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Stories Write a story to catch Pokemon. A Grader will then decide if it catches or not.


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Old 06-01-2009, 07:21 PM
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Default Ghost Road Blues [Story Deal]

Ghost Road Blues

Bleah, why are so many of my stories Horror or Angst? Anyways, this is also a Story Deal, with Riolu and (maybe) Scyther going to other peoplez. The title is snagged from a horror book which I have yet to read (I’ve read the last book of the series though >>), because it fits perfectly with the plot bunny for this story (no, this story isn’t based on that book). I was aiming for something between funny and scary, but it didn't quite turn out that way. Wow, I jumped around a lot, didn’t I? XD Ah well, on to the story!

One note: the narrator’s dialect is sort of a mix between Southern and African-American. Yes, the switches of various words (he goes between “was” and “were” for both singular and plural, for example) are on purpose, so please don’t knock me for that in the Grade ^^’.

***

~ “Oh, my soul’s achin’ fer freedom
My heart’s yearnin’ fer kindness
Yes my soul’s achin’ fer freedom
But I can’t break these chains”
-Jerma, “Deep Forest Ballad”


Man, it sucks bein’ a ghost. People can’t see ya unless they dyin’ ‘n’ can’t hear ya, neither. Well, that is unless ya wanna waste a lot o’ the limited amount o’ energy ya get when ya a’come a ghost. Ya just kinda wander ‘round, tryin’ to figure out what yer purpose is. Oh yeah, ya don’t just up ‘n’ a’come a ghost fer no reason! But the thing is ya usually don’t know why it is yer hangin’ ‘round the world o’ the livin’. Iffin ya were murdered, release sometimes don’t come ‘til after the ones what killed ya are dead ‘emselves. Iffin ya left a’hind a loved one, ya sometimes can’t “cross over” ‘til ya see ‘em happy ‘n’ safe. But there are lots o’ other reasons why ghosts are, fer lack o’ a better term, “born”. Some are real doozies, some are so damn subtle ya wouldn’t know it iffin they came right up to ya ’n’ named ‘emselves straight into yer face.

Yup, this bein’ a ghost crap sucks. But there’s one thing that can make it less o’ a pain in the metaphysical neck, ‘n’ that’s findin’ other ghosts to hang ‘round with. It don’t happen too often, ‘cause most ghosts are too busy tryin’ to figure out they “purpose” to go out makin’ friends. Hell, sometimes a ghost ain’t got enough energy to make ‘emselves visible to other ghosts! Yup, the longer a ghost is stuck here in the world o’ the still-kickin’, the more energy they loose, ‘til finally it’s all gone ‘n’ they just kinda fade ‘way into purgatory or somethin’. I ain’t got no ideas ‘bout what really happens, ‘n’ I ain’t got no intentions o’ findin’ out, neither. I’ve done realized ‘n’ fulfilled my purpose, so once I’m done here it’s on to the other side fer me!

Now listen well, ‘cause I don’t wanna waste time repeatin’ myself, ‘n’ I don’t know how long yer gonna last. Trust me, I know it seems sudden, ‘n’ maybe just a li’l rude o’ me to come intrduin’ on ya during yer final moments or whatever ya wanna call ‘em. But trust me. It’ll do ya some good to hear what I got to say. I can see that yer scared, ‘n’ I know it’s not me a-spookin’ ya. It’s the uncertainty o’ whatever waits once this is all over. But I can also tell somethin’ else: I can tell yer gonna have a purpose, just like I did. I can’t say what, but I got me a feelin’ it’ll be somethin’ big ‘n’ important.

‘N’ just in case yer wonderin’, no, I can’t wait to tell ya all this once ya’ve breathed yer last. Ghosts ain’t the most coherent creatures when they first come into the world all newborn ’n’ such. First thing yer most likely to do is go tearing off outta shock. Just ‘cause ya know it’s comin’ don’t mean yer gonna be ready when it actually happens, 'n' I don’t wanna risk losin’ ya, ‘cause I know I won’t have the time to track ya down ‘gain. I only got this one chance. Then I gotta go, ‘n’ that’ll be that.

So listen while I tell ya how I came to be like this, ‘n’ how ya came to be like this, too. Listen while I give ya some insight on what it means to be a ghost, even iffin all my combined knowledge on the subject would only fill a couple o’ pages. It’s more than I had when I a’came a ghost. Listen, ‘cause one day ya might be helpin’ another like I’m helpin’ ya now


***

~”I ain’t got no love
No I ain’t got no love
Said I ain’t got no love
‘Cause this ol’ heart is dead”
-Jerma, “Deep Forest Ballad”



My name is Jerma, ‘n’ I’m a Riolu. Not just any Riolu, neither; I’m different. Special, my Momma called me. Other members o’ the Forest Tribe got other names that ain’t nearly as nice-soundin’, but I ignore ‘em all. ‘Cept fer one, ‘cause it hurts to hear it. Pa, who led our Tribe, called me Blight. That’s ‘cause o’ the Jackal Priest, our Tribe’s medicine-Mon. He’s an old Lucario whose fur done gone white as fresh snow.

The Jackal Priest, as I’m told, had ‘imself a bad case o’ Sight on the evenin’ I was born. The vision he saw when gripped by Sight said a darkness was gonna hit the Tribe from within. When he came outta ‘is drug-induced state (huh, they make it sound so fancy, referrin’ to gettin’ hopped up like that as Sight), he set up frenzied howlin’ ‘n’ ran all over the place. He kept screechin’ ‘bout a darkness from within ‘n’ stuff.

As the story goes, he came runnin’ into the thick, leafy den where Momma was gonna whelp me ‘n’ my siblings. He was all freaked out ‘n’ such, rantin’ that the whole Tribe had to be checked spiritually to make sure that they didn’t have no darkness in ‘em. Momma’s sisters ‘n’ grandmamma got all mad ‘n’ tried to kick ‘im out, but right at that moment Momma yowled ‘n’ started heaving. Then I was born ‘n’ apparently things went right straight to hell after that.

I was born completely black, ‘stead o’ blue like normal Riolu. My eyes was black, my tongue was black, ‘n’ even the li’l nubs o’ bone we Riolu got on the backs o’ our paws was black. I was huge, too, ‘n’ it pains me to say that I done near killed my poor Momma when she was whelpin’ me. ‘Stead o’ being a li’l bundle o’ soppy blue fur, I looked more like a cannonball with wet hair slathered on it. Maybe all this wouldn’t have mattered so much iffin I hadn’t been the first-born. But I was, ‘n’ that just made things all the worse.

I’m told that the Jackal Priest nearly had ‘imself a nice heart attack right then ‘n’ there. Then he started yappin’ ‘n’ yelpin’ ‘bout all the darkness from within bull ‘gain. He tried to have me thrown, helpless ‘n’ soaked, into the night. Momma wouldn’t let ‘im, though, ‘n’ ‘er sisters ‘n’ grandmamma wouldn’t, neither. All the other members o’ the Tribe wanted to see me gone, ‘cause the Jackal Priest’s Sight visions ain’t never supposed to be ignored. It’s said to bring bad luck on the Tribe.

Anyways, everyone was crowded around the den by now, ‘n’ like I said, they was eager to get rid o’ me. But then Pa finally came over ‘n’ started snarlin’ ‘n’ barkin’ at everyone, sayin’ ‘is first-born son ain’t goin’ nowhere. Then he looked right at the Jackal Priest ‘n’ demanded he give Pa proof that I was this darkness, ‘n’ the Priest really couldn’t do much. All he could say was that I was black ‘n’ I’d been whelped by a member o’ the Tribe. That wasn’t enough proof fer good ol’ Pa, bless ‘is heart.

Unfortunately, the bad stuff started happenin’ not too long after I was cleaned ‘n’ nursin’. Momma’s next-born, a li’l female, was born dead. My third siblin’ died a few minutes after Momma cleaned ‘im. My final siblin’ was born deformed, ‘is paws all twisted ‘n’ is head lookin’ like a half-squished melon. He lived, but it didn’t seem at all like a blessin’.

When this news spread through the Tribe ‘n’ reached the Jackal Priest, he started sayin’ that I was a curse, a plague o’ misfortune. He said I was a blight on the Tribe. By now even Momma’s sisters was anxious about getting’ rid o’ me, but Momma, ‘er grandmamma, ‘n’ Pa weren’t havin’ none o’ it. I was safe, so long as Pa ‘n’ Momma didn’t change they minds ‘n’ agree that it would be best to boot me out.

It seemed there was always some new disaster strikin’ the Tribe as I got older. Bad storms killed off the small crops o’ vegetables that was grown by the older females. A sickness struck large numbers o’ the animals the Tribe ate. This led to a famine, which was made worse by a local drought when the nearby stream suddenly went dry. Scouts would go out to patrol our territory, never to return. Bites from poisonous spiders ‘n’ snakes, which was always a danger in the deep forest to begin with, a’came so common that at least one Tribemember were dyin’ every few days. Forest predators a’came bolder ‘n’ made strikes ‘gainst even healthy Tribemembers, ‘n’ more often than not the predators won.

As the days turned to weeks ‘n’ then to months, every last member o’ the Tribe feared ‘n’ hated me. Even Pa, while he still refused to let me be banished, had stopped callin’ me Jerma or Son. He started callin’ me Blight, even though it made Momma angry ‘n’ sad. She was the only one who ever cared ‘bout me as I grew older. Pa, while not mean or cruel, also didn’t treat me civil. He referred to me as a thing ‘n’ talked ‘bout me even when I was right there. He didn’t try to stop the others from pickin’ on me, he never comforted me when I got scared or sad or hurt or sick. He never spent no time with me, never really treated me like ‘is son. On the other hand, my deformed li’l brother was treated with a ridiculous ‘mount o’ reverence. Don’t get me wrong; I loved ‘im greatly. He was mentally unstable ‘cause o’ how ‘is head was all lumpy ‘n’ squished, ‘n’ he couldn’t walk ‘cause o’ how twisted ‘is paws was (whenever he tried he ended up totterin’ ‘round on ‘is ankles fer a few seconds a’fore fallin’ over), but I still loved ‘im. He was as gentle a creature as I ever seen, real quiet too. But the biggest thing wrong with ‘im was he never matured, not mentally ‘n’ emotionally. He was like a li’l pup when he got upset. He cried ‘n’ threw tantrums ‘n’ wanted to be held.

Still, I had a feelin’ that the Tribe doted on ‘im so much ‘cause they was tryin’ to spite me. They couldn’t banish me, but I could leave on my own iffin I wanted. I guessed they was tryin’ to make me feel so unloved that I just couldn’t take it no more ‘n’ ran ‘way. But I didn’t give ‘em the satisfaction, ‘n’ even though the Tribe suffered day after day, I refused to leave. They made me so miserable I decided I’d do ‘em the same way. I was Blight, the plague o’ misfortune, ‘n’ the longer I hung around ‘n’ bad things happened, the more the Tribe grew to despise me. In turn, they treated me worse, which only strengthened my resolve to stay ‘n’ cause ‘em more grief.

Don’t give me nothin’ ‘bout bein’ strong ‘n’ leavin’ ‘cause I was a curse to the Tribe, neither. I was young ‘n’ didn’t understand why I was bein’ treated so meanly, why my own Pa refused to acknowledge me or anythin’. I just wanted the Tribe to treat me nice, like I was somethin’ other than a threat ‘n’ nuisance. I never got treated with nothin’ close to respect by anyone but my Momma, though, ‘n’ eventually things in the Tribe got so bad that I did decide to leave. But only fer her; I didn’t want nothin’ bad to happen to Momma, or to my li’l brother Korma. So one evenin’ after everyone had gone to sleep, I stole off into the night.

I was two years old when I left, but I was far from ready to be on my own. I’d never been taught how to hunt or forage. I’d never been shown how to defend myself ‘gainst the various threats o’ the forest. Everythin’ I’d learned I’d learned from listenin’ ‘n’ watchin’ the lessons o’ others. This knowledge weren’t very adequate as a result, ‘n’ a day later I was hungry ‘n’ tired ‘n’ had no idea of what to do next.

***

~”Life ain’t no good here
Where only the silence is friendly”
-Jerma, “Life Ain’t No Good”


Yeah, I had me a real crappy childhood. One o’ the ways I coped was by singin’ ol’ sad ballads. Another o’ the ways was through Momma. She was the only decent Lucario I ever knew. Not many Lucario outside o’ the Tribe live in the deep o’ the green forest, ‘mong the huge trees ‘n’ chokin’ vines as big as Arbok. I didn’t know nothin’ other than thick carpets o’ leaf litter 'n' husks o’ fruit, didn’t know nothin’ other than the heavy smell of loam 'n' huge golden flowers that stank like rotten meat; or the cacophony o’ sounds that went on day ‘n’ night. So by the time I managed to find my way outta’ the forest, that place where sunlight ever only comes through the sky-high canopy in brief, muted streams o’ gold, I was surprised by the sudden change in scenery.

It were a new start to a new life, I’ll tell ya, a life that was harder in some ways, but better in all.


***

~”One day I’m gonna break free
Oh one day I’m gonna break free
I’ll break free from the chains o’ this place
‘N’ start my life ‘gain”
-Jerma, “Deep Forest Ballad”



When I came outta the forest, the first thing I saw was the sky. It were the first time I saw it; since the canopy o’ the forest is so thick; the most o’ the sky I’d ever seen was a quick glimpse here ‘n’ there when the leaves parted just so. I was so stunned by the sight that I actually froze in place, my jaws gapin’ open in awed shock. The two nine-inch long black Aura-detectin’ sacs hangin’ from the sides o’ my face trembled from the dose o’ emotion I was feelin’.

The sky was…magnificent. No, it was even stronger than that. It was glorious, breathtakin’ly ‘n’ painstakin’ly splendid. It was dark blue fer the most part, with twinklin’ stars scattered like shiny white tears all over the place. But the sky was gettin’ brighter; sunrise! Mind ya, I’d never seen one a’fore: When ya live in the deep forest, ya don’t never see things like sunrises ‘n’ sunsets. Anyways, there was a brilliant orange flamin’ on the horizon, ‘n’ that morphed into a stunnin’ pink higher up. The pink eventually darkened to a deep, rich purple, which in turn transformed into the midnight-blue o’ the dyin’ night.
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Last edited by Dog of Hellsing; 06-03-2009 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:23 PM
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Default Re: Ghost Road Blues

I blinked in stupefied silence, my gaze finally registerin’ the rest o’ the scene stretched a’fore me. The forest my Tribe lived in grew about halfway up a large mountain, givin’ one hell o’ a view. Hundreds o’ feet below me was a wide, long valley. It stretched off into the distance like some massive Seviper, twistin’ ‘n’ bendin’ this way ‘n’ that. It looked like there was lots o’ trees down in that valley, but I couldn’t make out much from where I was. On either side o’ the valley was giant hills, covered with grass that were the sharpest green I’d ever seen. Around the base o’ the mountain was a rough area o’ brown earth, where gray rocks jutted into the air ‘n’ the ground was bare o’ any kind ‘o plant life.

I stood there ‘n’ watched the sunrise, feelin’ free fer the first time in my life. There weren’t no one ‘round to trouble me or cause me sorrow. I realized this must be what it was like to be happy ‘n’ decided I liked the feelin’. As the sun started its climb into the heavens, I breathed in the crisp, warm mornin’ air. It smelled sharp ‘n’ alive, nothin’ at all like the damp, multi-layered air o’ the forest. In the forest ya was constantly assaulted by the reek o’ decayin’ leaves ‘n’ fruits, ‘n’ the air in the forest was always humid as hell. Sometimes it got so bad it that when ya breathed it felt like ya was drownin’. Then there was the musty smell o’ the creeper vines that hung in droves from every tree. Damn, those things was hell on the nose!

This air, though, was sweet ‘n’ clean ‘n’ fresh. There weren’t no thick humidity or rottin’ fruits or musty ol’ vines. I let out the breath after a few seconds, feelin’ mighty good ‘n’ anxious to get a move on. I wanted to get my new life off to a good start, ‘n’ that wouldn’t happen iffin I just stood ‘round all day sniffin’ the air ‘n’ watchin’ the sky change colors.

The sounds o’ the forest was muffled a’hind me -save fer the screamin’ o’ the monkeys that lived in the canopy- as I started to carefully walk forward, mindful o’ the loose chips o’ shiftin’ stone a‘neath my paws. I scanned the cool stone o’ the mountain fer a path leadin’ down, but there didn’t seem to be one. I decided to follow the edge o’ the forest fer a while: I’d head east fer a bit ‘n’ iffin I didn’t find a way down that way, I’d come back ‘n’ go west fer a time. I was certain there had to be a path somewhere, though I never thought that it might be on the other side o’ the mountain or anythin’ like that.

I was turnin’ to head off when I heard the sound o’ leaf litter creakin’ under the weight o’ some creature or another. Then I heard the growlin’ a second later, ‘n’ it wasn’t no Lucario or Riolu growl, neither. I started to whip ‘round, fear suddenly blazin’ in my heart, when the growl turned to a scream ‘n’ somethin’ heavy slammed down on my back ‘n’ knocked me on my stomach. I yowled somethin’ fierce when sharp claws raked my sides ‘n’ sharp teeth bit at my shoulder, thrashin’ like I was insane as I tried to get free. Like I done said, though, I never got taught how to fight or defend myself ‘gainst forest predators. I didn’t have no idea what to do, ‘n’ at any rate, fear was makin’ me go stupid.

I howled over ‘n’ over as my attacker bit ‘n’ clawed me. My steel hide, which wouldn’t harden all the way ‘til I evolved, was still tough enough to protect me from the worst o’ my foe’s bites ‘n’ scratches. All the same, I was gettin’ torn up more ‘n’ more with every passin’ second. Blood matted my black fur into clumps that stuck up from my body, ‘n’ I hurt from where I’d been injured.

I struggled as much as I could with the pressin’ weight o’ my attacker crushin’ me into the ground, ‘n’ it wasn’t long a’fore I started gettin’ weak. Imagine how horrible I felt at that moment! A brand new life had been mine fer the takin’, ‘n’ now I was gonna get turned into breakfast. But that thought filled me with anger, ‘n’ just like that my despair ‘n’ fear was gone. Damned iffin I were gonna fill the belly o’ some stupid beast! Somethin’ in me sorta snapped ‘n’ lookin’ back on it, I suppose my innate instinct fer battlin’ kicked in. I’ve learned since then that all Pokemon have an instinct fer battlin’, ‘n’ a damn good thing, too! Iffin we didn’t, I probably woulda died that mornin’.

A surge o’ strength rushed through me as I let out a furious bark, buckin’ so strongly that my attacker was thrown clear offa me. I quickly scuttled forward on all fours, not payin’ no mind to my wounds as I stood up on my hindpaws ‘n’ whirled to see what had tried to eat me. What I saw made some o’ my earlier fear return, ‘cause my enemy turned out to be a jaguar! The giant cat was ‘bout my height ‘n’ had yellow-gold fur with dozens o’ black circles covering its bulky, muscular body. It hit the ground on its side ‘n’ let out a vicious scream a’fore scramblin’ back to its paws. It pressed its ears ‘gainst its box-like skull ‘n’ narrowed its burnin’ orange eyes, hissin’ loudly as its long tail lashed the air. There was red stains ‘round its thick, blunt muzzle; my blood. There was also some stains on its giant curvin’ claws, which looked like white scythes in the mornin’ light.

Fear flooded me more as the cat stared at me ‘n’ I stared back, but my fightin’ instinct wasn’t ‘bout to fizzle out on me. Adrenaline was ragin’ through my li’l two-foot tall frame, ‘n’ without stoppin’ to think ‘bout it first, I lunged at the jaguar. The forest cat seemed surprised that I was fightin’ ‘stead o’ runnin’, so it didn’t have no time to do nothin’ as I spun tightly ‘n’ whipped my left leg ‘round. Some part o’ me knew what I was doin’, ‘n’ I could almost hear somethin’ in me whisper, ‘Blaze Kick.’ My footpaw was tearin’ through the air so fast that the oxygen ended up catchin’ fire. The bright red flames surrounded my footpaw but didn’t burn me; a heartbeat later, my paw smashed into the confused jaguar’s chest ‘n’ sent it hurtlin’ through the sharp mornin’ air.

