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  1. #16
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champion Game (3)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sky Flame Haze
    So where should I start...wait let me process everything.
    Okay :P

    So what I got from this was that everyone has spiritual energy inside them that has been predetermined since they were born right. According to this depending on how much spiritual energy you have it also varies in how good a trainer you'll be and how your Pokemon will grow around you and apparently the whole purpose of finding a champion is to find the person with the highest amount of spiritual energy.
    Yup, you essentially got it right there. But the only other thing is that it's not just that that determines whether you'll be a good trainer. Some people with huge levels of spiritual energy never become good trainers, or even trainers at all, simply because of the choices they make, their personality and their environment. But yeah, on the whole you've got it down.
    What I still don't get is what all this has to do with it I mean why is it so important to find a champion and why does it sound like the Dream World is somehow going to be involved in this fic and on another note what does that Zangoose in the banner represent?
    The reasoning for why this is so important will begin to be revealed around Chapter Five, and as for the Zangoose . . . that will appear in Chapter . . . *checks* . . . Ten.

    It was a good chapter, and now there's a lot of explanations that I'll have to keep track off for later.
    Yeah, good luck with that. By the time I'm through with you, there'll be far more to remember. I'll write a few handy things up for the Hoenn Reloaded thread that might help you out in that respect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cabaret
    What can I say, great as the one-shots before it. You take lots of care into your writing and plenty of focus on the plot. It seems you have most of the story already written which is good, that way you won't stop posting. Roxanne is my favorite gym leader, and just having her in the story makes me respect you more and more. There were no flaws with the formatting. The story is interesting thus far, I can't wait to see where it goes from here.
    Yay! Glad to have you reading.

    Haha, 'most of the story'. Thirteen chapters is barely the beginning. ^_^;;;
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  2. #17
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champion Game (3)

    A/N: I'm posting this at 11:30 on Wednesday night because come on, I won't have much time tomorrow between one thing and another. So this is Chapter Four . . . pretty short chapter, but kind of important, I think.

    And yeah, I'll sit down on Saturday (free time woo) and do those reviews I've promised people.



    Television


    Downstairs, Steven ushered the still-fuming Ren into a car not unlike the one that had brought him to Devon Corp. This time, however, Roxanne was nowhere to be seen. The car ride was silent, frostily so. Ren spent the journey looking moodily out the tinted window as Steven looked on, a slight twist of amusement in the set of his lips.

    When the car finally rolled to a stop, Ren stepped out unwillingly. On the other side of the pavement stood a low metal fence, painted green, beyond which stretched a picturesque expanse of grass, dotted with trees and patches of flowers arranged in seemingly random patterns. Under a tree some distance into the park, people were dashing around frantically, setting up a table, chairs and an enormous array of cameras, microphones and portable computers. Leads were being run from the site to a van parked near where Ren was standing, and in the midst of it all was standing a man Ren recognised instantly: Richard Andrews, the host of Hoenn Buzz.

    Steven stepped over the fence and beckoned Ren to do the same. As they approached the hubbub, Ren examined the man who he had seen so many times on television, interviewing hapless celebrities and smarmy politicians for the whole Hoenn region to see. Richard Andrews was a tall man with a healthy crop of black hair, tied back in a short ponytail. His skin was a dark olive tone, bringing out his green eyes and white teeth. As the two Trainers approached, Andrews was engaged in conversation with a very pretty young lady who looked vaguely familiar to Ren.

    As Steven and Ren drew near, Andrews noticed them and strode towards them, beaming, with arms wide. He embraced Steven like an old friend. “Steven Stone, you old rascal! It's been a while since I had you on the show.”

    “Only since last year's Conference,” Steven said, smiling. Ren was slightly taken aback by his genuineness as he slapped Andrews on the back.

    “Far too long, old buddy! Far too long,” Andrews said jovially, releasing Steven and approaching Ren. Ren instinctively took half a step back; he hadn't realised quite how tall Andrews was on television. The man was well over six feet tall. “This must be Mr. Goodwin, then?”

    Ren nodded, before finding his voice. “Yes, Mr Andrews. Nice to meet you.”

    Andrews guffawed loudly, slapping Ren on the back with such force that he just about fell over. “You hear this kid? 'Mr Andrews'? Ha! You call me Richard, kid – everyone does! And I mean that.”

    “All right . . . Richard,” Ren said, swallowing. It felt strange to be in the presence of such a recognisable figure.

    “Good stuff! And it's a damn fine pleasure to meet you too, kid! Say, s'all good if I call you Ren, right?” Richard put out his hand, grinning.

    Ren took it cautiously and just about had his arm pulled off as Richard shook it energetically. “That's fine,” he said quietly.

    “Right on! Now, if you'll excuse me, folks, I have to go make a phone call. Back in just a minute!” With that, he saluted Steven with two fingers and jogged off towards the van.

    Ren blinked, quite overwhelmed. It was as if a hurricane had just torn through the area, leaving just as quickly as it had appeared.

    Steven chuckled and patted Ren on the shoulder. “You get used to him soon enough,” he said. “He's a good man, Richard. He's not just friendly because he's on TV all the time. That's just how he is with everybody.”

    “Really? He was certainly . . . energetic,” Ren said. Now that Richard had moved on, he remembered where he was. The show was due to go live in little more than an hour.

    “That's one word for it,” Steven agreed. He seemed a little more cheerful than before.

    “Steven Stone,” said a teasing voice from Ren's left. “Are you going to keep ignoring me?”

    The speaker turned out to be the attractive young woman Richard had been talking to when they arrived. She was tall and slim, with gently tanned skin and deep blue eyes. Her brown hair barely touched her shoulders, exhibiting tasteful blonde highlights. Steven smiled and kissed her on the cheek. “Bella! So nice to see you! It's been a while.”

    “Hasn't it just? You must've been so busy lately! What have you been up to?”

    “Ah, I'm sure you've heard,” Steven said, scratching his head. “I was busy losing my title to this gentleman here. Ren, meet Bella Bianchi, singer, actress and a good friend of mine.”

    “Nice to meet you,” Ren said, nodding politely. He didn't feel up to cheek-kissing. He probably wouldn't be able to reach, in any case. “I . . . do believe I've heard of you.”

    “I would be surprised if you hadn't,” Steven said. “Bella is one of the most prolific actors this year, for starters.”

    “Oh, come on, Steven. You can't expect everybody to know me!” Bella laughed. “But yes, that's me. Since I've had my introduction stolen from me, I'll have to settle for hearing yours.” Her voice carried a slightly foreign lilt, pleasing to the ear.

    “I'm . . . Ren Goodwin. Hoenn League Champion.” With a start, Ren realised that it was the first time he had introduced himself with his new title. It felt strange, like it wasn't quite part of him yet.

    “So I take it you're on the show tonight as well?” Steven addressed Bella.

    Ren blinked, but quickly realised he was intruding. Nodding to Bella, he removed himself slightly and dropped onto a park bench, out of the way of the setup for the show. Already, he could see a few curious bystanders gathering around the border of the park. Hoenn Buzz was filmed with a live audience, no matter where it was broadcast from, he remembered. The thought of sitting in front of such a large group of people as the Champion was quite frightening; he had thought that being televised would be bad enough.

    Yawning, Ren pushed his hands through his hair, messing it up even further. Although it wasn't as if he'd been up at the crack of dawn, it had still been a tiring day. He hoped he'd get to sleep before too long.

    The Dreamlight was still cold against Ren's chest as he cast his mind back to his conversation with Steven. It had been pushed aside by the whirl of activity in the last forty-five minutes or so, but now it returned in full force, bringing with it all the confusion it had had before, and then some. Steven obviously expected something to happen when he went to sleep that night, but what, he had no idea. The only clue he had was the name of the pendant resting just below his collarbone – the Dreamlight. Was he going to have a dream? But that wouldn't tell him anything, surely. In his experience, dreams were notoriously unreliable informants. The last dream Ren remembered having was the one with the Glameow with an afro. The feline Pokemon had led him through a maze of candy canes and lollipops before finally turning on him and trying to eat him.

    Yeah. Dreams don't make sense. They don't mean anything. What had Steven been talking about? As much as he hated the prospect, he was forced to resign himself to the fact that he was just going to have to suck it up and wait. He knew that it would nag at him all evening, but at the same time he knew that he had more pressing troubles to deal with. TV . . . I don't want to be on TV.

    Ren wasn't a shy person by nature. He knew that. There was still, however, something painfully intimidating about exposing himself in such a way. Ever since he had become the Champion, he had suddenly become recognisable. It was only his third day holding the position, but the strain was already starting to become too much.

    Was it a bad idea after all? Becoming the Champion had been a glittering, golden dream for years, always hovering at the edge of his consciousness, tempting and enticing him. But now that he had actually achieved it . . . was it actually worth it?

    Ren saw no change in the future. If anything, it would get worse and worse. He was the Champion, and the Champion, as Steven had said, was as much a media personality as he was anything else. He would have to keep doing this. He would keep appearing on TV, and on the radio, and in newspapers. Sure, perhaps the hype would die down after a while, but it would always be there. He wouldn't be able to go out in public without being accosted by someone who recognised him, and he didn't think he could deal with that.

    “Are you all right, Ren?” said a voice near his right ear. Ren jumped, his heart pounding.

    “Jeez!” he exclaimed. “Don't do that!”

    “Ah, I'm sorry.” It was Bella Bianchi, Steven's movie star friend. “Were you thinking about something important? Should I leave?”

    “A . . . little,” Ren said. “And it's fine. I just wasn't paying attention.”

    “You seem a little distracted,” Bella said, leaning back on the bench and stretching. Ren noticed that despite her impending TV appearance, she was dressed relatively casually, in a golden, sparkly top and black jeans. “Are you feeling all right?”

    “I . . . what makes you think there's something wrong with me?” Ren didn't think that he had been looking particularly out of it. In fact, he had made sure to keep his face carefully neutral just to avoid this exact discussion with anyone who happened to pass by.

    Bella smiled gently. “Ren, I've made a career out of putting on different faces at will and pretending to feel emotions I don't feel. After a while, it's not too hard to tell when someone else is doing the same.”

    “Oh,” Ren said blankly. Glancing around, he added, “Where's Steven?”

    “He's talking with Richard about the show,” Bella said. She snapped her fingers playfully in front of Ren's face. “But hey! Stop trying to distract me. What's wrong with you? There's obviously something.”

