The Smeargle's Studio Writing Thread

Colonel M

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I'm the best writer and I don't give two flying fucks about my curly apostrophes and quotes.

It is 1:05 AM and I stand on a doormat of a house I never seen before. I pull out a piece of paper and compare the written numbers to the numbers near the door. “674“. This seems to be the right place. I knock on the door three times gently to see if I would attract any flies like a venus flytrap. After no response for a minute, I decide to take action to my own hands. I whip out my utility tools and pick out a lock pick. Gently, I place it into the lock and twist to attempt to find a way to open the door. After a minute of fiddling, the lock seems to retract. I place my right hand on the door handle and softly turn it towards me. After hearing another click, I push the door away from me and silently creep toward the room. It appears that I was within the kitchen as there were pots and pans hanging from the ceiling and a table was placed near the counter. I look over toward the counter and find a knife within a stand. Roughly about eight inches in length, it was the perfect blade for the job. I slowly creep forward, entering the living room.

As I enter the living room, a television was left on; glowing onto the man in front of the television on the couch. The man seems to snore louder than the television, which made the entire situation a bit awkward. I dig through my trench coat carefully to find a bottle and a rag from my pockets. I gently open up the bottle and dab some of the contents on the rag. After placing the bottle back into my pocket, I make my move. I softly creep toward the individual on the couch and gently nudge him. After snoring a bit louder, the man groans and turns toward me. Since he didn’t seem completely conscious, I attempt to take advantage of his dulled mind to find my answers.

“Hello sir,” I greet softly, “I was just passing by to ask you a question.”

“Ugh,” the man groans again, “what do you want from me at this late at night?”

“I’ve heard that there are people after your money. If you had to store it anywhere, where would it be?”

“...Money? Where to store it? What do you take me as, a buffoon?” The man finally stood up, completely awake. After he starts to move toward me, I pull the knife out into my right hand while keeping the rag hidden in my left pocket.

“I think fucking around with me will just get you killed,” I hastily replied, “so it’s best that you just cooperate and give me the damn money. Unless you want to become the next victim on my list.”

“Alright alright!” the man yelled, “just don’t wave that stupid blade around anymore!”

The man seems to lead me toward the basement of his house. He flips a switch on and slowly approaches to a wall. The odd thing was the basement never seems to be used, as it was as barren as the desert. The man approaches what appears to be a dead end that was directly from the stairs. He pulls his hand out and places it on one of the bricks. To my surprise, the brick made a noise and a laser appears to scan his hand. After what appears to be the brick verifying the man, the wall opened up to another room; this time full of many things. For starters, jewelry and gold surrounds the entire area. Within the middle of the path was a desk and a safe directly behind it.

“Take whatever you want,” the man muttered, “just spare my life.”

“You know,” I said, “it’s a bit funny. For some reason, you don’t seem paranoid about this at all. Most people I know would still be freaking out the entire time and I’d have to nearly force them with the tip of a blade to make them do something since they’re paralyzed with fear.”

“This isn’t the first time I’ve been threatened with my life for money,” the man replied. “After all, for someone as rich as me I’m surprised at the few attempts for my life in exchange for wealth.”

“While it’s a touching story,” I added, “I’m afraid the jewelry is not what I seek. What’s inside that safe, on the other hand, is likely what I would like to have. Nothing I hate more than taking another step just to make money.”

The man approaches the safe and spins the dial toward three numbers. After setting the dial to the third number, he pulls the hatch and reveals the contents within the safe. Enclosed was the color green. It seems that there was thousands, no, millions of dollars.

“Since I don’t exactly have clean money,” the man stated, “I can’t store this in my Switzerland bank account. To accommodate for that, I built this under my house to store my riches. Thankfully most ‘respectful’ thieves just take the jewelry and run off with it.”

“When is a thief ever close to respectful’?” I replied. “If anything, your statement is almost ironic considering there’s almost no such thing as a present day Robin Hood. Now just hang tight while I place the money in this bag.”

I pull out a large gym bag and place it onto the floor. Carefully, I sweep the piles of green into the bag. It seems that the air smelled fresh and crisp like a brand new dollar bill. The sensation seemed to drive me insane, and I stuffed the bag further. After reaching what seemed to be the limit of the bag, I zipped it up and placed it upright to wheel it after the situation was finished.

“Unfortunately,” the man said with a twisted smile, “no thief has walked out of this house alive.”

Suddenly, he pulls a gun out of his pocket and attempts to lay fire on me. Quickly, I grab the cloth and run around him to be directly behind him. I place my arms around his and hold his trigger hand upward to prevent him from firing at me. I forcibly shove the piece of cloth toward his mouth and cover it. The victim seems to struggle as much as he can, but after thirty seconds the chemicals seem to kick in and the victim collapses. Since the kitchen knife provides too much evidence, I decide to take the gun and directly aim it at his head. I pull the trigger just enough so the pistol would fire, and the bullet lodges through his head onto the ground. Blood cascades everywhere, but thankfully none lands anywhere on me. I place the gun next to him, grab the gym bag, and walk away from the scene. I walk up the steps, place the kitchen knife back in its rightful place, and close the door behind me. I run from the house back to my car and drag the bag full of money right behind me. I unlock my ‘02 Pontiac Sunfire and place the money right in the trunk. I get into my car and started it up, driving toward my house. After reaching my destination, I get out of the car to grab some shut eye. Slowly, I walk toward my house; recollecting all the things that happened tonight. It was weird enough that the man never reacted against me until the last minute during the robbery, but he also mentioned that the money wasn’t clean. Furthermore, what would a rural man such as him do with so much money without few people noticing it in the process? So many questions seem to spiral my mind, but the late night appears to settle into my eyes as I feel more drowsy at each step. I approach my door and pull out my keys. Placing them in the lock, I turn it towards me to unlock and turn the doorknob. I take off my gear and set it in the chest next to the door and padlock it. After sealing it, I slid the chest back into its groove and covered it with the fake wall, then the table. I crept toward my bed like a lifeless zombie, got under the covers, and closed my eyes.

I did it, I thought. I just murdered another innocent man just to get money. I only hope my mother never finds out about the terrible deeds I’ve done over the past few years. I shed a tear through my eye as I finally fell asleep in the silent night.

My alarm buzzes and I turn around to hit the snooze button. It’s only 9:00, I thought, and I can afford to sleep in for five minutes. Those five minutes seems to drag, though, as I recollect my actions from last night. First, how was that robbery so simple? After all, there wasn’t any sign of a security system nor any sight of cameras moving back and forth. Secondly, the man mentioned that this wasn’t his first time being robbed, yet everyone that’s robbed him so far was killed on the spot. So if that was the case, why did I succeed when they didn’t? The alarm finally goes off again, so I decide to wake up. Thankfully the situation from last night didn’t take very long, so I got about seven hours of shut eye in me. I get up and get ready for work. After a nice shower and putting my wardrobe on, I go towards my kitchen and look at the phone. Seeing as I have a message, I place some bread in my toaster and let the message play.

“Hello, Dante? This is you-know-who. Bring the money by 6 PM today. No exceptions. Drop it off at the dumpster of the local 7-Eleven. We’ll have a bag in there for you to drop the money into so you don’t have to waste yours. We’ll talk later this week.”

Shit, I thought to myself, I was going to see mother today too. Hopefully visiting hours are still until 8 PM today. The bread pops out of the toaster with a fresh smell of baked bread. I take the butter out of the refrigerator and grab a cup of coffee to go along with my toast. My breakfast seemed to taste bitter this morning. I wonder, I thought, if this is the taste of sin. After all I only feel this way after I’ve taken a life away and ransacked their place. After a rather dull breakfast, I get up and go towards my Sunfire, start the car up, and drive off. For such a dark night, the morning seemed quite relaxing. The warm, crisp air felt good to breathe into as it helps me relax a bit before going in to work. The bright sun seemed to make the grass glisten to make the atmosphere almost majestic. After a half hour ride to the shop, I step out of my car and head into the building. “Recipe For Life” was the chemistry facility I work for. Seems like an odd name, but most of our goals is researching chemistry to help treat or alleviate diseases and viruses that infect our bodies everyday. I walk through the doors of the facility and head toward my locker. There, I take off my street clothes and put on my special lab coat and goggles. After finishing getting dressed, I step into the lab prepared to hear what the boss wants done today.

“Good morning Dante,” my boss greets me, “today’s assignment is easy. I just need you to work in Lab 4 with Christine. She’ll give you the rest of your instructions for the day.” He pauses for a moment and clears his throat. “Today is going to be a short day and, due to budget cuts, I’m afraid I’m going to only keep you in here with Christine for four hours today instead of the regular eight. It should only be this week, though, so next week should still be the same old same old.”

“Very well, Professor,” I replied, “I’ll head over and see Christine right now. I go through the doors that has the words “LAB 4“ at the top. I step through the dim-lit hallway and attempt to make my way through the second set of doors. Finally, I reach my destination and open them while quickly shutting them behind me. I don’t get to work with Christine too often, but she’s a pretty girl. She definitely found the right field of work. A rather medium height woman, she wore blonde hair that just reached as far as her neck. With her dazzling blue eyes and a clean white smile, she seemed to brighten the grim place just with her presence alone. Her lab coat covered most of her body barring her neck, but it seemed to reveal just enough curvature to make a grown man curious of what hid behind the cloak. Well, I guess to a pervert anyway. The outfit was complete with a little bit of her legs showing and high heels to accompany her feet. Seems odd that they allow high heels at these facilities, but I won’t complain.

“Good morning Dante,” Christine interrupts, “it looks like you’re going to be tortured working with me today. Uncle Vern needs some samples of the latest chemical and tests on these diseased lab rats. I think the most we need to do today is injection and taking notes along the way. Since the injection will take roughly twenty-four hours to take into effect, we won’t get results until tomorrow anyway. The samples are over there on the table.”

I walk towards the table and see a few syringes with a weird yellow substance inside them. Next to the syringes were a few rubber gloves. These ones were a little different from the everyday rubber gloves, though. These ones are slightly reinforced inside with a padded glove. Normally we never had to do this, but ever since that accident one year ago we were forced to use these gloves as a precaution. I put the gloves on, grab the syringes, and head towards Christine. She picks up a lab rat and holds it gently in her hands. The little critter tries to squirm out of it like it’s bound into a snake’s coil, but it quickly gives up and just stares at me with an innocent look.

“Shouldn’t I be holding the rats?” I ask Christine curiously.

“I’m afraid you might accidentally kill them with those brutish hands of yours,” Christine replies. I swallow a little from shock, but I quickly recover. I approach Christine with the syringes and place one in my hand.

“So what is this supposed to treat?” I ask again.

“Rotavirus,” she spoke, “I’m sure you’ve heard of the virus before?”

“I’m afraid I’ve never heard of it before,” I say with a defeated look on my face.

“To summarize it nicely, it’s a disease that usually infects small children. While causing sever diarrhea, it is not related to influenza. We’re attempting to create an immunization for this disease so the chances of even being infected with it is slim to none.”

“Ah, I see,” I reply warmly, “I’m glad you know your stuff Ms. Christine.”

“Why thank you,” Christine replies, “I’m just glad someone listens to me today and not attempt to boss me around like I’m some slave.”

Despite Christine’s tight allegations with her Uncle Vern, the owner of “Recipe For Life”, she seems to always be a little nosy with situations. It’s almost coincidental since she has a small nose to match the thing she’s somewhat known for most. She’s pretty timid otherwise, so she doesn’t attempt to pick up fights nor does she try to boss people around. This causes her to be constantly bullied a bit by the co-workers. Thankfully, she can take some of the heat, though there has been days where she’s been pushed emotionally to the limit.

“So what were you doing last night,” she asked as she was still holding the lab rat that I placed the syringe in. My heart seemed to pick up a few beats after being asked such an odd question.

“Oh nothing,” I quickly replied, “I just went around town and did a few things. Nothing too serious otherwise.”

“I don’t understand you Dante,” Christine said with a more relaxed tone, “why are you the only co-worker that doesn’t seem to pick on me? It’s strange that you don’t join your usual buddies and do what they do best in this facility.”

“Why beat a dead horse?” I countered, “I’m not here to torture you, I’m here to work with you. Unfortunately the dumb fucks that work with you haven’t understood that yet, but I’m not here to make lives miserable. Besides, I rarely work with you as is. I’m usually in Lab 2 processing the chemicals. You move around the building all the time.”

The rest of the day seemed to consist of talking about recent events and how work has been. Since the day was short, we only got a small break and went back towards the act again. After injecting the lab rats with what seemed to be the immunization, we injected the Rotavirus into the lab rats to see if the immunization would take place and prevent the rats from getting sick. After injecting the last rat, the clock showed the time “2:57“. Time to get out of this place, I thought to myself. As I started to walk out the door, I heard Christine in the background.

“Hey,” she spoke, “um... maybe we can hang around sometime this week? I mean, since you don’t have anything better to do, might as well spend it with a girl, right?”

“For a timid girl you do sure seem to be up front when you want to do something,” I reply.

“Well, I thought we could talk more about work,” she said. “Uncle Vern is trying to set up a specific lab with me as the head of it and I’m looking for people to work under my wing. Seeing as you’re one of the few determined workers that doesn’t treat me like some lifeless doll, I thought we could discuss about the job situation and maybe recommendations to take under the wing.”

“Well,” I reply, “I guess we could discuss this over dinner. Perhaps at ‘Guido’s’?”

“I’d love to Dante,” Christine replies. “How about tomorrow at 7:00 PM?”

“Sounds fine by me,” I state. “See you then.”

I head straight for the locker room and get dressed into my street clothes. Seeing as I got out of work earlier than usual, I decided to go head up to the local hospital and see my mother. Just don’t forget, I state in my head, you still need to drop off that money at the 7-Eleven. While reminding myself, I approach my car and drive half an hour towards St. Paul’s Hospital.

It was about 3:22 when I arrive at St. Paul’s. Traffic was shockingly decent today, as most days it’s hectic to get here from my facility. I step out of the car, take another deep breath, and open up my trunk. Secretly, I unzip the bag and pull out a nice wad of cash. I stuff as much as I can in a couple of envelopes and place it in my trench coat. I slowly enter the building, taking time since I was in no real rush today. Mother is usually up around by 3:30 anyway, so I was giving her enough time to fully wake up. I enter through the doors and a shiver goes down my spine. It seems like whenever I enter this place I can’t shake off that horrible accident that happened a year ago. I pass the service desk that seemed to be buzzing with phone calls, clicking from constant typing, and printing going on all over the place. I enter the elevator and press “3“. As I step outside the elevator, I walk into room “301“ and gently close the door behind me. In the bed my mother seems to be somewhat awake. She still looks a little groggy, maybe due to the medicine, but I’m sure she can recognize me.

“Hello mother,” I said softly. “It’s me, Dante.”

“I’m glad you came here today sweetie,” mother said. “I get lonely up here sometimes; even with the doctors taking care of me. I just wish I could get out of this place.”

“I’m still looking for the cure, mother,” I reply, “but it’s not going so well at the moment. Budget cuts have gotten pretty severe. In fact it’s the only reason I’m here this early today. I haven’t been able to do much more breakthroughs of the paralyzing chemical serum, but I did discover the mix of chemicals that caused it which will help. I only was with Christine today injecting lab rats with Rotavirus immunization.”

“Ah, Christine,” my mother sighs, “she was a woman equal to me in that facility. It’s a damn shame everyone constantly picked on her, but I always was there for her when she was moody. It’s a good thing you took after your mother and try to take care of her, Dante. She’s a good girl.”

“I know mother,” I remark, “though as of late she’s being promoted to look after her own wing. She wants to take me with her, so perhaps I can request to have research done on your dilemma first since we know her well.”

“That’s wonderful news,” mother says happily, “it’s a shame I can’t join her. I know if I wasn’t in this condition she’d be happy to take me with her. Though I only wish that she’d just visit me once.”

“I’ll try to get her to visit you tomorrow mother,” I state, “we’re meeting at ‘Guido’s’ tomorrow to discuss about the wing’s team members.”

“Please tell her I said hello,” mother sadly breaths, “I miss her so much. I just want to see her once.”

We continued to discuss about things that happened recently such as the company, how life was, and told some stories at what happened on each end of our lines. I look at my watch and realize the time: 5:36. I decided I’d go make the drop off early and I could just head straight home. Mother will be fine, after all we talked for two hours.

“I’m afraid we’re going to have to cut this short today mother,” I spoke, “I’ll try to see you within the next few days. I probably won’t see you tomorrow sadly, but I’m sure you understand.”

“Good luck with Christine,” she said with a joking face.

I walk out of the hospital and hop into my car. I drive off to the 7-Eleven near me and park near the front. I go in and buy my usual slurpee and walk behind the gas station. Looking at the garbage dump, I search for a bag. After a few seconds of eye glancing, I see a gym bag. I go back to my car and drive towards the garbage dump. I look around to see that I’m not attracting any signs of trouble. Quickly, I open the trunk and grab my bag. I climb up the garbage dump, dragging the bag with me. I look within the bag and see a note in the bag.

“Please make sure to drop off your Two Million in here. Cash only, by the way.

- The Administration”

I count out the wads of money and find out that I have a little over two million dollars. I stuff it inside the bag and zip it up. What was left of the money I placed back into a pocket of the bag for safe keeping. I place the bag back into the car and drive off towards the hospital again. I go towards the front desk and try to find help. Finally, an older woman notices me.

“Can I help you sir?” she asks.

“Yes, I’m looking for a Dr. Idraki,” I say. “Is he around at the moment?”

“I can call him up for you sir,” she replies. “I just need one second.”

She hops onto the phone and calls around the hospital to find the man. Since I know he worked the graveyard shift, I didn’t like to try to approach him until around 7:00 at night. It was about 6:43, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I’m here about fifteen minutes early. The woman hangs up the phone and looks back at me.

“Floor 5, the doctor will be there waiting for you,” she says.

I step into the elevator and push “5“. As I go up, I think about how this entire situation will go today. Dr. Idraki is a bit of a strange man and he doesn’t like his payments late, but this is probably the first time I ever missed a bill, and it was only by a single day. He personally requested that I pay him face-to-face, seeing as giving as much money as I do to his secretary would bring massive suspicion to his workplace. I finally arrive at the Fifth floor with a strange man waiting for me. He was about a foot shorter than me and had receding white hair. His left eye had a monocle and a can supported his right side.

“Welcome, Dante!” the old man croaked, “so good to see you come up and see me! Come, step into my office.”

We walked into his office. Idraki offered me a seat, and I reluctantly sat down. I didn’t like to sit down in his office long since it was a rather dim-lit room with a few things that scared me. Above him was his Doctrine, framed proudly like it was his little trophy. Idraki took his seat, leaned forward on his desk, and started to speak.

“I’m afraid you’re a little late on your payment today,” he says softly with an angry tone. “You realize that I keep your mother’s welfare in my hands, and I’m more than happy to pull the plug on her.”

“I understand sir,” I reply. “I have a little extra to accommodate me being late on this month’s payment. I got side-tracked getting ready for last night.

“Alright,” he states. “Let’s see what you got.”

I pull out the manilla envelopes and place them onto his desk. The old man, giddy with excitement, opens them up and finds wads of cash sitting inside them. He almost had an insane look in his eyes, then he looks up and slaps himself back into reality. Calmly, he put the money into his desk and put his hands back onto the desk, folded.

“I think this will suit me enough,” Idraki spoke with a rather excited tone. “Still, don’t ever be late on payments like this again. Your mother costs our facility a lot of money, and I can’t afford to miss her payments as the government is attempting to crack down on handicapped patients like a bunch of mad dogs.”

About two months ago, the U.S. decided to make a new law that attempted to not only control the population, but also rid of any “useless trash” in the process. People that were severely handicapped and weren’t of elderly age were to be executed unless they made a specific tax to prove that they were useful to the economy. While it seemed like an absurd law, if they made the payment they would be granted full coverage and a few other benefits. It was a double-edged sword law, but most people that were pruned up or in a state like my mother’s would immediately be put on the chopping block or force families to make painful choices. The president’s only comment to the law was “It’s one of the few ways we can recover from our economic crisis.”

“I promise not to do it again, sir,” I reply softly. “Thank you for buying time for her.”

“Not a problem,” the doctor said, “I know you’re a good kid deep down. I hope you can find her cure soon.”

I quietly left the hospital and step into my car once more. I finally arrive at home around 8:00. I step into my house once more and attempt to make a microwave meal to just get my by for the night. As I finish off the last of my slurpee, I look towards my phone to find a message.

“Hello Dante. It’s you-know-who. We’ll need to meet on Thursday around 9:00 PM at Flaming Barrage Bar. We’ll discuss everything once you get there. Good job on the payment by the way.”

There were no other messages. Not even from Christine. I turn on the television and grab my dinner. Slowly, I eat the food while flipping through television stations. It’s pitiful. It’s the 21st century and yet there is STILL NOTHING GOOD ON. SHEESH. I finally flip to the news where I see the man’s house that I ransacked the other night.

“We report to you from 674 Talon Street where a man was shot in the head by his own gun and his entire house was left unscathed. Aside from the blood on the floor, of course. While there were security cameras and alarms, they appeared to be shorted out. No other reports were seen about this murder nor were there any testimonies that heard the gunshot at any time. We hope to bring you more on this story later.”

I think it’s time for bed, I thought to myself. I’m sick of listening to every death that I commit. I slowly enter my bed and lie down. I hope that of all days tomorrow will end well. I shut my eyes and finally fell asleep again.