When the cat landed a moment later, it hit the ground with a thud ‘n’ a yowl. It quickly scrabbled to its paws ‘n’ tore off into the forest, which now rose a’fore me like an imposin’ green ‘n’ brown wall. Even at the edge, the trees was thick ‘n’ grew ridiculously close together. Heavy, green-brown choker vines hung from the trees’ branches, ‘n’ small black clouds o’ bitin’ flies buzzed around a clump o’ ‘em nasty-smellin’ but very pretty flowers. I craned my head back, takin’ in the sight o’ the forest from outside o’ it fer the first time in my life. The trees soared up ‘n’ up fer a couple hunnert feet, they thousands o’ shiny emerald leaves swayin’ ‘n’ rustlin’ every time the wind kicked up. The black-brown trunks was so thick that the entire Tribe standin’ paw-to-paw couldn’t circle ‘round any o’ ‘em. I saw the dark forms o’ undergrowth ‘n’ bushes in the dark shadows just beyond the boundary o’ trees.

After a moment I whirled ‘round ‘n’ darted forward, anxious to move. Not ‘cause I was worried ‘bout ‘nother jaguar or anythin’ like that. I just felt jumpy ‘n’ twitchy. All that nervous energy turned out to be a good thing, ‘cause I set myself firmly to the task o’ searchin’ fer a path down the mountain. The path I eventually found was a steep one, ‘n’ only my adrenaline high gave me the courage ‘n’ strength to go careenin’ down the mountainside.

After about ten minutes o’ racin’, my energy started to flag. Thankfully, the path had leveled out quite a bit by now, so I could easily walk. I slowed down, huffin’ as I trotted ‘long. My wounds had gone from sharp Beedrill stings o’ pain to dull aches, ‘cept fer the bite on my shoulder. That still hurt somethin’ fierce, ‘n’ I knew I’d have to get it looked at. The problem, o’ course, was findin’ someone who could do anythin’ to help.

My trot slowed to a walk, ‘n’ then more to a trudge. The sun had rose high into the sky by now, ‘n’ I was feeling tired ‘n’ weak. It had taken me three days o’ trekkin’ to make it out o’ the forest, ‘n’ in ‘em three days I had hardly slept or ate. I was too scared to sleep, ‘fraid somethin’ might find me when I was vulnerable ‘n’ end up eaten’ me. I was no good at huntin’, so I’d had to scavenge ‘round fer food. Even then, I didn’t know too much ‘bout what was safe to eat ‘n’ what wasn’t. I only knew that certain berries was safe fer Riolu to eat. Needless to say, a bellyful o’ Oran berries didn’t do much fer a jackal over the course o’ three days.

Then I had a stroke o’ luck. Either that or I’d stumbled on a trap, but I was young ‘n’ tired ‘n’ hungry. Caution was the last thing on my mind when I found a pile o’ roasted birds lyin’ next to a large white boulder off to the left o’ the path I was on. Course, I didn’t know what they was at first. In fact, I would have passed ‘em on iffin a breeze hadn’t blown as I was walkin’ by ‘n’ brought they scent to me. When I smelled that cooked-bird smell, I instantly focused on the pile o’ dark brown objects lyin’ near the boulder. I sniffed the air a few times, drool flowin’ from my jaws as my belly let out a loud, painful rumble.

I rushed over to the large birds, seein’ that they was some kind o’ ground-bird. I couldn’t tell what kind, since they was plucked ‘n’ the skin was charred dark brown, but I could tell by the thick legs ‘n’ tiny wings that these birds weren’t no flyin’ ones. Then I wondered how they’d gotten like this. No bird just up ‘n’ plucks, then cooks, theyself. They was beheaded, too, ‘n’ no creature does that to theyself, neither. Not normally, anyways. I sniffed ‘round, but the scent o’ cooked meat was too overpowerin’ fer me to smell anythin’ else. I scooted over to the birds ‘n’ tapped one with a paw; still warm.

I don’t know how it happened, but the next thing I knew I was stuffin’ my jaws. I’d grabbed a large bird ‘n’ torn into its stomach, rippin’ ‘way a giant hunk o’ meat ‘n’ barely chewin’ a’fore swallowin’ it down. The thing still had its organs ‘n’ stuff, ‘n’ I made short work o’ the liver ‘n’ heart. Then I stripped every bit o’ flesh from the bones that I could, ‘n’ when there weren’t no more meat I crunched open the bones ‘n’ sucked out the marrow.

I sighed as I licked my claws ‘n’ lips, feelin’ content. The bird had been big enough to fill me up, despite my havin’ only been eatin’ berries fer the past few days. Well, I was a small thing, after all. It didn’t really take much to fill me up. Normally, I would have only been able to eat ‘bout a third o’ such a large bird. Damn thing had been ‘bout half my size, maybe even a li’l bigger.

Then I heard a sorta faint chik noise, like loose gravel scrapin’ over the ground. A mighty roar followed not a second later, ‘n’ I yipped in terror as I spun around to see a large, angry-lookin’ beast chargin’ at me from higher up the mountain. It were a lean thing with yellow-cream fur on its underside ‘n’ dark navy blue fur on its top ‘n’ sides. A mane o’ orange-red flames blazed ‘round its thick, powerful neck; thin blue ears were crushed ‘gainst the sides o’ its sleek head. It was comin’ at me on all fours, bellowin’ at me like an angry Ursaring.

I cried out in terror ‘n’ winced in pain as I fell back on my butt ‘n’ frantically thrashed my way backwards ‘long the rocky stone a‘neath me. I knew this beast was different from the jaguar; the creature bearin’ down on me was ‘nother Pokemon, not some dumb forest cat. I didn’t know what kind o’ Pokemon it was, but the mane o’ flames ‘round its neck plainly said this were a Fire Pokemon.

“What do you think you’re doing?!” the beast thundered, it voice as loud ‘n’ harsh as a rockslide as it slid to a stop a few feet from me. It stood up on its hindlegs, now towerin’ over me by a good three or so feet. Even through my haze o’ fear, I heard the feminine notes to the Pokemon’s voice ‘n’ caught the heavy mother-scent rollin’ from its well-groomed fur. The Pokemon was a female, ‘n’ a mother to boot! I groaned a li’l, cowerin’ ‘stead o’ tryin’ to get ‘way as I flung my arms over my head. Just my damned luck to steal food from the cache o’ a momma Pokemon. I were as good as dead.

“I’m sorry!” I whimpered in a shrill voice, squeezin’ my eyes shut as I waited fer the blast o’ flames that would no doubt be comin’ any second now. “I was just so hungry…I ain’t ate hardly nothin’ in three days…I ain’t mean to take yer food, honest…” My words trailed off into pathetic li’l whines, ‘n’ somehow my long tail managed to jam itself firmly a’tween my legs. My ears had gone flat ‘gainst my skull, ‘n’ my Aura sacs was vibratin’ like mad in my distress. I knew I had to be givin’ off Aura vibes somethin’ fierce, as scared as I was.

“Wait…” Completely surprised by the Pokemon’s confused tone, I cracked one eye open ‘n’ peeked at ‘er as I sat there tremblin’. She was starin’ at me hard, ‘er bright ruby eyes narrowed as she studied me. Then she shuffled forward a few steps, ‘n’ ‘er shadow was flung over me as she bent down to sniff at me. “A Riolu? So far from the forest? And you’ve been hurt, too. I can smell the blood on you.” I opened my other eye ‘n’ blinked at the large Pokemon, taken back by the abrupt change in ‘er demeanor. Where was the chargin’, roarin’ monster from a moment ago? The creature I were lookin’ at now was as soft-spoken ‘n’ gentle a beast as I ever met. ‘Er eyes softened as she bent closer to me, ‘n’ I found myself wantin’ to snuggle into the warmth o’ ‘er fur. I could feel it radiatin’ from ‘er, which wasn’t much o’ a surprise considerin’ she was a Fire type. “Little one, are you lost?”

“No,” I said, my voice shaky ‘n’ still pitched high. “I…I left the forest…”

“You left your family? But you’re still so young,” the other Pokemon said, frownin’ at me. I lowered my arms from my head ‘n’ wrapped ‘em ‘round myself, my fear ebbin’ ‘way.

“It’s ‘cause I’m all black,” I said in a small voice. “I had to leave ‘cause o’ the curse.”

“Hmmm, I didn’t realize you were a Riolu at first because of your…unusual color. When you were all hunkered down I couldn’t get a good look at you at all. Then I got your scent.” The other Pokemon paused fer a moment a’fore addin’, “Curse?”

“The Jackal Priest had a Sight vision on the night I was born. He said that darkness would strike the Tribe from within. I was first-born. Two o’ my siblin’s died, ‘n’ the third was born all deformed ‘n’ mentally unsound. Bad stuff happened to the members o’ the Tribe. So I had to leave, ‘cause I didn’t want nothin’ to happen to my Momma or brother.”

“Oh, you poor dear,” the momma Pokemon said comfortin’ly. “Where are you going to go?”

“I…I don’t know,” I said honestly. “I was just gonna wander ‘round, I guess. I hadn’t thought at all ‘bout where I might go.”

“Well, that’s not good. You’re young, and it’s clear you haven’t had much battling experience, if any.” She chuckled at my irritated expression. “I’m well-versed when it comes to battling, and I know when others aren’t. I can read it in their scent, their voices, the way they hold themselves. Not to mention just now, when you were so frightened a rabbit would have probably given you a heart attack. A Pokemon that can battle doesn’t get scared so easily, because they can defend themselves.”

“So what I ain’t never battled a’fore!” I snarled, feelin’ shamed ‘n’ angry. The other blinked, lookin’ surprised as she pulled ‘way from me a bit.

“Never battled…? How did you get hurt, then?”

“A stupid jaguar attacked me,” I responded testily. “I managed to kick it ‘n’ make it run off.”

“Kick it? How did you kick it?” The Pokemon’s voice sounded sly, ‘n’ I peered at ‘er fer a second a’fore answerin’.

“I…well, I just kinda spun ‘round real quick, ‘n’ the air ‘round my footpaw caught fire. Then I kicked the jaguar ‘n’ it ran ‘way.”

“Oho! And tell me, do you know what kind of kick that was?”

“Uh…well, I kinda…heard somethin’ inside o’ me sayin’ it was a Blaze Kick…”

“Exactly!” the bigger Pokemon said with a grin. The smile bared ‘er sharp teeth; she must have noticed my discomfort, ‘cause she quickly covered ‘er fangs with ‘er lips. “That was a battle move, a Fire type attack. Has anything like that ever happened before?”

“No, today was the first day.”

“Well, today was your first battle, then. Hmmmm…”

“What does it matter, anyways, whether I can or can’t battle?”

“It’s because of the humans. See, if one of them sees you, they’ll try to catch you. If you can’t fight then you can’t defend yourself from them.” I’d heard ‘bout humans a’fore, from other Pokemon who’d been passin’ through the forest, or from those who lived there ‘n’ had seen the humans ‘emselves. Apparently, they carried the Pokemon they’d captured in li’l balls ‘n’ made ‘em battle a lot ‘n’ stuff like that. It all sounded terrible.

“I may not know much, but I does know enough to be sure that I don’t wanna be no human slave,” I said. The large Pokemon in front o’ me nodded solemnly.

“Well then, it’s settled. No youngling should be on their own before they’re ready. You can stay with me and my kits until you’ve grown stronger and learned how to keep from being caught by the humans.” Then she added, “My name is Kamada, but you can call me Mama if you like.” She smiled kindly ‘n’ I instantly felt my anger fade. In its place was the contentment I’d felt after fillin’ my belly with roasted bird meat.

“I’m Bli…I’m Jerma,” I said, wincin’ at the fact that my Pa’s name fer me had overridden my natural name. Mama Kamada either didn’t notice my slip or was nice enough to not ask ‘bout it. Tryin’ to change the topic ‘way from myself, I blurted, “What kinda Pokemon are ya, anyways? I ain’t seen none like ya a’fore.”

“I’m a Typhlosion, a Fire Pokemon,” Mama Kamada said with ‘nother smile, ‘n’ this time the sight o’ ‘er sharp fangs didn’t bother me. “Now, shall we go home?”

***
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:25 PM
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Default Re: Ghost Road Blues

~”I found myself a place to call home
A place to rest my weary head
But then I had to go
Go so far from my home”
-Jerma, “Hearth-Side Song”


Fate can deal ya a bad hand one minute ‘n’ grant ya great fortune the next, ya know? Kamada was a good Pokemon, kind ‘n’ strong ‘n’ brave. She had three Cyndaquil kits who was just a few months old, not even able to spit embers yet. I came to think o’ ‘em all more like family than I had my own Tribe, even Momma. There had always been a submissive sort o’ quality in Momma that didn’t let ‘er openly show affection or love fer me, specially not in front o’ Pa. Kamada was different. She showed me unfalterin’ kindness ‘n’ compassion, no matter what was goin’ on. That’s not to say she wasn’t tough; oh, let me tell ya, she was as tough as a Lucario’s hide! But it was a lovin’ toughness, fueled by the desire to see ‘er loved ones excel.

Kamada taught me how to battle, ‘n’ she had me help ‘er train ‘er kits, too. We all learned together ‘n’ from each other. I spent many moons learnin’ ‘n’ gettin’ stronger, ‘n’ I never once regretted my choice to leave my Tribe. I was learnin’ more in months than I ever had in my first two years o’ life, ‘n’ I was loved ‘stead o’ feared ‘n’ loathed. It was good times.

But then my life was shook up all over ‘gain. I dunno iffin Fate were in a mean mood or iffin it were just bad luck, but my peaceful way o’ existence, ‘n’ ultimately my life, was ended all the same.


***

“Fate can be unkind
Or just downright cruel.”
-Jerma, “Ghost Road Blues”



I stayed with Mama Kamada ‘n’ ‘er kits ‘til I was three years old. In those twelve months I’d learned a great deal ‘n’ grown stronger than I ever thought I could be. My foster siblin’s were a big help, though I guess we all kinda supported each other. Anyways, I didn’t leave my new family willin’ly. It was a hell o' a crooked twist, a cold dose o' bitter irony, that saw me parted from the warmth ‘n’ comfort o’ the life I’d come to love.

One evenin’, I was out huntin’ fer ground-birds. They was called grouse, Mama Kamada had told me, ‘n’ they was always plentiful ‘mong the many cracks ‘n’ crannies in the mountainside. My li’l siblin’s had done evolved by now into rambunctious Quilava, ‘n’ they was needin’ food more ‘n’ more as they got bigger.

I couldn’t hunt like Mama Kamada could. She’d hunt at night, slinkin’ through the shadows o’ the rocks ‘n’ boulders, perfectly hidden by the dark blue fur coverin’ the top ‘n’ sides o’ ‘er body. She’d sneak right up on a nest ‘n’ flame those birds a’fore they knew death was on ‘em. No, I couldn’t hunt like that. Oh, I could move just as sneakily as she could, what with my pitch-black body. But I couldn’t blast out no flames to finish all the birds in a nest at once. I had to kill each bird one at a time, which was a hassle ‘cause they’d go runnin’ off soon after I made my presence known. Those damn birds can move, too, let me tell ya.

After a few months o’ runnin’ after fleein’ birds, I started perfectin’ a way o’ keepin’ the damn things from gettin’ ‘way all the cursed time. Durin’ my trainin’, Mama Kamada had realized I’d gained some unique moves from my Pa. Agility ‘n’ Vacuum Wave, they was called, ‘n’ they was moves Riolu ‘n’ Lucario don’t normally learn. Mama Kamada told me Pa must have belonged to humans at some point in life, or born from parents who had. Seemed these moves I knew could only be passed from father to son iffin the father knew ‘em ‘n’ the babe could learn ‘em. I didn’t know what to make o’ it. Pa had never talked ‘bout ‘is past or ‘is parents, ‘n’ I’d never learned how he came to be the leader o’ the Tribe.

Anyways, I started playin’ ‘round with my moves when I went huntin’. Eventually I picked up a good combo with those moves I’d inherited from Pa, ‘long with an attack called Screech. I’d find a nest ‘n’ let my entire body relax, makin’ my muscles loose ‘n’ capable o’ givin’ more speed. That was the Agility portion. Then I’d rush right into the middle o’ the nest ‘n’ suck in a deep breath a’fore releasin’ it in a loud Screech, which left the birds stunned. Once they was dazed, I’d form a li’l colorless ball o’ energy that sucked the air outta the area, then released it in a powerful wave o’ concentrated air that washed out in all directions. The force o’ it was enough to instantly break the birds’ necks ‘n’ just ‘bout all the other bones in they bodies, too.

On the night my life changed, I was searchin’ lower down the mountain than I’d ever gone a’fore. Mama Kamada had warned me ‘bout goin’ to close to the mountain’s base, since we’d been seein’ humans trekkin’ ‘round there lately. We didn’t know how long it’d take ‘em to start movin’ higher up the mountain, but so long as we didn’t go too low, we’d be fine fer a while.

Mama Kamada’s warnin’ was strong in my mind, but I hadn’t had no luck where I’d been huntin’ earlier. I weren’t thinkin’ too clearly, I’ll be honest. I never once thought ‘bout searchin’ higher up the mountain, ‘n’ it never occurred to me that humans might be huntin’ the same prey I was. I was only concerned with findin’ some food fer the lot o’ us. So down the mountain I went, with the night sky over my head ‘n’ the half-moon shinin’ to light my way.

When I finally found a nest nestled in a large crevice, I was too happy to notice the figure sitting on a big boulder a few yards ‘way. But when I dashed into the nest ‘n’ Screeched, I ended up grabbin’ the figure’s attention. They’d been sittin’ with they back to me, but the minute I used my Screech, they was on they feet ‘n’ hurrin’ over ‘n’ shoutin’ all the time.

“What the heck? What’s going on? Is someone there?” I was so startled that I completely forgot ‘bout the birds ‘n’ scurried backwards, growlin’ as I felt my hackles risin’. The figure was a human ‘n’ had the male-scent all over ‘im. He had on the strange cloth-hide that all humans cover ‘emselves with, as well as the funny things they wore over they feet. This human’s cloth-hide was white on the top ‘n’ left ‘is furless arms bare from the shoulders. From ‘is waist down to ‘is knees the cloth-hide was dark brown, leavin’ the rest o’ ‘is equally furless legs as bare as ‘is arms. The things on ‘is feet was black with white trim ‘round the edges.

“Stay back!” I barked at the human, who looked like he was still pretty young. Kamada had said humans what looked like this one was called teenagers. “Leave me be!” O’ course he couldn’t understand me, but my voice must have surprised ‘im ‘cause he slid to a stop a few feet ‘way from me. I backed up ‘way from ‘im ‘til my back hit a boulder, which I jumped up on to give myself a bit o’ an advantage.

“A black Riolu?” the human asked, soundin’ shocked. “I’ve never heard of anything like you before!” He slowly raised ‘is hands, the universal sign fer “I ain’t got no weapons ‘n’ I ain’t gonna hurt ya”. “Man, this is so cool! I heard there were Riolu and Lucario living in the forest, but I didn’t think any lived this far down the mountain.”

“Just go ‘way,” I snapped, ‘n’ even though he couldn’t understand my words, he seemed to understand the heat in my voice.

“Hey, calm down,” he said with a frown. “I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just taking a break from training and looking for Pokemon is all. Me and my pals will leave as soon as morning comes and we can see where we’re going.”

“Pals?” I repeated, my eyes narrowin’ as I scanned where he’d been sittin’. I didn’t see any other humans, ‘n’ the teenager in front o’ me must have realized what I was lookin’ for.