    Ren took a deep breath, trying to decide how to put it into words, and indeed, whether he even should. He'd only just met Bella, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to burden her with his problems. Still, it'd be nice to tell someone other than Steven, he reasoned. He couldn't rely on the ex-Champion for sympathy. “I suppose . . . it's just that I'm not used to all of this,” he said, waving his hand at the milieu of TV cameras and rapidly growing group of curious members of the public.

    “It's the same for everyone who comes into some kind of fame,” Bella said. “It's especially hard for those who become famous overnight.”

    “I can imagine that,” Ren said. “Still, that doesn't make it any easier to swallow now. I still feel so lost when somebody stops me and says 'Hey, you're that new Champion kid!' I just start to panic . . .”

    “I see,” said Bella, tapping her chin with a manicured finger. “Tell me . . . how do you deal with it at the moment?”

    “Well, it's only happened a few times so far,” Ren said. “Mostly I just smile and try to get away from them as quickly as I can without being rude. If they want an autograph or something, I'll sign it, but it's just hard to not freak out.”

    “When I started getting a bit more well-known, it was much the same for me. Soon, though, I realised that I couldn't just run away from everybody.”

    “I know that!” Ren said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “But still, when I think about getting up on TV and talking to Richard . . . it makes me feel sick.”

    “Haven't you done some of this already? Interviews and such, I mean?”

    “Well, yeah,” Ren admitted. “But it was just with reporters, or for five minutes on a radio talk show. Then there was that one press conference, but Steven did all the talking there. It was bad, but . . . this is something else. This is TV. This is everybody.”

    “That's what Richard's job is, though. He understands how you feel about this, and he'll make it easy for you. He'll start off with some easy questions, and then build it up a little bit at a time. He's really good at making people feel comfortable when they're in the chair. And Steven will be there with you as well, I understand. He won't leave you high and dry.”

    “It's not like I have stage fright or anything! Or . . . at least, I don't think so. It's more . . . the concept of it that bothers me. A little voice in my head is sitting there and asking 'Do these people really have nothing better to do than fawn over someone they saw on TV?'. I know it's horrible, but it's really bothering me. I feel like . . . I'm being turned into an object. Like I'm not going to be a person any longer if I keep it up. Do you know what I mean?”

    Bella nodded slowly. “I think I actually do see now. And it makes it easier, if anything. When people are just scared of being in the public eye, it can take ages to get over. I've seen it in other people in my line of work. But when your problem is that loss of individuality . . . well, it's a far more serious problem with a far simpler solution.”

    “Really? There's something I can do?” Ren asked eagerly.

    She laughed lightly. “Yep. All you have to do is give it a little while. It might sound hard, but just go with it for a few weeks. Throw yourself into every challenge you come up against, heart and soul. That way, you don't forget who you are. Your problem is that you've let what you think other people think about you affect what you actually think about yourself.”

    “I . . . don't follow,” Ren said, blinking. “What I think . . . what?”

    “Maybe that was a bit confusing,” Bella admitted. “Basically, what I mean is that you're not looking at people's impressions of you. You're making assumptions based on what they say to you, and that's colouring your impression of how they view you. To them, you're still a person, even if you're a strange one. A kid as the Champion? It hasn't happened for a while, so naturally you're a fascination. But you're not an object. OK?”

    Ren wished it was. “I see what you mean, but . . . I doubt it'll make a difference. I mean, I'll try, but . . . I'm somehow not convinced. I'm sorry.”

    “No worries. All you have to do is keep thinking about it, OK? I think you can get over this really easily. I won't push you, but just think about it, yeah?”

    “. . . Yeah. Thanks, Bella.”

    “Aha!” she said triumphantly, standing up and tapping him on the nose. “Gotcha!”

    “Huh? What? What did I do?”

    “You called me by my name,” she said happily. “You hadn't done that yet!”

    “Ah . . . didn't I? I'm sorry.”

    “Oh, stop apologising for everything, Ren,” she said. “You're going to get all wrinkly if you keep frowning like that.”

    “Um . . . sor- I mean – I see. All right.” Stretching, he stood up and took a deep breath. Although the air was cool, the sun was still quite high, showing through the buildings, dead west along the main street.

    “Smile!” Bella said brightly. “I know you can, and you're not going to have any fun tonight if you keep worrying.”

    Ren tried to draw his lips into some semblance of a grin, but it still felt unnatural and a bit awkward. “You're being awfully nice to me,” he said. “Why's that?”

    “You looked down. What more reason do I need?” Bella smiled and spun around on the spot, looking up at the sky. “I think you and I could be friends, Ren. What do you think?”

    “I . . . think that could be nice,” said Ren, and with the admission came a realisation. It had been a long time since he'd had anyone he could call a friend. Sure, he had met hundreds of Trainers on his quest to become Champion. Some of them had been bad sorts, others good. Some had travelled together with him for a period of time, but that couldn't last forever. Friends had come and gone over the last five years, but none with any permanence had appeared. “I'd like that.”

    ***


    “Hey, hey, Hoenn! This is your man Richard Andrews and this . . . is Hoenn Buzz! Tonight, we're coming to you live from the picturesque Rustboro City, and man, have I got a lineup for you! First up on the show tonight we have Hoenn's favourite diva, the star of the upcoming blockbuster One Flew Over the Swellow's Nest. She also has three singles in this week's Top 40, including one that's charting in Johto and Unova as well. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you . . . Bella Bianchi!”

    Ren watched in awe as Bella strode confidently in front of the cameras, laughing and waving as if the audience were old friends. She seemed so natural, so at home, as Richard stood up and bowed dramatically. She took her seat on one of the large red chairs set up next to Richard's desk, and the interview began – except that it didn't so much feel like an interview as it did a casual conversation.

    She was masterful. Bella Bianchi played the scene with ease and grace, laughing at Richard's jokes and keeping the momentum going for the full fifteen minutes she was on the stage. When she finally left, blowing a cheeky kiss towards the cameras, the audience applauded wildly. “Game face on!” she whispered in Ren's ear as she passed. His mind was blank as he vaguely registered what Richard was saying.

    “We're going to break for commercials now, ladies and gentlemen, but don't go anywhere, because right after this, I am bringing you Steven Stone – until recently, the Hoenn League Champion – and the gentleman who toppled him from that position, Ren Goodwin!” After the cameras cut out, Richard bounded out from behind his desk and hustled over to where Steven and Ren were waiting, out of the cameras' range. “All ready to go, guys?”

    Steven nodded. “I'm ready.” He seemed completely unfazed. “Ren?”

    Ren took a deep, shaky breath. “I th- yeah. Yeah, I'm ready.”

    “Jeez, don't blow me away with your enthusiasm, guys!” Richard laughed. “Nah, I'm just screwing with ya. Let's get this on. I'll cue you on after the introduction, alright?” With that, he hurried back to his desk again.

    It was a quarter to six, and the sun was starting to creep towards the horizon, but the orange-tinged rays were still falling straight down the main street, offering plenty of light, and technicians were standing by with extra lighting just in case. The two red chairs were adjusted, and the producer counted down the seconds until the show went live again. The cameras started rolling again, and at a cue Ren couldn't see, the audience rose to their feet, applauding enthusiastically as Richard took a deep breath and shuffled his papers before finally opening his mouth to speak.
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  3. #18
    The Dimension Wizard Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Champion Game (4)

    I don't want to repeat myself I really don't but it was perfect really.

    I guess the biggest part I like about your fic is that the characters are so realistic at time, maybe it's just me but I really fee like I'm connecting with the characters and I barely have to read the description to understand what they're doing or anything, even though this was mostly a break chapter it gave us a closer look at Ren's feelings about becoming a champion and you introduced two new characters and one of them might a possible love interest but it's still too early to tell at this stage.

    Sorry I don't really have a lot of criticism to give.

  4. #19
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champion Game (4)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sky Flame Haze View Post
    I don't want to repeat myself I really don't but it was perfect really.
    if you're gonna be like that you can repeat yourself all you like

    I guess the biggest part I like about your fic is that the characters are so realistic at time, maybe it's just me but I really fee like I'm connecting with the characters and I barely have to read the description to understand what they're doing or anything, even though this was mostly a break chapter it gave us a closer look at Ren's feelings about becoming a champion and you introduced two new characters and one of them might a possible love interest but it's still too early to tell at this stage.
    I'm glad you like how the characters are developing - I feel a little nervous about all that at this stage, as Ren's a slightly bland character in my honest opinion. So it's good to hear. Also, I'm glad you like Bella - aside from one funky feline that hasn't been introduced yet, she's my favourite character to write. She's just so sweet, and she's the kind of friend that every lost young Champion needs, I think. (This isn't me praising my own writing, btw - Bella writes herself. I couldn't improve her if I tried. All I can do is try to do her justice on the page.) Interesting what you say about the possibility of Bella being a love interest. I think she might be a little old for Ren, though . . . I put her age at about 23, while Ren's only 14. Still, that's nothing in Hollywood these days! :P

    Sorry I don't really have a lot of criticism to give.
    Nah, don't be sorry! That's helpful! Thank you very much.
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  5. #20
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Chapter Five - And Now, Something a Little Magical


    And Now, Something a Little Magical


    “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Steven Stone and Ren Goodwin!” Richard exclaimed, flinging his arm out dramatically towards where Ren and Steven were standing. Ren froze for a moment, until Steven elbowed him and the pair made their way onto the stage. The noise of the crowd somehow overwhelmingly loud despite its relatively small size, Ren stumbled and almost fell on the hastily cobbled-together steps up to the temporary stage. Richard welcomed them with a smile as they sat down in the enormous red chairs; Steven subtly pushed Ren towards the one closest to Richard.

    “Well, this doesn't happen often!” Richard said, laughing. “Two Champions at the same time! On my show? Wahoo! Two for the price of one!”

    Ren smiled despite himself. Maybe . . . just maybe, this wouldn't be so hard after all.

    “Alright, alright,” Richard said, quieting the crowd with a wave. “Can't hear myself think! Now, Steven Stone is the man everyone knows, so you get away with just a brief introduction. Until recently, Champion of the Hoenn League. Twenty-six years old, born and raised here in Rustboro. Likes Steel-type Pokemon, chocolate brownies, precious stones and taking long walks on the beach near Petalburg. Sound about right?”

    “I don't know where you get the part about the beach from, Richard, but the rest is right enough.”

