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About Literature / Hobbyist Member Ian Chisholm26/Male/United States Group :icongrammarnazicritiques: GrammarNaziCritiques
Truth can be harsher in a Crit
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Taken at face value, the city is burning. Golden-red flames leap from house to house, roaring down streets with any change of the wind, reducing vision to gray ash in some places while others become clear of all impediment. The safest spaces still left are the plazas and other open areas, the wider the better; crowds of surviving adventurers have gathered in them, fighting off waves of approaching Beastmen that leap out from the walls of flame. In short, nowhere is safe.

Zarah guides Teal through the streets, muttering to herself all the while, “Chrys Avenue is all brick but Olive Street will be full of wagons, Walnut has all those lumber yards, Poppy has that new winery. If we go up Cherry and cross Sunflower, we'll be on Nectarine and that's a straight shot.”

The ground is covered up to their ankles in a thick purple fog. Teal almost stumbles on the unsure footing below, then holds up a gauntlet as Zarah reaches out to brush her hand along one of the vines, “Do I really need to tell you to not touch those?” Zarah turns to look back, her hand seconds away from doing just that, and Teal sighs. “That is War Vine, or appears to be. The gas will kill you slowly and painfully.”

Zarah rolls her eyes, “Obviously I know not to breath in the gas.”

“And the sap on the vine has a paralytic agent,” Teal continues, pointing at the slick surface. Zarah pulls her hand back, and Teal smiles. “Touch the vine and you will be face-down in the gas.”

“Okay, so now I know not to touch them.” Zarah throws her hands up in the air, “Any more important things you should have been sharing with me?”

“The vines grow fastest though pre-softened earth or waiting tunnels, so watch for places where the ground looks disturbed.” Teal looks around, “I've never heard about War Vine getting this big, but the same general rules should apply. Don't touch it, don't breath the gas, and it takes about an hour to burn through a helm's length if it's fresh.”

Zarah growls, “The question didn't need answering Teal.”

“I disagree. This is your city and you are invaluable in helping me navigate, but as a soldier war is my field of expertise. We must protect each other in these circumstances.” Teal stares for a moment at the other woman, who only shrugs. “Do you agree Zarah?”

“Sure, whatever. I got your back, you got mine.” Zarah turns around to keep moving, “Let's up the pace fatty.” Teal sighs and follows her.

They slog through the city, crossing empty yards and climbing to higher ground when possible to avoid the gas. When a large vine blocks their path Zarah takes them through the back door of a grim apartment complex. The slum housing connects with another building by a bridge above a burning street filled with forsaken goods, and on the other side they find an indoor spa and fitness center. Warm pools of mud wait at one end of the room with benches and iron weights at the other, but the two pass through toward the front door.

As they approach the handle turns and a squad of Beast-men enter the room in quick succession, each wearing a different colored hat pulled low over its eyes. Zarah pulls her sword and Teal drops the faceplate of her helm, but the Beast-men do not seem to be aware of them.

“Aye, aye, aye!” The five Beast-men part as the large-armed adventurer - now only wearing a single plain black hat - walks out from among them, “No need for violence.” The scantily-clad woman walks just behind him, wand shaking as she points the tip in every direction. The adventurer crosses his arms bulging with muscles and stares at the two, “And I recall we've met before. Good to see you ladies again. Can you perhaps tell me why I found this charmer unconscious in an alley near where I ran across you?”

Teal glances at Zarah, who looks away. The bark-armored woman sighs as she turns back to the adventurer, “Enthusiasm if I remember. I apologize for her treatment.” Teal's voice becomes low and hard, “Now I hope that isn't illegal mental control magic being used through those hats.” She points to the five Beast-men standing in a perfect calm, making no noises or movements. “Should I have arrested you earlier and confiscated those items?”

The large-armed adventurer smirks, then laughs outright, “Ah, Miss Paladin, we all do things we aren't proud of in war. And with my question answered, perhaps we go our separate ways for now. I had thought to offer my partnership in fighting this battle, but it seems you and I might not get along.”

Teal nods, “Agreed Sir Mage. But if I see those hats again, my duty will be clear.”

“Confiscate and arrest, I know.” The adventurer shrugs, then grins, “Or in other words knock about the head as you feel justified. Frankly I have at times called you paladins the schoolyard bullies of the magical community, and after our previous encounter I once again felt correct.”

“I apologize for your treatment as well,” Teal adds through gritted teeth. The adventurer chuckles and tips his single hat to her, to which the five Beast-men nod their heads in unison, and like that the two groups pass each other in silence. Zarah and the scantily-clad adventurer glare daggers at each other, and Teal looks away as the large-armed man opens a back door with a key from his pocket.

Outside the fitness center the two women find themselves on a long street of many different business, with offices and buildings on both sides almost untouched by fires. Zarah leads the way past a company promising cheap foreign travel arrangements, a small office offering low-interest rate loans, and a salon that announces it can give tans darker than Light himself. At the end of this empty street of dreams they turn the corner and continue onward, as flames appear at the other end of the street like a shy stalker.

A lone figure waits atop the central dais of Rift Circle plaza, a long white robe with gold fringes covering their short frame. The hood is up, the front held closed by a single white metal pin showing a shield over top of a mountain, and the Small Folk's arms are crossed within the loose sleeves. They walk in a circle, weaving between the silent pillars, robe sweeping the ground behind their pacing. The plaza itself is untouched. No large vines can be seen in the area, the gas does not approach over the slightly raised ground, and the fires are kept at a distance by the cobblestones and lack of near structures.

Other than the lone figure nothing at all moves under the swirling sky high above, until Teal approaches the dais, maul handle at the ready with a large brick of packed earth on the end. The figure turns to her, shadows concealing their face but there is the hint of a smile as Teal calls out, “Rolf? Is that you?”

“My little lost lambs, I am not the one you seek.” The voice is familiar enough to give Teal pause, and when the figure throws back their hood she takes a step back. With his eyes closed and his smile warm, the Small Folk man looks identical to Klax. “Are you lambs though? Or are you dancers?” His eyes remain closed, but his attention seems focused on Teal.

