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View Full Version : How Many Were Going to St. Ives?


JX Valentine
January 20th, 2008, 01:30 PM
Author's Note: Submitted for a fanfiction contest on another forum. Posted with apologies for my inactivity. And yes, she is purposely a Sue.


The day Raven began her journey from Jubilife City, it rained. It wasn't a rain that hindered her. That is, she could see and walk through it with a parka. However, it rained with a steady, gray shower that plopped in large, silver drops on the ground around her. The cuffs of her pristine blue jeans were tucked into her pink rain boots, and her slender hands curled around the straps of her backpack. Her head was bent down to keep the plastic hood of her blue parka over her straight, black tresses. On her belt was a single poké ball. Within it slept a pokémon, the one pokémon she didn't think she would get, but it was the only one left after she'd slept in that rainy day.

She really was intending on making her first day as a trainer be one when it was sunny. She really was. It would have at least made it easier to be friends with her pokémon. As it stood, even if it was the grass-type (the one she didn't actually want to get), she just couldn't keep it out in the rain. It would have been cruel, she thought, although she knew that deep inside, part of her just didn't want something as slow as her starter hindering her way.

So, her journey to Oreburgh would be silent without the company of a pokémon. She tried not to think about the silence. Closing her sapphire-blue eyes, she tried to will herself to forget about how quiet Route 203 was other than the pattering of the rain on a million different surfaces. She tried to concentrate on how her first badge would feel in the palm of her hand – the cool, metal surface that would gradually warm as she held it. As she thought about it, the way it looked when she saw it in pictures on the internet, she thought about the way it would always gleam in her badge case as the first stepping stone to her journey. She, as she decided right then, would be a pokémon master. Mentally, she repeated those two words over and over again as she willed away the cold feeling that crept into her bones from her heart (if it wasn't just the rain).

At first, she didn't notice the man sitting beside the steps leading up a hillside on the way to Oreburgh Gate. He was, after all, clothed in grubby pants and coat with brown stains and splotches of mud worked into the weave of their fabric. His hands were dark, nearly black and coated with mud, and his feet were bare and similarly dirty. The only thing that caught Raven's eye was his snow-white hat with the black feather sticking out of the right side. It perched over his dark, weather-beaten face, so, at first, she couldn't see his features. Curious about this man, she hesitated for a moment, lingering as her hands fidgeted with the straps of her backpack. She wondered briefly if she should give him money. It would be right to give him money. On the other hand, she also needed that money.

However, before she could decide, a dark, calloused thumb pushed the brim of the white hat up just enough for her to see the lower part of his face. A smile drew across his lips, just above a snow-white beard.

"Hey, kid," he said with a low, gruff voice. "Got a moment?"

Raven blinked, but she didn't say anything. All she managed to do was shrug her bony shoulders.

"Got a riddle for you then," the old man told her. "Get it right, and I'll give you something. Okay?"

Again, Raven said nothing. She shifted on her feet and looked towards Oreburgh Gate. The drifter moved his hand, fingering the brim of his white hat.

"It'll be worth your while. Trust me." He took a deep breath and recited the verse by heart with a slow, precise voice:

"As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives
And every wife had seven sacks
And every sack had seven cats
And every cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, wives.
How many were going to St. Ives?"

Raven had only half-listened to the riddle, and most of her attention was on Oreburgh Gate. She really intended on getting there before nightfall because she didn't want to travel through a cave at night (not that it really made a difference), and anyway, she still wanted to spend the last bit of the gray day in Oreburgh. Then again, she also intended on it being a sunny day. She really did.

"Well, Raven?" the man said. "What is your answer?"

The fact that the man knew her name didn't quite catch her ear. She was still staring in the distance and assumed that the question was part of the riddle. However, the second question brought her attention back to reality, and she snapped a glance towards the man.

"I'm sorry," she said with a silky voice. "I really can't give you an answer."

The old man frowned. "Think about it, then. Would you like me to repeat the riddle?"

Raven shook her head. "No. I really don't have time. You see, I—"

"It's really in your best interest to answer the riddle, girl."