    “Eh, I just made it up. But we'll get back to you in a minute, Stevie boy. Right now, Hoenn is buzzing about this young man right here! Ren Goodwin, everybody!” The audience applauded again, and Ren resisted the urge to fiddle with the microphone on his collar. He had had his hair dealt with before the show, but he was still dressed in the same jeans and T-shirt. Game face on, he told himself. Game face. “So, an easy one to start with. How old are you, Ren?”

    “I'm . . . fourteen.”

    “Fourteen! That's seriously impressive, my man. That's almost record-breaking stuff, right there. The youngest Hoenn League Champion ever was thirteen, if I recall rightly, but that was decades ago! You're the man of the moment right now, Ren. So tell me . . . how does it feel? Has it sunk in yet?”

    Ren winced inwardly. So much for starting it out easy – Richard had thrown him a curveball right off the bat. “I think . . . it's sunk in as much as it's going to, Richard,” he said. “I've had a few days to settle into it, and . . . although I'm still not quite sure whether it's a dream or not, I feel pretty good right about now.” He was answering on autopilot, he realised as the audience laughed. He was saying what they wanted to hear, even if it was more or less true.

    “Well, that's fantastic! I'd be pretty stoked myself if I beat the Champion, so I'd be surprised if you weren't. Good to see it's not gone to your head, though. Folks, I've had the opportunity to chat with Ren for a few minutes before the show, and I can tell ya, he's a real genuine kid. Awesome guy. Where ya from, Ren?”

    “I grew up in Slateport, but I was born in Unova,” Ren said. “We moved when I was just a few months old.”

    “Any particular reason?” Richard asked.

    “Ah . . . for Dad's work. He's a lawyer, so he could have made it anywhere, but he decided we should move to Hoenn. I don't know too much about it, to be honest. It doesn't really come up in conversation.” The discussion was straying into dangerous territory, and Ren made an effort to steer it back on course. “Slateport is all I've ever known, so I consider it home.”

    “Good to hear, kid! We love a Champion with some regional loyalty, don't we, folks? In any case . . . Steven! Your turn!” He made a gun with his fingers and fired at Steven dramatically. Playing it up, Steven clutched his chest and fell back in his chair with a groan. Ren tried not to laugh at the normally stoic Steven as Richard faked panic and concern. “Oh, damn it, I've gone and killed our ex-Champion! Don't arrest me, don't arrest me!” The audience loved it, although for Ren, the humour was starting to wear off already.

    “I'm fine, Richard,” Steven said, sitting back up and adjusting his collar. “What was your question? I'd say 'fire away', but at the risk of incurring more projectiles . . .”

    “What everybody wants to know, Steven Stone. The battle! How did it feel to lose the title you've held for six whole years? We all watched it on TV, but we want to know what was going on inside your head.”

    “To tell the truth, Richard . . . I don't mind so much. In all my time as Champion, my greatest fear – probably my only fear – was that I would lose to a challenger who was unworthy of the title of Champion, but that's a non-issue with Ren. I feel comfortable handing my title over to him.”

    “Uh-huh. But tell me, Steven – what now? What do you think you'll be doing with yourself now that you're no longer the Champion?” Ren thought he saw Steven's jaw tighten, but it was no more than a momentary impression.

    “I'm . . . not so sure, actually,” Steven said quietly. “Now I'll have some free time to work on my research into Hoenn's geology. But in terms of long-term plans . . . nothing, really.”

    “Ooh, do I detect a hint of uncertainty in the man of steel?” Richard teased. “Ladies and gentlemen, Steven Stone!” The audience applauded again, just as Ren felt himself beginning to numb to the constant noise.

    “Before we finish up, though, I want to ask a couple more questions. Firstly, one for Ren – what lies ahead for you? Steven's taking a break to work on his rock collection, but what do you think you'll be doing?”

    “I . . . don't know either,” Ren said. “I'm still not entirely sure what a Champion has to do, so I'll be looking to Steven for help on that one.”

    “Well, our previous Champion has plenty of experience, so I'm sure you'll be fine. You know, it's uncommon for a Champion to last more than a couple of years, especially one who specialises in a single type. The longest-serving Champion currently active is the Sinnoh region's Cynthia, who has held the title for eight years. And that brings me to my next question. Back to Steven for a moment – it's not unheard of for toppled Champions to seek a new title in other regions. Do you think that's something you could do?”

    “It certainly sounds plausible,” Steven admitted. “I'd have to collect a whole new set of Gym badges, though.”

    “Oh, come on, it couldn't be that hard! You made it all the way through the Hoenn League, and I don't imagine you were just chilling out all that time you were Champion. You're still one of the toughest trainers in the Hoenn region!”

    “That may be so, Richard, but I feel my competitive days are behind me. I'll make sure to keep battling, though. That's one thing I'm sure of. I don't think I'll be retiring any time soon.”

    Richard laughed along with the audience. “Well, that's good to hear, Steven, my man. Now, we're almost out of time, but before we go – Ren! Tell me . . . do you have some sort of secret to your victory? A motto or some advice you can share with us? Hoenn's buzzin'!”

    Ren thought about it for a moment. He almost considered using Steven's plant metaphor, but realised it would be too risky. Also, he didn't quite remember all of it, so he'd be likely to make a fool of himself if he tried to recite it. “Not as such. Just . . . I know it's been said a thousand times, but that's probably because it's true: if you keep trying and refuse to back down, you'll get where you're going in the end.”

    “All right! There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! Steven Stone and Ren Goodwin, our Champions old and new. I can hear Hoenn buzzin'! Till next time, folks!”

    The audience rose to its feet in applause one last time, and Ren waited until the producer gave the all-clear signal before he collapsed back into the voluminous depths of his squashy red chair, his heart racing. Somehow, it seemed, he had managed to hold off the panic throughout the show. It had been over faster than he expected, but nonetheless, he was exhausted.

    “Good stuff, kid!” Richard crowed as he practically leapt out from behind his desk to shake Ren by the hand. “Nice job for a first time on the show! Ever been on TV before?”

    Ren shook his head blankly, suddenly incapable of speech. The audience was beginning to filter off in different directions, leaving behind only a block of white plastic chairs that some of the stage hands were already stacking up and loading into a truck that Ren hadn't seen before. The cameras were being folded up and packed into the van that was parked next to Steven's limousine.

    “Well, you did fine, Ren,” Steven said. “Good job.”

    “Thanks. Just don't spring something like that on me again.”

    “Oh, it'll happen,” Steven said wryly. “You're a popular young man, now. Richard,” he said, turning to address the big man. “A pleasure being on the show as always.”

    “Ah, we'll get you back sometime soon, Stevie boy. Milk it for all it's worth. Sorry it was such a short segment tonight. We already had Bella booked in, and we weren't able to reschedule at such short notice. She graciously agreed to take a fifteen-minute slot instead of the full half-hour, and it was too good of an opportunity to miss. Oh, damn it,” he muttered suddenly, looking at his watch. “I have to run. Sorry, guys! Nice to have you on the show!” He dashed off without waiting for a reply.

    “Well, that's that, then,” Steven said. Ren noticed that he seemed to have returned to his quiet, serious demeanour of earlier. “Shall we go?”

    “I suppose so,” Ren said. “Hey, where's Bella?”

    “I'm pretty sure she had to leave early, too,” Steven said. “Celebrities are busy people, aren't they?”

    “Yeah,” Ren agreed. “Tonight was . . . pretty hectic.”

    “You did do well, Ren,” Steven said suddenly as they started off toward the car. “I wasn't just saying that for Richard's benefit. I was a little afraid at one point that you were going to freak out on me, but you handled it well for your first time. And in fact, it was probably good that we got a short slot. Warm you up to it a bit at a time, and so on.”

    “I'm . . . going to have to get used to this after all, aren't I?” Ren said.

    Steven nodded regretfully. “I'm sorry, but you are. But the sooner you accept that, the sooner you're going to grow accustomed to it.”

    “Oh, I've accepted it,” Ren said unenthusiastically as he climbed into Steven's limousine. “I just don't like it.”

    “That's the spirit.”

    After they drove back to Devon Corp and picked up Natasha, Steven made arrangements for the two of them to be accommodated at a hotel owned by the corporation. He wanted to put them in the fanciest five-star establishment in town, but Ren declined politely, preferring slightly less ostentatious accommodation. He had, after all, spent the last five years sleeping under the stars and in Pokemon Centers.

    So as a result, he found himself tucking Natasha into a single bed at the Sundown Hotel before dropping into his own, fully clothed. His cousin had retained her unusual quietness from earlier, dropping off to sleep with barely a word after a quick dinner at the hotel's café bar. It was slightly unnerving, to say the least, but, he reasoned, he should deal with it in the morning. Right at that moment, he was too tired to even see what his hotel room looked like. As he felt sleep begin to claim him, he remembered what Steven had been telling him about earlier. He hadn't exactly forgotten, but it had certainly taken a back seat to the pressure of the evening. Sighing deeply, Ren closed his eyes, slightly apprehensive, but at the same time extremely curious.

    The Glameow is back. That horrid creature, with its bushy black head of hair, struts along in front of him with a swing in its step, its tail flicking from side to side. Ren doesn't know why, but he follows it again, through the maze of oversized confectionery.

    Through the gaps in the walls of candy, he thinks he glimpses a familiar face, but he blinks and it is gone. All that remains is the little blue Pokemon and its curly tail, mewing innocently as it looks back to check he is following. Ren continues pursuing it, even though he knows it will only turn on him before they reach the exit of the maze.

    Abruptly, the Glameow makes a sharp left turn, its afro bobbing. The passages are narrower now, and Ren struggles to keep up with the Pokemon. He turns sideways and shuffles through a gap, only to find that the Glameow has disappeared.

    Suddenly alert, he glances all around him, searching for the foul creature, but it is nowhere to be seen. He backs up against a lollipop for support, but his hair sticks to the gooey, sugary confection and he finds himself unable to move.

    A yowl and a hiss above him. Ren wrenches his head upwards as far as possible and sees Afro Glameow leaping towards him, little fangs bared and claws out. Time slows down as the world goes dark. The giant sweets disappear, leaving only the sticky feeling on the back of Ren's head. Everything is black. There is no floor, no walls, no sky. Only Ren, and Afro Glameow.

    Struggling against the sticky substance holding him in place, Ren feels it give slightly. Gritting his teeth and bracing himself, he yanks his head forward, collapsing to the ground and hissing in pain as some of his hair is yanked out. There is no time to spare though, as he rolls and stands up again, watching Afro Glameow miss its target and land comfortably on all four paws.