She squints, “Klax?”

The smile becomes a frown, “That is closer to my own, but not yet there. If I must I will introduce myself; I am Kem, demigod of the White. You lambs will revere me, that is my word.”

“Lambs?” Teal gestures around herself, “I am alone.”

The warm smile is back, “Pardon me my lamb, but you are not alone. In truth we are never alone, but that is beside the point. Now you might have fooled someone else, but not I. For the sake of politeness would you mind introducing yourselves?”

Teal lowers the head of her maul to the ground, “I am Teal, Queen's Paladin and avowed foe to the Phoenix Army, to bring justice upon those who destroyed Burroughs.”

Zarah darts out from a pillar behind Kem and brings her sword down toward his head, “And I'm Zarah!” Without turning Kem steps to the side, and when Zarah changes the direction of the downward slash in to a sideways slice aimed at his legs he hops up above the sword, which shears through the lower half of his trailing robe.

Turning, Kem smirks, “You can't hit me little lamb. I'm surprised a shy thing like you can hit anyone.” His left arm emerges from the robe's sleeve, the skin milky white like a glove, one finger raising to point at Zarah, “Go away.” The hand changes in an instant to become a brilliant white blade that keeps growing bigger and bigger, the point thrusting at Zarah's heart.

The half-human's eyes go wide and she whispers, “Armor on!” Her cloak wraps around to become the suit of black armor and the ever-growing sword taps against the steel plates over her chest. Despite how light the hit looked, Zarah cries out as her body is thrown backward. She rolls on her side some twenty helms before coming to a stop, as her sword clatters to the ground under the Small Folk's feet. He floats in the air now, on eye level with Teal as he turns back to her. When he holds out his left hand, normal again, the severed piece of cloth floats up off the ground and joins with his robe in a glimmer of light.

“My lamb, I apologize. Did I scare you?”

Teal shakes her head, dropping the face-plate of her helm down and raising her maul up again, “Are you a member of the Phoenix Army?” Teal tightens her grip on the wooden handle and demands, “Are you responsible for taking the local wildlife and abducting my children?”

The Small Folk snickers, “And what will you do if I say yes to your useless interrogations my lamb? You cannot hit me either, even with the rage in your heart. Not that I personally did those two things, but I suppose they did happen because of me.”

Groaning a little, Zarah whispers, “Armor off” and stands up. “Your army is pretty dumb,” she calls out, taking a few wobbling steps closer. “If you use up all the animals fighting your war, you won't have anything to eat after conquering everything.”

“Incorrect my naive lamb. The soldiers and civilians of Vane-Malla are vegetarians,” Kem looks around at the city and sighs, “though personally I am saddened to see so much go to waste.”

Teal nods, “Earth motes provide sparse room for animals to graze, resulting in little or no meat for a force traveling upon one.”

“Exactly my lamb, exactly!” Kem shakes his fist at the sky, “The only other creatures to be found on Vane-Malla are a few insects and those moronic, inbred birds. Everything is crunch and bone and gristle!” Zarah stares at Kem, her mouth agape the shape of an O.

Teal plants her maul against the ground and chuckles, “And you call yourself a Demigod? Can't you simply create a meal?”

Kem smiles, “Half clever lamb, but that is a complex matter. Of course I can create anything I desire, but I must understand it as well. My mental faculties are beyond any mortal creature, but not infinite.” Teal listens at standing attention, as Zarah's eyes glaze over listening to him lecture. “For example, a good shank of leg meat contains many things, some that can't even be seen by your eyes. And even if I were to hold them all together in my mind and will the whole to existence, it is exactly the same every time. That is soon boring, from lacking the many imperfections found in any one sample of the real thing. I could assume my full godly powers … but that too is boring. In the end it is more interesting to fail at the task.”

Teal's hands tighten around her maul handle, the red crystal grinding against her bark armor gauntlet, “Then if you are so powerful, why do you work for this Phoenix Army? Why put yourself at the command of a mortal organization if you alone are god-like?”

“You mean command rather than be commanded? Rule rather than be ruled?” Teal nods, waiting patient, and Kem scoffs and waves the question away, “I do not care for mortal concerns. Ruling others is not how I wish to spend my time, and the Black Emperor does the job to my standards. If he gives me a task, he does so because it suits my interests. And I will place my power at his calling as long as he continues to do so.”

“Place your power? Your interests?” Zarah laughs behind her hand, “Sounds like he made you his bitch without telling you.”

The Small Folk smiles and sighs, “Sweet lamb, you know only one thing and even then you know it half well. I respect the Black Emperor's tactical acumen, his skill and perhaps even lust for battle at every scale. His desire to conquer and rule this land runs parallel to my own divine concerns, and so I chose to ally myself with him as an equal. He is not a god like I, but he is all that a mortal man can achieve.”

Teal stands taller, “And he is why you are here? He gave you some task to complete?”

“He did, but I was eager for other reasons.” Kem strolls closer to Teal through the air, his thin smile leering at her. “There is so much blood here, so much death. I could never miss such theater, such drama as this.” His right eyelid rises but there is no eye within, only a black hole that grows larger as Teal stares in, wide-eyed and quivering. Slime-covered creatures move within that dim void, slick with crimson as they squelch through a landscape of meat and bone and what once was clothing, weapons and armor. One of them wears full plate like Teal and uses a black maul to crush something reaching up from the ground. Kem closes the eye again, a helm's distance away from her. “I have seen it all before my lamb, many times before, but I am never sated. I must have more war, more blood.”

“By the moon Teal, hit him,” Zarah shouts, sprinting forward to retrieve her sword. “He's right in front of you.” She reaches her sword and vanishes the moment she has it in hand, but Kem does nothing to stop her.

“I – can stop that, won't allow it.” Teal's words stumble over each other, her voice thick as if her tongue has gone numb. “I will prevent war from my home.”

