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Old November 13th, 2011 (2:33 AM).
apenpaap apenpaap is offline
Join Date: Oct 2011
Gender: Male
Posts: 79
Originally Posted by Cutlerine View Post
This is very interesting, actually. I have to admit, it didn't seem that way at the start, but once the outer narrative peeled away like so much orange skin and revealed the actual story itself, it very quickly became engaging. There was a nice calm beginning - in fact, it was almost too saccharine for my taste - and then, very abruptly and with no reason, you hit the reader over the head with the slaughter of Boreas' entire family. Narratively speaking, that's great, though of course it's a terrible tragedy (more so than you make it out to be, though I think I'll come back to that).

There are, however, ways in which I think the story could be improved. First off, there's just a boring formatting thing: the text is tiny. I don't have a problem with that on a page, but on a computer screen it's really quite tiring for the eyes after a while.
Thanks for the in-depth review. I will post them in a bigger font from now on.

Secondly, battles. It may be your intention to play them down - the story certainly doesn't seem to be battle-focused at all - but they are, to put it bluntly, on the dull side of bland. The battle against the Plasma grunts, for instance:

It reads more like a summary of a battle than an actual battle, and even if, as it seems to be, the story is more about Boreas' experiences than about battling, it's too short and too vague, and ends up leaving the reader feeling vaguely dissatisfied. Even given the limited number of attacks the Pokémon currently have, it would be nice to see some more specifics. Also, given the amount of characterisation you give each Pokémon, it seems odd that a lone Purrloin would attack a Lillipup and an Eevee without question. I mean, it's outnumbered, isn't it?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it feels like the personalities you work hard to build up on your characters fall away when they go into battle, and they become mindless fighting machines again. The only battle where this didn't happen, and consequently the most interesting one, was against that annoying Youngster-type, whose irksome words outlast his name in my memory. Boreas' personality didn't entirely disappear then, which I quite liked; there was some interaction between his mind and the battle, rather than it just being a series of actions.
Yes, I hadn't really decided on a good way to do the battles yet at this point and as a result they're rather boring. I fully agree with what you said, but from chapter 7 onwards the battles will begin improving a lot as Boreas will rely more on trickery and intelligence then on simple attacks.

Oh yeah, and there was one specific bit that irritated me a bit:

If Boreas has lived all his life in a burrow in the middle of a forest, I sincerely doubt he'd even have known any of those words existed, let alone what they meant. I get the joke, but it's kind of spoiled by the fact that it's impossible for him to make it.
You're right of course. It's mainly just the Rule of Funny that he's using those words. Though I suppose he could've picked them up from Octa, who he's just talked to for more than an hour.

I really can't put it off any longer now, so I suppose I'll get right to it; 'it', in this case, being Boreas' late family. The issue is simply that he gets over them too fast. You haven't mentioned it specifically, but it seems to me that Boreas is fairly young - or at least, he is at the time of the main story. Someone of his age - or indeed, anyone with a heart in their chest and blood in their veins - shouldn't get over the wholesale butchery of their family that quickly. There were a couple of references to it at the beginning, but then it seemed to trail off, and stopped being mentioned at all. I loved it as an opening, don't get me wrong - but I really think it ought to have cast more of a shadow over future events.
The truth is, he isn't over it yet. It's just not what he's dealing with right now. But the issue will pop up several times in the future, and it'll take months and almost twenty chapters for him to really get over it. You're probably right that I should've shown his grief more, but at this point I had just started the story and didn't want readers to think the entire story would be one big depressed whine-fest, as could've been the impression if I showed a more realistic amount of grief. I handled another loss Boreas will suffer later on quite differently, letting it lead several chapters following it to become very dark and depressed chapters.

Having said all that and started to feel vaguely guilty about doing so, I would like to point out that I do like the story in general, and Octa in particular. Also, when I read the words 'Nurse Despair' it was all I could do to stop myself from shouting them really loudly in a samurai voice, because it seemed the right thing to do. I'm not sure if that warrants a mention here, but it was a positive reaction (I think), so I've included it anyway.

Anyway, whatever directions you go in next with this story, I shall be waiting... and watching. Always watching.

Thanks. Don't feel guilty about the criticism, it's very useful. And I'm glad you like my alternative nurse-names, it's a bit of a running gag. By the way, in case you're wondering why I talk about future chapters as if they're already done, that's because they are. This story is actually up to chapter 41 already, but I have only recently began posting it here and am looking to catch it up to the newest chapter while catching a comment or two along the way.

