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 A Poacher's Guide to Partnership, Leslie Witcher-Steele
jadedragonette
 Posted: Mar 18 2017, 07:25 PM
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Joined on 18-December 14.


Characters:
Katheryn Knighton, Edith, Leslie Witcher-Steele

Awards: 6




Great big warning here: mentions of gruesome Pokemon deaths (those of Leslie's previous team). Only in dialogue, so most of the story told by the imagination - but it's still not pleasant.

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Eevee

At first, upon hatching way back when, Eevee had been excited and happy to be out of the Egg. She didn't remember much about her time in the Egg, of course - nobody she talked to ever had, either - but the time of Hatching was usually a time of great rejoicing and happiness. She had expected something similar, and why wouldn't she? She had been a new life, tiny and naive, unknowing of what she was getting in to.

Instead of praise and happiness and love directly after hatching, she was confronted with a face that bore a frown, as if she wasn't good enough. It had been enough for her newborn ears, perked straight up excitement and hope, to slowly fold back in a mixture of confusion and worry. Was... Was she not good enough for the human? But then, he had smiled at her (wrongwrongwrong) and she let it slide off her back as he pat her tiny little head and cooed at her adorable fuzzy body. She ignored the tiny part of her that was certain something was wrong with her new human, and pretended that all was well in the world - that it had just been her imagination, surely, he was just as excited to see her as she was to be free from her Egg.

It didn't take long for her to realize that no, it hadn't been her imagination. He never did shoo her away when she got it into her head that she just needed to cuddle up to him in order to get him to love her - but neither did he encourage it beyond maybe a semi-distracted pet on the head or a moment's cuddle back before setting her back on the ground or recalling her to her pokeball. And whenever he had the chance he talked in that creepy dead voice of his - she thought he was trying to be helpful but everything came out wrong and dead and scary.

The Frillish had been with this human the longest, and tried to explain to her what had happened before - how the human had been before - but even he didn't have the whole story. He hadn't been there when it had happened, could only speculate on what had happened - Leslie never told any of them, not her or her friend Buneary (hatched nearly thr same time as her) or the spooky Frillish that she found kinda creepy. All that Frillish really knew was that Leslie had gone away hunting, and came back like this - only, without any of his previous team.

Frillish speculated that Leslie had lost his previous team in some horrible manner, that Leslie was grieving over the loss - but little Eevee didn't think it was fair to take it out on them, as they hadn't done a thing. She didn't understand how close Leslie had been to her parents, didn't understand how humans felt when such an attachment was torn from them so suddenly and violently - and she started, slowly, to resent him for the way he treated her friends and herself.

He didn't deserve them, she tried to reason with her friends - they should escape while they still had the chance, one night while he slept. But they always cautioned her recklessness - out there, they knew, life would be a lot harder than with him. He might not be the nicest of people right now, not the best sort of person to be around - but he was lost in grief, and he definitely made sure they had plenty of food and weren't kept confined in pokeballs constantly. They could easily enough be turned in to the Pokemon he continued to poach, though only on occasion - or, as he did far more frequently, turned into food for him (though Frillish was mostly exempt from the latter, being of a ghostly nature).

Sure, they reasoned, he wasn't the most caring of trainers - but at least they were well fed and kept physically healthy. It was never enough for young Eevee, though - she wanted more out of her life than just surviving, after all, and that's all his team was doing. It frustrated her and angered her, though she kept it quiet and mostly to herself - eventually, she reasoned, he would do that one last thing and set her over the edge, and she'd be out of there in a flash. Of course, the part that she never acknowledged - the real reason she continued to stay with a trainer that didn't seem to care about her - was that she was afraid.

She was afraid of what might happen if she left. She didn't know how the world worked, and all she knew was with this trainer-who-didn't-care and his Pokemon that were... Well, maybe not content, but quietly going along with the status quo. She didn't know what would happen to her if she left - how she'd get food, if she'd be all alone out there, or if she'd get any sort of companionship. It was this last thing that stayed her plans the most - since her fellow team-mates refused to leave as well, she was certain that most of her time would be spent alone, and for her that was the scariest thing in the world.

She was, fundamentally, a social creature - even if she and Leslie couldn't directly speak with her, his body language gave her the impression that he really didn't care all that much about her or her fellows. Sure, he fed them, he washed them, he bandaged wounds they got in battle or in play - but he didn't sit with them or touch them more than was necessary, or talk to them or try and understand them beyond what they ate. It wasn't enough for the little Eevee, who had hoped, in her Egg state, with what little understanding she had of the world - she had hoped that once she was free of the Egg, once she had Hatched, that the one taking care of her would love her for what she was.

Instead, she was stuck with this human who was dead inside, more mechanically going along than caring about them or even himself - and it hurt. All he could talk about was his petty need for revenge for what had been done to him as he fed them, as he hunted with them, as he mechanically cared for them without seeing their wish for more. Over time she began to resent him more and more, up to the day he finally got his "revenge" - as he hadn't vocalized any plans for after that, she really wasn't sure what might happen next.

And when he seemed to wake up out of his daze, somehow somewhat rejuvenated by the after-effects of his latest murders and ransacking, she was skeptical of his ability to stay in such an aware state. It had happened once or twice before, where he'd seem to wake up and take in his surroundings and make nice with them - but it had never really lasted. Frillish tried to soothe her by explaining that it was because he had been so hurt - but she refused to listen. Nobody had the right to act like that, no matter what, and especially without some sort of explanation beyond what Frillish had managed to glean. All they had were tiny scraps of information, after all, pieced together painstakingly into an explanation that was likely mostly wrong. She was young and the sting of rejection hurt so badly, she reasoned that it was he who was in the wrong - and in a way, especially to her young eyes, that was true. That tiny sliver of truth was what fuelled her resentment and disobedience - he shouldn't treat them the way he was, lost in grief or not, and she hated him for it, as well as her own cowardice in still staying with him.

Then one day, a little while after the murders, they were all let out of their balls at once - all in a big group. It was unusual to them - it wasn't feeding time, they'd all just been bathed recently, and nobody was visibly injured - but they kind of just shrugged it off, staring apprehensively up at their trainer. Eevee herself sniffed and refused to look at him - and missed the resigned, saddened look on his face in response. The others, she noted, seemed content to just wait and watch - while none of them hated or resented him as she did, none of them particularly liked him, either.

"I...owe you an explanation - all three of you." All that it provoked from Eevee was a sort of twitch of her ears, showing that she was listening - if not happy. "And after the explanation... A bit of a meeting, in private. One on one, with each of you. It..." He paused, and Eevee's nose twitched - this was odd, even unusual, especially for him. "I owe each of you that much, alongside an apology." Her ear twitched again, and she frowned just the tiniest bit. What on earth...? He was acting oddly, even for him, and it was confusing. She could almost smell the regret leaking from him, but... He had never cared. What was going on here?

"I...way back now, several months at least. Frillish, you'd know better than the young ones, they were still eggs..." He paused, and shook his head - Eevee may have been refusing to look directly at him, but she could still see him in her peripheral vision. Frillish didn't say anything, but did float upwards then downwards in some sort of ghostly agreement, staring at the strangely-acting Leslie. "I - Well, I'm sure you all know this by now, but I'm a poacher. A lot of people - well, to the law enforcement amd the Guardians, what I do is completely illegal, so I do my best to keep my head down in public places and keep a low profile when I can. But... Well, it doesn't always work out that way.

"You see, a few months ago... I got caught tresspassing on a Lord's land. Unfortunately for me, they'd heard of me from... Well, I'm not entirely sure, but from somewhere. They knew I was a poacher, or at least that I was trespassing with the intent of poaching on this Lord's land. And, well... They decided to punish me, even if technically all i had done at that point was tresspass."
Again there was a pause, and even Eevee had switched to watching him closely - they were finally getting a reason for why he'd been so much like a machine. She could tell that he had to brace himself against breaking down as he continued speaking, and even her angry heart felt a tiny spark of empathy for the man standing before them.

"They... They decided to hit hard and violently. First, they beat me - but when that didn't seem to help, they.... They took my Pokemon. Charmeleon, Finneon, Flash and Sparkie... They took them from me. To cause me pain, they waited until I was coherent enough to understand what was going on... They then..." His voice broke at this point, and one of Eevee's ears twitched at the sound - but she very surely didn't feel sorry for the human, not even a little bit. He was an unfeeling bastard!

"I...I heard them talking, I don't know if it was planned or if I just happened to overhear it - but they were debating whether to...whether to just smash the balls, or if it would be more worth actually slaughtering them in front of me..." His voice had gone soft and small, and at least one tear fell from his eyes - Eevee could see the Frillish twirl slowly, sadly, and even Buneary seemed to have a sort of wistful look on her face, the traitors. Leslie...Leslie clearly deserved every moment of the pain he'd been inflicted!

"In the end, they...they must have decided that it was more worth forcing me to watch them slaughter them. It...it was a bright, sunny day, sometime in the summer or spring I think - I remember thinking it was beautiful, when they first brought me out." His voice was soft, and the three Pokemon took a few tentative steps forward - none of them wanted to miss a word at this point, not even Eevee, even though she was sure to stand just a little bit further away out of spite.

"First...first was Finneon - they...they used a mixture of electricity to fry her, and grass to cut her open and spread her life force across the ground. Next...was Sparkie, my Espeon. She looked at me so sadly before they smothered her powers with Darkness, then proceeded to leak her life across the ground with a Scyther's blades." He paused a moment, and very specifically looked at Eevee, doing his best to meet her eyes even as she fought to avoid his.

"Her...her last words, before the Dark took her ability to Speak, were to ask me to take care of you, dear, and to implore me to live on after they were gone." There was a moment, just a brief one, where Eevee let her eyes meet his own - and in that moment she knew he was telling the truth, and it hurt and she couldn't look away - not until he did, a few moments later. She frowned to herself, trying to figure out how such a thing had happened - she hated him...didn't she? She definitely resented the fact that he was her Trainer, that she was the one to Hatch her, and she resented that he'd lost himself so deeply in grief - but could their relationship be redeemed? That...that was a question for another time, as he had continued.

"After Sparkie breathed her last...I think they were doing it on purpose, making sure I watched each die to their cruelty before they moved on. Next...next was Flash, my brave Umbreon friend. She...she lasted the longest to their cruelty, and did her best to fight back, but they were careful. First...first they set a Machoke against her, to wear her down - she was strong even against one of her weaknesses, and she fought on even after they started breaking most of her bones. They...they finished her with the same Scyther that had taken down Sparkie, and even to the end I'm sure she was cursing them - she had a smart mouth, snarky and humor as dark as her fur." Even Eevee could tell that this telling was hurting him in some way, even as it seemed to help - even as he remembered their deaths, he was reminiscing on the good times as well.