Kem shrugs, “Do so if you can. I also wished to meet my fellow dancers, whom I could sense were all gathered in the city below. The gods brought us near and I could not pass up the chance to meet before the true war begins.” His right arm, pale white like his left, reaches across the space between them as if to caress Teal's chin. “You have some mental fortitude my lamb; most creatures twist and cry upon the ground after seeing the things I have seen, but you still stand. I ask again, are you a dancer?”

“Get away from her you creepy bastard.” Zarah shoulders Teal away from Kem and swings her sword up at him. His left eye opens, and her blade slows and stops an instant from Kem's feet as Zarah is arrested by the visions within. The world there is bright, an eternal summer's day where the grass grows wild and green across a hill overlooking the sea. A single tree stands at the top and in that shade three people sit together on a blanket, laughing beside an open basket: a tall man blue as the ocean behind, a woman whose blue specks reach out to her neck and arms, and a child between them. Kem closes his eye and floats away, leaving Zarah to blink in stunned silence.

Reaching Teal's side again, Kem's right arm stretches to an unnatural length and slips inside the pocket of her armor, pulling out the red and white orb, “And then there is this.” Teal reaches up to grab the orb back but her movements are halting and sluggish. Kem spins up and away from her as he stares in to the swirling orb, “Of all the tools created for this war, this I admire the most. There is an elegance and a beauty to it, a simple grace found in its careful construction, and a potential for greatness if one considers the many uses.”

He tosses the orb up in the air and then sits upon one of the rift circle's columns, crossing his legs and watching as the orb falls toward the ground. Teal turns and dives to catch it, but Kem speaks a word in some grating language and she is thrown aside as a blast-wave of shadow expands out from around the orb, which hits the ground and shatters like glass. A cloud of smoke grows from that point to cover and obscure the entire area, and Kem remarks as they are all hidden from sight, “Now face the trial you lambs have put aside long enough.”
High War - Chapter 15.2

Kem! So he's a god of this world, or almost one; he sorta holds himself back from becoming a true god, but he also really wants to be one, but he also can't yet. In this world gods are a definitive thing, both beings of unparalleled magical power and guardians of all creation. They usually choose one specific aspect of life to watch over, such as Light with birth, or the Damned God and death. They are omnipotent, with the ability to bring any physical thing they can imagine to reality, which is really just the highest / simplest form of magic. They are omniscient, even able to see within a soul or know of things from outside their world. They are not omnibenevolent, but a certain sense of 'Live And Let Live' does tend to settle over them. They require worship to sustain their power but they do not need it to live, and they do sometimes die in extraordinary circumstances. Kem has some of those things but not all of them, so he is called a Demigod.

This is a part of my High War project, a story about people in a D&D-inspired world that I have tried very hard to make my own. I really don't want to step on anyone's copyright toes here, which to some degree is not easy at all. I have no idea where the background of my preview image comes from, as far as I know it came from a free image site; if you know otherwise then please tell me so I can take it down, although I would be happier to use it with the permission of its creator. This will be a story for somewhat mature audiences, there will be occasional violence, language and adult themes. Thanks for understanding, and if you don't then I would be happy to discuss with you my thoughts on the issue.


Next: soon ...

The Clay and Hiero method of searching is steady and silent. The two walk down the crossways and paths with one always looking to the left and the other to the right. Kinder sings as they walk, a slow melody that keeps time with rocking from side to side on Cotton's sturdy back. The boys check behind boulders, take a peek inside a shallow cave where they are chased out by Zubat, and end up fighting a pair of dirty Scraggy itching for a tussle which Cotton and Mudkip are able to provide. After the battle they keep searching, but aren't having any luck yet.

The Zack and Lana method is quite different. Zack is everywhere at once, climbing on rocks and crawling through small passageways and running up and down inclines in the path several times as he waits for Lana to catch up. She seems too busy with her Poketool device to help, but every now and then uses it to find a small item ball buried in the dirt or inside small holes in the walls. Zack challenges a Mienfoo to a race and the sweatband-wearing Pokemon seems to understand; the two charge around a large circular gallery of stone and Zack wins when he throws Slakoth through the archway that is their goal. All three end up eating from a wild Berry bush together, with Lana laughing behind them. They're having about as much luck finding the psychic's grandson, but a lot more fun.

Flying high above the canyons a Pokemon can be seen casting a large shadow upon the land. The stone-gray Flying-type Pokemon crisscrosses the desert, occasionally giving a high-pitched screech that causes the various high-climbing Trainers to look up in wonder or terror or battle-crazed excitement. Some try to throw Pokeballs or aim their Pokemon's attacks at the speedy flier but it smacks both away with equal ferocity; an Aerodactyl is a rare sight even among Trainers, but this one must belong to someone already with how easily it sends back their Pokeballs. Watching from the underside of a high cave roof, Jeevan the psychic smiles to himself as he watches the Pokemon fly by.

From within the canyons, down at the lowest level, the Flying type is only an occasional shadow. Clay tips back his hat to try to catch a glimpse of it going by, then whispers to Hiero, “I reckon that big gray guy up there is looking for something, or an unlucky someone. That'd be the third time I've seen it pass over us.”

“A Pokemon that big must eat quite a lot, I assume it must spend a lot of time searching for food.” Hiero shivers and turns his gaze back down, “I hope there are no Pokemon that eat humans, a Pokemon wanting to eat me sounds like a bad dream.”

Clay chuckles, “Pokemon eat lots a strange things. Dreams, electricity, metal, clouds, all sorts a stuff. But yeah, I ain't never heard of a Pokemon doing that, thank Arceus. The world's a big place though.”

“The world is not so big for someone well-traveled, a traveler sees the same things everywhere they go.” Hiero glances down at the two Pokeballs at his side, one hand brushing against them, “The same practices, the same rituals, again and again.”

“My pa would say the world only looks black and white to the color-blind,” Clay shrugs, “but my pa can be mysterious like that sometimes. I'd reckon you don't look so old, how much traveling have ya done?”