Anyway, here's chapter seven:

Chapter Seven: Triple Trouble!
When they arrived at the Gym, Black looked as nervous as Boreas felt. The Gym was a plain grey stone building like every other building in Striaton, the only difference being that it had the word 'GYM' engraved above the door and colourful paintings of pokémon on the windows that looked very pretty with the light from inside shining through. When he reached the closed door, Black paused for a moment, breathed deeply, and entered.
To their great surprise, the door into the Gym actually led into a restaurant. People were eating all kinds of dishes at tables and waiters walked around serving them.
Do you have a reservation, sir?” Black made a little jump of start when a waiter standing next to the door spoke to him.
Uh... I think I may have taken a wrong turn somewhere.” Black explained. Then he saw Bianca sitting alone at a table, waving to him. “Or maybe not. Excuse me.” he walked to Bianca and joined her at the table.
Hey, Black,” she greeted, “cute place, huh?”
I suppose.” Black shrugged, “but I wasn't really looking for a place to eat. I want to challenge the Gym.”
Bianca chuckled. “That's good, because-”
A waiter with fiery red hair showed up next to the table. “Hi Bianca,” he lilted, “and hi, I'm Chili and I'll be your waiter this evening!” he introduced himself to Black.
I'm sorry,” Black apologised, “but I don't actually want to eat here. I'm on my way to the Gym and accidentally wandered into your restaurant.”
Bianca and Chili both laughed. “This IS the Gym!” Chili exclaimed, “And I'm the Gym Leader!”
Suddenly two other waiters who looked a lot like Chili aside from their hair styles stood beside him.
My name is Cress, and I'm the Gym Leader as well.” The waiter with wavy blue hair one said, “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
And I'm...” the waiter with spiky green hair said, “Uh... Cilan... And I'm... uh... The Gym Leader too.”
Great!” Chili said, grabbing a pokéball from his belt, “A challenger! Then let's get right to it!”
Cress placed his hand on Chili's shoulder. “Calm down. Regardless of whether or not this gentleman wishes to challenge the Gym, he is still our guest here so we'll serve him first.”
So this really isthe Gym?” Black asked.
Of course it is!” Chili exclaimed.
Wow, it's... Uh... Different than I expected a Gym to be like.”
That's because it's also a restaurant!” Bianca said.
Um...” Cilan said, “It actually used to be just a restaurant... But the three of us also like pokémon... And we're pretty good at battling, so...”
Pretty good?” Chili vociferated, “We're blazingly amazing!”
I agree with Chili's assessment.” Cress spoke. “But this is no time to discuss battling. We shall bring you our menu charts, and four pokémon chairs so you companions can join you.”
And... Um... After dinner...”
It's time to battle! Burn, baby, burn!”

