an oddish, Pletora can tell that, but she can’t quite tell what it is instead. It vaguely looks like a rattata standing on its hind legs… but it has a much longer snout, no visible teeth or ears, a dark blue leathery back and a pale yellow coat of fur. Three stripes of that fur run through that leathery back - on its snout, on its head and on its waist. Its eyes are narrow, so narrow that they seem closed. Is it blind? But it has no visible ears or antennae… does it hear, either? Does it just use that long snout to sniff its way through the world? It didn’t seem to smell me...

    The creature stumbles around with its little arms spread to the sides for balance. It doesn’t seem to have spotted Pletora, or if it has, it doesn’t care about her.

    Curious, Pletora raises a forefoot and thumps the mold with it.

    The creature raises its head, seeing the massive, deep magenta centipede towering over it. Its narrow eyes widen just a little bit. It screams, turning around and revealing its sparking back. A fire type? What’s one doing around here? It scrambles back the way it came, disappearing into the bushes. Some leaves gain black spots.

    Soon it’s quiet again, save for the wind circling in the canopy.

    Well, that was weird, Pletora thinks, moving off the leaf. Guess I’ll just ignore that and go back to catching larvae.

    ---

    Hunger conquered and belly full after a few more meals, Pletora heads out of the woods and comes across a familiar clearing. A few thick, white clouds have appeared in the previously clear sky. A distant drumming rings around the area.

    Well, some pikipek still being here should mean the bugs haven't totally run out. She glances at the lightly nibbled leaf resting on her back. Hope they don't eat all of those bugs away from me… this oddish leaf will wilt in just a day or two.

    “Aaaaaghh! Stay away from me!” someone screams, his voice echoing throughout the opening. The drumming of the pikipek stops and a bird-like form flees from the canopy further into the woods.

    Someone's in trouble… wait, don't I know that voice?

    Pletora decides not to dwell on that question and speeds up to a trot. She turns a corner of the clearing and spots a faraway scene with two mon near the clearing’s edge.

    One of the mon she’s met before - it's the oddish whose leaf rests on her shoulders. The other is a stranger, but its species is not. Pletora glowers.

    A durant. For most strangers I’d ask feral or not, but with those brutes there’s barely a difference. What does it want from an oddish?

    Pletora grabs the leaf on her back and skewers it on her tail antennae for safer keeping. She cringes at the noise it makes so close to the sensory organs. Then she slips back into the bushy woods, staying hidden but keeping an eye on the mon. She creeps closer and closer, tail antennae pointed at the scene.

    “Give leaves! Now! Hive needs leaves!” screeches the durant, impatiently snapping her metallic mandibles together. They make rather loud clangs upon impact.

    “I can't give you my leaves! I need them to live!” the oddish cries. “I already lost one today!”

    “Hive need leaves! Leaves for ritual! Ritual keep Red Death away! Hive safe! You safe too!”

    “What ‘Red Death’? I don't know what that is! You're crazy, stay away!” The oddish attempts to escape, but the durant clasps his leaves and yanks him back.

    “Give leaves! Now! Or I take by pain!” she shouts.

    Man, she's got the negotiation part down, but not quite the tact…

    Pletora reaches the stretch of trees closest to the oddish. Neither he or the durant seem to have noticed her.

    “O-o-okay! You win!” the oddish says. “Y-you can get one of my leaves, just don't hurt me!”

    “All! Not one! All!”

    “Wh-what? You can't possibly need all of them!”

    “Hive need all leaves for keep Red Death away! Now enough wait! I take leaves!”

    The durant opens her mandibles wide. The oddish screams.

    Pletora bends her hind legs, then springs herself out of hiding. She lands beside the oddish, raises her head up high and stares deep into the durant’s fierce red eyes.

    “What business do you have threatening my prey?” Pletora thunders.

    “Not your prey! My prey! Hive’s prey!” hisses the durant, stomping a leg.

    “There is more than one oddish in these woods. Go find another one, unless you want to contend with me!”

    The durant’s ring-like pupil flicks between the shivering oddish and the scolipede thrice her size.

    Finally, she backs away. “You crazy,” she grumbles. “Red Death take you. But I find new oddish for Hive, keep Hive safe. Just no come to Hive when Red Death upon you.”

    With those words, the metal mon scuttles away.

    Pletora looks behind her. The oddish whimpers, unsure of her intentions.

    “You shouldn't go around losing those leaves,” Pletora grumbles. “If this bug drought keeps up, I'll need more and I'll take them. You got that?”

    “Y-yes!”

    “Good.”

    She hmphs, walking away. If he had any brains, or whatever grass types have instead, he would've run the moment I jumped in… he's gonna have to wisen up if he wants to survive. Mother Nature likes to weed out the fools...

    ---

    Playful bubbling arises from a large stream as the water dances its way down steps of dark gray rock. Gentle gusts of warm air stroke the vividly green blades of grass, sending waves of bright and dark across the field. In the distance, a trumbeak honks.

    Pletora, finally at her destination, gallops towards the stream. Her mouth is drying as if a desert wind was blowing on it, begging for her to drink as soon as possible. Her exoskeleton, heavy and hot, sears the muscles beneath. She thinks of the fresh, cooling water and how wonderful its purifying embrace will be, and arrives at the edge of the water.

    Wait, what’s wrong with the… oh, not again!

    Clumps of mud and swirls of brown travel with the flow. The further Pletora looks upstream, the stronger the colors are. At the top, against the small stony cascade, sits a large, plump mon, its bumpy blue hide mostly covered in blotches of brown.

    Pletora growls to herself and starts hopping her way up the hill. I’m gonna pop that filthy frog’s warts when I get to him.

    As Pletora reaches the mon, more details become visible. It’s an elderly seismitoad with saggy, mud-coated skin. Several black-cyan growths are attached to the hide, some of them larger than Pletora’s face. Two of these bigger warts hang in front of the toad’s eyes, further weakening the vision that must already be rather poor at his age.

    “Hey! Old mon!” Pletora shouts. “I told you to stop bringing mud here!”

    “Hmm?” the seismitoad reacts, his voice hoarse. He’s raised his head and is turning it from side to side, not finding the one who spoke, apparently oblivious to the obstruction of his sight.

    Pletora steps to the edge of the pooled water and stirs its surface with a foot. “Over here, warty! I’m talking to you.”

    The motion catches the mon’s eye and so his attention. He turns toward it. “Sorry, what’d ye say, sonny?”

    I’m a female, you idiot... Pletora stretches her neck. “I said you need to stop mudbathing here! Mon downstream drink from this!”

    “Ahh, hold on, me mud’s runnin’ out...” The seismitoad gets up, turns around and shuffles to the opposite edge of the pool. He arduously climbs up onto his knees and crawls to the pit of mud just a meter away. He rolls about in the muck, then returns to the pool, all without saying a word.

    Pletora groans. This is taking too long. I’ll just climb a level above.

    “Fine, I’m going,” she snaps to the mon. “But don’t let me catch you doing this again!”

    She turns around and takes a few steps, but the seismitoad interrupts her, a finger of his held up.

    “Whoa, hold on there, boy! Before ye leave, I got a word o’ warnin’!”

    “Ugh! What is it?” This better be important.

    “I’ve heard of a mighty dangerous creature lurkin’ around these parts lately! One that gets ye when yer alone… and it ain’t no ordinary killer, either. It only takes just one of yer organs, and then returns to the shades… so, sonny, keep yer eyes open! Ye don’t know who might be followin’...”

    Seriously? All he had is some tall tale?

    “Wow, that’s so scary! I’m simply shivering in my shell! I won’t be leaving my nest for at least a week!” Pletora snorts and returns to walking away. “Bye.”

    “I ain’t pullin’ yer leg, sonny! They say it has its den in the Glowrock Caverns!” the mon shouts after her.

    Pletora only shakes her head and continues on. She clambers up the steep, rocky rise to the next platform. When all her four feet are securely on the grass, she immediately dashes into the stream.

    The cold blanket of the water envelops her up to her back. The heated exoskeleton cools rapidly - Pletora swears she could hear sizzling upon first contact. She submerges her neck and head in the stream as well, sucking in the water and finally quenching her burning thirst.

    Having drunk enough, she climbs out of the stream and sighs from relief. Lazily, she looks up. A front of clouds has advanced halfway over the sky. The deeper Pletora follows it, the darker it gets. And it’s moving quite fast.

    Huh… that’s a sudden change of weather. Would have been nice to know it was gonna rain before I came all the way here. Well, whatever, whatever… guess I’ll admire the view for a bit, then head back. The sun isn’t that far from the horizon anyway.

    Pletora crosses the stream, its water feeling rather cold by now, and trots to the woodless edge of the plateau. A grassless, steep cliffside runs down several dozen meters before her forefeet. It leads to a large, rocky field bordered by a seemingly endless sea of woods on the right and back. At the edge of the woods, some trees are mere stumps, likely having been cut down by travelling guildren.

    On the left, the opening takes a deep dive down and so does everything else - they all surround the massive abyss known as Crawlers’ Pit.

    Ugh, just looking over there makes me anxious. Back to the rocks.

    In the field of rocks, a mound of solid stone rises. A few holes open up by its base, allowing entrance to the labyrinthine caverns underneath. It's not dark yet, but when it will be, Pletora knows those entrances will glow a faint, orange light. The reason for this lies in a peculiar type of rock encountered within the caverns, the rock that gives the place its name.

    I wonder why that old mon said the creature lived in those Glowrock Caverns. If I had to choose a den for a creepy killer, I’d put it in Crawlers’ Pit for sure. It's pretty much known for its terrifying inhabitants.

    Well, I suppose I’ve seen enough. Time to go home.


    Pletora turns back and walks back the way she came. Her surroundings have dimmed considerably from before - the clouds above are racing to cover every inch of the sky.

    Pletora doesn’t mind rain. In moderate amounts, that is. But this time it seems like it’s really going to pour. She picks up her pace, descending the cliff and heading back to the forest.

    She stops as a faint noise reaches her antennae.

    Is that… sniffling?

    She pauses to pin down the direction of the noise, then tiptoes toward it. Through a hole in the leaves, she sees the sniffler - its pale fur, its blue back and its lengthy snout.

    That thing again! The fire type. I thought it would've left by now. Why is it crying? It can't be a feral if it can cry…

    The creature looks up at something and resumes its crying. Pletora changes her angle to see what it glanced at, spotting a lone red-green apple hanging from a tree. Too high up for the creature to reach. Ah.

    It doesn't seem to be too high up for me, though… should I intervene? The last time it saw me, it ran away screaming… and it seems like a kid, those are annoying. Shouldn't it be just fine by itself? It's not like it'll have much to fear with mostly plants and bugs about.

    Pletora watches the creature for a while longer. As it wails and wails, something in Pletora begins to change. Her throat is constricted. Her chest aches.

    Ughh, I hate having a heart… fine!

    The creature freezes as Pletora emerges through the bushes. It quiets down so effectively that Pletora isn't sure if it's even breathing. She takes that as another reason to make this quick.

    Pletora lifts her forelegs onto the apple tree's trunk and reaches for the apple with her mandibles.

    Easy, now… she thinks as they clasp around the fruit. Don't want to break the surface and have my throat close up again. It's such a shame I can't eat these, it'd help a lot with gathering food…

    She pulls back, bending the branch with her until the stalk of the apple snaps off. Didn't take too much force. Sign of a ripe fruit, I'm told.