“Not other humans. I mean my Pokemon,” he said. I froze, starin’ at the kid with wide eyes. He was one o’ ‘em humans who made Pokemon into slaves! I’d been nervous a’fore, but now I was startin’ to feel fearful, too. I was stronger than I’d been a year ago, but I suddenly doubted I was anywhere near ready to defend myself from a human who had several Pokemon slaves at ‘is command. Heck, I could barely hold off Mama Kamada, even after twelve months! Then ‘gain, maybe this human’s Pokemon were weak, or maybe he only had a few…

“Go ‘way,” I said ‘gain, but this time my tone was weaker ‘n’ didn’t carry any authority. The teenager noticed my change in demeanor ‘n’ took a slow step forward, scowlin’ more.

“Hey, are you okay? You don’t have to worry, my Pokemon won’t bother you.” I stared at the young human male ‘n’ he stared back, still holdin’ ‘is hands up as we watched each other. When he didn’t make any other moves, I allowed myself to relax, just a li’l. I felt my hackles lower as I pointed at the kid, then waved my paw around to indicate the mountain.

“Why are ya here?” I asked, but it was clear the teenager didn’t understand what I was tryin’ to ask. He dropped ‘is hands ‘n’ just stared at me with a funny look. I sighed ‘n’ shook my head, then jumped with a startled yelp when another voice spoke from where the kid had been sittin’.

“We were exploring some of the caves further down. Keichi was looking for Cleffa, since we’d heard some lived there,” the voice said, ‘n’ I glared into the darkness o’ the night as I tried to find what had answered me. Then I saw it; a large, dark violet swirl with several bright green spots scattered around it. There were two larger emerald holes in the swirl, ‘n’ a longer jagged one a few inches a’neath those. Eyes ‘n’ a mouth, obviously. There was a li’l gray-brown stone hoverin’ at the bottom o’ the purple swirl.

“Oh, that’s just Tobias, my Spiritomb. He looks scary but he’s really not,” the human named Keichi said when he heard the Pokemon’s voice, turning to see what I was lookin’ at. “You’re really jumpy, you know that? You should calm down. We’re not gonna hurt you.”

“It’s as he says,” Tobias affirmed, hoverin’ near ‘is human’s side now as he stared at me. “We just came looking for Cleffa, but we didn’t find any. It was too dark to try going back down the mountain, though, so we climbed up a bit higher and found this flat little area. We’re going to camp here tonight.”

“Well, just don’t come any higher up,” I said, my voice soundin’ sharper than I meant. I swallowed a few times as I regained my composure. “Mama Kamada’s den is up about thirty yards, ‘n’ she won’t think twice ‘bout attackin’ ya iffin ya come too close.”

“Kamada?” Tobias inquired, ‘is entire body tiltin’ to one side. “I’ve heard that name. The she-Typhlosion, correct?”

“Yeah, that’s ‘er.”

“The Pokemon in the caves spoke of a fierce she-Typhlosion that lives on the mountain. They also spoke of the odd black Riolu she took in a year ago, who was named Jerma. That must be you.” I simply nodded, ‘n’ Tobias gave an eerie smile. “We won’t be moving anywhere until morning, when we’re going to head back down and be on our way. Which you should be, too. Your adoptive mother might be missing you.”

“But I can’t go back empty-pawed,” I replied, glancin’ ‘round fer any sign o’ the birds I’d been huntin’. They’d come back to they senses at some point, which was clear ‘cause they was gone. They would have scattered the second they could think clear enough to do so. “All the birds done run off…”

“I saw where a few of them went,” Tobias said while he floated over to a large, jagged rock several paces ‘way. He hovered ‘bout a foot over it as he spun in a slow circle. “Three or four fled under this stone.”

“Oh,” I said, cautiously slidin’ from the boulder I was standin’ on ‘n’ trottin’ ‘round Keichi. He watched me with a kind but confused smile; it was clear he had no idea what was goin’ on. I skittered over to the giant gray rock, bleached white by the liquidy light o’ the moon, ‘n’ got a Vacuum Wave ready a’fore droppin’ down on one knee ‘n’ shovin’ my paws into the thick blackness that the birds was hidin’ in. I felt the air under the stone get sucked into the ball o’ energy a’tween my paws, stoppin’ the suction power o’ the invisible orb when it started suckin’ air from around me ‘n’ not just from under the stone. After givin’ it a moment to a’come concentrated, I slapped my paws together to pop the energy ball ‘n’ release the air inside. It was freed with a dull rushin’ noise, like the sound o’ a waterfall in the distance. The force o’ the returnin’ air filled the space under the stone, ‘n’ I felt the backlash ruffle my fur as it settled back to its normal state.

I quickly shimmied under the stone, pattin’ ‘round in the darkness as I searched fer my quarry. A second later, one o’ my paws came down on a limp, warm feathery body. I grinned ‘n’ dragged the bird to myself, leavin’ it by my side as I felt fer the others. There wasn’t as much space under the stone as there first seemed, so I found the other three fowl relatively quickly. Holdin’ two in each paw, I wiggled my body ‘til I was out from under the boulder.

“Oh, you were catching food,” Keichi said upon seein’ the birds I was clutchin’. “I guess Tobias was showing you where they went after I interrupted you. Sorry about that.” He gave a somewhat sheepish laugh, ‘n’ I couldn’t help but feel that I liked ‘im. I could tell, now that I wasn’t so surprised ‘n’ nervous, that he was a good guy. I focused on ‘im a bit as the Aura sacs on the sides o’ my vibrated ever so slightly. A second later, I saw a whirl o’ soft colors pop to life ‘round ‘im. They was gentle, bright colors o’ a kind, carin’ person, someone who would be a good friend, someone ya could trust with yer deepest secrets ‘n’ even yer very life. Pastel pink ‘n’ baby blue radiated from ‘im, shot through with cheery streaks o’ bright lime green ‘n’ rich silver. The most strikin’ color was the pulsin’ gold orb that was floatin’ over ‘is heart. That was the sign o’ a virtuous bein’.

“I should get goin’ now,” I said, turnin’ back to where Tobias was. I lifted a paw at ‘im to show my gratitude as my activated Aura sacs let me see the muted bronze -which was threaded through with wispy strands o’ black- that surrounded ‘im. The Spiritomb was steadfast ‘n’ loyal, with a hint o’ darkness in ‘im. That didn’t make ‘im bad, though. I could sense that this darkness was just the Aura manifestation o’ ‘is typin’. He was part-Ghost, part-Dark, so the smoky tendrils o’ black where completely natural fer ‘im. I blinked once, deactivatin’ my Aura sacs. They instantly fell still ‘n’ the whorl o’ color ‘round Tobias immediately vanished. “Thanks fer pointin’ out where these li’l critters was hidin’.”

“You’re more than welcome,” Tobias answered, goin’ over to hover near Keichi. “Goodnight, little Riolu. May good fortune smile on you and yours.”

I nodded ‘n’ turned, leapin’ ‘way as I headed back to the den. I felt good ‘bout the encounter I’d just had, even iffin I had been worried at first. Keichi had turned out to be a nice human, not at all like the ones Mama Kamada had told me ‘bout over the months. Not only that, but Tobias had seemed to genuinely enjoy ‘is human’s company. He hadn’t acted like he resented bein’ a slave or anythin’. That made me pause in thought, mindless o’ the loose stone shards slidin’ a’neath my footpaws as I came to a sudden halt. Tobias sure hadn’t acted like no slave…were Pokemon really prisoners when they belonged to a human? Maybe Tobias ‘n’ Keichi was the exception, but there was a part o’ me that didn’t believe that.

I started walkin’ ‘gain, thinkin’ the whole way. Mama Kamada had told me that humans would capture me iffin they set eyes on me, but Keichi had never even mentioned catchin’ me. He’d never acted like he wanted to, neither. ‘N’ Tobias…I just didn’t believe a creature would stay with someone iffin they didn’t like the life they was livin’. I wished I’d thought to ask the Spiritomb what he thought ‘bout being a human’s Pokemon when I’d had the chance; it was too late to go back fer chattin’.

When I returned to the den, Mama Kamada came bustlin’ out. I could scent the worry clingin’ to ‘er like wet fur, ‘n’ she rushed over to me with chuffin’ noises as I waved my catch at ‘er.

“Sorry I took so long,” I said when she reached me, snufflin’ at me anxiously. After satisfyin’ ‘erself that I was all right, she smiled at me ‘n’ reached down to tousle the fur a’tween my ears.

“Thank heavens you’re all right!” she said, ‘er voice holdin’ a note o’ distress. I noticed that ‘er skin was jumpin’ under ‘er fur ‘n’ realized just how worried she’d been fer me. I’d been gone quite a bit longer than usual, ‘n’ what with the humans we’d been seein’ lately, there was li’l doubt she’d been troubled by my absence. She’d probably been ‘fraid that I’d been captured or somethin’ “What took so long?”

“I went a li’l further down the mountain,” I mumbled, suddenly feelin’ very shamed with myself. I looked ‘way a’fore I could see the disapproval in Mama Kamada’s eyes, usin’ the claws o’ my footpaw to dig at the loose flakes o’ stone that covered the mountain. “I couldn’t find no birds ‘round where I usually hunt, so I went down a bit more to look. I found a nest…” I lifted the birds I was carryin’ without liftin’ my head.

“Smells like you found a human, too,” Mama Kamada said, ‘n’ the tone o’ ‘er voice surprised me. She didn’t sound angry or upset, but proud. I blinked ‘n’ I looked up to see ‘er grinnin’ like a fool.

“I…uh, yeah…there was this human kid…”

“What happened?” the kindly Typhlosion prompted when I trailed off.
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:26 PM
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Default Re: Ghost Road Blues

“Well, I’d stunned the birds ‘n’ was gettin’ ready to hit ‘em with a Vacuum Wave when the kid comes runnin’ over, shoutin’ like crazy. He’d been sittin’ on a boulder not far ‘way, ‘n’ I hadn’t noticed ‘im ‘cause I was happy ‘bout findin’ some birds. So when I Screeched it got ‘is attention. But anyways, he came over ‘n’ kinda freaked me out, but he turned out to be pretty nice.”

“Really? How so?”

“Well, he ain’t do anythin’ ‘cept talk to me ‘n’ try to calm me down after spookin’ me. Then one o’ ‘is Pokemon came over ‘n’ talked to me. He explained why they was there. Keichi -that’s the kid- were lookin’ fer Cleffa in some caves further down the mountain. But they ain’t find none ‘n’ when they came back out it were too dark fer ‘em to safely head back down. So they gonna stay the night where they is now, on a flat li’l area. “N’ in the end, Tobias -the Spiritomb- even showed me where some o’ the birds had run to after they’d come back to they senses. They was both real nice.”

“And this Keichi…he didn’t try to catch you?”

“Nope, didn’t even mention it. He didn’t even say he wanted to catch a Cleffa, just that they’d been lookin’ fer ‘em.”

“How very odd,” Mama Kamada said, ‘er voice soft like she was talkin’ to ‘erself. “A human let you go without even mentioning capturing you. It’s very strange, you see. I’ve traveled quite a bit during my life, and though I’ve avoided contact with humans, I know that Riolu and Lucario are quite rare among them. Most humans would do anything to get one or the other. But here you are, such a unique little black Riolu, yet this human doesn’t breathe a word of trying to catch and enslave you, and doesn’t attempt it, either. It’s peculiar.”

“Mama Kamada, Tobias…well, he ain’t act like no slave. He seemed real happy with ‘is life. I saw ‘is Aura, ‘n’ Keichi’s Aura, too. They both had nice colors, the colors o’ good bein’s. Tobias didn’t have no signs o’ anger or sadness or resentment or anythin’ like that.”

“Captured Pokemon quickly learn to live with their imprisonment,” Mama Kamada said, ‘er flamin’ mane castin’ shadows on ‘er face. When she lowered ‘er head, the shadows covered ‘er face completely, but I saw the shine o’ ‘er eyes where the moonlight reflected offa ‘em. They glittered a weird yellow-green, like gems burnin’ with they own inner fire. It was a very eerie sight, what with the rest o’ ‘er face lost in shadow. “Make sure you always remember that, Jerma. A human’s Pokemon might seem to be content with being a fighting slave, but a Pokemon’s place is in the wild.” I wanted to argue with ‘er then, fer the first time since meetin’ the mighty Fire Pokemon. I wanted to point out that a creature’s Aura don’t lie, no matter how much that creature theyself might. A creature’s Aura shows exactly how they feel ‘n’ what kind o’ personality they got. Tobias’ Aura hadn’t had any hints o’ bitterness or anythin’ o’ the sort. But I bit my tongue, ‘cause it was clear Mama Kamada was gettin’ uneasy with all this talk o’ humans ownin’ Pokemon. “Anyways, I’d thought you’d battled your first human. Still, there’ll be plenty of chances in the future, I suppose.”

“Why-“

“I want to see how strong you’ve gotten!” the she-Typhlosion said, liftin’ ‘er head enough that the moon stopped slingin’ its light into ‘er eyes. The eye-shine instantly faded ‘n’ ‘er mane no longer threw strange pools o’ darkness over ‘er face. “Battling a human’s Pokemon is different from battling a true, wild Pokemon. Like I’ve told you, humans generally carry several Pokemon on them. That, too, is different from facing one or two opponents. Human Pokemon don’t know when to flee; they keep battling until they grow too weak or faint. That means you can’t chase your foe away by intimidation or quick skirmishes. Yes, battles with human Pokemon are much different than battles with fellow wild Pokemon.

“Now then, let’s stop worrying about humans and everything to do with them. We’ll get these birds plucked and ready for dinner, and once we’ve eaten we can get some sleep before we do our night training.”

We went inside the den, where Izoki, the first-born female o’ Mama Kamada’s litter, was sashayin’ back ‘n’ forth like a crazed Furret. ‘Er younger brothers, Rota ‘n’ Ako, was runnin’ circles ‘round ‘er ‘n’ laughin’ crazily. All three o’ the Quilava were about a foot tall ‘n’ three or so feet from nose to rear end. They had the same kind o’ fur as Mama Kamada; creamy yellow on the bottom ‘n’ dark blue on the sides ‘n’ top. They had burners on they lower backs ‘n’ on they foreheads, where li’l orange-gold flames burned. They all twitched they li’l ears when they heard us comin’ in, ‘n’ a second later they crowded ‘round us with squeaky voices.

“Yay, Jerma’s home!”

“Food, food!”

“You were gone a long time, Jerma! Didja run into a giant monster or something?”

“I wanna eat!”

“There’s only four, someone’s gonna have to share!”

“Jerma, Jerma, was it a big monster that made you get back late?”

I sat down by the fire that was burnin’ further back in the den. I then put the birds on the ground next to me, keepin’ hold o’ one ‘n’ pluckin’ the dull gray-brown feathers from its body.

“There ain’t no monsters out there ‘cept fer the jaguars, ‘n’ they stay in the forest,” I said to Ako, the youngest o’ the litter. He was also the runt, nearly half the size o’ ‘is sister. He was healthy, though, in spite o’ being small. “I just went a bit further down the mountain to find food is all.” I kept my mouth shut ‘bout meetin’ Keichi, though, ‘n’ when I looked up from my task I saw Mama Kamada nod in approval. I was right in decidin’ she didn’t want ‘er babies to think it was neat to go off runnin’ into humans at night. “Now, who wants to help pluck ‘n’ behead these so we can get ‘em cooked ‘n’ ate?”

We made short work o’ the birds. Mama Kamada had two, ‘n’ the other two was split a’tween the rest o’ us. They was big ‘n’ plump, though, so there was enough meat to fill all o’ us up. After dinner, I gathered up what was left ‘n’ took it outside, where Mama Kamada used ‘er awesome Eruption move to reduce the remains to li’l piles o’ black ash. After the torrent o’ glittering white flames faded ‘n’ my eyes stopped leakin’ tears from the strong light, we headed back inside to settle down fer some sleep.

It seemed like I’d just drifted off when I was startled awake by screams ‘n’ roarin’. I was thrust into confusion ‘n’ fear as I scrambled to my paws, unable to see what was goin’ on ‘cause the fire had gone out. I saw dim light near the mouth o’ the den ‘n’ realized it was Mama Kamada’s fire mane.

“What’s goin’ on?” I mumbled, my voice hushed with fright. I yelped when Izoki answered, since I hadn’t been expectin’ a reply.

“Ma’s fighting humans,” the Quilava said, ‘er voice a choked whisper. I squinted as I looked in the direction o’ ‘er voice, then gave up ‘n’ switched to Aura-sight to find ‘er ‘n’ the others. We was back far in the cave where we lived, ‘n’ Mama Kamada was several yards ‘way. The light o’ ‘er fire mane didn’t reach back far enough to let me see with my normal vision, ‘n’ Izoki ‘n’ ‘er brothers had doused they own flames.

My Aura sacs started vibratin’ a second later. I saw the Auras o’ the three Quilava flare up, not surprised to see ‘em flamin’ a sharp, jerky red. There was also giant slashes o’ purple so dark they was almost black. Mama Kamada’s young was scared ‘n’ mad, but I didn’t need the Aura to tell me that. I could smell the heavy, rot-sour scent o’ fear rollin’ from ‘em in waves, punctuated by the sharp, almost metallic scent o’ anger.

Now that I could see where they was, I hurried over to the three Quilava ‘n’ huddled down with ‘em, listenin’ to the awful sounds comin’ from the mouth o’ the cave. I knew without askin’ why my siblin’s had extinguished they flames: Iffin the humans Mama Kamada was fightin’ couldn’t see ‘em, then they couldn’t find ‘em. It were survival instinct, much like my need to stay close to the ground ‘n’ hold completely still.

Then I heard a sound that made my blood freeze in my veins. It was a loud, short explosion, ‘n’ I knew in every fiber o’ my bein’ that that sound meant death. Right after the blast came a horrendous shriek. It was Mama Kamada, screechin’ in pain ‘n’ fury. It was such a terrible noise that I couldn’t stop myself from leapin’ to my paws ‘n’ rushin’ forward to help the she-Typhlosion. A’hind me, I heard Izoki ‘n’ ‘er brothers followin’ after me, driven by the same instinct to help they momma.

“Dammit, you shot too high!” I heard a human voice shout as I drew closer. I ignored it, though, only focused on reachin’ Mama Kamada ‘n’ helpin’ ‘er drive ‘way the humans. When I finally reached ‘er ‘n’ got a view o’ the humans outside o’ the den, I saw they all had sickly-lookin’ Auras. Pus-yellow ‘n’ mold-green pulsated around all o’ ‘em; hoverin’ over they hearts was spheres o’ red that reminded me o’ open, oozin’ wounds. These was bad people, ‘n’ the sight o’ they Auras enraged me fer some reason. Maybe it was just ‘cause I realized how twisted they was ‘n’ wanted to make ‘em leave.

“No, Jerma!” Mama Kamada cried raggedly when she saw me go chargin’ at the nearest human, a short, fat li’l male who was wearin’ black cloth-hide. Every part o’ ‘is body was covered, even ‘is head. He didn’t see me comin’ at first, since I blended in so perfectly with the shadows o’ the night, but he a’came ‘ware o’ me just a’fore I slammed into ‘is stomach. The blow knocked ‘im offa ‘is feet on to ‘is butt, ‘n’ I rolled offa ‘im as he wheezed ‘n’ gasped. I landed in a crouch, then stood up as I whirled ‘round to face the other humans. I quickly counted ‘n’ found there was six o’ ‘em, includin’ the one I’d just knocked over. They all was facin’ me, three o’ ‘em holdin’ strange black sticks that was about as long as I was tall. These was pointed at me, ‘n’ once ‘gain instinct kicked in to tell me that these was the source o’ the blast I’d heard a few seconds earlier. I knew that, despite how harmless they looked, the sticks was in fact dangerous. It was then I caught the stingin’, coppery scent o’ blood. I blinked ‘n’ glanced ‘round a’fore my gaze rested on Mama Kamada. She had a large bloody spot on the right side o’ ‘er chest, ‘n’ there was blood squirtin’ in thin streams from a wound right ‘bove ‘er heart. I gasped when I saw it.