Hiero nods, “This is the second year of my Pokemon journey, I'm twelve now. But I have visited three regions besides this one in that time, this region is my birthplace and I visited three others before returning.”

“Twelve?” Clay tips his hat to the side to watch Hiero's face, “I can't remember being much interested in girls when I was twelve.” Hiero says nothing, his eyes on the wall for hiding spots. Clay sighs and goes back to looking in his direction, “I reckon I'll come clean. I split us into teams like this so I could talk to ya for a bit, away from Lana. Are you an that girl really getting, well uh, so close as she suggested?”

Clay's Mareep makes a soft “E-e-e-e” that sounds like laughter and Kinder leans forward with wide eyes and perked ears. Hiero's cheeks color slightly but he still says nothing, one hand fidgeting with his jacket as the other traces the wall.

“Because I ain't gonna judge ya boy, but I worry for ya. That girl seems a little … uhhh, loopy in the head.” Clay coughs and apologizes, “Sorry ta be blunt.”

Hiero mumbles, “Maybe she is different from others, I know that Lana can be a little strange.” His voice gains strength as he goes, “But she's confident and she's brave and says whatever she wants and doesn't have to hold back anything. I think she's really pretty and beautiful and if she likes the real me, if she'll accept me for who I am, I'll do anything for her.” He turns to Clay, his eyes unwavering, “I would do anything if she asked me to.”

Clay holds up his hands in surrender, “I hear ya loud and clear boy but I mean, uh – ya know, funny thing is I always reckoned I'd be giving this speech to ma little sisters so I've got it prepared somewhat. Look, if someone ya like asks ya ta do something ya don't wanna do, ya gotta be brave enough to say no. Someone who really truly likes ya will understand, and anyone who can't doesn't really like ya. And even if ya did it once, that can be the end of it if you didn't want to. Understand?”

After a long pause his mouth wavers opens to respond, but whatever Hiero would have said is interrupted by a horrendous screeching. Both boys cover their ears in pain before looking up, while the Pokemon with them roil on the ground. The Aerodactyl looms above them, staring down. Its large eyes seem focused on Hiero and Clay as it screams a piercing cry at them, flapping its wings from a upper levels stone perch. Quick as lightning Clay returns Cotton and grabs Kinder before running away, Hiero in hot pursuit. The Aerodactyl tries to follow them, screeching and flapping, but the winding canyons give them cover from above and they escape into a skinny crevice after turning a sharp corner. They hide there in complete silence as the Flying-type moves from spot to spot above, trying to find them again.

Zack looks up at the sky, his lips stained blue from Berry juice, “Did you hear that?” Lana doesn't look up from her Poketool, but holds a hand to her ear before shaking her head, while Slakoth holds up its head as if waiting for a sound to come. “Oh. I thought I just heard the cries of someone.” His eyes go somewhere distant, “Like maybe the sound of a friend I forgot all about and left behind long ago, so what I heard was a whisper through time echoing in these canyons for so long that the sound became trapped in an endless maze of stone. Isn't that something that can happen in canyons, like hearing the ocean in a shell?”

“That is absolutely a myth.” Lana looks over at Zack, “One of those quirky things dumb people made up because it sounded cool.”

“Really?” Zack looks down at the ground, his usual smile only seconds from becoming a frown; Slakoth reaches over to jab Zack in the shoulder and he perks up again. “Well I love the myth better than the truth! The idea of the ocean being trapped in the shell is so romantic and cool, like retro jazz music or wearing shades indoors even though you can't see. Sometimes you just have to believe in the myth because it's more fun!”

Lana shrugs, “Sure, if you don't mind believing in something incorrect. But that's magical thinking. Believing in the scientific explanation is always more rewarding, you have to base your thoughts in reality to get real and useful results.”

“Ooohhh! Is that why you didn't like the psychic guy?” Lana winces at Zack's question and her eyes dart around as if searching for the old tweed gentleman. Zack chuckles, “You must not like him because he's magic and you can't do science on magic!”

“No!” Lana retorts, a growl in her voice. “Psychic power is a well-proven fact of science and I don't dispute it. I just think it's gross, going around breaking the laws of nature for fun or whatever.” Pointing at her head she glares at Zack, “And you have to consider our rights to privacy, he might try to read your mind or control your body! Psychics go around flaunting their powers and there's no one to rein them in from doing whatever they want.” She stomps her foot, “There should be a list made of all psychics and their powers, so we know who they are and what they can do!”

Zack holds up his hands, “Wow, um, okay? I just met a psychic for the first time today so I don't know about all that, but he seemed nice. I bet if you and he had a long talk about science stuff then that would make you two best friends!”

Lana snorts, rolling her eyes, “Uh, that is a big not possible. Me and some old guy becoming best-est buds is right there on the list with a working perpetual motion machine or a pizza topping I don't like, especially since the old guy in question is a psychic.”

“Because,” Zack's eyes are wide and wet at the corners, “because you don't like guys? So does that mean you don't like me?” His lower lip wobbles and Slakoth pats him on the back.

“What? Aw, you're all right. It's more like,” Lana tips her head to the side, thinking for a moment as Zack dries his eyes, “I don't like some guys. Old people are set in their ways because their minds have gone rigid, and some old people can't see things right in front of them.”

“Oh, like that Gym Leader you didn't get along with and who,” Zack sniffs and his lower lip starts wobbling again, “who - !”

Lana nods, “Exactly! I won't be friends with someone who can't be taught how the world really is, but some old guys do know. Old ladies know how the world really is too, thus reducing the set of people I can't get along with down to just the majority of old guys. Who should all just go away I say.” Zack starts blubbering, his hands pressed against his eyes as tears pour down his cheeks, and Lana sighs. “Yes, we all know about your tragic losses to Gym Leader Kev, but that's done with now.”

Zack cries louder and Slakoth is back to patting him on the back, glaring at Lana now. She only raises an eyebrow at them.