    Afro Glameow stretches luxuriously, as if it has all the time in the world. It turns to Ren slowly, seeming to grin as it shows its tiny, razor-sharp fangs again. Ren reflexively lifts his hands in front of his face to protect himself as it lunges towards him.

    A flash of light, and Afro Glameow screeches and disappears. Wincing, Ren looks around for the source of the light, and finds it shining from a square opening above him. A hand reaches out from the opening. Awed, Ren reaches out and takes the hand. He feels himself being pulled . . .

    “Whoa.” Ren found himself in another dark place. Unlike the candy maze, however, there was some faint light seeping in under the curtains.

    Wait . . . curtains? Ren sat up and glanced around. From what he could see, he was back in his hotel room. “Did I . . . wake up?” he whispered.

    “Nope,” said a cheerful voice from the end of his bed. “You're still dreaming.”

    Ren jumped, his heart hammering. “Who the hell-” Fumbling around in the dark, he found the light switch next to his bed and turned it on. There was a girl sitting casually on his bed. She was dressed in black leather that looked extremely tight, adorned with silver buckles and clips at seemingly random intervals. Her hair was black and straight, cut neatly a little shorter than shoulder-length. She seemed to be about his age, with slim, elfin features and an amused grin. “What are you doing in my hotel room?” he asked.

    “This isn't your hotel room, Ren,” the girl said. “You're still asleep.”

    “It sure looks like my hotel room,” he said, taking another look around. There was the TV, the kitchen, the ensuite bathroom, the other bed, neatly made and clearly not slept in. What? “Where's Natasha?” he demanded. His cousin was nowhere to be seen.

    “Who?” The girl's smile slipped slightly.

    “My cousin! She was in the other bed. What have you done with her? And damn it, what are you doing in my room?”

    The girl frowned, and Ren thought he felt a shadow fall over the room. “I thought Steven was going to tell you about this so you didn't freak out on me. Don't tell me he just gave you the Dreamlight without explaining anything.”

    Suddenly, Ren remembered what he had been expecting when he fell asleep. “So . . . I am dreaming, after all?”

    “Duh.”

    “It feels . . . awfully real. I don't feel asleep.”

    The girl rolled her eyes. “You want proof? Fine. Here.” She snapped her fingers, and Ren's hotel room melted away into a milieu of liquid colour. When the scene resolved itself once more, she was sitting behind Richard Andrews' desk on the temporary stage that had been set up in the park. Ren found himself back in the same red chair he had been in before, but there was no Steven Stone next to him, no audience in front of him. Just him, and the girl.

    Another snap, and suddenly Ren was back in his room at home, sitting on his bed while the girl peered out the window curiously. “Hmm. Nice view, here. This your house?”

    Ren nodded speechlessly. The girl gave an appreciative murmur and snapped her fingers again. He was standing in the arena at Ever Grande City, in the same place he had stood when he challenged Steven to become League Champion. A heavy wind blew through the stadium, kicking up a dust cloud, just as it had three days ago during the battle. The girl was standing in Steven's box at the other end of the field. When she spoke, though, he could hear her voice as clearly as if she were right in front of him. “I see your memories, Ren. I can pass through your mind at will and see what you have seen, recreating it effortlessly.”

    “That's . . . kind of weird,” he said.

    “Weird? No.” Suddenly, the girl was standing next to him again. “This is the power of dreams.”

    “I don't understand.” He didn't. He didn't understand anything. What Steven had said was making less sense now, not more. “Who are you? Where is this, really?”

    “It's as you see it,” the girl said, the barest hint of a laugh in her voice. “We're in Ever Grande City, at the Pokemon League. It's just as you remember it, isn't it?”

    “Not exactly. I remember there being a lot more people,” Ren said.

    “They're not here because we're not in their dream. We're in yours, and so you are the only person allowed in here.”

    “If that's the case, how did you get in here? Which brings me back to my other question – who are you?”

    “I said you were the only person allowed in here. I'm not a person, so I'm exempt from that.”

    “Then what are you?”

    “I'm a spirit,” the girl said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

    “What, like a ghost?” Ren asked blankly. “Did you die?”

    “Not as such. More to the point, I never existed in the first place. Not in your world, at least. I came into existence here, in the world of dreams. My purpose is . . . to protect this world, and yours. And now, that's your purpose, too.”

    “I . . . don't understand.”

    The girl sighed. “I had a feeling you'd say that.”
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  6. #21
    The Dimension Wizard Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Champion Game (Chapter 5)

    Well at least Ren didn't die from the interview.

    Looks like we'll finally get to see something interesting, though I wonder what that girl really is, if she's a spirit then how can she not have existed. Also is it safe to assume that it really is the Dreamworld.

  7. #22
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champion Game (Chapter 5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sky Flame Haze View Post
    Well at least Ren didn't die from the interview.

    Looks like we'll finally get to see something interesting, though I wonder what that girl really is, if she's a spirit then how can she not have existed. Also is it safe to assume that it really is the Dreamworld.
    Oh yeah, right. I forgot to mention that, but I really should have.

    This is not the Dream World that appears in Generation V.

    I started concept work for this well before I'd even heard of the Dream World, and to this day I haven't been there in my game. So no, no Dream World (capital D-W).

    Also, you're assuming I'm using the conventional definition of 'spirit'.
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  8. #23
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Chapter Six - Great Power of a Certain Kind

    A/N: This chapter, as I've said elsewhere, is pretty much the sort of thing I envisioned when I first began writing Champion Game. This is the best part of being a writer - seeing the dreams you have envisioned becoming reality. I love all of my readers. <3


    Great Power of a Certain Kind


    “This had better be quick,” the girl said. “We don't have much time. What do you want to know?”

    “To start with – what's your name?”

    “Darkstorm. Elly Darkstorm. But never mind that. What do you need to know about what's happening right now?”

    “Uh . . . everything?” Ren said. “I'm afraid I'm completely clueless as to what's going on.”

    “I see. What did Steven tell you?”

    “Only that becoming the Champion has something to do with having a large amount of spiritual power or something.”

    “Ha! Spiritual power? It sounds so awkward when you say it like that, but it's essentially correct. In my native language, we call it yehkti. It might sound strange to you, but it's a far more accurate term. It translates to . . . well, it doesn't exactly have a direct translation, as your language doesn't have a word for it, as such. It's something like 'the fortitude of the soul', I think. But Steven had a good grasp of the concept. He even came up with a scale for it, though of course that's rubbish.”

    “It is?”

    “Of course! Yehkti isn't something you can attach a number to like that. It's a part of your very being. But there are other people who will tell you more about that. My job right now is to make sure you don't get killed or-” Abruptly, she broke off, her head snapping around to look at something in the distance that Ren couldn't see. “We're not alone,” she said tersely.

    “What? Who else is here?”

    “Well, nobody yet, but we're about to have company, and not the pleasant kind. Can you fight?”

    “Fight?” Ren exclaimed. “I don't have my Pokemon with me! Unless you can do something about that?”

    Elly shook her head. “No. Pokemon are living beings, so I can't recreate them in this world. Pokemon are useless here. What I mean is, can you fight?”

    “Are you kidding? I've never even had to punch anybody. Why do I need to fight?”

    “Because I'm going to,” she said coldly, still glaring towards the other end of the stadium. The wind had died down, leaving the arena cold and still. “And if you can't, we might not survive the next five minutes.”

    “Can't you . . . do the teleporting thing again?” Ren asked hopefully.

    “There's no point. All I'm doing is changing the appearance of this world – we don't actually move. We're trapped in a fixed space until you wake up.”

    “So, what . . . if I wake up, we get out of here?”

    “Yes, but don't count on it. You're in a very deep sleep right now – almost unnaturally so. It's almost impossible to wake up from this, even with external stimuli. You'll wake up in the morning like normal, but until then you're stuck.”

    “But . . . it's just a dream, right? It's not like I can die or anything.”

    “I wouldn't make that assumption if I were you. This is no normal dream – you're on a different plane altogether, and the body and soul work much differently here. I don't know what would happen if you were killed here, but if I were you I wouldn't want to find out.”

    “Good point,” said Ren. “So . . . who exactly are we talking about when you say 'company'?”

    “Well . . . it's not so much 'who' as it is 'what'. They're malevolent beings of darkness, the flipside of your dreams. As every force has its opposite, so your dreams have these . . . creatures.”

    “So . . . like nightmares?”

    “You could call them that, I suppose, although nightmares are technically dreams too. These are the things that go bump in the night, the ones that hide on the other side of the veil and try to claw their way into your dreams, and then out into your world.”

    “Into . . . my world?”

    “Yes. That's the other reason we have to stop them. It's not just our own necks I'm worried about; it's everyone else's as well. The entirety of your world is at risk every time you go to sleep. Frankly, I didn't think they'd find you so quickly.”

    Ren tried to speak, but Elly hissed and cut him off with a sharp hand gesture.

    “They're here,” she said tersely. The next moment, Ren felt pain lance through his head as the very air tore itself apart. A great rip appeared in the far wall of the stadium, showing only whirling blackness behind it. Three man-shaped figures stepped out, silhouettes fabricated of pure darkness. It was difficult to see the shadowy, indistinct beings in front of the void, but as they moved forwards, the tear diminished and shrank, disappearing as quickly as it had come, taking with it the raging pain in Ren's head. All that remained was a quiet yet insistent throbbing.

    “Those are . . . nightmares?” Ren said, squinting to get a good look at the newcomers. It was difficult to get a good look at them, like shadows on water.

    Elly nodded, tight-lipped. “Pretty strong ones, too. One I could handle easily, and two would be a stretch, but probably doable. Three? Forget about it. I can't fight these on my own.”

    “Well, unless you've got some friends on call, we're going to have to,” Ren said wryly.

    She shot him a strange look. “We?” she queried.

    “Yeah, 'we'. You and me. Both of us.”

    “But . . . you said you couldn't fight.”

    “And I was right. But I'd feel pretty bad about sitting back and letting you take those things on by yourself,” said Ren, trying to disguise the fact that his heart was hammering with fear. The shadowy creatures were drawing closer, advancing slowly, cautiously.

    Elly smiled slightly, and for the first time, Ren thought he saw a touch of vulnerability in her eyes. But then she blinked, and it was gone. “Thanks,” she said. “I'm not sure how much good you'll be, but it's nice to know you care, at least. Here, take this.” She snapped her fingers again and a short, slim sword appeared, the hilt bound tightly in some kind of purple fabric. She tossed it to Ren, who somehow managed to catch it without losing a finger.