“Mama Kamada!” I exclaimed, my paws curlin’ theyselves into angry fists. “What happened, yer hurt…”

“These humans are poachers!” the injured female answered, ‘er voice tight with pain. “One of them shot me. But quickly, you must get away! You can’t let them catch you!”

“I ain’t leavin’ ya ‘n’ the others!” I replied. Then I let out an angry howl ‘n’ flung myself at the next closest human. This one was tall ‘n’ skinny, but he was wearin’ all black, just like the other humans was. I landed ‘bout two feet from the male ‘n’ got ready to launch into a Blaze Kick, but then that blastin’ rung out ‘gain. A’fore I had time to react, somethin’ small hit the ground right a’tween my footpaws. Tiny bits o’ stone went scythin’ through the air as I jumped back with a strangled yelp. Mama Kamada bellowed the next second ‘n’ I twisted my head around to see ‘er chargin’ at one o’ the men. She struck ‘im so hard they both went rollin’ several feet a’fore comin’ to a stop. Mama Kamada hastily sprung back up, inhalin’ so deeply it seemed ‘er lungs might just explode through ‘er chest. O’ course that didn’t happen, ‘cause the angry Pokemon dropped ‘er jaws ‘n’ disgorged all that air as a furious streamer o’ orange flames. The Flamethrower tore the night apart as it swallowed the distance a’tween Mama Kamada ‘n’ the human she’d bowled over, roarin’ as it went. The attack hit the man with enough strength to flip ‘im on ‘is back, where he started to thrash ‘n’ scream as the fire eagerly ate at ‘im.

“Damn stupid thing!” one o’ the other humans raged, jerking ‘is stick around ‘n’ aimin’ it at Mama Kamada. He ain’t have a chance to do nothin’ though, ‘cause three voices cried out, “Flame Wheel!” ‘n’ the next moment three giant circles o’ yellow fire came hurtlin’ into view. One o’ ‘em hit the human aimin’ ‘is stick, but the other two went wide ‘n’ soared off into the night.

“Awww, Izoki’s was the only one that hit!” I heard Ako complain. I turned to the den ‘n’ saw the three Quilava rushin’ outside, all three o’ ‘em in full blaze. They burners was alight with intense orange-red flames as they charged ahead, their scarlet eyes burning with a strong mix o’ emotions.

It looked like we would drive these cruel humans ‘way, but they quickly regrouped. The one I’d knocked down had gotten up ‘n’ scurried over to join ‘is friends, while the one Izoki had scorched limped over to ‘em, black smoke risin’ from where ‘is clothes ‘n’ skin had been charred. The other human, the one Mama Kamada had flamed, wasn’t movin’ no more, though he was still burnin’. Once they was all grouped up ‘gain, the four uninjured humans reached into holes in the cloth-hide on they legs, each o’ ‘em drawin’ out a weird li’l ball. They was red on the top ‘n’ white on the bottom: They was small ‘til the humans pushed somethin’ in the middle, which made the balls grow in size so that they completely filled the humans’ hands.

“Oh no!” Mama Kamada moaned, rushin’ over to stand with ‘er young. I went to join ‘em, watchin’ as the humans threw the balls into the air. They spun a few times a’fore openin’ with flashes o’ white light ‘n’ loud crackin’-pop noises. A white flood o’ light poured from inside each ball, stretchin’ ‘n’ warpin’ as they took on form ‘n’ substance. When the light finally faded, there was four mean-lookin’ Pokemon standin’ in front o’ the humans. Each was about a foot taller than me ‘n’ had brown-tan skin with dark cream bellies. They had stumpy tails with a tiny spike near the tips, ‘n’ on they head they wore wedge-shaped skulls that was bleached white. Savage red eyes glared through the eye sockets o’ they skull helmets, ‘n’ each one held a bone that was nearly as long as they was tall.

“Marowak,” Mama Kamada spat as I studied the Auras o’ the four Pokemon. They was the same colors as the Auras o’ they humans, ‘cept there was a dirt brown series o’ streaks through the Pokemon’s Auras. That meant these things was Ground type Pokemon.

“All right you four, take care of these stupid Pokemon!” one o’ the humans snarled. “Show ‘em what happens when they try to fight back! Kill the damn Typhlosion and Quilava if you want, but don’t kill that Riolu! That thing will fetch us a fortune if we sell it to Giovanni…”

“Yeah yeah, whatever,” a male, the largest o’ the four Marowak, hissed in response. He locked ‘is eyes on me as the other three let out strange barkin’ sounds, leapin’ forward as they spun they bones ‘round. I didn’t pay any attention to the others, ‘stead focusin’ on the big male in front o’ me. While we stared at each other, I breathed in deeply ‘n’ forced my knotted muscles to relax. Once I felt my Agility take affect, I grinned at my foe ‘n’ tore towards ‘im.

“Yah!” I cried, rushin’ at the Marowak with such speed that everythin’ a’came a blur. I practically felt like I was flyin’ as I dashed forward, my footpaws barely touchin’ the ground. The male glanced ‘round like he couldn’t see me comin’ right at ‘im, which meant my super speedy Quick Attack was a success. While he was busy lookin’ to ‘is right, I barreled in to ‘im ‘n’ sent ‘im tumblin’ head over tail. I landed lightly on my paws with a pleased smile on my lips, watchin’ my foe struggle to ‘is paws with a low growl.

“Stupid puppy!” the big male snarled at me, pullin’ ‘is arm back once he was on ‘is feet ‘gain. I watched, confused, as he started twirlin’ the bone in ‘is paw, makin’ it go so fast it turned into a white blur. Then, without warnin’, he snapped ‘is arm ‘round ‘n’ let the bone fly. It whistled through the air towards me, movin’ so quickly I didn’t have no time to dodge. I staggered back a step a’fore the bone smashed ‘gainst my forehead. I yowled in agony as a burnin’ pain erupted in my skull, liftin’ both paws to clutch at where I’d been struck. My eyes filled with tears as I tottered backwards, unwillin’ to fall even in my dazed, hurtin’ condition.

“Jerma!” I heard someone call, but I was a bit senseless from the blow I’d just taken, so I wasn’t sure who’d called my name. Still, it was enough to wrench me back to the battle, ‘n’ I dropped my paws as tears slid down my face. I was just in time to see the Marowak closin’ in on me. I reacted instantly, leapin’ to the side to evade the attack. The male was holdin’ ‘is bone ‘gain, I noticed, but he didn’t try to attack with it. ‘Stead, he whipped ‘is head ‘round ‘n’ managed to land a weak Headbutt on my side. It lacked any real power, but it was enough to over-balance me. I collapsed to the ground, wincin’ when my head smacked ‘gainst the ground. The collision made a fresh wave o’ anguish pound through my head, but I clenched my fangs ‘n’ did my best to ignore the hurt.

Growlin’, I rolled to my paws ‘n’ shakily stood up. The Marowak seemed surprised that I was already up, but he was over it quick as a flash. He gripped ‘is bone so tightly it creaked in ‘is paw as he flashed a nasty grin.

“You’d save yourself a lot of trouble if you just gave up and let the masters take you,” the Pokemon said, laughin’ cruelly at my angry snarl. “C’mon puppy, I can tell this is your first real battle. Look at you! I hit you with a single Bonemerang and tap you with a Headbutt, and you already look like you’re about to faint! Hah!” The Marowak snorted as he started twirlin’ ‘is bone ‘gain. “Though that Quick Attack of yours wasn’t half-bad.”

“Why don’t ya just leave us ‘lone?” I snapped, resistin’ the urge to rub my poundin’ head. “Why do ya have to do this to us?”

“Because, you worthless fleabag, the masters want to make money, and when they make a lot of it, they treat us very nicely. So in a way we want to make a lot of money, too. That’s what it’s all about, kid. You gotta step on others to get what you want, and I’ll step on as many stupid little Pokemon like you as I have to in order to ensure I get what I want!” The Pokemon then lunged at me, bringin’ ‘is bone ‘round ‘n’ whammin’ me hard in the gut with it. The air in my lungs exploded outta me in a rush, leavin’ me gaggin’ ‘n’ coughin’ as I instinctively wrapped my arms ‘round my belly. I stumbled ‘way from that hated bone as the Marowak crowed, “Hah, that’s what a Brick Break to your stomach feels like! What’s that? You wanna see it again? Well, I’m not one to disappoint a fan!”

“Take that damn bone o’ yers ‘n’ shove it!” I wheezed at the evil creature while he leapt at me. I forced myself to straighten as I jumped forward as well, ballin’ my right paw in a first ‘n’ throwin’ it forward with a deadly amount o’ speed. My Bullet Punch, another move I’d inherited from Pa, was faster than the Marowak’s Brick Break. I ducked under that cursed bone as my fist made contact with my foe’s stomach. The strike instantly ended ‘is forward movement ‘n’ dropped ‘im like a stone. He hit the ground hard, lyin’ there as he twisted ‘round ‘n’ gasped fer air. I landed a second later, holdin’ an arm with my palm facin’ the air. I focused on the appendage, feelin’ energy rush through my body to gather in my paw. After several moments o’ concentratin’, a sorta orange-brown glow began to appear around my arm. The more I concentrated, the stronger the glow a’came. When the Marowak finally got up, I stepped in towards ‘im ‘n’ pulled my arm back, then thrust it forward. The glow ‘round my arm shot down ‘round my paw, where the energy I’d been gatherin’ was released the second my palm cannoned into the Pokemon’s chest.
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:27 PM
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Default Re: Ghost Road Blues

My Force Palm sent the Marowak flyin’ ‘bout three feet a’fore he crashed into the ground, twitchin’ ‘n’ groanin’. I huffed, feelin’ proud o’ my work, but a second later I felt somethin’ hard hit me in the back. I yelped in pain as I fell to my knees, the impact causin’ twin flares o’ hurt to race through my legs. I winced as I got back up, my knees stingin’ where they’d been scraped up. I then jerked ‘round to face my attacker, findin’ a smaller Marowak smilin’ unpleasantly at me.

“Damn, maybe I should have aimed my Bone Club at the back of your head. Didn’t think you’d manage to take it, though,” the li’l beast said. This one was a female, I noticed. She leered at me as she tossed ‘er bone from paw to paw. “Those precious little baby Quilava weren’t nearly as hardy as you.” The way she said those words made a thrill o’ fear shoot through me, ‘n’ so did the words theyselves.

“What do ya mean? What did ya do to ‘em?!”

“Oh, stop your yapping, mutt. I just took this here club and smacked all of them in the head until they stopped moving.” The Marowak laughed shrilly as she stopped tossin’ ‘er bone ‘round. I noticed with a sick feelin’ that there was blood ‘n’ dark fur all over one end o’ it. I desperately looked ‘round fer Izoki ‘n’ the others, spottin’ they motionless bodies a few seconds later. They fires was out, too…

“No…” I whispered, unable to tear my eyes from the broken forms. I knew they was dead, since they weren’t emanatin’ Auras no more. The only time a creature’s Aura fades is when they dead. “No…”

“Hahaha, this is too good! Don’t tell me you actually care that those worthless piles of flesh are dead? What should it matter? It’s not like they were your family.”

“Yes they was,” I said, my eyes tearin’ up ‘gain, ‘cept this time the tears was o’ sorrow ‘n’ not pain. “They was too my family, ‘n’ ya done gone ‘n’ murdered ‘em…they was just babies, too…”

“Oh, boo-hoo,” the female mocked, laughin’ once more as she jabbed ‘er bone at me. “Does it look like I give a damn? Because if it does you need to have your vision checked.”

“How…how could ya do somethin’ like that…? They was just babies ‘n’ they ain’t never hurt ya…how could ya do that?” Tears spilled from my eyes, plasterin’ my fur to my cheeks as sorrow grabbed my heart with icy talons. “How…?”

“Oh, for God’s sake, I’m getting tired of listening to you whine,” the heartless Marowak complained. I gave a strangled sob at the same time that she lifted ‘er bone ‘bove ‘er head. She then brought it down ‘n’ struck the ground with it, causin’ a huge chuck o’ rock to fly up from the blow. She deftly caught the giant hunk o’ rock, flingin’ it at me a’fore I had time to realize what was happenin’.

“No!” I cried out, throwin’ my paws up without thinkin’. In the span o’ a heartbeat, all my energy seemed to flow outta me, formin’ into a transparent shield that deflected the piece o’ stone ‘way from me. It flew several feet ‘way, landin’ with a crash ‘n’ splittin’ into smaller bits.

I swayed on my paws as the shield I’d summoned blinked outta existence. Across from me, the female Marowak stared with wide eyes. She quickly snapped outta ‘er daze, though, impatiently tappin’ ‘er bone ‘gainst ‘er leg as she glared at me. It was clear she hadn’t been expectin’ me to do anythin’ like what I had ‘n’ was tryin’ to decide what to do now.

“So, you had enough strength to use an Endure,” the female sneered, ‘n’ though she sounded haughty ‘n’ confident, I could see a hint o’ uncertainty in ‘er eyes. “But it cost you a lot of energy. Hah! One little tap and you’ll just keel over!” She cackled, but made no move to come near me. I stared at the horrid creature ‘n’ suddenly found myself burnin’ with rage. My fear ‘n’ fatigue was washed ‘way by fury, coursin’ through my veins like boilin’ acid. I clenched my paws into fists as I started shakin’, my vision goin’ fuzzy ‘n’ red ‘round the edges. All thoughts were driven from my mind ‘cept the need to hurt the female that killed my Quilava siblin’s.

I howled my rage ‘n’ lunged at the Marowak in front o’ me. She stepped back with a startled grunt, liftin’ ‘er bone as iffin she were tryin’ to use it as a barrier. It didn’t do ‘er no good, though. As I hurtled through the air, I felt energy surge up ‘round my body, the same amount that I’d lost over the course o’ the battle. When I hit ‘er a moment later, the energy ‘round seemed to detonate, explodin’ outwards with tremendous force. The backlash sent me slidin’ back a few inches, but the Marowak fared a lot worse. The strength o’ my Reversal flung ‘er ‘way, where she crashed into the ground ‘bout five feet ‘way. ‘Er bone clattered to the stone a’side ‘er limp body, ‘n’ I watched ‘er fer a moment to make sure she wasn’t gettin’ up. She ain’t so much as twitch, so I breathed a heavy sight ‘n’ started lookin’ fer Mama Kamada.

It was hard to miss ‘er. The mane o’ flames ‘round ‘er neck had flared up so much that it reached halfway down ‘er back. It was an intense white now, showing just how angry she was. The other two Marowak was dancin’ ‘round ‘er, takin’ turns throwin’ they bones at ‘er. There was bloody areas all over ‘er body ‘n’ it was clear she was gettin’ tired. I growled at the sight ‘n’ started to head over to help, but I didn’t get no further than a step a’fore I collapsed in exhaustion. I groaned softly, strugglin’ to get back up but havin’ no luck.

“Look, let’s just catch that Riolu and get out of here!” one o’ the humans called. “We’re wasting our time with this stupid Typhlosion!”

“Sorin, Vacuum Wave!”

A green blur suddenly shot into view, zippin’ over to the two Marowak with insane speed. The two were caught up in the powerful suction o’ air as the blur zoomed over ‘em, ‘n’ they was sent tumblin’ with startled squeals. The humans started yellin’ like crazy, while Mama Kamada warily kept the green blur in ‘er line o’ vision. It turned ‘n’ went over to ‘er, comin’ to an abrupt stop as it landed next to her. I stared at the creature, wonderin’ what it was ‘n’ where it had come from. Then I remembered the voice…it was familiar…

I managed to force myself to my knees as I looked over where the strange green Pokemon had come from. There! I saw Keichi comin’ over, a furious look on ‘is thin face. The young human glared at the others, jabbin’ a finger at ‘em as he came to a stop.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he demanded, completely ignorant o’ the fact that he was outnumbered ‘n’ that three o’ the humans was pointin’ they long sticks at ‘im. “Leave those Pokemon alone!”

“And what are you gonna do if we don’t? Cry to your mommy?” one o’ the humans asked, ‘is tone heavy with mockery ‘n’ contempt. “You’re gonna pay for interrupting us. I think that Scyther of yours would make a nice payment.” That must be the green Pokemon that had attacked the Marowak. I looked back over at it, studyin’ it as stood next to Mama Kamada with barely-suppressed rage clear in its ice-blue eyes. It stood ‘round five or so feet ‘n’ was a sorta lime green. It had a wedge-shaped head ‘n’ a lean, compact body. Its arms ended in giant wicked, white scythes that was each about a foot ‘n’ a half long. Two pairs o’ long, thin wings grew from between its narrow shoulders; they was constantly twitchin’ ‘n’ buzzin’ as the Pokemon rubbed its scythes together. Three small spikes rose from the back o’ its skull, though the middle one had a jagged point to it. It looked like a piece had been torn ‘way.

“Thank you,” Mama Kamada muttered to the Scyther. It nodded once without lookin’ at ‘er, keepin’ those blazin’ eyes on the Marowak. They was comin’ to they senses now ‘n’ gettin’ to they feet.

“What? Are you crazy?” Keichi was sayin’, soundin’ completely surprised. “You think I’d let you take Sorin? You guys won’t lay a finger on her!”

“We’ll see about that!” another o’ the humans barked, jerkin’ ‘is stick like he was gonna hit someone with it. “If you haven’t noticed, we’re armed and you’re not. You’re not in any position to tell us what we will and won’t do.”

“Huh. Sorin, deal with jokers, would you? Aerial Ace!” The Scyther nodded without speakin’, tearin’ forward so quickly I lost sight o’ ‘er fer a minute. When she came back into view, she was flyin’ over the humans holdin’ the sticks. She flipped ‘n’ rolled as she fell through the air towards ‘em, pickin’ up even more speed as she plummeted. The humans whipped they weapons up towards ‘er; several loud blasts rang out in quick succession as the tips o’ the sticks flared with brief flashes o’ light. Sorin spun ‘n’ darted ‘round like mad, though, comin’ through the assault unscathed. As the humans cursed, Sorin reached ‘em ‘n’ executed a mighty forward flip that carried ‘er several feet horizontally. As she went, ‘er left scythe slashed through the air, slicin’ the sticks to pieces within seconds. Then the Pokemon did another flip a’fore shootin’ straight up into the air. She flew up a few feet, stopped to hover fer a second, then flew back to Mama Kamada ‘n’ landed beside ‘er once more. It had all taken less than a minute.

“Get that damn thing!” one o’ the disarmed humans screeched at the two remainin’ Marowak. They had gotten up by now, but was lookin’ a li’l unsteady. They glanced at each other, then at Mama Kamada ‘n’ Sorin. It was clear they didn’t want nothin’ to do with the battle, now, since it was a fair fight. I forced myself to stand, feelin’ more tired than I ever had. Still, I staggered over towards the group, determined to do somethin’ to help. I had to fight, to avenge my dead sister ‘n’ brothers. Mama Kamada spotted me stumblin’ over ‘n’ made a worried noise deep in ‘er chest.

“No, baby. Go rest. I saw you fighting and you did great, but this isn’t your battle any more. These humans want to catch you, and if you hang around while you’re weak they just might be able to. Go back in the cave and wait.”

“But Mama-“ The Typhlosion gave an angry roar all o’ a sudden, ‘n’ a split second later I felt something smash into my side. Agony erupted in me as ribs snapped like dried twigs. I crumpled to the ground with a series o’ anguished, high-pitched yelps. I heard a frenzy o’ noise break out all ‘round me, but I couldn’t focus on anythin’ what with the stabbing pain in my side.

“IDIOT!” I heard someone bellow. “You might have killed it with that Bone Club!” The words barely registered, but I was coherent enough to realize one o’ the Marowak had sneak-attacked me. There came a sort o’ painful yelp, but I wasn’t really ‘ware o’ it through the fog that had settled ‘round my mind.