The Aerodactyl is above on a rocky shelf, beak open as if to scream but for now remaining silent. The Flying-type rocks is head from side to side, blinking its large triangular eyes, then flaps off as stealthily as it arrived. Lana looks up to where it was perched but misses its departure as the Aerodactyl's shadow passes overhead.

Crying is heard in the distance and Zack looks up, sniffing with a rough swipe at his leaky nose. But when Zack stops blubbering, the crying stops too. Zack turns to Lana, “Did you hear it that time?”

She nods, “You may actually be on to something, go back to your caterwauling for whatever reason and let's see if it happens again.”

“My what,” Zack asks. Lana rubs at her eyes and wags her chin up and down, and Zack frowns. “I can't just be sad on command, but I couldn't stop thinking about, about - !” He starts blubbering again, and Lana cups a hand to her ear. Again the sound of crying can be heard, bouncing off the stone walls. Lana grabs Zack by the arm and pulls him to his feet so they can follow the sound.

They chase the crying down the winding passages, though after a few turns the sounds go silent. Lana sighs and comments, “Did you ever think about how you will most likely be an orphan when you die?” Zack's eyes go wide and he shakes his head; the crying begins again. A few turns later when the trail goes cold Lana tells him, “There are an estimated one billion Pokemon waiting at Pokecenters for Trainers who will never return for them.” And a short while later, “Ghost-type Pokemon are thought to be the mental remnants of people who died in horrible ways.”

Zack hiccups, “That's both sad and frightening put together!”

Lana shrugs as the crying stutters and stops in agreement, but the location is now evident. A thin fissure in the wall takes them to a closed underground room, with a sink of sand in the middle and the outer edges dotted with rock outcroppings. A small blue bassinet waits for them on one of the rock surfaces. Giving the central sand pit a wide berth, Zack and Lana creep closer and peer inside. They find a small sleeping child no older than one year.

Looking at the baby, Lana whispers to Zack, “How old did he say his kid was?”

Zack shrugs, “Old enough to play hide and go seek. But we can't leave this guy here. Maybe Mister Jeeves can find his parents.”

“And you trust the psychic to deliver him,” Lana asks. Zack picks up the bassinet by the handle and carries it toward the exit, holding it up in front of him to get through the thin fissure. Following him at a casual stroll, Lana adds, “And not take sustenance from eating his mind I mean.”

When they get outside under the canyon-walled sky, Zack puts the bassinet down and cups his hands around his mouth. Slakoth drops down from his back in time to plug the baby's ears as Zack shouts, “Mister Jeeves!”

“Jeevan Bhimaa,” Lana supplies with a smirk.

Zack laughs, “Right!” And then he shouts to the air above, “Mister B!”

“Yes young Zack?” Zack and Lana jump away as Jeevan appears behind them, but then the psychic notices the baby. “Akii! There you are you rascal!” He looks up at Zack, “Where did you find him my good chap?”

Lana is hiding behind a wall again, and Zack points toward the fissure in the wall, “In there. But wow! Did you teleport? That was sooo cool! What does it feel like? Have you always been able to do it? Can you teleport me? I wanna go to the moon!”

The psychic's smile weakens under the assault of questions, and he speaks in this opportunity, “I can young Zack but it takes quite a bit out of me, especially with passengers or for long jumps. I would like to thank you in some way though. Is there some simpler way I can return this aid you have given?”

“Hmmm.” Zack crosses his arms and frowns, thinking hard. Then he nods, “Okay, I want to know something!” Behind him, Lana's eyes go wide and she crouches down farther behind the wall. “Tell me what my potential is!” Lana freezes, then sighs with a smile. Zack continues, “There was this funny older lady who smelled me and then the older guy with her said that meant I had some kind of potential, so I want to know what it is!”

Jeeven nods and approaches Zack. He presses his free hand against Zack's forehead and closes his eyes, then smiles, “I can't say for sure what that pair meant young Zack but your brain is delightfully soft and squishy, like a good chilled jam.” Zack frowns and starts to protest but the psychic stops him, “I'm saying you do have this thing we might call potential, a nicely squishy brain is simply the facts of the matter. Keep trying new things and expanding your mind, awaken every part of it that you can, because you still have much time to do so.”

Lana's eyes go wide and she moves a little out of her hiding spot, but Zack shrugs, “I don't really understand Mister B but okay! I'll do it, I was going to anyway so it's not hard to keep going, and I'll be the best at everything!”

Jeevan nods, “Quite. Now hurry forward young Zack, your friend is waiting for you I believe. Go have a grand journey.” The tweed gentleman tips his bowler hat and bows, then vanishes from the spot with the bassinet in his hand.

Returning to the central path through the canyons, Zack calls out for Clay and Hiero, while Lana uses her Poketool to call them. When the two boys and two Pokemon return, Zack tells them the story of finding baby Akii in the hidden cavern as they all continue through the canyon. Eventually the path starts to climb and they are exiting the maze.

Just outside the canyon's entrance, a shack sits with a large sign promoting 'Free Climbing Gear Here! Inquire Within!' Zack cheers and rushes toward the building, but a stern voice stops him.

“Hey!” Approaching them, Rae sighs, “So you all decided to follow me? Well luckily for you I was just on my way to get you, I need you for something.” She glances at Lana, “But first, would someone introduce me to the new member of the group?” Lana smiles and waves at her as Zack, Clay and Hiero look at each other.
Pokemon: the Game - Chapter 17

I'm experimenting with montages a bit in this chapter, those quick flashes of storytelling used to move the story through simple moments to the more interesting stuff. In the game version Clay's double battle in the canyons would have been covered round by round, maybe something interesting would have happened but probably not. The player would have been complaining by that point (and rightfully so) that I wasn't giving him enough battles to level up his Mareep. But in a story things such as EXP don't matter, or I can at least give them only a brief mention like here. In comparison, Zack's Slakoth leveling and learning Encore (which happened after only a few wins because he was fighting a lot of tough opponents from the start) was important because Zack's journey is that of a Trainer and Future Champion. For Clay, and to a lesser extent Hiero, I don't need to show their moment-by-moment journey as a Trainer. Clay's journey is that of a Ranger, and Hiero's ... will stay a secret for now.