    Pletora drops back onto her forefeet and lowers the apple on the ground, its peel intact. She gives the still frozen creature a shy look, then retreats through the bushes and resumes her course for home.

    Hope it got the message. If it didn't, it was probably a goner anyway…

    Shuffles arise from behind her. She stops and turns.

    The creature stares back, the apple held in its paws.

    Pletora stiffly continues walking. She can hear steps behind her. A peek over her shoulder confirms she's being followed.

    “...I don't have any more apples,” Pletora says, pace getting brisker. No answer, but the steps don't stop.

    Pletora stops and turns around. “Okay, just what is it that you want?”

    The creature recoils a bit, and Pletora realizes her tone was rather harsh. Still, she decides against apologizing.

    “Mhh…” the creature squeaks, snout pointed at the ground. After a few seconds, it finally rises. “Are you the Leggy Snake?”

    “What?” Pletora tilts her head. Did I even hear that right? Leggy Snake?

    “Mommy told me about the Leggy Snake…”

    The creature’s voice is young, and Pletora’s somewhat sure it's female. Not that it really matters.

    “She said,” the creature continues, “that there's a Leggy Snake that eats lone children in the woods and that's why I shouldn’t wander off on my own…” Her voice trails off.

    “...Well,” replies Pletora, “I’m a bug, not a snake. And I only eat little bugs, the kind that don’t talk. So I don’t think I’m a Leggy Snake. And even if I have a lot of legs, only four of them really do anything.” She resumes walking away. “Hope that cleared things up. Bye.”

    The steps return.

    “Why are you following me?” growls Pletora, speeding up. “Shouldn’t you be with your parents?”

    “I don’t know where they are...”

    “Well, you should go find them, then.”

    “I tried… it didn’t work...”

    Pletora sighs heavily and stops once more. “Kid, look, I don’t know where your parents are, either. I actually know less than you. So, how about you leave me alone and keep searching. It’s not like there’s anything really dangerous for you out here, even - you’re a fire type, right? All the bugs and plants will make way for you, some will probably help with glee. There’s no reason you should be on my --”

    A crack of thunder carries over from the horizon. Pletora looks up and sees the sky whirling with gray.

    The ache returns in her chest.

    Gods! Fine! But this’ll be the last time!

    “Okay, kid,” she says, defeated. “Here’s the deal. It’s gonna rain soon, and you really shouldn’t be outside then. So, I’m gonna take you to my nest, and you can stay the night there. But when morning comes and the rain stops, you are out. Got that?”

    Slowly, the creature nods.

    Pletora exhales. “Alright, let’s get going, then. Rain could be here any minute.” She lies down. “Climb on my back. We’ll get there faster that way.”

    The creature waddles to Pletora and crawls up onto her back, rather clumsily as the little thing still holds the apple between its paws.

    “You ready?” asks Pletora.

    “Mm-hm,” affirms the creature.

    “Good. Here we go.” Pletora stands up and begins to trot. “You know, you should probably eat that apple before it gets bad.”

    “Ah… yeah.” The words are followed by modest chomps.

    A few strides are made in silence, but soon Pletora speaks up again.

    “What’s your name, anyway?”

    “I’m Sisi.”

    “And your kind is...”

    “Oh. I’m a cyndaquil.”

    Cyndaquil… never heard of it.

    “So what’s your name?” asks Sisi.

    “It shouldn’t really matter, but… it’s Pletora.”

    “Can I call you Pleppy?”

    “No.”

    The two reach the edge of the clearing and continue making their way through the sunless forest. After a while, the core of an apple is chucked away, landing on the soft brown mold. Wind slithers through branches with leaves of various shades of green and shapes. Somewhere, lightning strikes.

    ---
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 11:31 AM
  2. kintsugi

    kintsugi they call me Clark Kint

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    This story is adorably wholesome so far. I don't really know how else to describe it except that it's soothing to read. Your description is on point, the flow is really good, and there's a general feeling of charm in this entire sequence of events that starts as early as the bit where oddish's fan of leaves close up in fear -- it's little details like this that bring this scene to life.

    As far as plot goes, it's quiet, but there's hints of a lot more beneath the surface! I'm incredibly entertained by the imagery of Pletora stalking oddish to take a single leaf to use as bait, or Pletora forcing herself to look like she doesn't care about this young whippersnapper cyndaquil (or oddish, for that matter), or Pletora snarking to an old warty frog. But I'm also incredibly intrigued by the details that you've started to drop -- Red Death, Leggy Snake, the literal storm brewing on the horizon... there's just enough attention to detail in this chapter to keep things interesting, but the hints that you're dropping to the upcoming plot events don't really feel forced. My one complaint would be that there's no real central thread or motivation here; besides wanting to eat food and secretly having a heart, Pletora is mostly just wandering around having things happen to her. It's kind of a mixed bag -- you could argue that it's so early in the story that you don't need to flesh out concrete motives yet, or you could argue that the hook of the story (especially a slice-of-life one) is what's driving these characters to do what they do; it's kind of your call. I'm low-key enchanted by this story regardless.

    What's a digbeetle? That was my only real question going through this, haha.

    hahahahaha I love this. That is all.
     
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  3. canisaries

    canisaries now in mint flavor

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    Thanks for checking this story out!

    Yeah, I can't argue this. The start is pretty slow, and it used to be even slower. The life of a creature in the wild isn't all that exciting when it's a solitary one that eats dumb little bugs. Luckily, we now have Sisi to shake things up.

    Wow, you're the second person already to ask ;p Well, it's not really anything beside a fictional beetle that digs and has larvae with oddish leaves as their favorite food. Given that latter part, I couldn't really use any real life insect, not that I would've known which one to use anyway.
     
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  4. diamondpearl876

    diamondpearl876 everything must go

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    'Sup. Just based off of Part One, this is definitely different than your other works, although your writing style flows as well as ever and is just as gripping. With splitting up a story into three parts, I'd say that Part One is supposed to be exposition-y and introduce the characters, and you do that pretty well here. Pletora the scolipede (and I freakin' love scolipede, by the way, A+ choice) seems to get annoyed at whatever gets in her way, but she's still got a soft spot for others and will help. She'll still say it was for her own selfish reasons, of course, like when she saves the oddish from having all its leaves taken away because that means she won't be able to get leaves for herself in the future, but you can still see glimpses in the narration of her genuinely not wanting to see others suffering. She also seems not at all afraid of fire-types, despite her typing, which adds to her badassery, heh.

    I don't think I get to see hunting scenes from a Pokémon's POV often, and it was a treat here. I rather like that Pletora only takes one leaf from the oddish; combined with the apparent sentience this world's Pokémon have, I can see a symbiotic relationship where they help each other without absolutely destroying each other. Oh, and the part where planting the leaf and having larvae grow from it immediately is creepy in a cool kind of way. With the leaf stemming from a grass-type and grass-type Pokémon having weird af powers, I can believe it.

    The worldbuilding scattered throughout is interesting, too. Why is there a bug shortage? With Pletora being a bug-type, does that mean she'll have people after her in future parts? What is this Red Death the durant rambled about crazily? There's lots of good stuff to look forward to.
     
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  5. Threadmarks: Part Two
    canisaries

    canisaries now in mint flavor

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    Alright broskis, the second part is finally finished. Enjoy. Rating is teen.

    ---

    Part Two

    ---
    “Are we there yet?”

    Yes, we are, thinks Pletora, but I’ll be damned if I give you the satisfaction of a positive answer now, after I’ve had to hear the question about three hundred times.

    Another thunder booms. Sparse tapping sounds from above - the rain has begun.

    “Hold on tight,” Pletora says as she speeds up to a gallop. Droplets plummet from the canopy around the two. Only a few dozen strides left...

    “Eep!” squeaks Sisi as one drop splats onto her forehead.

    The familiar sights woosh past. That rock, that hill, that other rock, the tree!

    Pletora slows down as smoothly as she can, though at her speed and hurry, it turns out rather bumpy still. She stops in front of a thick, tall tree trunk with a boulder thrice the size of Sisi resting at the roots. The mold around the boulder is free of grass.

    “Get off, quick,” Pletora instructs, and Sisi stumbles off her back with an ‘oof’. Two drops of rain plop right onto the segment the cyndaquil had sat on. The drumming above strengthens. Sisi lets out a distraught whine.

    “Just a few seconds more,” Pletora says and shoves her horns onto the boulder. With a strong grunt, she tilts it to reveal a dark burrow between the tree's roots.

    “Get in!” she shouts, holding the rock in place.

    Sisi skitters to the hole. She stops at the edge. “I-it's dark…”

    “There's a light inside! Just go!” insists Pletora, several droplets hitting her exoskeleton. Outside the partial shelter of the tree, the ground is bombarded with thousands more.

    Sisi enters the void with a whimper. When the cyndaquil has gone deep enough, Pletora dives in, the boulder rolling back in place in her wake.

    The two mon descend further into the burrow, the muffled noises of the storm behind them. Gradually, the darkness loosens its grip, fading away with a faint orange light from ahead.

    The tunnel widens, then finally opens up into a sizeable room. The soft mold from the entrance has changed into harder, rockier soil. A flat pile of hay lies in one corner. Next to it is half a coconut shell and a glowing, rugged crystal - the light source of the room.

    Pletora sighs from relief, walks over to the hay bed and lies down. “Alright, we're safe here. And it's where we'll sleep. It's pretty late.”

    Sisi, however, finds it harder to relax. She eyes the low ceiling, one paw grasping the other. “Won't the water flow down here?”

    “Nah,” Pletora says, resting her head on the bed. “The angle of the entrance isn't right for it - and even if some water gets in, it'll get trapped in those grooves on the floor.” She waves a leg at the thin scars in the ground. “This is an old drilbur nest. If they didn't know how to deal with water, there wouldn’t be any drilbur left in the world.”

    “What if this all collapses?” Sisi squeaks.

    “Like said, it's an old drilbur nest. It's held up so far, and it'll likely keep doing so till the end of time. Now, you should sleep.” Pletora yanks off a tuft of hay and places it next to her. “Use this. And don't burn it.”

    “I-I couldn't. I don't know how to make proper fire yet…” Sisi mumbles.

    “Whatever,” Pletora mutters. “Now, goodnight. I'll help you get on your way home tomorrow.”

    The scolipede picks up the coconut shell and lowers it on the glowing rock, dimming the room. She lowers her head again and closes her eyes.

    “Okay…” Sisi responds. She stumbles her way to the little pile of hay and lies down. “Goodnight…”

    The silence of the two allow the muffled rain outside to dominate the soundscape once more.

    “Ah!” Pletora exclaims, springing up.

    “Eek! Wh-what is it?” Sisi stutters.

    “I just realized… the leaf came off on the way home.” Pletora wiggles her tail antennae, feeling no leaf around them. She grunts.

    “...Is that bad?”

    Pletora sighs. “I guess not for you. Whatever. We can talk about it tomorrow, I'm too tired now. Goodnight.”

    Sisi hears the scolipede settle down on her bed once again. She wonders what the leaf could be for - but not for long, as she soon realizes just how tired she’s become. She closes her eyes.

    I hope Mommy is okay at home… I hope I see her soon again. Even if she’ll be mad that I got lost. She'll probably yell at me. But I still wanna see Mommy...

    Tears nearly form in her eyes, but sleep is faster, and soon the cyndaquil drifts off into her dreams.

    ---

    Nghh… what's that glow?

    Somewhere beyond Sisi's closed eyes, a light has appeared.