Yeah I know the title copies a song but I couldn't think of anything better off the top of my head. >_<; Also a work in progress.
So, this is an excerpt from what I want to make a longer historical fiction novel about the Meiji Restoration (the period where Japan looked to end the age of Samurai and move towards modernization). The story will follow Sakamoto Ryoma (the man who brought Choshu and Satsuma together) as its hero.

Some terminology:

Nippon: Japan
Nipponjin: Japanese

I decided that the Japanese characters should not refer to the country and themselves as "Japan" and "Japanese" since these are foreign words impressed on them, and this story is at its heart one of resisting foreign invasion and oppression. It would feel awkward for Ryoma and his companions to refer to themselves as Japanese instead of the true word-- Nipponjin.

Bakufu: The shogunate, the cetral power of Japan, though one should keep in mind that in this time, many domains like Choshu and Satsuma had waning loyalties, and referred to their own domains as their "countries."

: A follower of "Sonno Joi", (Revere the Emperor, Expel the Foreigners), a school of thought that also involved killing or forcefully repelling foreigners in the country.

In a wide dining room, the soft, rhythmic sound of a koto could be heard, beating with the slow strides and gestures of a young Geisha. Ripples of fine fabric rustled, following her slow yet deliberate movements, each dense with elegant expression. The poise of her face was a calm grace that matched her quiet yet youthful charm. Full thick lips seemed almost at odds with her thin frame and round child-like eyes. With a subtle tilt of her neck, the last note rang, and she held her pose at the end of the dance.

With the close of the dance, the lonely sound of a single pair of hands clapping rang thinly through the room. Casually bringing his hands to his side, the young Samurai cocked an eyebrow at his stone-faced companions, a thin smile appearing on his face.

"Come on guys, can't you say something to the girl? Show a bit of appreciation, for the wonderful dance that—"

"Who can be in the mood for that!"

Unabashed by his sullen comrades, the young Samurai turned a broad grin to the young geisha, shifting the shamisen at his side behind him, and laying his swords beside it. "Your name was Moto was it? Come here." He motioned to her, lifting a bottle of Sake to poor a cup for her. "The mistress here said you are this Maruyama's greatest geiko."

"Thank you very much." She gave a polite smile to accompany her short and lyrical word of thanks, tinged with the dialect of Nagasaki.

Looking upon her drinking companion, the young Geisha found him to be of a strange sort. He was a young and handsome man, with a thin face and a tall nose. He had the most casual and relaxed air about him, despite the apparent anxiety of his companions, and this coolness matched the drawl of his western accent. Of course, he had one feature of particular peculiarity.

"May I ask why a Samurai has cut his hair short, in a western fashion?" She asked, giving him a bemused smile.

"Ah this?" He chuckled. "We only get one life to live—might as make it a fun one, no?"

"Why the hell can you be so relaxed Matsuda! Glover has completely stood us up!" One of his friends raged. "How can you not be angry? I'm furious!"

"Ah, Glover-san is it?" The Geisha coolly inquired.

"Oh, do you know him?" Matsuda turned to her with a now strangely electric grin.

"He's one of the most famous and wealthy merchants of Nagasaki!" She chirped, "But… you folks should know, that all the foreign merchants here are extremely wary. They are afraid that one of their would-be clients might be a joi-ha in disguise—they don't want to be cut down by random radical patriots." Moto gave them another smile, "This is our first time with clients from Suwano—naturally we would be wary. Even I readied my heart for the possible dangers tonight."

Matsuda smiled. "Who's afraid of a Samurai carrying a shamisen?"

"Damn it all!" One man raged, slamming his fist into the tough tatami floor. "Here we've come all the way, sneaking into Nagasaki, and there's not a damn thing we can do!"

"My oh my—that is a problem!"

Instantly all three men turned—halfway standing, swords at their sides—to face the booming voice that had addressed them from outside the door. In that moment, the door flung open, and a young wild-haired Samurai coolly walked through the door, followed closely by three companions. Ryoma turned to look at the startled men, giving them a broad grin. Bringing his hands to his side, Ryoma dropped his swords to the ground, and nodded at Chojiro and the others to do the same.

"Good evening everyone—I'm sorry to intrude, but the beautiful sound of the koto, and your fascinating discussion, were too intriguing to ignore!" Ryoma said, taking another swaggering step into the room, and raising his empty hands.

Matsuda grinned coolly at the jolly intruder as Ryoma sat next to him, putting a hand on the table laid before them.

"Come friends, be at ease—this Nagasaki is a place of merchants, not of warriors. You have nothing to fear from us!" Ryoma said, taking the sake bottle from Moto, and moved to pore a new glass for Matsuda. "Let's eat, be merry. It seems that is the meaning of these round Chinese tables, which have no head or superior seats, but are circular to put us at ease and let us eat together!"

"That's right—we're not with the police! You got nothing to fear from us!" Chojiro said with a laugh, sitting next to one of the other startled samurai.

Matsuda began to roll in laughter, putting his sword back down on the floor beside him. "There sure are some fascinating folks in Nagasaki. All right tell me, why do we have nothing to fear from you? What's your game?"

"Matsuda!" One of his companions barked.

"It's fine it's fine—let's at least hear what they have to say." Matsuda said, smiling coolly, giving a cocky wink. "It's better than you folks making the sake bitter with your bickering!" Then, turning back to Ryoma, "So, what is it?"

"All of us, are Ronin who have left their clans," Ryoma said, gesturing at his companions. "We don't belong to any clan, and of course have no dealings with the police. Give us a ship, and we'll gladly take care of the trading with the foreigners for you."

Matsuda nodded with a grin, "Hoh, you have skills with sea vessels do you? What proof do you have?"

"Me and my companions know the art of seafaring very well—we all went through the intense training of the Kaigun Sourenjo, Kobe's naval academy." Ryoma grinned.

"The Bakufu's naval academy!" Matsuda's companions were on their feet in an instant, swords halfway drawn.

"It's not like we were training out of loyalty to the Bakufu! We just wanted the skills to protect Nippon!" Sonojo pleaded, raising his hands alongside Chojiro and Mutsu.

Matsuda didn't take his eyes off of Ryoma, but raised a hand to indicate to his companions to lower their weapons.

Ryoma raised an eyebrow, and looking at the other men said, "By the way, what are you all exactly?" he asked. "Certainly, you are not samurai of Suwano clan. Suwano has no joi-ha so radical as to raise their swords at the mere mention of the Bakufu…" Ryoma smiled inquisitively.

Matsuda gave a dry laugh, sighed and gave Ryoma an earnest face, and paused for a moment.

"We're with Choshu." He said, watching Ryoma's eyes widen in surprise.

"Matsuda!" one of his companions hissed.

"But, samurai of Choshu are supposedly banned from entering Nagasaki!" Chojiro gasped. "Did you change your names and sneak in!"

Matsuda gave Ryoma a cool grin, putting his sword at his side and straightening his posture. "My real name is Takasugi Shinsaku. A pleasure to meet you."

"Takasugi, Shinsaku!" Ryoma gasped in surprise, hearing the name of one of Choshu's famous revolutionists, a name well known far beyond the reaches of the Choshu domain.

"From your dialect, I gather that you're from Tosa eh?" Takasugi grinned.
Ryoma straightened and recomposed himself, sighed and calmly responded. "That's right, my name is Sakamoto Ryoma, formerly of Tosa clan." He said, as Chojiro, Sonojo and Mutsu introduced themselves in turn.

"Ah, Sakamoto Ryoma eh?" Takasugi turned his head to his companions. "Don't worry—we're fine. Everything this man says is true." Takasugi said, coolly adjusting his seating. "After all, Katsura Kogoro-san told me once, 'if you ever cross paths with Tosa's Sakamoto Ryoma, he is a man you can trust.' If Katsura-san will vouch for him, I believe we can trust him." Takasugi said with a nod, turning back to Ryoma. "So, having heard we're from Choshu, will you still help us out, eh Sakamoto-san?"

Ryoma grinned. "Takasugi-san, you're companions with Katsura-san eh! Of course we'd be glad to help you!"

"Ryoma! What are you saying!" Sonojo hissed. "Choshu are rebellious joi-ha! We can't get mixed up with that right now!"

"It's fine, it's fine!" Ryoma grinned. "In any case, we should probably get out of here, and talk somewhere else."

"Oh, and why so?"

Ryoma leaned in close and indicated for the others to as well. Then, in a low whisper, "three rooms down, there is a large group of Satsuma clan's samurai drinking, and I know how well your two clans get along."

"Satsuma!" Once more, Takasugi's companions hissed, re-drawing their swords. The sheer venom imbued in that single word, "Satsuma" was enough to foul the flavor of any dish upon the table.

Ryoma glared at them, "If you make a commotion and give us away, the ones who will be in the greatest trouble is yourselves!" he barked.

"Yes, that's true." Takasugi responded coolly. "But, Sakamoto-san, we'll have our little chat here."

Ryoma cocked a questioning eyebrow at Takasugi.

"I can't have people thinking, that I fled in fear of the enemy." Takasugi said casually.

"But Ryoma!" Sonojo persisted.

Ryoma raised an arm up to Sonojo. "It can't be helped. We'll talk here." Ryoma then turned to Moto and said, "My apologies but, it seems that's how it is. Could you please implore with the mistress of this house, that these men should—under no circumstances—be allowed to cross paths with the Satsuma group."

"Of course." Moto responded, and stood to excuse herself from the dining hall.
"Now, let's continue with this little chat eh?"

At the gate of the establishment, Moto slid her feet into her walking slippers, behind her the mistress called after her—"Moto-chan, where are you going! Moto-chan!" Moto turned and called back.

"There's no way I'm letting myself get mixed up in the trouble!" Moto then sped off, weaving her way stealthily through the crowded night streets of Maruyama, each step taking her closer to the Nagasaki police headquarters.

"What we want, is weapons."


Takasugi looked up at Chojiro's surprised face. "We want ten warships, and one thousand new rifles." He grinned.

"Ten shi… a, a thousand rifles!" Chojiro stuttered.

"Five hundred thousand ryo should be more than enough no?" Takasugi continued.

"Five hundred—!" All of Ryoma's companions gasped together.

Takasugi gave them a broad grin. "Have you forgotten Shimonoseki is part of the Choshu domain? Through that port, all sorts of goods and trade enter from all parts of the country. If it's money, we have plenty of it." Takasugi explained, met with the nods of realization from Ryoma's group.

"And," Ryoma said, poring Takasugi some more sake, "what is your aim, with all these weapons?" Ryoma asked, giving Takasugi an earnest expression.

"Is Choshu planning to attack the foreigners again!"

Takasugi chuckled aloud. "There's no way, we would be foolish enough to try something like that again."

"Don't think we're idiots—we have fully realized, that executing joi by force is impossible!" One of Takasugi's companions raged. Takasugi looked up, "It's aggravating, but we've been…made to realize that we have no chance in battle against the foreigners." He admitted with a sad smile.

"So, Choshu has… Choshu has changed their thinking!" Ryoma exclaimed, alongside several expressions of disbelief by his own comrades. They were all astounded that the hard-set loyalists of the Choshu clan could have changed their thinking. Eyes widening in surprise slowly changed to eyes wide with excitement. Ryoma firmly brought his hand to the table. "That's right, trying to force the foreigners out is impossible! Choshu did well to admit this! They have really done well!

"But…" Ryoma continued. "This takes us back to my first question. If not for implementing joi, what are these weapons for?" he asked, this time with a hint of excitement.

"It's obvious isn't it? They're for use to fight the Bakufu!" One of the men boasted. "Choshu has decided—we will never obey the Bakufu again!"
Takasugi's cool expression of amusement changed subtly to one of steely quiet resolve. "Choshu, is going to declare independence. We will secede from Nippon."

"Secede…" Ryoma and his companions could only echo the one word in silent surprise.

"We will not falter," Takasugi continued, "our resolve is firm. All of us believe, that justice is with Choshu."

The firm words of resolve did not escape ears of the Samurai pressed to the door. Hearing the surprising declaration, the man jumped back, and stole away down the hall.

"Shouldn't you be going?" Foult inquired, cocking his head at his daydreaming companion. "Suwano clan has been waiting for you haven't they?"

Glover broke out of his stupor and scoffed. He took another swig of scotch, and gave a trite reply. "Suwano clan, what they want, is guns—and I do not think the Shogunate will take kindly to that."

"I wonder if the Shogunate will be able to run things as they have until now." Foult said bemused.

"We shall see." Glover said. "One thing is for certain, and that is that if things continue as they have until now, Japan, this country, and our business here will be finished." He gave a wane grin as he gazed at the ice melting in his glass.

"What do you mean finished?" Foult inquired.

"The Shogunate is now nothing more than a puppet of France." Glover exclaimed, "do you honestly think Britain that will stand for that?"

Foult's eyes widened. "Are you saying there shall be war?"

Glover laughed. "The British forces have already assembled a plan and preparations for an invasion, a landing strategy…under the assumption that conflicts with Japan are… inevitable."

"What! A strategy for landing operations!" Foult exclaimed, eyes widening.
Glover gave another wry smile and placed his glass near a narrow plate on the table. "First, they will block off the sea of Setsu and capture the main harbors. Then, the forces will make inroads into Kyoto." Glover said, shaking a bit of pepper onto the grilled fish in the dish.

"The Mikado, the Emperor shall be captured," he said, stabbing a fork into the fish, and taking a bite. Through chewing noises, he continued to talk. "The main fleet of twenty four hundred ships will land in Edo bay. The British forces will destroy the ships there, capture Edo castle, and put down the forces of the Shogunate." Glover swallowed deeply.

"Japan will surrender, in just one day." He shook his head. Foult stared back in sheer shock.

"They're such simpletons—the Japanese, totally unaware, that at this very moment, the fate of their entire country is hanging in the balance."

"Saigo, is it true that the Bakufu is going to continue its offensive on Choshu?" one of Saigo's men slurred out in a drunk and thick Satsuma dialect.

Saigo Kichinosuke turned to his soldier, the general of the Satsuma forces weary to once more deal with the prods of his men. This was a night of merriment, a time to relax after the trades of Nagasaki before making the long trip back to Satsuma. With Geisha and sake aplenty, why did his men have to continue persisting on the issue of Choshu?

"Choshu are our enemies! We should send our warriors as well! Saigo, why hasn't Satsuma sent forth any men with the Bakufu's force!" The great Satsuma leader tried to hide his exasperation as another man piped in. "Choshu are the enemies! They killed my brother at Hamaguri Gate! Let's annihilate them!"

Saigo coolly looked back at his compatriots, "Even if Choshu were to meet its end, what good would that do for our country? Satsuma would gain nothing from Choshu's demise—the damn Bakufu would just become even stronger." Saigo took another swig of sake. "Just think about what would happen if the Bakufu got Shimonoseki.

"Their power and wealth would simply expand, and our own country's trade would become even more difficult. There's no point in trying to destroy Choshu right now." Saigo said, putting an end to the conversation. His men needed to learn to see the big picture, not get locked blindly in the continuing feud between the two clans. Just because Satsuma and Choshu were enemies, it didn't mean that destroying Choshu would be good for their own country of Satsuma—to hell with the Bakufu and the rest of Japan, Saigo had to ensure the future of Satsuma. As he stared at the blood rushed faces of his warriors though, he wondered how long he would be able to keep their single-minded blood lust at bay.

At that moment, the door swung open, and another of Saigo's men burst into the room, "Three rooms down, there are samurai from Choshu!"


In an instant, the men were flooding through the door, and streaming down the hall. The air flashed with blades as the Satsuma samurai drew their swords. Saigo sighed, looking at the now empty dining hall, thrown into disarray with dishes and sake tossed about. The weary general stood up and walked to follow his men and hopefully sort out this ordeal.

The men burst through the door, Takasugi and his men standing in a flash and drawing their swords. Instantly, the dining hall was swarmed with blades and men as the two sides stared each other down.


"Choshu!! You bastards did well to sneak into Nagasaki eh!!"
Ryoma and his companions found themselves in the middle of the fray, as both sides raised their swords and looked to draw blood. The air became electric with killing intent, matched with the faces flushed with rage and alcohol, and the gleaming swords in the light of Nagasaki's red Chinese lanterns. Suddenly, amidst the chaos a huge voice bellowed from behind the Satsuma forces.

"My name is!!" it roared, and suddenly, a path opened through the Satsuma men. A single tall man of wide shoulders strode gallantly through the cleared path. His left his left hand laid casually on the hilt of his undrawn blade, and he held his head high, with a calm and indifferent expression. "My name is, Saigo Kichinosuke. My friends from Choshu, how are you? It's been so long—since our little war at Hamaguri Gate." Saigo grinned with a swagger.

"Saigo! I still want my vengeance from that battle!" One of Takasugi's men roared. "Prepare yourself!" He said, lunging at Saigo, sword drawn. Saigo gave a wide grin, his right hand moving up stealthily to the hilt of his sword.

But, just as Saigo was about to un-sheath his blade, Ryoma grabbed the charging man by the scruff of his kimono, deftly disarmed him, and threw man and sword easily to the ground.

"Stop it all of you!" Ryoma roared, standing tall and stepping in the center of the room, raised blades quivering in the air to both his front and back.

"Sakamoto!" Saigo exclaimed in surprise, shocked to see one of his hired navigators amongst the fray, apparently having been dealing with Choshu.

Ryoma stared down both sides, locking eyes for long moments with both Saigo and Takasugi. "Drawing your blades in this narrow room—you're like chickens looking to squabble in the coop!"

As both sides began to bellow at the insult, Ryoma's men stood and surrounded him. "That's exactly how it is! Look at this foolishness!" Chojiro screamed.

Sonojo spread his arms, tears coming to his eyes as he stared down the Choshu men. "If we continue to fight like this, nothing can get done, and Nippon will fall to invasion!"

Ryoma grabbed the sheathed sword at his side, and staring Saigo dead in the eyes, raised the undrawn blade to eye level in an expression of pleading. "Who is the most terrifying of enemies—it's the foreigners ins't it!" Saigo stared back steadily, and all the men of the room converged around the two. "Tell me! Is this anytime for us Nipponjin to be fighting each other? Tell me! Saigo-san!" Ryoma's words rang in the silent hall.

Then outside the movement of countless feet rushing down the hall could be heard, and one of the Satsuma men called out, "The Nagasaki Police are here!" But he was cut off—by the sudden sound and flash of a gunshot, firing into the air.

The room froze as Takasugi pushed Ryoma aside, one arm pulling his Kimono closed, and the other raising a still-smoking pistol level with Saigo's chest. Saigo appraised his assailant with a jolly grin, and took a step forward, bringing the barrel of the gun directly to his breast.

"A western hair style, carrying a shamisen, and waving a pistol—the man responsible for Choshu's infamous non-samurai militia, the Kiheitai. So, you must be Takasugi Shinsaku, eh?" Saigo chuckled.

Takasugi smiled in return, "As expected of Saigo, you're well informed." Takasugi continued grinning as he looked about the room, and lowered his gun.

"I'd love to continue this dance if nothing would interfere but…" he paused and smiled as the beating steps of police officers continued in the hall behind the Satsuma samurai. "It seems that your luck is good today!"