"Last...last was Charmeleon." He nearly whispered this part, but his next words were louder (if only just). "They had this...I'm not sure what it was. It looked like some sort of blue turtle-thing, and it stood on its hind legs. It watched us with an unholy, dark sort of intelligence - and it had it out for Charmeleon. It had some sort of grasp over water and control over rocks...and it...it weighted down Charmeleon with rocks, large enough that she couldn't push them off, then...then it decided to test out the theory that Charmelon's life is tied...is tied to its tail flame." His eyes were bleak, as were his voice - it had been tortuous, they were sure, even Eevee felt sorry for the human in some detached sort of way. It took a long few moments for him to continue his story, clearly lost in the memory.

"Other than Flash, his death took the longest - there's some sort of thick, re-lighting oil on their tails, especially when they are healthy, and the turtle-thing was content to watch her slowly lose energy and die from her source of fire slowly being smothered by the water. It would occasionally pull her tail from the fire to examine it, and the fire would relight, each time that little bit weaker than the last. I...I couldn't do anything for any of them, but I could tell when they looked at me that they didn't blame me...even if they didn't, though...I couldn't not believe it was my fault." All three Pokemon were engrossed in his story - it was amazing, in a terrible way, and they couldn't help but listen as he detailed some rather gruesome Pokemon deaths.

"I'm...it wasn't easy to get where we are now, to be able to think of more than their loss. They...they were my closest friends, and with the help of Sparkie, I know they all cared deeply cared about me as much as I cared about them. Sparkie and Flash especially - I found them as Eevee originally, after all, and they were Espeon and Umbreon when they were both murdered. And...even when they died, they didn't seem to blame me..." Leslie paused for a few long moments, face wet with tears - miraculously, he was still standing, even if he didn't look like he should be able to.

"I lost them violently, suddenly, and after they were dead - then the bastards let me go, content that I had learned my lesson. I... I was the one to take their remains, and bury them - but I keep this," He paused an pulled a small, sealed glas vial from under his shirt; it was strung on a thick cord, and inside were tiny, bloody tufts of fur and a mixture of blue and red scales. "This is my physical reminder of them, the ones I lost so viciously and suddenly, as well as a quiet promise that I would live on."

He looked down in shame, and spoke quietly, "I... I broke that promise for a long time. While I was upright and moving, and physically taking care of all of you - and myself... I didn't really live. And... In doing so, I neglected to remember your guys' needs beyond the physical. For - for that, I'm sorry. To each of you, not any one above the other. I'm sorry that I, in my grief, forgot that you are more than animals - it isn't right, and all I have are excuses, but... In time, I hope to prove to you that I mean what I say." Eevee eyed him curiously, as did the others - but if he thought that would mend everything between them, he was very very wrong.

"For now, though... Now, it's time for me to meet with each of you separately, to talk things through... And I think... It ought to start with Eevee." Eevee froze and stared at Leslie, uncertain even as Frillish and Buneary looked at each other, then at her, and nodded - Leslie quietly recalled both of them, and suddenly Eevee was alone with him. Out of a certain amount of spite, she huffed and turned her back to him, refusing to look at him as she had at the beginning of his latest speech. All this was... All he had done, was speak pretty words.

Okay, maybe it wasn't all pretty - the deaths of his previous team clearly had some effect, and were quite gruesome - but for him to have the nerve to just apologize, like he expected them to just roll over and accept and everything would be sunshine and roses... He had a good reason, but all it was was an excuse, and he'd made the barest hints of maybe changing his ways. Without some solid proof, and some solid explanations though - she wouldn't be so easy to win over as the others. She refused to acknowledge that they weren't as hurt, didn't feel as snubbed, as she did - instead, internally, she decided that they were all clearly traitors.

"I did wrong by you, more than I could ever know." His words were soft and inviting, and almost against her will, her ears twitched and she glanced at him - he was crouching, purposely making himself seem smaller, but hadn't moved any closer. "I want to be a better Trainer for you, perhaps one day a partner - but I know that right now, you have every right to feel hurt and denied the love that you want." He paused, staring at her even as she made a point to look away - but her ears twitched every so often when he spoke, showing that she at least listened.

"You remind me a lot of your mother, you know that?" A humorless laugh followed, and she was certain he shook his head - but she didn't look again, he didn't deserve that. "Of course you don't - I was too out of sorts to tell you anything...Eevee, darling Eevee. I should have recognized that you wanted attention, that you wanted love - instead, I spurned you, and when you asked for attention, I gave only the bare minimum and sent you away." His words were soft, and even through her anger, she could here the truth in every word. How...how could he know?

"I remember your mother, and her sister - my Sparkie and my Flash, wonderful partners. They were Eevee once, just like you - so much smaller, so much younger. Over time we became close, and they both evolved - at different times - to protect me during...hunts." A pause - she supposed he must be thinking over a few memories of the better times of his life. Her ears drooped a bit, and a snarl was let loose - she was jealous of these mentions, of her parents, as they had clearly meant a lot to him. And if they'd gotten close enough to evolve through the bond of friendship, of love - what had happened to this person, to turn him into what he'd been?

"When they were murdered, neither one looked at me with hurt - neither one looked at me like they blamed me. And your mother, when she could still talk - she specifically told me to take care of you, trusted me to treat you the same way I had her." He was quiet again, for a few long moments - when Eevee glanced over her shoulder again to make sure he hadn't come any closer, she noticed him wiping off his face - he must have been crying again, for some reason. "I'd like to think that wherever she went, after that...that she doesn't blame me...but if she does, she has every right to." The last few words were spoken with a sort of self-hatred, forced out with a sort of anger she could understand - the same kind of anger she sometimes felt towards herself for staying with this human despite the way he spurned her attempts at friendship.

"Eevee...most of what I have to offer right now, are words. But I'd like to think...to think that over time, we can mend our relationship. That I can prove to you that I want to be your friend, that I can come to rely on you like I once relied on your mother and your sister. I know that right now, it hurts - and I won't push you - but..." She could tell he was hesitant in what he was saying, and he pulled her pokeball out of a pouch semi-hidden at his waist - she tensed, and snarled at it. It was a reminder, in her mind, of the forced bond between them - and she thought he was going to recall her, ignore her wishes again. But...he surprised her, when he set the ball on the ground, and rolled it towards her. One of her ears twitched, and he waited as she slowly, cautiously, walked over to it. One paw was on it, careful not to push the dreaded button, and she kept her face turned straight as his, body tense and ready to flee even as she started to put some weight on it, to break it.

"I give you a choice, Eevee." His words were calm, if laced with nerves and a strange mixture of fear and hope, and Eevee's ear twitched again even as a little bit more of her weight pressed against the magically reinforced pokeball. "If you choose to break that, to escape...I won't stop you. I can't...it's not right to force you to stay, not if you don't want to, and though I can't guarantee your life will be great as a wild Pokemon, I also can't guarantee it won't." Her usual fear of the wild stayed her paw, for the moment - she would listen and see what the human offered, before leaving, she decided. "But...if you can give me a second chance...Eevee, I can't say it'll be easy, and I don't expect any change of heart any time soon. But, my dear, I would like to have the chance to have the same sort of bond I had with your parents, and I promise to never go down the same path as I had - if I break this promise, you have my full permission to do whatever you want to me in return. And at any point, I give you permission to revisit this choice - if you want freedom," here he had to pause and suck in a bit of a breath, as though the thought hurt him, "then freedom you shall have."

Eevee paused, staring directly into Leslie's face in a way she hadn't during most of his previous speech, explaining what had happened to his previous team. He said that he didn't expect this to mend everything - and how could it, when this had grown over months - but she knew he spoke the truth. She could hear it, she could smell it, and she thought she just might be able to sense it, in some strange way reminiscent of how her mother, the Espeon she had been, had. He said that he'd had the kind of bond with her mother - and her mother's sister - that she'd wanted for herself these long months since her Hatching, but...could she trust him?

On the other hand, she still had the same worries and fears over the wild that she'd had all along. She was a social creature, as most Eevee (as far as she understood) were - she wanted the attention of a trainer that cared, or a Pokemon somewhere that cared. She thought long and hard, and noticed that Leslie did nothing other than offer a hand and a scrubbed slate - well, as scrubbed as it could be when her pride still stung and she didn't trust him even a little bit. He...he was offering his hand in friendship, the same thing she'd wanted ever since she'd Hatched from him, but was it worth the heartache she'd gone through so far? Freedom would give her the chance to go out and find someone she didn't have this sort of history with...

Again, though, her mother had cared deeply enough about him to not only Evolve for him into an Espeon, but to give care of her own Egg over to him - and that was exactly the sort of bond she wanted with a person. He...his words were tempting, and all he was asking in return was an attempt to get to like him, and was offering to let her go at any point if that's what she wished. She could stay with him and leave him later, some time when he was in a place with more people or more Pokemon, and he wouldn't hold it against her...that alone made her decision easy, considering how out of the way this place right here was. Plus, it wasn't like he could talk to her with words - for now, she'd play along, and if at any point she didn't like what was happening...he'd given her an out. And she'd have plenty of opportunities to tell him off - not like he'd know what she was saying, anyways.

Leslie's smile, when she rolled the ball back to him and stood just barely close enough for him to run fingers through the fur on her head for a few moments, was small and wistful - he seemed to realize, as much as she did, that this was no guarantee of friendship, just a willingness to try again...for now. "Would you mind if I named you...Anael?"

"Name me whatever you want, that doesn't mean I have to like you." They were the first words she'd said the entire time he'd spoken to them, though not the first words she had said in his direction ever - and she took a certain amount of pleasure in the knowledge that he couldn't understand her - but she also pressed her head a little bit closer to his hand, taking an unspoken amount of comfort from the fact that technically speaking, he'd been the one to initiate this bit of contact.

--------------------
Katheryn Knighton
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Edith
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Leslie Witcher-Steele
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^
Astraea
 Posted: Mar 24 2017, 06:56 PM
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张开双手 变成翅膀
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Joined on 12-August 16.


Characters:
Adrian Carlisle, Silas Arington, Elena Ayton (Retired)

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I want to say that I greatly enjoyed reading this... but you almost made me cry so instead I'll say that this was a fascinating and heart-pulling dev. Disregarding the subject matter, your writing was beautiful and definitely complemented the emotional aspects in this thread. Newly-named Anael's reactions were very realistic - I like how you didn't make her automatically love Leslie, and I appreciate her stubbornness (that sassy ending was great as well!).

Now, for the results. Although you didn't ask specifically, the Eevee's name will be edited to Anael. She also gains the note Willing to give Leslie a second chance. and 1 happiness bar. Although they are far from a functional pair, they have a small connection now. A very well-written thread; I really enjoyed reading it.

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Adrian James Carlisle | Freelance Rogue
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Silas Arington | Ex-Assassin Guardian
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Elena Ayton | Retired Handler
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jadedragonette
 Posted: Mar 25 2017, 02:36 AM
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Expert Handler
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Total Posts: 766
Member No. 1874
Joined on 18-December 14.