    He looked at it in awe and shock. “Where did this come from? I don't remember anything like this!”

    “That's not one of your memories,” the girl said. “It's my spare.” Another click, and a much longer version of the sword appeared in her hands, over a metre and a half long, slim and slightly curved. It glistened harshly in the weak sunlight, and Ren shuddered. The shadows were evidently worried too, because they paused and recoiled slightly before regrouping and advancing again. They were just ten metres away as Ren gave the short blade an experimental swing.

    How do you even hold this thing? he wondered frantically as he weighed it in his hand. He had never swung a sword in his life, or even a tennis racquet, and he had no idea what he was doing.

    “I'll show you how to use it properly later,” she said. “That should be some incentive for you to survive, no?”

    “Hooray,” said Ren bleakly.

    “I appreciate that you want to help,” she told him, “but stay back here and let me deal with this. You'll just slow me down. Only use that if they come after you.” With that, she launched herself towards the group of shadowy figures before Ren could say anything else.

    Gripping his blade so tightly that his hands began to ache, Ren watched in amazement as Elly dived fearlessly at her opponents, sword flashing. It was something beyond his comprehension, he realised. He had suddenly stepped into a world he knew nothing about, a world that did not make the slightest amount of sense.

    The nightmares had no visible weapons of their own, but they were fast. As soon as the girl moved, they darted apart, making themselves more difficult targets. Two of them circled around Elly warily, while the third continued its advance towards Ren.

    They moved in a strange way, he noticed as he held the sword out in front of him and tried to steady his breathing. Their walk was jerky and sporadic, like puppets on strings, but they were still fast, he saw as the other two lunged at Elly. He wanted to cry out, but before he could open his mouth, the other was on him, slashing out at his head with one of its limbs. He ducked clumsily, just about losing his balance, and slashed awkwardly with the sword. The nightmare danced out of the way as if pulled by a string attached to its midriff.

    “Bad dreams?” it whispered in a voice that seemed to be inside his head rather than outside it, then catapulted itself at him again. Ren threw himself out of the way, landing painfully on his left shoulder. Unfazed, the nightmare turned and advanced on him as he struggled to his feet.

    Oh, hell, Ren thought. Can these things even be killed? There was only one thing for it. Taking the initiative, he stepped forward as quickly as he was able, thrusting the sword towards where he approximated the nightmare's heart to be. As if it had seen the blade coming, his opponent's arm whipped up and parried the blade with a great clashing noise, as of steel on steel. Ren overbalanced and fell at the nightmare's feet. Before he could get up again, it reached down with a ghostly hand and grasped him by the collar, lifting him bodily off the ground and bringing his face up to where its own should be. No eyes looked back at him from the black expanse.

    Frantic, Ren tried to swing the sword, but the nightmare caught it with its free hand and tore it from his grasp, dropping it on the ground. Ren tried to prise the thing's fingers from his collar, but its grip was like a vice. Where the hell is Elly? Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of her, but she was still locked in combat with the other two nightmares. The sound of her slashes and thrusts being parried at every turn filtered through into his ears, which were rapidly growing numb. He found his vision going too as the nightmare brought its sightless face closer to his own; even thinking was a struggle.

    The only thought in his mind was Elly's assertation that she could probably deal with two of the nightmares on her own. All he could do was hope to keep this one distracted until she finished with the other two and came to help him.

    Summoning the last of his remaining strength, Ren brought his knee up vigorously into the nightmare's stomach – or rather, where its stomach would have been if it was a real person. It didn't have the effect he had been hoping for. Rather than dropping him, it tossed him bodily through the air. Ren had a split second to enjoy his returning vision before he crashed into the ground again.

    He swore loudly as he landed on his already-sore left shoulder, and with it, the rest of the left side of his body. His head swam; although he had managed to avoid landing on it, it had still been given a serious rattle. As he pulled himself unsteadily to his knees, he saw the nightmare stalking towards him, the sword – his only weapon – lying in the dust behind it.

    Oh, how the hell did this happen? He almost would have preferred to be back in the maze with Afro Glameow. At least that dream he knew he was going to wake up from. I don't want to die, he realised as he dragged himself to his feet, swaying slightly. I have a life back in the real world. A good one! I can't just go and die in some weird dream. For a moment, he wondered what would actually happen if he died in this dream. Surely, it wouldn't affect his physical body? But then he remembered Elly's words.

    This is no normal dream – you're on a different plane altogether, and the body and soul work much differently here. I don't know what would happen if you were killed here, but if I were you I wouldn't want to find out. Ren swallowed heavily. Fantastic.

    Steeling himself, he dashed towards the nightmare. For a moment, the monster seemed confused, but it soon settled into a ready stance, arms outstretched hungrily towards him. Ren ran straight towards it and then dived past. The nightmare made a lightning grab for him as he passed, but Ren was rolling and then up again, scrabbling towards the sword lying on the ground.

    He reached it and took it up again, holding it in front of him defensively. Better than nothing, even if he didn't know how to use it. Breathing deeply, he watched as the nightmare turned towards him slowly. If it had had a face, he thought it might have been amused. Once again it leapt towards him, but this time he was ready, bringing the sword up to interrupt it mid-bound, slashing vertically upwards and praying he would connect.

    Contemptuously, the nightmare put its arm up to block his strike, but the sword wasn't there. Ren stepped aside as the dark being landed exactly where he had been standing. In the same movement, he swung the sword around to strike the nightmare in the back, biting into the unsuspecting thing's spine. At the touch of the blade, the nightmare exploded silently, a whirling gust of wind emanating from where it stood, carrying fragments of shadow with it.

    As it departed, Ren felt a weight lift from his shoulders. He was able to breathe a little more easily, making up for a deficit he hadn't even noticed in the heat of the battle. He was just about ready to drop when he heard Elly cry out.

    Ren swung his head round towards the source of the sound, and saw Elly flat on her back on the ground ten metres away as a nightmare towered over her, arm drawn back to deliver what would most likely be a killing blow. The other was nowhere to be seen. Elly's sword was some metres away on the other side. Ren knew he would never make it in time. Desperate, he did something very foolish and probably extremely stupid; he threw his sword at the nightmare as hard as he could.

    Having no idea how to throw a sword properly – indeed, if there even was an acceptable way to do so – he simply threw it overarm with all his remaining strength. It flew through the air clumsily, turning end over end. Barely after it had left his hand, Ren knew that his aim had been off. The nightmare lifted its head unconcernedly to watch the blade pass more than a metre in front of it before turnin back to strike downwards at the unarmed Elly-

    -who was nowhere to be seen. Taking advantage of the nightmare's distraction, she had slipped out from beneath it, diving for her own sword. She picked it up and held it ready, leaping back towards the nightmare even as it cast around for her. The lethal blade slid through the centre of the mass of shadow, causing it, too, to vanish in the midst of a miniature tornado.

    Ren collapsed into a sitting position, burying his head in his hands and sucking in huge lungfuls of the dust-ridden air. After a moment, Elly came over and joined him on the ground, her hair tangled and messy, beads of sweat visible on her face. Neither of them spoke for a minute, Ren merely enjoying being able to relax for the first time in a while. Although the fight had only lasted a couple of minutes, it felt like forever to Ren.

    “You handled that sword like it was a baseball bat,” Elly said eventually.

    “Don't flatter me. I've seen some serious damage done with a baseball bat.”

    “Exactly. I didn't expect you to be able to survive a nightmare attack, let alone kill one.”

    “Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Ren snorted.

    “It's not my job to stroke your ego, yehktira,” Elly said, slightly disdainfully.

    “What . . . did you just call me?”

    Yehktira. It means 'carrier of the fortitude of the soul'.”

    “Uh-huh. You make it sound like it's real important,” Ren said wryly.

    “What, you think it's not? You think I'd be risking my neck for you otherwise?”

    “You . . . have a point,” Ren said. “But you said it wasn't just for our own sake that we had to kill the nightmares. Was that a lie, all that about how they would try and get through into my world?”

    “No, of course not. But they came her tonight because they felt your yehkti. Nightmares need someone with a strong source of yehkti to get through into your world. That's why the yehktira is always in danger.”

    “Why have a yehktira at all, then?” Ren asked, stumbling over the unfamiliar phonemes. “And if my yehkti is this strong, how come none of this has happened to me before?”

    Elly sighed and held up two fingers. “One, we must have a yehktira. If we don't, the fabric of the two worlds will fall apart. You're the only thing holding this world together at the moment. Whoever holds the Dreamlight must take on this role – the stronger the bearer, the stronger the bonds holding the worlds together.”

    “That sounds . . . pretty heavy,” said Ren. “What's number two?”

    “Number two is that before, you haven't had the Dreamlight in your possession. The nightmares can only enter your world through the dreams of someone who enters the second ring.”

    Ren stared at her blankly. “Meaning . . . ?”

    Elly rolled her eyes. “You really are an idiot, aren't you?”

    “Um . . . I honestly don't know,” Ren admitted. He was beginning to think it was possible. It seemed that lately, people were doing nothing but explaining things to him. “I might be.”

    “Hmph. Anyway, this is how it works. Listen carefully, because I'm only going to say it once. The world of dreams exists parallel to your own. You had figured that out already, I imagine.” With her finger, she drew three concentric circles in the dust. “This world is made up of three rings, or sub-worlds. The first ring, on the outside, is the largest. This is where normal people go when they dream, regardless of the strength of their yehkti. The dreams here are insubstantial, weak and mean next to nothing. Sometimes people gain premonitions and so on, and they are hailed as psychics in your world.” She was failing to hide the disgust in her voice.

    “Something against psychics?” Ren asked.

    “Not in particular,” she said brusquely. “In any case, that's what the first ring is. That is where I pulled you from when you were being attacked by that . . . thing.

    “Afro Glameow, you mean?”

    “You're . . . familiar with it?” Elly asked, her piercing green eyes narrowing.

    “Well, I've had the same dream a couple of times. That's all, though.”

    “Hmm.”

    “Is there something wrong?”

    “No. So, the first ring is where you were before. Where we are now . . . is the second ring.” She indicated the next circle – the second largest one. “This is the inbetween. It takes many forms, and it is sustained solely by the will of the yehktira. It is built from his memories, and its size and stability depends on his strength. This ring is only accessible when the yehktira is asleep, and it is through here which the nightmares must pass.”

    “So then . . . the nightmares come from . . . the first ring?” Ren guessed.

    “Yes, and . . . oh, look, can we stop calling them 'nightmares'? It's confusing.”