With that, the Choshu revolutionary fired once more at the ceiling, smoke and gunpowder filling the room, as he and his men crashed through the paper doors, and stole away through the forest beyond them. Ryoma and his men gave a last stare at Saigo before they too fled the seen. Saigo chuckled to himself, as the authorities streamed into the now deserted room thrown into disarray.
This is incomplete, but here are the first 3 (and a bit) chapters of The Grand Kirlia Adventures

Virizion raced across the plain, scything down the tall grass as it went. She could see the forest up ahead, all she had to do was reach it before her hunters could. Abeating of wings could be heard as her hooves pummeled the ground. Looking up, Virizion saw a Tranquil catching up to her. 'Virizion!' the Tranquil shouted 'I have news!'. Virizion slowed down so the Tranquil could keep up.
'What is it!?' Virizion replied inbetween pants of breath.
'Cobalion is stuck on the East front, he is being overwhelmed by Groudon's Ground type army! He requets assitance immediatly!' explained Tranquil.
Virizion snarls 'tell him i will come!' she looks back towards the ever closer forest 'all i have to do is reach the centre of this forest, and i can find him the ultimate ally!'
Cobalion looked out on the Ground type army, as an eternal sandstorm swirled around them. 'Sir!'. Cobalion looked round to see a Lairon quivering in it's armour plates, obviusly terrified. 'What is it?' asked Cobalion, trying to sound confident and unafraid so as to not scare his troops.
'The Tranquil you sent off is coming back!' the Lairon proved this by pointing towards a growing spec in the sky.
'Excellent!' Cobalion boomed 'Let's see what the old gal Virizion was up to!'
The Tranquil got closer and closer. Suddenly, a Gliscor burst out of the ground type army, shooting forwards towards the advancing Tranquil.
'Take out that Gliscor!' Cobalion roared.
A Magnezone somewhere in Cobalion's army hovered over to his leader 'ELECTRIC--TYPE--MOVES--DO--NOT--AFFECT--GLISCOR--SO--WE--WILL--USE--OUR--STEEL--TYPE--ATTACKS'
Cobalion nodded 'very well, launch the Flash Cannon!'
Magnezone's magnets glowed red and blue and sent out strange noises. All the Magnemite and Magneton gathered around Magnezone. 'LOAD' said Magnezone.
All the Magnemite and Magneton glowed white, and formed a ball of white light in front of themselves. 'FIRE' said Cobalion and Magnezone in unison. All of the Magnet pokemon released their balls of light at once, causing them to fuse to make even larger balls of light that raced towards the Gliscor.
'Dead on target sir!' cheered the Lairon, causing Cobalion to smile.
The Glisocr, however, made a sphere of green energy around itself. Cobalion roared 'It's using protect!!!'.
The Flash Cannon hit the Protect, exploding into tiny red orbs that quicky dissapated into nothing. The Tranquil tried it's best to fly away from the Gliscor, but it caught hold of Traquil with it's pincer. It snapped the Tranquil's neck then threw at it Cobalion's feet, where the dead Tranquil's skull smashed, showering blood on Cobalion and Lairon. Lairon stood there in horror 'This is nothing like what i was expecting! This is nothing like a pokemon battle...' Lairon said quietly.
'No' said Cobalion 'This isn't a pokemon battle'. Cobalion looked back at the Ground type army, observing Groudon order the Camerupts to stay close to him so there Eruption would be more powerful.
'This' said Cobalion 'Is pokemon warfare'
Virizion galloped into the centre of the forest, glancing around as the frightened forest pokemon hid behind trees and in holes in the ground. A Noctowl's hoot pierced the silence, scaring several Rattatta to run in front of Virizion, causing Virzion to jump in fear and lose her footing. Crying out in shock, Virizion tripped over a gnarled tree root, slamming her face on the tree the root belonged too. Everything went black.
'Mommy? Can I look at her?'. Virizion heard a small voice pierce the darkness of her dreams.
'No darling,' replied a closer, yet older voice, 'We don't know who she is, so we wouldn't want to upset our guest would we?'
Virizion opened one eye, and saw a large brown Rabbit with fluffy ears tending to her head wound. Looking past the closet rabbit, she saw a smaller one playing with a green pokemon that looked like a Ballarina. The Ballarina suddenly looked at Virizion, cocking his head as he looked right into Virizion's eyes, then he turned towards the larger rabbit.
'Excuse me Mrs Lopunny, but i think your guest is awake now, i can feel her fear.'
'Mrs' Lopunny jumped back and told Kirlia and Buneary to leave the room a moment. While Lopunny ushered the young ones out, Virizion looked around the room. It seemed to be made underneath a tree, with walls of solid earth, yet a roof of tangling roots. A table was the centre of the room, with two books out on the table. One seemed to be referencing to the treating of head injuries, whilst the other was a book on Grass types. Virizion got up and and flicked through the book. Not once, in the entire book, was she mentioned. However she also noted, with a sense of satisfaction, that both her colleauges ,Celebi and Shaymin, had not been mentioned either. In the back of the book however, a refernce said that Legendary Grass types could not be put in due to lack of knowledge of them. A voice suddenly came from behind Virizion 'So you are a legendary pokemon?' Virizion turned around to see Kirlia standing attentitivly behind her. 'I tried finding you in the Grass Type book, but it didn't have any information on you, so i thought maybe you wheren't a Grass type,' Kirlia frowned 'So i checked the other books, and i only found a minor refernce to you in the Steel Type book.'
Virizion looked down at the Emotion Pokemon with a confused expression 'Why was there an entry for me in the Steel Type book?'
Kirlia shook his head 'It wasn't an entry, more of cameo,' with blinding speed, he twirled over to the book shelf and extracted a metal grey book and, just as fast, hopped onto the table, where used his psychic powers to flip through the book to a page marked 'Legends'.
'Okay then, lets see...' Kirlia put on a face of intense concentration that made Virizion bight back laughter, 'okay then, the Iron pokemon, the Temporal pokemon, the Volcano pokemon, etc, etc... Here we go! The Iron Will pokemon!'
Kirlia flattened out the page with his hand, then began to read:
'Cobalion is one of the most loved of legendary pokemon, since his whole purposeof exsitence is to protect smaller pokemon from natural disasters, which is why it is said that it is the mortal enemy of Thundurus, Tornadus, Landorus, and Absol. It is said to work alongside two other pokemon, the almost world renown Terrakion, and the mysterious Virizion-'
'World renown!?' scoffed Virizion 'That fool couldn't tell his arse from his elbow!'
Kirlia giggled 'He is really cool though! Everyone has heard of him, he is almost a celebrity!'
'Don't get your hopes up kid..' replied Virizion cautiosly.
Lopunny's voice could be heard in the distance, 'Kirlia! It's time for bed now!Buneary is allready tucked in!'
Virizion looked at Kirlia 'Is Lopunny your mother?'
Kirlia shook his head vigorously 'No! It's just, my Mommy and Daddy are... well... they are....'
Virizion looked back at the book, of steel types, glancing at Cobalion's proud profile, which was, as was the rest of the book's pictures, drew by the famous artist Ken Smearglemori. Virizion turned back to Kirlia, to see him crying slightly, 'I want my Mommy back...'
Virizion asked furiosly 'what happened to her!?'
Kirlia looked up, and Virizion flinched at the amount of anger in them, 'They took my Mommy and Daddy!'
Kirlia ran out of the room, crying, Lopunny rushed into the room, looking angrily at Virizion. 'Is this how you respond to our hospitality? Upsetting small children!? Get out of my house!' Shouted Lopunny furiously.
Virizion stood up silently and walked out of the room and out of the house into the cool night air. Sighing, Virizion started walking slowly towards the middle of the forest. 'Miss Virizion!' Virizion turned sharply too see Kirlia climbing out of a window in the tree, using a vine to descend. Landing expertly, Kirlia twirled up to Virizion, and stood in front of her defiantly. ' me find my parents!!!' demanded Kirlia.
Virizion smiled down at him, 'I will help you, just tell me who took your parent away?'
Kirlia trembled, 'It was...the Monster' Kirlia looked around to see if the said Monster was about to burst out of the undergrowth. Virizion looked back confused, 'can you describe the pokemon?'
Kirlia nodded, 'It is large, much larger than me!' He made his point, streching as high as he could before falling backwards, 'It has big red eyes, and four legs, no arms.' Kirlia looked up hopefully. Virizion shook her head 'Can't you give me colour or type?'
Kirlia looked down dissapointedly, 'I can never see it fully, since it attacks by night and allways when the moon is covered. I thought maybe it was a Dark type because of it's tendencies to attack by night, but the nearest thing i could find in size was Zoroark and Bisharp, and they have arms and only two legs. But i do know where it's nest is!'
Virizion grinned 'Then lets go and get your parents back!'
A sunset rose above the horizion, the sun just as bright as Virizion's burning desire to see what this pokemon was, and wether it was the one she was searching for...

'Yes master, preperations have been made to trap the two pokemon, yes, the musketeer pokemon and the smaller one. We will take out the smaller one fast, sinc eit will only be an annoyance. yes... I understand sir... what? f-f-fine, since you command it, we will do it...'

Terakkion stepped proudly onto the balcony, his partner Quilava closely following. As their champion came into view, the crowd roared with excitement. Their hero had just returned to the town after another successful attempt to overthrow the nearby fortress of Dark types. The town was, also, more of a fortress than a town, with thick walls surrounding the stone buildings the Rock type empire called home.
Quilava looked up at his master with admiration. To him, his master was the ultimate pokemon, stronger than Arceus himself, invincible. Terrakion let out a roar, which only excited the crowd further, then, once the crowd had settled down, he started his speech:
‘Yet again, another attempt was made to overthrow the malicious Dark types, and yet again, I prevailed magnificently, but had to retreat due to overwhelming numbers’ several members of the crowd nodded sagely at this, with a few ‘good idea’ and ‘wouldn’t want to die there’. Terrakion rode the comments, nodding at a few of the crowd then returning to his speech, ‘due to my huge success, I have decided to throw a tournament to see who the best fighter here is!’ With that, the crowd erupted with cheers of agreement and they started chanting Terrakion’s name. Terrakion continued, ‘Tomorrow, as the bell strikes 11, we will begin this tournament! Get ready your wares, and prepare for a battle like no other!’ With that, Terrakion walked away from the balcony, shutting the window behind him to cut out the cheers of approval.
Quilava jumped for joy, ‘Can I take part master? Can I? please?’
Terrakion looked down at his apprentice’s gleeful face and sighed. He knew that nearly only Rock types would be partaking in the tournament and Quilava had nothing to counter Rock types, so he would be pummeled in an instant. So if Quilava wanted to participate, he would have to evolve or learn a new move, both of which where nearly impossible to achieve these days, so Terrakion told him straight, ‘Im sorry Quilava, but no, you are not strong enough’
Quilava looked up, aghast, then ran out of the room as fast as he could, ‘It’s not fair!’ cried Quilava to himself ‘Im just as strong as master, why is he so mean!’
Quilava kept on running until he was out of the ‘town hall’ and was lost in the crowds in the street. Quilava slowed down when he reached the fountain, and stopped to look at his reflection.
‘Am I not strong enough? Is that the reason? Or does master just not like me…’teardrops trickled down from Quilava’s face and into the fountain. Suddenly, he was barged straight into the fountain by a passerby, ‘gah!’ Quilava shouted.
‘Are you all right?’ Quilava looked up to see the owner of the voice, and he saw a humongous beast. Quilava jumped out of the fountain and ignited his fire, ‘Who are you!?’
‘Peace!’ said the figure ‘I am not here to harm you!’
Quilava took a second glance at the figure, and gasped, ‘You’re a Tyranitar!’ Quilava noticed the black scar going over Tyranitar’s right eye ‘and not just any Tyranitar, your Ningildo! You fought with Captain Gyarados over rightful control of the ocean around Port Water! You’ve fought side by side against the horde of Houndoom at the gates to Inferno Keep with Rhyperior the Avenger! You’re a hero!’
Tyranitar laughed, ‘You make me sound like a hero! Tell me, is there anything I can do for you? Im sorry about pushing you into the fountain, what with you being fire type and all’
Quilava thought about this for a while, ‘I need to learn a move that would be supereffective on Rock types, think you can help?’
Tyranitar looked up at the sky, ‘Oh why do you give me the tasks that are difficult for even you?’ He turned back to Quilava ‘I will help. There are two moves you can learn, one is a physical move and wouldn’t be very good on you, and the other is a long shot. Think you can handle them?’
Quilava nodded vigorously, ‘I will do anything to prove master wrong!’
Tyranitar took out to discs, one was brown, and one was normal. He threw the normal one to Quilava, ‘We will start with this one, since it is quite random’
Quilava took the disc and rested his head on it, and with that, the disc started glowing.
Virizion and Kirlia stepped into the clearing of felled trees, a low growl audible in the cave in front of them. Virizion stepped forward, ‘Monster of the Night! Bring back this child’s parents now, or you will suffer wrath beyond you comprehension!’
Virizion looked around hopefully, ‘Perhaps it isn’t in?’
Kirlia stood there silently, then replied quietly, ‘No, it’s in there all right, I can feel it’s wrath, in fact, it’s coming out at us right NOW!’
Several things happened when Kirlia said ‘now’. First of all, the forest suddenly whent quiet, then, a deep, mono-tone voice rumbled from the cave, and finally, Virizion looked in awe as Kirlia leapt into the air, his fists surrounded with burning Fire and the energy of a Fighting type.

Cobalion tore through the hordes of Ground types, slashing with his horns at anyone who came close. Through the corner of his eye, he could see Lairon erupting out of the ground after using Dig, smashing into a Rhydon that dared to get close. The Rhydon staggered back, knocking over a Quagsire who was standing behind it, tripping over the Mudfish’s stumpy tail. As Rhydon attempted to get back on, Lairon shot a Metal Burst right into his face, whipping Rhydon’s head back, crushing the unfortunate Quagsire as it fell back. Cobalion turned back to the fray and smashed a Graveller with Sacred Sword before finishing it off with Iron Head. Magnezone flew over head, closely followed by the Magneton and Mite, and started an assault on the Camerupts surrounding Groudon. The Camerupts responded by launching a column of molten rock and fire up into the air, which arched down again, smashing into Magnezone. With one hit, Magnezone melted into a crackling pile of slag metal that scattered over anyone near by, both electrocuting and burning them. Upon seeing this, the remaining Magnet pokemon flee, only to be shot down by a Swampert’s Mud Shot or a Numel’s Flamethrower. Cobalion looked on hopelessly as his army was shattered by the pure overwhelming power of the Ground type army. Lairon ran over to Cobalion’s side, covered in the blood of others and panting, ‘Sir! Our troops are getting tired and the enemies are just too strong! We must retreat!’
Cobalion looked down at the small Steel type, contemplating the emotional look in the boy’s eyes, and then nodded, ‘I will order a full retreat. Relay the news to the Skarmory and tell them to scatter the news to our troops’
Lairon nodded vigorously, and ran off in the direction of the Skarmory faction. Meanwhile, Cobalion roared to the nearby troops, ‘RETREAT! BACK TO THE HILLS!’
The Steel types took no time to respond, running as fast as they could in the direction of the hills to the East and safety. Behind him, Cobalion felt pure rage as Groudon roared for his troops to follow. Overhead, he saw the Skarmory picking up the wounded and weak, carrying them ahead to safety. Lairon lumbered behind, keeping up to the best of his abilities. A Skarmory flew down ahead of him, contemplating whether to help the lumbering Lairon or a dying, most probably dead, Mawile. When Lairon saw the Mawile and the Skarmory together, he shouted at the Skarmory, ‘The wounded are more important than the strong! Take the Mawile instead of me!’ Skarmory cocked it’s head then nodded. Picking up the Mawile as delicately as it could, the Skarmory flew off with the Mawile. Lairon slowed down to a walking pace, and then turned to face the oncoming army. ‘You will see the true power of a Steel type,’ Lairon whispered as he picked up the Liechi berry, swallowing it whole, feeling the power rushing through him. Taking a last look at the Steel Gem pendant Cobalion had given him, he raced forwards towards the enemy. Cobalion looked on in awe at what happened at the small Steel type rushing forwards, and saw everything; he saw the first blow almost destroy Lairon, he saw the second blow bring Lairon to the very limit, then he saw the Steel Gem glowing around Lairon’s neck, he saw a flash of light erupt across the whole battlefield, obliterating anyone close and causing Groudon to stagger back, covering his eyes. All that was left was a large crater surrounded by injured Ground types, and a single Lairon in the middle of the crater. The remaining Ground types rushed down into the crater towards Lairon, obliterating him with Ground type attacks. Cobalion looked away, then turned towards the Skarmorys, anger covering his face, ‘Why didn’t you pick him up!? He was obviously going to be unable to outrun them!’
A single Skarmory walked forwards, its head hung low. It dropped a now dead Mawile at Cobalion’s feet, and explained what had happened. Cobalion looked at the dead Mawile, then back at the crater. Cobalion looked down at the receding Ground type army. He contemplated a moment, and then turned to Steelix, ‘You will command this army on there way back to our citadel, do you understand?’
Steelix nodded with a confused expression it’s face. ‘Where are you going?’ Steelix asked.
Cobalion turned to the South, away from the death and destruction, away from his army, away from Lairon. ‘I need to exact my revenge’

Metagross charged at full speed out of the cave, directly into the path of Kirlia’s Fire Punch. The punch caused Metagross to flew backwards into one of the few trees that had not already been felled, knocking it out. Kirlia turned to Virizion, ‘We must get into the cave while Metagross is distracted!’ with that, Kirlia ran into the cave, his Focus Punch still gathering energy. Virizion stood there, in utter awe at what just happened, but quickly galloped into the cave to find Kirlia standing in the middle of a vast chamber. Stalactites, hung from the ceiling, dripping water into a shallow lake at the bottom of the cave. Covering the walls where tiny rocks that gave an eerie blue glow, reflecting of the surface of the lake and back into the cave, lighting it up as if someone had brought a piece of the sun with them. In the centre of the lake was a small island, on which there lay-‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Kirlia cried as he leaped from the perch he was standing on, gracefully swan-diving into the lake. Virizion looked on with interest, then took a better look at the child’s mother and father. The mother was, of course, a Gardevoir, and the father was, naturally, a Gallade. But there was something very wrong about both of them. Virizion jumped, and managed to reach the island without even getting wet. Behind her, Kirlia jumped out of the lake and ran towards his mother and father, then stopped. What was before them was not alive.
Kirlia ran out of the cave to the unconscious Metagross, with Virizion hot on his tail. ‘Wait Kirlia!’ Virizion said, gasping for breath ‘Don’t do anything you might regret!’
Kirlia turned to Virizion, his face so full of anger that it made Virizion recoil in horror, ‘What would you do then Virizion? Would you just ignore this?’ Kirlia turned back to the Metagross, and lifted his fist, still gathering energy for a Focus Punch, ‘If I leave this Metagross alone, you must find something for me to punch, otherwise, it will be you’
Virizion took a step back, and then replied calmly ‘I can train you Kirlia. You have powers that may even surpass my own’ Kirlia didn’t look at Virizion, but was wide eyed at this remark. Could I be more powerful than a legendary pokemon? Was that even possible? Then again, plenty pokemon are stronger than Virizion. Ninjask is faster, Rampardos is stronger, and Blissey has higher bulk. But me? Im a Kirlia. Kirlia looked at Metagross’s unconscious body, and at the massive dent on its head, then up at Virizion. Virizion smiled soothingly, ‘Come with me, we have an appointment to make with an old friend of mine’
Kirlia nodded, and then jumped onto Virizion’s back, ‘Gee’ up then!’
Virizion chuckled, but couldn’t help but notice that Kirlia was still charging a Focus Punch.
Quilava blinked as the gates to the centre arena opened, revealing a large platform made of sand. In the distance, on a platform above the screaming crowd, he could see a Kadabra standing on a floating Nosepass, using it’s spoon as a microphone, which relayed his voice down to the strategically placed Loudred around the sides of the arena.
‘Welcome one and all to this, The Terrakion Festival Showdown!’ The crowd roared with excitement, and cries for Terrakion started echoing around the stands where the crowd clapped and shouted. ‘The first round will be a single battle set up, and here are your first competitors! Geodude of Pebble Village, and Cradily of Ancient Pass!’
Quilava snorted at the match-up, since it was obvius who was going to win. The Cradily took the stage, and started off by planting its roots into the ground. A clever tactic! Thought Quilava This allows Cradily to heal every so often, and prevents Geodude from knocking Cradily back. The Geodude responded by using Rollout to smack into Cradily repeatedly, gaining power every turn. However, for every bit of damage Geodude caused, it was instantly healed by Cradily’s Ingrain. Geodude started to get tired, and when Cradily saw fit, he used Protect to taunt his opponent. Eventually, Geodude got tired and started ramming Cradily with Double Edge. ‘Oooh, this is going to do a lot of recoil damage to poor Geodude! But wait, it doesn’t look like it had any recoil damage at all!’
Cradily’s eyes sparkled, and it unleashed a powerful Energy Ball that wiped out Geoudude without any trouble at all. ‘ooh! That was a clever strategy! By waiting for Geodude to use Double Edge, Cradily could see if Geodude had Sturdy, sicne Double Edge’s recoil would have broken it! But since there was no recoil damage, Cradily could assume it had Rock Head, meaning Sturdy could be thrown out of the window and Energy Ball could be unleashed!’ The crowd roared there approval, and Geodude and Cradily shook hands and tentacles before exiting the arena. Several more round took place, including two interesting matches, Typhlosion vs Corsola, and Torterra vs Omanyte. Type wise, Corsola had the advantage over Typhlosion, but the minute Corsola entered the stage, Typhlosion blasted a massive Focus Blast that knocked out Corsola instantly. Omanyte was destroyed at the same rate, being obliterated by Torterra’s Wood Hammer. Quilava made a mental note to watch out for those two.
‘Next, it’s our very own Quilava, apprentice to Terrakion! Fighting Onix of Boulder Tunnel!’ the crowed roared at the mention of Terrakion, but Quilava froze in fear at the sight of his opponent. The Onix looked exceedingly tough, having chips and cracks all over it to show how many battles it had been in, plus, it’s tail spike had been sharpened to a needle point. Quilava gulped and stepped on stage. In the crowd, he saw Tyranitar wink and give thumbs up. Quilava nodded nervously, then drew hiself up to his full height and spouted as much fire out of its back as it could. In the winners block, Typhlosion watched with intent. The battle started. Quilava immediately blasted a jet of fire into Onix’s face. ‘Ouch! That must have hurt! Remember kids, don’t play with fire! Even if you are a 8.8 meter long rock snake, but wait, Onix looks completely unscathed’ The Onix laughed, and wrapped his tail around Quilava, picking him up till Quilava could smell Onix’s breath and see the veins in his eyes. ‘Listen small fry, you know you can’t win, just give up’ Onix flung Quilava into the ground. Quilava responded by launching another Flamethrower into Onix’s face. Onix sighed ‘you don’t know when to quit do you?’ Onix smashed an Iron Tail in Quilava’s direction, which he only just managed to dodge. Quilava, yet again, responded by launching a Flamethrower in Onix’s face. Onix look slightly annoyed ‘I don’t have time for small fry like you! Just give up or be crushed!’ Onix shot Dragonbreath straight at Quilava, which Quilava countered with a Flamethower that easily overpower the Dragonbreath, slamming into Onix’s face and melting it slightly. ‘Why you! How dare you melt my royal face! I am disfigured!’ Onix glared at Quilava, obviously expecting a reply. Quilava looked up and replied slyly ‘To be honest, I think it’s a vast improvement!’ Onix roared and slammed another Iron Tail at Quilava. Quilava, however, jumped onto the tail of the Rock Snake, and started running up Onix’s body, unleashing a Flamethrower into Onix face that got more intense the closer he got. Finally, Quilava leapt into the air, and brought his clenched paw down onto Onix’s head. ‘A SuperEffective move! After meting Onix’s head, a Brick Break would have done masses of damage!’
Onix looked up weakly, ‘I will destroy you with the energy I have left’ with his final word, the effects of Burn spread fire all over his body for a single second before Onix was knocked out.
‘Quilava has won the match!’ The crowd applauded intensly, and Quilava basked in the glory of his win.
‘The next round will be a Double Match! The match up will be placed on the screen!’
Quilava was placed with Cradily, in team Cralava, and there opponent was, the infamous Typhloterra. Quilava looked in the winners’ box to see Typhlosion and Torterra smirking back.
Fanfiction discussion thread

Hi everyone. I'm KiwiDean, and I've finally conceded defeat, and started posting on Smogon, thanks to the CAL dying, and Marriland being fail. Some of you guys may know me.