Characters:
Katheryn Knighton, Edith, Leslie Witcher-Steele

Awards: 6




goals


Frillish (Nathanael)

Frillish didn't know what the whole bother was - sure, Leslie wasn't the biggest, most emotional guy around, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. And sure, Frillish might occasionally wish he'd show some sort of concern or care about his Pokemon, if only to get them to stop whining so much about their hurt emotions - but at the same time, Leslie had gone out for a hunt, been gone for weeks, then come back like this...only, without his team. It was refreshing in a way, and almost as though the man inside had died - it was impressively intriguing, in a scholarly way. It shouldn't take a genius to figure out what probably happened, but neither Eevee or Buneary would listen to him - well, they listened, but they didn't listen and believe and understand. Eh, whatever - eventually Leslie would break out of his shell, and explain himself to them. Hopefully sooner rather than later, with what he knew of the little Eevee, but he knew that eventually Leslie would get over himself and remember that they existed as living beings, too. Or well, mostly living beings, in his case. Until then, he could wait - and when Leslie did eventually come back to himself, he was relieved. Even with the intriguing nature of his...disability, so to speak, it was getting tiresome being with a mostly-emotionally-dead human, though the spikes of pure rage and drive for revenge were satisfying in their own way.

When he'd asked to talk to Eevee first, Frillish was relieved - perhaps after this, the Eevee would stop whining so much. So he willingly went back into his pokeball, and when he was let out, he was glad to see a brief hint of Eevee in the nearby woods - she hadn't chosen to leave, then, even if she refused to ball for now, but was also giving them privacy. And clearly, Leslie was trying to do better by them - even Frillish, as hung up on his reasons for being a ghost as he could be, noticed how much she'd come to hate that pokeball. Of course, thought darkly, that didn't mean he'd be forgiven instantly - nobody deserved that, not even Leslie with all his good reasons. Plus there was the unforgivable bit that Leslie hadn't even let him Hunt for his own prey, only getting Tastes of the prey used to fill their stomachs - that more than anything was what caused his own attachment to this human to fade.

"You've been with me the longest, Frillish - and I'm sure you remember the way I treated you all before, unlike the two hatchlings." A quick, swirling bob was all the answer that Frillish needed to give, his eyes only leaving Leslie for brief moments as he spun. "My friend, I'm sorry I lost myself in the grief - but I'm sure you understand what that's like, far more than either of the others ever could." He paused a moment, and eyed Frillish - Frillish felt indifferent towards his trainer, unlike the bond that had been growing before, but could tell that the human was thinking hard about something. "I'm sorry that I mistreated you and the others, so lost in my grief as I was." It was clear even to Frillish that that wasn't all of it, so he waited patiently, staring at Leslie - almost daring him to say what he was sure was on his mind. The human didn't deserve any sort of help conveying his words, Frillish had decided, but Frillish could be patient when he wanted to be - as he was, for now.

"We were alike, after a while in my grief. I wanted vengeance, revenge for my friends - much like I'm sure you wanted at one time, what kept you tied to the earth instead of taking the other choice and doing whatever the rest of the dead do." His voice had taken a deeper edge, something darker and far more dangerous than it had been the last time Leslie had been relatively okay, only now it wasn't tinged by the desperation and despair that had become usual recently. Frillish found it somewhat intriguing, and drank in the emotion gladly, taking a little more interest in the human's words. "All I could think about was getting revenge on the ones who did this to me, who took my friends from me and made me watch." Leslie paused at this point, and Frillish was sure he looked off towards where Eevee was currently playing. She was darting in and out of bushes, scaring off unwary Pidgey and the occasional Pidove - for now, having harmless fun. Frillish, despite his usual disinterest in Leslie, couldn't help but be drawn in by the dark turn his words were taking - partially due to his own predisposition, and partly because this sort of Darkness was always...Interesting.

"But...I did get revenge, on the guy that I...well, mostly I think he's the one who had the biggest hand in killing Charmeleon." Frillish took a dark amusement in the brief moment of despair in Leslie's voice, then focused more on his words - Leslie was being more honest with him than the human had been in a long time, to any of them. He only wished that he had been out of that damned Ball during the death of this other human, to bask in the fulfillment of revenge. "And...while it was satisfying, at first, and I don't regret it in the least - it...it didn't help." He turned his gaze back to Frillish in that moment, and the half-ghost almost flinched at the self-disgust and anger in Leslie's eyes. That...that seemed. Well, almost...familiar, if he could have looked at himself at one point in time. This...was intriguing, to say the least - this Leslie seemed to have touched the same depths of Darkness that he himself had, only somehow raised above it while Frillish himself still happily dwelt in that emotional murkiness and thrived.

"I don't regret what I did to him, and I don't wish I'd chosen another path. And if I could realistically do so, I wouldn't hesitate to take down the others in a similar manner - the ones responsible for killing my team, even only on the peripheral." The restrained anger and bloodlust sent Frillish into a dizzying spin, as he delighted in the feelings coming from another being - almost like the feelings that had kept himself from moving on, back when he'd died however long ago that had been. Frillish got distracted trying to figure out how long ago that had been for a moment in his mostly-indifference towards the human - but was brought back to the present by Leslie's continued words. "But...at the same time, that's no way to live your life. My life shouldn't be determined by what they did to me - instead, I've pledged to help the Order, partly to spite those damned law-makers." He looked at Frillish then, and gave a particularly sharp smile. Again Frillish was intrigued - he looked more the Shark in deep waters than he had in so very long, that a part of Frillish was relieved that the human wasn't entirely broken by the loss of so many he had once held close.

"I will gladly do what the Order wishes of me, while I search for my purpose once again. Will you join me on that Hunt, at my side as my Nathanael?" Frillish twirled absently, thinking the offer over. As far as offers go, it was certainly intriguing - and Leslie was showing just enough bloodthirstiness and anger to get his own, similar, feelings flowing - and he was certain that there would be a place for his own form of mayhem and fun. He didn't particularly hate the human, either, especially if he continued on this path - in fact, this human could absolutely be a source of fun. That, more than anything, spurred his answer - that and the dark, unspoken promise of more Prey.

"For now, I can stand to be at your side." He knew that the human couldn't understand him, but he let out a dark, ghostly chuckle - and the laughter had a dark, ominous tinge to it, which only grew when even Leslie shivered at the sound. This human...had no idea what chaos would ensue, especially whenever he got in the crossfire. Another ghostly laugh bubbled from him at the thought - if Leslie thought he was forgiven, he'd certainly learn better soon enough.

---

Buneary (Barrattiel)

Buneary didn't think that she was quite as bothered by the lack of emotional caring as Eevee had been, but she knew that it hurt that the human had put enough care into her egg hatching, then apparently didn't even care about her beyond her physical needs. She was appreciative that he fed her and bandaged her wounds, and that she wasn't abused, per se, but she would have appreciated even just a thanks for her help. Sure, he hadn't really done any of what Frillish said he had done - none of the hunting-for-profit that she wanted to test her strength in - but even so, she had been the bait a handful of times, acting like an innocent little, naive Buneary to lure in a predator, only for it to be set straight with the help of her allies. She felt that a little appreciation for her abilities wasn't too much to ask for, if nothing else, and felt hurt when said appreciation wasn't expressed.

His story was horrific and it did explain quite a few things about why he acted the way he did - and she was grateful that he wanted to speak to Eevee, the one most hurt, first. But when he released her for her own meeting, she did no more than stand there and watch him, a small frown on her little bunny-like face. Internally, she smirked at the hesitation that Leslie showed, before he braced himself for that chat - she spared a moment to glance at Eevee, playing in the bushes to the side. She was far enough away that this little meeting would be private - but it still did her little bunny heart good to see that her friend wasn't being cooped up at the moment.

"I must admit, you're one I'm more unsure of. It's not that I doubt your skills," he added quickly, likely picking up on her deepening frown, "but that any Buneary I've met previously, haven't acted like you have since Hatching. I think...when you were given to me, my family knew what I do, even though I still haven't outright told them." He paused and watched her, frowning slightly - she was curious despite her otherwise neutral (borderline hated) bearing towards him. Even in whatever state he had been in before, he had noticed she was different from other Buneary?

"I know, I know - but I've always been an observant person, and even when I was broken, I knew something was different. I highly appreciate it - and I have a suspicion that either your mother or your father was a dark-type, to give you the darker influence. Of course, I have no proof of that - but either way, I don't mind, it's useful." A tiny, slightly smug smile was on his face, and her nose twitched curiously and with a tinge of anger - but this wasn't news to her, so far. She obviously didn't have any memories of her parents, with him having Hatched her egg, but she'd had plenty of time to question why she was different from others of her kind, and parents had come up as a highly likely cause of her mindset. Knowing what Leslie did for the most of his money, or at least had in the past (and likely would again), she was appreciative of it - she didn't mind luring in stupid Pokemon for their benefit, even if she didn't really care for her trainer.

"I'm sorry that, up to now, I haven't shown you the appreciation that your abilities and your intelligence should have earned you." His voice was quiet, but had a serious bent to it, and she focused on the here and now as he spoke. "All I have right now are words - but I promise to you, as I promised to both Anael - Eevee - and Nathanael - Frillish: I will do better. You are a wonderful partner for one such as me, I've seen it in our Hunts for food - unlike most of your fellows, you do not act like prey, but like a predator." She preened a bit under his words, but also was sure to cross her arms in frustration to show that though she appreciated his words, she wouldn't be that easy to win over. His words were just words - and while appreciative, did nothing more than fluff up some of her personal pride.

"Will you accept the name Barrattiel and continue supporting me and our small pack in the Hunt?" Buneary's nose twitched some more, and she eyed the human who was currently crouching, offering her a hand to shake to show her agreement. He seemed patient thus far, and didn't pull his hand back while she thought - he even looked like he'd stay there until she showed, one way or the other, that she would fight at his side. Mentally, she shrugged to herself - it didn't change anything, whether she accepted or not, and support of the others didn't equate to support of him.

"Eh, not like you can make me if I didn't want to." She huffed a moment, and, grudgingly, shook his hand. Time would tell if the match was worth it - and if not, that didn't mean she had to listen to him. Just because she was pledging her support of their little hunting pack didn't mean she had to listen to his orders - just support the others, as she'd been doing all along.

---

Azrael

Inputs told him that something was different, from the last time he'd been released. Not only was there no restrained Pokemon nearby, he processed quickly, but the human was different somehow - he'd never really paid attention before, but this one felt...darker, in some ways, and far more dangerous as a person. After a few moments he realized there was an Eevee over there, frolicking in the bushes - he took a few steps towards it, intending to attack as he'd always been told to, when the human crouched and eyed him closely.

"Well, this is a surprise." Skorupi looked around him, and wasn't sure what was expected of him - this person didn't look anything like the last one, the one that always told him to torture, but that may not be a bad thing. He almost exuded a sense of danger, barely held in check, combined with some interesting feeling that made him think of the Hunt in the way he felt was best. He was used to his prey being held for him instead of properly ambushed and killed, but this man...he had a feeling, or so his senses told him, that he was a hunter in a similar way he had once been a hunter.