But I was a child o’ the forest, ‘n’ though I’d never properly learned how to make it ‘mong the expanse o’ trees ‘n’ brush, I still had the instincts o’ a forest-born creature. My instincts had been gettin’ sharper the past year, too, what with all the trainin’ ‘n’ huntin’ I’d been doin’. Everythin’ I knew ‘n’ what I’d learned boiled down to raw ‘n’ simple survival instinct at its purest. A massive dose o’ hormones flooded my veins ‘n’ numbed the injuries that the Marowak had inflicted on me, allowin’ me to think clearly once more. With the return o’ my higher thought process came the realization that I could move without pain. Following that revelation came the overwhelmin’ urge to scamper off to somewhere safe, where I could rest ‘n’ heal without fear.

I fought ‘gainst the flight instinct, actively combatin’ what had just given me the ability to flee. ‘Stead, I stayed sprawled on the ground while I took stock o’ the situation. My Aura sacs was still activated, so I could clearly see from they Auras that the humans were caught up in the battle fer now. So long as it seemed like I wasn’t gonna go nowhere, they wasn’t gonna interrupt the show to catch me.

Keichi had gone over to stand a’hind Mama Kamada ‘n’ Sorin within the past several minutes. The former was spewin’ bright ginger flames at one o’ the Marowak, while the former was currently splittin’ into several Scyther. I blinked in surprise as the seven Pokemon encircled the other Marowak, who looked as stunned as I felt. How the heck had she done that…?

“Great Double Team, Sorin!” Keichi called encouragingly. “Now use a Focus Energy and strike with a Night Slash! Typhlosion, that Flamethrower was great! It looks like you burned it; hit it with a Quick Attack before it has a chance to recover and retaliate!” What? This human was commandin’ Mama Kamada?! It seemed ridiculous ‘n’ I thought fer sure she’d just ignore him, but that belief was quickly dispelled when the big Pokemon vanished into a cream-‘n’-blue blur. When she came back into focus she was whammin’ ‘er bulk into ‘er smaller opponent, who was sent sailin’ from the attack.

At the same time, Sorin had crossed ‘er scythes over ‘er chest ‘n’ closed ‘er eyes, as did the other six Scyther she’d spawned. A second later all o’ ‘em was engulfed in gentle white glows that started at the bottoms o’ they heavy clawed feet ‘n’ steadily spread upwards. When the glow reached they heads it faded ‘way, though I could see, thanks to my Aura-enhanced vision, that the glow was actually seepin’ into the seven Pokemon. It was energy that had been drawn from Sorin’s surroundin’s ‘n’ then absorbed into ‘er body. After the energy had been fully assimilated, all seven Scyther lunged with blisterin’ speed towards the still-bemused Marowak in the center o’ the circle. Each Scyther lifted its left scythe, which a’came encased in dark, sticky-lookin’ purple light. Once they was within strikin’ distance, the seven Pokemon ripped they scythes down with such force that the air screeched as it was sliced. At the precise moment o’ impact, though, six o’ the Scyther flickered ‘n’ vanished, leavin’ the one a’hind the Marowak as the only attacker.

Sorin’s target moaned softly when the bigger Pokemon’s scythe smacked it ‘gainst the skull ‘n’ drove it to its knees. There it titled side-to-side fer a minute or two a’fore fallin’ forward in a dead faint. The final Marowak hadn’t gotten back up since Mama Kamada had last attacked it, so it was most likely knocked out cold, too. I watched, feelin’ proud ‘n’ giddy with triumph, as the humans cursed ‘n’ recalled they fallen Pokemon. The battle was won, ‘n’ now we could get on with healin’. I twisted my head a bit ‘til I could spot the bodies o’ Izoki ‘n’ the others. Yeah, we’d need to do a lot o’ healin’ after tonight, ‘n’ not just physically, neither.

But then one o’ the humans, a solid-lookin’ guy who was as wide as a small tree, reached under the cloth-hide coverin’ ‘is upper body. He pulled a thin golden chain from a’neath the flimsy coverin’, revealin’ another red-‘n’-white orb hanging from the middle. He jerked this free ‘n’ tossed it with a wordless snarl o’ hate ‘n’ fury. What appeared outta this one was a canine that was a few inches taller than me. Its bright yellow ‘n’ spiky fur seemed to glisten in the light o’ the moon ‘n’ Mama Kamada’s flame mane. ‘Round its neck was a thick mane o’ spiky ivory fur, which was so white it made my eyes hurt to stare at it. Its long, slender ears was lettin’ off tendrils o’ bluish current, archin’ between the twitchin’ appendages to create a cracklin’ net o’ electricity. I’d seen one o’ these things a’fore, travelin’ through the forest after bein’ abandoned by its human. This was a Jolteon.

“Discharge!” the Pokemon’s human bellowed, spit flyin’ from ‘is lips.

“Sorin, don’t give it a chance!” Keichi called. The Scyther let out a sort o’ strange hissin’ noise as ‘er wings a’came invisible blurs, but she never got a chance to stop ‘er target’s attack. The Jolteon dropped its front end, shovin’ its rear into the air as its fur spiked even more. Green sparks flew from the spikes, hoverin’ in the air ‘bove the Pokemon as more ‘n’ more snarls o’ electricity leapt from it. Within just a few seconds, the li’l beast was completely cut off from view by the pulsin’, snappin’ surge o’ power it had released. It all then flowed forward to form a large sphere in front o’ the Jolteon. I felt my fur stand on end from the mass o’ raw electricity, smellin’ the metallic, bitin’ tang ‘n’ tastin’ the strong, bitter tingle o’ the attack.

Without warnin’, the giant orb shot forward so quickly that not even Sorin was able to get outta the way. She ‘n’ Mama Kamada were both struck by the Discharge, which expanded when it hit ‘em. Then it fell in on itself, implodin’ with such strength that both Pokemon were floored. Sorin flew farther than Mama Kamada, bein’ lighter than the she-Typhlosion. She also recovered faster. She was only down fer a few seconds a’fore shakily clamberin’ back to ‘er feet. When Mama Kamada landed, she gave a heavy grunt o’ pain ‘n’ just laid there.

“Hah! Thunder, Jolteon! Thunder again and again until they’re all blasted into the stone!” the Pokemon’s cruel master ordered. Keichi made a disgusted, angry sound in ‘is throat ‘n’ Sorin hissed violently.

“Sorin, how’re you doing?” Keichi asked ‘is Pokemon, who simply clashed ‘er scythes together ‘n’ flew towards the Jolteon. “All right! Get in there and give it an X-Scissor!” Sorin crossed ‘er scythes over ‘er chest, where they took on a brilliant neon-green sheen. At the same time, the Jolteon had stood up ‘n’ thrown its head back, lettin’ out a tinny howl as it let off large sparks o’ shimmerin’ yellow electricity. These rose into the air, higher ‘n’ higher, ‘til suddenly the space a’tween the sparks filled with electricity as well, linkin’ the sparks ‘n’ formin’ a gargantuan bolt o’ lightnin’. The Thunder attack hung in the air, motionless fer a breath, then arched ‘n’ plummeted towards Sorin.

“Sorin! Shield yourself with a Light Screen!” Keichi shouted. The Scyther came to a halt as she flung ‘er scythes up, bringin’ ‘em together a’fore snappin’ ‘em down to ‘er sides. Where ‘er scythes whistled through the air there appeared a sorta reddish haze, which solidified into a translucent pink shield. When the Thunder crashed into it, the attack seemed to shrink to ‘bout half its original size. However, what came through the shield was still thick enough to completely engulf Sorin. I heard a shrill cry ring out from the Scyther, feelin’ my heart clench at the sound o’ it.

Finally the Thunder petered out, leavin’ a slumped ‘n’ hurt-lookin’ Sorin. She was hunched over, ‘er scythes crossed defensively over ‘er stomach. ‘Er wings drooped as she twitched convulsively.

“Sorin!” Keichi cried, worry thick in ‘is voice. The Scyther’s wings fluttered weakly, but she slowly stood straight in response to ‘er master’s voice. She seemed to draw strength from ‘is concern fer ‘er. “How’re you holding up?” As an answer, the Scyther hissed at ‘er opponent, who looked shocked that she was still capable o’ even standin’. ‘Er master shrieked a few obscenities as Sorin flew forward without warnin’, though she was movin’ considerably slower than a’fore. But the element o’ surprise was on ‘er side: ‘Er foe was still too stunned to react. Sorin once ‘gain crossed ‘er scythes over ‘er chest, ‘n’ I realized that they was still glowin’ with that sheen from earlier. Sorin must be real strong to have kept ‘er attack ready even when gettin’ blasted by that Thunder!
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:28 PM
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Default Re: Ghost Road Blues

When she reached the Jolteon, Sorin lifted ‘er scythes, which was still crossed, ‘bove ‘er head. Then she jerked ‘em down ‘n’ ‘part. A glitterin’ trail o’ light was left in the wake o’ ‘er scythes, leavin’ a ghostly X in the air as ‘er bladed arms smashed into the Jolteon’s face. The canine yowled in pain, squeezin’ its black eyes shut ‘n’ rapidly backin’ ‘way from the source o’ its hurt. It moved too quickly, however, ‘n’ tripped itself up. The Pokemon fell to the ground with a pathetic whimper.

“Damn it!” the Pokemon’s human raged. “You idiot weakling, worthless lump of garbage! Get up and fight, curse you!”

“Hey, don’t talk to your Pokemon like that!” Keichi angrily hollered, ‘n’ I felt angry as well. The Jolteon wasn’t weak at all, not from what I’d seen! Even Sorin seemed upset, hissin’ at the man aggressively. The human ignored ‘em both, though, whirlin’ on ‘is friends.

“You idiots, stop standing around like this is just some afternoon battle! Send out your other Pokemon!” he snapped at ‘em, ‘n’ within seconds several other Pokemon had materialized onto the battlefield. I gaped as I looked at ‘em, unable to believe that these dishonorable humans was gonna pit an entire mob on a single weakened Pokemon. Most o’ ‘em was Pokemon I’d never seen, like a massive blue Pokemon what looked like a large serpent. It had a giant, gapin’ maw full o’ sharp fangs; it looked like it could swallow a person whole. There was one that looked like a three-tailed bull with a tawny coat ‘n’ wicked horns growin’ from its small skull. There were a few I could name, ‘cause their kind lived in the forest: That five-foot-tall, emerald-scaled lizard with the large tail was a Sceptile. They was known to be vicious things, usin’ the sharp leaves growin’ from they wrists to slash at prey.

I counted the number o’ Pokemon ‘n’ came up with eleven. They all bristled with hostility ‘n’ they Auras was filled with corruption. They glared menacin’ly at Sorin ‘n’ Keichi, both o’ whom looked dumbfounded by this sudden development. Then Sorin hissed loudly, soundin’ more like an angry Seviper than anythin’ else. ‘Er rage infected Keichi, whose face darkened in a fierce glower.

“You cowards!” he yelled fiercely. Sorin nodded sharply in agreement. “You can’t fight us fairly?”

“Screw fairness!” one o’ the other humans mocked. “Kill them all, except for the Riolu!” he ordered the mass o’ Pokemon, who gave deafenin’ cries as they surged forward. Keichi was reachin’ into a hole in the cloth-hide coverin’ ‘is lower body, but everyone was shocked when Mama Kamada suddenly reared to ‘er feet ‘n’ let out a savage roar. ‘Er flame mane flared out several feet, becomin’ solid black as she glared hatefully at the group o’ Pokemon bearin’ down on Sorin.

“You took my babies!” she howled, grief ‘n’ fury in ‘er voice. She must have finally noticed the corpses o’ the Quilava. “You killed my babies! You heartless bastards killed my babies!” ‘Er sorrow ‘n’ wrath was so forceful that all the chargin’ Pokemon halted. Seemin’ly mindless o’ the fact that she was severely outnumbered, Mama Kamada threw ‘erself at the group, bellowin’ ‘n’ cryin’ harshly.

“No!” Keichi yelped, as did Sorin. I was surprised to hear ‘er speak; she hadn’t spoken fer so long I’d assumed she was mute. Mama Kamada completely disregarded ‘em both as she spewed out a huge, black Flamethrower. I’d never seen ‘er mane or ‘er fire attacks go black a’fore, ‘n’ though I didn’t know what it meant, I know it were nothin’ good. The Flamethrower caught several o’ the Pokemon, but the ones that weren’t hit by the attack came back to they senses. With loud cries promisin’ violence, they descended upon the injured she-Typhlosion. She was lost beneath a wall o’ churnin’ bodies, but ‘bove all the din I could hear ‘er screams as she was set on.

“Mama!” I cried piteously, strugglin’ to my paws. My side was still numb, but I could just feel the first returnin’ fingers o’ feelin’. A faint tingle raced down my side, tellin’ me it wouldn’t be too long a’fore the numbness faded. I didn’t care ‘bout that, though. I only cared ‘bout helpin’ Mama Kamada…

Another scream, this one long ‘n’ wet. It was punctuated by a sort o’ throaty gurgle a’fore abruptly endin’. Instinctively I knew what that sudden silence meant, but I couldn’t bring myself to believe it. It had to have been one o’ the human’s Pokemon. I couldn’t see through the press o’ large bodies, so I could almost make myself sure that it had been one o’ ‘em that had just died. But even as I tried denyin’ it, a sinister voice in my head was whisperin’ that the scream had been Mama Kamada’s voice, raised in agony durin’ the last seconds o’ ‘er life.

“Mama!” I cried ‘gain, staggerin’ towards the crowd o’ Pokemon. One o’ ‘em must have heard me ‘cause it shifted its bulk to turn ‘n’ face me. It was the huge blue serpent, ‘n’ as it moved back I got a clear view o’ a mangled body lyin’ twisted on the ground. I froze, seein’ the lovely yellow-cream fur stained with thick crimson blood. Mama Kamada was on ‘er back, ‘er limbs flung at impossible angles, ‘er head twisted so much that ‘er face was pressed into the ground. Broken neck, some part o’ me said, ‘n’ ‘er belly torn open.

I screamed, so horrified by the sight o’ Mama Kamada’s broken corpse that I ain’t feel the li’l ball smack me in the side. I a’came ‘ware o’ a strange tinglin’ sensation as my vision suddenly went red. Then there was a sensation o’ bein’ sucked towards some powerful force, ‘n’ that were the last thing I knew a’fore I fell in to a dead faint.

***

“Knockin’ on Death’s door
Ain’t payin’ no friendly visit
I’m here ‘cause Death called
‘N’ told me it were time to come.”
-Jerma, “Ghost Road Blues”


After that night, I was sure that I really was cursed. How else was it that Kamada ‘n’ ‘er kits would end up dead? It seemed I were a plague ‘o misfortune not only fer my Tribe, but fer any who tried to take me in.

I’d been captured by Keichi in the chaos that Kamada’s death sparked. After snaggin’ me he’d fled from the scene, ridin’ ‘way on the back o’ ‘is Dragonite. Once we’d gotten far enough from that awful location, he’d let me back outta the Ball he’d caught me in. I were still out cold, though, havin’ passed out from exhaustion ‘n’ terror. When I finally came ‘round, ya can understand that I was mighty upset.

In the days that followed, I found myself growin’ distant. I ain’t mean to make Keichi or ‘is other Pokemon feel bad, but I just couldn’t bring myself to make an effort to bond with ‘em. After gettin’ so close to Kamada ‘n’ ‘er young ‘n’ then losin’ ‘em, I realized I couldn’t stand the thought o’ goin’ through that sorta pain ‘gain.

Then somethin’ happened ‘bout a week later that took care o’ that problem. It were in the middle o’ the night ‘n’ we was all gettin’ ready to bed down fer the night. We was campin’ outside o’ the Eterna Forest; we was gonna trek through the lush area the next day. But as we was settlin’ down, there came several loud bangs. I instantly recognized the sounds ‘n’ felt myself get struck dumb with paralyzin’ fear.

Chaos erupted as the five poachers quickly rushed forward ‘n’ surrounded us. They weren’t aimin’ at none of us, just shootin’ they guns -as I’d learned those sticks was called- to scare us. Keichi started givin’ orders, but a shot a’tween ‘is feet made him fall quiet.

The poachers, as ya can imagine, was real pissed with Keichi fer catchin’ me ‘n’ then runnin’ off with me. They knocked ‘im ‘round a bit, stabbin’ at us with those guns when me ‘n’ the rest o’ Keichi’s Pokemon tried to help. Then one o’ ‘em said he was gonna take all of us from Keichi, as payment fer the kid’s interference at the mountain. Keichi weren’t havin’ none o’ it, though, ‘n’ launched ‘imself at the man.

What happened next put into motion the last part o’ my story. The big human got angry at Keichi fer refusin’ to give us over ‘n’ lifted ‘is gun. I could sense the tense fury in the man’s Aura ‘n’ knew immediately that this next shot o’ ‘is weren’t gonna be a simple warnin’. He intended to hurt my Trainer, ‘n’ even though I hadn’t bonded well with the young human, he were still my friend ‘n’ the one what saved me a week ago.

I didn’t think, I just acted. Howlin’, I leapt into the air a’tween the man ‘n’ Keichi. I only meant to startle ‘im a li’l, make ‘im ferget ‘bout shootin’ Keichi. ‘Stead, the man whipped ‘is gun ‘round to aim at me, ‘n’ with a snarl he snapped that I weren’t worth the effort no more. The next thing I knew, the gun went off ‘n’ a heavy impact threw me to the ground. There was blazin’ agony in my chest that were so thick I couldn’t breathe -though actually I couldn’t breathe ‘cause the gun’s bullet had shredded one o’ my lungs ‘n’ I were drownin’ in my own blood-. I heard horrified screams, then angry shrieks. By the time more gunfire sounded out, my senses had stopped workin’ ‘n’ everythin’ seemed to fade into dark silence.

When my last breath left my body, I were nothin’ more than a heap o’ numb, coolin’ flesh. Contrary to what ya might think, I didn’t spring right back into existence as a ghost. The process o’ my spirit detachin’ from my body took some time, ‘bout an hour or so. When I did “come to”, nothin’ could have prepared me fer how things was gonna be.


***

“Down, down, down I go
Down that lonely ol’ road…”
-Jerma, “Ghost Road Blues”



My eyes snapped open ‘n’ I stared up into the night sky. High ‘bove me, hundreds o’ bright white stars twinkled down at me. The moon was the barest sliver of crescent silver, hangin’ up there in the heavens.

‘A nightmare,’ I thought as I instantly remembered ‘bout the poachers ‘n’ bein’ shot. After all, how would those terrible humans have managed to find us? It was silly, ridiculous even, ‘n’ I gave a silent sigh o’ relief. Then I sat up, ‘cause I suddenly had the urge to just move fer some reason. ‘Cept, I didn’t sit up, really. Nope, when I tried to move, I found myself shootin’ up in the air. It was like I’d been fired from the cannons o’ a Blastoise!

I yelped in shock ’n’ fear as I flew up into the sky, flailin’ my arms ‘n’ legs ‘round crazily. After several seconds I stopped ascendin’ ‘n’ eventually flipped myself over from all my strugglin’. When I spotted my body lyin’ ‘bout thirty feet a’neath me, my thrashin’ stopped instantly. Now I simply gaped down at the motionless black form sprawled on the ground.

“I must still be dreamin’,” I said out loud, shakin’ my head slowly. “I gotta still be sleepin’…ain’t no way this can be happenin’…”

“But it is happening,” said Tobias, who suddenly peeled ‘imself from the shadow o’ a tree near my body. The Spiritomb glanced up at me with a curious expression, somethin’ a’tween sadness ‘n’ amusement. “My friend, you’re deceased.”

“No way…” I mumbled, still shakin’ my head from side to side with a slow, insistent rhythm. “This is one hella bad dream.”

“Unfortunately, this is the waking world. It also happens to be the living world, which you are no longer technically part of. I suppose you must have a purpose, some important task you never got to accomplish while alive. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.”