Here are two fanfics that I've written:

There's no place like Hoenn!

This is a fanfic based on a Nuzlocke run of pokemon Emerald that turned into a 30 chapter story. It's basically the main storyline of Emerald, but with a lot of cameos and satire thrown in, for good measure.


Moonlight is a fanfic about a boy named Blake, born with the power to control light. Seems far fetched, I know, but you've gotta go at an unusual tangent with these things nowadays.

EDIT: Oops. Turns out there was a thread for this. xD
Hi everyone! I looked through this and it seems very neat. i have always liked writing things, whether it be stories or essays, anything that i could put creativity in. I thought maybe i could add a piece to this wonderful thread?

i must warn you, i did this probably 2 years ago, so i doubt its any good. it was a start on a pokemon based story i wanted to write, but i never could collect my thoughts so it never got past this. I was just wondering if anyone wanted to read it, and give some feedback. if some people like it i might revive it! or not. haha


New snow blankets the Old

Like most gym leaders, Pryce enjoyed his job. However, not for the reasons you would think. His favorite past-time was ruining Johto trainer's campaigns and reveling in their pain.

Every morning he would get up nice and early to make sure all the icy tiles in the gym were repaved, keeping them slippery and dangerous. Then he would carefully make his way to the back, where he would perch himself on a large pillar of ice and watch in glee as the gym trainers would slip and stumble to their positions. He had no love for skiers and snowboarders who worshipped him like a god, and loved torturing them as much as the aspiring champions that occasionally made their way into his subzero lair. In fact, sometimes he wished the pokemon league would give in to his pleas and let him handle the gym solo; but to his dismay, he was stuck with poor excuses for trainers.

Every day he sat in disgust as newcomers would easily tear them apart, torching them with Magmars and pummeling them with Hitmontops. It was truly repulsive. But, Pryce was somewhat glad that his gym trainers were pathetically weak. He loved the thrill of seeing the arrogant newbies rush through the gym with ease, and then get crushed to a frosty pulp when they encountered him. And today was no exception.

With four dreams destroyed before noon, Pryce saw it as a personal best. He was now relaxing on his throne of ice, indulging in its chilly aura. But he time of rest was soon cut when he heard panting and a string a swear words directly below him.

"Hmm?" he opened his eyes and mumbled arrogantly, leaning over the edge to notice a young girl in her tweens with a dozen scraps. She continued to pant, and the noise began to irritate the old man. "What do you want child?" Pryce barked, happy to see a frightened twitch being released from the youth. The girl stood up, and tried to speak, but all that came out was a cacophony of chattering.

Pryce rolled his eyes. Stupid children. Thinking they can handle 23 degree weather in a tank top and short shorts, he thought to himself and with a command from his trusty Piloswine his throne sank to ground level, until he was only a foot from the icy floor.

"Well? Get up." Pryce snapped at the newcomer harshly, rapping on the floor with his icicle shaped cane. "I suppose wish to defeat me, in hopes of becoming a pokemon master?"

His last words had a steely tone, which had been perfected over the years to discourage even the most valiant spirits. The girl nodded slowly, and then bravely spoke up. "I-I'm gonna melt you into a p-puddle!" she stammered, and all Pryce could do was laugh.

Like he hadn't heard that before.

Chances are her team consisted of a somewhat strong fire, fighting, or steel type who she thought could single -handedly beat him with, and then three or four other pokemon that were too weak to even have a worthy battle with.

Sure enough, the cruel leader wasn't surprised when the first pokemon the girl summoned was a Quilava. This is will be like all the others, Pryce thought coldly, and smiled evilly as the girl's face turned from smug to shock as he called his Dewgong to the field.

"This will be all I need to crush you." he called out mockingly, causing the girl to tense up. And it was. Two water pulses and an ice beam were all it took. Pryce really didn't need to use the last move; he just loved seeing his opponent fall to his icy powers.

And it got better. Like expected, the girl probably thought her prized Quilava would take out all he had, and when that proved wrong, she was embarrassed to send out three Jumpluffs in a row.

"Hmpf. A flower fetish." Pryce smugly noted as one by one he froze the weaklings into oblivion. No mercy, no sympathy, he thought to himself as he mockingly pointed to the door.

"Next time bring some real competition missy. And don't cry either. Most of the failures before you have experienced the pain of frozen tears. I suggest you skip that experience."

As Pryce talked the girl stared with misty eyes, then with a whimper she left.

After a successful day at the gym, it was time for Pryce to go home. Being the crazy, cruel, and yet cautious old man he was, he decided to ride his Piloswine. After all, the swine pokemon deserved the reward; Pryce's favorite took many dreams that day.

So even though it was almost eleven at night, Pryce laughed like a crazed maniac as his loud pig snorted and stomped through the sleepy town, purposely being as loud as possible.

It only took a few minutes of this until various people charged outside into the cool summer night, obviously enraged at the unpopular leader.

"Pryce! You good for nothing creep!" "Get that fat pig off the streets!" "And I had just gotten my kids to sleep! Jeez Pryce!"

The once peaceful town was now filled with a cacophony of complaints and threats. Pryce just laughed and gave them all his usual greeting – his favorite hand gesture.

This set another round of shouts and with the whole town annoyed, Pryce could now go home, eat, and sleep in peace.

"Grandpa, did you ride on Piloswine again?" a young but surprisingly strict sounding voice said from the kitchen as Pryce stepped into his house. He took a deep breath before answering, making sure he relished the cold. Pryce had a habit of keeping the thermostat no higher than forty degrees.

"And why would you think that, Grace?" he called back, though he made sure to take the steely tone out of his voice. It was family; they weren't incompetent like the rest of the world. Well, maybe not as incompetent.

Pryce could hear his eldest granddaughter give an exasperated sigh. Then he heard her stomp towards him. Oh great, he thought as Grace came to welcome him with a rather large stack of shattered plates and a look frostier than the interior of his gym.

"Oh, I don't know," Grace started, sarcasm nearly dripping off her tongue. "I think the entire house shaking would be a good start."

Pryce just shrugged at his grandchild, and as he walked inside the house he took the plates from her. "See, before you came along to baby-sit me, this was why I used paper plates."

He quickly shuffled into the kitchen, hoping to dispose of the broken plates and eat his dinner before Grace could finish her scolding. But karma kicked in, and before he knew it Grace was right in his face.

Jeez it's embarrassing how tall she's getting, Pryce sheepishly thought. Grace was almost fifteen, but she was amlost six foot. In the split second before her rant began, Pryce proceeded to remember why she was even here. Oh yeah, it was because his daughter was too poor to care for her children. It was a good thing he broke down and only let one stay with him. He was tolerant with family, but kids are still kids, and Pryce hated kids. I can't believe she convinced me that I needed someone to help take care of me. Did she know who he was? He was Pryce! The lone wolf of Mahogany. The man who shattered dreams on a daily basis. He didn't need help.

But the truth was, as much as he hated to admit it, Pryce really did need Grace's help. She cooked, cleaned, did the groceries; it was great. Pryce never had to worry about those things anymore. It was because of that fact alone he let her stay and live with him.

It also meant he had to listen to her rants, like the one happening right at that moment.

"You're a crazy old man Gramps! And cruel too! You're lucky the pokemon league needs you, cause if it weren't for them, a mob would run you out of this place!" her long brown hair thrashed about as she spoke, and her gray eyes flashed with anger and passion.

Even though he was getting yelled at, Pryce couldn't notice how much she looked like her whore of a mother (but he knew Grace was clean, unlike Diana). That's the other reason Pryce allowed Grace to stay. No slutty daughter of his was going to ruin his granddaughter's purity. But thinking about how innocent Grace was was very difficult to do when she was yelling at him. But luckily his thoughts helped him ease through most of it, and he could tell she was about to finish.

"-and no more riding Piloswine okay? Now sit down and I'll get your supper!" with a huff Grace moved Pryce to the table, then went back into the kitchen, preparing a meal such a devil of a man didn't deserve. "Make sure my coffee is chilled." Pryce called out, giving a malicious grin to his granddaughter as she walked into the dining room. Grace groaned, and then went back into the kitchen to finish the task.


After they both finished eating, Grace got up and went to the small table by the door, grabbing a handful of letters. Pryce gave a sigh of content.

"Letters for me? Ooh I have so many fans!" he said cheerfully as Grace gave him the stack.

As usual, most of the letters were from the townspeople, complaining about his absurd antics and his harsh habits. With a snort he threw that section of the letters behind him and continued to look through the rest of the pile.

"Oh? What do we have here?" Pryce questioned out loud, ripping open a letter with the blackthorn gym symbol. As he read to himself a look of sheer disgust grew on his face.

"Listen to this Grace! It appears Miss Clair, the holy overlord of dragons, is telling me to lay off!" he spat, his obvious distaste for the gym leader present.

Grace merely rolled her eyes. Hearing your grandfather gripe and yell about hate letters all the time wasn't exactly the way you'd want to spend your teen years. "Apparently she hasn't had a challenger in weeks! Well," he began, rage fueling him, "if she thinks she can just ridicule me, she should get her pompous ass over here and we can have a battle to see who really is supreme!"

Pryce patted one of his ultra balls. "Piloswine could take all her stupid dragonairs down!" he ripped Clair's note in two, and grabbed the final letter.

"Hmpf, it's from the Pokemon league. Maybe they've noticed what a superb job I've done and decided to make me an elite four member?" Pryce opened the seal and read aloud what the tan paper held.

"Dear Mr. Pryce, when it comes to battling everyone knows that you are truly an excellent Trainer. The past several weeks we have calculated that you have denied exactly forty-seven trainers from advancing in the pokemon league challenge."

Pryce paused after reading that to give a triumphant smile. But as he continued reading he frowned.

"While you probably see this as a great achievement, we at the league are strongly disappointed in you. As a gym leader you are supposed to challenge the trainers in a stimulating and somewhat compassionate way. And while we are pointing out disturbances, the complaints in your town are getting far out of control. Did you know that Mahogany used to be the fourth most populated city in Johto? It's now last Pryce, and we believe it is you to be blamed for that. The other role of a gym leader is to make sure the town you are assigned to is safe and happy, and for a long time Mahogany has been far from happy. We hate to do this, but until you can prove that you can be a better gym leader, we are temporarily removing you from your position."

There was more, but Pryce didn't care. He was livid. After all the years he spent training to become great, and now this? Blasphemous! The bitter old man gave a roar and he sprang from his chair.

Grace quickly got up to meet him, and grabbed his arms.

"Grandpa Pryce."

Her eyes once again struck him with awe, and they calmed him down. But not by much.

"Those bastards. I give them forty years, forty, and this is how they repay me?" Pryce said caustically. Grace gave a sigh and squeezed his hands.

"Gramps, I know you're not like everyone else, and that's what makes you unique. But the league is right. You need compassion. You're a great battler, but you only show love and spirit to your pokemon. You need to extend that to everyone. If you can learn that, then I'm sure they'll give you your job back."

Pryce took in a deep breath, then released it. He opened his eyes and stared at his granddaughter. "Ok Grace." Was all he said.

Grace smiled and nodded, then grabbed the letter from the floor. She began to read from where Pryce left off.

"We do believe you can do this, so that is why we have arranged for you to travel to Snowpoint city, Sinnoh. The gym leader there, Candice, is very skilled and she shows the qualities we think you need work on. We're not saying that she's going to teach you or train you; we just think that if you spend time with her that you will realize what we want you to gain. Your flight leaves in one week. We do not know how long it will take you to achieve the goal, but we will pay for all your expenses and damages. This is your only chance, so don't mess it up."

When she finished he stared into her Grandfather's pale blue eyes. "I hate traveling by airplane or bird. Can't Piloswine take me?" he scowled. Grace laughed. "Gramps, there's this thing called the ocean separating Johto and Sinnoh."

"Ok then, how about Lapras?"
I loved that story GK! If that were a book, I would have buyed it right away after reading the preview. You kept the personalities intact (which is IMO, one of the most important things in reading), and you made it funny, which made it easy to get glued to. Overall, I think you did a nice job. A nice enough job to continue the storyline!


formerly Doran Dragon
I'm gonna be taking a class called creative writing, and I know that I will have to write a short story, and i have an idea in my head, but I honestly dont know how to start it. How does one start a story? I imagine if i were to get a few lines to start I could quickly get to writing it in its entirety.


Alas poor Yorick!
is a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnusis an Artist Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Researcher Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnusis a Battle Server Moderator Alumnus
I'm gonna be taking a class called creative writing, and I know that I will have to write a short story, and i have an idea in my head, but I honestly dont know how to start it. How does one start a story? I imagine if i were to get a few lines to start I could quickly get to writing it in its entirety.
Well each artist really has their own way. Don't worry about the writing part yet as I'm sure your teacher will help you get your feet wet with some other activities.

I am one of the people who likes to plan out my writing if it is longer than say 2 pages. What I do is figure out the path I want to take. I do a lot of plays so I plan out each scene. Since this is a project with a certain length requirement this can help immensely to make sure you keep the flow of the story going.

Basic plot point: Four students are stuck in a room at school during a code red. There is no real intruder because their principal is incompetent. They are all going crazy.


Jake is awake and has a sock on his hand, the rest of the guys are sleeping. Felix awakes.

What the-, what are you doing?

This is my sock, Socky. He’s my new friend.

Take that stupid thing off man, we need to stay calm without you going any more crazy.

Well I’m not listening to you, because you’re not my friend anymore. Isn’t that right Socky? “Yes Jake, I’m the only friend you need!” Why thank you Socky, would you like to hang out later, “Sure Jake, I would love to hang-”

A violent knocking noise is heard. The guys freak out, Jake puts his sock puppet over his mouth.

Cut outside the room:

Hello? Is there a secretary in there? A teacher? Anyone?

Cut back inside the guys can’t hear what he is saying. They look confused. Cut outside:

Because I could really use your help, your Principal commands it!


The guys go slightly more crazy.

Oh god he’s outside

Shh stay quiet

Cut to Principal giving up and walking away. Cut to Felix at the door:

Ok I think he’s gone

This was all you wasn’t it Socky! “Huh what are you talking about”. We were safe until we let you in, who knows what could happen now. “Jake you’re overreacting” DIE DIE DIE

He kills Socky

What are you doing?

I am executing the traitorous one!


It was treason, it was treason all along. Socky wanted us dead, he didn’t care about us, he saw us as a liability!

I'll consider posting some other stuff later but there is a good taste of what I do.


my god if you don't have an iced tea for me when i
is a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnus
In complete contrast to Layell, I plan absolutely nothing at all. I even winged a novel. o_o

Nevertheless, I'd recommend some form of planning, however basic, when you're just starting things. I'm only saying that I never plan anything to prove Layell's point about different people working differently -- do whatever feels right for you.


betwixt the threads of fates untold
is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Team Rater Alumnusis a Smogon Social Media Contributor Alumnusis an Artist Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnus
wow i didn't even notice this was recently posted in there are rules and i guess i sh

ould follow them nj and alch are bad mods for not deleting my poetry post in my art thread
I'm gonna be taking a class called creative writing, and I know that I will have to write a short story, and i have an idea in my head, but I honestly dont know how to start it. How does one start a story? I imagine if i were to get a few lines to start I could quickly get to writing it in its entirety.
The best thing for writing I can honestly recommend is just do it. Write anything at all and get your ideas flowing, relax, etc. You can always change stuff when you get the main stuff down.

anyway, I call this half-lattice form

like dark and stormy nights talking is a fright
really how does one manage it with confidence
as if you could sit on a fence that drops of into
a dark void—no mad hops, kangaroo, can save the naivete
from a brave fall with brevity but there is light
a fair and bright maiden deserving my thanks
but I shan't be serving sorry banks because I'm not
really, htough apol fuzz have fought in my mind for what
to do, find that love and appreciation for you me admitting
that too I'm betting I really never get sick because
I'm an idiot who loves someone-thing all the dumb time
always a fall from your mind so I'll be frank, foo
Thank You.

a day began with dewy grass glass orbs clinging to lined
blades like bling on signed artists the day was new and rosy
birds flew chirping posies marked death and life ashes solemnly
falling the end of strife or early love—not really there was just
longing it wasn't fair he must rescue her from that glinting fang
or fat treasure sang of in grand legend—the sheen of metal
I glean of settled magic they used solid hues full and rich of
the hand of love that stitched the colors red white and black
what a sight that slack thread maneuvered by a shimmering silver
needle interlocked say like slivers of a spider's web from which dew
some that flew from the morning grass some things that died that
day maybe a rat of fat integrated a cycle back to itself like
life—do not spike, love—too late will I settle, fly letter
I'd better.​
Here's a story that I've made up on the spot. It just came to my mind. I don't know why, but I just felt like it!


A single clap of thunder broke through the sound of waves crashing into the lone fishing ship out at sea. The boat was struggling to stay afloat, as the waves were like battering rams, attacking relentlessly into the ship, with no signs of stopping.

The crew on board were trying everything they could to stabilize the ship. Even the captain had come out to help his crew out.

One crew member spat on the ship and gritted his teeth as he looked for something to hold onto.

"Dang it Captain! Where did all of these waves come from all of a sudden?! One moment it was nice and calm, and then the next moment we're being bombarded by waves!"

The captain rolled a barrel into the storage room and closed the door to it. Finally he answered.

"I was just wondering the same thing Scott. It is quite peculiar that this all picked up. The gulls had been out too just a moment ago!"

Scott replied "Well, what if the gulls decided to fly out of here, then we should too captain! You know how deep and treacherous these waters are! We can't afford to let ourselves get hurt!"

Before the captain could make give out an order, another crew member shouted out to him.

"Captain! C-come quickly! S-something is happening over on the horizon!"

Swiftly, the captain ran over towards the side of the ship next to the crew member.

"Well then? What did you want me to see? Come on, out with it!"

Slowly the sailsman gave the captain his binochulars. "H-here sir. You'll need these....."

The captain quickly brought them up to his eyes and squinted. A few seconds after that, his heavy eyebrows arched up in amazement.

"W-what's going on over there?"

The scene that the captain was looking at was not a pretty sight. A sperm whale had come to the surface to breathe, but something like that of a tentacle or tail had grabbed hold of it. The gray behemoth let out a painful moan and thrashed around some more, trying to free itself from the binding rope of flesh that hung onto it. Just when things looked like they couldn't get any worse for the whale, a head of seismic proportions arose from the waters! It was like that of a dragon mixed with a fish; a huge reptillian head with a mouth filled with rows of teeth and two gargantuan frills on each side of it's head. A single horn about the size of a flagpole extended from its forehead. But out of all things, the head was enormous, even dwarfing the sperm whale in size! With a bellow, it lunged at the still struggling whale, and with one gulp, it swallowed the world's largest mammal.

Ever so slowly, the captain lowered the binoculars with a grim and pale expression on his face.

".......Men......Turn the boat around. Quickly. We need to get out of here!"

C&C please!


formerly Doran Dragon
ok, well I tried writing a pokemon fanfiction...tell me if you like it and stuff?

The Deox Virus: Prologue
"Hello everone,its a beautiful Morning in the lovely month of August." The barely audible droning sound of the VCR provides a fitting ambience for the voices of the speakers on the screen. "Its currently 11:03 am on August 24th, 2009, and we seem to have clear skies above us, isnt that right Janet?" The male speaker turns to the woman at his right. "Its seems so, Jerry. Summers comming to a close, so get out in the sun and heat while you can! When we return from the break, a special news story! A meteor passing by the earth within a few hours!" The screen flashes and quickly flies through the commecials, the VCR's hum becomming louder for only a second. The picture suddenly pauses, and begins working normally again. "Welcome back to GRN, channel 5. Janet, you were saying about a special story?" "Yes! According to local scientists, A large meteor is going to pass earth within an hour! Its going to be close enough to see in broad daylight and scientists predict within a few decades, it may end up hitting earth!" The screen stops on her face, grinning a grin for entertainment.

"Heh, has it really been 3 years already?" A young man sits up from a laying position on a couch. The dark room is illuminated by the Television. The young man stands up and walks over to a window covered by a thick piece of canvas and peeks outside. Overcome by the brightness of the day, the young man covers his eyes while waiting for them to adjust. Finaly, looking out of the window, The young man sees what he feared, that day and every day before, and will fear every day to come. The city was empty. It wasnt that there were a few people out, but the the city had been void of human life for almost 3 years. The meteor wasnt the exact cause for this emptyness, but it was a catalyst to the events that led to the abandoned world. The young man turned away from the window and proceeded with his daily routine, but not before unpausing the VCR.