    “But I thought you said that was what they were?”

    “Not exactly. However bad they may be, nightmares are still only first-ring dreams. These things . . . they have a name in my language, but you probably wouldn't be able to pronounce it. You have enough trouble with little words like yehkti.”

    “Well, I have to call them something,” Ren grumbled. “What are they? Demons? Ghosts?”

    “Well . . . the direct translation of their name would be something like 'the empty ones without yehkti that travel between worlds', I suppose.”

    “Did Steven seriously never worry about this?” Ren asked. It was just occurring to him how significant Elly's words were. Steven had been Champion for six years . . .

    “He called them nightmares too. He got all sulky whenever I tried to correct him, though.”

    “Hmm . . . what does it mean when you say they're 'empty ones'?” Ren asked. “Empty of what?”

    “Everything, really. But specifically . . . they don't have souls.”

    “Do you?” Ren asked. “I mean . . . what exactly are you? Some kind of spirit, I follow, but . . . eh.” He waved his hands randomly.

    “I am a soul. Just as they are bodies without souls, my kind are souls without bodies.”

    “So what do you call them?” Ren asked in frustration. “At least let me try to say it.”

    “You sure?” Elly said, raising her eyebrows. “Wouldn't want you to hurt yourself. Ah, whatever. Iehkti'na urum'na dar'sni-laku.”

    Ren stared blankly. “That is the weirdest-sounding name I have ever heard,” he said honestly.

    Elly frowned. “I knew you'd never manage it. But look. We can argue over what to call them later. For now, I need to get you out of here and into the third ring. More of them could turn up, though it's unlikely.”

    “Why are we going to the third ring?” Ren asked as Elly pulled him, none too gently, to his feet.

    “Because I'm sick of explaining stuff to you. It's not my job to babysit some kid.”

    “Oh, come on-”

    “What? You think I'm the same age you are? Don't make me laugh. I've been here in this world for centuries. Now shut up and come with me.” With a single slim finger, she drew a long vertical line in the air. For a moment, nothing happened. All of a sudden, there was a massive boom, as if of compressed air, and a gaping slit appeared along the line she had drawn.

    Ren winced and pressed his hands to his ears. “Warn me next time you're going to do something like that!” he exclaimed.

    “Eh. More fun this way,” Elly shrugged as she watched Ren tentatively tap his ringing ears. She didn't seem to have been affected by the sonic blast. “You coming?” Without another word, she turned and stepped into the gap, disappearing from sight in a heartbeat.

    Ren blinked. Taking a deep breath and hoping he wouldn't regret it, he stepped into the portal.

    ~~~~~

    A/N: I figure here's as good a place as any to announce this. I'm working on another chaptered fanfic. It will be called . . .

    convalescence + convergence

    This fic, as you can probably guess, will feature Steven. As well as this, there are many other canon characters involved, which is something I don't tend to do very often. OCs are harder to screw up. Anyway, this fic, while it does feature the sexy awesomeness that is Steven Stone, is not set in the same universe as Champion Game. It's much less fantasy-oriented, and as you can probably guess, somewhat bloodier. I plan to write a bit ahead (I do have the entire plot planned out in some detail already) before posting any, so you can perhaps expect the first chapter of c+c some time in August. Till then, ta-ta!
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  9. #24
    Yeezy taught me The Booty Warrior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champion Game (Chapter 6)

    Well, I finally finished reading all of this and I have to say that I'm impressed. (To be fair, though, I tend to be easily impressed, but this was really amazing.)

    The concept you have of spiritual power determining one's abilities as a trainer is something I personally find odd. Odd in the sense that I really like it, but it hits me in the gut like a lot of predetermination things tend to. Even though there are other factors, it's still something I feel that...actually, it's hard to explain how I feel about it, but it is a great idea and you're using it well so far.

    On a side note, the names Elly gave seem to have Hindi influences. I might be wrong, but that's what they sound like to me, though I can imagine some Arabic influence as well (though that might be wrong as well).

    The setting. I think I agree with what has been said. In the Pokemon fics I read, Hoenn is hard to find, which is a shame, seeing as how it's probably one of the most nature-oriented regions in the franchise. Nice choice.

    I always wondered what a person is supposed to do after becoming Champion. The anime gave some explanation, but I have to say that your way of handling it seems much more expansive. One thing that confuses me, though, is why Ren never really knew much about the Champion until he achieved the title. When you bring up the position of being a figure to whom the public has access, it seems like Ren should've known about that, since it would seem that he had seen Steven on TV before.

    The characters are well-done. I am curious as to Roxanne's Natasha's behavior, since it clashes with what was first established with them. As for Ren, I don't think you need to worry about him being a bit bland. I think his characterization is enough for now. Not that you can't add more to him if you want.

    Great job on this. I'm going to keep reading.
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

  10. #25
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champion Game (Chapter 6)

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Gaddar View Post
    Well, I finally finished reading all of this and I have to say that I'm impressed. (To be fair, though, I tend to be easily impressed, but this was really amazing.)
    Aw, shucks. That makes me feel all fuzzy. *_*

    The concept you have of spiritual power determining one's abilities as a trainer is something I personally find odd. Odd in the sense that I really like it, but it hits me in the gut like a lot of predetermination things tend to. Even though there are other factors, it's still something I feel that...actually, it's hard to explain how I feel about it, but it is a great idea and you're using it well so far.
    I agree with what I think you're trying to say here. Things being predetermined can lead to a bit of a Chosen One Mary Sue, but I'm taking care to try and avoid that by having Steven insist that other factors do make a significant difference. I imagine Ren would actually feel a bit cheated if Steven just said 'oh by the way, you're only Champion because you were destined to be' or something.

    On a side note, the names Elly gave seem to have Hindi influences. I might be wrong, but that's what they sound like to me, though I can imagine some Arabic influence as well (though that might be wrong as well).
    Actually, I broke from form here (I usually take any opportunity to use Gratuitous Foreign Languages in my fics) and simply, ah . . . well, I invented the first word, yehkti, or 'spirit/soul' from nowhere in particular. I believe there might have been some South/West Asian influence in there, but it's hard to say. The rest of the words built up from there. Yehktira was formed by giving it the -ra suffix, meaning 'bearer', and the 'na suffix formed a negative (hence Iehkti'na etc). So there are rules to this weird little language, but it's not something I plan on giving too much screentime to. I'm no Tolkien when it comes to making up languages.

    The setting. I think I agree with what has been said. In the Pokemon fics I read, Hoenn is hard to find, which is a shame, seeing as how it's probably one of the most nature-oriented regions in the franchise. Nice choice.
    Thanks! Hoenn has probably been my favourite region since I first played Emerald, and a good number of my fics end up being set there. It's just so beautiful and diverse. There's deserts, jungles, grassy plains, oceans, volcanoes, cities inside volcanoes . . .

    I always wondered what a person is supposed to do after becoming Champion. The anime gave some explanation, but I have to say that your way of handling it seems much more expansive. One thing that confuses me, though, is why Ren never really knew much about the Champion until he achieved the title. When you bring up the position of being a figure to whom the public has access, it seems like Ren should've known about that, since it would seem that he had seen Steven on TV before.
    Hmm . . . we can put that down to one of two things. One, Ren was so interested in actually becoming the Champion that he didn't stop to think about what happened afterwards (somewhat supported by his thoughts in the prologue) or two, he knew, but didn't realise the extent or severity of the effect it would have on him.

    The characters are well-done. I am curious as to Roxanne's Natasha's behavior, since it clashes with what was first established with them. As for Ren, I don't think you need to worry about him being a bit bland. I think his characterization is enough for now. Not that you can't add more to him if you want.
    Glad to hear Ren isn't as boring as I'd thought he was. And yes, Roxanne and Natasha . . . hmm. That will want explaining later. Much, much later.

    Great job on this. I'm going to keep reading.
    Thank you! For reading, for reviewing, and for being interested enough to stick around!
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  11. #26
    Yeezy taught me The Booty Warrior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champion Game (Chapter 6)

    Quote Originally Posted by Misheard Whisper View Post
    Aw, shucks. That makes me feel all fuzzy. *_*
    I'm glad you feel that way, then. ^_^

    I agree with what I think you're trying to say here. Things being predetermined can lead to a bit of a Chosen One Mary Sue, but I'm taking care to try and avoid that by having Steven insist that other factors do make a significant difference. I imagine Ren would actually feel a bit cheated if Steven just said 'oh by the way, you're only Champion because you were destined to be' or something.
    Well, I think what I was trying to say was that I was thinking from the perspective of someone living in the universe of your fic. When I felt my gut tighten from the blow, I think it was more like imagining how someone would feel if they weren't a good trainer despite their efforts and and knew it was because of some pre-determined factor, they might feel cheated and turn into some bitter cynic. Generally, I get scared of pre-determination ideas in fics for the same reason a lot of other people will, what with the whole danger of Sueness it carries, but I applaud you for making this idea unsettle me in a completely different way.

    Actually, I broke from form here (I usually take any opportunity to use Gratuitous Foreign Languages in my fics) and simply, ah . . . well, I invented the first word, yehkti, or 'spirit/soul' from nowhere in particular. I believe there might have been some South/West Asian influence in there, but it's hard to say. The rest of the words built up from there. Yehktira was formed by giving it the -ra suffix, meaning 'bearer', and the 'na suffix formed a negative (hence Iehkti'na etc). So there are rules to this weird little language, but it's not something I plan on giving too much screentime to. I'm no Tolkien when it comes to making up languages.
    Aww, snap, and I thought I was onto something. Oh, well. Still, I like the names you came up with.

    Thanks! Hoenn has probably been my favourite region since I first played Emerald, and a good number of my fics end up being set there. It's just so beautiful and diverse. There's deserts, jungles, grassy plains, oceans, volcanoes, cities inside volcanoes . . .
    Agreed, so much to work with, and yet so little is put to use.

    Hmm . . . we can put that down to one of two things. One, Ren was so interested in actually becoming the Champion that he didn't stop to think about what happened afterwards (somewhat supported by his thoughts in the prologue) or two, he knew, but didn't realise the extent or severity of the effect it would have on him.
    Ah, I see. Well, I think the first explanation fits better. It's like us in real life when we were kids. We were so caught up in the notion of this dream career we wanted (me and my neighbors wanted to be CIA agents or astronomers), that by the time it came closer for us to start thinking about what we wanted, we hadn't even really researched it well enough.