This is part of my Risen Saga, a Pokémon story with blood and violence and occasionally even death. There may also be nudity, sexual themes, strong language and material that is almost certainly ideologically sensitive ... but I rarely put up the mature content filter because I don't want to restrict anyone from reading this story. If you feel strongly that I should for a specific piece, please say so, I would appreciate that! Oh, and if you go here you can check out a map I made of the Leogre Region, complete with routes and location information. Pokémon belongs to the Pokémon people and not to me; thank goodness, I'd probably do this to it.


Next ... soon?

From outside the tall, golden walls, the city looks no different than it would on a busy day. The gates are closed, though no guards remain. Many thin plumes of white smoke drift up, while cries and yells are heard in the distance as if from some large festival. Booms and thuds sound like fireworks going off in the distance, and the occasional flash of light or color fires up in to the air. Sitting in the upper branches of a thin tree with pale yellow leaves, no more than a shouting distance from the wall, Zarah smiles as she watches the show.

The sky remains a swirling storm that has gotten fiercer, blocking out much of the sunlight over the city though less so beyond the walls. More explosions are heard and black smoke plumes rise, along with the sounds of screaming and roars. The group of five adventurers from before runs out of the near gate and slams it closed, only just in time to catch the giant blade that sticks through a second later. Together they hack at it, but the leg is pulled back; the five adventurers stand and stare at the door for a moment before turning to walk away. Zarah shrugs, then almost falls from her perch at the next loud cracking sounds.

Giant, slick green vines grow inside and outside the city like a hundred snakes reaching for the sun, climbing up the walls and reaching over the top to meet and twist together. Some wave back and forth in the fierce winds, while others crash to the ground. Small purple pods pop out along the vines and as they bloom the flowers release a thick, drifting smog that falls to the ground like snow. Zarah turns away with a grimace, then spins backwards on the branch and drops down.

At ground level Teal is on her knees beside the sleeping child, who lays nestled among the tree's roots. Zarah's sword leans against the other side of the trunk. The half-human herself drops down to land beside Teal, stretching her arms behind her head, “I can't see much over the walls from up there, but I don't need to. It's not looking good for my city.” Teal says nothing, her eyes glued to the child.  “Sooo I'm thinking we're done here. Mission failed, we didn't get the info in time and my city is getting sacked. I don't have to guard you any more either.”

“Fine by me,” Teal mumbles. She then speaks clearly, “Where will you go?”

“Eh, west maybe, or I'll stick around here and see if the King's Army arrives to clean up this mess. I'm betting you'll follow that Small Folk guy and his gang, protect them until they get to a new city?” She points her thumb back behind her, where the Small Folk in question has his former street urchins sitting and talking amongst themselves in the copse of trees. They seem in no hurry to leave, and their Boss paces back and forth with a deep scowl.

“I can't leave yet.” Teal speaks without turning around, “I found one of my children Zarah. Do you see what that means? There may be more of them like this, transformed or whatever those monsters in the sky did, the same as the animals were. It may not be safe to go back in, but I need to stay close. And I have questions for this child, so I want to wait until he wakes up.”

“I thought it was because,” Zarah runs a hand over her braided hair, her eyes looking away for a moment, “because you wanted to see if the Phoenix guys appear? For some kind of ritual?”

Teal nods, “That was my intention at first. Now though, I don't know what to expect. It does not seem as if the group's members have themselves come down to fight, only to scout and gain information. The beasts of the land have been made in to human-like war creatures, and at least one of my children was transformed into some kind of murderous machine. Neither were being personally led by the group as far as I can tell, making it likely that some subtle magic is directing them. All of which points to the group not planning on endangering themselves for this attack.”

“Then I'll say it again.” Zarah spreads her arms wide, “Why not call it a lost cause and leave?”

“I wouldn't have thought you would suggest running from a fight,” replies Teal with a small smile.

Zarah rolls her eyes, “Don't even try it fatty. I did my fair share of the fighting, more than my fair share actually, and now I'm nearly out of energy. If I continue to fight, my life might actually be in danger and I'm not stupid enough to do that without a healer on hand or a good stock of healing potions. I'm not suggesting anyone turn tail and run away, I'm suggesting … uh, just be smart.”

“The Azum of Battle describes the only truly strategic retreat as leading the enemy in to an ambush. But I agree with your point all the same Zarah.” Teal sighs and closes her eyes, “That is why I think I will stay where we are for now. Outside the city where it is theoretically safe, but close enough to go back in if the battle seems to be changing. A few more hours is all I am considering.”

Zarah sighs, “Fine, have fun with that. I'm going back up to watch again.” She jumps and pulls herself up by one of the lower branches, grumbling as she goes. “I'm certainly not staying any longer than I have to. But it's my damned city and I'll give it the respect of watching it burn.”

The smallest of the street urchins comes over to Teal and tugs on her arm, “Hey, um, scary lady?” Teal turns around with one eyebrow raised, pointing up the tree, but the child shakes her head. With a small sigh Teal points at herself, and the child nods. “I know the Boss won't say it, but thanks for helping with the door. But you better leave the Boss alone and stop picking on him because that isn't nice.”

“I was not trying to pick on him child. He and I seem to have a small disagreement over his methods of guardianship, but we are adults. We can argue about things and still be on good terms.”

The child shakes her head, “Nuh-uh. You were talking to him in a mean person voice. So no more telling the Boss what to do, he's the best boss around.” Teal smiles and the small child nods, “And don't be so serious and frowning.”

“My apologies child. I have not had much reason to smile for several days now, but I will try to get back in the habit.” Teal turns back to the sleeping child, “I have hope again at least.”