"We have knews! It seems that the meteor is early, and that peices are dislodging and falling to earth! Jerry, this sounds frightening, but its sure to pass quickly." As Janet finishes her sentance, a news cast member places a new paper on her desk. "...After reading this, it seems that one or more or the meteorites have fallen in town, and we have a reporter on scene recording live. Silvia?" The screen changes to a square in the city. A young woman is standing in front of a gaping hole in the street. "Hello! Im Silvia, and it appears that one of the meteorites have fallen right in the middle of the city! We are going to attempt to get a closer look..." Silvia stammers her last word as a large amethyst colored gemstone rises from the hole, and hovers 5 feet above the ground. "I-I cant b-believe what I'm seeing here. You have this on camera right? Well, a large stone has emerged from the hole, and is simply defying gravity before our eyes!" The stone glows, and matter begins to form around the gem, flesh the color of ripe oranges with accents of ash grey and sky blue. The flesh begins forming the shape of a man, and completes its transormation. The stone lying at it's heart, the creature stands 5' 7" from head to toe, with an arm on the left side, and tenticles shaping a helix on the right, the face is primarily sky blue, with a purple line down the middle and hollow eyes. "I-its become a man! I"m g-going to atempt to get closer, keep the camera on it!" Silvia hesitantly walks forward and the man turns it's head towards her, it's hollow eyes focused on hers. Silvia stops in her tracks when it and her eyes met. The purple line on it's forhead glowing, she turns back to the camera. "I think it's trying to talk to~" The man unleases a cutting flash of energy from the purple line and the screen cuts to black. After a 20 second pause the screen returns to man and woman in the studio. "...umm...It seems that whatever has landed isnt friendly. It it suggested that you stay within whatever building your currently in, that you lock the doors...and that you remain calm. Janet...I believe you were right when you said that this meteor is frightening...We will return at a later time to keep you posted on the status. Jerry, out." "Janet, out."

The screen turns blue. The young man turns the Television off, and turns towards the apartment door. "Jolteon, come. We're leaving now." A large dog sized fox quickly arives at the side of the young man, it's yellow and white fur sparking with a natural electricity produced by the animal. The young man opens the door and the two walk out.
"Hello, I am Doran Dragon, and I am a survivor. If you're out there...if anyone is out there, come to the radio tower. I will be there at noon each day. I will provide food, water, and shelter. Please..."
Doran stared at the building. It was where his father worked before his parents went missing. Its the only place in johto that studied the scientific side of animals. When the orange men appeared, Doran's father was made the leading scientist in studying the orange men. What they found out had become confidential, no one, not even the other scientists were allowed to know the information they found. Doran knew that he would need to know as much about the orange men as possible if he is supposed to fight against them and the disease they brought with them.

When the orange men arrived, they brought a disease that spread throughout the region, one that caused humans to turn sickening colors of Orange and blue, and animals to become violent, as if they were somehow turning into the orange men themselves. scientists named the disease Deoxynucleic Fromate, due to the fact that the DNA of the infected changed. Interestingly enough, most of the orange men, now called Deoxys in relation to the virus name, left earth a month after their arival, leaving us to ur own destruction.

Doran steped forward towards the door. He had all the resolve needed to enter the building, but he still hesitated. The dangers inside couldnt hurt him as he was immune to the effects of Deoxynucleic Fromate, but Jolteon was still quite suseptable. Still, Doran knew that he had trained Jolteon to avoid trouble in situations that could end up nasty. Doran steped up to the door and swung it open, raising his clenched fists in anticipation. When the darkness inside failed to stir, Doran stepped inside with jolteon following close behind. "Lets go find the info on the Deoxys that my dad has hidden in here, Jolteon!"


formerly Doran Dragon
@Dhjona: Thats exactly what it is XD, plus it sounds like a little bit of War of the Worlds was thrown in there as well! I'm not the best with spelling, but thanks :D
A few poems ^.^

Today, while looking up, I spotted,
Majestic and free-floating,
An elephant looking down from the sky
And, as I gazed at the magnificent beast,
Overcome with childlike amusement,
I couldn't help but smile back.

Then quickly a dark cloud came swooping
And engulfed my new found friend
And, separated from my only comrade,
I was left alone in the rain

Later, I saw a flying hippo.

When cold lust beckoned,
An ever-faithful hound, I obeyed,
Remorseful only that I felt no remorse,
But, after consuming your body, I found,
Your blood-stained heart now clogs my arteries
And all the drainer under my sink won't clean you out

Well, babe, you know, that I am a sunfish
Floatin' up top to feel a bit hotter
But I don't want a tan; no, my one wish
Is just to see what's beyond the water

And, well, yes, I'm also a vampire bat
These useless eyes can't look in front of me
But you know how my sonar fixes that,
Although I'm blind, baby, I still can see

And you know, I'm also a platypus
They call me the freakiest thing on legs
But all you other mammals just jealous
Cuz you got birthin' pains while I lay eggs

And, babe, you know, that I am a sunfish,
Floatin' up top to feel a bit hotter
But I don't want a tan; no, my one wish,
Is just to see what's beyond the water

I wanna see what's beyond the water
Although I'm blind, baby I still can see
I wanna see what's beyond the water
Although I'm blind, baby I still can see

And all you other mammals just jealous,
Yeah, all you other mammals just jealous,
I said that all you other mammals just jealous,
Cuz I'm gonna see what's beyond the water

When I was just six years old,
I knew not how it felt
To be fully engulfed in flames
And alas, I still know not
For the things that I love
I feel unwell that I should love them
Dedication—why do I lack the dedication
And am I truly justified in love
Or is there even justification for love
A spring breeze
And I have withstood the weather of eighty nine seasons
And lived to tell the tale
Yet what tale is even worthy of telling
When I have still never been fully engulfed in flames
A newsreader behind it's desk, brings the daily news. 'Today is the day that it's the 100th birthday of- A presentator comes smiling and waving on stage. 'Welcome to Poké-challenge! The be'- An evil Tyrinitar with red eyes roars, followed by a black sreen with the text. 'Pokémon Ranger, The Dark side. Soon out'- A chef with a Grovyle as souschef is, throws tomatoes in the air while the grovyle slices them in multiple pieces.- [/quote]
'Come on! There's nothing good on TV tonight,' I said, as I zapped from channel to channel. I sighed, and stood up. 'Let's get something to drink.'

With a can of coke I walked back to the couch and took a draught. I looked back to the television. There were still advertisements on. I sighed again, grabbed the remote and put my finger above the button to switch channels-
'4 Tribes, dropped on a beautifull island, match up against each other. They have to take on the toughest challenges, vicious collusions will be wrought and friendship and fights originate in the tense head of the battle.'
Curious, still with my finger floating above the button - So, at the first moment of uninteresting I could change channels- I gazed at the screen.
'Do you want to take on the challenge in this thrilling and exciting competition and win 1 MILLION dollar!? Enter the competition and maybe you will be the last trainer standing and crowned as the...Amazing Master!' said the voice-over.
'That's pretty awesome!' I said excited.
'For the rules and more information, visit Applying for a place in Amazing Masters will be until 31 December 2011. One island...16 winner...Amazing Masters!
You probably think. What the hell is this? Well, I'm writing a pokémon fic, where every 2 weeks one contestant will drop out of the competition. There will be 'test episodes' (in this episode the contestants will face a test/challenge) and 'elimination episodes' (in an one vs one pokémon battle will one player be eliminated). A test episode is always followed by a elimination episode. So with each week a episode, there will be each two weeks one contender less.

It's in the style of a reality television program, hence the trailer in the prologue. And I thought it would be fun if I let our lovely Smogon members be a part of the story, than rather come up with the characters myself.
So pretend that you are the 'I' in the prologue and that you just saw the trailer, would you apply?

A few hints for your character:
- Look at the number of males and females. For example: you notice that a lot of entrees are male, than you have higher chance that your character will be applied if you chose a female character.
- Don't make your character to powerfull. Everybody has his strong and weak points.
- To have a higer chance of being applied into the fic, look at the characters that already have been made and make you character special (for example: a vicious player, a sneaky person, or very sweet)

Name: (please use normal names, no Menadi Ferisakisoko or anything like that)
Age: (between 16 and 20)
Pokémon: (which pokémon has your character. You may choose 3 pokémon from all the 5 regions. NO LEGENDARY POKEMON. Choose wisely..)
Gender: (if you can't choose, please take a look at the number of Male and Female)
Personality: (small personality discription)
Good qualities:
Bad qualities:
Special information: (little details, for example: His mother died three years ago)
Something else worth to mention/Extra:
Avatar: (you can make your character to life, via this site: Please save as .PNG. Give them normal clothing (no flames, frog suits) and no attributes like swords or shields etc!)

Note: That I may slightly change your entree if needed. You can apply until 31 December 2011.

So do you want to win $1.000.000 (fictive money of course! that means no real money people :P)? Enter this fic and maybe your character wins Amazing Masters!

*People that already had posted an entry don't have to do it again. ;) It now is in this thread because Alchemator doesn't want that fics/stories have their own threads.
Oh hoooo! So the amazing master series fanfic will be posted here then! That means that in the next while, the smeargles writing thread will most likely get many more views.
Just discovered this section of Smogon, and very glad I did! :D
Here's my attempt at some Poke-poetry.

Floating above, one with sky
A cheerful Pidove happily flies
Along soars Starly, passing us by
Our wings take us both higher than high

Sun shining bright, sweet golden rays
No clouds in sight, we're on our way
Perfect weather, warm Sunny Day
Birds of a feather, Spring time in May

Onward we go, just you and me
Surrounded by our flock of Pidgeys
Through Kanto and Johto, over the sea
Flying together to infinity
"Fang, let's start this off strong! Hit 'em with a leaf blade!"

My serperior quickly jumped into the air as it's tail began to glow in a brilliant hue of green, flying towards the tyranitar.

The gym leader gave a smirk and said "Heh, as if that will work. Tyranitar, send that overgrown snake back into it's pokeball! Use roar!"

The huge green skinned lizard opened it's maw and let out the most horrifying screech ever. The sound waves slammed into Fang, and sure enough, it was sent flying back into my pokeball.

I gritted my teeth as I saw the glow of my next pokemon come out from the effects of roar. Who would it be?

Luckily, I didn't have to be wearing that grim expression all day. I slowly relaxed and gave a grin as I saw a bushy white coat and long brown nose appear from the smoke.

The tyranitar snorted as my pokemon already began going into a stream of insults and taunts toward my opponents pokemon.

"Let's do this. Hopefully you'll be more fun than the other weaklings I've had to put up with lately!"

Looks like my shiftry WOULD get a fight today after all.

A preview for a fanfic I'm gonna be posting. Surely you've heard of the amazing masters series that's gonna be taking place? Well, this is the backstory to my character for it. A story about Quartz's journey the Ironia region.

So yeah, if I can get some C&C for this piece, that would be great guys!


my god if you don't have an iced tea for me when i
is a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Smogon Media Contributor Alumnus
Hello, this is on the front page so I think I should contribute!

This is an unfinished novel, which I'm not planning to finish. People on IRC were interested so I may as well dump it here.


The chains were clasped on once again. It should be added that this was not done without difficulty, but the fears of consequence were far too great to fail. A small, but smartly dressed, man shuffled over to another – tall, and ridiculously dressed. After having no recognition of his presence, the smaller figure attempted to make himself heard.

“I hope…”

The taller man raised a bony finger, demanding silence. The rest of his body did not move. He didn’t even blink. After an awkward pause (just long enough so that the subject begins to consider leaving), the taller man motioned for the small person to proceed.

“Err, yes. I hope you’re pleased with the work we’ve done so far, sir. These chains should provide the best means of containment, and we have multiple back-up plans should – err – things go wrong.”
“We can seal this room in an instant, and nothing can break through these walls, inside or out. We have a dedicated team for, hm, calming the situation. Oh, and of course we have you sir.”
“So, err, what do you think, sir?”

The taller man look mildly irritated at having to reply with more than one word. He decided, however, that any kind of middle-ground would not be appropriate.

“Strange things are afoot, Karranan. I have placed my absolute trust in you to keep everything as it should be. I trust you know the consequences of failure.”
“Yes sir, I do, thank you for…”

The smaller man did that strange manoeuvre that only true subjects can perform – bowing and moving backwards in one, smooth movement. The taller man found a flickering urge within himself to smile, but suppressed it as a normal person might swat away a fly. He hadn’t smiled in years, why should he now? Smiling made people think that things would turn out well for them.

As the Summer sun glides
so shall the dawn disperse
its dark and light tides
a blessing and a curse.

Ringing, ringing, ringing. The incessant ringing. The woeful ringing. The happy ringing. Ringing. That darn annoying ringing.

“Oh, I see you’re awake.”

Don’t be alarmed, reader. I know you’ve only glanced upon a few lines of this chapter thus far, and you might well be thinking – quite understandably – that our hero is in some sort of prison, torture chamber, mafia kidnapping or suchlike. In fact, this is not the case (yet?), this is simply his normal, morning routine.

“hurfle flurfle…”
“Sorry, I didn’t catch any of that.”
“hurfle flurfle!”

A short pause, indicating that deep thought was going on.

“Nope, sorry! Maybe it would help if you lifted your head out of the pillow, or giant marshmallow as you’ve been murmuring, for a little bit.”
“I said: ‘not quite’. Not quite awake. Ok? And I haven’t been talking… wait, how long have you been here?”

Rob forced his sleepy eyelids open long enough to squint at the person sitting, quite relaxed, in a chair at the bottom end of the bed. What may surprise you is that this person does not even live with Rob, and the door was well-secured when he checked it last night. Or was it two nights ago? There had been a lot of drinking, and with brine you can never really tell when time passes.

“Oh, don’t worry. I’ve only been here since the end of your penultimate sleeping soliloquy. Sleepiloquy? No… Anyway, it’s kind of strange – you recite poetry in your sleep. How about that?”
“hurfle flurfle.”
“Ok, ok! No need to speak to me like that.”

I suppose that you, the reader, are quite confused as to why a strange man has appeared in the bedroom of a man who recites poetry in his sleep. Well…

Squid and Rob had been great friends since their youth. I’m sure you know how it goes – they attended the same school, went on their first rollercoaster together and things like that. In fact, they even went to the same university, though they studied different degrees. Rob studied Theology, with Squid studying Procrastination (though he dropped out halfway through the course, deciding to do it later). I guess you could say Squid is your typical person who appears to serve no real purpose in life. He was not particularly intelligent, nor talented in any degree (or at least, he hadn’t shown any kind of skills yet beyond the ability to cut a smiley face into toast).

You might also be wondering why he’s called Squid. If you ever find out, let me know.

Wandering over to the window, Squid flung open the curtains in an overdramatic fashion, unsuccessfully attempting to dodge a disgruntled spider who had made quite a happy home among the various trapped – and usually now dead – flies. The flies themselves had flocked into an area full of sweaty socks, but maybe we shouldn’t go down that route.

“It’s a glorious morning-”

Squid hesitated, and stuck his arm out the window. Wrist sundials can be so inconvenient sometimes. He retrieved his arm with a nod.

“-afternoon, Rob. You should get up for once. You slept for the entire day yesterday, I was very bored.”
“hurfle flu- Wait, you sat here for the entire day? Why?”
“I had nothing better to do; I can afford to sit around and attempt to make sundials work indoors. I gotta say, artificial lighting just isn’t quite the same.”
“Well I don’t have anything better to do either, so I guess I’ll see you in a few mornings time, ok?”
“Oh, ok then.”

Squid slumped back into what must have become his customary chair and fiddled with the rock on his wrist. Suddenly, and perhaps as the first incident of inspiration that had ever occurred in his life, he jolted up onto his feet and raised his extended index finger in that clichéd manner.

“hurfle flurfle, hurfle flurfle, hurfle break your neck!”
“No, seriously. Aren’t you supposed to be studying the Karran festival?”
“Yes, but that’s tomorrow, now leave me alone.”

Squid wandered over to the window again and opened it, once again unsuccessfully attempting to dodge the same – though considerably angrier – spider. From outside much fanfare could be heard, trumpets, drums, men riding elephants backwards – all the festival stalwarts. Well, save for maybe the last in that list.

Rob sat up more dramatically than even a caffeine-fuelled Squid could manage.

“Please tell me I’m wrong, oh gosh please, but that sounds a lot like the Karran festival.”
“Indeed it is. Maybe you thought it was tomorrow because you slept through yesterday? I mean I did tell you…”
“I can even hear the men riding elephants backwards…”
“but you just never listen to me…”
“I should be out there, taking notes, interviewing, everything…”
“now if you just took my advice…”
“I need to go right now!”
“I always get the feeling that I’m being ignored…”
“Shut up Squid, throw me my clothes.”

Squid blinked.


“Which of the hundreds lying on the floor would you like?”
“I don’t care Squid, just throw me the first things you come across.”

A pile of used clothes in your face when you’ve just woken up probably isn’t the best start to your day, but then again nor is missing what could be the opportunity of your pre-career. Luckily Rob was destined not to do so, as he threw on some clothes (someone with any ounce of fashion sense would have killed him on the spot, but he would probably rush past them too quickly for them to notice. Probably.) He rushed for the door, turned the handle and pushed out all in one, swift movement. Classy.


Not so classy.

“Why is the door locked?”

Squid looked at Rob’s reddened face in a mixture of puzzlement and amusement.

“The door is locked because you locked it the night before last, Rob.”
“But if that’s the case, then how did you get in?”
“Well… Anyway, here are your keys… sorry, bad throw.”

As he retrieved the keys from the lampshade, Rob pondered. He got a real sense that Squid was hiding something from him, but what could it possibly be? They had known each other for so long, they knew everything about each other. Apart from the stuff he didn’t want to know, of course.

Actually he knew quite a lot of that stuff too. The very thought made him shiver.

But this seemed altogether more ominous… Anyway, he didn’t have the time to rethink his friendships; he had a service to catch.

And so Rob successfully rushed through the door (well, he tried to push it instead of pull it but everybody does that, don’t they? Even when they have ‘PUSH’ or ‘PULL’ on them people still have the same problem. Squid, being the unobjectionable guy he is, attempts to twist it to keep both parties happy. It actually works to some degree. Anyway…)

The stairs were also no great obstacle for our dashing hero (note: dashing as in hurrying. Rob was certainly not what you might call an attractive fellow.), save for the fact that there were ten flights of them. And he slipped on at least three of them. And there was something happening on the middle one. And the penultimate flight was out of order (yes, apparently that can happen). Other than that, however, he rushed down them at the speed of an elephant being ridden backwards.

“Good morning Mrs. Brank!”
“Good morning!”

Despite the cheery reply, the old woman still tripped Rob with her mop and pinned him to the ground more quickly than any normal O.A.P. could. Mrs. Brank was most certainly not your average old woman, however.

“Where’s my rent, punk?”
“It’s on its way, Mrs. Brank.”

The end of the mop dug in harder.

“I said: where’s my rent, punk?”

Now was the time for some improvisation. Rob had a whole host of excuses for situations like these (believe me; this situation had occurred many times before. It’s clear that something needs to be done about your disorganisation when a 90-year-old learns Kendo simply to try to get what is rightfully hers).

“It’s… it’s still in the shop?”

Wait, wrong one. Mrs. Brank sighed.

“Ah well, up you get lad.”

Rob scrambled to his feet, and was about to run off – partly because he was currently facing Mrs. Brank, and partly because he was indeed already in a hurry.

“One more thing, Roberto.”
“Come closer.”
If multiple, heavy rings almost breaking your jaw doesn’t wake you up, then you probably need medical help, or you’re dead. Or both. Mrs. Brank’s crushing blow sent Rob reeling, and almost drew blood.

“I expect my rent to be paid by the time you get back.”

And then she returned to cleaning the floor (on which Rob’s unwashed clothes had left a discernable body shape), becoming a frail old landlady once more.

Stumbling out of the door, Rob was hit hard by the Candletower heat – imagine arriving at the hottest country that you know of, stepping off the aeroplane and feeling that rush of humid air. Now multiply that effect by precisely a gajillion, then you might get somewhat close to the weather in Candletower. Don’t get me wrong, that sort of thing is great when you’re going on holiday somewhere, but not to live there.

Holidays, what strange things. Rob had never been on a holiday, and he was pretty sure that Squid hadn’t. They were forbidden, in fact. People would lie to you, steal from you, and perhaps even kill you outside of Candletower. Only Candletower was safe – thank goodness he had been born and had grown up there.

Oh, and another thing – Squid’s choice of clothes had included a woollen sweater. Rob was certainly managing to emphasise the latter word.

The street was packed with spectators, though there were no tourists. They were all residents of Candletower, and gleefully watched the passing of the Karran festival every year. There were many smaller festivals, but Karran was certainly the largest – it symbolised everything that was good about Candletower, and made sure that it quashed any transgressing. That’s what the elephants were for. Rob turned to a man leaning casually against the wall beside him.

“What have I missed?”
“Not much, really. Some of the criminals got hanged, some are currently being hanged on those things…”

He waved his cigar at what seemed to be a huge golden archway on wheels. From the underside of the arch hung the bodies of Transgressors, and on the top were more, waiting to be pushed.

“Don’t worry; you haven’t missed the ‘big event’ yet.”

Rob breathed a sigh of relief.

“Mind you, I don’t see what’s so great about it anyway.”

Rob took back his sigh of relief, as the man casually puffed on his cigar.

“How can it not be great? It’s the greatest thing in the world, in fact.”
“Maybe there are some things you don’t know yet, lad, but I’m not permitted to tell you ‘em. Nor is anyone, in fact. Good day.”