    Wake-up time already? But I'm tired… I don't wanna wake up yet…

    Sisi rolls on her other side and is pleased to find it to be darker. It's oddly cold, though.

    “Sisi…” mumbles some voice. Female but deep.

    Mommy? Maybe she'll leave me alone if I pretend to still be asleep...

    Sisi feels a nudge at her back. She frowns. “Nghnn… Mommy...”

    “No, you can't call me Mommy, either. Now get up.”

    Wait, that's not Mommy. Then who…

    Sisi opens her eyes. In front of her lie not the bricks of her bedroom, but a wall of hard soil illuminated by an orange glow and partially darkened by her own shadow.

    Oh… right. Sisi feels the urge to whimper, but suppresses it.

    Bones aching, she twists herself up to a sit and turns around. Pletora’s sitting before her, next to the uncovered crystal that lights the burrow.

    “Good morning,” Pletora mumbles. Her tone suggests she didn't quite mean that. “We should head out for some food. That way you can get an early start and find your parents more likely during daylight.”

    Food? Yeah! thinks Sisi. “What kinda food?”

    “Well, since you happily ate that apple yesterday, I guess that,” says Pletora, standing up and heading for the exit. “Not that there’d be enough bugs for the both of us, anyway. If there are any…”

    “You seem grumpy,” Sisi remarks. “Are you not a morning person? Mommy says --”

    “Well, if your mom can't even keep track of her own kid, I'm not interested in her advice. Let's go.”

    Sisi pouts, but skitters into the tunnel after the scolipede.

    ---

    All the clouds from the storm have disappeared overnight, rendering the sky a cheerful blue. The leaves of the trees and bushes still bear droplets here and there and sparkle in the late morning sun. Wild pikipek drum and flit about from trunk to trunk, keeping an eye out for any tasty apples or small insects around and possible hungry braviary above.

    “So where are we going?” asks Sisi, sitting on Pletora's rump as the scolipede treads along the rich, damp soil.

    “There's a grove I know with a lot of apple trees some way from here,” Pletora answers. “I can't eat the fruit myself and being around it for too long makes it hard to breathe, but there may be some bugs drawn to the area.”

    “Huh… you’re allergic to apples?”

    Pletora slows down. “What's a ‘lergic’?”

    Sisi tilts her head. “You don't know what ‘allergic’ means?”

    “I'm not a guildren, I don't know those fancy words.” Pletora turns her head to Sisi. “Are you a guildren?”

    “Yeah! I’m from Briggstone. There's a lot of fire types there. The guildmaster is Delphox Virene. She's cool!” the cyndaquil explains, her stubby arms flailing.

    She seems pretty excited to talk about her guild, Pletora thinks. What else can I expect from a guildren…

    “Haven’t heard of Briggstone,” she says. “What’s the environment like there?”

    “Well, it’s rocky… there’s a lot of rocks...”

    “Is there anything besides rocks?”

    “Stones!”

    “Uh-huh.” A thought comes to Pletora. “Are the rocks red?”

    “Yeah, they're red, like the spots on my back! Have you been there?”

    “I may have. I think that can help me send you in the right direction, actually.”

    “O-oh, yay!” Sisi's voice is excited, but contains a hint of uncertainty.

    Hmm, I guess she isn't too big on the idea of traveling alone again… I mean, I guess it makes sense if she can't even make proper fire…

    The two mon continue on their trail, the sun gradually rising higher above them. The droplets on the vegetation evaporate and a more matte texture is restored to the leaves. Pletora pushes on, not bothered by the repetitive surroundings, but the same can't be said of Sisi.

    “Are we th-”

    “No.” Pletora wastes no time in shutting the cyndaquil down.

    “I'm hungry,” groans Sisi, turning onto her back.

    What do you think I am? Pletora grits her mouthparts. Her gut grumbles at the reminder of its hollowness.

    “We're already more than halfway there. Just hang on,” she says, speeding up to dull her aching belly.

    “Couldn't we eat something here?” asks Sisi, squirming back up. “Like, what about those round white things?”

    Pletora sighs. “What, you mean these puffball mushrooms?” She steers to a cluster of fungi at a nearby tree's roots. “All they're good for is diversion.”

    She pokes at one bubble with the tip of her leg. It ruptures with a faint popping noise and produces a rising cloud of yellowish spores. The powder reaches Sisi's snout, tickling it.

    “Ah, ahh, ahh... chih!”

    A bright, orange flare explodes out of the tip of Sisi's snout, propelling her off Pletora's back. The burst of heat meets with one of Pletora's tail antennae, singeing it.

    The pain in her sensory organ causes Pletora to let out a yell and rear, forelegs swiping the air. She bolts five body lengths ahead, antenna fruitlessly flailing in an effort to shake off the burning sensation. It cools, but it keeps aching.

    Pletora's non-primal thoughts return to her. Her breathing rate slows.

    She… she's dangerous.

    Pletora turns around to see the little fire type standing some way behind. Sisi's paws are on her snout. She's trembling.

    “I-I'm sorry!” Sisi cries, rushing to Pletora. “I didn’t mean to!”

    She lunges in for a hug, but the scolipede recoils.

    “So you can make proper fire?” the bug demands, voice raised.

    “N-no, I mean, yes, but I-I can't do it when I want to…”

    “You…” starts Pletora, unnaturally still. “You should walk on your own from now on.”

    Sisi whimpers, but lowers her head in acceptance.

    She feels guilty, but… I have to leave her as soon as I can. I didn't know I was dealing with an uncontrolled source of fire…

    Pletora slowly resumes her walking. Sisi follows, keeping a distance.

    It's for the better. She hasn't caused anything but trouble for me, anyway. I had to run home from the rain, and I lost the oddish leaf…

    Pletora clenches her mandibles and pins her gaze on the path before her.

    Fire types really don't belong here.

    The pair continue on their trail in silence. Even the pikipek seem like they've quieted.

    In due time, the branches of the trees around them show something more than just green leaves and the occasional perched bird - blots of red and pink. Apples. Deeper into the fruit-bearing part of the woods, the change of scenery manifests in the air as well. Sisi raises her snout skyward, sniffing in the promising aroma and momentarily forgetting her shame, but Pletora tries her best not to breathe any more than usual.

    An odd, subtle motion in the cyndaquil draws Pletora’s attention. She realizes it's been there for a while now - she just didn't consciously acknowledge it.

    She's kinda wriggling as she walks. Is it because she’s tired? No, that wouldn’t make sense. Is she impatient? Feeling itches? Oh, gross, what if she has parasites? I slept right next to her!

    Pletora shakes those thoughts away and just decides to ask.

    “Sisi?” she reservedly says and stops. “Is something wrong?”

    “I need to pee,” Sisi answers right away, like she’d been holding in the question for several hours.

    Ohhhh. Right. She’s a mammal.

    “Ffhh… well, go do that behind a bush or something,” Pletora says. “I’ll wait here.”

    “Thanks,” Sisi squeaks and wobbles into the surrounding vegetation.

    Mammals are odd, thinks Pletora and turns around, only to turn around again as she realizes she can obstruct her sight but not her hearing. Hope she goes far away enough...

    Her antennae pick up something. Despite her expectations, it isn’t Sisi-related. It’s more like… something’s walking ahead, but there’s also clanking…

    Pletora’s eyes widen. Oh Gods. No, no no no no.

    The scolipede turns to the noise, stance defensive. The noise strengthens, multiplies. Pletora’s joints weaken. Th-this is bad.

    From the bushes, several many-legged creatures crawl out. As soon as the sunlight hits them, their steely exoskeletons flash blindingly bright.

    Durant.

    Pletora skims over their mean red eyes, unfortunately finding them locked onto hers. Crap. They don't look very friendly.

    “Uhh, h-hello!” Pletora greets with forced cheer. “Wh-what seems to be the problem?”

    “You! Many-legs!” snaps one of the frontmost durant. She appears to be the largest. “This Hive area. Only durant in Hive area. No many-legs.”

    Hive area? Since when is this their territory? Oh, forget it, I can't start arguing. There's nine of them and one of me.

    “Oh, sorry, sorry,” says Pletora, taking steps back. “My mistake. I'll go get my friend and leave.”

    “Wait!” hisses someone from further back. Leaves rustle, and the durant give way to one more of their kind. The new durant skitters closer, staring at Pletora.

    “What is reason for interrupt?” demands the largest durant.

    The new durant raises an accusing foot at Pletora. “This many-legs stole oddish from I!”

    Oh, oh no. Her size does match the durant from before...

    The big durant turns to Pletora. “This true, many-legs?”

    “Whaaat? No no no, no way. I would never!” Pletora tries, but the durant don't seem convinced.

    “She lie,” murmur the durant between each other. “Many-legs lie. Many-legs Hive enemy!”

    The big durant clacks her mandibles, silencing the others.

    “It decided,” she speaks. “Many-legs enemy. Enemy must die!”

    Pletora's heart jumps to her throat. “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” she laughs nervously, backing away from the approaching insects. “Th-there's no need for this, I-I'll just leave, it'll be fine!”

    “Yes, you leave…” the durant says, legs raised high with each step. “You leave this life!”

    The troop of durant open their sharply serrated mandibles and bend their back legs in preparation to pounce. Yet they… don't.

    Something has hijacked their attention, something shocking enough to widen their eyes to show the pupil's full circle.

    Pletora heard the leaves rustle, too, but she’s horrified for an entirely different reason. She glances behind, and there it stands - a young, little cyndaquil.

    “Hi,” Sisi says, waving her stubby arm to the strangers. She looks at Pletora. “Who are these?”

    Pletora stares back, pupils thin as needles.

    Oh Gods. Why, why the hell did you have to wander in here right now? You'd be defenseless against one of these things without on-command fire, and there's ten of them!

    One durant begins to tremble. “It… Heat’mor,” it whispers - instantly to be shushed by the others.

    “No say Red Death name!” they hiss, a two of them stomping their feet on the speaker's head, driving it to the mold.

    Wait, they're… afraid of her? Pletora eyes the cyndaquil, who seems more perplexed by the second, tilting her head in all directions. Pletora's eyes narrow.

    She searches the ground, her eyes finding what she needs at the root of a nearby bush. I've got it.

    “Silence!” snaps the big durant, shaking off her initial fear. “This runt not Red Death! Red Death big, its tail smoking, its claws long and sharp, its mouth breathing hot light! This runt only impostor! It tiny, it have no hot light! No be fooled! Attack!”

    The durant exchange glances, gradually growing more confident.

    “Sisi, get closer,” Pletora orders.

    “O-okay,” Sisi complies, running to Pletora's side.

    “Sister right,” says one of the durant. “Must destroy runt and many-legs!”

    The durant screech in agreement and dash for the pair.

    Sisi yelps and tries to grab onto Pletora, but the scolipede raises her foot and stomps it at the root of the bush - rupturing a white puffball growing on the spot and setting afloat a cloud of yellow spores. Pletora ducks and draws away, leaving the powder to envelop Sisi.

    “Pletora, wai- aahh-ah-chih!”

    A mighty fireball manifests before the cyndaquil's snout, flashing its deadly heat to the durant. It burns out as quickly as it was lit, charring the blades of grass below, but leaving it at that.

    The durant, however, recoil as if it were a puff of lethal, poisonous gas.

    “Red Death! Red Death!” they screech, scrambling over and under each other in nigh-blind panic. The clattering of their metal limbs against their armored bodies could surely be heard all the way to the bottom of Crawlers’ Pit.