“What…?” I started, but at that moment I knew Tobias were tellin’ the truth. I was dead, floatin’ thirty feet ‘bove my corpse like I was some sort o’ Ghost Pokemon like my Spiritomb friend. Well, I guess in a way I was a ghost Pokemon. With the acceptance o’ that truth came a rush o’ pure fear ‘n’ uncertainty. “Oh sweet Lord, I’m dead! I’m freakin’ dead! I’m…I’m a damned ghost!” My voice was pitched high, but I didn’t notice. I was too busy havin’ my nervous breakdown. “That’s my body down there ‘n’ I ain’t in it no more! What’s goin’ on? Why am I like this? Why’s this happenin’ to me?!”

“I did just say you must have an important task you never got the chance to carry out while you were still alive,” Tobias answered in a good-natured voice. “A being doesn’t become a ghost if they don’t have that so-called “unfinished business” to attend to.”

“Un…finished business?”

“Exactly. You have a purpose you need to discover. There’s a reason you’re anchored to this world, and until you realize and fulfill it, you’ll remain in the plane of the living until the spiritual energy keeping you, ah, around…is exhausted. Then you’ll simply cease to be. It doesn’t sound at all like a pleasant way to go.”

“I thought people weren’t supposed to be able to see ghosts?” I asked, a slightly insane laugh bubblin’ from me. “How come ya can see me?”

“I am a Ghost, albeit in a different manner than you are. I’m a different species of specter, you could say, but still a member of the ghostly race. That’s why I can see you.”

“Where’s Keichi ‘n’ the others?” Not that it mattered, but suddenly I was burnin’ with the desire to know where they was, ‘cause they weren’t with us.

“After you were shot, Keichi flew into a rage and ordered us to attack. We were rather upset that you’d been hurt, so we were eager to exact retribution on the poachers. I daresay we might have killed one or two of them. After the tussle, Keichi had Nidia tie them to a tree using her silk.” Nidia was Keichi’s Ariados, which were a maroon-colored spider with four yellow-‘n’-purple banded legs ‘n’ a white spike on ‘er head. She looked menacin’ with ‘er huge, venomous white fangs ‘n’ the fact that she was ‘bout three ‘n’ a half feet tall, but she was actually quite sweet. “Then he took their PokeBalls and had Mocho carry him to Eterna City. He’s going to alert the authorities and try to get help for you, though I’m sad to say he’s going to be returning too late. It’s been about an hour now; I assume he’ll be getting back shortly.” Mocho was Keichi’s Dragonite, which were a seven-foot tall Dragon with pale orange scales ‘n’ ridiculously small wings -a Dragonite’s wingspan was only 'bout three or so feet-..Mocho, like all ‘is kind, was a real fast flier, despite ‘is tiny wings. It was no wonder Keichi had ridden him to Eterna City.

“So…what do I do now?”

“I suppose you should get going. I don’t know how much time you have before your spiritual energy runs dry, and trust me when I say you don’t want to find out by loitering around.” Tobias floated up until he was level with me, smiling gently. “I should warn you that you might not be struck with the full implications of your death until later, after you’ve had time to adjust. Dying isn’t exactly something you get over in a few minutes.”

“D’ya think I got time to…” I didn’t finish my sentence, wavin’ at my body as I swallowed. It were harder to say it than I thought it would be. “To, uh…see myself off?”

“I have no personal experience in this matter, but I’ve heard experiencing one’s own funeral is not the most relaxing thing for the mind. Are you sure you want to see how Keichi and the others will react?”

“Ya can tell ‘em good-bye fer me a’fore I go, at least,” I persisted, suddenly feelin’ desperate ‘n’ rather heavy-hearted.

“Keichi is a good Trainer, but he cannot understand my words or those of the others,” Tobias reminded me gently. “His grief will not be eased as ours will.”

“I can’t just leave,” I mumbled. “Even iffin he can’t hear me or understand ya, at least I can make sure I get a chance to say bye to ‘im.” I looked ‘way from Tobias, down at the husk that used to be me. I couldn’t quite understand the urge to hang ‘round ‘til I had a chance to bid Keichi ‘n’ the others farewell, or to at least watch as someone else did it fer me. I couldn’t just turn my back ‘n’ leave it like this.

“Yes. You need the closure,” Tobias remarked softly. I nodded, seein’ as that was the point exactly. I just hadn’t known how to put it. All I knew was I had to wait ‘til I saw my other friends one last time. Anyways, I was dead; what could be more upsettin’ than that?

We loafed around as we waited fer Keichi ‘n’ the others to return. I went into the forest ‘n’ found the poachers, surprised to find that I weren’t angry at ‘em fer my bein’ dead. Ya’d think I’d be furious ‘n’ wanna make ‘em suffer like I knew I sooner or later would, but I felt nothin’ more than pity. These humans had been driven by greed to do horrible things, ‘n’ one day they’d have to answer fer all the cruelty they’d loosed on the world. They deserved what they got, fer sure, but I couldn’t help but wonder why they couldn’t have been strong enough to rise ‘bove they greed ‘n’ be good people. I couldn’t help but feel sorry fer ‘em, ‘cause they lives could have been so much better.
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Last edited by Dog of Hellsing; 06-03-2009 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:28 PM
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Default Re: Ghost Road Blues

Then I heard a ruckus comin’ from the distance. I left the forest ‘n’ floated over to join Tobias ‘bout a foot from my body, though I went a bit further than I intended a’fore comin’ to a stop. It would take time, gettin’ used to this new way o’ travelin’. I inched my way back ‘til I was next to the other Pokemon, starin’ at a large group that was rapidly approachin’ from the east. The group was comin’ through the grassy field at such a fast pace everyone must have been runnin’. Then a figure pulled ‘way from the others ‘n’ I saw it were Keichi, quickly followed by Kidia. Mocho ‘n’ Sorin I spotted a second later, ‘since they was flyin’ ‘bove the group ‘n’ I didn’t look up at first.

Seein’ my Trainer ‘n’ teammates made me feel sad ‘n’ nervous. Now that they was comin’, I was startin’ to wish I’d done as Tobias had said ‘n’ just left. But I knew the Spiritomb ‘n’ my own urges was right; I needed to do this. I needed to find closure. It was hard, though, watchin’ my friends rushin’ over ‘n’ knowin’ all they’d tried to do fer me was fer nothin’.

I hovered back so I was on the other side o’ my body as the large group finally arrived. Several men ‘n’ women wearin’ dark blue cloth-hide outfits ‘n’ matchin’ hats marched right into the forest, clearly to take the poachers into custody. The rest o’ the people crowded ‘round my body, shooin’ Keichi ‘n’ ‘is Pokemon outta the way. Tobias gave me a look a’fore floatin’ over to rejoin ‘em as I watched the white-clad humans kneelin’ ‘round my body. They was wearin’ hats too, white ones with red crosses on ‘em. I knew these people were assistants from the Pokemon Center in Eterna City, since they was wearin’ assistant outfits I’d see people at other Pokemon Centers wearin’. They looked at my body fer a moment, then one o’ ‘em pulled a glove from somewhere ‘n’ put it on. The man then gently prodded at my body, which didn’t yield like a live body does. ‘Stead, it stiffly shifted ‘round where it was layin’. The four people exchanged sad glances, shakin’ they heads slowly as the man pulled ‘is glove off. The group stood up while Keichi watched with scared eyes. Mocho ‘n’ the others didn’t look worried, though, but extremely upset. They were mutterin’ a’tween theyselves, ‘n’ it were clear that Tobias had told ‘em ‘bout my death. They crowded closer to Keichi when the guy who’d poked me walked over.

“I’m sorry, but your Riolu has expired,” he said, ‘is voice thick with emotion.

“Expired? He’s not milk or something!” Keichi snarled. Then the anger drained from ‘im as quick as it came. ‘Is eyes suddenly a’came very wet ‘n’ shiny as he said faintly, “He’s dead…?”

“I’m sorry,” the man said ‘gain, not holdin’ Keichi’s outburst ‘gainst ‘im. “He’s been deceased for a while. There was no way to get to him in time.”

“I should have brought him with me…” Keichi said, ‘is voice crackin’ horribly. “But I was so angry and scared that I didn’t think about it…” I felt my heart break at the sight o’ ‘is sorrow ‘n’ guilt. Sorin ‘n’ the others was sobbin’ by now, pressin’ ‘gainst Keichi ‘n’ each other as they sought comfort. I realized it were one thing to grieve with someone ‘n’ ‘nother thing entirely when they was grievin’ fer ya. When ya was sad with someone, ya could comfort each other. But when ya was the dead one, there were nothin’ ya could do but watch yer loved ones suffer outta yer reach. It was horrible.

“Moving him would have only caused more damage. You did the right thing by leaving him while you went for help,” the man was sayin’ now. Nobody paid no attention when the police came outta the forest, towin’ the handcuffed poachers. None o’ ‘em looked the slightest bit remorseful as they passed us by. “Sir, would you prefer if we bury him…?”

“No…no, we’ll do it. He was our friend,” Keichi answered, ‘is voice breakin’. I felt so miserable as I watched ‘im ‘n’ the others move over to my body. “In the forest…would it be okay…?”

“Sure,” the man said gently. Keichi bent down ‘n’ very carefully lifted my body into ‘is arms, not seemin’ to care that it were stiff ‘n’ cold. My head awkwardly thumped ‘gainst ‘is chest as he cradled my corpse, ‘n’ then he started to cry. I found myself wantin’ to bawl, but I were dead ‘n’ didn’t have tear ducts no longer. I whined mournfully ‘stead, my already-broken heart shatterin’ even further as Keichi softly stroked the fur a’tween my ears.

“He came from a forest,” the young human choked through ‘is tears. “I’m sure he’d be glad to go back.” He then turned ‘way from the Pokemon Center people, who looked at one ‘nother with more sad expressions. Then they watched Keichi carry my body into the forest. I could tell they was gonna wait fer ‘im, ‘n’ I found their concern ‘n’ compassion touchin’.

I floated ‘long after Keichi ‘n’ my former teammates, all o’ whom was talkin’ ‘bout how sad my death was. Even though I’d only been with ‘em all fer ‘bout a week, they mourned me like they’d known me fer years. I moved a bit faster to catch up with Tobias. He looked over at me ‘n’ smiled, lookin’ quite sad now ‘imself.

“I’ve told them you stayed around long enough to say good-bye,” he said in a soft voice. “I haven’t actually given them such a message, though. I thought it would be best to wait until you’d told me to do so.”

“Thanks,” I replied. It was weird, to be here with ‘em all yet to not really be with ‘em at all. It also felt strange ‘n’ unsettlin’, to have Sorin or Mocho look right at me ‘n’ not be able to see me. “I guess I’ll do it after I’m in the ground.” Tobias nodded with a heavy sigh a’fore turnin’ ‘way. Silence fell as we went several yards into the forest. When we reached a soft, loamy spot next to a fallen tree, Keichi knelt down ‘n’ gently put my body down, then started to dig at the soil with ‘is hands. Sorin helped by scoopin’ dirt on to ‘er scythes ‘n’ pilin’ it ‘way from the hole they was diggin’. Mocho sat down ‘n’ added ‘is claws to the task; Kidia used ‘er fangs to clear ‘way more dirt; Tobias, with no limbs or anythin’, could only act as the sentinel who stood watch.

I floated to the dead tree ‘n’ settled myself over it, since I couldn’t actually sit on stuff no more. Kinda hard to sit when ya ain’t got a body. I watched the others as I whimpered, my heart heavy. It only took a few moments fer the group to get a nice-sized hole dug, thanks to their combined efforts, ‘n’ then it was in to the ground with me. Keichi put my carcass in the grave with such caution that I felt like the body was some priceless, fragile artifact. I was moved deep, never knowin’ just how much the young human had cherished me. It was clear now, with the gentle way he was handling my body. Not that it would have mattered iffin he just kinda tossed me down: I was dead, after all. Ya weren’t gonna hear me complain. But ‘is respect was unexpected, ‘n’ it struck me that I would have been real happy with ‘im iffin I hadn’t died. Mama Kamada had told me that captured Pokemon get used to bein’ a human’s, but I knew that weren’t the truth. Some humans was bad, fer sure, ‘n’ they Pokemon was probably miserable. But in that moment, I knew that most Pokemon truly loved bein’ with they Trainers ‘n’ teammates. Pokemon who was owned by humans wasn’t slaves, but friends, loved ones who was valued as much as other humans. The proof was right there a’fore me, cryin’ fer my lost life as he started coverin’ my body with dirt.

Once I was buried, Keichi ‘n’ the others huddled together on my grave ‘n’ mourned. I wanted so badly to tell ‘em not to be sad, that everythin’ was gonna be fine ‘n’ that they should be get out there ’n’ live they lives. After all, iffin I could die so suddenly, anyone could. Ya really never did know when the day yer goin’ through would be yer last. I wanted ‘em to know that they shouldn’t grieve, ‘cause they needed all they time to live life to the very fullest. There weren’t no time fer cryin’.

It was time to move on, fer all o’ us.

I felt a strange calm settle over me, burnin’ ‘way my sadness. I rose from where I’d been floatin’ ‘n’ moved over to the others, driven by a sense of urgency. I knew I had to get goin’, but there was somethin’ to do here, first. When I reached Keichi, I reached out ‘n’ put a paw on ‘is chest, ‘n’ with all my focus I willed ‘im to see me, even iffin just fer a second. I felt a rush as somethin’ kinda flowed outta me, most likely some o’ that spiritual energy Tobias had mentioned. I dropped my paw when Keichi gasped, lookin’ up to see ‘im starin’ at me with wide eyes. I smiled peacefully ‘n’ nodded my head, then glanced ‘round. I was surprised to see the shock on the faces o’ my teammates, not havin’ realized I’d made myself visible to all o’ ‘em.

“Good-bye,” I said. Sorin ‘n’ the others teared up as they gave watery smiles, ‘n’ I waved at them each in turn a’fore facin’ Keichi ‘gain. Some part o’ me knew that even though he couldn’t understand my words, he still knew what I was sayin’. “Good-bye.”

“Good-bye…” the young human whispered, tears slidin’ down ‘is cheeks as he lifted a shakin’ hand. I reached out ‘n’ placed my paw ‘gainst it, though there was no pressure or sensation or anythin’. ‘Round me I heard the others repeatin’ Keichi’s farewell, ‘n’ I smiled once ‘gain as I floated up into the air. Then, without hesitatin’ any longer, I shot off into the night.

I flew ‘long fer a while, not really knowin’ where I was goin’. All I knew was that I was followin’ some sorta instinct, headin’ towards a destination I weren’t yet ‘ware of. I still felt a little sad after witnessin’ the raw pain o’ my friends, but I knew that I’d put they minds at rest ‘n’ that they would move on, stronger ‘cause of this night. They’d remember me ‘n’ I’d remember ‘em, ‘n’ in that way we could all heal ‘n’ face the future.

I stopped flyin’ to watch the sunrise. It was beautiful up here, as I’d flown up ‘bove the clouds at some point durin’ the night. As the sun rose, the clouds was lit up from a’neath. They glowed with brilliant amber light all ‘round me, while the sky turned a marvelous shade of deep purple. This slowly brightened until mornin’ fully chased ‘way the darkness o’ night.

It might surprise ya to learn that ghosts don’t sense nothin’ other than sight ‘n’ sound. Up here ‘mong the fluffy clouds, I couldn’t feel no breezes or the warmth o’ the sun. I couldn’t smell the crisp fresh air that comes with mornin’, ‘n’ when I opened my mouth to breathe in, I ain’t taste nothin’. Then ‘gain, when yer dead ya ain’t got no lungs to breathe with, so in a way it makes sense that ya wouldn’t be able to smell ‘n’ therefore taste. I don’t have no idea why ghosts can see ‘n’ hear when we ain’t go no brain to process the information…never mind. Bein’ a ghost in general don’t really make much sense, let ‘lone the individual mechanics!

After the sunrise, I realized I was bein’ dragged by some unknown current ‘way from where I was. I shrugged ‘n’ let myself go, followin’ the tug that had settled into me. I figured nothin’ bad could really happen to me now, what with my bein’ dead ‘n’ all. What harm were there in followin’ this strange force? It’s not like I could get killed ‘gain. Then I remembered Tobias’ words ‘bout how ghosts can just sorta fade outta existence ‘n’ felt a jolt o’ uncertainty. Maybe I weren’t as invulnerable as I’d first thought…

Safe…follow…

I halted in surprise ‘n’ looked ‘round fer the source o’ the voice. When I didn’t see nobody, I found myself starin’ right at the sun. No harm in it now, since I weren’t livin’. I don’t know why I felt compelled to look at that fiery orb so many millions of miles ‘way, but I instantly felt soothed as I peered up at it. Whatever had just spoken meant no harm, somethin’ told me. When I thought ‘bout it, it a’came clear that the voice had been sayin’ it were safe to follow the strange pull. With a final blink, I turned my face from the sun ‘n’ tore ‘cross the sky.

I went ‘n’ went, not needin’ to rest since I weren’t a physical bein no longer. I weren’t restricted by a body that needed to replenish its energy or rest from the strain o’ overworked muscles. The energy I had didn’t burn as quickly as the energy that powers a livin’ creature, ‘n’ it didn’t burn in the same way neither. It faded over time or with a tremendous effort, like makin’ myself visible to livin’ things. Otherwise, no simple tasks like flyin’ drained it any faster than just sittin’ in one place.

When the mountain rose a’fore me, I felt a thrill jump through my essence. It wasn’t a physical sensation, neither. It’s difficult to explain, really. Anyways, I knew right ‘way that this was home. The forest where my Tribe lived stretched ‘cross the mountainside ‘bout halfway up, a giant green scar on the gray-brown stone of the massive arm of rock. I felt uneasy as I came on the mountain, knowin’ that I was comin’ in over the spot where the battle with the poachers had happened. I had no idea what had a’come o’ Mama Kamada ‘n’ ‘er kits’ bodies, ‘n’ I honestly didn’t want to find out. I wasn’t ‘fraid of seein’ more dead bodies, since I myself was dead. When ya’ve seen yer own corpse, others don’t seem as much o’ a shock. However, there’s a difference a’tween a plain ol’ dead body ‘n’ one that’s been well on the path to decayin’. I didn’t want to see the grisly sight o’ four rottin’ carcasses. Not ‘cause o’ fear, but simple disgust. I’d once seen a monkey that had been smack-dab in the middle o' returnin’ to the dirt, ‘n’ it had been a hella nasty sight.

I flew higher ‘n’ refused to look down as I came to the mountain. Even iffin I did glance earthward I doubt I would have seen anythin’ ‘cause o’ how high up I was, but I weren’t takin’ chances. ‘Stead, I focused on the green wall that was the forest. I was bein’ drawn to it ‘n’ wondered exactly why this odd force was bringin’ me home. Did it have somethin’ to do with my purpose?

I entered the forest ‘bout twenty minutes later, not botherin’ to slow down fer the trees as I weaved ‘round ‘em. Not like it would hurt iffin I hit one from flyin’ so quick. My eyes instantly adjusted to the dim light ‘n’ all ‘round me, the familiar sounds o’ the forest presided. The screeches ‘n’ bellows ‘n’ calls from the monkeys ‘n’ birds that lived in the canopy, the whirrin’ ‘n’ buzzes ‘n’ chirps o’ hundreds o’ different insects. In the distance a jaguar roared, ‘n’ squirrels in tress chattered loudly as they leapt from branch to branch. The familiarity of it settled over me like a comfy blanket o’ warm moss.

Then I heard somethin’ else, somethin’ more sinister than even the huntin’ roar of a hungry forest cat. It was the sound of vicious battle, ‘n’ I heard it clearly from a long distance ‘way ‘cause the normal forest sounds was silenced long a’fore I reached the site. I realized with a sense o’ dread that I was comin’ to the deep forest, where the trees grow so close together they trunks almost touch. This was where my Tribe lived; somethin’ big was obviously going on, ‘n’ my family was in the middle o’ it!