The man waddled off as Rob stood motionless, attempting to look confused (the harsh sunlight was making that somewhat difficult). Everybody had been acting so strangely recently. Anyway, there was no time to ponder. Rob had been dawdling so much – he was supposed to be hurrying! Then again, thought Rob as he looked at the crowd, hurrying was probably out of the question.

Barging his way through the throng with a lot of difficulty (Rob wasn’t a particularly strong guy), he eventually rounded a corner and came across something which he had seen day after day from his youth, and had seen countless times before smothered in Karran decorations. However, he was still compelled to say something.



“Beautiful sight, is it not?”

Rob jerked himself out of his trance to find a Karranan standing in front of him, beaming. Rob recognised him as Karranan E, his local Karranan, and dropped to his knees.

“Oh Karranan, forgive me!”
“…for what?”
“For transgressing, of course.”
“What? Oh, I see. Yes, whatever, you’re forgiven. Stand up, won’t you?”

The Karranan turned around and continued his original sentiment.

“I love seeing the Candletower garbed during the Karran festival, don’t you?”
“Yes, oh Karranan.”
“Oh cut that out, will you? It’s not really necessary is it?”

Karranan E had an annoying habit, as you may have already discovered, of ending everything he said with a question. Many believed that this was a spiritual symbol, of how there were many unanswered questions in life, and how questions are asked upon wonderment. Others believed that it was a way of humbling himself before the Great Light, constantly doubting himself and requesting assistance from It. Karranan E didn’t care.

“Where was I? Oh yes – can you see anything different today than was here last year, at the same time?”
“One of the candles adorning it seems to be out, oh Kar-”

Etiquette is a complicated thing, especially when you’re asked to find the alternatives yourself.

“…Karranan E?”
“No it isn’t, are you blind?”

The old man attracted the attention of a white-clothed man, who hastily relit the candle in question.

“That candle was most certainly not out, as the candles of the Candletower burn eternally. It is a spiritual centrepiece, given as a gift by the Great Light. Don’t you think that’s true?”
“Yes. Yes…”
“So, back to my original question – do you see anything at all different?”

Rob squinted very carefully at the Candletower. He had studied it for years, he knew every engraving, the meaning of every candle. The Karranan, quite enjoying this little game, interrupted.

“Do you give up yet?”
“Forgive me, oh Karranan, but I cannot discern the difference.”
“That is because there is no difference at all. No difference! It is still as glorious and magnificent as it has been in years gone by. Isn’t that splendid?”
“What? I mean, err…”
“Do excuse me, I’m late for something. Perhaps I’ll see you later?”
“Farewell, oh Karranan.”

The Karranan was hurried away by two bulky, white-clothed men. Rob didn’t bother noticing, however. He was too busy being angry at being fooled.

Wait, what time was it? Had he missed it?

It’s always at times that you need to know the time that you don’t have a watch. If only Squid were here, with his strange sundial. Rob supposed that it wouldn’t be as accurate as something more conventional, but at least it would be better than nothing – he was pretty desperate. Now, where might Squid be at a time like this?

Probably right behind you. Rob turned.

“Oh, hi Rob. Fancy seeing you here!”
“Didn’t you just follow me?”
“Nope, definitely not. Not at all. That guy is such a hoot isn’t he?”
“Who, Karranan E?”
“Yeah, that guy. The one in the silly hat.”
“It’s not a silly hat, it symbolises his spiritual connection with the Great Light.”
“Oh, ok. Anyway, was there anything that you wanted?”
“The time, Squid.”
“It’s… oh, you’re late. That’s a bit of a problem.”
“How would you even know what time I’m supposed to be at where I’m supposed to be going?”
“I just do.”
“No you don’t, tell me the time.”
“I’m telling you, you’re late. In fact, you’re getting later by the second.”
“Just tell me the time.”
“Getting later…”
“Why do you have to make everything so difficult? Let me have a look then.”
“You’re blocking the light now.”
“Agh! Whatever, I don’t care. I’m leaving.”
“Wait, this sundial is set an hour too slow, that means you’re really late.”

But Rob had already stalked off in the direction of the Candletower, not hearing of his big problem, and not being able to ask how sundials can be set an hour too slow. As for his progress, he managed to escape the tight grasp of a fashion maniac and arrive at the entrance to the Candletower without hindrance. No, I’m serious, he actually did manage.

However, as he tried to enter, a large white-clothed man stood in his way. Rob apologised and tried to walk around him. The man stepped in his way again. After a few repetitions of the same event, the man noticed that Rob would not take the hint, and decided to lift him by his sweater. A full metre off the ground in fact. To eye level.

“You are wearing disrespectful clothing. You are not permitted to enter.”

By his voice and his enormous build, it was quite clear why the Karranans had chosen him for what was effectively a bouncer position.

“What makes these clothes so disrespectful?”
“They are of a colour other than white.”
“My flares are white!”
“Yes, but your sweater is magenta and your shirt is cyan.”
“Would you like me to take them off then?”

The white-clothed hulk paused, dropping Rob to the ground as he did so. Rob attempted to help in the decision making.

“I have quite pale skin.”
“It was just a suggestion.”
The man produced a white bag from within his white clothes. Were it possible for anyone to read white text on a white bag, it would have read “Flour”. Unfortunately for Rob, he did not discover this until he was completely covered. The man kneeled down, reaching Rob’s eye level.

“If you attempt to enter in disrespectful clothing again, I will bleach your clothes – with you still in them.”
“Th-th-thank you.”

Rob shook off the majority of the excess flour and continued on his way. He was quite confused, understandably, at the distinct lack of people in the Candletower, when there was supposed to be the service of the year taking place. It was going to be his first time, he was so excited.

“Oh hey Rob, I forgot to mention that my Sundial is set an hour too slow, which means that you’re an hour late. Sorry!”
“What, are you serious? Wait… how did you manage to get in?”

Squid had decided to come along in a set of colourful clothes, including an orange shirt which read in large letters: ‘Tall people are stupid!’

“Well, I walked in of course!”
“Didn’t the guy in white stop you for disrespectful clothing?”
“Why not?”
“Well… Anyway, I’m just going to wander over here if that’s ok with you. See you in a bit!”

Squid was most certainly not a master of sneaking into places, so Rob decided on the only other conclusion – that the tall man wouldn’t bother with people who were so clearly stupid. Being an hour late was terrible – it meant that he had missed the entire service, and wouldn’t get the chance to see it until next year. He would have to wait an entire year!

He wandered down the aisle forlornly; trying his best not to put out any of the candles that filled the hall (not that such a feat was possible, of course), all the way up to the top of the tower – in the times when it had been built, floors other than the ground floor probably hadn’t been invented. Candletower was actually the very first structure on Earth, hand-built by the Great Light as what might be called a ‘signature’. “Great Light woz here” on a concrete block probably wouldn’t have achieved quite the same effect. Even from a Transgressor’s perspective, which Rob shuddered to think about (though such a thing didn’t exist in Candletower. Not any more anyway.), it was a piece of beautiful architecture – built entirely of white marble, spiralling almost haphazardly up to the heavens (or close enough).

Some said that it was held up sturdily in place by the force of the Great Light Itself, though Rob suspected It received some help from the large iron rods clasped to its side.

Shuffling along, entranced by the flickering lights and the strong smell of incense (which would likely kill someone who didn’t live in Candletower, not that such a Transgressor would ever be let into such a sacred place), Rob didn’t notice a prostrate figure a few metres before the statue of the Great Light, and so tripped over it. The statue depicted the Great Light lighting up the Earth – that is, it was a shiny piece of gold above a circle representing the Earth. Rob imagined that it was quite a low-budget idol product, but completely necessary nonetheless.

While Rob was lying prostrate in front of the altar, though involuntarily, the praying figure stood and proffered a hand to help him up. Rob gladly took it – he had smashed his jaw on the same side as Mrs. Brank had smashed it earlier. The earlier instance was more painful, however. He paled as he turned to face his trip hazard.

“Most dignified Archkarranan Gleam! Forgive me! Forgive me!”
“On your feet, young man. It was simply an accident.”

Judging by looks alone, Gleam was not the sort of person with whom you’d like to associate. Judging with other factors taken into account, the conclusion was the same. However, that didn’t stop him from being the most powerful man in Candletower, and the world, and the universe, and everything else. He could talk to the Great Light Itself – It had chosen him specifically, together with his hundreds of predecessors, to represent Itself on Earth. The Great Light was probably blind though (from all that Light all the time, Rob guessed), as the Archkarranan was even less attractive than Rob himself.

Yes, it can’t be forgotten that he was an exceedingly tall fellow, and strong too, especially given his uncountable number of years, but it was very difficult not to notice his extreme hobble. It was probably very difficult to miss due to the huge, golden cane that he was currently waving around.

“I am afraid that you have missed the Karran service, young man. However, I can tell that you are keen to understand our Master the Great Light, and I have some time to teach you.”
“Oh Archkarranan Gleam, I am honoured. What have I done to deserve such an honour? Forgive me!”
“You are forgiven, young man. Now, what do you know already about the Great Light?”

Rob wondered if all the teeth in his mouth were made of gold. Then again, he didn’t seem to have many teeth.

“The Great Light is the Master of all things, and has given us the gift of life, and has commanded us to purge all Transgressors, and…”

Gleam raised a bony finger.

“Yes, that’s quite enough young man. Your knowledge seems to be vast, yet you lack wisdom. I will communicate with the Great Light on this matter.”

He clasped his hands around a sphere on his cane, closed his eyes, and began to murmur.

“Hey, Rob. Hi! What’s he up to?”
“What? What are you doing here?”
“I told you already, right? I’m seeing the sites like everyone.”

Rob certainly envied Squid’s life in some aspects – that nonchalance must be so peaceful.

“The Archkarranan himself is teaching me about the Great Light, and is communicating with It right now, stop being so disrespectful.”
“Ah, whoops. I’ll just wander over there, to that statue of the Great Light crushing a Transgressor under… underlight? Hm, I don’t know. Anyway, later.”

Just as Squid left, Gleam abruptly opened his eyes and raised his cane. Rob thought he saw his eyes flash red for a fraction of a second, before returning to their normal grey. It must have been the candlelight.

“Yes… Rob…”
“Oh Archkarranan, you are so wise!”
“Get up.”
“Forgive me, oh Archkarranan.”
“The Great Light brings you this message. In the very near future you will be tempted by the dark forces of this world. Transgressors will come to you, to seek asylum. In the name of the Great Light you must bring them to me. You must not fail, for It is putting its trust in you.”
“Oh Archkarranan, I am honoured…”
“I must leave, farewell.”

Gleam stalked away, his golden cloak sweeping along as he hobbled. Strangely, Rob noted, the Archkarranan was the only important figure in the Candletower not to wear a headdress of some sort. Perhaps, he mused, it was so that he could communicate more easily with the Great Light.

“Ah, gone now, has he?”
“The Archkarranan just warned me against Transgressors seeking a silem, whatever one of those is.”
“You mean asylum?”
“Oh yeah, that was it. How do you know?”
“Lucky guess.”

Thinking about it more deeply, Squid had been acting really strangely recently. Was he one of the Transgressors that the Archkarranan had warned him about? Rob really hoped not. While they had had their differences, Squid was his best – and perhaps only – friend when it came right down to it. Having him eaten up by Transgression…

“So, Rob, you’re the expert. What’s with the candles anyway?”

This was more reassuring – everyone in Candletower knew what the candles were for – why would Transgression choose Squid for a host?

“The candles represent lives. ‘Every time a candle goes out, a life goes out’. Weren’t you read that story as a child?”
“Nope, sounds like a pretty creepy story to me if I’m completely honest.”
“Squid, I don’t know how you’ve survived this long without knowing anything.”
“Sorry, what was that?”
“Doesn’t matter.”
“What do you reckon is through there?”

Squid pointed at the tapestry of the Great Light (a true work of art – each thread entirely white) at the far end of the hall.

“What do you mean? A wall probably.”
“No secret room or anything?”
“What is up with you today?”
“Nothing. Is there a secret room though?”
“I doubt it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Well, no. I guess I am.”

The conversation was silent for a while, despite tumbleweed not being allowed to enter the Candletower. This peace was quickly cut short by a Karranan racing through the doors, and kneeling before Archkarranan Gleam.

“My lord, we have discovered a Transgressor.”

The whole room gasped, and then fell into noiselessness, worshippers both shocked at the discovery of a Transgressor on such an important day and desperately wanting to hear any sort of gossip. Gleam’s face remained expressionless.

“Thank you Karranan A. Bring it in.”

Two further white-clothed men dragged the man in, who was still quite calmly puffing away at his cigar. He shook his guards off, and looked up at Gleam, who was considerably taller.

“Well, you aren’t as impressive as I remember.”

Another gasp from the assembled crowd.

“The Great Light commands that Transgressors must be punished, and so you shall be.”
“Well, ok then. Don’t think you’re safe though, we’ll achieve our goals eventually. Whether I achieve them or not doesn’t matter, just as long as they will be.”
“How dare you speak in such a way, in the house of the Great Light, too!”

Gleam raised his cane and struck the man across the head, who slumped to floor. The crowd applauded, including Rob. Squid’s clapping was less enthusiastic, but nobody seemed to notice. The two men in white dragged the body away to a small side room, and the general hubbub of the Candletower returned. Rob turned to Squid excitedly.

“Well, how about that? We missed the service but we did see a Transgressor defeated at the hands of the Archkarranan. Wasn’t that brilliant?”
“Yeah it was pretty cool.”

Rob shivered. He shivered quite a lot.

“And to think that this morning I was talking to a Transgressor – you just don’t know who you can trust. Do you reckon Mrs. Brank is a Transgressor? Maybe I can blackmail her into writing off my debt.”
“I don’t think she’d be willing to be blackmailed. She told me that if you didn’t pay up she’d use something from the kitchen instead of a mop.”
“And you remember that you need to pay by the time you get back, right?”

His face paled again. Tripping over the Archkarranan was nothing in comparison to an angry, knife-wielding Mrs. Brank.

“Maybe I should never go back then?”
“Everything you own is in that room. And a lot of stuff that you don’t own. That dress isn’t yours, is it?”
“I think we should go now.”

It was now descending into evening, and behind them the Candletower shone as bright as ever. Admittedly that wasn’t particularly bright, but it was still quite beautiful nonetheless.

“Rob, is that smoke coming from the top of the tower?”
“Well the entire thing is covered in candles, I’d think that there’s a lot of smoke.”
“And that screaming is just in my imagination, right?”
“I don’t know why I bother talking to you sometimes Squid, you’re insane.”
“Cool, I’m imagining it. Good.”

The courtyard outside the Candletower was virtually deserted, save for a few salesmen who practically lived there, shouting their prices long into the night. Maybe it was just a shouting endurance contest between them, and a person buying things was only a bonus.

Squid left Rob at the crossroads, though he knew when he woke up that Squid would be sitting there yet again, having inexplicably gotten in. The window was far too small for a man of Squid’s size (that is, average), and the locks too many and too complicated for a man of Squid’s intelligence (that is, well, below average).

Fortunately for Rob, when he returned to the flats the lights in the ‘lobby’ were all switched off, and Mrs. Brank was snoozing quite peacefully in her chair. However, she was blocking the stairs. Perhaps she was planning to block his path, but fell asleep waiting for him. Quite an endearing thought actually, but as the old saying goes – ‘if you snooze…

“Stop right there, punk.”

…you’ll just be more rested for when they eventually arrive.’

“Ah, Mrs. Brank. I thought you were asleep. I didn’t want to wake you.”
“Where’s my money?”
“I have it right here, in fact.”

Rob looked around frantically, eventually settling on a cactus he found on the desk. Surely if she’s half asleep she won’t notice?

“Thanks Rob, I knew I could count on you. Eventually.”



When you find wrongdoers
inside yourself and others
more evil it lures
and the light it smothers.

“Where are we going?”
“Why would I tell you that?”
“Because I’ve loyally served you for thirty years, perhaps?”
“My good man, the blindfold has a purpose. It isn’t particularly stylish.”
“Maybe if I could see myself, I would agree or disagree?”
“Your tomfoolery does nothing for me, I must say.”
“Why are you even taking me anywhere? What have I done?”
“Shut up.”

Karranan E was not a happy person at that time. Of course, it would be nigh on impossible for anybody to be happy, given the way that he had been treated. All he had been doing was wandering around outside the Candletower, speaking to pilgrims and such, attempting to brighten their day, give them insight and other such things. Then he had been interrupted and dragged away by two Lights.

Oh yes, the Lights.

The Lights, or the Light Police as they had come to be known, were originally simply priests, like any others. They would get up early on Candleday to preach a service, attend charity auctions, have cream tea with the older residents of their area and all such things that a priest might be expected to do. Then came the rise of the current Archkarranan, and everything changed. The strong Lights had been handpicked to serve as the Archkarranan’s personal guard, and those who weren’t strong… well, they were hanged as Transgressors of course. Over time, however, they did not remain as simple bodyguards. Lights patrolled the streets at all times of the day, searching for Transgressors, or anyone who looked like a Transgressor. They could not even be called a secret police, as their identity was quite clear – they were always clothed completely in white.

It didn’t seem like an unjustified course of action at the time though, thought Karranan E. Transgressors seemed to be everywhere, attempting to overthrow Candletower and everything in it. They were even thinking of–

Karranan E shuddered.

–blowing out all of the candles. Who could do such a thing? They even assassinated the previous Archkarranan – action had to be taken. And that’s why Karranan E himself voted for Karranan G to receive the Archkarrananship. He was going to make changes, he said, and he did. Karranan E had agreed with them in fact, and had supported them. Until they applied to him of course.

The Lights had thrown him into the Transgressors’ cell, your typical place of holding for nasty people. The stone was green with moss (and in a particular corner, a fluid), and the air was steeped with the taste of alcohol, and various other unsavoury smells. There was, as is the point of a prison, no way out, or at least not one that could be discerned in the darkness – the multitude of rats had likely found one, however, as they seemed to live a happy life of scuffling and shrieking. This place, thought the Karranan, is no place for a dog, never mind a good man. Not that dogs could be kept in Candletower – they didn’t understand the teachings, and so were worthless.

After a few hours of him trying to find his silly hat without any light at all, the gate was thrown open with a clatter, and he was dragged out. He had found his hat by this point, but, as it was already infested with curious ants, the Karranan decided against picking it up again. Deposited in a heap in the main hall of the Candletower, he had looked up into the stony face of Archkarranan Gleam.

“Well, Karranan E, I never would have expected you to have been a Transgressor all along.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
“We’ve read your secret messages and the like – we discovered your diary.”
“You probably don’t want to be reading that, do you?”
“Ah, so you confess!”
“No, I’m just trying to protect your sanity. Perhaps somebody should have done so earlier?”
“My good man (or should it be ‘bad man’ now?), I am perfectly sane – the Great Light has deemed me so. As for you, however, your flesh has been devoured to the bone by Transgression. It is quite clear that you have lost your sanity. Is that not right?”

Gleam looked around, arms outstretched. The Lights murmured and nodded in concurrence. Smiling a three-toothed smile, Gleam continued.

“Now, Karranan E, let us take a stroll around this sacred place.”

The Archkarranan looked as if he was about to offer a hand to help Karranan E get up, but quickly retracted his hand, cursing to himself. He ambled off – Karranan E was evidently expected to follow. Gleam looked quite quizzical.

“What happened to your hat?”
“Infested with ants. Why does that matter?”

Gleam nodded knowingly.

“A judgement by the Great Light, clearly. It only reassures me that what I have arranged was the right course of action.”
“What have you arranged?”
“You’ll see. You’ll see. Come.”

Archkarranan Gleam strode down the main aisle, the considerably shorter Karranan E struggling to keep up. Suddenly he stopped, and pointed at the floor.

“Here. Here today I was praying after the Karran service, and before I was rudely interrupted by a careless youth, I was contacted by the Great Light.”
“What did It say?”
“It said to me: ‘Beware!’”
“…was that it?”
“Indeed that was all it said, but it was not simply a voice. I was shown a vision, Karranan E. I suppose you’re wondering what the vision concerned.”

There was a long silence. It seemed that Gleam was waiting for a prompt before continuing. Silly dramatic effects.

“What did the-”
“It was a vision of you, my good man. The Great Light has said that I should beware of you.”
“How can that be true when I’ve done nothing?”
“The Great Light has said it, therefore it is true. You are a Transgressor, Karranan. I can sense it. That is why I must do what I must do. It is written. By me, naturally, but it is still written.”

Gleam produced a length of cloth from somewhere amongst his gold-covered person.

“You will wear this.”

And so the Archkarranan, accompanied of course by two Lights, led the Karranan to the tapestry at furthest end of the hall, pulling it away in one swipe to reveal a pair of iron-studded doors. Nodding to a Light stationed high in the rafters of the tower, they swung open vivaciously, loosing dust from the frame as they collided with the stonework. Behind the doors, the style seemed very much similar to that of the Transgressors cell, but with torches to light the way. Likely fortunately for Karranan E, he could see none of this.

“Where are we going?”
“Why would I tell you that?”
“Because I’ve loyally served you for thirty years, perhaps?”
“My good man, the blindfold has a purpose. It isn’t particularly stylish.”
“Maybe if I could see myself, I would agree or disagree?”
“Your tomfoolery does nothing for me, I must say.”
“Why are you even taking me anywhere? What have I done?”
“Shut up.”

There was an echoing clink as the Archkarranan threw off his ceremonial robes, Lights scuttling around it and frantically dusting it. Eventually they arrived at another pair of doors, similar to the original pair, though made of iron rather than wood. It was clear that the forthcoming room was designed to be impregnable. And inescapable.