The new trainer took a step back. "Why? Are you trying to threaten me?"

A raspy chuckle rose from the old man's throat as he shook his head. "Oh no. It's not a threat. It's just in your best interest to answer. I said I'd give you something if you do, and it's something I know you'll like."

"I don't want anything."

"No?" The man leaned back. "Are you sure? It's something very nice. Something you can use. Now, how about answering the riddle? I can even repeat it if you'd like so you can think about it."

Raven heaved a heavy sigh as she turned to leave. "I really don't have time for this."

The drifter reached up to grab her wrist. She jerked back in mid step as she felt rough fingers curl around her skin. With a short scream, she ripped her poké ball from its clip and tossed it in the air. The red and white orb opened to spew a flash of white light that descended towards the mud. Within seconds, the light reshaped itself into a small turtle with a plant growing from the top of its head. As soon as he entered the outside world, the turtwig blinked its vacant eyes and opened its green and yellow jaws to coo a salutation. However, his frantic trainer was far from happy to release him, for at that moment, she was preoccupied with wrenching her wrist from the stranger's.

Raven stumbled away from the drifter with a slender finger pointing at his chest. "Turtwig, Tackle this man!"

The reptile tilted his head and blinked again as it tried to comprehend that command – or, rather, his target. With a frustrated groan, Raven moved to take her place behind Turtwig, as if to show she was relying on his attack. Unfortunately, it never came. Instead, the old man lifted his hands in the air as a sign of surrendering.

"All right," he said. "No need to get violent. Be on your way, then."

Huffing, Raven relaxed as she kept her eyes on the man. Then, with a sharp frown, she turned and began walking away.

"Come on, Turtwig," she muttered.

With a trill, the turtle followed her heels. His heart beat with a sense of relief at avoiding his first battle, though the only reason why Raven kept him by her side was to prevent another one.

For the next few moments, Raven walked with her head high (ignoring the fact that the rain soaked her face and the front locks of her black hair) towards the mouth of the cave between Route 203 and Oreburgh City. Her faithful pokémon trotted beside her, and for that precious moment, Raven felt as if this day might be the beginning she had intended on having, even without the sun.

Somewhere above her, something groaned. It wasn't a human groan. Rather, it was the groan of something powerful and unnatural – a demonic, evil groan. Following soon after it was a quiet rumble that grew steadily into a roar.

"What is that?" Raven whispered.

Then, she looked up.

She didn't scream.

But she really intended on it.

Really.

---

The old man stood and turned to face Oreburgh Gate. His soot-colored thumb pushed the brim of his hat up so his ruby-red eyes could cast a sad glance at the mudslide that obscured the entrance to the tunnel. With a sigh, he shook his head, sending water raining down from the brim of his hat.

"I tried to give you a chance, Raven," he said, "but I suppose you humans these days… can't even weave your own beginnings without rushing along to the next part."

At that, the absol turned and trotted north.

Avey
January 20th, 2008, 02:39 PM
Oh, this was very good, the whole description, and the way you created such a tone, and the ending was spectacular (she left this world, I'm guessing?)

Grovyle42(Griff8416)
January 20th, 2008, 03:11 PM
Quite a good one shot there. Is the answer to the riddle 'one', by any chance?

I didn't notice TOO many hints at Mary-Stuness. I was also a bit unsure of Raven's fate. I liked the plot of this as well as the description. So good job, overall.

Willer
January 20th, 2008, 07:21 PM
Yeah is the answer one? Thats what I was thinking since I assume the man met the man with seven wifes in the city so he never met her...and wait Im a little lost on the end...was the man an Absol or what >_<?

JX Valentine
January 20th, 2008, 07:40 PM
Oh, this was very good, the whole description, and the way you created such a tone, and the ending was spectacular (she left this world, I'm guessing?)

Yep. She died in the mudslide.

Thanks for the reviews.

Quite a good one shot there. Is the answer to the riddle 'one', by any chance?

Thank you.