The smallest child nods with a grim satisfaction, “Good, because smiles make you a little less scary.” She points to the sleeping child, “So is he okay? What happened to him?”

“I do not know for sure, but I believe he has had a very rough day. Some bad people took him and his family from their home, and I had worried he was gone forever, but now that I have found him I am all the more concerned for his brothers and sisters.”

“Oh.” The young girl frowns, looking down at the sleeping boy, “That does sound bad. So he was with mean people?”

“The meanest,” Teal answers, pointing up at the swirling sky. “They are the ones causing this weather I believe, and the reason for why the city became unsafe. But do not worry, we will deal with them and get you and your family back in to the city.”

“You and the Boss will beat them up? Okay, but the Boss doesn't like working with grownups so you'd better be extra nice to him.”

“Hmm, is that so?” Teal breathes out, looking pensive for the benefit of the child, “Ah, I've got an even better idea now. Your Boss will take you somewhere safe and protect you, and I will take the big sword lady and some others to deal with the bad guys. And you can help too, okay? Be good and listen to what the Boss says during this crisis, but also tell him if you think an idea of his might put you in danger. For example, stealing can put your family in danger, especially during a crisis.”

The child scowls, “We don't talk about stealing things with anyone on the outside, but I'll think about it. Maybe.” She turns and runs away, her arms flailing behind her. Teal smiles and looks up in to the tree branches.

A beam of blue light zigzags across the sky, never moving in one direction for more than a few helms distance but keeping to the general heading. Spotting it moving in her direction, Teal sits down and leans back against the tree, waiting. The blue light comes to a sudden stop when it reaches her and then begins orbiting Teal's head in a fixed pattern, passing through the tree trunk like a ghost.

Teal shouts up to Zarah, “I'm taking a sending! This could be important, please do not distract me!” She reaches up and catches the blue light in the palm of her red crystal hand, whereupon it becomes a small turquoise dot before sinking in. The blue dot reappears on her forehead, then grows larger and outward to become an opaque bubble surrounding her head.

A static image of Rolf appears on the inside of the bubble, accompanied by his low and urgent voice, “Teal. Forgive me for leaving.”

Teal grumbles, “I didn't need your help, but I - .”

“But I need your help now in Rift Circle plaza.”

“Oh, it's a one-way?” With a short sigh, Teal listens to the rest of the message.

“I am safe but enemy must not gain city's way-stone. Please come.” The image disappears and the bubble shrinks down again to become a dot of light orbiting her head.

Teal stands and shouts upward, “Zarah, ever heard of a way-stone?”

The half-human's head pokes down through the lower branches after a moment, “Did you say way-stone? Like, the way-stone for a Rift Circle?” Teal nods. Zarah crosses her arms and frowns, “Um, that's like the address book. It connects all of the Circles in the nation, so you can't just go anywhere in the world unless it's connected or you know how to access the way-stone.”

“It is not that I doubt you, but how do you know that,” Teal asks with a smirk.

Zarah's eyes narrow and her cheeks turn a light blue, “Why did you ask me if you're surprised I know?”

“Never mind then. So how important is this way-stone? Would it be bad if the Phoenix captured one?”

“Umm,” Zarah slants her head to the side, “Maybe? You would have to ask a rift mage, I don't actually know what they could do with one.”

Teal nods, “That is a good enough reason for me.” She swats the orbiting blue light with the back of her hand and it shatters into particles. “I will be going back inside the city to find and retrieve this way-stone, to keep the Phoenix from getting it. You may accompany me if you choose, or go wherever you please.”

Zarah smiles and drops down, flipping in the air to land on her feet. She brushes herself off and grabs her sword leaning against the tree, “I'll go where I want, and today that just happens to be where you're going. But don't expect me to let loose like earlier.” Swinging the sword behind her, she allows Scarfenstein to wrap around it. “I'm still out of energy after all, so from now on we fight smart.”

“Agreed. We leave soon, after I speak with someone.” Teal turns and walks toward the former street children, picking her way among them until she comes to the smallest girl from before, “Child? I have an important request.”

The small girl crosses her arms, “It'll cost you, but I'll listen.”

Teal points to the sleeping child behind her, “I must go back inside the city but I cannot bring him with me. I would like your group to protect him for me, and take him with you if you leave. I will return for him after some time, but until then I need – no, I am asking you to watch over him.”

“Hmm, okay. I guess.” She looks around at her fellows, who shrug or look over at the pacing Boss. The small girl sighs, “The Boss will let us take him in, if he's not a brat and he does as he's told.”

“Thank you. Jan is an obedient boy, quiet and good at running. I can pay a few geld,” Teal reaches in to a pocket and pulls out four golden coins, “hmm, make that four geld to watch over him. It is all that I have at the moment, but I will try to give you more when I return for him. That should be enough to buy a few simple meals for your group if you spend it wisely.”

The small girl holds out a hand, fingers spread. When Teal drops the coins, the child closes them into a tight fist and nods, “Deal. We look after him, you come back for him. When the coins run out he'll learn our ways or get sent away, we don't keep anyone who doesn't help the group.”

“I suppose that is the best I can ask for,” and Teal lets out a small sigh. “When he wakes, tell him … do not tell him who found him, only that he is safe now. He should report anything he remembers of his experiences while captured to a Paladin or other office-holder of the Kingdom, and they might give him a few more coins for the story.” Teal looks back at the sleeping child, then her eyes glance at the city walls before turning again to the small girl. “I must be going. Take care.”

The girl nods, “See ya scary lady.” As Teal walks away she adds, “Maybe you're not so scary.”
High War - Chapter 15.1
Ugh, this chapter. In most respects I should love this chapter, it introduces one of my big villain characters after all, but until we get to him this chapter feels like an absolute drag and even then he's not going to do much but talk. We'll meet him in the next installment, and I'll consider then how much I can say about him. But anyway this chapter piece introduces the Sending spell which I think is pretty neat, and has Teal deciding what to do with that orphan kid she re-found. He's going to be sleeping for a full day, so it's a good thing she didn't try to wait. Oh, and I might add a little more to the end of this chapter at some point, if the whole chapter works out that way.