After Boreas finished eating his delicious lasagna, he saw how much of the sauce was still left on the plate and tried to start licking it off when he was stopped by a hand on his shoulder. “Please, my dear fellow, I implore you not to start licking off your plate. Have some respect for civilisation and the basic table manners that come with it.”
But I still have sauce left.” Boreas pouted.
Nevertheless, Attila the Hun would have considered the way you ate the rest a disgrace. Don't make it even worse.”
Boreas sighed. “Okay.”
Octa sipped from his glass of wine. “Oh, and incidentally, you've got sauce in your fur.”
Boreas wiped his face with his paws. “Better?”
Worse.” Octa said, “you spread it out.”
Eventually Boreas got the sauce off his face and Octa finished his small glass of wine, making a big show of tasting it to Black's great amusement. “Why are you drinking that stuff anyway?” Boreas asked, “It smells vile.”
I beg your pardon? I drink it, for wine is what makes the difference between supper and dinner and between lunch and luncheon.”
What about breakfast?”
Well, I suppose it also makes the difference between breakfast and alcoholism, but that is beside the point.”
The moment everyone was done eating, Chili stood beside the table. “It's time to battle!”
Black, Octa, and Boreas stood up. “All right. Cilan, I challenge you to a battle!” Black said.
Uh... Me?” Cilan said surprised.
I'm afraid you misunderstand.” Cress spoke, “Cilan is not the only Gym Leader. But all three of us are. Therefore you don't challenge one of us, but all three.”
All three?” Black asked.
Yeah!” Chili rabbited, “And we get to decide whom you battle! And as you have a Snivy, the Fire-type scorcher Chili -that's me- will be your opponent!”
Fire?” Octa almost looked scared for a moment, before regaining his composure. “Hmpf, Fortune vomits on my eiderdown once more.”
Grass-types like you are weak to fire, aren't you?” Boreas asked.
Yes, thank you, I know that.” Octa sneered.
That messes up our plan, doesn't it?”
When you have finished kicking in open doors, maybe you can start making useful contributions.”
Boreas was getting quite fed up with Octa's sudden irritability. “Look, don't vent it on me if you're scared!”
Octa sniffed haughtily. “Frightened? I'm not frightened, not in the least! I laugh in the face of fear and tweak the nose of terror!”
Good.” Boreas sneered, “Then stop whining and help think of some way to win this.”
Black stood up from the table. “Then I challenge you to a battle. Type disadvantage or not, I will win.”
Then it's time to burninate!” Chili shouted, quickly drawing a pokéball. “Prepare to-”
Not yet.” Cress stopped him. “First we clear a space for the battle. Help me move some tables.”
The three siblings and the other waiters cleared a roughly circular space about six metres across. With the space cleared, the rest of the restaurant was packed tightly with tables. Dinner guests were getting interested in the upcoming battle and moved to the tables around the circle. Boreas was getting very nervous as he realised that with Octa weak against fire, the battle's result would depend on him. He really hoped he would fail only a little, instead of the horrible and embarrassing failure that seemed so much more likely.
When the circle had been cleared, Black and Chili stood on opposite ends of it. Cress stood to the side of the circle. “I will be the judge of this battle.” he spoke, “The challenger and Gym Leader Chili shall both use two pokémon. They are not allowed to use items, and a pokémon that has been switched out counts as having been defeated. Begin the battle!”
YEEEEEOOOOW!!!” Chili yelled as he tossed his pokéball, “Time to play with FIRE!!!”
As a Lillipup was released from Chili's pokéball, Black ordered Octa to battle. “Octa, show him what you've got!”
Octa saluted his foe with an elaborate bow. “With pleasure.”
Though Boreas realised it was better strategy to have Octa battle Chili's Lillipup and Boreas whatever fire-type he used, he didn't like it at all. A Lillipup didn't seem like such a threat, for even if this one turned out to be very powerful, at least he knew what to expect. While he could only picture his opponent as some scary, large flamy entity that wanted to eat him. He shivered and brushed against Black's leg.
Cinder!” Chili ordered, “Start off with Work Up!”
Octa, Growth!” Black ordered.
As Cinder did a few quick pacing exercises and fake attacks, Octa stood serenely still with his eyes closed as long vines grew from his hands and tail. After both prepared for the battle in this manner, Chili ordered Cinder to use Bite.
Octa, keep it at a distance with Vine Whip! Don't let it get to you!” Black ordered.
I'm way ahead of you, old chap.” Octa said.
As Cinder charged Octa, he tried to strike her, but with several rapid ducks she dodged Octa's vines and pounced him. Octa managed to dodge the attack by making an odd sort of pirouette.
Boreas chuckled. “Are you taking up ballet now?”
As Cinder turned around to try again, Octa's tail vine hit her hard, and Boreas cheered for him. Cinder did a feintto the left, and gave Octa a nasty bite on the arm as he moved to dodge it. With a yelp, he slapped her with his vines and followed it up with a Leaf tornado that only slightly hit her. The two combatants circled each other, both very alert and ready to dodge the other's attack and follow it up with their own. When it became apparent after a few seconds of this that neither was going to attack first, Octa smiled. “We shall see whom has the most patience, shan't we?”
Cinder!” Chili shouted, “Bite it, now!”
As Cinder lunged to bite Octa, he dodged it with a quick roll and countered with Vine Whips from all three vines. Cinder collapsed when the hits connected. “Gym Leader Chili's Lillipup is unable to battle. The score is 1-0 in favour of challenger Black.” Cress announced.