    Eventually, the mon find their direction and flee back into the bushes and beyond - all but one. The largest still stands in her spot, feet glued onto the ground. Her eyes are stern, but her limbs tremble.

    Sisi rubs her nose, attempting to rid it of its itch. “S-sorry…”

    Pletora steps to her side, head held high, staring the remaining durant in the eye.

    “You won't stand a chance alone,” Pletora booms. “It'd be best for you to join your sisters.”

    The durant stares back, grinding her mouthparts. Eventually, she picks up her feet and leaves, muttering something incoherent to herself.

    Pletora exhales in relief and a bit of triumph.

    “D-did I do something bad?” asks Sisi, her nostrils now clear.

    “No, no. You did very well,” Pletora replies calmly and walks over to one of the apple trees to pick a juicy, round fruit. She brings it to Sisi and pats the mon's head gently with a foreleg. “Now, eat up. We have a long walk ahead of us.”

    ---

    After ensuring Sisi had eaten enough, and herself having eaten the few flies and beetles she could find, Pletora guided Sisi back to her nest. From there, the duo continued on south, where Pletora knew red rocks could be found. To the delight of the cyndaquil - and her feet - Pletora let Sisi ride on her back again, as long as the fire type would be very careful with her snout and back.

    As they progressed, the trees shrunk to shrubs and the mold beneath grew thinner. The shrubbery then gave way to yellow meadows of hay. The mold turned rockier and rockier until it had fully crossed the line over to gravel, at which point the plants had given up and disappeared. Then the gravel, too, got sparser until the bumpy bedrock was fully exposed. And, yes - that bedrock was red.

    “See any familiar spots?” asks Pletora.

    “Nahhh… not yet,” says Sisi, scanning the boulders scattered around while leaning on her elbow. “But it looks like how Briggstone looks.”

    Pletora stops in her tracks. Sisi stands up, wondering what the holdup is.

    “What's that?” asks Pletora, pointing to a small, sandy brown creature skittering across the rust-colored stone. It looked like a bug, but it had one pair of legs and another pair of pincers too many - not to mention a long, segmented tail ending in a stinger.

    Sisi peeks at the creature, then draws away. “Oh, watch out! That's a scorpion. If it stings you, it really hurts and you'll get sick. We should get away --”

    She's interrupted by a crunching noise.

    Pletora stares back at Sisi, a crushed scorpion seized in her mouthparts, somewhat amused by the cyndaquil's upset expression.

    “What?” Sisi exclaims.

    Pletora munches up the creature before replying. “What do you mean ‘what’?”

    “I just told you it'd make you sick! Now you ate it!”

    “It won’t make me sick, I'm a poison type.”

    “Wha… huh. Really?” Sisi lays a paw on her chin.

    “Yeah, bug and poison. Can't poison a poison type,” Pletora explains and resumes walking. “Hmm… I hope there's more of those around here. They don't taste the best, but I'm still hungry.”

    “Oh, I bet my mom could offer you something,” Sisi says. “She's super nice! Ah, but…” Her face turns somber. “You're not gonna come that far, are you?”

    “Eh, well…” Pletora pauses in contemplation. “If we find the guild fast enough, I guess I could stay for dinner. I can't eat apples, though…”

    “That's okay! We have all kinds of food, like berries and bread and feral eggs. You're sure to find something.”

    “Bread… so you farm around here? It doesn't look like anything could grow here, though…”

    “No, no, there are places with more plants, like -- look, there!”

    Sisi points at a tiny, gray scribble in the distance. As Pletora squints her eyes, she recognizes it as a leafless-looking bush.

    Pletora clicks her mandibles. “Doesn't really convince me about this land's fertility…”

    “Yeah, whatever, but I mean, those kinds of plants grow near the guild! We must be close!”

    Pletora, while skeptical, briskens up her pace. The plant in the horizon is followed by many others, their size larger. Some could even be called trees, if one was loose enough with the definition.

    Pletora reaches the first bush, examines it further and notices that it does indeed have leaves, just very thin and yellowish ones. The patch of softer ground below it seems rather thin. These plants sure make the best of what they have, Pletora thinks. My own woods would probably be heaven to them...

    “Look, over there! That big rock!” Sisi shouts. “I think I know that rock!”

    Pletora trots towards the rock, Sisi becoming surer the closer she gets. At the foot of the giant shard, Pletora achieves certainty as well, thanks to the stony constructs now revealed behind the landmark.

    That's it, that's a guild. It's been a long time since I last saw one, but it's not something you'd forget.

    Sisi hops off Pletora's back. “Hold on,” she says, sniffing. She drops onto four legs and sweeps a small area with her snout, nostrils busy.

    Pletora tilts her head. “Uhh…”

    “I smell Mommy,” Sisi says. “She's been here just a while ago. Maybe she was looking for me.”

    Sisi attempts to climb back onto Pletora’s back, but as she fails repeatedly, Pletora crouches and finally allows for the cyndaquil to be successful.

    Sisi taps Pletora’s shell. “Let’s go! Mommy could be close!”

    The two ride on. Sisi holds her snout low, keeping a nose out for any surges or drops in her mother’s scent. Pletora distinguishes a faint path beneath her feet and works to follow it.

    A split comes in the road, and Sisi’s sense of smell decides that they take the route encircling the town rather than the one leading to it. Stone walls and mudbrick houses pass by, as do more boulders and barely-trees on the other side, until…

    “Mommy?” asks Sisi quietly, spotting the large mon with colors similar to hers walking ahead on the road.

    The mon and the other few that accompany it - mostly more species Pletora doesn’t know - turn around upon hearing the approaching gallop of the scolipede. Sisi recognizes her mother’s face, and the mother recognizes her child. The big blue-and-yellow mammal rushes for Sisi, who in turn jumps off Pletora’s back and runs to the arms of her mother.

    “Mommy!” Sisi shouts, clinging to her mother’s neck.

    “Sisi, sweetie! I’m so glad you’re okay!” the mother cries. She hugs Sisi tight, as if never to let go again.

    “I’m sorry I wandered off!” Sisi says and rubs her head against her mother’s warm fur.

    “Oh, honey… that’s okay,” the mother says, “I’m just happy you’re safe now...”

    She lifts Sisi up and steps back, clutching the child in her arms. “But, Sisi...” Her voice wavers. She stares at Pletora, a serious expression on her face. “Why were you with… that?”

    Pletora, who had been cautiously approaching during the conversation, stops.

    “Oh, that’s Pletora!” answers Sisi, trying to wave to Pletora but finding difficulty in it with her mother’s arms so tightly around her. “She found me and helped me get back! Come on, Pletora, say hi!”

    “N-no...” the mother says, walking backwards. The mon around her, all seeming to be fire types with their red and yellow colors and natural flames, take slow, reserved steps forward. Pletora scans their faces. They don’t look welcoming.

    The mother holds Sisi outward to speak to her face to face. “Sisi, honey, you know what we’ve told you about the Leggy Snake.”

    “What?” Sisi tries to look back at Pletora, but her mother won’t allow it. “That’s not the Leggy Snake, that’s Pletora! She’s nice, and she’s not a snake, she’s a bug --”

    “No, honey, I know it may have told you that, but the Leggy Snake’s a tricky creature. You can’t trust what it says. Now, we need to go home.”

    “What? No, Mommy, she brought me back --”

    “We’re going home, Sisi,” the mother interrupts sternly, and turn around to head for the town.

    Sisi squirms in the mon’s hold, crying out for Pletora, but in vain. Pletora watches, unable to interfere, too afraid of the burns and singes that may await her if she does.

    One of the remaining mon, almost exactly like a simisage but red, speaks up. “You best get goin’. You don’t want no trouble.”

    Pletora glares at the monkey. “I see how it is...”

    Some of the mon raise their brows, apparently not having expected the scolipede to talk. In the distance, the protesting Sisi is finally drawn out of sight.

    “Well,” Pletora continues, suppressing the lump in her throat. “I guess I'll just leave, then. Wouldn't trust you people to be nice company, anyway.”

    “Be on your way, monster!” yells another mon, this time tortoise-like, and snorts steam out of his nostrils.

    Pletora turns around, head held high but heart sinking low as she walks back the way she came. At least I can have some more of those scorpions on the way back, she attempts to cheer herself up, but it does little good.

    She glances behind, seeing the mon depart as well, and lets her neck droop unwitnessed.

    ---
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  6. AceTrainer14

    AceTrainer14 The acest of trainers

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    Review time. I didn't want to review the first chapter a sI was unsure what path you were taking or where it would go next and hoped a second chapter would provide more light. And boy did it. This is a charming and sweet little story. It reminds me of an independent film, in a way - one where some gruff loner befriends a lost child and is slowly worn down by their presence.

    The first chapter I was a little uncertain of. As Kintsugi noted in her review, it didn't feel like it had a narrative drive at first; there was no obvious sign of where it would go next. The Durant fight, chasing the Oddish, squabbling with the Seismatoad; there were lots of elements and hints of the 'Red Death' and a hidden monster that made me question the scope of the story. I was so pleased to see these things have a much smaller scale answer in this new chapter. I didn't even think the Red Death would be a Heatmor, and I love seeing these elements develop in a way that doesn't mean there is about to be a big end of the world mystery or anything waiting around the corner.

    The scenery is minimally described, but I still got a rich enough vision of what this place would look like. I do have to question having a desert so close to what sounds like a lush forest with magnificent rivers and waterfalls, but I liked the little details we got that helped enrich the world. I had forgotten about the PMD elements reading the second part and was pleased to see this is a world where guilds and wild Pokemon co-exist - though perhaps not in a terribly friendly fashion. The feuding Pokemon living side by side in herds and alone was also quite realisitic and is another reason why I love this story so much.

    The main reason though has to be Pletora. You may have made this joke yourself, but I am so pleased to see you write something entirely different from your usual work. Your growth from Dear, Nemesis has been astounding to witness but has always been a little hampered by the grimmer nature of your stories. This proves that your talents are not confined to horror, and in fact they probably excel further here. Pletora is the first of your characters I truly feel something for; she may be a little generic in terms of the 'loner with a heart of gold', but she is clearly an independent who has grown rough from loneliness (and possibly because she was ostracised?). She is wonderfully crafted, from her witty one-liners and quick thinking in the face of danger.

    I am eagerly anticipating where it goes next. You seem open minded in terms of length, but I can see this wrapping up nice and neatly within a chapter or two. I would not try and extend it unnecessarily, though I think - if she survives, as you never know what comes next - a follow up or side story involving Pletora would be nice to read. She is a quietly understated character with clear definitions and motivations who could go far, but I want a nice neat bow on this tale first.
     
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  7. canisaries

    canisaries now in mint flavor

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    I was actually surprised by how many people thought the Red Death and the Leggy Snake would turn out to be something super important, haha. I guess that's due to so many stories having all the legends and fairytales they have to be true.

    Well, it wasn't meant to be a full on desert, but more like just an area that happened to have very little soil and nutrients so plants couldn't easily grow... wait, I guess that is a desert by definition. Either way, I thought it to just be a very rocky place within the same geographical area.

    I'm estimating for there to be only a chapter after this, but I may be wrong and it may turn into two. It's definitely not gonna go over that, though. I'm going to cherish the fact that this doesn't have to be a longer story and try to keep this to the point.

    Thanks for reading and reviewing!
     
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  8. kintsugi

    kintsugi they call me Clark Kint

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    Ah! This is back and I missed the update!

    This sentence stuck out to me since the rest of the section is pretty much in ambiguous third person (and the previous chapter was a pretty tight third on Pletora), but this is a sudden jump into Sisi's deeper thoughts here.