Gleam tore off Karranan E’s blindfold and threw him into the lone chair in the centre of the room. Moonlight filtered down from a skylight high above, though this was no romantic moment. The chair, which was chained to the floor, had many dark stains all over it. Karranan E said a prayer to the Great Light, though nothing seemed to change because of it. Gleam produced a small leather-bound book, which the Karranan immediately recognised as his diary. It must have shown in his expression, as Gleam grinned and waved it around emphatically.

“So, this is your diary? I’m afraid you’ve just sealed your fate, my good man. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t have some fun first. Yes, lots of fun.”

Karranan E remained silent.

“Very well, I shall read some noteworthy excerpts.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t do that?”
“I do not care about your opinion.”

Gleam leafed through the musty pages with his skeletal digits, pinpointing the correct paragraph with glee.

“Ah, here we are.

6th Candelow:
After the service today, many stayed back to ask questions about the Great Light, and I was more than happy to help them in their quest for enlightenment. One man in particular asked this question – “what must I do to avoid Transgression?”. And I said, “You must not avoid Transgression, you should become a Transgressor, like me. I am a Transgressor. Transgressors are great.”

He quickly shut the book with a resounding snap of happiness.

“So, what do you say to that?”
“You can’t possibly think that I wrote that, can you?”
“Karranan E, answer me this: did I just read incriminating evidence from your diary?”
“Why are you playing this game? You wrote it, didn’t you?”
“Ah, so now you accuse me of lying, sabotage and a multitude of other crimes. You are undoubtedly aware, Karranan E, that slander is an offence worthy of hanging?”
“Aren’t all offences worthy of hanging?”
“Indeed, and as such slander is an offence worthy of hanging. Guards, leave us for a moment.”


Gleam began to amble around the Karranan, taking his time, and constantly smiling, almost sadistically.

“Karranan E, I will insult your intelligence no longer – my ruse was poorly disguised, and I don’t want to torture you in that way any longer. The truth is, I know perfectly well that you aren’t a Transgressor, my good man. In fact, you have been nothing but an excellent Karranan since you were first accepted into the order. That is why I’d like to offer you a promotion…”
“Ah, I knew you were joking all along, most dignified Archkarranan. Your sense of humour is excellent.”

A glint of red appeared in his dull eyes – clearly he found what he was about to say highly amusing.

“…unfortunately there are no vacancies currently. I hear there are many in the afterlife, however.”

Gleam leaned closer.

“If I am to be quite honest with you, Karranan E, I simply don’t like you. I get the sense that you don’t like me either, though that might be because I’m currently indirectly threatening to kill you. That or you just hate me. I don’t really care.”
“Why, might I ask, are you threatening to kill me?”
“I’m glad you asked, my good man. It is a combination of two factors. The first, I find it a good use of my time to lecture you and eventually kill you. The second is a reason that I have previously mentioned – you have been nothing but an excellent Karranan since your inception into Candletower. As a leader, I cannot have excellent people surrounding me, I’m sure you understand. Perhaps in the future people would see you as better than me. Imagine that!”
“If they knew what I knew, then don’t you think they’d believe that right now?”

The Archkarranan ignored him.

“Yes, I instead need someone more malleable, someone who is more likely to listen to me, rather than probably disobeying me in the future. I cannot simply demote you, however. Imagine the uproar? After all, you are an excellent Karranan.”

Karranan E thanked him weakly.

“My only option is to kill you, unfortunately. That’s just how life goes, I suppose. Guards!”

The two Lights clunked their way through the doors.

“Bring me a table, the candle, and the other items. Oh, and an extra chair too, I don’t see why I should stand any longer. Karranan E has sat without permission, so why shouldn’t I?”

Gleam smiled at the Karranan. It was quite clear that he was a few full bags of wool short of a sheep.

“Now, my good man, we are going to play a little game. It goes by the catchy name of ‘I’m going to kill you’.”


“Ah, thank you. Be gone!”

He set the table and chair down, set the candle on top of the table and finally sat down himself. He gestured to the candle.

“Would you care to tell me what this is?”
“It’s a candle, isn’t it?”
“You are both right and wrong – it is indeed a candle. However, I am looking for something much more specific.”

Karranan E’s expression was blank for a while, before he paled, and a look of complete horror crawled across his features.

“It isn’t… it isn’t that, is it? You couldn’t do something quite that cruel, could you?”
“Well I’m sorry, my good man, but I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“It’s my candle, isn’t it?”

Gleam clapped gleefully, like a child.

“Yes! And on your very first guess too, I’m impressed. This is indeed your candle. Next question – why do you think I have brought it here?”
“I don’t know, why?”

The Archkarranan sighed, and rolled his eyes patronisingly. He was enjoying this experience.

“What was the first thing that you were taught when you joined the order? The most fundamental belief in Candletower.”
“‘When a candles goes out…”

Karranan E’s mouth fell open.

“Excellent, it seems that you have arrived at the correct conclusion. Do not fret, however. I would never do such a thing – not to save you from a slow and painful sapping out of your soul, but because it would be rather dark in here, and I wouldn’t be able to see your soul being eaten by Transgression. That would be quite the disappointment!”

Only now did Karranan E notice that all of the torches in the room had been put out – only the candle remained as a light source. Gleam reached under the table, with some rope. He gesticulated again.

“Now, my good friend. I am going to tie you down; it may be to your advantage. Or my advantage, one of the two. Note that if you were to move as I was tying you to the chair, then I may well ‘accidentally brush’ this candle. Ah, there we are.”

The tightly bound ropes cut into his wrists, but the Karranan was much more concerned with the bottle which Gleam had produced, and was now reading its label.

“Pinot Grigio, ’78. I have no idea whether that was a good year or not, it doesn’t really matter to me. I understand this was your favourite drink?”

Karranan E was too busy fretting over the past-tense verb to reply with anything other than a blank stare.

“Here, have some.”

The Archkarranan expertly uncorked the wine, and began to pour it over his colleague.

“There, are you feeling refreshed?”
“Do you think the Great Light will not see this?”

Gleam looked up through the skylight.

“Oh, I expect It will, the smoke will travel for miles. Post-festival celebrations, they’ll say. In a way, those people will be right.”

The Archkarranan took the candle from the table and placed it under Karranan E’s chair, who was now trying to escape, to no avail. The wine-soaked legs of the chair quickly caught alight.

“Farewell, Karranan E. Perhaps we shall meet again some day.”

The frantic scuffing of the chair across the floor and the screeches of fright and pain were shut out by the iron doors, which Gleam was in no hurry to close. He winced slightly as he let go. They were already quite warm. A group of Lights were standing in an alcove, playing with some cards. The Archkarranan ripped them up.

“Onward gentleman, we must find a replacement for the late-”

He listened carefully.

“-soon-to-be-late Karranan E, who has taken an unexpected leave for an indefinite amount of time. May he have a safe journey.”

The Lights murmured and nodded in concurrence. They weren’t paid for anything else. In fact, they simply weren’t paid.


“Oh, I see you’re awake.”
“Ugh, Squid. I still don’t understand how you manage to get in here – there are locks on that door that not even Mrs. Brank has a key for.”
“You’re wrong, punk.”

Rob sat up quickly, or got halfway there at least. Mrs. Brank was sitting on the edge of the bed, with a particularly spiky cactus poised and ready to strike. Clearly this was a perfect time for a charm offensive.

“Ah, good morning, Mrs. Brank! How wonderful it is to see you as soon as I wake up.”
“Probably better than the inside of a debtor’s prison, lout. Where’s my money?”

You had to hand it to Mrs. Brank – she was a real businesswoman. Unfortunately, she seemed immune to Rob’s expert charming skills, so more drastic actions needed to be taken.

“I keep my money in that drawer over there.”

Mrs. Brank looked around the room, which was more akin to the Himalayas reconstructed using clothes.

“Which drawer?”
“The one with the pink socks on it.”
“Ah, thank you dear!”

Of course, this was all a clever plan, as Rob had no money. No, seriously. He had no money. His student loan was repealed after Squid bought a sports car with it, and he currently didn’t have a job. Rob picked up a random plank of wood that he found on the floor (trust me, it didn’t even make the top ten list of strange things that could be found in that room. Number one on said list was Rob.)

Within a few seconds, Rob was on the floor. Mrs. Brank was wielding the plank. Never underestimate an old woman who knows Kendo.

“Do you have any money, punk?”

Mrs. Brank removed her knee from Rob’s spine.

“Get a job.”
“I’ve tried, nobody will give me a job.”

No, that was not Mrs. Brank. She wasn’t the kind of woman to say ‘hark’ at all, never mind as an exclamation. Standing at the door was a Light, who remained expressionless. His eyes seemed to show amusement and confusion, however. Mrs. Brank, who suddenly found herself in possession of a plank, was quick to recover the situation.

“So, I’ll have this plank replaced for you Rob. I apologise again that it, err, creaked.”
“No problem Mrs. B.”

Mrs. Brank shot him a scathing look for that abbreviation, before leaving the room as nonchalantly as her ninety-year-old frame would allow. Rob dusted himself off, and the Light remained as expressionless as ever.

“The Archkarranan himself has requested your presence at the Candletower.”
“Oh my goodness, what an honour! I’ll be along in a moment.”
“The Archkarranan has requested your presence immediately.”
“Yes, yes, I’ll be quick.”

The Light grabbed Rob and threw him over his shoulder before striding out of the room. Predictably, Mrs. Brank was quite amused.

“Being arrested, are we Rob?”
“The Archkarranan has requested my presence.”
“If it involves money, I’m having it, punk. Don’t think you can slip it by me.”

Rob was about to come up with a witty response, but hit his head off the doorway. That too pleased Mrs. Brank, who then returned to her cleaning. A little later, another guest descended the stairs. Unfortunately he befell the same brutal attack that Rob had encountered only the day before. This was quite clearly a normal situation for Mrs. Brank.

“Where’s my money, punk?”
“Mrs. Brank, I don’t stay here.”
“I’ve heard that one before.”
“No, seriously, you know me.”
“I’ve heard that before too.”
“That doesn’t make what I’m saying a lie.”

Mrs. Brank pondered. It wasn’t often in her line of work that she had to ponder, as the process was quite simple: give key, clean rooms, demand money (with the final step being repeated multiple times in many cases).

“I suppose you’re right.”

Squid got up, dusted himself down and left.


“Oh, I see you’re awake.”
“Ugh, why does everybody keep saying that to me?”
“Perhaps you spend most of the day waking up?”

Rob regained consciousness on a marble floor, surrounded by both Lights and lights. He looked up to see the Archkarranan sitting cross-legged just in front of him. Gleam gave a sincere smile, before forcefully sitting him up.

“Good afternoon-”

Gleam looked up to a Light, who quickly checked his watch, and shook his head solemnly.

“-morning, Rob. I believe we met here only yesterday, when you tripped over me. Today it seems you had your revenge.”

There was a smattering of polite laughter from the assembled Lights. Gleam got up, and extended a hand to Rob, who gladly took it.

“My good friend, do you remember Karranan E?”
“Of course, I spoke to him only yesterday. Has something happened?”
“I regret to say that, yes, he has taken an unexpected leave for an indefinite amount of time.”
“Was it something to do with the smoke that I saw coming from here yesterday?”
“Oh no, not at all. Simply post-festival celebrations, you understand.”
“Yes, I do.”
“That wasn’t a question.”
“Let’s go for a little stroll, Rob.”

The Archkarranan put his arm around Rob’s shoulders (with a distinct creaking sound, might I add) and guided him around the edge of the hall.

“Naturally, due to the unexpected nature of Karranan E’s absence, we here in the Candletower are rather at a loss, I guess you could say that we have somewhat of a Karranan shortage.”

Another polite laugh from the Lights, who were following behind. However, this only earned them a harsh glare from Gleam. It mustn’t have been a joke.

“So, after the post-festival celebrations yesterday I prayed in front of the altar again, and the Great Light came to me. Would you like to know what it said?”
“It said to me: ‘today you have encountered one who shall fulfil your needs, who will be greater than Karranan E.’ And so I retraced those whom I had met throughout the day, and with the help of the Great Light I discerned that the ‘one’ of whom It spoke was none other than you, my good man. Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to offer you the position of Karranan.”

Rob’s mouth fell open, but not at the same speed and he fell to his knees, resulting in him almost biting his tongue off.

“Oh my goodneth, thank you tho much motht dignified Archkarranan Gleam!”
“Do not thank me, Karranan Rob, but thank the Great Light, which in Its wisdom chose you. Now, there are certain things that I would like you to do straight away. For the first few days, you will be my personal aide, shadowing me wherever I go. Then, if all goes well, I may entrust you to teach Candletower residents about the Great Light. If things do not go well… well…”

Gleam made a throat-cutting gesture, and smiled. The Lights remained absolutely silent. The Archkarranan sighed. Minions were so useless sometimes.

“Forgive me for asking, oh Archkarranan, but do I receive any kind of pay for this job? My landlady is quite angry that I have been unable to pay her since… since… for a very long time.”

The Archkarranan glared at him.

“Your reward is in the afterlife. Money should not concern you.”
“Yes. Indeed. Of course.”

Gleam snapped his fingers, and at once the Lights crowded around him. He grinned.

“…what would a Karranan be without his robes and headdress? Lights, please see that this young man’s clothing is arranged.”

The Lights murmured and nodded in concurrence once again, before hustling Rob away.​

But when the two collide,
revealing the darkest sides of both
nothing from the eyes can hide
save that which is truly loathed.

Ringing, ringing, ringing. The incessant ringing. The woeful ringing. The happy ringing. Ringing. That darn annoying ringing.

It had to be said, this room was new to Rob, and he had studied the Candletower many times over. Perhaps there were rooms that only the Karranans knew about? That seemed to be the case here, at least. Directly below the Candletower bells, which were still continuing with their noisy acrobatics, this room was much more modern than the rest that could be found in the Candletower. In fact, there was even carpet on the floor.

Ooh, carpet in bare feet.

The walls were whitewashed too, which – combined with the plush burgundy floor – gave it a very 70s style. Perhaps its grandest feature was the huge mirror, though the gold paint was peeling away, and the jewels had long since been stolen. They probably weren’t real gems anyway. Actually, despite being slightly old-fashioned, the room was perfectly normal, save for one thing. There was a swarm of Lights scuttling everywhere, with many more simply standing. Watching. Judging.

There also seemed to be a trumpeter somewhere within that crowd, though maybe its musical accompaniment was only in Rob’s imagination. It certainly made the situation much more amusing. Occasionally one might scuttle up to him and press a miscellaneous item of clothing to his chest. The room would fall into an uproar of hush, and then the verdict came. The Light who brought the piece of clothing would either nod his head or shake it despairingly. At least, Rob assumed that nodding was an option. Until now, there had only been head-shakers. He also thought he saw a small tear fall after a failed choice but, like the trumpeter, that may have just been Rob’s mind trying to entertain itself. Standing around without anything happening isn’t too fun. Especially when the throng of others in the room is remaining absolutely silent.

However, one item that the Lights had settled on immediately was the [“silly”] hat. They simply picked it up and put it on his head. If only everything was so quick. Rob was roused from this trance by the sound of footsteps. Well, it was more its effect than the sound itself. The Lights were struck with alarmed expressions, and rushed over to the doorway. They then lay on the floor.

“Good morning Karranan Rob. Sorry, wait a moment…”

The Archkarranan had attempted to enter with as much elegance as possible, but such a thing was difficult when you were using men as stepping stones. Unfortunately for the Lights, some had neglected to face downwards. Gleam looked down at the face of the Light on whom he was currently standing. The Light shook his head solemnly.

“I do apologise – good afternoon Karranan Rob!”
“Good afternoon, most dignified Archkarranan Gleam.”
“How are you finding the fitting session?”
“Ah, excellent.”

Rob was, of course, lying. He was more efficient at paying his rent than these brutes were at fitting clothes. Actually, no, that would be impossible.

“You remember yesterday that I said you would be my shadow for a few days.”
“Yes, I do.”
“That wasn’t a question. Anyway, I have somewhat changed my mind. Usually what I have arranged for you today would only happen after a year of Karrananship, but I know that I can trust you. You have shown great potential already…”
“But I have only been a Karranan for a few hours!”
“…and so I will be taking you on a dangerous journey. Today we venture outside of Candletower.”

Rob’s response was a mixture of fear and happiness, but mostly fear.

“But Archkarranan, are not the things outside of Candletower lying, thieving and murderous Transgressors?”
“Things that commit the worst crimes known to the Great Light?”
“Things that would bite your head off in a second with their huge fangs?”

Gleam hesitated. Even after thinking, he wasn’t entirely confident in his answer.

“And you want to take me there?”
“Indeed. It is important for you to understand what Transgression has done to the world, and to teach you to truly value the tranquillity of Candletower. Do not fear, I will guide you and protect you from all corrupting influences. The Great Light will shield us on this quest.”
“Let the Great Light be with us then.”
“Oh, and one more thing. We must venture outside in ordinary dress, lest we be attacked. I see, however, that the Lights have already prepared you with this in mind – commendable.”

The Lights murmured and nodded in concurrence. Gleam’s expression quickly turned from one of serenity to angriness, as he lifted an arm and pointed.

“You – you are a Transgressor!”

The rest of the Lights (who were not being used as flooring) jumped onto the accused, as Gleam turned back to Rob calmly.

“Do you have any questions?”
“No, I don’t think so. Actually, wait, I do. Why are you walking on Lights?”
“Carpet is an evil, evil thing, Karranan Rob.”

Rob looked down uncertainly.

“…but why?”
“Carpet may seem plush and comforting, but between every fibre lies a whole host of wrongdoing. It is a representation of life itself, and thus I refuse to tread on it.”
“Oh my goodness, should I remove myself from it, oh Archkarranan?”
“No, you’re fine. I’ll see you at the gates later today, and we shall then depart for the Outside. Farewell.”

And so Gleam left, the Lights standing up, wheezing slightly. The accused Light was thrown out of the window, with it shutting just in time to drown out the sound of the impact. The Lights, as ever, remained expressionless. In fact, this time they remained absolutely motionless. Rob gingerly began to remove his hat, and set it down neatly on the table beside him. The Lights were suddenly spurred into action, dusting down the hat and putting it back on its special stand (a cone shape protruding from a table – quite inventive). They then rushed Rob out of the room as quickly as he had been rushed in, and the door quickly shut behind him. It was strange, but certainly not the strangest thing that had happened to Rob, so he sauntered out of the Candletower and back to the flat.


“What’s the cash situation, punk?”

It was obvious that this was going to happen, though Rob had expected a knife instead of a smashed bottle. However, the results were the same, so he wasn’t about to get into an argument.

“The Archkarranan said that I would receive my reward in the afterlife, not in money on Earth.”
“Yeah? So will I then, but that doesn’t help me right now does it? Cough up.”

Time for a quick change of subject, before he got impaled.

“Where did you get that bottle from anyway?”

Rob tilted his head sideways to read the label.

“Pinot Grigio, ’78. Was that a good year?”
“Do you really think I have any idea?”
“Of course. You were probably quite old then.”

Never, under any circumstances, ask a woman her age, or even broach conversation on the subject. It’s especially recommended not to do so when said woman currently has a smashed bottle to your throat.

“‘Quite old’? Back in ’78 I was only twenty-five!”
“Twenty-five? But that makes you…”

The bottle was pressed harder. Rob grinned sheepishly.

“…not look a day older than twenty-one!”


Perhaps at one point Rob would learn to try not to charm Mrs. Brank. Lying on the floor, he groaned emphatically.

“You know, I always thought you were ninety, not fifty-eight…”

Mrs. Brank ignored this remark.

“One day you’ll pay me Rob, or I’ll rip your intestines out through your nostrils. Got it, punk?”
“Yes Mrs. Brank…”

She returned to her cleaning. Mrs. Brank was always cleaning. She cleaned in the same spots every time too, probably out of habit. Plus they were strategically sound for ambushing customers whose rent was due. Such an example was the mirror above the entrance. Speaking of the entrance, someone walked through it. Rob, however, had no idea who it was, as he was currently hugging the ground, hoping for some sort of protection from his landlady. Squid leaned down slightly, with a confused expression.

“Hi Rob!”
“What are you looking for?”

With great effort, he lifted his face off the ground.



“Oh, is this one of these philosophical experiment-y things? I can’t be doing with those. Would you like help getting up?”
“No thanks, I can manage.”

A few minutes of complete silence passed, save for squeaking of Mrs. Brank’s mop against the tiles.

“Well, Squid, what are you waiting for? Help me up.”

As soon as he got up, Rob dropped into the nearest chair. Mutual dark looks were shared with his landlady.
“So, Rob… Actually, I should say Karranan Rob now. That title sounds so great on you, I think I could say it all day. Karranan Rob. Karranan Rob. Karranan Rob. Karrana-”
“Ok, ok. I believe you could Squid. What do you want?”
“How is Karrananship?”
“Well, if I’m honest I don’t really know yet. I haven’t done anything Karranan-y.”
“Oh. Maybe you should stand outside the Candletower like the rest of them, wearing a silly hat. That’s a Karranan-y thing to do.”

Rob ignored this.

“The Archkarranan is escorting me outside of Candletower today.”
“What, really? Isn’t that dangerous? Not that… never mind.”
“It’s incredibly dangerous, and I may not return alive. I may not even return dead. I might return half-eaten in fact.”
“But alive?”
“I’m not sure, I’ve never been half-eaten before.”
“Neither have I.”

Awkward silences can only be made more awkward if an old woman is cleaning the floor nearby; especially so if said old woman wants to kill you.