And the answer to the riddle is that there is no solid answer. One could look at it and say that there was only one (the narrator) going to St. Ives. They could also say that there was one (the man) or two (the narrator and the man), if they assume that the wives and all their sacks aren't present. Then, there's the question of whether or not one should count the sacks, cats, and kits, which would yield incredibly high and incredibly different numbers.

But if we think of Raven as representing the man and the old man/absol as the narrator, then no one.

I didn't notice TOO many hints at Mary-Stuness.

Mostly, it was hinted at through the fact that Raven represents the stereotypical angst Sue and the main character of a bad new trainer fanfiction (which is why she kept expecting things to be different and why the absol made that comment at the end).

was the man an Absol or what >_<?

He was.

Bay Alexison
January 20th, 2008, 08:23 PM
Hm...this is an interesting read nonetheless. I can understand why she's a Sue. When she was doing her journey it seems all of a sudden rain came, one of those revolving around the main character kind of things. That part of Mary Sue I actually learned not too long ago...^^; And yeah, even though I too am depressed of the rain, I'm not that desperate! XD It's weird though as I usually don't comment too much if a character is a Mary Sue is because I don't think there's an absolute rule book of what is considered a Sue. I have been on a few of those Mary Sue test sites and although most actually ask the same questions, not all of them are the same. In short, I guess I learned that despite people having interpretations of what is a Mary Sue, there are some factors that everyone agreed on.

Huh, to tell you the truth I never thought rushed beginnings to be considered one of the qualities of a fic bad... just bad pacing at first. ^O^ It's probably because there are times I don't like it when the beginning is drag on but I guess sometimes it's good to slow down. Maybe it's from me playing the Pokemon games and wanting to get to the action already. XD

And lastly,on the riddle there's really no solid answer? I'll just say my guess anyways. I thought it's thirty as I count the narrator, the man, and those other things mentioned. XD (And oh...that riddle inspired me to also make one with no correct answer in my fic ^^ )

Anways, this is quite an interesting read and a couple of things I hadn't thought of before. I'll probably read your other works when I get the chance. ^^

JX Valentine
January 20th, 2008, 08:57 PM
In short, I guess I learned that despite people having interpretations of what is a Mary Sue, there are some factors that everyone agreed on.

Pretty much, and I suppose I probably didn't emphasize on the factors people do agree on enough. I mean, perhaps she could have been a beautiful girl with psychic powers or something.

Huh, to tell you the truth I never thought rushed beginnings to be considered one of the qualities of a fic bad... just bad pacing at first.

It depends on how it's done. Sometimes, even the bad pacing can be a bad sign at the beginning because the story rushes from one plot point to another without giving much thought about each individual event. The character is handed convenient answers (which I tried to portray with Raven intending on things to go a certain way while the world said no), and the author can make more holes in the plot than Team Rocket with a digging machine if they attempt to rush through the fic without sitting down to really think about what they're doing. Because of that, you could actually forge a pretty unstable foundation for the rest of the fanfiction, and if you have an unstable foundation, it's sometimes hard to build up a good story because you still have those unanswered questions (even the small ones, such as, for example, how a character knew the way to a city they've never been to) left at the beginning.

But yeah, you're right as well. There are ways to get past irrelevant parts without giving them much thought or mention as long as the author is careful to avoid leaving behind plot holes.

And lastly,on the riddle there's really no solid answer?

That's right. Mostly, it's because of syntax. It's like those math problems you get back in elementary school that you're forced to say "not enough information" for because while it looks like you're given enough inspiration, you're actually missing a lot, including:

1. Is the man going to St. Ives as well?
2. Are all his wives present?
3. Are all their sacks, cats, and kits present?
4. What does the question mean? Are we counting people? Only living creatures? Everything?

Because you're missing information on all four points, there's really no right way to answer the riddle. At the very least, you could have one. At the very most (including sacks and the narrator), 2801.

XD (And oh...that riddle inspired me to also make one with no correct answer in my fic ^^ )

Awesome. ^_^ I'll keep an eye out for it.

Anways, this is quite an interesting read and a couple of things I hadn't thought of before. I'll probably read your other works when I get the chance. ^^

Thanks. ^_^ I'd appreciate it.