    I'm not quite sure if I've mentioned it before but I love your dialogue here. It's a sort of comedic timing that isn't in your face about how funny it's trying to be, and it makes the conversations between these two characters incredibly refreshing.

    do pokemon have a concept of hell

    Ahhh! I love this detail so much! I remember wondering what it was in the first chapter and thinking it was some big, ominous thing, but this makes waaaaay more sense, fits in with the pokedex lore for durant, and also has solid bookends for all the comments Pletora's been making about how cyndaquil is dangerous to bugs. This is awesome! Leggy Snake is also the best name for scolipede that I've head in a while.

    This chapter was a great read -- nice and breezy, and it does a good job of selling the relationship between Sisi and Pletora before totally ripping it to shreds because of type-based classism. The ending's a really nice punch in the gut, but I do think it came along a little fast -- the journey up until this point has been pretty slow and calmly paced (with details like Pletora's allergy to apples, the drillbur den having cool water detaining features), but the ending scene is pretty fast and I don't know if things had the proper time to sink in all the way.

    But still! Teensy tiny complaints. These characters are adorable and although I'm not sure where they're going to end up next, I'm really excited to keep reading.
     
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  9. Threadmarks: Part Three
    canisaries

    canisaries now in mint flavor

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    Alriiiight! It's been quite a while, but I've been steadily working on this story along my other ones whenever uni has permitted it. Now I know I did estimate only one after the previous one, but it was turning out pretty long (6k in its current state) so I've decided to split it in two. Here's the first half! The second is still about 40% short.

    This time we're gonna have some of that more gruesome imagery I mentioned in the very first post, but I believe it still falls under teen, especially if you don't stop to think about it too hard. And as with the previous chapters, there's the usual PG-13 language and violence. Anyway, thanks for all of your previous replies, and enjoy! Something rather big happens in this.

    ---

    Part Three

    ---​

    It’s not fair.

    Sisi curls into a ball, sinking further into her mattress filled with feral mareep wool. More tears run down her cheeks.

    Why doesn’t Mommy understand? Pletora isn’t the Leggy Snake. She’s super nice. I bet she could kick the Leggy Snake’s tail. Would, too.

    Sisi turns on her other side. Then the other. Then the other. Ugh! I can't sleep.

    She hops out of her bed and waddles to her room's entrance. The entire house is dark. I'm the only one awake right now. I could sneak out. Mommy would be mad, but… I'm mad at Mommy. I'll go out, just for a small walk.

    Sisi sneaks to the front door. It's barred with a wooden plank too high up for Sisi to reach, but with the aid of a quietly dragged chair, the plank is removed and the cyndaquil steps out.

    The sky is clear, black and full of little stars. No rain, Sisi thinks, and walks off with confidence.

    She proceeds along the torch-lit but empty main street, watching the white specks above and breathing in the cool night air.

    Sisi passes by Magmar Ena's Inn, Heatmor Harold's Bakery and a few other families’ houses. Finally, she arrives at the edge of the guild.

    Should I go further out? she ponders, stopping at the sight of the low stone pillars marking the border. There could be scorpions hidden in the darkness, and I don't wanna get stung…

    A dark figure shifts on top of a boulder further away, unnoticed by Sisi.

    Sisi sighs and turns back home. I should be smart and stay in the guild. Out there, who knows what could get me, but inside the guild, I'll be totally sa --

    “Aaagghhh!” Sisi screams as a shadow flashes above her. Something strong wraps its claws around her body, and the next thing she knows, the ground beneath her paws disappears.

    She wriggles to escape, but freezes as she realizes she has nothing to fall on - other than the rocks several meters below her. She studies what’s holding her up. Bird feet. She looks up. A spike-hemmed skirt of bone blocks her view. This is a… this is a… mandibuzz! I-I've been swooped up by a mandibuzz!

    Sisi trembles. What do I do? Scream? But people are sleeping… no, this is more important!

    “Heeeeelp!” she yells below. Unfortunately, she seems quite far away from the guild already. All her screaming does is echo around the bumpy plains of stone, heard by no one but scorpions, for sure...

    Having nothing else she could do, Sisi keeps calling out for help. Maybe someone will hear it after all? Maybe Pletora? Oh, I wish Pletora was here…

    The mandibuzz stays silent as it hauls the cyndaquil further and further from her home. The stone below gains a fuzz of hay, then shrubs appear… Wait, is it actually taking me closer to where Pletora lives?

    The rhythm of the bird's wingbeats changes. Sisi notices they're now approaching a stony cliff below. In the stone, there's a cavity of roughly twice the size of the mandibuzz. Squawks begin to arise from within as the mandibuzz nears the hole, and Sisi soon sees three small but plump vullaby inside. The dark-feathered chicks screech, sitting on their bone-covered rumps. Discarded bones decorate the cushioning of hay and branches beneath.

    I-It wants to feed me to its babies! Sisi squirms anxiously. Wh-what do I do? Should I try to run when it lands? Try making fire? But it never works when I want it to!

    Sisi's time of thinking runs out as the mandibuzz’s talons let go, throwing her to the middle of the chicks. Their fluffy plumage softens the blow somewhat.

    “U-uhh…” Sisi scrambles upright. The hungry, orange eyes of the vullaby and mandibuzz watch her every move, the mother slowly stepping closer.

    I-I have no choice! I have to make fire!

    “Okay, birdies, take this!” she shouts, startling the chicks. She gasps her lungs full of air, and…

    Raging, ravenous flames! Blazing like the sun! Explosive heat and enough smoke to cover the entire sky!

    All things Sisi wishes she had produced, but could not. Instead, all that left her snout was a barely visible puff of steam.

    The birds’ eyes narrow. Sisi whimpers, backing up, but is stopped by the back wall of the hole. She squeezes her eyes shut and curls into a ball.

    This is j-just a nightmare. Bad things don't happen to kids like me! I'll wake up any minute now!

    A smack rings out.

    “Skreee!”

    “Back off!” shouts someone. Another smack comes.

    Sisi opens her eyes. A silhouette has appeared in front of the nest. It's bipedal and carrying something long and thick, with which it seems to be fending off the mandibuzz. A log?

    The figure turns its head to Sisi. “Get out of there!”

    “O-okay!” Sisi rushes to the figure through the vullaby, who seem too preoccupied with panicked squawking than stopping her.

    “Let's go!” the stranger - seeming male, but not too young - says and grabs Sisi's paw with his free hand, the other holding the log over his shoulder. He drags her away from the recovering mandibuzz, carefully but quickly descending the cliff.

    The mandibuzz screeches again, leaping at the stranger with its talons first. The stranger momentarily lets go of Sisi's paw to deliver a two-handed log blow straight into the mon. The mandibuzz tumbles backwards, allowing the stranger to escort Sisi safely to the bottom.

    “Quick, this way!” he says, leading Sisi to the bushes growing at the root of the cliff. They lie down, letting the branches hide them, and crawl some way forwards.

    “Now we stay quiet,” the stranger whispers, and Sisi nods.

    As the mandibuzz glides around the area, unable to spot the two mon, Sisi studies the stranger lit by the leaf-filtered starlight. He’s bigger than her, but not by much. He has short, smooth, sandy brown fur that parts in places to show pink, bulging veins. His face is flat, save for his big black nose. The hair on his head is longer and sticks out in big clumps on the top and back. The log he’s resting his small hands on is as long as the mon is tall and seems to have some kind of carvings on it.

    After a few minutes, the stranger speaks up again. “I think the bird is gone.” Carefully, he peeks his head through the bushes. “Yeah, it's gone. You can get up now.”

    The stranger helps Sisi up, and the two sneak a bit further from the cliff to be sure.

    “...Thank you,” Sisi shyly says.

    “No problem,” the stranger responds, smiling. “I'm Timburr Mill. Pleased to meet you.” He offers his hand, which Sisi takes and shakes. His grip is firm.

    “So, what's a small fire type like you doing all alone out here?” Mill asks, leading Sisi to the direction opposite of where Briggstone lies.

    “I-I was out for a small walk, and… suddenly the mandibuzz grabbed me. It carried me all the way here,” mumbles Sisi, embarrassed. She tugs back at Mill's hand. “I'm from Briggstone. Briggstone's that way.” She points behind her.

    “O-oh, but…” Mill looks up. “That's mighty far away, and it's gonna rain soon. You can't be out when that happens.”

    Sisi stares at the cloudless sky and frowns. “It doesn't look like it's gonna rain.”

    “Maybe not to the untrained eye,” Mill says. “Seriously, though, you should trust me on this. You really don't want to get caught in the rain. Instead, let me take you to my place for the night, it's much closer. We can go back to Briggstone when the rain is over and you're well rested.”

    “Hmm…” Sisi thinks back to the previous night. This isn't really different from what Pletora did. She let Sisi stay in her home too. “Okay.”

    Mill smiles, and the pair heads for wherever Mill's home may be.

    “Say, while we're walking,” Mill starts and grabs his log with both hands. He lowers it, presenting its carvings to Sisi. “Have you ever heard of Arceus?”

    ---

    Pletora trudges through a worn forest path, antennae ready to pick up any chirps of crickets that may have awoken for the night. None have come so far, but she doesn't mind too much - she really only came outside because she couldn't sleep, anyway.

    It was all my fault for trusting guildren, she thinks, kicking a stray pebble. Of course they wouldn't be hospitable to someone like me. From their perspective, there's probably no difference between a wildren and a feral.

    A buzz arises from ahead. Pletora's antennae perk up. Oh, that sounded like a fly! She slows her pace, quieting her footsteps. Approaching the source of the noise, she begins to pick up another buzz, and another. There's a bunch of them over there. What could be so alluring…?

    Bushes stand between her and the buzzing. Careful not to startle the potential prey, she slowly extends her neck to peek over the leaves, and…

    What… what is that? Looks like…

    The smell hits Pletora's scent organs. It's rotting. That white mushy stuff, it's rotting. But what about the blue beneath? It's a familiar blue…

    Cold suspicion overriding her hunger, Pletora steps through the bushes. The flies zoom away. Pletora extends a cautious foot and quickly flips the mass over.

    Her suspicion was correct.

    The leaf-mustached face, the stubby little legs, it's the oddish from before, but… dead. His eyes are closed and his leaves are nowhere to be seen - instead, at their former root, there lies pale, stinky mush. Oddish innards.

    Pletora jerks back, the scorpions from before nearly ejected from her throat. Wh-what would do this? Kill a wildren oddish by… ripping off the whole top? It makes no sense for a feral, the leaves would be much easier to just pluck for something after those, and it can't have been after the flesh, so much is left un...uneaten…

    Pletora’s heart jumps as she realizes the killer may still be present. She flicks her gaze in every direction, looking for anything… Th-there!

    Something glints through the bushes further away. It looked metallic. Metallic. Durant. Of course it was the durant! They're savages!

    “What the hell is wrong with you?” Pletora screams, charging through the bushes to confront the --

    Dead durant.

    “Wh-what…”

    She studies the steely, blank-eyed husk. It's too mangled to be alive. Part of its exoskeleton is missing on the side of its abdomen, seeming… bent off.

    No, this doesn't make any sense… Pletora’s movements be become shakier by the second. Durant wouldn't kill their own kind. It has to have been something else. Something that killed the oddish too and only took parts of…

    A memory flashes in Pletora's mind. The old seismitoad from before, he said -- he said there was a killer around that only took one organ of its victims. He… he was actually speaking the truth?