"You'll be a useful asset, to say the least, especially since there's no chance your last trainer will interfere - he's dead, after all." Skorupi blinked, and turned his not-inconsiderate brain towards this new information - and found that he didn't really care, one way or the other. The killing had been nice, sure, but having his prey held down and already exhausted...that just wasn't fun.

"Come with me, Azrael, and I can promise more prey than you know what to do with, in time." Skorupi eyed the human for a few long moments, tail-pincer clacking, considering the offer. This human, he could feel either way about - he was intrigued by what his senses told him, but otherwise he didn't much care one way or the other. However, he was making an attempt to promise Hunts, and Hunts were better than already-trapped prey...

"You'd better make good on that promise, human." For now at least, he would accept - and if the human didn't make good on his promise...well, there was a reason the last one was so careful when he was brought out. Freedom was one simple dose of powerful poison away, after all...

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Katheryn Knighton
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Edith
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Leslie Witcher-Steele
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Astraea
 Posted: Apr 1 2017, 06:13 PM
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张开双手 变成翅膀
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Another lovely development! Although not as deep as Anael's, it does give the reader a good view of how the team dynamics stand. Barrattiel's personality was especially interesting and definitely defies what one would expect a Buneary to act like.

I don't think any of the three are anything more than indifferent towards Leslie, though I do believe that Nathanael and Azrael more eager than the others. For that, I'll give Nathanael 1 bar of happiness and both of them the note Willing to work with Leslie. Barattiel will earn the note Indifferent towards Leslie.

I really like how the team is being defined so far and I'm looking forward to seeing how they develop!

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Adrian James Carlisle | Freelance Rogue
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jadedragonette
 Posted: May 7 2017, 03:30 AM
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Azrael was left behind in the Healing Tents for now - Witcher needed to get his head on straight before he tried to deal with what had happened, and he needed to find someone willing to lend him a hand in the conversation to come. "I'm going to try and find someone with an Abra who can help translate for me and Azrael, Anael - I won't force you to speak to me, but I would like you to sit in on our conversation, if you wouldn't mind." He took the Eevee's silence as agreement; he knew that he had a long way to go with the little Pokemon, but eyed her askance as she trotted at his side. It was entirely his fault, the relationship he had with any of his Pokemon - that didn't make it any easier to deal with, though, or make it hurt any less when he was so obviously snubbed.

He put it aside mentally for now, though, as he wandered aimlessly for a little while. He had to find someone with a full-psychic - someone who would let him borrow said full-psychic for translation purposes, preferably without them in the room. In other words, he had to find someone who trusted him enough to not steal said full-psychic, which narrowed down the list quite a bit. He didn't go around stealing stuff, not exactly, but at the same time, he knew he could be fairly off-putting and demanding at times. Frowning ever so slightly, he eventually made his way towards one of his contacts - if they couldn't directly help him, perhaps they could send him in the right direction.

It took maybe twenty minutes to find his contact, a somewhat-seedy man who owned a small tavern down one of the side-alleys, and he kept a close eye on Anael to make sure she didn't wander off - on purpose or otherwise - as they entered. He shivered just the tiniest amount at the amount of grime throughout the room - it wasn't a place you went to for good food or even clean ale, but it was cheap, the ale wasn't too watery, and it was a great place to get information.

"I need to borrow a translator for a few hours, and will pay if needed - including in information." His voice was quiet as he spoke to the man behind the bar, and he knew the barkeep eyed both him and his little, stand-off-ish Eevee skeptically. "For instance, I know that the Guardians are planning a raid on the Venipede's Stinger - they think it's a poaching ring, from what I hear, and plan on taking any in that they can get their hands on whether shopping or working." He knew he had the barkeep's attention then, as a note was quickly scribbled and passed on to a child-courier nearby, before he turned back to Witcher.

"You've got me attention, lad, but ye'll have to pay better if you want a psychic." The barkeep's voice was deep and gruff, but didn't startle Witcher as he watched the man carefully. He pointed a slightly crooked finger to the corner, where a man watched the two quietly, and spoke once again. "He's been looking fer work fer a while now, and has offered a psychic to anyone who c'n pay - you pay his fee, he might letcha borrow the creepy little thing."

Witcher nodded in acceptance to the barkeep, and turned towards the stranger - the information he had brought had been deemed worthy enough to catch the barkeep's attention, and even more than that in giving him direct information on one who might be able to help. He wondered how much it would cost for this service before putting the thought out of his head - a quick flip of a dagger put off any of the other patrons from approaching, or anyone from doing more than peek down at his little Eevee. She stayed a little further away from him than was safe, hence the blade show, but he still refused to recall her unless she ended up in some real danger.

"You looking for gold, or for information?" Witcher asked quietly as he slid into the seat opposite the stranger, unable to tell any details of the man beyond gender - he was wearing a loose hooded cloak, but Witcher could see the scruffiness of a beard of some sort in the dim light of the tavern. Even though it was fairly bright outside, most of the windows were boarded up to stop people from breaking in - it was in a dangerous part of town, after all - and limited candles were lit inside, making it fairly difficult to see in the shadowed corners of the building. It suited the usual clientele just fine, though, and he was certain that this man across from him was hiding for one reason or another - not that he really cared, but to some extent, he dealt in information.

"Depends on what you're after." No other words were offered, but the voice was cultured and oddly accented - Witcher couldn't help but wonder where the other was from, but didn't dare ask.

"I hear you are offering the services of a psychic-type as a translator, if given the right sort of payment." No point in beating about the bush here - he was sure he would only annoy the man if he let their conversation linger, and he wanted to go have the conversation with Azrael anyways.

"Aye, though for that service I'd prefer information, if you have it. Gold if not." The stranger eyed him for several long moments, then asked a surprising question. "If I was looking to procure a certain Pokemon, and didn't care where it came from, where would I go? I'm afraid I don't usually make it out to this corner of the Region - all my old contacts are gone by now."

Witcher blinked, but showed no other response - this person was treading in dangerous territory, but so far hadn't set off any alarm bells in what he was looking for. "Dangerous question to ask, around here. Guardians seem to think the Venipede's Stinger is a good place to go, but they'd be wrong." He paused for a moment, judging the response of the stranger, before shrugging - there was some notion of danger on both sides of this deal, but he needed the help, and preferably quickly.
"Tell me, do you know of Howard Holcott?"

Before more information would be shared, Witcher would probe a little bit - not too much, but enough to get a better read on this person. Wouldn't do to have the stranger become suspicious if he could help it, but better to know whether this person would go to the Guardians first - after all, it was a tricky business, and he didn't want to be thought of as a traitor to the cause. Better to know, or at least get a better sense, of who this person was and what they wanted before sending him somewhere that could get both of them in trouble.

"Aye - that was one of my contacts, but I hear he's been run out of town and disappeared, by now." The man's voice was low, and Witcher could hear a hint of desperation in it - for whatever reason, this man needed a seller of Pokemon (or maybe Pokemon parts) and didn't care if the source was technically legal. Witcher listened hard and watched the man closely for several moments, before relenting and nodding - as far as he could tell, this guy was solid and could be - relatively - trusted not to run to the Guardians with whatever information he did hand over.

"That I was," he said casually, smirking just a little bit at the intake of breath he heard from the stranger, before eyeing the man for a few moments more. "I haven't had time to set up here again, but I'll tell you what - go to the Vulpix's Retreat down by where I used to run, tell them Barty sent you. If they don't have what you want or can't get it, they'll be able to get you to the most likely place to procure what you're after - for a fee, of course." He nodded to the man, and waited while the stranger pondered what he said.

"Aye, How-er, Barty. Here - return him to the barkeep when you're done, I've more than paid for his services and I owe you for your help this time and every other time we've run into each other. In the meantime, I have an establishment to find." A pokeball was set into his waiting hand, and polite nods were exchanged as the man hurried away - with his business there finished, he nodded to the barkeep and headed back out the way he'd come. He had a Pokemon to talk to, and hopefully reassure, and his time was limited - eventually, he'd have to return the Pokemon.

---

Anael was in a corner with the borrowed Abra, listening in as requested as she lay on Leslie's (relatively) soft bag. She didn't care that she was getting fur all over it, something that Leslie would frown at when he noticed - it was more comfortable than the straw-covered dirt floor of the Healing Tent, after all, and she didn't want to get in the way. She wasn't sure what she felt about the fact that Leslie clearly cared so much about this newcomer, this Azrael - on the one hand, here was proof that her trainer had changed; on the other, here was proof that their bond could have been more from the start.

She sniffed the air curiously, sneezing at the scent of the healing herbs combined with old and fresh blood - and sneezed a handful more times, deciding to never do that again in a place of such obvious healing use. Too many scents to count overlaid with sickness or strong herbs was enough to make any sensitive to such things sneeze as she had; settling back down after her sneezing fit, she rested her head on her paws, ears flicking at every new sound. For now at least, she was content to laze there and listen, half-resentfully and half-wistfully, to every word spoken by Leslie or the newcomer.

"Azrael?" Her ears twitched as Leslie - twisting his name in her mind viciously, as Barratiel had pointed out that he hated the name - spoke with such concern in his voice. Though she didn't like to think on it, it was the same concern that he had held, even in his dead-state, when any of them were injured. She wasn't sure if it was reassuring or frustrating for him to show such concern for the new Pokemon, who had gone and done something monumentally stupid. Inwardly, she smirked as the Skorupi didn't react, didn't even twitch, when his name was called - clearly, something was wrong with the scorpion.

"I bartered for the services of an Abra, to ease our discussion." His voice was soft, and her ears twitched at the sound - her eyes stayed locked on the two, as Leslie sat down in a rather uncomfortable-looking chair next to the cushioned table the small scorpion had been laid out on. "Can you - will you tell me how this happened?" She couldn't help but snort at the small frown on his face - whether his emotion was faked or real, it still looked out of place on Leslie's face. Predictably, the Skorupi said nothing, simply pulling in its legs - the stupidity of the Pokemon struck Anael then, and her head tilted to the side. Surely the Skorupi had some sort of reasoning for what he had done, and she was as curious as Leslie to find out why he had - but she wasn't going to push while the Abra was there. Leslie didn't deserve to hear her words, not now, perhaps not ever - even if they weren't directed towards him. She shifted a little bit as the Abra glanced her way, then turned its attention back to the other two - she hoped it wasn't talking to Leslie about how she felt.

Your thoughts remain your own - but know that your trainer cares for you. The psychic voice startled her, made her jump, but she settled down once again, eyeing the Abra. She nodded respectfully to the thing, wordlessly thanking it for its input, but said nothing and did her best to think nothing; she set its words to the side, to be contemplated later. Right now, paying attention to the failed attempts of Leslie to talk with Azrael was more important to her.

"I'm not going to abandon you, you know." There was a note of strength in Leslie's voice just then, that caught Anael's attention. He glanced over at her, and she was startled to realize he meant her, too. It wasn't just Azrael that he was trying to talk to - but to her, as well - and that's when she realized why he'd wanted her there too. She was the one most hurt by his actions of before, but he wanted to show her that he had changed - she had a feeling that he would ask her to many of the talks he had with the others, not wanting to leave her out. She wasn't certain how she felt about that - a lot of secrets tended to be shared in talks like this - but she reminded herself that she wouldn't talk to him unless she was certain he couldn't understand her. Her body language would be plenty, and when no psychic was around to translate, so would her voice that he couldn't hear the words in - he didn't deserve her words, not now, but he might...one day. Until that day came, though, she would remain silent in the presence of psychics, whether he liked it or not.