    Glad to hear Ren isn't as boring as I'd thought he was. And yes, Roxanne and Natasha . . . hmm. That will want explaining later. Much, much later.
    Haha, well, I'll be all ears for when that explanation rolls around.

    Thank you! For reading, for reviewing, and for being interested enough to stick around!
    Of course. I've been trying to get back into the habit of reading, and yours happened to be captivating enough for me to read through it all.
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

  12. #27
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Chapter Seven - Golden Dream

    A/N: Well, here's Chapter Seven - a little later than planned, for, uh . . . some reason. I honestly think I forgot somehow. In any case, I need to go and do a couple of solid hours' writing to get Chapter Fifteen done . . . Hope you like the chapter.

    Also interesting to note is this - if any of these chapter titles sound weird, it's because they're literal translations of the original titles, which were in various foreign languages (namely Spanish and German). I opted to turn them back to English to release it here because I received a lot of 'reviews' simply asking 'whats with the french...spanish..dtuch...idk but WATEVER IT IS Y DID u USE TAHT???!?!?!?!!?!?!?' (note: almost word-for-word reproduction of an actual response I got . . . n_n)


    Golden Dream


    Ren went tumbling headlong into nothingness. It was the strangest feeling – somehow it seemed as if he had left his body behind. No, he decided, it was more like he had been physically ripped from his body and dragged into . . . wherever he was now.

    His surroundings were pitch-black save for a handful of stars scattered randomly around on all sides. He didn't seem to be moving very fast, but then again, he could hardly tell, because there were no points of reference from which to gauge his speed.

    Abruptly, a light appeared ahead of him, and this was moving very fast indeed, hurtling towards him at great speed. He barely had time to register a square hole like the one Elly had pulled him through earlier before he was sucked through it and catapulted onto a patch of soft grass.

    Sitting up and rubbing his head, Ren examined his surroundings. He was sitting in a field of soft, lush green grass that was nearly a foot tall. Next to him stood Elly, looking bored and unruffled, and about fifty metres away was the edge of a verdant forest. The sky was a sharp, cool azure, and there was not a cloud to be seen. A soft zephyr blew through, alleviating what gentle heat the sun put out. The world was silent but for distant birdsong.

    Puzzled, Ren stood and looked behind him. Grass, plain, unbroken grass, stretched as far as the eye could see in all directions, interrupted only by the forest that fell away on either side of a point almost directly in front of Ren.

    You decided to come along after all, then,” Elly said, sounding as if she wouldn't have been particularly bothered if he hadn't.

    Course I did,” Ren said, brushing grass off the seat of his jeans. “I was hardly going to stay back there, was I?”

    You could have just left, you know,” Elly said.

    You told me I couldn't leave!”

    I said no such thing. You could have simply returned to the first ring the way you came.”

    What . . . the little square hole? But that wasn't there . . . was it?”

    Of course it was,” Elly said contemptuously. “You really are slow, aren't you? You didn't even think to look behind you that whole time?”

    I was . . . kind of busy with the nightmares and the fighting and the running and the jumping and the not dying,” Ren grumbled.

    A real warrior is always aware of his surroundings,” said Elly, looking absently up at the sky.

    You sound like a fortune cookie,” Ren told her. “So . . . I could have just jumped back through that hole at any time?”

    Not at any time. If you do that while the Iehkti'na urum'na dar'sni-laku are around, they'll follow you through, and we're all doomed if that happens.”

    Ren snorted. “I'm sorry, but it still sounds really weird when you say that.”

    Well, unless you have a better name for them, I'm going to keep calling them what they're actually called!” Elly snapped. “Honestly, how immature are you? Steven was weird, but at least he acted his age.”

    Well, maybe Steven had some damn idea what was going on!”

    Maybe you would too, if you'd listen to anything I said! I must have explained everything to you already. You just don't pay attention! You're useless!” Elly hissed vehemently.

    Taken aback, Ren sat back down with a fwump. “Told me everything already, you say,” he mused, trying to ignore the rise in his strange companion's temper.

    Well, pretty much. Anyone with half a brain could work out what's going on from what's happened so far, combined with all I've said since I picked you up. So you tell me. What's the significance of that pendant you wear around your neck? What's your job in this world? Tell me that, and then we can go see the elders.”

    Elders?”

    Yes, the elders. They will formally recognise you as the new yehktira, but I'm not taking you anywhere until you prove to me you have half a brain by piecing together what you already know.”

    Ren nodded. The opportunity to think was a welcome one, and he did his best to ignore Elly's piercing glares as he tried to get his head around what had happened to him so far. If he was still asleep, it was the weirdest dream he had ever had, not to mention the most realistic. Of course, if it was all just a dream, it was possible that none of it was actually happening and it had no significance whatsoever.

    No, he decided. That was just his fancy. There was little doubt that this was deadly serious. Steven had given him the Dreamlight, and then he had instructed him to expect someone who would explain further. Although she was somewhat lacking in the explanations department, Elly had essentially done just that. And why had Steven handed over the Dreamlight? It means that you are currently the person in the Hoenn region with the highest spiritual power.

    You want me to be the yehktira . . . because I have the strongest yehkti in the region,” he said slowly.

    Elly nodded as if she had been expecting as much. “Go on,” she said.

    The yehktira''s role . . . is to hold the two worlds together, and to protect the real world-”

    Don't say that!” Elly snapped.

    I'm . . . sorry?”

    The 'real world'? Do you have any idea how naïve that sounds? Your world is no more real than mine!”

    Well, then . . . to protect the physical world from the . . . Iehkti'na urum'na dar'sni-laku,” he said, making a real effort to pronounce the name. It felt horrid and alien on his tongue, making him want to somehow spit it out.

    The corner of Elly's mouth curled slightly. “You're getting there. Now add the two together and tell me what you get.”

    Ren's eyes widened. “D-don't tell me . . .”

    Ah, he gets it!” crowed Elly with a grin. “Oh, the look on your face!”

    You want me to come here every night and fight those . . . things!” he exclaimed, getting to his feet and glaring back at her.

    That's it,” Elly said, shrugging. “Got a problem with that?”

    Hell yes, I have a problem with that!”

    Oh? Go on..” Elly's smile dropped, and her eyes became as hard as chips of emerald once more.

    I don't want to risk my life fighting ghost-things in my dreams all the time! That's not what I signed up for when I became Champion!”

    It's unfortunate,” sighed Elly, “because I don't much like working with brats from the physical world either. The trouble is, we need a yehktira here to hold both worlds together. But whenever the yehktira is here, the Iehkti'na come too. So either they never reach your world, but we let both worlds collapse on themselves-”

    -Doesn't sound too promising-”

    Or we bring the yekhtira here, hold the worlds together and fight the Iehkti'na as we go.”

    I see,” Ren said. “No, I actually get that. It's infinitely preferable to having both worlds destroyed, but . . . why does it have to be me? Get Steven to do it! He managed for six years, didn't he? Why not just have him carry on?”

    That won't fly,” Elly said, shaking her head. “Regardless of physical strength or mental capability, it is always the one with the strongest yehkti that we want as our yehktira. The stronger the yehkti, the stronger the bonds holding the worlds together and the harder they are to break, so we must have no less than the best. Unfortunately for all involved, 'the best' this time around happens to be a brat with an attitude problem.”

    Well, what if I don't want to be the yehktira?”

    Then every night, I slip into your dreams and drag you, kicking and screaming, into the second ring. I tie you up and sling you in a corner, then I beat the crap out of the Iehkti'na myself and put you back when I'm done!” she growled, putting her face right up next to Ren's and looking directly into his eyes with an intensity that made him shiver. “Does that sound good to you?”

    I don't dream every night, though,” Ren countered.

    Oh, you do. People with strong yehkti like yourself have dreams every single night, even if you don't remember them. I'll have access to your mind every time you close your eyes to go to sleep, and as soon as you enter REM, you're mine.” She grinned predatorily, and Ren flinched.

    You're . . . just going to threaten me into it, then?” Ren asked, trying his level best to look her back in the eyes. It wasn't easy; they were extremely pretty eyes, the kind that made you want to lower your gaze in deference. Combined with the fact that she was glaring at him like a hungry Mightyena, he thought he was doing pretty well just to stay upright.

    If that's what it takes,” she whispered, and an unpleasant shudder ran down the length of Ren's spine.

    Reluctantly, he broke eye contact. “Fine,” he said. “If that's how it's going to be, then there's no helping it.” He was backed up against a wall, and he knew it.

    So we're agreed, then?” Elly said, stepping back smugly. “You be our yehktira, and in return, we don't let the Iehkti'na tear you apart?”

    Sounds about fair,” said Ren, who was, if he was quite honest with himself, on the brink of panic. Hold it together a bit longer, he urged himself. You can flip out later, when you're awake and safe.

    Good. Looks like you might have a bit of common sense after all. Now, you can come with me.” She turned and marched off towards the forest, swishing through the grass and looking oddly cheerful. Bemused, Ren jogged to catch up to her.

    When they reached the edge of the woods, the shadow of the first trees looming over them, Elly turned and put a finger on his lips. “From now on, you do not speak until I tell you that you can. At all. Understood?”

    Ren nodded. What's that for? he wondered, but decided asking would break the 'no talking' rule.”

    Excellent. Come with me, then.” Elly led him off down a path that had been worn between the trees. The enormous trunks soared into the sky on either side of him, but there was still light filtering through from behind him. As they moved ever deeper into the forest, though, the canopy grew thicker, and it got darker and darker, until he was having trouble seeing where he was going. Stumbling over tree roots in the blackness, he longed to ask Elly if she had a light. Oh, right, the 'no talking' thing, he thought wryly. Dammit.

    Ren swore inwardly as he stumbled forward again. His eyes were just beginning to adjust to the blackness when he noticed that it was starting to get lighter. Gradually, he realised that he was able to see the path in front of him again. Well, at least I won't trip again. The light filtering through the trees ahead was a pale shade of blue – almost white, but still tinged with enough colour to be slightly painful to the eyes.

    They passed a tall, gleaming marble column, and Ren felt his ears pop as if he had just taken off in an aircraft. Suddenly, the forest was full of noise, and there were people everywhere. Ren blinked and stopped walking. He wasn't in a forest any more – he was in a city.

    A city made of light. The clear sky from outside the forest had returned, and the sun shone directly onto one of the strangest settlements Ren had ever seen. All of the buildings were made of white marble, but the ground between them was carpeted in rich, verdant green grass. Motes of light seemed to float around in the air like dandelions on the breeze, but whenever Ren tried to focus on one, it eluded his eyes.