This is a part of my High War project, a story about people in a D&D-inspired world that I have tried very hard to make my own. I really don't want to step on anyone's copyright toes here, which to some degree is not easy at all. I have no idea where the background of my preview image comes from, as far as I know it came from a free image site; if you know otherwise then please tell me so I can take it down, although I would be happier to use it with the permission of its creator. This will be a story for somewhat mature audiences, there will be occasional violence, language and adult themes. Thanks for understanding, and if you don't then I would be happy to discuss with you my thoughts on the issue.


Montages will have to wait! This week it's time for a serious piece … about football! And that's American Football by the way! I felt like a certain important point wasn't being mentioned, so there we go! And next week is part 1 of High War's chapter 15!

Night School
by Amy and Nicholas Stroffolino


Tell me if you've heard this one before. A story begins someplace we've all visited before, but this is the darker, edgier version. The characters remind us of people we've met or seen, but they are all monsters either metaphorically or literally. Their problems are just like our problems, but with some gruesome twist or evil secret. In other words the world is exactly as we know underneath, but made grittier on the surface purely for the sake of making the story seem more interesting. In some cases the plot isn't even unique or very good in itself, because it relies on the supposed coolness of its darker world for everything. Which is not to say that a dark world story is automatically worse, but that the story still needs to be good without leaning on the crutch of a dark world. The story needs to be good enough that it could be told without the dark world and still be interesting, which means that a good dark world story is using that world as part of its message. This webcomic didn't get far enough to start revealing the message (that kind of thing really should be in the first chapter) and maybe that's why it's hard to find much to say about the comic. We begin in a classroom of the titular school, but rather than running to get to school on time our protagonist (apparently) is already present and annoying his teacher with hyperactive chatting. So the teacher teleports him away and now things are back to normal for the school day genre, with the hyperactive kid running in to almost every other classmate along his way back to the school. The kids are a wild bunch, mainly an assortment of monster-race types with kid-level superpowers and larger than life personalities. They all arrive in some manner or another and the day begins, with the comic falling in to a routine of normal problems being tackled by monster kids. There's some TV show they all either love or don't care about, lunches get traded and monster appetites are revealed, pranks are pulled and finally the day ends with the ring of a bell. So far it's less a story and more a series of character introductions, but that may be intentional. The art is high skill and full color, with basically a cartoon / anime style.

Why you should read this: There is a certain nostalgic feel to this comic, which takes the reader back to all the daily trials of childhood and how big those moments seemed then, with pranks and bullying and lunch trading and maybe making friends. Almost all of the characters feel round with some problem they want or need to tackle, and all of them can be interesting if put in the right situation, so reading about them may inspire you when making your own monster kid characters.

Why you shouldn't read this: The comic is a little too full of characters too quickly, with almost every page of the first chapter revealing some new classmate or their uniquely weird personality, so that it becomes more a cacophony of character introductions. The webcomic went on a somewhat-explained hiatus (they stopped when someone stopped giving them the rights to make it) in the middle of the second chapter and hasn't come back, though you can buy the first volume and get more stories … which makes the webcomic a promotional ad for itself?

Other cool stuff: This is a Duck webcomic and there's not much else to do but read the comic and comment below, basically it feels like they left the comic here for the free hosting as a lasting archive of sorts. There's a wiki if you can find it, check the author comments. But the creator has quite a few other comics out there, most notably Cwens Quest if you like the world but want more grown up adventures … but that's been on hiatus as well.
  • Reading: Mechademia Vol 1
  • Watching: Fairy Tail, Galaxy Angel A

Journal History


Ian Chisholm
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
I'm here to tell my stories; I love Anime and I'm aiming at a career writing animation scripts, but for now I'm a writer-in-training creating worlds and characters and telling stories with them for my amusement. I'm also searching for a visual artist to collaborate with; if you read something here that inspires you and if you can make them picture things, I would be interested in enlisting you for a creative partnership with the goal of collaborating on something awesome. And I'm here to learn; I want advice on how I can improve, I gladly work with, co-author or even take on requests to sharpen my writing skills, and if you'd like a critique or some proofreading you only have to ask.

I upload something new every week, typically on Friday afternoon, either part of an ongoing story I am writing or something more random like a character piece or personal opinion. I also try to do prose critiques every week, and I write webcomic reviews semi-regularly for my Journal section and collect them in archived compilations of ten. Occasionally I look back at something I have uploaded to DA (at minimum a year old) in the hopes that I can glean something useful from it, and when I'm bored I hang out in the Philosophy / Religion forum. Of course the busier my life gets, the less I can do.

My 2014 avatar is Trubl, my Pathfinder Cat Hengeyokai Gunslinger from an old ill-fated pirates campaign. You may notice the Internet's CatBeard under that Paint-job, but the sometimes-calico-cat sometimes-blunderbuss-wielding-dwarf is all mine. I need to get this guy in to High War!

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Add a Comment:
seika Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you so much for the llama :3

Cobrateen Featured By Owner 16 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
Ah, no problem. Good luck in school ... did I already say that?
paa-kun Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  New member Hobbyist General Artist
btw thanks for the fav <33
Cobrateen Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Of course, you have some very nice art. It seems like you created a new account after leaving a previous one? Good luck with the new start!
paa-kun Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2014  New member Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, I did! How did you know xD
paa-kun Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2014  New member Hobbyist General Artist
Wow youre very generous >< !
Cobrateen Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Ha, I think you've got it the other way around. You were too generous for me
paa-kun Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  New member Hobbyist General Artist
Cobrateen Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Mm, and thank you for the cake ... and the llama back ... and thanks for Watching! Would you like to know about any of the things I do? Perhaps I could recommend something from my gallery to read?
(1 Reply)
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for adding Pokemon trainer DamaiMikaz... to your collections. I'm happy that you like the piece :la:
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