---

Azrael was startled when the human's voice targeted his weakness - he was young, he had been stupid, and he was now stuck paying the price. As much as he could, he did his best to avoid looking to the left - all that it did was remind him of what he had lost in that disastrous battle. Not only had he been knocked out quickly, but he had only barely managed to take out his opponent before fainting; he didn't deserve what he was being told, he was certain of it. His last trainer, though he hadn't used him much, had been certain to explain to him where he stood in the party: as long as he could pull his own weight and use his toxins to his trainer's benefit, he had a place with them.

Otherwise, he would either be tossed out into the wild in an area that he wasn't suited for - he had nightmares, occasionally, of being tossed in a river as his trainer had threatened more than once - or he would be shown mercy, and one of his trainer's other Pokemon would be used to crush the life from him. No chance of being traded off was offered - he knew too many of his trainer's secrets at the time, after all, and all it would take is someone with a psychic-type or who could procure the services of a psychic-type to reveal all. This human, though...

This human was different. This human had wanted to see how far he would take the battle to win, and didn't think him weak or useless for no longer having an arm. He couldn't help the words that spilled out, didn't want to hold them back. "Why? I'm weak, useless, missing an arm - crippled for life, the Healers say." He knew the Abra would pull at his words, make them make sense to the human, and felt just a little bit humbled at the strength of will shown - as well as grateful, to an extent, to be able to speak to this human easier.

This Witcher-person showed surprise for a few long moments, at the words he was given, and seemed to think on the words before trying to answer. Azrael was a mixture of relieved and worried - relieved that his words were given proper weight, worried about what the answer might be. It felt strange to him - he hadn't known this human long, and bonds were tentative in the wild, but he also didn't want to die just because he'd done something stupid while on the battlefield. The wound he had inflicted on himself, as necessary as it had seemed at the time, could have been worse - but it was still crippling, still left him without an arm. He'd heard one of the Healers talk to another - it was likely it would be permanent, and even after evolution he would be without that arm.

"Azrael, I haven't been your partner for very long." The human's words caught him off guard, and he looked up at the much-larger human - after evolution, if he survived that long, the height wouldn't be so disparate, but as he was he could reach his tail up to its full extent and maybe reach his kneecap, if he was on the ground. Luckily for him, he was raised higher and the human was sitting, so it wasn't as much of a struggle as usual for him to look the human in the eye. "But I'd like to think we're much alike, you and I - as much as it seems otherwise. We'll do anything, in the midst of battle, to defeat a foe." The human's words felt strange to him, but he listened, and he knew that the Eevee he hadn't met yet was listening just as intently.

"I'm sure that if you'd thought that the injury was permanent, you would have tried something else..." Witcher-human's voice paused as Azrael snorted and shook his head, derailing whatever the human was about to say, but when he didn't elaborate - not yet, he wanted to hear what the human had to say first - the man continued. "Well..." He couldn't help the small smirk that escaped, though he wasn't sure if the human could tell what his body language read as, as his words floundered for a moment before he regained his train of thought.

"I don't know why you did it - why you felt you had to take such drastic measures into your own hands. I've been told that the injury was serious - that it was easy enough to heal once they got you here, but that it's permanent. I've been told that it's likely that you won't ever grow that arm back, that it's never been done before - that even after evolution, you will probably still be missing that arm." Nothing good, and the same thing he'd heard, then. But the human hadn't paused, hadn't asked a question, so Azrael turned his attention back to what he was saying.

"But even then, knowing this is permanent...Azrael, when I gave you your name, I was only thinking of one thing." Azrael knew that the Eevee over there had perked up even as he had, curious to know the meaning behind his name, and perhaps of the others. "It is said that Azrael is an archangel, a divine being that may or may not exist - and that his power is that over death." Witcher-human's voice carried a sense of strength that he hadn't noticed before, that he hadn't cared to notice, and he felt the name settle into a part of him that he hadn't realized existed - he wanted to become this Being of Death, to hold some sort of power over the thing that scared all others. He wasn't sure what the Eevee was getting from this, but he could tell that she was interested, too.

"I gave you that name with barely a thought, Azrael, but as I watched you in that battle, I knew I'd chosen correctly. You have strength to you - strength of will, of character, that isn't always found in a Pokemon. I knew when I saw you that there was something different about you - something that called to me as much as I'm sure it called to you. I couldn't see much of what happened - it was too dark, something we used to our advantage - but seeing you there, fainted and missing an arm while there was only one Pokemon out on the other team..." Azrael was fascinated by the emotions he could see flitting across the face of the human, and felt the Abra brush against his mind to help him understand what he was seeing; he wondered for a brief moment if the Eevee was feeling this too, then brushed the thought off. That wasn't what was important - he was to listen to the human, and determine how he felt about the words.

"I was afraid, Azrael, that you were lost to me. I know our bond hasn't had much time to develop, and I know I tossed us all into a mess that has no chance of actual death - but still, I feared for you, just as I feared for the safety of Nathanael and Barratiel. You fought next to Nathanael, and Barratiel came after you had fainted..." Azrael was lost in the scene that Witcher-human's words created - he had acted on instinct to get away from that giant crab thing, and had only managed one last attack before succumbing to his injuries. He recognized the name Nathanael - that must have been the Frillish - but Barratiel...he couldn't help but glance over at the Eevee, wondering if that was its name.

"Barratiel is in his pokeball right now - he's a Buneary, and I'm sure you'd get along but I felt that it was more important for you and for Anael - the Eevee, there - to hear what I had to say to you." The human paused again, and Azrael nodded respectfully to the Eevee - Anael, or so Witcher claimed. He turned his gaze back to the human, pondering what had been revealed. On the one hand, this human clearly had a weakness for the Pokemon in his company - it would be a weakness easily exploited, if he wished. On the other, he was one of the Pokemon in his company, and it was...strange knowing that the human cared about him. His head tilted slightly to the side, as much as it could, depicting his consideration of what this meant to him.

"Azrael, I guess...I would like to know why you did this to yourself, so that I understand where you were coming from. No matter what you say, I won't kick you out - I won't sell you, I won't kill you, I won't release you to the wilds...in the short amount of time I've known you, combined with what I saw of what you pulled off in that battle, I've come to decide that you belong at my side. Be my archangel of death - but explain to me why you hurt yourself like that, so I can explain why you didn't have to and shouldn't in the future. Please."

The human's words touched something deep inside of him, and he felt something relax, something that had been tense since he'd learned of the wound. He wasn't sure if he believed Witcher-human's words, but even if he was lying, there wasn't much he could do about it - and the Abra there would surely be showing him the falsehood, rather than gently pressing a feeling of brutal honesty, curiosity, and gentle coaxing. It was entirely possible that it was a setup, but the way the Abra was acting was odd if it was, and there was no underlying sense of danger - or well, none aimed at him. The human still felt like a Hunter, in the sense he had been a Hunter in the wild, but none of that danger was directed towards him or towards either of the other Pokemon in the same room.

He was silent for several long moments, and Witcher-human fidgeted while Anael the Eevee's ears twitched - both signs of minor impatience, but he had to think. The human had honored him with honesty, but could he truly be honest in return? He glanced over at the Eevee, at the Abra, and realized that if he wasn't honest, the Abra would be able to tell. He had no defenses against psychic-types, not yet anyways, and he wondered briefly if that was why the Abra had been brought in - the psychic-type would be able to read his mind as clear as anyone else's, perhaps even clearer since he had a weakness to the type, and would be able to tell Witcher-human of any dishonesty.

"I did it...because I couldn't lose that way." His voice was soft, but he knew the Abra would be able to translate it anyways. "I couldn't get knocked out by a crab that was weak to me, not that way - I'd just successfully knocked away the dragon's item, lowered her defenses, and dealt a crippling blow, all shortly after your Nathanael had distracted her. I was stupid, arrogant in my speed, and she caught me when I stayed too close - she held me, squished my tiny arm in her huge claw, and I knew she was going to try and smash me into the rocks if I stayed there." Despite the bleakness in his voice, he knew he was getting his point across to both the Eevee and to Witcher-human. He shifted a bit, from side to side - almost overbalancing as he tried to compensate for a weight that was no longer there, he was startled at the feeling of a hand catching him, helping him in a way nobody had ever helped him before. A small part of him growled at the contact, at the feeling of weakness - but another part felt comforted that the gesture had been so automatic.

I didn't think about the consequences beyond hoping that I could be healed of any wounds I took. Even now, knowing that I'm crippled - I wouldn't change what I had done, not for a moment. I couldn't let her water take me out like any other insect - I had to dodge it, damn the consequences - and I'm sure it did help, as I broke free and at least delayed the large dragon's response. A strength and conviction had leaked into his voice, he knew, and he knew that the Abra would be able to make the human feel that part of his words as well - even now, though, he refused to look to the left, and stared at his trainer on his right. He let his words hang in the air for several long moments, and knew that Witcher-human was taking in his words, the conviction, and deciding what to do from there.

"Azrael, that right there is why I know you will become the archangel of Death I know you can be." The human's words were as intense as his own had been, moments before, and Azrael found himself strangely enthralled. "You saw a way around what had been done to you, and used everything you could to get out of the situation as best you could, tossing an Infestation of tiny insects at your other opponent to slow it down." Azrael could tell that Anael, that little Eevee in the corner, was as enthralled by this side of Witcher-human as he was. It was strange to him, to feel such a way over a human, but this person was rather fascinating.

"Azrael, the only thing that I have to say is this: please, for everyone's sake, don't do it again." Azrael was startled, and stared up at the human with his eyes huge and confused. He'd just been told he had done the right thing, and now he was being scolded over it? Humans...they made no sense. "It worked this time, but Azrael - what you did, even the Healers can't fix. Maybe if the Crawdaunt had relinquished her trophy they might have been able to do something - but because you removed your own arm, you leave us weaker until you adjust.

You will have to learn some of your moves over again, and you will have to get used to being unbalanced. There is a huge chance that after evolution, you will have to train yourself harder - that your wound will be permanent, from now until the day you pass on."
Azrael huddled in on himself, hating the reminder that he was weak, and found himself started as Witcher-human's hand suddenly rested on his wounded side - directly on his wounded side, where the Healers had done their best but his arm was still missing.

"You will not be alone in this." The human's voice had softened, and Azrael watched with a sense of confused wonder as Witcher-human actually smiled down at him, at his mangled and damaged body. "I will be there every step of the way, as will the rest of the team - Anael, my angel who reminds me what it is to care about others and is the driving force reminding me that I have to stay strong with my team. Nathanael, my angel to remind me that there is cause and effect in this world, who reminds me that every action has consequences. Barratiel, my angel who supports all of you in word and in deed, who reminds me that every one of you has different needs." He had paused again, and stared down at Azrael with a seriousness that struck something deep inside of him, made him need to hear the human's next words.