I sped up, not botherin’ to dodge trees no more. I passed right through ‘em, as well as through several frightened animals seekin’ refuge in the trunks. Thanks to how fast I was goin’, it was only a few seconds a’fore I reached the battle. One second I was rippin’ through trees, the next I was starin’ down at what looked like total war. Dozens o’ forest Pokemon was facin’ off with members o’ my Tribe, though upon closer look it seemed like the attackers wasn’t tryin’ to hurt no one. Their blows were soft, like they was disciplinin’ my Tribe ‘stead o’ actually fightin’ ‘em.

“What’s goin’ on…?” I asked dazedly, watchin’ the strange scene a’neath me. Near a thick, scruffy green clump o’ undergrowth I spotted a Nincada ‘n’ a Buneary teamin’ up ‘gainst an older Tribemember, who I recognized as Dimo. The Nincada curled its li’l pale gray body into a ball ‘n’ rolled ‘way from a Mach Punch aimed at its head while the Buneary threw its small, furry one-foot-tall body at the larger Lucario it were fightin’. The rabbit’s upper body was covered in rich chestnut-colored fur, while its lower body -everythin’ below its waist- was a lovely cream hue. Cream tufts of fur tipped its long ears, which it slammed into Dimo’s chest. The appendages struck so hard the Lucario was sent staggerin’ back a few paces, lookin’ surprised by the strength o’ the Pound attack. When the Buneary landed a second later it vanished with a blur o’ brown ‘n’ cream, reappearin’ less than a second later as it bowled into the jackal. It were the fastest Quick Attack I’d ever seen!

“Why are you doing this?” Dimo snarled at the li’l Buneary, who gave a grim smile as the Nincada, havin’ been ignored fer the past few seconds, used its thick, gray-brown front legs to hurl a glob of gritty black-brown mud at Dimo’s head. The mud splattered ‘gainst the side o’ the big jackal’s head, makin’ ‘im bark loudly. The Tribemember whirled ‘round ‘n’ spotted the small cicada that had tossed the mud at ‘im, ‘is lips lifin’ in a growl. He moved forward stiffly, lookin’ like he was gettin’ ready a Bone Rush move. As he approached the Nincada, though, the small insect fluttered its small, lime-green wings ‘n’ narrowed its black eyes. A soft glow started to emanate from the bug’s forehead; a Mind Reader maneuver! The Nincada were readin’ Dimo’s brain to find out what he was gonna do. Just as the jackal dropped into a sudden crouch, the Nincada used its new knowledge to strike first. It scuttled forward quickly ‘n’ jumped on Dimo’s leg, reachin’ up to Scratch half-heartedly at the jackal’s cream-furred belly.

As the big Pokemon was distracted, the Buneary jumped back into action, literally. It leapt at its opponent ‘n’ cocked a leg back, then let loose a kick that was aimed at the Dimo’s head. The Jump Kick wasn’t too strong, though, since the attack didn’t seem to do much damage when it struck. The Buneary’s footpaw smacked the Lucario right a’tween the eyes; the blow simply made the Dimo shake ‘is head ‘n’ growl in irritation. He then lashed out ‘n’ knocked the Nincada on ‘is leg off with a Metal Claw attack. ‘Is thick, sharp black claws glowed with a bright metallic sheen as they struck the Nincada. Said Pokemon crashed to the ground with such force that a li’l pile o’ leaves flew up into the air. Then Dimo executed a sharp spin as one o’ ‘is legs snapped out; brilliant ginger flames exploded to life ‘round ‘is footpaw, which caught the Buneary in the temple ‘n’ sent the small rabbit flyin’. Its movement was halted by a tree a moment later ‘n’ the li’l Pokemon fell to the ground in a heap, lookin’ dazed from the collision.

At that moment I heard a Sceptile shout, “You’re outnumbered! Just accept it and back off!” At nearly the same time I heard a familiar voice howl, “Retreat! This is no good!” I whipped ‘round ‘n’ spotted Pa, glarin’ at the attackers as the Tribe rushed over to ‘im. Once they was all safely gathered ‘round ‘im, the jackal whirled ‘n’ ran off. I watched the Tribe flee, feelin’ a mix of relief ‘n’ worry. There were so few Tribemembers! I didn’t understand it, since I’d been sure the Tribe would flourish after I left ‘n’ took my cursed self ‘way. Iffin anythin’, the Tribe seemed worse off for my troubles. When I’d left, there’d been thirty-one members in the Tribe, most o’ ‘em Lucario. I hadn’t had time to count ‘em as they fled, but there’d only been ‘bout twelve or so Tribemembers just now, includin’ Pa. I hadn’t seen Momma or my li’l brother ‘mong ‘em, nor any Riolu. Maybe they’d already hidden deeper in the forest…?
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Last edited by Dog of Hellsing; 06-03-2009 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:30 PM
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Default Re: Ghost Road Blues

Then I heard a harsh, wet laugh a’hind me. I turned ‘n’ saw the Jackal Priest lyin’ on the ground, ‘is white fur matted ‘n’ stained with blood ‘n’ dirt. All four o’ the black Aura sacs hangin’ from the back o’ ‘is head was gone. It looked like they’d been torn off. One o’ ‘is long ears was shredded ‘n’ ‘is tail was crooked in so many places it had to be broken badly. Both ‘is legs were splayed at unnatural angels, broken as badly as ‘is tail.

“Fools,” the old Lucario wheezed, ‘is amber eyes glazed with pain. “You can’t stop me. I’ll have my destiny, Gods and the rest of you be damned!” He then flung ‘is arms into the air ‘n’ barked a short chant. I gasped in recognition of the move, unable to believe what I was seein’. What the old jackal was doin’ weren’t meant to be used unless it were in defense o’ the Tribeleader, ‘n’ I could tell just by lookin’ into those glazed that the Jackal Priest was doin’ this fer ‘is own gain. He’d surely be struck down by the Gods that watch over Lucario ‘n’ Riolu-kind! But no bolt o’ lightnin’ or giant ball o’ fire screamed from the heavens to strike down the crazed Lucario, ‘n’ a moment later he stole the life energy from every livin’ creature within ten feet o’ where he was lyin’. Plants shriveled ‘n’ turned brown, trees groaned as they leaves curled ‘n’ fell to the forest floor. Hidden animals gave sharp death squeals ‘n’ hundreds of insects hit the ground after fallin’ from the trees ‘n’ plants. Pokemon stiffened a’fore collapsin’ to the ground, dead as I was. I watched in horror as the Jackal Priest cackled madly, clappin’ ‘is paws together ‘n’ releasin’ all the energy he’d gathered as a vicious, semi-visible blade o’ shimmerin’ blue blade. This tore ‘round the area with deadly intent; every livin’ thing it touched died as they life energy was sucked into the blade. Within two or three minutes, there weren’t a Pokemon still ‘live.

The Jackal Priest didn’t fare much better, though. It took lots o’ energy to draw the lives outta others; that was the price o’ killin’ so many in order to protect one. The Jackal Priest hadn’t looked to be in good shape even a’fore usin’ that move, ‘n’ now he was lyin’ on ‘is back, gaspin’ ‘n’ laughin’ like mad. I shook my head slowly, unable to understand what was goin’ on. The Lucario’s earlier words hissed through my mind as I stared at ‘im, a feelin’ o’ deep disgust bloomin’ within me. This ol’ jackal had been up to somethin’, no doubt, somethin’ that Jackal Priests had no mind bein’ up to. I didn’t know what, exactly, but somethin’ in me spoke o’ blasphemy.

“And so it ends,” a voice to my left spoke. Startled, I jerked my head ‘round ‘n’ saw a single Pokemon approachin’. It were a bird with green plumage coverin’ its body, ‘cept fer its wings, which was white. The tips o’ its wing feathers was black, followed by red, ‘n’ there was yellow-filled red rectangles on the sides. Ebony feathers ‘round its neck shone with some strange sort o’ dim light, while the two red-pink feathers extendin’ from the back o’ its skull waved up ‘n’ down. It strode towards the Jackal Priest on clawed feet the same color as its two head feathers, its long yellow beak parted in a manner that spoke of grim satisfaction. “This madness will end today.” The Pokemon, a Xatu, came to a halt ‘bout a foot from the Jackal Priest’s prone body, shakin’ its head with a sigh. I peered at the bird, unable to tell iffin it were male or female. Its voice was oddly neutral, ‘n’ I couldn’t tell by scent now since I couldn’t smell things.

The Xatu stared at the Jackal Priest fer ‘nother moment, then suddenly looked up. Its lavender eyes stared right at me ‘n’ I get the uncomfortable feelin’ o’ bein’ closely studied. That was silly, o’ course, since I were dead ‘n’ the strange Xatu couldn’t see me. The bird’s head tilted to one side as it stared at, or more precisely, through me, its somber expression softenin’ to gentle welcome. That sure ain’t no look ya give thin air…

“And here you are, little one.”

“Ya…ya can see me?” I asked in surprise, ‘n’ the bird nodded its head as its beak opened in a smile.

“Of course I can. Psychic Pokemon are extremely sensitive to the presence of spirits.”

“Can ya tell me…why all ‘em Pokemon was attackin’ my Tribe?” I enquired, glancin’ ‘round at the many dead Pokemon that had been caught by the Jackal Priest’s attack.

“They weren’t here for your Tribe, only the Jackal Priest.”

“What? Why?”

“Because I led them here in a move against him. As I’m sure you know, we Xatu can see into the past and peer into the future, whether we want to or not. Most of what we see are flashes, brief glimpses of things that have been or will be, and then those quick peeks will be muddled and hazy. It’s often hard, if not downright impossible, for us to understand what we see. But there are times when our glimpses become long, focused scenes, where everything is clear and makes perfect sense. I had several such visions of this nature not too long ago, both of the past and the future. The future ones showed a white Lucario, your Tribe’s medicine-Mon, ruling the entire forest as a Tribeleader.”

“What?! That’s ridiculous! A Jackal Priest is forbidden from a’comin’ a Tribeleader! They duty is to be the voice o’ the Gods, to heal the sick ‘n’ injured! A Jackal Priest is prohibited from even talkin’ ‘bout a’comin’ a Tribeleader!” I protested, unable to believe what I was hearin’.

“Exactly, and the future I saw showed him as being a cruel and bitter Tribeleader because of all the misfortune he’d have to face.” Here the psychic bird paused, starin’ at me fer a long moment. Then: “Would you like to hear the whole story, Little Jackal?” the Xatu questioned, tiltin’ its head a li’l to the left. I stared at it fer a good long moment, sensin’ somethin’ ‘bout that name. It weren’t no cute or endearin’ nickname, but a title, one that spoke o’ power ‘n’ influence. I wondered ‘bout it fer a moment a’fore noddin’ at the Pokemon’s words.

“Yeah, I would. Be nice to get some straight, honest answers fer a change.”

“Very well,” the Xatu said, pattin’ its belly with its ivory wings a few times as it settled down. “On the night you were born, the Jackal Priest received a vision from your Gods. That vision revealed his punishment for his ambitions. A black Riolu would be born into his Tribe and become a black Lucario in time, and when that day came, the Black One would mete out the Jackal Priest’s retribution.

“Instead of bravely and honorably accepting what the Gods had decreed, the Jackal Priest instead concocted a lie about the nature of the Black One. He claimed that darkness would strike the Tribe from within, knowing that when the Black One was born, his strange and unnatural appearance would instantly deem him as the darkness. He made it seem as if the entire Tribe was destined to suffer, when it was only himself who was to be chastised.

“His cowardly treachery infuriated your Gods. Instead of acknowledging his transgression and accepting the reprimand, he purposely twisted what the Gods had shown him. Because of this, your Gods began to rain down misfortune on your Tribe. They knew this would only encourage the Jackal Priest’s lies about you -for of course you are the Black One I speak of-, and it caused them great grief. However, with so many disasters befalling your Tribe, the Jackal Priest only had time for his duties and none for working on his aspirations.

“When you left, the entire Tribe was ecstatic. All, that is, save your mother and father. Your mother loved you more than her own life, and your father did, too. He had to hide those emotions, though, and appear indifferent to you and your hardships. If it seemed he cared more for his cursed son than for his Tribe, he would have quickly been stripped of his position as Tribeleader. Thus, your parents were extremely worried when they discovered you missing, but the rest of the Tribe was certain their ordeals were over.

“Your Gods were now more enraged with the Jackal Priest than ever before. Three days after you left, the worst calamities yet struck your Tribe. Now they started to wonder, to become even more worried. They feared they’d somehow offended your Gods and were being punished for it. I’m not sure if this will bring you solace or not, but they were deeply troubled with how they’d treated you and by your disappearance. You couldn’t be the source of their troubles if you were no longer there, could you?”

“If they was so upset, why ain’t they never come to find me?” I interrupted. “I weren’t too awfully far ‘way from Tribe territory, just a few days’ worth o’ trekkin’.”

“Ah, by now your Gods had a new fate for you. You were still to be the Jackal Priest’s punisher, only in a different manner. You see, a day after the new catastrophes started, a scout found a dead jaguar near the borders of your Tribe’s territory. It had only died the day before, so the smell of rot hadn’t been strong enough to mask your odor on it. The blood on it was yours, as well, and it was believed that you’d been killed by the cat. Your father couldn’t send any out to search for you either way, as all the Tribemembers were already constantly busy with defending the Tribe and trying to find enough food for everyone.

“Back to the story…ah yes. Your Tribe became extremely strained and the members went from thinking they’d offended your Gods to wondering if maybe the Jackal Priest hadn’t misinterpreted the vision he’d had about you. Oh, none of them were able to even think that he’d do something so horrible as spin such an outright lie, but at the very least they suspected that he’d messed up somehow. They were confused and worried, and over the months many of them became bitter and untrusting of each other.

“Finally, the Tribe was just barely being held together by your father. This was the time when they were at their weakest, and so this was when I led the forest denizens I’d rounded up over the past few days on the strike. We never meant to injure or kill any of your Tribe, simply use their own divided weakness to drive them away while we dealt with the Jackal Priest and kept him busy long enough for you to realize your purpose.”

“My purpose…” I repeated softly, glancin’ over at the prone body o’ the Jackal Priest fer the first time since the Xatu had started tellin’ me this tale. The minute I laid eyes on ‘im, I felt a surge o’ strength ‘n’ the knowledge o’ what it was I was meant to do. I was the Black One, the one who would pass judgment on the Jackal Priest, the executioner who’d carry out the deed.

For now, I knew, that the deceitful, back-stabbin’ Lucario was meant to die. But…

“How d’ya know ‘bout all this?” I asked.

“I saw the past, remember? Those visions showed me what I have just told you, save for the final part, which, of course, happened today.” The Xatu motioned with a wing to the Jackal Priest, who was starin’ at the bird with a look o’ bemused horror. He’d never thought that he’d be uncovered, I guessed. I glared at ‘im, feelin’ anger stirrin’ in me the longer I looked at ‘is broken form. He were the reason I was dead, the real reason fer my sufferin’ ‘n’ the sufferin’ o’ the Tribe!

“Look at me!” I snapped, willin’ the Jackal Priest to see me. I felt that unusual sensation o’ energy flowin’ outta me as I growled, “Look at me ya no-good traitorous snake!” The Lucario blinked slowly, then ‘is head turned towards me. ‘Is eyes flew wide when he saw me, hoverin’ a few feet ‘bove the ground ‘n’ probably lookin’ all misty ‘n’ translucent.

“No…you’re dead…the jaguar…” he wheezed, ‘is chest startin’ to heave up ‘n’ down as ‘is breathin’ grew ragged. “You’re dead!”

“Yes, I am,” I answered, lettin’ all my anger into my voice. The Jackal Priest flinched at the heat in my words, ‘is fur bristlin’. “I’m dead ‘cause o’ ya ‘n’ yer cowardly actions! Four good Pokemon are dead, too, Pokemon what acted more like my family than any o’ the Tribe did, ‘cept fer Momma. But now I know it weren’t the Tribe’s fault fer treatin’ me like they did. It were ya! Yer the cause fer all this grief ‘n’ sufferin’ ‘n’ death! “N’ now it’s time fer ya to answer fer what ya’ve done, fer what ya’ve taken from all o’ us!”

“No!” the jackal screeched, flailin’ ‘is arms weakly ‘n’ whippin’ ‘is head from side to side. “No! I’m going to become the greatest Tribeleader this forest has ever known, and I’m going to rule and make everyone give me the respect I deserve!” Flecks o’ foam started flyin’ from the Pokemon’s lips ‘n’ ‘is eyes rolled madly in they sockets. I glowered at ‘im as he had ‘is fit, raisin’ my arms ‘n’ rollin’ my paws into fists. I willed all the energy that I had in my possession to gather a’fore me. It cascaded outta me, formin’ into a huge wall that constantly fell in on itself a’fore reformin’. Bigger ‘n’ bigger the mass o’ energy got, ‘til I sensed I had only a li’l left. I cut off the flow. Instantly, the thick haze o’ glitterin’, soft blue energy shaped itself into what looked like a long cylinder. It took on more shape ‘n’ form, though, until it were the head o’ a Lucario. The head opened its mighty jaws ‘n’ let out a howl, which drowned out the scream o’ the Jackal Priest. I lowered my arms when the head stopped howlin’, lettin’ the energy loose. The giant glowin’ blue head sped angled its muzzle down a’fore fallin’ upon the doomed Lucario a’neath it. The white Pokemon’s voice rose into a fear-crazed shriek as the energy-head craned its jaws open; when those jaws clamped shut, the Jackal Priest’s scream ended abruptly. The next thing I knew, the energy collapsed into a formless cloud that raged momentarily over the dead Lucario’s body. As the energy started to fade, I saw a ghostly white shape rise from the corpse. It were the Jackal Priest’s treacherous spirit, drawn from its deceased shell by some power. The Lucario were still screamin’ as the energy, ‘n’ the spirit ensnared within, finally faded completely.

After that was done I looked up, not seein’ the sky but somehow sensin’ that endless expanse ‘bove me. I felt a tug, that force that had guided me here now drawin’ me up, but I fought it fer a second. I had a’come ‘ware of a faint moanin’, ‘n’ though I couldn’t do nothin’ to help whoever was hurt, I could try to comfort ‘em a li’l a’fore I left. I followed the sound ‘til I came on the mangled body o’ an Arbok. The eleven-foot-long serpent had dark purple scales coverin’ its thick body, which was shredded to bloody ribbons. The snake was writhin’ weakly ‘mong the leaf litter o’ the forest floor, its hood openin’ ‘n’ closin’ as its life poured outta it. It must have been hit by the Jackal Priest’s attack.

I watched the snake, feelin’ a strange sort certainty that its existence weren’t gonna end with its life…

***

“Now I’m at the end o’ my journey
The road’s come full circle.”
-Jerma, “Ghost Road Blues”


‘N’ so there it is, the tale o’ my life ‘n’ death, ‘n’ the reason why you’re goin’ through what ya are. It might not help ya any in findin’ yer purpose, but iffin there’s even the slightest chance it might, then all the better. Now it’s time fer me to get goin’. I’ve got an afterlife or some such thing to be livin’. Well, not livin’, but you get the idea.

Oh, yer gone…well, ya might not hear me, but good luck anyways. Huh, I wish I could see the expression on a person’s face iffin someone ever sees ya. An Arbok is scary enough when ya ain’t a ghost.