    Pletora turns around and speeds up into a gallop. This is too much to handle. I have to get back to my nest. I'll be safe there, and I can think through what I should do if the th-thing finds me!

    She makes her way back to the tree her nest lies under. She's about to push aside the boulder blocking the entrance, but sees a bright orange glow shining through a patch of the surrounding woods. The sound of rapid thumps, steps of more than one pair of feet, accompanies the light.

    “It's here!” growls someone, exhausted, presumably from running. “The smell is overwhelming!”

    Oh Gods. What is this now? I need to hide and fast! thinks Pletora and slams her horns onto the boulder with too much force, rolling it out of its notch between the tree roots entirely. “No, no, no, no…!”

    “There it is!” shouts another voice, and the glow surges in brightness. Two figures stand in the light - no, four. Two mon, both riding another two mon. All looking like fire types, and on the back of the striped, orange, maned beast… it's Sisi's mother.

    “Where is Sisi?” the mother demands, the back of her neck blazing. Pletora thanks her luck no plant parts happen to be near it.

    “What? She’s not with me,” responds Pletora, fetching the boulder and rolling it back to its place. A realization sets in, widening her eyes. “She’s not with you?” she shouts.

    “D-don’t play dumb!” the mother snaps. “Where are you keeping her?”

    “How do you lose your kid twice in one week?” Pletora screams, but shakes away the thought. “Whatever, it doesn’t matter! Look, if Sisi’s alone, she’s in great danger!”

    The mother’s flames weaken and waver, though the fury on her face doesn’t lessen. “How… how do you mean?”

    “There’s some weird creature on the loose. It kills mon, only to just take one part of them.” Pletora nods in the direction she came from. “Two of its victims are over there: an oddish with its scalp and leaves gone, and a durant with a piece of its shell ripped off. You can go and look!”

    “Oh, yeah?” chimes in the other rider - the red simisage-lookalike Pletora had seen before in Briggstone. His steed is a rapidash. At least Pletora knows that species - the others must not roam as much. “How do we know they’re not just your victims, huh? Like Sisi?”

    “If I wanted to do something to Sisi, you idiot, why would I have brought her back to town?” Pletora hisses through her mandibles.

    The mon raises a finger, but places it on its chin instead, pensively staring at the ground.

    Real genius over here… Pletora locks eyes with Sisi’s mother. “Look, I know where the creature lives, and it’s not far. If we catch it there, I think we could be able to beat it together. Kill it before it gets to Sisi. We can even keep an eye out for Sisi on the way there - it’s possible that, for whatever reason, she wanted to see me again and headed over here.” She breathes deeply. “What do you say?”

    The mother stares at Pletora, then exchanges glances with her squadmates. She turns back to the scolipede, head held high.

    “I’ll come with you. The rest will stay here and search the area in case you’re lying.”

    Pletora sighs in relief. “That’s good enough. You look strong. Let’s go.”

    The mother dismounts from the maned mon, her neck-flames extinguished for now, and rushes to Pletora’s side - or vicinity, as she still doesn’t appear to trust the bug too much.

    “Y-you’re really going?” asks the red monkey. “Catai, she could be dangerous.”

    “I know what I’m doing,” the mother says. “Just get back to searching!”

    The monkey hesitates, but then nods. Pletora and the mother, Catai, leave for the monster's alleged den while the remaining mon split up to scour the nest and its surrounding area.

    ---

    “...and another amazing thing about Lord Arceus is that He’s not just one or two types - He’s all of them at once!” Mill gushes as he and Sisi trek through the forest. It looks practically exactly like the kind of environment Pletora lived in. Sisi wonders if her nest is anywhere close.

    “If he’s all types, what’s he weak to?” Sisi asks.

    “Ah, well, you know...” Mill scratches the back of his head. “On His power level, type advantages don’t really matter. He’s far stronger than any of us.”

    “Uh-huh.” Sisi isn’t sure how to take all of this Arceus talk. No one in her guild has ever mentioned the guy. If Arceus is that great and important, wouldn’t her mother have mentioned him? Maybe she did, but Sisi forgot? Adults do talk a lot about boring stuff Sisi doesn't understand…

    “Aaand we're here,” announces Mill, leading Sisi out of the woods to a wide, rocky field. In the middle of the field, a larger rock sticks out, an entrance hole growing faintly orange in its side.

    The starry sky above is revealed again as the blanket of the canopy ends. Sisi still can’t see any clouds. Well, maybe we didn’t walk for that long after all, thinks Sisi and follows Mill as he takes her to the opening of the cave.

    “This cavern is a curious place,” says Mill as he steps in. “The Glowrock Caverns, they're called - but the strangest thing isn’t the presence of those glowing shards you can see peek out from the walls here and there. It’s the fact that the internal structure of the -- hey, what’s up?”

    “Hm?” Sisi looks back at Mill, who seems puzzled as to why the cyndaquil has stopped following. “Oh, sorry,” she says and skitters to his side. “The rocks look familiar. I think my friend has her own.”

    “Ah, that’s okay,” Mill says and takes Sisi’s hand to lead her deeper. “I was worried you’d gotten scared… but there’s really no reason. I know my way around this place - well, the parts that don’t shift around - and you’re in no danger in here while you’re with me.” His smile fades. “With that said, you should definitely stick with me at all times. I can’t protect you if you go wandering off. Do you understand that?”

    Sisi nods. “Y-yeah.” Wandering off hasn’t ended well for me lately, anyway...

    Mill smiles again. “Alright. Good.”

    Not too deep in, the pair come across a junction of two tunnels. The right one has wooden support beams on its ceiling, walls and floor, and it’s where Mill takes Sisi. The orange glow brightens with the introduction of loose crystals on the frequently twisting tunnel’s floor. Finally, the tunnel opens up to a larger hall of a sort, where some wooden furniture and boxes are scattered around. The support beams here are smoother and seem more carefully placed.

    At the far left end, the floor rises with a ramp and the wall opens up to a window. From the darkness outside, a steep cliffside stares back a considerable distance away. A wooden structure reminiscent of a safety rail is laid out at the lower edge of the window. Judging by all that, it seems one should be careful not to fall.

    “Well, welcome to my home,” Mill announces. “Don’t mind all the beams around, they’re only here to keep the cave stable. The shifting is pretty easy to prevent when you get down to it.” He walks over to a table flanked by two chairs and pulls one of them back. “Please, have a seat. You’ve walked quite a while.”

    The Arceus stuff he talks about doesn’t really make sense, but man, this guy is nice, thinks Sisi as she seats herself. Just like Pletora. This place has really nice mon!

    “Would you like something to eat or drink?” asks Mill, moving to what must be the kitchen here, as he produces some berries from one of the boxes.

    “Yes, please.” I should be polite back. “What do you have?”

    “Well, I could whip up a nice berry scramble real quick. How about that?”

    “Sure!”

    Sisi wiggles her feet as she watches the timburr gather different berries to a wooden bowl and squash them to a mush with a smooth rock. Some berries she’s never seen before. She asks Mill if they really are safe to eat, but he tells her not to worry.

    “Alright, all done!” Mill brings Sisi the bowl along with a spoon, also made of wood. It seems most things there are.

    The cyndaquil’s about to dig right in, but Mill stops her.

    “Not so fast, my friend,” he says, and direct’s Sisi’s gaze to the solid wall behind her. Carvings similar to the ones on Mill’s log are etched in the stone. In the middle, one image is larger than all the others - a wheel-like symbol. “We should thank our Lord Arceus for this meal, first.”

    “O-oh, okay.” Sisi places her paws firmly on her knees. “H-how do I do that?”

    “Don’t worry, I’ve got that part down. You just have to wait patiently while I say the prayer.”

    Sisi nods, still a bit confused, and quiets down to hear Mill speak.

    “Dear Lord Arceus,” he starts, palms tightly held against one another, “we thank You for this food and all the gifts You provide us. Bless us from the day we hatch to the day we… depart. Truly.”

    He stays still for a second or two, then turns back around, warm smile on his face like before. “Alright, go ahead.”

    After Sisi has finished her berries, she thanks Mill and hops off her seat. Now that she’s standing again, she finally feels the weight of the day, and her eyelids begin to droop.

    “Sleepy, huh?” asks Mill, carrying away the used bowl and spoon. “It is very late. You should head to bed. I have a guest room right over there.” He gestures to a door - or more of a hole in the wall mostly covered by a wide, wooden board - next to the kitchen, but Sisi misses he motion.

    “Over here?” asks Sisi, lazily reaching for another door closer to the ramp.

    Mill rushes to her side. “Oh, no, no, no, not that one.” He gently, though firmly, pushes her away and points to the right door.

    Sisi waddles to the guest room door. “Smells funny in there,” she remarks of the mystery door, now clearing her nostrils with new sniffs.

    “Yes, that’s why I wouldn’t want you to go there,” explains Mill and shifts the door of the guest room aside to let Sisi and himself in. “Wouldn’t want you to sleep in a smelly room. Don’t worry about the smell, though, it’s under control.”

    The guest room is not unlike the other parts of the wood-reinforced cavern, only smaller and darker due to having no crystals of its own. The only furniture are a low wooden table and a wooden-framed hay bed. This guy really, really likes wood.

    Mill gestures Sisi to climb in, which she does. “I hope you find the bed comfortable enough,” he says, and Sisi can’t protest - the hay is pretty similar to what Pletora had in her nest, and Sisi’s exhausted body would settle for just about any surface either way.

    “Thanks for letting me stay here,” she says as she curls up in the hay, somewhat annoyed by how slurred her fatigue is making her speech. I feel like I’m gonna fall asleep the moment I close my eyes… I wanna say goodnight before that, I don’t wanna be rude...

    “It’s no problem,” Mill replies, crouched beside the bed. His mouth is smiling, but his eyes look somewhat… sad. “Goodnight, little one.”

    “Ghhnhh...” Sisi tries, but is unable to fight off her sleep any longer. She goes limp, quietly breathing through her snout. The cyndaquil has left for dreamland.

    Mill sighs, chest aching. He gently grabs the frame of the bed.

    “Lord Arceus really is great...” he mumbles. A heat rises to his eyes. “The world is in big, big danger… but He’s gonna save us all.”

    He strokes Sisi’s back with a quivering hand.

    “And you get to help.”

    ---
     
  10. AceTrainer14

    AceTrainer14 The acest of trainers

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    Neat little chapter. I am glad you split it up as I like the cliffhanger ending. I don't really feel that a Timburr is the right sort of Pokemon to go around cutting up other ones (I mean, it carries a giant log rather than a knife...) but I suppose a Scyther or something similar may have been too obvious.

    As you raised it in your author's note, the gore in this chapter was described fairly briefly so I think it still acts as teen. I was glad to see that the Seismatoad's warning has come back into play, though it would have been good if there was some more foreshadowing so it wasn't quite such a curveball. I do like the consistency of the same Oddish showing up (though that poor thing clearly did not have a nice life...)

    There isn't much to note as this is a two-parter, so can't really comment on the plot and such so far as it's only half done! My one note is that the dialogue stuck out as a bit rushed. I can provide specific examples if you like, but there were parts where the wording just seemed a little off. I think it needs a second-or-so read over just to fine tune it a little bit more. Aside from that, I am looking forward to the final chapter.
     
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  11. canisaries

    canisaries now in mint flavor

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    Thanks for the read and fast reply!