Great job, Octa!” Boreas cheered as Octa bowed to the applauding audience.
Woohoo!” Bianca wooped, “That showed him!”
It's not over yet!” Chili shouted, “One more left, this is where I give it my all! Go, Trogdor!”
The arrogant, prideful manner Octa had adopted after beating Cinder made way for obvious fear as Chili threw his pokéball and a Pansear appeared. “I shall endeavour to tire it, my dear fellow,” Octa said, “but I'm afraid you shall have to do the main battling.”
Octa, show the monkey who's boss with Vine Whip!”
Trogdor, start off with Work Up!”
As Trogdor did some exercises his whorled, flamelike hair glowed with fiery energy. Octa whipped him with his vines, but he hardly reacted. Boreas swallowed a lump in his throat. Then Trogdor spit a beam of flames at Octa, who was engulfed by them. When the smoke subsided, Octa was still standing, though charred and in obvious pain. “Not bad. You might actually stand a small chance against my friend.”
Trogdor spit fire at Octa again, but he dodged it and rapidly slithered behind Trogdor and slapped him on the back of the head, obviously aiming to annoy rather than hurt. “Then again, that may just be wishful thinking.”
Octa rapidly slithered away to dodge another Incinerate. “Come on, I haven't got all day, you know. I'd like you to beat me so I can enjoy watching Boreas utterly vanquish you.”
Nimbly dodging Pansear's flames to slap him again: “If you can't even defeat a grass-type such as me, what chance do you have against him?”
But as Octa slapped Trogdor in the back of the head, he turned around very fast, grabbed a hold of Octa, and threw him to the ground, immediately following it up with another Incinerate that completely engulfed him.
Octa!” Boreas gasped.
When the attack finished, Octa lay on the ground, seared and still smouldering. “He's all yours, my dear fellow.” he coughed.
Challenger Black's Snivy is unable to battle. The score is 1-1. The next knock-out wins the battle!”
Boreas,” Black said as he picked up Octa, “It's your turn. Do your best!”
Feeling like a piece of ore about to enter the blast furnace, Boreas stepped forward. Trogdor spit a beam of fire at him, and though it was easy to dodge the heat he still felt from it scared Boreas. As he charged Trogdor, the monkey shot another beam of fire at him, but this time he had no chance to dodge. The flames' heat was terrible, searing his fur and making him hurt all over. He continued charging with tears of pain in his eyes as Trogdor got ready for another Incinerate. He tried to tackle Trogdor, but the monkey easily dodged him and countered with another painful beam of fire. Boreas realised that he would never win the battle like this. Sand, he thought, I need to do a sand-attack. But inside the clean restaurant there was obviously no sand around. Then he saw something and had an idea.
He sprinted away from his opponent, to the empty fighting circle's edge and jumped on a table, startling its occupants into dropped their drinks all over themselves.
Boreas!” Black called, “Get back into the circle!”
But Boreas' plan was working: Trogdor followed him and jumped onto the table. The moment he landed, Boreas swept a pawful of macaroni from one of the plates into his opponents eyes in a blinding Macaroni-Attack. Trogdor was so surprised that he lost his balance and fell backwards off the table, so Boreas jumped off after him as the table's occupants cursed. He landed on top of Trogdor with the vertical equivalent of a Tackle and scratched him good with his claws before Trogdor managed to kick him off. Instead of running back into the empty circle though, Boreas ran under the tables, using the seated people's legs for cover. Between the cover and the macaroni stinging in his eyes Trogdor didn't even remotely hit Boreas, only succeeding in searing tablecloths and trousers. When he reached a certain table, Boreas jumped up and dug his claws into the tablecloth, dragging it off the table as Trogdor reached him, so that the large bowl of tamato soup on the table fell all over him.
When Trogdor slowly lifted up the tomato bowl, Boreas immediately Tackled him down. That was the last straw after being dowsed with tamato soup: Trogdor didn't get up. It took a moment before Cress managed to get a clear view of the situation under the table, but then he proclaimed: “Gym Leader Chili's Pansear is unable to battle! Challenger Black has won the match with a score of 2-1!”
I did it! Boreas thought, as happy as a mouse who has just found a tunnel into a cheese factory. He appeared from under the table and was picked up and hugged by Black. “Great work, Boreas! We won!”
Boreas remained in Black's arms as Octa, looking a lot better after drinking some fresh water, joined him there. “Excellent work, my dear fellow. That was quite a clever trick you used. 'Tis a shame I didn't think of it myself.”
As Cress and Cilan calmed down the angry patrons whose food had been used as a weapon or whose trousers had been set on fire, Chili said: “You got me. I! Am! Burned! Out! Whoo-hoo! You're on fire! Take this Gym Badge!”
He tossed a small metal badge to Black, who handily caught it. Bianca joined Black to celebrate. “That was awesome, Black! It was so cool how your pokémon just, like, defeated his! I was worried you might lose at several points, but you won! Hehe, Boreas, you're a crafty little guy, aren't you? I'm inspired now, I think I'll challenge Cilan when he's done apologising to that lady whose macaroni was used as a projectile. With Munny as my new team member, I think I can beat him!”
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