"Azrael, you earned your name in that battle, even if it wasn't Death you brought to your foes. You are a reminder that defeat does not mean the end of all things - that there is a peacefulness in it, that there is no shame in someone else being stronger or smarter than you." The human's voice had that softness to it again, and the Abra translated it by saying he cared, truly, about his wellbeing. It was foreign enough in his life for him to be unsure by the show, confused and more than a little bit lost. "There will always be someone out there with more training, more experience, than us - what you are to me, is my reminder that we have to move on from our loss, whatever form that may take. You may think yourself weak, crippled, useless - but to me, Azrael - all I see is strength and the ability to move on, to learn from the mistake you made in the heat of battle."

Though it was just words, he knew that both he and Anael were listening to the human's words and considering them in their own ways. For him, he was coming to accept that he had been injured in battle, and to realize that it wasn't the end of the world - that he had a purpose at this human's side still, and that this Witcher-human would be willing to help him find where he fit into the world now that he had lost an arm. That Witcher-human was willing to help him adjust to the change, wouldn't just kick him to the side and replace him like his old trainer would...it touched something deep inside of him, and made him realize that maybe...just maybe...he had a home, now.

It was a foreign thought - even in the wild, he'd never had a true home, as fighting to survive day by day made that rather impossible - but he liked it, nevertheless. "Thank you." The words were simple, but heartfelt, and he nudged the hand against his side briefly - it would take some time to get used to missing an arm, but just maybe, this human could help him.

---

Anael listened intensely, feeling the spill-over from the psychic near her side of the emotions running through the room and the words being translated so everyone could understand them - she, unlike the others, could feel the strain in the Abra, could see the sweat occasionally bead on its forehead, and wordlessly thanked the creature even as she could feel Leslie's gratefulness for its help. She wondered what this would mean for the team - Azrael was missing a limb and could be seen as a weakness right now, until he got used to it - and she was even more startled to realize that Leslie didn't intend to toss it to the side like he might have before.

His reasoning seemed sound, but it also seemed like something was missing - if she could have, she would have hit her forehead as it suddenly hit her like a freight train: she was judging him by the way he had been, before. For some reason, he had changed, and the change was still hard to remember at this point - it hadn't been that long ago, after all, that he would just patch them all back up and tell them to do better. Instead, here he was comforting a team member instead of assuming the Skorupi would be okay - he was actually reassuring the creature that he wouldn't be tossed to the wayside just because of the injury.

Anael's mind processed this thought quickly, trying to find a reason for the human to have changed so drastically, but couldn't find anything that added up in her knowledge of him. The Abra, she knew, wasn't Leslie's - would broadcast any lie that the human told, if there was one. But...there wasn't one, not a single one. Leslie meant what he was saying, here. If she hadn't been there, she wouldn't have believed a word of it...but what did that mean, for her?

Did it mean that she had...did she have a chance at what she wanted?

She quashed the thought down hard, even as the hope bubbled up in her as it had when she was younger. Leslie wasn't that way, she reminded herself, even as she saw proof that something had changed when Leslie reached out and re-balanced the Skorupi as it tried to move. Such easy affection, even gentle touch, like that would have been foreign before. She wasn't sure what it meant for them, if he'd really changed or was just putting on a show for Azrael's sake, but she couldn't help the fact that she was as drawn in by his words as Azrael was.

It was fascinating, and it showed a part of Leslie that she hadn't been aware existed, before now. He cared for each of them, she knew at least logically, but to have him explain what each of his team members meant to him in words that rang so clearly with honesty - the Abra backed up each word he spoke, and she had no reason to doubt the Abra - it was startling, it was confusing, and it would take time to process. To think that he felt that she was the one he thought was the reminder to stop and take care of his team, was the reminder that they had needs too...she wondered, briefly, if he'd only said that to comfort her, but then he continued and his honesty bled to the other Pokemon on his team, as well.

She wondered, briefly, why only she was there and none of the others - but she was the one most hurt, and perhaps he hadn't wanted to over-strain the Abra?

Soon enough, he was standing and telling Azrael to get some rest while he could - the Healers hadn't quite released the Skorupi, wanting to make sure that he was as healed as they could manage, and that he would hopefully be getting the support he needed from his trainer and his teammates. Anael looked at Leslie then, and saw the tears in his eyes, and realized that the human needed something - reluctant for several long moments act on it, she finally sighed to herself, stood up, and rubbed her body against his legs. It wasn't long before he smiled down at her, though she was startled when he actually knelt and ran his long fingers through her fur.

"I told you I wouldn't make you talk, and I still won't, Anael. But I hope that by listening in, you've gotten some measure of reassurance - I won't turn into the monster I was. I owe it to you, to our partners, to be a better man - I'll still rely on you and Barratiel and Nathanael and even Azrael during the Hunt, during the times we must rely on each other's strengths to get out safely, but I promise once more that I will give each of you what you need to be happy, healthy, and as safe as I can manage."

This time, unlike last time, Anael truly believed his words - but even now, she was hesitant to let herself relax and truly trust in him. He'd hurt her for a long time, but hopefully...hopefully she could put more trust in his words and let herself hope for the future with no worry of him reverting to his old ways. She rubbed against his hand wordlessly, eyeing the Abra, and followed as they went to return the psychic-type to its rightful owner. Maybe one day, they could be Family...

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Astraea
 Posted: May 21 2017, 11:08 AM
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As usual, your writing is superb. The emotional moments in this, I felt, were handled pretty well without being cliche. I thought it was interesting that Leslie chose to let Anael listen in -- despite the conversation ultimately helping her trust him a little more, I would have thought that this moment between Azrael and Leslie would be more private or intimate.

Otherwise, I think this post gave closure to the events of the Rose Bowl that left Azrael wounded. The portrayal of his feelings was accurate in my eyes -- after Leslie's rather long speech, I think I would have liked to see a little more reaction from Azrael, especially since the Abra translator gave you the opportunity to have him express his feelings to Leslie better. Overall, this was a nice post.

I think Azrael has earned (1) Happiness Bar from a higher understanding of Leslie and confidence that he won't be abandoned. The note about losing his left arm has been edited in, as well as a note Trusts Leslie. Anael was more of an observer in this, and although I could see a shift in her thoughts, I don't think she deserves more happiness until Leslie and she have a more one on one moment. I will add the note that she's On the way to trusting Leslie.

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jadedragonette
 Posted: Jun 2 2017, 02:49 AM
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Anael knew she needed some time to think on what had changed, recently. Leslie had been acting odd ever since he'd killed the person who killed his Charmeleon, and she needed a bit to think it over. He'd even had her present for a private talk with the new Skorupi, Azrael, and explained a hint about why he felt he had to change - for their sakes, he wanted to be better. It was...strange, to say the least, and made her wonder if there was a reason beyond wanting to keep them happy - she could see, sometimes, how much his current relationships with them hurt. He'd flinched more than once when she scoffed at him, or turned her back on him - before, he would have shrugged it off or ignored it, but now it visibly hurt him.

She knew she wasn't the only one to see it, too - Barratiel had scoffed at their trainer's weakness, and Nathanael simply let out one of his ghostly half-whispered laughs. But she...she couldn't help the small kernel of hope that had started to grow inside. She'd never forgotten her wish, back when she Hatched from her Egg, to have a Family. Leslie was supposed to love her unconditionally, shower her with attention whenever she wished it, kept her close and comfortable - and yet, he hadn't. He'd held her at a distance, ignoring her silent pleas for comfort or to comfort, simply tending to her physical needs such as food and healing. He hadn't bothered to try and connect with her as a Pokemon, as a partner, as anything more than a tool to be used, fixed, then set aside until he needed her again.

Time and time again, her attempts to get attention were rebuffed, until she was ready to run away instead of stay with what she was certain was a neglectful trainer. And then...things had changed.

She'd been with him, briefly, the day everything changed. He'd even recalled her on the way to his murder, and scolded her for not being sneaky enough before recalling her and continuing with his mission. She'd been hurt that he kept her inside her pokeball during something so important, and been prepared to run the moment she was out again - after all, if he was going to continue to act like that, he wasn't worth staying with.

But then...he'd released her again, later. Told her his story, why he'd been acting the way he had. She couldn't leave then, at least not right away - as much as she hated it, she understood that he'd been through hell just before she'd hatched. None of his Pokemon ran away despite the offer - Barratiel and Nathanael both stayed, she knew, and the newcomer had eventually ripped his own arm off in his attempt to stay alive for this human. She...didn't really understand that one, but perhaps exposure to the newbie would help with that.

She'd even been present when Leslie spoke to Azrael, after that round of the Rose Bowl tournament. He'd been kind to the Skorupi, explained why the Pokemon was still needed on his team - he'd even comforted the broken thing. All things he hadn't done for her, or for her other teammates, after they'd been injured. It hurt to see what she'd been missing all this time - especially considering he was a newcomer, hadn't been with Leslie nearly as long as any of their other teammates.

At the same time, though, it was a sort of reassurance. She knew that was why Leslie had kept her there, with the psychic - though she wouldn't speak to him until he earned the right to hear her voice, at least in words, the Abra had helped make sure there was understanding all around. The Abra hadn't just focused on the words, but he'd ensured that there was honesty all around and that Leslie's words couldn't be twisted and used against him. It had also made sure that Azrael's brief amount of words could be understood by the human, and she knew it would have done the same for her if she'd spoken, thus her own silence during the meeting.

But...she'd felt the honesty in Leslie's words, as he spoke to Azrael, of Azrael's injury that went way beyond what any of them had experienced. He was down a limb, not just cut up or bruised from training or their version of the Hunt - his injury was permanent, and would require special training to adjust to he loss. She was...conflicted, with Leslie's new attitude.

On the one hand, he was clearly taking into consideration what each of them needed far more than what he had, before. On the other, he hadn't cared enough before to do the same while they were younger and more vulnerable - the wall on her heart had already been built up. She'd already made the decision to give him a second chance, and seeing his treatment of Azrael (much as it hurt since she wished he'd been the same way with them all from the beginning) actually gave her a good reason to believe he was telling the truth.

But it was hard, changing her mind about him. She'd catch herself walking along, alert to any noise around them, ignoring his presence as she usually did - only to glance up and notice him watching her with a sadness around his eyes that she didn't like to see. She'd rather have his previous emotionless look than the look of regret and sadness, for some reason, even as she took a certain amount of glee every time she saw the pain - it was similar to the pain she had felt, growing up, every single time he ignored her.

She remembered the first time she'd taken a nasty tumble, one where she'd scraped up her feet despite her fur, and remembered Leslie taking care of her. He hadn't given her any extra comfort, not even when she'd tried to curl up with him - she remembered feeling hurt that he hadn't tried to hold her close, flinching away when she saw what she thought was disappointment in his eyes. She hadn't been good enough, then, and hadn't understood that it wasn't her fault - that Leslie had been damaged, then.