    The buildings were all small and elegant, none more than one story tall. As they passed, curious residents stopped to look. Ren sighed. He thought he might at least have gotten away from being the centre of attention in his own dreams. The people he saw were a motley arrangement. There were old people, children, men and women in a fairly natural ratio, but the manners of dress varied as widely as did the faces of the people.

    They must be spirits too, Ren realised. There was a man in a suit of medieval armour, his plumed helmet tucked under his arm, calmly discussing something with a shaven-headed man who wouldn't have looked out of place in a biker gang. A man wearing a white toga was standing on a raised platform and declaiming loudly in a language Ren couldn't understand. Among his audience were a toddler holding a doll, a wrinkled old man and a young woman in a silver jumpsuit.

    Everywhere they went, the sunlight caught and reflected off the corners and faces of buildings, sending rays of light dancing everywhere. The grass was soft under his feet, and despite evidently being well-trod, displayed no signs of decay. Flowerbeds of pink and blue were snugly tucked away between buildings and on the sides of the 'roads', as far as they could be called such. There were no cars, no buses, no traffic lights.

    Looking behind him, Ren expected to see a forest. Instead, he saw the inside of a massive, shimmering blue cylinder that rose all the way to the sky. With a start, he realised that he could see it in front of him, too; the entire settlement was encapsulated by this unreal creation, shifting and flowing like water, held in place by some unseen force. At its highest, it melded seamlessly into the cyan sky, leaving only a haze behind it. And it, like everything else, seemed to exude light – pure, shining light that was just soft enough to look at directly without being blinded.

    Ren shook his head silently, unsure if he was still forbidden to speak. He had never in his life been so sure that he was dreaming. He noticed that Elly was watching him with a half-smile on her face, a hint of smug pride in her expression. He smiled back tentatively and was rewarded with a sharp frown. Rolling his eyes, he looked back to his surroundings.

    There was certainly no shortage of places for the eye to rest. Not only were the people the most varied group he had ever seen in one place, but the edifices between which they strolled were almost as diverse. While they were all single-storey buildings fashioned from gleaming marble, that was all they had in common. Some were squat and blocky, others rounded like domes, and still others were elegant cottages. Ren would have thought the material quite restrictive in terms of construction, but evidently there was some other force at work here, for the denizens of this mysterious wonderland had managed to fashion walls, roofs, and doors all from the same stone. The engineering must have been a logistical nightmare, he thought as they passed, of all things, a log cabin made of rolls of white stone. Most of this shouldn't be physically possible, he decided, shaking his head at an A-frame house made of the same.

    His head was whirling. This was certainly the strangest dream he had ever had, Afro Glameow included.

    Here we are,” Elly said brightly. Her mood, which had been steadily souring since he met her, had lifted considerably since they had arrived in the third ring. It was especially noticeable here, surrounded by her own kind.

    They had stopped in front of one of the taller structures in the town – a classically-sculpted temple, with elegantly fluted columns supporting a low peaked roof. Friezes decorated the rim of the building, Ren noticed as he carefully stepped between the flowerbeds in front of the steps that led up into the temple proper. The friezes depicted scenes of battle – warriors in armour slaying indistinct figures that he identified as Iehkti'na dominated the decorations, though there were others he didn't recognise.

    Elly led him up the steps and between the columns into the temple proper. The interior was cool and dim, in complete contrast to what Ren had just seen. Light filtered through apertures in the ceiling, casting dregs of light onto the floor like pools of white gold. At the far end of the temple was a raised dais,upon which stood five marble thrones in a row. The one in the middle was the only one that remained unoccupied – the others were already filled. Two men sat on the right, two women on the left. Were these the 'elders' Elly had spoken of? They didn't look that old to Ren. None of them could have been older than forty – one of the women was barely older than he was.

    Oh, good, everyone's here!” Elly said, smiling.

    Ren frowned. There's still an empty chair . . .

    Wait here,” Elly said, directing Ren to a spot on the floor that looked no different from any other. When she was satisfied with his position, she darted off behind a column and disappeared.

    Nobody moved or spoke. Ren took the opportunity to examine the four people – were they actually people? What was he supposed to call them? – sitting on the massive thrones in front of him.

    On the left were two men. The one furthest from the centre was short, pudgy and bald, smiling serenely as he watched Ren. The other was taller and extremely broad in the shoulder, with a sharply trimmed black beard wrapping around his face from one hairline to the other. His features were square and stern, but there was a regality in the set of his eyes that could not be ignored. Both men were wearing gold robes with intricate silver trim.

    To Ren's right, on the other side of the unoccupied throne, sat two women. Next to the empty throne was a tall, stately woman with her blonde hair pulled tightly back, accentuating her high cheekbones and slim face. It was hard to judge her age from her features, but she didn't appear to be older than thirty. She watched Ren with a sort of amused interest, as if he were something vaguely entertaining that had mistakenly wandered into her field of vision.

    Further to the right sat another woman, who looked to be barely older than Ren. The first thing Ren noticed was her hair. It was a strange colour, somewhere between gold and green, and it cascaded freely down her back as she sat on the edge of her throne. What Ren could see of it shimmered almost imperceptibly, confusing his eyes. Other than her hair, it almost looked as if she was related to the woman sitting beside her; she had the same slender face and figure, and she was watching Ren in a similar curious fashion. When she saw him looking, though, she winked at him cheekily. Ren looked away reflexively, suddenly remembering Elly's words. You think I'm the same age you are? Don't make me laugh. I've been here in this world for centuries. It was probably true of the others – even more so these 'elders'.

    Both of the women were wearing delicate robes of diaphanous silver weave, inlaid with golden patterns of flowers and vines, as if in complete opposition to the costumes of the men. The fabric shifted and glittered whenever they moved even slightly, confounding Ren's eyes even further. He felt that if he had to see one more thing shimmering like that, he would pass out – if that was even possible within a dream.

    I apologise for the delay,” said Elly's voice from his right. Ren glanced around and his eyes widened. Elly had reappeared from wherever she had vanished to, wearing the delicate silver of the elders, although her robe seemed to have far more gold woven into it than the others'. She noticed his shocked stare and demanded, “What are you looking at?”

    Ren shook his head and looked down at the floor, hearing a quiet giggle erupt from the throne to the far right.

    Elly harrumphed and swished across to the dais, seating herself easily in the largest of the five thrones. “Now that we are all present,” she said, “why don't we begin?”
    Last edited by Seizon Senryaku; 8th December 2011 at 06:47 AM.
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  13. #28
    Yeezy taught me The Booty Warrior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champion Game (Chapter 7)

    Ho ho ho...well, not a whole lot I can say about this chapter, but I am glad that it helped recap Ren's role as Champion. And it shows that he's still not willing to go into this so merrily, even if it's something he has to do. I can imagine myself feeling the same.

    I assume this was more for characterization purposes, given how Ren and Elly were arguing? She's so tsun-tsun when dealing with the poor guy. I think other-worldly beings of her nature just don't seem to be able to comprehend that just because they talk about something that a human has never experienced before as if it was just another day at the office, it doesn't mean that they'll be able to understand it so easily, especially after Ren and Elly were just attacked. Either way, it's something I see a lot in any media involving two different worlds, but the dissonance never gets old (I may have used that world wrong).

    The technical aspects are still spot on. I can imagine what's going on, and I can definitely believe that Ren's in a completely different world.

    Can't say much about the clothes, though I find it funny how difficult Ren seems to find it in tolerating them.

    Good chapter. Although we didn't have much happening, it was still great. I can't wait to see what happens next.
    "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, N.Y. State of Mind

  14. #29
    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Re: Champion Game (Chapter 7)

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Gaddar View Post
    Ho ho ho...well, not a whole lot I can say about this chapter, but I am glad that it helped recap Ren's role as Champion. And it shows that he's still not willing to go into this so merrily, even if it's something he has to do. I can imagine myself feeling the same.
    I kind of imagine I'd feel the same way too, as would many people. relatable main characters ftw

    I assume this was more for characterization purposes, given how Ren and Elly were arguing? She's so tsun-tsun when dealing with the poor guy. I think other-worldly beings of her nature just don't seem to be able to comprehend that just because they talk about something that a human has never experienced before as if it was just another day at the office, it doesn't mean that they'll be able to understand it so easily, especially after Ren and Elly were just attacked. Either way, it's something I see a lot in any media involving two different worlds, but the dissonance never gets old (I may have used that world wrong).
    Hehe, yes, this chapter was mainly characterisation and a bit of world-building. The idea was to give readers a little bit of time to reshuffle what's going on in their heads after the very confusing last couple of chapters, because I know I'm trying to present an entire mythos in a very small space.

    And yes, Elly is very tsun-tsun, but we'll have to wait and see whether she ever shows a dere-dere side. I also like your interpretation of how she simply fails to understand that Ren doesn't freaking get it.

    The technical aspects are still spot on. I can imagine what's going on, and I can definitely believe that Ren's in a completely different world.
    Splendid, splendid. I tend to have patches where I don't describe anything, and then big lumps where I go into great detail, and I personally think it's a little clunky, but it's good to hear that this seems to be working.

    Can't say much about the clothes, though I find it funny how difficult Ren seems to find it in tolerating them.
    :P While writing this, a little part of my brain was going 'let's make the female elders' clothes as inappropriate as possible while still being refined'. >_< Thankfully, I managed to largely squash the impulse, but not entirely . . .

    Good chapter. Although we didn't have much happening, it was still great. I can't wait to see what happens next.
    hooray for filler Thanks for reading!
    The Atlantis Codex / Champion Game

    'A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.' - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    'Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more; men were deceivers ever.' - William Shakespeare
    'Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.' - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    'When one life meets another life, something will be born.' - Un(k)own

  15. #30
    The Dimension Wizard Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Champion Game (Chapter 7)

    Dang it I missed two chapters but I managed to catch up.

    Honestly if I can ask exactly what language does yehtki and yehtkira come from and the names for the nightmares too for that matter *can't remember their real names*

    Other than that i liked the last chapters, kind reminds me of an idea I had a couple of months ago except mine didn't even have Pokemon. Anyway I wouldn't have expected for Elly to be the leader of the elders meaning that she's probably the oldest of the old or just more capable.

    I kind of feel sorry for Ren because Elly's really violent towards him, especially considering he doesn't even wanna be there to begin with.

    And yet another question Ren's the person with the most yehtki in Hoenn so what about the other champions.

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