***

Pokemon Going For: Riolu, Scyther, Buneary, Nincada
# of Needed Characters: 75k-110k
Total # of Characters: 138k+

I know the battle with the Buneary and Nincada was EXTREMELY short, but I had didn’t want all this story to go to waste since it was over 100k about ¾ of the way through. I didn’t want to drag it out longer by having more battles, though, so that’s why the battle for those two is on the short side. Heh, besides, we don’t need battles to catch the Mon, right? XD I wanted to throw them in there somehow and not just try to claim them at the end without mentioning them. Just wanted to point that out 8D.
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Old 06-22-2009, 06:43 AM
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Default Re: Ghost Road Blues [Story Deal]

Advanced Grade, as requested.
Note: This is a rather unconventional grade, to say the least. To any other graders looking at this for whatever reason, please don't get the impression that your grades need to provide such a ridiculous level of feedback for every story. However, if you're just trying to get an idea of what else you can analyze in a story besides the usual junk, then please feel free to take what I say here into consideration. That is one of the main reasons why I'm doing these things, after all. Anyway, brace yourself. This one's rather gigantic. I'ma need two posts for this bad boy. ^^;

Story
Plot: Strangely, despite how everything is being told entirely from the perspective of a single character, this story isn't really driven forward so much by the characters as it is by all the things that befall them. The characters serve to rationalize the things that unfold. For example, the events that take place after Jerma leaves the forest are all events of "coincidence," rather events of "decision." Jerma is attacked by a jaguar; Jerma happens upon Kamada's food and is taken under her care; Jerma is found by Keichi; a band of Rockets discover Kamada's nest, and so on. These are all explained as things that happen to Jerma and the other characters, not as things that happen because of them. So your story is really comprised of your characters' reactions, like when Jerma is trying to figure out how being a ghost work. Of course, I'm not trying to say that this is a bad strategy, but rather, that this is a very useful thing to acknowledge about your story, because it'll tell you where your priorities lie.

So now that we know your story is plot-driven, we can analyze a few other things with a more attentive eye. For example, in heavily plot-driven stories, the reasoning behind some of the plot events is often unclear, because events just sort of... happen without any sort of explanation; this is usually different for a character-driven story, where the reasoning is revealed from character actions.

But reasoning is still a very important thing from the reader's perspective, so it's a good idea - from the author's perspective - to try to reveal this reasoning through some other means. An example from this story might be... where the Rockets (or "Rocket-esque" villains) suddenly pop up and attack Jerma's new family. These Rockets come from apparently nowhere, and though you describe them as a rather menacing threat, they are never really built up prior to the hectic battles that ensue. In fact, this happens twice: once with Kamada and her litter, and then again later, with Keichi and Jerma. Both times, the Rockets seem to just randomly discover our protagonists, like it was some kind of wretched fate or something. And perhaps it was supposed to be fate, as dictated by the curse on Jerma's head that he often talks about; however, even if the reader does just accept such a pathetic excuse with no further explanation, later in the story it is revealed that Jerma does, in fact, not have a curse on him. In actuality, Jerma was chosen by the Gods of the Tribe to carry out a task of monumental importance and protect the whole dang forest from the evil of the Jackal Priest. So while this information provides a nice bit of reasoning behind the events of Jerma's early childhood, it really doesn't add anything to the majority of the story that's been told: the events with Kamada and Keichi. By this point in the story, it's more like you're just torturing poor Jerma for no real reason; you might say that's just what angst is, but I'd still argue otherwise. Senseless angst is only dramatic in a surface-level fashion; it has no depth, nothing that can be described beyond mere 'feeling' from the character's perspective, whereas true, meaningful angst belies an understanding of the situation and its causes. Only then, does the character's inability to solve or prevent that situation create any sort of real tragedy or angst-worthy circumstance.

But hold on. This sort of thing happens in the real world, doesn't it? Aren't there people in real life who have everything taken away from them without ever knowing anything about the people who did it or why? Maybe it doesn't happen all the time, but certainly, it's happened before and will continue to happen, right? Well, yes, but such a situation is only meaningful in real life. If something like that happened in the real world, people would be appalled, but inside a fictional story, there's no rhyme or reason to it. The apparent randomness of the ordeal that made it so horrifying in the real world is precisely what makes the same thing so flimsy and indistinct in fiction. These are two very different realms we're talking about here, and while we can regard them as similar in a lot of ways, we should not regard them as equivalent. This is an invaluable thing to keep in mind when you're brainstorming ideas, especially for tragedy.

However, I haven't really offered any solutions thus far, have I? So let us take some time and consider how to improve the tragic aspect of this particular story. In my opinion, the two most important elements of tragedy pertain to suspense and to the characters. Concerning the latter, a tragedy has the most impact when the reader really cares for the characters, and concerning the former, suspense serves to build up the ultimate point of the greatest tragic moment, intensifying the entire feeling.

Suspense: Suspense is a very important tool at your disposal; used correctly, it can serve to punctuate some of your most intense imagery in the mind of the reader and make it even grader, even more potent. The important opportunities for imagery in this particular story are, in my opinion, when you depict the gruesome death of Kamada or that of her young or when you depict the despair on Keichi's face as he realizes that he was unable to protect Jerma. These kinds of moments are ones you should really try to cash in on, I think; to do that, you’ll have to take a few different things into consideration. For example, in order to increase the dramatic impact of Kamada’s death, first consider what makes the death so important in the first place. Kamada is a strong-willed, important character that helps Jerma when it seems like no one else will, so the loss of this character surely serves as a tremendous emotional blow for him, and hopefully, the audience feels some of this as well. Perhaps more importantly, though, consider the actual circumstances of her death, the reason why she dies.

These Rockets that kill Kamada and her kin, they are never seen or spoken of prior to their appearance, so they aren't really all that menacing in the mind of the reader. Sure, they're rockets, and they're bad people, like Jerma precludes with his aura-sensing powers, but beyond that, there's nothing making these antagonists stand. You might argue that the nature of this story - with Jerma being just a young Poke who is ignorant of the outside world - makes it virtually impossible to build up a good antagonist, but even so, I think there are some steps you can take to improve your situation.

For example, in order to explain the reasoning behind the presence of these evildoers to the reader (and to Jerma), it would perhaps be a good idea to first have Jerma catch sight of them before the attack that takes place later. In fact, you could play on this even more with Jerma's "aura sensing" abilities. Perhaps Jerma gets a glimpse of these evil humans at a distance, and he sees their disgusting auras, comparing them with Keichi's brilliant one. This would also serve to build a fair amount of suspense for the tragedy to come. Furthermore, after his sighting, Jerma could go on to tell Kamada about the humans, and her reaction would surely create a newfound sense of urgency in some manner; perhaps she warns Jerma to keep his distance, or perhaps she even goes so far as to try moving them all to a different location entirely, away from the threat that these humans present... or even still another option: perhaps she does something crazy and seeks out these evildoers to kill them in their sleep. Personally, however, I'd have to say that a much more dramatic change to the story would be a lot more effective; I'd suggest getting rid of the notion that the antagonists are Rockets (or at least "Rocket-like") at all, because really, this idea comes from the anime, and unsurprisingly, it is a fundamentally boring and poorly thought out idea. I mean, these are people trying to take over 'cuz they want power... Not exactly all that original or interesting. I think the Jackal Priest presented a much better opportunity for you. Perhaps the Jackal Priest might have actually managed to kill Jerma himself (or better yet, perhaps he concocts an elaborate scheme to make Jerma's death look like an accident) only to realize later that it didn't make a difference whether Jerma is alive or dead, as Jerma returns to fulfill his destiny 'n whatnot.

I also feel like I should mention that these 'Gods' that are spoken of are a bit inconsistent with who and how they choose to help. I mean, they tried to turn Jerma into some kind of hero, and when that totally backfired, they decided to punish the entire Tribe, even though it was just the fault of Jackal Priest. And really, their actions only furthered the Priest's control of the Tribe, making things even worse. There was also never any explanation as to why it had to be Jerma, who was a helpless infant, instead of just appointing someone with actual power, like Jerma's father perhaps. Maybe I'm just being cynic, but when it comes to storytelling, I'm not a fan of using words like "destiny" to explain why something happens. Sure, sometimes you can get away with it, if you have some other area you're focusing on in the story, and yeah, it's something I can forgive pretty easily... but still, you get the idea, right?

Eh, I kinda drifted from the point of this section a bit, but hopefully it was worth it.

Characters: Your main character is a strange little guy by the name of Jerma. He's a "special" Riolu with black fur and a bit of curse on his head. His crazy dialect adds a bit of uniqueness to this story, I think, and makes much of the story really feel like someone is there in front of you, telling you everything. I thought he made a nice, solid main character, especially because you really made an effort to give him a dynamic view of things.

Kamada is also a great character, in my opinion, because she is well-rounded in the sense that she somewhat despises humans, yet still acknowledges that not all humans are bad. She makes her opinions known, and they are rather reasonable opinions, considering her circumstances. And as a loving mother figure, she does a fantastic job.

However, I think some of your characters didn’t really get enough attention, when you stop and consider how important they are to the overall storyline. For example, the Jackal Priest is perhaps the entire reason for everything that happens to Jerma, but compared to the overall length of the story, we don’t really get to see much of him. Granted, Jerma is off doing other things for much of the story, but I think you could’ve at least done a bit more with him in the earlier portion of the story. Because really, Jerma and the Jackal Priest must completely hate each other; I’m sure it would’ve been particularly interesting if you included maybe a specific scene where they exchange words or perhaps just have Jerma reminiscing about such an occurrence. Either way, more interaction between the protagonist and antagonist would’ve gone a long way to furthering the ultimate finish of the story, I think.

Also, Keichi and the rockets are all pretty much unexplored characters; they’re all rather one-dimensional in the good-guy-bad-guy sense. Granted, they’re only minor characters, so it’s not a terribly big deal, but at the same time, I feel like it’s a missed opportunity, because the simplistic nature of these character doesn’t really add anything particularly interesting to the story. They’re more like placeholders, than genuine characters, which is kinda boring, since they have quite a bit of face time.

Antagonists: I wanna take some time to muse about bad guys for a bit, 'cuz this story really got me thinking about how to create a really engaging antagonist.

Really, though, the antagonist doesn't actually have to be a "bad guy," right? The antagonist might actually be a really great person; the only problem is that the antagonist is trying to get in the protagonists way. The antagonist may actually have a damn good reason for his or her actions, so it's important that we not let ourselves get too caught up in writing convention, here.

But of course, if we want a genuine "bad guy," then that's another story. It seems like there are a few different strategies we might employ. For instance, we may want the reader to able to sympathize with the bad guy, because then it feels more... real, perhaps, more interesting. On the other hand, we may want the reader to absolutely hate the antagonist in order to further the notion of conquering evil 'n whatnot. Still another option, though, is to have the villain be entertaining, more than anything. Legendary villains like the Joker could be thought of in this fashion. And I'm sure there are plenty of other strategies out there, but the point is that in order for us to create a really worthwhile enemy in the text, we have to first acknowledge our own desire to discover a character that is more dynamic than the first notions of "evil" may let on.

Battle: Yeah, there was quite a bit of battling going on. In fact, the battling kind of dominated the overall story, which made things feel a bit off, because the main storyline is more about Jerma's relationships and attachments than it is about fighting for survival 'r the nature of violence 'r what have you.

I suppose what I really want to say, though, is that I wish the battles would have been more relevant to Jerma's storyline, rather than just random encounters with poachers. Not only that, but the poacher battles were quite long, as well, and even though you managed to present them in a nice, vivid manner, it feels more like you let much of the story just get lost in the chaotic shuffle of the combat. And there's also the question as to why everything sort of unfolded like a kind of regulation battle; I mean, the Rockets tried to fight with guns, and when that didn't work, they sent out some Pokemon, and when that didn't work, they sent out even more Pokemon, and it played out the exact same way for Keichi. In fact, the young trainer even had a Dragonite and a Spiritomb at his disposal, but apparently he didn't want to use them until after Kamada and her young had been killed. Granted, this was all portrayed from Jerma's perspective, who was a bit preoccupied at the time, making it difficult to gauge things accurately, but still. It felt like things were being needlessly drawn out for the sake seeming more dramatic or exciting or whatever else.

Length: If I regard this story in terms of itself, rather than in terms of URPG standards, I'd have to say it feels a bit too drawn out, and that's probably because of the large amount of battling that takes place. Though, I don't mean to say there is too much fighting going on; rather, I mean to say that the fighting that does go on is itself too drawn out, but I think I've already beaten that into the ground.
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Last edited by Galleon; 06-29-2009 at 12:35 PM. Reason: Yeeeeeeeeesh...
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  #10  
Old 06-29-2009, 12:06 PM
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Default Re: Ghost Road Blues [Story Deal]

Advanced Grade, continued…

Description
Vividness: Vividness in your story really comes from how you word your description. A “tall building” is different from a “sky-bending tower,” less intense, less dramatic. But you know this. It’s clear in your text; you do a great job of using strong words and imagining nice, sensual scenery.

What you may not be so aware of, however, is that vivid description may also come from the natural flow of the text, the flow of entire sentences, as well as the flow of one sentence into another. And flow is determined by the words you choose and by the ideas you present.

Flow: Overall, things progressed at a pretty good pace, but there were a few places that felt a bit stifled, usually in the middle of a battle sequence, like here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyranitar_Trainer View Post
But then one o’ the humans, a solid-lookin’ guy who was as wide as a small tree, reached under the cloth-hide coverin’ ‘is upper body. He pulled a thin golden chain from a’neath the flimsy coverin’, revealin’ another red-‘n’-white orb hanging from the middle. He jerked this free ‘n’ tossed it with a wordless snarl o’ hate ‘n’ fury. What appeared outta this one was a canine that was a few inches taller than me. Its bright yellow ‘n’ spiky fur seemed to glisten in the light o’ the moon ‘n’ Mama Kamada’s flame mane. ‘Round its neck was a thick mane o’ spiky ivory fur, which was so white it made my eyes hurt to stare at it. Its long, slender ears was lettin’ off tendrils o’ bluish current, archin’ between the twitchin’ appendages to create a cracklin’ net o’ electricity. I’d seen one o’ these things a’fore, travelin’ through the forest after bein’ abandoned by its human. This was a Jolteon.
You’re essentially bringing things to a complete standstill in the middle of a sequence where things have just started to speed up. You’re doing it for the sake of providing very detailed description, which is a noble sentiment, but such description is really quite extraneous, in the grand scheme of things. The importance of the action taking place really outweighs the importance of describing things here.

But still, it’s not like we wanna just throw description out the window, even for the sake of a faster pace, right? In this case, it’s important to acknowledge the shift in the pacing that takes place and try to accommodate for it by adjusting the balance of description/action accordingly. To do that, it helps to choose more powerful wording in places, and to tighten up sentences so that they flow easily into one another, like the punctuation isn’t even really there anymore. It’s a difficult thing to do, surely, but that just makes it all the more rewarding when you pull it off. So lemme see about changing that example around a bit...

Quote:
Originally Posted by I like dogs
But then one o’ the humans, a solid-lookin’ guy, wide as a small tree, reached under his cloth-hide 'n' pulled out a thin golden chain, revealin’ another red-‘n’-white orb hanging from the middle of it. He jerked this free ‘n’ tossed it with a wordless snarl. A canine appeared, a few inches taller than me, stretching its slender frame, covered in spiky, bright yellow fur that seemed to glisten in the faint moonlight 'n' that of Mama Kamada's flame. The fur 'round its neck glowed so white, it made my eyes hurt, 'n' its long, slender ears let off tendrils o’ bluish current, archin’ between theyselves in a cracklin’ net o’ electricity. I’d seen one o’ these things a’fore, travelin’ through the forest after bein’ abandoned by its human. This was a Jolteon.
Okay, you might not like all the changes I made, but a key thing to note here is the difference between passive voice and active voice. Many times, when you're describing things, you fall into using passive voice, a specific example being:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Passive
What appeared was a canine...
The active version of this would be:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Active
A canine appeared...
Much of the time, active voice is superior; it usually requires fewer words, making it faster and more ideal for providing smooth, efficient description. But of course, passive voice is important, too.

The real difference between the two voices is that active voice is when something takes action, and passive voice is when something is acted upon. So we should keep this in mind when we decide when to use one or the other. For example, compare the two sentences:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Passive
He was swept away by the river.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Active
The river swept him away.
The first sentence is passive voice, and the second sentence is active voice. However, even though active voice is generally better, in this particular case, it is probably better to use the first sentence. And the reason for it is simple: the first sentence makes 'he' the main focus. The second sentence makes 'the river' the main focus. Granted, the difference is very minor, almost to the point of being insignificant, but this subtle thing can help us increase the effectiveness of our text. I mean, think about it for a moment: in the above two examples, isn't it better for us to focus on the person being swept away by the river, rather than the river itself? Isn't that person more important? That's assuming, of course, that we place a high value upon life, but you get the idea, right? It's a very small difference, and in normal conversation, there's no need to bother with it, but in storywriting, the small differences can mean a lot.

So really, whether or not you liked how I altered your paragraph is irrelevant. The most important thing for me to do in this section was to get you to acknowledge this subtle difference in sentence structure, so that you'll have the presence of mind in the future to judge for yourself, to establish your own idea of what sounds better, what will have more impact upon the reader.

Before I move on, though, let's go back to one of the comparisons I made earlier:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Passive
What appeared was a canine...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Active
A canine appeared...
There's something in particular that I didn't mention before, and that is the way you originally used the word "what" as a placeholder. When we first see the word "what" in that sentence, it doesn't actually have any meaning in the present context; it is referring to something to come in the future, something that will hopefully be made clear. So really, all the word "what" does is slow things down; it kind of prepares the reader for something to come, like a subtle warning, of sorts. And this is because, in the passive voice of that sentence, nothing is happening to the canine, so there has to be a placeholder. In the example with the river, something did happen to the person, which highlights an important aspect of the passive voice: the passive voice may be used to focus on the receiver of an action or to slow things down just a little bit. Whether or not we want to do either of these two things is a judgment call you'll have to make, regardless of whether you acknowledge the decision or not. In the canine example, I felt that the delay offered by the placeholder in the passive voice was unneeded, but you may feel otherwise.

And yeah, I know it seems like a rather complicated thing to remember, but really, if you keep it in mind, I think you'll find that it will be second nature to you in time. Of course, there's no need to worry about it in average conversations 'n whatnot, but when you're really trying to refine a specific piece of text, like say an important turning point in the story, then this kind of thing can greatly improve the flow of things.
Grammar
Semi-Colons: There were a few places where you used semi-colons incorrectly:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyranitar_Trainer View Post
I didn’t know nothin’ other than thick carpets o’ leaf litter 'n' husks o’ fruit, didn’t know nothin’ other than the heavy smell of loam 'n' huge golden flowers that stank like rotten meat; or the cacophony o’ sounds that went on day ‘n’ night.
That last part "or the cacophony o' the sounds that went on day 'n' night" is not a complete thought - not an independent clause, in grammatical terms - and that means the semi-colon should be a comma.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyranitar_Trainer View Post
It were the first time I saw it; since the canopy o’ the forest is so thick; the most o’ the sky I’d ever seen was a quick glimpse here ‘n’ there when the leaves parted just so.
This one is actually a bit weirder than it seems, at first. The problem is that the middle phrase "since the canopy o' the forest is so thick" is not an independent clause, so it can't be conjoined with with the other two phrases around it with a semi-colon. So to fix this, you'd have to turn one of those two semi-colons into a comma. Either one will work; it just depends on what you prefer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyranitar_Trainer View Post
There was red stains ‘round its thick, blunt muzzle; my blood.
That particular semi-colon should probably just be a colon. A comma would technically work, but it'd look kinda a weird and might be confusing.

Clarity: Haha, well. This is a particularly interesting section for this story, since you could argue that dialect made everything more difficult to follow. But really, Jerma's dialect wasn't all that confusing, or at least I didn't think so. And the whole point of the dialect was not to make things clearer, but rather to make them feel more real and interesting, like this narrator is a living, breathing person. So in that sense, the dialect did its job, because Jerma really came alive at certain points, even if he did kinda ramble at times. XD

And as a minor note, there was something that confused me. I might be mistaken here, but I think you switched the name of Keichi's Ariados from Nidia to Kidia. Not a big deal of course, but there it is.
Overall
Outcome: This was a very good story, and under normal circumstances, you'd have captured all of them with relative ease. But these aren't normal circumstances, and I've gotta be pretty harsh here, so I've only awarded a partial capture. Riolu and Scyther captured. Buneary and Nincada not captured.
I'm sorry this took so long for me to finish, but hopefully you can see why it took me so long. I hate breaking my promises, but I'd hate it even more if I'd have given you some sorta half-assed effort. So here ya go: a full-assed effort.

*dies tragically*
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Last edited by Galleon; 07-02-2009 at 07:47 AM. Reason: *whistles*
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