Since then, she'd come to accept that her trainer didn't do that, that he'd make sure they were healthy but nothing more. Hells, she'd been ready to run away instead of accept that as her lot in life, and damn the consequences!

But then...just as she'd made up her mind to flee, as she'd thought earlier, he'd talked to them all. Explained that he'd been kind of running like a machine, no thought or care to where he was or what he was doing - no real life to his body. She didn't understand then, still didn't understand now, what that was like - to be so hurt that you just go through the motions without feeling behind it. Even as she'd planned to run, it was because of a lack of feeling on his part.

Her thoughts were confusing and frustrating - always leading in circles, stuck on the comparison of the current Leslie and the past Leslie. Past Leslie, she'd been willing to leave.

Current Leslie...that was a different story.

She looked up at her trainer, sniffing the air cautiously, and tilted her head curiously. He was...different, than he had been. Actually seemed to care about his Pokemon, regret how he'd treated him since both she and Barratiel had hatched. Had actually given them names instead of referring to them as their species, and apparently given thought to their names as well.

He'd named her Anael, and in his speech with Azrael, had explained that she was the one who reminded him, most of all, that they all had a place and their own needs. That they were a team, not just him and some tools he could use as needed - that each of them required different things. She, for instance, needed to be out of the pokeball more than the others.

That's not to say that the others weren't let out, ever - but that she was the one out most often, and was only brought in to the pokeball when necessary or when it was too dangerous for a Pokemon to be out and about. He always warned her, now, instead of recalling her at his whim - and if he couldn't warn her first, after she was out again, she always got an explanation. It felt...different, too, being out with him.

Before, she was always wary of disturbing him while she was out - having been scolded too many times for being too loud then recalled before she could do anything about it. Otherwise, she'd been out when she was needed, being fed, or being healed - and in the pokeball otherwise - which was a large reason why she hated the thing, nowadays.

Now...it was almost comforting, being allowed to follow after Leslie and, sometimes, able to play just out of sight - so long as she came back, when called, and didn't try to flee. He didn't flinch away or push her away when she darted in to twist through his legs, or occasionally bound up and rest on his shoulder when she had the opportunity - in fact, he was even willing to carry her, if she begged in just the right way. It was...almost...what she'd wanted from Hatching Day.

But...she still held some resentment, towards him.

"Anael, you okay?" Her ears twitched at the noise, and she looked up at her trainer.

That was another thing - if she was quiet for too long, or still, or even just following him...sometimes, he called out to her, asking questions like that. She knew full well that he couldn't understand her words, so she liked to call him names, but even her scathing tone - which she knew he could interpret as something akin to her cursing him - didn't seem to do more than make him frown for a bit or look regretful for whatever reason passed through his human mind.

This time, she snorted, ran up, and nudged against his leg before darting away - she was thinking, needed time to ponder. He laughed at her - not in a deriding way, just genuine joy at her actions - and shook his head, slight smile on his face.

They were here, on the beach, just the two of them. Her other teammates were in their pokeballs, and she knew that they'd have their own sessions in places they would be comfortable - but for once, there wasn't a twinge of jealousy as there had been in the past. She paused in her trotting, and sat down to contemplate why.

It took longer than she'd like to admit...she was starting to like Leslie, perish the thought!

But...was that such a bad thing?

She paused again, laying down, and ignoring the fact that Leslie had stopped walking to watch her, concerned. She scratched at her nose, ignoring the sand she was getting in her fur, and pondered the notion.

Was it such a bad thing that she was warming up to the new Leslie? She rolled the thought around her brain, trying to come up with the pros and cons - and was surprised to find that there were far more pros, than cons.

It was everything she'd wanted, and well, there was the huge fact that he had shown himself to be changed. It wouldn't fix everything, not overnight, and she'd likely still have some measure of reservations for quite a long while - but something in her clicked, and she realized that she liked the new Leslie. He was exactly what she'd expected...okay, maybe not exactly, but still quite high up there.

He was what she wanted in a trainer.

It would...it would take time to understand what a big difference this would make in her future interactions with her human trainer, and it would take time to sink in...

But she could trust this Leslie, in a way she couldn't trust the previous Leslie.

And that...was all she really wanted, ever since she'd Hatched.

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Ray
 Posted: Jun 30 2017, 05:36 PM
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    This was a nice little look into what Anael is thinking, and details her progression of her feelings for Leslie well. I think this could have benefited from more screentime from Leslie himself, but I recognize that it's mainly an introspection piece. However, showing Leslie take some of the actions would have helped make this development even better.

    That all said, it was still enjoyable and I feel I understand Anael's change in mind towards Leslie. For that, she gains:

    +1 happiness bar and a note As of [this dev], trusts Leslie more


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jadedragonette
 Posted: Aug 24 2017, 08:48 PM
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Anael had learned, over time, that trusting a person wasn't the same as liking a person. In fact, it was clear that while she trusted Leslie, there wasn't really any sort of bond between them. She could remind herself that he had changed all she wanted to - but the fact remained, there was still part of her hesitant to actually like him.

It wasn't like she was Hatched yesterday, after all - it had been quite a few months now - and in those first several months, he had spurned her every attempt to like him. And yet, she could look at him now, and trust that his word was true - that he'd changed, and that she liked the changes. But she couldn't bring herself to really like him. She wasn't sure why, and she knew it irritated him sometimes - but it irritated herself more. She trusted that he wouldn't hurt her anymore, that he wouldn't scorn her advances and wants for attention - at least, her mind did - so why was it always so hard?

She huffed to herself, quietly wishing she had someone she could talk it over with. Nathanael just stared at her, knowingly, whenever she brought it up to him, and Barrattiel looked at her like she was weak for wanting such attention and being so confused all the time. And Azrael...he wasn't like her, or like the others. He was a bug, and had such a different outlook on life that his words of encouragement confused her far more than they helped her understand. But...well, that's all that she had, that she could talk to - Leslie simply didn't have other Pokemon!

She was broken from her thoughts, as Leslie hesitantly approached - her ears lowered just a little bit, startled and surprised that he was so openly hesitant. Her eyes, wide with curiosity, tracked his movements, and her tail lowered with her intent gaze as she tried to figure out what was up. He held a pokeball in one hand, nervously fiddling with it as he came forward - she wondered what was in it. From the way he was acting, she was certain it had to be something...new. First, he gave her a tasty candy - which she, grudgingly, accepted - and then, words came.

"Hey Anael," he began nervously, and her tail flicked curiously - even his voice betrayed his nervousness. He coughed, shook his head, and seemed to break free of some amount of the nervousness, as when he spoke again, the slight shake was gone, even if he still fiddled with the pokeball in his hand. "I uh, couldn't help but notice - I know I can't understand you, that Barrattiel and Nathanael and Azrael all have different outlooks on life compared to you. I've noticed that you all talk, sometimes, and that you seem to...sulk, for lack of a better word, at times. I - I don't know what about, but..."

Again, a moment of nerves seemed to come over him, before he took a deep breath and pushed through. At this point, she was sitting and listening intently, eyes bright with curiosity and ears perked forwards. It was starting to sound like...had he gotten a new Pokemon, with her in mind? It certainly wasn't something the Before-Leslie would have done, but she also wasn't sure the Now-Leslie would do it either. As much as she'd grown to trust him, it just didn't fit with the mental picture she had of her trainer.

"I...went to the market, the other day. Before, I told myself I wasn't going to buy any Pokemon, no matter the price - I wanted to catch my own team, you know? But...well, I couldn't pass him up - and I thought, just maybe, with another like you...maybe you two could help each other?" Her ears twitched at this, and she watched as he knelt so as to be closer to her - she even accepted his gentle scritching behind her ear, and leaned into the comforting touch. "I couldn't help but be reminded of that time, during the Festival - where I let you out with the other Eevees and evolutions, remember?"

She licked his hand, still refusing to talk to her trainer as always, and pushed her head against his hand when the hand stopped its scratching. He chuckled, and she blinked up at him in surprise, but he quickly started scratching again and her eyes closed contentedly.

"I thought...well, I thought you might appreciate another Eevee around, someone who might get you better than your teammates." Her eyes blinked open in surprise, and she stared up at him with wide eyes - and didn't complain, this time, when he pulled his hand away. He couldn't...he didn't do that, did he? Hadn't bought an Eevee, just to be her playmate? Her eyes locked on the pokeball, ears perked up, sniffing the air as though she could sniff out the truth - all she could smell was him and the cold, weird almost-metal of the pokeball, but her curiosity was perked. She stood up and spun in a circle, then looked up at him as though questioning why he hadn't let out the Pokemon already, tail wagging ever so slightly in excitement.

Again, he chuckled, and smiled down at her - even when kneeling, he was so much bigger that he still had to look down to meet her eyes - and when he still didn't push the button and let out the Pokemon inside that pokeball, she hopped up on his knee, and started licking his face so he'd get the point. It definitely wasn't something she would have done Before, but even so, she was slightly startled she'd had the gumption to do it Now. Even still, other than having to catch himself from falling over, he just laughed and held her small body close, accepting the enthusiastic attack. Her heart warmed just a little bit, knowing that she'd have been pushed away and scolded before, and she settled comfortably against his chest as he picked her up.

For a moment, at least, the pokeball was forgotten, even if it was still in his hand. Instead, he settled down cross-legged, and held her in his arms; she, in turn, settled down so she was curled up in said arms, leaning against him. This...this felt nice, felt comforting - if a bit odd from never having done it before - and she could feel his heartbeat, just against her ear. Resting her head against his chest, her eyes slipped closed as she heard the proof that he was a living being, and let the sound soothe her; in the new position, he adjusted so that he could run one hand gently through her fur while the other arm kept her close, and he seemed just as content as she was, to let this moment be just for them.

Soon enough, though, she was feeling restless again - had he really bought another Eevee, just for her? Well, it probably wasn't just for her - he probably had other reasons - but to think, he had at least put some thought into how the new Eevee could fit into the team... She couldn't sit still, soon enough, and snuffled against his arm for a moment before wiggling free, jumping away, then turning back to him and staring. He smiled at her, then, warm and soft, and she looked away - she felt uncomfortable, in some way, looking at his face when he smiled like that. He seemed to notice, though, and pressed the button on the ball he held - a flash, and then... he hadn't lied.

She was hesitant to approach, though she sniffed in the other Eevee's direction - male, clearly an Eevee, but that's about all she could tell. He looked around in confusion, and stared at her a few long moments, before looking over at Leslie and folding back his ears. He...hadn't expected that much, clearly.

"Hi," she said after a moment, while he stared at Leslie. She took a few hesitant steps forward, as the other Eevee sighed and looked down, ears tight against his head. He glanced over at her, but didn't say anything - he looked so dejected, her own ears folded down a bit in response. "What - what's wrong?" she asked, gently nudging his side as she got close.