    It's like.... people aren't always what they seem..... kinda like how Pletora looks scary but is actually kind and eats little bugs...... hmmmmmmmm


    Yeah, I thought of this as well, but I decided to hold off editing the previous chapters until I got feedback on these latter chapters where Mill shows up. That way I could have a better image of how much I should drop hints without it being 100% obvious the moment Mill waltzes in that there's something very off about him. Compared to now when it's 75% obvious.

    Please do! I'm not really sure what should be worked on and how, so guidance would be appreciated.
     
  12. AceTrainer14

    AceTrainer14 The acest of trainers

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    I wasn't referring to Mill but the Timburr species itself. It just stands out as an odd choice, largely as it is a Fighting-type living in a forest, and a Fighting-type that fights with a large block of wood yet somehow dismembers other Pokemon. Perhaps, going back to my other point of the twist possibly needing more foreshadowing, if there was a cameo appearance or a mention of religious Pokemon being frequent in the area the idea might sell more convincingly.

    Re-reading the dialogue, I can't find the sentences I was thinking of XD In hindsight, the dialogue is fitting of Sisi's age and current situation. One note is that every time a character stutters it's only the first word they say. It's an old way of conveying nerves that stands out when every character who stutters does it - try spreading the stutter around and adding it to more words.
     
  13. canisaries

    canisaries now in mint flavor

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    I still don't really see the problem. Mill is a civilized mon capable of tool creation and use like every other civilized mon (with hands, RIP Pletora). I chose a Timburr because I wanted a mon that was neither overly evil/scary or overly cute/sweet. In the early drafts, he used to be an Audino, but the cute-but-evil twist has been done so many times that there was nothing really unique about it anymore. Not that Mill is evil.

    Yeah, I made it an effort to try writing Sisi as much like a young child as I could. I can get your point on the first syllable stuttering, and I'll work on that. Thanks.
     
  14. Threadmarks: Part Four
    canisaries

    canisaries now in mint flavor

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    here's the last chapter bros rating is still teen though with some of that gross imagery mentioned for the previous chapter and pg13 language. i hope you enjoy this conclusion and that you've liked this story in general. your comments have been acknowledged and much appreciated. okay let's go

    ---

    Part Four

    ---​

    “Are we even getting anywhere?” groans Catai, jogging a few body-lengths behind Pletora. She barely avoids tripping on a root slithering across the forest path.

    I see where Sisi gets it now, Pletora thinks and rolls her eyes. “We're almost there,” she shouts behind her. “The Glowrock Caverns are just ahead.”

    Catai only growls to herself, increasingly worried she may have been tricked somehow.

    Eventually, the pair reaches the rocky clearing and the entrance to the caverns. Pletora slows down.

    “Alright, we should put our guard back up now. We don't know what we're up against, so we should stay hidden.”

    “Don't ‘we’ me,” Catai snaps. “You're still a stranger, and who knows what you're planning.”

    Pletora glares at the fire type. “Look, I don't know what your problem is with me or my kind, but I'm here to help Sisi. You can either help and keep your mouth shut or leave. Which is it gonna be?”

    Catai wrinkles her snout in indignation, but marches into the cavern. Pletora follows. Their silence stays tense.

    ---

    Mill looks behind him once more. The cyndaquil is still asleep on the table near the window. Stop worrying about it, he thinks. None of the previous ones woke up in the middle of it. She's no different.

    He shakes his head and shifts aside the board covering the room next to the ramp. From an immobile figure within, a foul smell emanates. But not for long. He will breathe new life into it, stopping and reversing the decay. Not just the vessel, but this entire world! And then everything will be better.

    He steps in and grabs the supporting structures of his creation, pulling it out and along the ramp to the windowside platform. The wooden wheels of the structure squeak and rattle, but the cyndaquil stays undisturbed. See? Totally absent.

    The timburr inhales sharply - though instantly regrets it with the stench present - and opens a nearby drawer. He gathers its contents next to the snoozing cyndaquil. A part of him flinches at the juxtaposition of a small child and numerous sharp objects, but his rational side calms him down. She won't feel a thing. Just do it. Lord Arceus knows what He's doing and you know what you're doing. Just do it like you did for all the others, you know Arceus will take great care of them afterwards! So just do it - for Arceus, for the good of everyone.

    He grabs the knife.

    But he freezes.

    Steps?

    Indeed, the sound of steps echoes from somewhere within the caverns. Along with… whispers?

    Mill almost drops his tool. What? Wh-who? No one ever comes in this deep!

    The steps approach, the whispers growing in volume. A cold flame ignites within the timburr's chest.

    What do I do? Trembling, he directs his gaze to the carving on the far wall. Please, Arceus, what do I do?

    The stone has no answer. Its carvings stay as carvings.

    “Don't go silent on me now!” Mill screams. He slaps a paw on his mouth immediately after, but it's too late - the shout has got out, and its remnants still echo through the cavern.

    ---

    “What was that?” whispers Catai, taken aback by the sudden shout from ahead.

    Pletora leaps from trot to gallop. Something important, for sure.

    Catai runs after the scolipede, not as swift on her mere two feet. “Hey, hey, not so fast!” she hisses.

    The wooden structures of the tunnel they decided to follow zoom past the two mon, the light of the crystals seeming to grow brighter. At last, an opening appears at the end. Wooden furniture can be seen on the far wall. Somebody seems to live here…

    The pace of Pletora's steps slows down to a halt. I should see what the situation is before rushing in.

    Cautious but tense, she keeps her head low and peeks into the room...

    “Gahh!” A timburr yelps, only half a meter away.

    Pletora flinches in response, startled herself, but then exhales, relieved. Okay, just a timburr… explains all the wood.

    “Ah, sorry about intruding…” Pletora clears her throat. “Uh, you wouldn't know anything about a monster around here? One that steals organs?”

    “What? Oh, no, no,” laughs the timburr, arms behind his back. “No monster here, no -- or, well, none in this part of the cavern, but there is one in the other half, you're gonna want that half, not this one --”

    “Wait…” Pletora looks beyond the fight-type. There's some kind of odd, multicolor figure far behind the timburr. She raises her head to see better. “What’s that…?”

    “No, don't --”

    The timburr flails its paws. The right one holds a knife - but Pletora is too preoccupied with what she sees in the background to notice.

    On the far wall, in front of what seem to be windows, stands a wood-reinforced construct of a quadrupedal shape. Its materials vary, but one thing is shared by all - organic origins.

    The head of a braviary. Hind legs of a liepard and a zebstrika. The tail fin of a magikarp.

    A plume of oddish leaves, and a mask forged from a durant’s backplate.

    A foreleg of a scolipede.

    And many more.

    “You're…” Pletora whispers, but another detail catches her eye. Beside the grotesque creation stands a table. On it, an immobile cyndaquil.

    “What the hell are you doing?” she screams at the timburr, who's begun to slowly back away, panic in his eyes.

    Thumps come from the tunnel behind Pletora. “What's going on?” asks Catai, huffing.

    “I-I found the monster!” Pletora says, hopping aside to let the typhlosion into the room. “And he's got Sisi!”

    “What?” Catai looks around and finds her daughter. “Sisi!” she screams, rushing for the far wall, but stopping as the timburr reaches the table first. The trembling fight-type shows his knife and slides behind the cyndaquil.

    “Don't come any c-closer!” Mill crows.

    “Get away from her!” Catai roars, but her feet stay glued to the ground.

    “You -- you don't understand!” the timburr cries. “I have to do this! Otherwise we're all doomed!”

    Pletora takes a step forward, but freezes when the blade in Mill's paw is lowered. “What are you talking about?” she still dares to shout. “How is killing mon and stealing their parts going to save anyone?”

    “Listen, I-I know it sounds weird, but parts from mon of all types are needed to create a body for -- for Arceus, Lord Arceus, so He can descend into our realm and save us from the calamity that threatens our world!”

    “Body? What, you mean that hodgepodge of rot over there? That's not how bodies work!”

    Mill defensively extends his hand to his creation. “Well, n-not for mortals, and I know it doesn't l-look like much right now, but Arceus will fix its faults. He will make it… full! Like its name says… Type-Full.”

    “Where are you getting all th-” Pletora tries, but is gestured by Catai to stop. It seems like she has something to say.

    “Timburr,” she begins, “You need a part from a fire type, right?”

    “Y-yes,” Mill responds. “And it's Mill. My name is Mill.”

    “Alright, Mill,” Catai continues. “Please take it from me instead. Not my daughter.”

    “What?” Pletora whispers, but Catai doesn't waver.

    “She's your daughter?” asks Mill quietly. “I-I don't think it’d be right to make a child live without her mother.”

    “It's no better to make me live without my daughter! Look, I’m volunteering. I agree to die. She didn't. Take me instead!”

    Mill hesitates.

    “Alright,” he finally says. Catai sighs in relief, but Pletora's breathing stays tense. “But I-I won't do it to you while you're awake,” continues Mill. “I’m not a monster, you know? S-so you need to get some berries from that drawer over there and eat them. They're yellow with blue speckles. They'll put you under, like the little one is right now. You won't feel a thing.”

    Catai approaches the set of cupboards, drawers and boxes Mill had flailed his paw at while speaking, but Pletora cuts her off.

    “What are you doing?” Pletora hisses. “We don't even know if Sisi's really alive! He could just be lying to get even more of us for his… whatever the hell that is!” She tilts her horns to the so-called Type-Full.

    “She's breathing, I can see it,” whispers Catai back. “And… I’m hoping to not actually go through with this, if possible. Keep an eye out for any moment you could take the guy out or get Sisi safely. I'll try to buy you time. Okay?”

    “...Ngh, alright. I hope you know what you're doing.”

    “H-hey, now, what are you ladies whispering about over there?” interrupts the timburr near the window.

    “Just… goodbyes,” replies Catai, reaching the kitchen. “Where were the berries?”

    While the timburr instructs the typhlosion further, Pletora thinks about what Catai said. It's up to me to save Sisi… but how in the hell am I gonna pull that off? Sisi and the timburr are all the way over there, and I can't shoot any needles or spit any venom unlike some other mon may be able to…

    She shifts her feet closer to the ramp little by little while the timburr is distracted, but makes barely any progress. This is way too slow. Should I just dash in? He's right by Sisi’s side, though… and if he managed to kill all those mon, he can't be weak. I'd need to take him out with one shot.

    Pletora glances at Catai. She's already holding the berries in her paws. Damn it, I need to hurry!

    “So do I peel them before I eat them, or…” Catai asks Mill, who’s tapping his foot impatiently.

    “It doesn't matter. Well, the peels are a bit bitter, but it doesn't change anything about their effect…”

    Pletora studies the black space behind the quivering, thick-veined mon. A window in a cave… in the Glowrock Caverns… that has to open up to Crawlers’ Pit, right? There's a draft coming in, so it couldn't just be more cave. If I knocked him in there…

    A thud interrupts her thoughts. She looks over to Catai, who stands next to a table and a fallen-over chair.

    “Ohh, sorry, sorry! I'm so clumsy today,” the typhlosion says. Right after, her eyes lock on to Pletora's. Her left eye blocked from Mill's view by her snout, she gives a stealthy wink.

    Pletora's antennae perk up. She's gonna do something? She's gonna do something! The scolipede prepares her legs to launch into a dash at any given moment.

    “Um, let me just…” Catai reaches for the chair, her other arm clutching the berries.

    “No, no, just leave it,” Mill groans. “I'll set it back up later. Just focus on eating the berries now. Please.”

    Catai backs away from the chair. “Alright…” She picks up one of the berries with her good paw. “How long does it take for these to kick in?”