"I...was sold, wasn't I?" His voice was deeper than hers, which she expected - but the tinge of sadness caught her off guard. She paused a moment, thinking about how she'd felt if Leslie had sold her at some point, and her ears and tail lowered a bit a the thought. She didn't say anything, but she did nod, just a little bit. She could feel Leslie's eyes on them, and she knew he was curious about what was going on - he couldn't understand them, still - but the fact that he wasn't interrupting left her feeling surprisingly warm. He'd let them sort it out, for now, and she was glad of that.

"I guess...I had hoped..." He sighed again, and looked so dejected it made her want to cry - she leaned against him, knowing it comforted her when she was feeling like that. She'd felt like that a lot, Before...

"I know what you mean," she said gently, not looking at him while she spoke, but she knew he glanced over at her. "I used to feel like that all the time, before my trainer - before Leslie, there - started to recover. He was...like a machine, or something. He kept us healthy, kept us fed, but...he didn't care about us." She could tell that he was interested, and knew that his ears had relaxed a little bit, not stayed folded tight against his head.

"But well...recently, he's changed. He...sat us all down, and explained what happened." She shivered slightly at the thought, at the memory of what he'd told them, and glanced over at the other Eevee. "His last team...the team he had just before us, the one my mother was part of. They were brutally killed, in front of him - and he was very, very close with them." She said this soberly, her tail tucked in against her body as she sat there, ears tucked close to her head. "And since then - since he opened up to us and told us why he was acting that way...he's changed." A wistful sort of smile graced her face, and she could tell that now, the other Eevee was fully interested. Sad, yes, but his ears were half-perked instead of tucked tight against his head, and he hadn't looked away from her for a while. He even leaned into her as she leaned into him, and she accepted the silent comfort for a few moments while she regathered her thoughts.

"He's been my trainer since the day I Hatched, months and months ago now. And I mean...when I say he was a machine, I mean it. He...he was single-minded, and if you did something wrong, he'd tell you. If you were too noisy, he'd say so and recall you just like that. If you tried to beg for attention, he'd ignore you, push you away, or recall you without saying a word. The closest he got to seeming like he cared about us, was when he'd release us to feed us - or when we were hurt, when he'd bandage us and make sure we could carry on and would heal without issue. Occasionally, in such instances, he'd even take us to the Healers - so it's not like he didn't care for our physical strength, just..." She shook her head, and she could tell that her fellow Eevee was listening intently now; when she glanced over, his ears were fully perked, and his eyes were wide with surprise.

"Ever since I Hatched, I've just...wished he were different, you know? Like all young Eevee, I wanted companionship - wanted a friend, wanted a family. And...until he told us what was wrong, I didn't think he would give me that." She turned her head and stared straight at her fellow Eevee, and she could see some measure of surprise in his eyes. "Even now, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop - I know he's changed, I trust him - and yet, it feels like nothing has actually changed sometimes. My head might trust him, but..."

"...Your heart doesn't." The words were quiet, when they came, but Anael stared at her fellow Eevee. Time and time again, she'd tried to explain that exact thing to Barrattiel and Nathanael and even Azrael...and yet, this Eevee she'd only just met, understood what she was trying to say. "I don't...I don't know how long I've been in a pokeball. I have no way to know; all I know for sure is that this isn't anywhere near where I was caught. The trees are too green, the air too warm." He paused, and looked down - Anael nudged him gently, reminding him that she was there, when she saw his ears start to pin back to his head again. He smiled sadly over at her, but his ears stayed halfway pinned against his head.

"The last time I was let out, I don't know where I was - but there was a human there. I had hoped...that she might care enough to keep me, that though I wasn't where I was born and that I didn't know where I was in comparison to there..." His voice was soft, and Anael leaned against him as he spoke; she could feel his heart beating quickly, and wondered if that was normal or if he was scared or worried or something. "I had hoped to find a home with her," he said, voice soft, sad, and wistful. He nudged her then, and curled close, body laying down instead of just sitting down; she curled around him as well, until they were one big fluffy pillow-like creature.

"This time, I still don't know where I am - but clearly, that last human didn't want me either." He sighed, and Anael couldn't help but nuzzle him, knowing he was clearly distressed by the thought. "And now...I know I'm far from home, but I hate that I can't help but hope that maybe - just maybe - this time I'll stay." Anael lifted her head, looking over at Leslie, contemplating what she now knew about both the Eevee she was curled up with, seeking and giving comfort, and the little she knew about how Leslie had acquired him. Leslie was still sitting where he had been when he'd let the new Eevee out, watching them with a small smile on his face as he watched the two of them; seeing Anael staring over at him, he tilted his head to the side, quietly questioning.

She looked between him and the new Eevee, questioningly, and wondered if he understood - he clearly understood to some extent, as he nodded at her.

"Hey, Eevee," he said quietly, getting both of their attention - Anael couldn't help but smile when she saw his ears twitch nervously, though they didn't pin back like they had earlier. "I know you probably won't trust me yet - we just met, after all - but I'd like to try and assure you that you're here to stay. One way, I think, to do just that - can I give you a name?"

"Is he - can he understand us?" The Eevee looked to her, one ear twitching curiously, and he sighed when she shook his head.

"Think of it this way - if we get irritated with him, we can call him names, and he can't understand what we called him!" Her attempt to cheer him up fell flat, she knew, when all he did was sigh. He watched Leslie for a few long moments, and Anael didn't know what he was thinking, but - eventually, he nodded.

"Do you mind - I would like to call you Nuriel. Is that okay?"

A few long moments passed, before the newly-named Nuriel hesitantly nodded his head up and down, then curled back up with Anael, proceeding to otherwise ignore the human. It would take time, even Anael was aware, for him to trust Leslie - it had for her, after all - but she held hope that they would all help each other. For now, though - for now, she was content curling up with the one like her, and she could tell that her presence was comforting to him. She felt like they'd all made some sort of progress, and hoped that everything would turn out to be okay.

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Katheryn Knighton
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Korosensei
 Posted: Sep 6 2017, 10:24 AM
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Anael was definitely the star of this piece, although it served as a solid introduction for Nuriel. I think it's a little too early for him to get a happiness bar, especially considering his wariness and his clinging onto the idea of his old handler, but I think it's interesting how you had Anael gaining faith in Leslie from the fact that he got her a friend and then explaining this faith to help a new teammate join the fold. It kinda reminds me of what I'm working on with Victor and Maverick, actually, in the way that a pokemon who used to be completely unwilling to socialize or be part of the team is now helping another pokemon like that feel comfortable. I think Anael deserves 1 happiness bar for this encounter with Leslie, especially given that you took your feedback from Ray into consideration and had Leslie show through actions that he's going to treat her well and be kind to her. This bar brings her up to 4, the low end of neutrality, which is a large step forward. I'll give Nuriel a note of Warming up to Anael, although he's not getting a happiness bar quite yet and had only brief interactions with Leslie.

One quick grammar note: the italics from Anael's POV were somewhat jarring since there were so many; in the future, I'd encourage you to try to limit the italics a little more to increase each one's power when it's used.

Finally, in terms of processing things, Apedemak has been renamed to Nuriel and Anael has leveled up to 13, not gaining a happiness bar from this but learning Quick Attack.

Onwards to more eevee fun! I'm looking forward to reading it the continued journeys of Anael and Nuriel http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/emoticons/1.png

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jadedragonette
 Posted: Jun 29 2018, 06:47 PM
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Anael and Nuriel had decided to sneak away from their trainer - something easier to do nowadays, when he kept them out of their pokeballs more generally than cooped up all the time. Leslie seemed to be treating Nuriel with the same sort of respect as Anael, only using the pokeball when necessary to keep them nearby and safe - and even then, doing his best to keep their wants in mind. Of course, he still had no way to actually converse with them - but body language seemed to go a long way, as did physically trying to dodge the beam. It was rare, nowadays, when they were in a pokeball.

"Did you have a name, before?" Anael asked Nuriel as they walked along a small stream, nudging the other Eevee reassuringly when he turned to her with wide eyes. He completely froze up, looking at her with eyes that seemed as big as dinner plates, then turned his head away and pinned his ears to his head.

"Yes," he said quietly, pawing at the ground. He found that the ground was wet there thanks to the proximity to the creek, and started digging lightly at it to take his mind off of things. "I...can't remember them all, or...even, really, most of them. But...my momma called me El, a very long time ago now," he said quietly, still scratching at the ground - at this point, there was enough room for him to curl up in the muddy ground he'd dug at, which was exactly what he chose to do. It was messy and kinda gross, but it was cooling without him having to go swimming - and it was perfect to roll in and get all those little itches gone for a while. As he rolled in the muddy dirt, getting mud everywhere, Anael considered his words.

"You've been with humans a long time, haven't you?" she asked finally, daintily sitting near his little mud-hole, keeping herself away from as much of the mud as possible. Her paws would be muddy, but with any luck, that would be it - she wasn't as much of a fan of dirt everywhere as her new friend apparently was. He paused in his rolling, eventually settling in a position that had him comfortably on his back, looking up at Anael.

"Almost as long as I can remember. Momma had a human-person to call her own - if I remember it rightly, her human wasn't the nicest of people, and sold off all her young ones for something they called money?" He curled up a bit more, comfortably settling on his side in a little bit of a ball instead of more stretched out as he had been before. His positioning seemed to encourage Anael to curl up in the small muddy pit, but she wasn't having any of that just at that moment.

"That..." Anael started to say - but before she could say more, Nuriel struck out, curling his body around Anael before she could jump away, pulling her into the pit with him. Before she knew it, she was on her side in the mud with Nuriel curled up against her - she was startled at the move, and uncomfortable having the mud scratching against her skin, and yet...it felt comforting, in some strange way. Nuriel pulled himself closer, rubbing his side against hers, and she curled up closer to him. His warmth was nice in comparison to the cool, damp earth - this was something she hadn't done before.

"I don't know how many humans bought me after that, honestly. Too many, from what I know. They were...well. Many of them made promises that they couldn't keep. Promised they would keep me, would take care of me...promised I would have a home. This one - your human - is the one to keep the most of his promises so far." Nuriel clawed at the dirt a little bit more, before absolutely rolling in it, throwing dirt up and out of their little pit - and all over Anael, who spluttered a little bit.

"Leslie...well. As much as I have problems with him, he hasn't broken a promise since he started acting like a human again," Anael said after a few long moments, after Nuriel finally stopped kicking up dirt and settled down again. She rolled over in the dirt, giving in to Nuriel's wishes, but quickly decided that this wasn't something she enjoyed - it was too messy, too itchy in her fur to outweigh the fact that it did scratch some spots in her back that she couldn't normally reach.

Nuriel didn't say anything for several long moments, instead settling down so that he was curled up alongside Anael once again. He settled down so that his head rest on hers, and they both lay there, comforted by the presence of the other.

"We'll just have to wait and see...together, yeah?" His eyes started to close, as did hers, as they lay there comfortably. For this, Anael would put up with the dirt in her fur.

"Together."

With that, the two fell into a gentle doze, there in the woods by the creek in a small muddy pit. It was time to rest, for now - they could go find Leslie again later.

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