    “Hm, a few minutes, maybe? Not that long. Rule of thumb is that when it makes you fall asleep, you stay asleep. When that is depends on how tired you are to begin with…” Mill shakes his head. “Ugh, enough talk, just eat them! The sooner we can get this over with, the better.”

    “Ah, gotcha then.”

    Pletora notices a quick glance her way from Catai. Is she gonna do it now?

    Catai raises the berry to her maw, chomping off a bite and chewing. Mill's shoulders relax.

    Pletora frowns. I guess she isn-

    A white-hot flame erupts from the typhlosion's snout, cloaking the berry in her paw. Her arm flings the burning lump across the room in a great, blazing arc, right onto the Type-Full.

    “No!” screeches Mill, dropping his knife and dashing at his creation.

    Pletora sees her moment and leaps into a run, zooming up the ramp. Mill, too preoccupied with trying to pat down the flames spreading in the wooden support structure, fails to notice the scolipede charging at him - until it’s too late.

    The striped horns slam into the timburr with full force, knocking the wind out of his lungs and launching him toward the window. He touches ground only centimeters before the drop, but helplessly rolls the final stride with his momentum alone. Filled with terror, Mill flails his paws for anything to grip onto, but nothing is found.

    The last Pletora - or anyone - hears of Mill is the desperate screech of a mon plummeting to oblivion.

    “Whew!” exhales Catai, leaning onto her knees. “Gods, I am so glad that worked.”

    She runs up to the platform, while Pletora still wobbles about, taking her time to recover from the impact to her head. The typhlosion dashes to the table holding the little cyndaquil. A gentle touch confirms that she is indeed only asleep. Catai sighs again.

    “Let’s get out of here,” she says to Pletora, who appears to have regained her senses. “That fire’s probably gonna spread to all the beams around here.”

    “Yeah, let’s.” Pletora jumps off the platform. She eyes the carvings on the opposite wall, then gives the burning Type-Full one last look. Something green and gooey drips from the parts’ seams, only to turn black and solid moments from its emergence. I guess that’s solosis slime...

    As the stink of the char replaces the stench of the rot and the silence is filled with crackling, Catai picks up Sisi, and the group make their way back through the tunnel. The air clears and quiets.

    At the mouth of the cave, Pletora can see the night is still dark and starry. No longer in a hurry to leave, the mon decide to take a break and and clear their heads.

    Pletora lies down on her belly. Catai sits down, vigilantly watching the still-asleep Sisi in her arms. The typhlosion raises a paw and strokes her daughter’s head.

    “Is she all fine?” asks Pletora.

    Catai leans onto Sisi, hugging her tight. “Seems like it.”

    “Alright, good.” The scolipede lowers her head onto the ground. It’s cold, but the rest is needed.

    For a while, it’s quiet. Then Catai’s heart skips a beat.

    “You think he could’ve survived?” she quickly asks.

    “Nah, no way...” Pletora raises her head slightly. “It’s a long way down to Crawlers’ Pit. And even if the fall didn’t do you in, the creatures lurking at the bottom sure would.”

    “That’s good, that’s good… I wouldn’t feel safe knowing there’s nutcases like him about.”

    Pletora gazes at the sky above, tracing their patterns with her eyes.

    “I wonder what made him like that,” she mumbles after a while.

    Catai snorts. “Crazy, that’s obvious.”

    “Hmmh… I guess.”

    The typhlosion stretches her legs forward. “Well, we should probably get moving. The others are probably still searching for… anything suspicious related to you, I suppose.”

    “Uh-huh...”

    “Hey...”

    Catai’s voice is quiet. Pletora looks at her, seeing her stare right back, but glancing elsewhere soon.

    “I’ll take care of it, you know,” Catai says. “Telling them you’re okay.”

    “...Will they believe you?”

    “Well… hmph. They better.”

    If Pletora had lips, she would smile.

    She gets up onto her feet. “Alright. Let’s go.”

    ---

    Tiny black legs skitter across a patch of sun-warmed sand, shifting the grains ever so slightly with every step. The barb-tipped tail is held high with pride. The scorpion knows that if anything were to attack it, the fool would receive a nasty sting and leave it and all others like it alone.

    Unless she’s faster!

    Pletora opens her mandibles wide and straightens her neck in an instant. The jaws crash down onto the cocky little invertebrate, snap shut and crumple up the black critter.

    Pletora retracts her neck, chewing up her catch. She frowns as a bitter taste fills her mouth.

    Bleh. Think I like the sandy-brown ones better...

    “Hey!”

    Pletora turns her head towards Catai’s voice. The typhlosion has appeared at the edge of the guild and is waving to the scolipede.

    “She’s awake! Come on!”

    Right away, Pletora trots to Catai, and the pair enter the guild. As they make their way through the cobblestone streets, fire type mon of different shapes and sizes pass them by. They give the tall bug strange glances, but don’t react any more dramatically. They must trust Catai’s judgment that much. At least I’m not being chased out.

    Not long after, Pletora and Catai arrive at a mudbrick house with a door crudely marked by a yellow splotch with a broad black stripe. Catai opens the door and leads Pletora through the house to a small room. On a bed with a mareep-wool mattress, a familiar cyndaquil awaits, wiggling her stubby legs.

    “Pletora!” shouts Sisi, throwing her arms in the air with glee. She's about to jump off to give her friend a hug, but Pletora’s faster to act and already nudges the little mon gently with her neck. Sisi settles on hugging that.

    “Hi, kid,” Pletora says, feeling awkward at her choice of words right after. That's kinda crude… “Good to, uh, see you too.” Damn, I'm not used to being so sincere…

    “So, honey,” starts Catai and sits next to her daughter. In her voice is a hint of disapproval, something Sisi shrinks at. “Why did you wander off in the night like that? You promised you wouldn’t do that anymore.”

    “I didn’t!” Sisi rushes to say, but corrects herself. “Well, I did, but I never wanted to leave the Guild! I was turning back, when this big mean mandibuzz grabbed me and carried me to its nest really far from here!”

    Catai gives Sisi a stern look. “Sisi, it’s rude to lie. Especially to your own mother.”

    “But I’m telling the truth! Mommy, I wouldn’t break a promise like that! And there’s scorpions out there!”

    Catai, unsure, looks at Pletora. ...What are you looking at me for? It’s your kid.

    “...Well, she did warn me about the scorpions when I brought her here,” Pletora says to break the silence.

    “And I would have come right back home if I could,” Sisi continues, “but I couldn’t blow fire at the birds, and then someone showed up - that was Mill! He bashed the birds away...” Sisi mimics Mill’s movements with his log. ”...and took me back to his cave for the night. He gave me some food, and then I fell asleep. And then I woke up here.” She blinks. “So what happened there? You said Mill wasn’t here, but then where is he?”

    Pletora and Catai exchange an awkward glance.

    Catai clears her throat. “Well, uhh… honey, we came searching for you and found you with Mill, and turns out he was… actually a thief! He was going to make us pay him to let you go, but we... taught him a lesson and got you back safely. He got away, but after what we did to him, I don’t think he’ll be coming back. Still, if he does, come right back to Mommy and don’t talk to him, okay?”

    “What, really? But he was so nice…”

    “People aren’t always what they seem, honey. Now, promise me that if you see him around, you’ll run right back home and tell me.”

    “But he was just like Pletora, and Pletora was nice...”

    “Well...” Catai ponders for a moment, then smiles. “I didn’t think Pletora was nice at first, did I? But I found out that wasn’t true. She wasn’t what she seemed.”

    Sisi looks at Pletora, who nods.

    “Yeah, kid, you should listen to your mom,” the scolipede says. “I mean… I also said your mom was a bad mom when you were lost, but --”

    “I’m sorry, what?” Catai interrupts.

    “But then I saw how much she cared about you,” continues Pletora loudly. “See? Not what she seemed.”

    “Hm…” Sisi pauses, staring at her feet. “How can I really know who’s what, then?” she mumbles.

    “Oh, honey...” Catai hugs her child tight. “You’ll learn to tell when you’re older. In the meantime, let your Mommy and her friends figure it out.”

    “Okay...”

    Catai pats Sisi’s back. “Let's not worry about that right now. The important thing is that you're back and safe. Say, why don't we get something nice to eat to celebrate?”

    Sisi's eyes brighten - or whatever's visible of them does. “Can Pletora come too?”

    Pletora's belly writhes at the mention of food. She turns to Catai with an anticipating stare.

    “Of course,” the typhlosion responds. “But what do you eat?”

    “She's allergic to apples,” Sisi remarks.

    “Yeah, I've been meaning to ask,” Pletora says, “what's ‘lergic’ mean?”

    Catai snorts. “Allergic. Just means you can't eat em.”

    “Ah. Well, it's true - but other fruit or berries should be fine. I rarely find ‘em, but when I do, they're really no different from juicy larvae.”

    “Alright, then it's settled,” says Catai and stands up. “We'll go to Heatmor Harald's Bakery and get some treats!”

    “Yay!” Sisi bounces off her bed and skitters out the room, followed by Catai telling her to slow down.

    Pletora exits the room too, but then pauses in thought.

    Heatmor…? Isn't that what the durant…

    “Pletora, you coming?”

    Catai stands in the front door's frame, a bag slung over her shoulder and Sisi at her feet.

    Pletora snaps out of her thoughts. “Oh, yeah!”

    The three mon leave the mudbrick house and set course for the bakery further along the cobblestone road. A few feral fletchling join their trip, hopeful to catch some crumbs to come with the new customers.

    A warm, gentle wind blows, and in the clear sky above, the sun continues to rise.

    ---

    END

    ---​
     
  15. namohysip

    namohysip Member

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    (Copied from elsewhere)

    Well! And so comes an end to this little story. I think the ending happened at an oddly anticlimacic way, but at the same time, I wasn't really sure how it would turn out. To be honest, considering your usual genre style, I'm surprised it turned out this way to begin with!

    Not to say I'm disappointed, though. I'm actually pleased! This chapter was a bit odd regardless, though. I feel like the intensity and perilousness didn't come across that strongly. I think adding a bit more tension could help there during the encounter with Mill. It seems like they immediately know what they have to do, even if it's not explained to the reader, when I think it would'be helped to emphasize the fact that they had an urgency to do something yet no way to actually do it. Pent up action, in a way, without a means to fix it.

    Still, that aside, I thought it was also interesting how you somewhat alluded to a bigger picture--a sort of Arceus replica cult--without really going right into it. The fact that they were dismissing Mill as being a lunatic only makes me think that perhaps there's more to it, particularly because he's not just some dastardly evil Pokemon in terms of his actions. But, sure, he can also just be crazy. Not really sure.

    Anyway, those were my overall thoughts. You wrapped up the main plot points nicely and introduced some minor "bigger picture" hints as well... but perhaps could work on tension management. Onto quotes!

    And this is actually what makes me think there's more to it. This implies he's either so cracked that he hears voices (which considering how oddly stable he is, I'm less inclined to believe), or something actually is talking to him, or was, prior.

    Oh, interesting. Another fic with their unique PMD-style take on the Arceus wannabe. Huhuhu...

    I mean just end him with a Psybeam. That should be enough... Oh wait, nobody here has that. What a shame.

    ...I mean, all things considered, that's a pretty good way of telling Sisi what's up. She's just a kid.

    Not a bad way to end things off, actually! Camera pan to the scenery to signify an optimistic ending tone. Overall, nice! Good finish.
     
    canisaries likes this.
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