“Well, I need to go. The Archkarranan will be waiting for me at the gates. Farewell, Squid. If I do not return, remember this, and only this…”
“…I’ve completely forgotten what I was going to say, actually. Anyway, must dash.”

Rob rushed for the door, turned the handle and pushed out all in one, swift movement. Classy… well, you know how it goes.


Quite strangely, Rob had never been to the gates of Candletower before, or anywhere near the walls. Actually he had never seen any of the walls, having lived his entire life within the city. According to the writings, it was supposedly the responsibility of the Great Light to protect Candletower. Maybe they needed a back-up for when he was on holiday?

For protecting a city guarded by the most powerful thing ever, the city walls were certainly not half-hearted in any way. Sloping steeply up far further than any of the buildings in the city (other than the Candletower itself of course), its peak was adorned with multiple carvings and statues. Nobody knew what the carvings and statues depicted, however, as no-one ever climbed to the top of the wall, and they were too small to discern from a distance. Nobody seemed to lay siege to Candletower these days – maybe because it had defended itself so solidly in the past, the Transgressors had given up any attempt to breach it. As for getting out, well, who would want to get out of such a great place?

The gates themselves were also impressive, but considerably less impressive when you realised that they didn’t actually open. The huge, weathered and altogether sturdy looking façade was simply welded together, with a small and ordinary door to the side being all that stood between Candletower and the Outside. That and hundreds of armed Lights, with swords pointed at the entrance all day, every day. They took it in shifts, holding position for an hour before swapping. This gave an incredible look of military precision and strength, but all that resulted from it was a huge build-up of muscle on only one arm. These Lights never survived for too long. Not because of attacks on Candletower, but because their heavier arm would cause them to fall down stairs and into wells and suchlike.

Notably unimpressive, however, was the Archkarranan standing a few metres from the gates in jeans and a tweed cap. He made no effort, however, to conceal the sword at his waist which – due to his effort to remove any shininess and detail from his choice of clothing – was more noticeable than usual in its golden sheath. The sword itself was likely to be pure gold also, making it useless. Supposedly. Gleam looked up from picking a thread from his sweater as Rob arrived.

“Ah, Karranan Rob, or simply ‘Rob’ as I shall henceforth have to refer to you. You are late.”
“My apologies, most dignified Archkarranan.”
“Are you ready to leave now? If you at all uncomfortable with completing this visit, then I can delay it until its usual time. It would be a shame, however, to waste all of the effort I’ve gone to.”
“No objections? Excellent.”
“Let us be off then.”
Rob wondered if Gleam ever listened to anyone. He was always so self-absorbed, though Rob supposed you had to be in that line of work. How else could you contact the Great Light?

The Lights, noticing the sword at Gleam’s waist, wisely stepped out of the way as he approached the door to the Outside. He produced a length of cloth from his pocket.

“Oh, I almost forgot. You’ll have to wear this. My apologies if it is slightly sweaty, it has been used recently for very important matters.”

And Rob’s world was plunged into darkness.

“This is to protect you from the corrupting sights of the Outside. There are many terrible sights that are no benefit to any man. The Great Light Itself will assist me in combating these horrific experiences, and I must guide you. Do not fear, however, I will remove the blindfold once we reach our destination.”

Though he could not see it, Rob could tell that the door to the Outside was not even closed. He suddenly didn’t feel as secure as he had felt for nineteen years. He took his first step into the outside, the Lights hurriedly pulling the door back into its ‘closed’ position after they had exited. Rob held his breath. Was the air breathable out here? Would he find ground beneath his feet? Would swarms of ravenous insects devour his limbs in mere seconds?

Actually, somewhat embarrassingly, it was completely normal. The air indeed seemed less stuffy than it was in Candletower, and cleaner. The Archkarranan, who was leading him by the arm, seemed to read his mind. Perhaps he could.

“Do not become accustomed to this wretched air. It is an attempt by Transgression to make you stay on the Outside, any sort of pleasure that you are experiencing is a falsity – the gas is poisoning your lungs as we speak.”

Gleam coughed dramatically to prove his point. Rob began to ponder again over their attempts to remain inconspicuous. Currently a farmer with a gilt sword at his hip was leading a blindfolded man – clearly they would be impossible to pick out. Then again, Rob had no idea what the Transgressors would be like – Transgression could have warped their features beyond recognition, or turned them all into squirrels. He had no idea. Rob felt that feeling of fear and excitement again. It was mainly fear.

Rob and the Archkarranan seemed to walk for miles, and the temperature fell as night approached. Gleam claimed that such a swift change was evidence of Transgression at work, and began to hobble more quickly. Eventually, they stopped, Rob’s shoes skidding in the gravel. Gleam whipped off his blindfold.

Before them stood what could be likened only to an old, wooden shack, with murky windows and murkier shadows underneath its gutters, which were hanging down in many places.

“This is what the Transgressors call a ‘Public House’. Behind these scarcely-attached doors they purchase a toxic liquid known as ‘beer’ that allows Transgression to take over their senses. This is a very dangerous place, as you may have already guessed.”

As if on cue, a man burst through one of the windows further along the building, stood up, fell on his face, vomited and fell asleep. Rob turned to Gleam with an expression of immeasurable horror. The Archkarranan smiled, and tapped his belt.

“Fortunately, I have this. Onward.”

As soon as the doors were opened, a thick fog of smoke engulfed the two Karranans, with Gleam expertly dodging a thrown barstool. They sat in the corner, Gleam’s hand still on the hilt of his sword. Rob whispered in his ear.

“This is what Transgression does to people? They want to murder each other, and stagger around as if their legs are deformed in some way. And the hair! They have hair on their faces!”
“Indeed, Karranan Rob. This is a dark place – both literally and metaphorically – full of debauchery and anger. Do you see that man putting coins into a machine and pushing buttons? Transgression has hypnotised him, and now he is slowly wasting his money on something they call a ‘slot machine’. They also call it a ‘fruit machine’, but no fruit can be obtained from it.”

Gleam leaned over as a knife lodged itself in the wall behind where he was. He stood up and drew his sword.

“I think we will leave now.”

However, when you are brandishing a golden sword in a pub, nothing is ever quite so simple. In this particular case, it was a man brandishing a steel sword. Or at least he thought it was a steel sword. It was actually a door.

“You think you’re so tough eh, golden-swordy-guy-person?”

A few seconds later, Rob and Gleam strolled quietly out of the pub. Rob concluded that he was much like Mrs. Brank, except older and with a sword. Mrs. Brank having a sword was a scary thought – it didn’t help that such a thought was highly believable, and probably likely to happen at some point.


Once again a dilapidated building stood before them, though this particular wooden structure seemed even more ruinous than the pub. Even a softly moonlit night couldn’t make it seem any more beautiful. It seemed as if it could hardly stand up, in fact. A light breeze was blowing too, making it sigh uneasily.

“Is this a Public House too?”
“No, this is altogether more disturbing.”
“But how can that be so? In there people had completely lost control of their lives.”
“In this place, it is not the inhabitants who have invited Transgression to destroy their lives, but it is others who have destroyed it for them. This, in my opinion, is the greatest persuasion for maintaining separation from the Outside, lest such things happen to Candletower.”

Rob looked over at the Archkarranan. He seemed genuinely melancholic. Gleam awoke from his trance and ducked under the doorway. Inside the hut, it was almost completely dark. However, after his eyes had adjusted, Rob could only just make out the ‘horrifying image’, as Gleam had stressed.

Around the small building lay tiny figures, curled up on the sandy floor, their little chests moving up and down slowly. Some were not moving at all.

“This is what could be called an ‘orphanage’, for children whose parents have been killed, or whom you have perhaps seen staggering around in the Public House. A regular orphanage is gut-wrenching enough, but these children in particular have nothing but this ramshackle structure above their heads. They wake up every morning and they cry for their mother, but she is not there. At night they long for the protection of their father, but he is not there. This is what Transgression does to people, Karranan Rob. These children, if they survive, will only grow up into the same people that their parents were. It is an inescapable cycle of despair. Perhaps you now understand why Candletower has set itself apart.”

The children turned and tossed in their slumber. Rob wondered what they dreamt of, and how their nightmares could be worse than what they would see every morning.

“This is the Outside, Karranan Rob. This is all it will ever be.”

Gleam was now staring right at him, penetrating his soul. Rob had heard many rumours that the Archkarranan was a cruel and ruthless man, but that could not possibly be true. He had compassion for these children like anyone else.

“Now we must leave, lest we wake them from their sole respite.”

Rob stepped out into the night. You could see the Candletower from here, lit up as it always was. He couldn’t understand why people were not desperate to get into Candletower – the area around its walls was completely deserted, save for a lone goat, trying to find grass among the rocks. This existence didn’t bear thinking about, yet it seemed all were content to live in it. Perhaps they knew no other way.

“Karranan Rob, you cannot dwell on these things so. While these are indeed emotive scenes, the reality cannot be changed. The Transgressors have set themselves into this fragile mould, and the Great Light has chosen only us. Our task as Karranans is to keep people from Transgression, lest this-”

Gleam gestured to the surrounding village.
“-happens to them also.”
“I understand, oh Archkarranan.”
“Excellent. Ah, it seems that the sun is rising. Let us return quickly, before we are discovered.”

The return to Candletower seemed to take far less time than their journey from it. Rob was deep in thought, but eventually decided to push them to the back of his mind as Gleam had instructed. It was the only way to keep him sane. At the entrance to Candletower, the plethora of Lights was waiting with Gleam’s Archkarranan dress, and he handed over his sword for cleaning as he changed.

“Oh Archkarranan, why did the Great Light choose us and not the Transgressors?”
“Some are chosen, some are not chosen. It is not right to question the wisdom of the Great Light, only to know that Its decisions are always correct, and the best choices. You may leave now, if you wish.”

Rob wandered along the streets of Candletower for many hours. He saw market traders making fine profits, customers buying fine produce, children playing amongst the crowds, couples holding hands, and all the rest of it. But none of them were happy. How could that be so? How could they be unhappy when children were starving just outside the city walls, and they had access to such incredible things (primarily, life.)?

As he reached the courtyard in front of the Candletower, Rob noticed something different – not on the tower itself, which would have been a relief to Karranan E, but a circle of Lights. In the centre was a woman, despite it being explicitly forbidden for women to be anywhere near the Candletower, for absolutely no reason. It was also probably forbidden to hold a knife to the throat of a Karranan.

“If any of you mute freaks takes so much as a step towards me, his head is coming straight off, and I’ll use the blood to stain those lovely white clothes of yours.”

Keeping her eyes constantly on the Lights, she began to walk backwards out of the courtyard.

“One day you people will let me have my freedom – until then, you’ll have a lot of problems catching me. See ya!”

With those final words, she dropped the Karranan and ran off into the throng. The Lights decided not to give chase – blood stains were incredibly difficult to get out of clothes. Rob grabbed a passer-by.

“Who was she?”

The man shrugged.

“I don’t know, she seemed a little crazy though.”

It’s at times like these (that is, times of unanswered questions) that you suddenly get the feeling Squid is behind you. Rob’s instincts were correct.

“I don’t suppose you know who she is?”
“Other than being what you guys might call a Transgressor, I don’t know. I get the feeling we’ll be seeing more of her though.”
“Why do you say that?”
“She slipped her knife into your pocket as she left.”
“How could you possibly notice that?”
“Lucky guess.”​

Smiling, not because of happiness
Running, not because of fear
A goal, fuelled by single-mindedness
To save what’s left and dear.

“Are you really sure you don’t want to take any of this?”
“Of course I’m sure, because it isn’t my decision.”

To be quite truthful, had Rob known that Karrananship involved moving to the Candletower itself, he may have declined the offer. Then again, whether he would have had the option to do so wasn’t guaranteed – it was likely accept or be hanged as a Transgressor. That was just how things worked in Candletower, but Rob didn’t blame the Archkarranan or anyone else for that policy. He had seen what Transgression had done, so ‘harsh’ measures seemed completely just.

All in all, however, he had really liked Mrs. Brank’s apartments – he even had a little soft spot for the landlady herself, despite all of their… disagreements. Still, Rob was dreading the encounter that they would have later – handing his key in, without the accompanying money. He had been staying there for over a year now, and hadn’t paid a single bill. To have it written off would likely be too much for Mrs. Brank.

“You know Rob; this is really quite a sad moment for me.”

Looking up, Squid actually seemed tearful. This was both somewhat endearing and creepy. Mainly creepy.

“How so?”
“I won’t be able to greet you every morning, or at least I don’t think I’ll be able to.”

Squid looked over to one of the omnipresent Lights standing in the doorway. He shook his head disapprovingly. Squid sniffed, struggling to stop himself crying.

“This might be the last time I ever see you, in fact. I hardly frequent the Candletower, and I’ll have no idea where you are even when you’re travelling around the city…”


“…I just don’t know how I’ll manage without you.”
“I bet that chair will miss you sitting on it.”

Rob pointed at the seat at the end of the bed, in which he discovered Squid sitting every morning.

“What? No it won’t.”
“Good point, it might like a change in the person sitting on it, since you’ve sat on it every morning for over a year. Even at Candlemass.”
“No, that’s not what I mean. It’s my chair.”
“I bring it every morning to sit on.”
“You’re joking, right? You managing to get into the room was impossible enough, and with a chair the idea is simply farcical. How do you get in anyway?”
“I wonder who will stay in this room next. Maybe all the insects will combine to form a humanoid, man-eating insect being thing. Then again, maybe not – you just don’t know, do you?”
“That was a feeble attempt to change the subject.”
“It’s lovely weather outside today!”
“It’s raining.”
“And why isn’t rain lovely? Anyway, it’s stopped now.”

Rob made the mistake of looking out of the window. When he looked back, he could only hear the sound of frantic steps on the stairs, and the ironically heavy breathing of the Light at the door. Conversation with a Light was lacklustre – Rob had attempted a chat earlier. The Light only shook his head when asked whether he was a various insulting thing (for example, a smelly cat), and did nothing else. Rob didn’t want to push his luck, however, or he could lose this Karrananship as quickly as he had obtained it.

Sighing as everybody does at ‘the end of an era’, Rob stepped over his clothes mountains and brushed past the Light, going downstairs slowly. The Light definitely didn’t pass him, and yet still somehow was waiting for him at the bottom of the stairs. He must have taken the lift that didn’t exist. Mrs. Brank was nowhere to be seen, which was quite strange, and also quite poignant. In all honesty, it was very relieving – he had been dreading it. Even the Light seemed slightly perplexed at her absence (the most blatant show of emotion that Rob had ever come across). Rob proceeded carefully. As he approached the centre of the room, everything fell silent. Everything was already silent, but it seemed to grow noticeably more silent, somehow. Situations involving Mrs. Brank always seemed to defy the laws of physics.

At this particular moment, however, Mrs. Brank used the laws of physics to her advantage, dropping onto Rob from above, nailing him to the floor. Plastic chandeliers were both bargain glass substitutes and excellent vantage points. Mrs. Brank spat on him.

“I hear you’re leaving, punk.”
“Yes, Mrs. Brank.”
“And I guess I’m correct in thinking you don’t have any money for me.”
“Yes, Mrs. Brank.”
“After an entire year, you have paid me nothing.
“No, Mrs. Brank.”
“That’s disgraceful.”
“Yes, Mrs. Brank. Can I get up now please?”
“Just wait a moment while I tie my laces.”
“But you don’t ever wear shoes with laces.”

Mrs. Brank sitting on you is quite a traumatic experience, and fortunately for Rob he had an appointment to keep, so after a few minutes the Light gently lifted Mrs. Brank off him (probably believing her, as most others believed, to be ninety) and dragged Rob out of the ‘lobby’. Rob was a young man, he could take it. Probably. Well, not really. Not at all.

The Archkarranan Gleam was, as usual, waiting for him at the entrance to the Candletower. He clearly had a lot of time on his hands, despite being the most powerful man in the universe. That, or all his appointments could be easily cancelled, perhaps permanently. In fact, it was quite strange, thought Rob, that he had not seen the Archkarranan ever standing around in wait for other Karranans previously. Either Rob was blind, or he was Gleam’s favourite Karranan. Yeah, it was probably the first of those two options.

“Ah, Karranan Rob, you are late.”
“My apologies, oh Archkarranan. Mrs. Brank came down on me quite hard.”
“I imagine she did. Do not worry, we will pay your debts to her in full.”
“Really? That’s great, thank you.”
“It is the just thing to do.”

Gleam nodded to the accompanying Light, who returned in the direction from which they came. Two other particularly burly Lights joined him at the gates to the courtyard.

“Now, Karranan Rob. I believe I should show you to your new room.”

Rob looked up at his new place of residence. It was certainly a lot more beautiful and important, though equally as unstable as his previous homes. He followed the hobbling Archkarranan through a complex network of corridors, which were carpeted in a luxurious gold, save for a single line of wooden planks down the centre, which seemed to be for the carpetophobic Gleam. Scenes more complicated than the corridor maze itself were engraved into the walls, and soft light spilled down from concealed torches above. Rob began to imagine what his room would be like, if the corridors were setting the standard. He looked forward to quiet nights of lying on the sofa, relaxing and listening to some miscellaneous piece of soothing music that his imagination had conjured up.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that.

“Ah, here we are.”
“Excellent. Thank you. It’s…”
“Yes. And…”
“…relaxingly dark.”

Rob’s new room consisted of three things: a bed, a lone torch and the flagstones on which the bed sat. Clearly leaving all material possessions behind was not as a sign of devotion to the Great Light, but simply because they would not fit into such a tiny space.

“It would not be right for the servants of the Great Light to bask in material luxury, as everything they need has been – and will be – provided by the Great Light Itself. Now, I’ll leave you to settle in while I take a bath.”

There really wasn’t much to settle into. Rob decided to test the bounciness of the bed by throwing himself onto it, which was a huge mistake – it was like stone. Actually, pulling back the thin sheet, Rob discovered that it was stone. To make matters worse, the torch – which was positioned directly above the ‘pillow’ (that is, a smaller rock) – was quite loose in its attachment to the wall, and was already running low on fuel. Sleeping was going to be an interesting experience.

This was another secret room, or collection of secret rooms, that Rob had previously known nothing about. Perhaps they had been kept secret because no human would legally be allowed to live here. Then again, knowing the flawed rating system of Candletower, it would likely gain at least three stars in most hotel magazines.

Rob decided to unpack at his own pace, taking at least ten minutes to do so (yes, somehow it is possible to unpack nothing in ten minutes). After a while, a Light appeared at the door. Or where a door should have been, at least.

“The Archkarranan has requested your presence.”
“Nothing new there then.”
“He is requesting the presence of all Karranans on an urgent matter.”
“Fine. Give me a few minutes to finish unpacking.”

The two sat in silence. Unfortunately for Rob, it didn’t seem to bother the Light at all, remaining – in true Light style – expressionless.

Arriving late to things was Rob’s speciality, and the Archkarranan had seemed to acknowledge this by making sure everybody else had arrived on time. Together with still not being in Karranan clothing, Rob certainly seemed different to the rest.

“Are we all gathered here?”

Rob was tempted to declare his absence, but decided not to make a terrible joke at the expense of his life.

“Some of you may already know about the matter of which I will speak presently, some of you do not. It is a matter of great importance, and one full of danger. It seems that…”

Gleam’s eyebrows furrowed dramatically.

“…a Transgressor is in our midst.”

An equally dramatic gasp from all of the Karranans erupted, despite it not being a surprise at all to the majority of them.

“Yesterday evening, a woman entered the Candletower courtyard and, as if such a thing was not Transgressing enough, she then threatened to cut the throat of a Karranan to avoid capture. Unfortunately, due to being touched by a Transgressor, Karranan B cannot be with us today – he has decided to take unexpected leave for an indefinite amount of time.”

The other assembled Karranans nodded solemnly. Rob did so too, but he had no idea what was going on.

“This woman is quite clearly highly dangerous, and a threat to the lives of all innocent Candletower residents. Thus, this meeting has been called as a matter of great importance in order to resolve the problem before it spirals out of control. She may even be part of a group, which is planning great wrongs. She may have been in league with the Transgressor which I smote but a few days ago. Indeed, we know very little about the situation, which makes her an even larger threat.”

A Karranan spoke.

“This is likely not a task for a group of Lights – they are too obviously identified. We Karranans also can be recognised easily. This would give her, and her partners (should they exist), ample opportunity to escape. Such a cat and mouse game could well be played to no end, until they strike.”
“Indeed, Karranan C. Perhaps we should send a single, undercover agent to detect her whereabouts. Who can we trust to do so?”

All the eyes of those assembled turned to Rob, who was currently daydreaming.

“He isn’t even dressed in Karranan clothes yet.”
“Who would have thought such disrespect could become a blessing?”
“Thank the Great Light!”
“We should send him, he’s ordinary enough.”
“But can we trust him?”

The Archkarranan’s raised hand commanded silence.

“It is settled then. Karranan Rob will find this woman, and bring her before us to be punished as a Transgressor should be punished. Be careful, Karranan Rob. May the Great Light be with you.”
“Wait, what?”

Gleam sighed exasperatedly. Everything would be so much simpler, if only people listened.
“Find the woman with the knife, and bring her here so we can execute her.”
“But why me?”
“You’re the least recognisable, and the most expendable. Meant in the politest fashion, of course.”
“Of course. It is an honour.”
“Farewell, and may the Great Light be with you.”

Rob stood up, bowed and left. As soon as he left the crumbling walls of the Candletower, he kneeled down and whimpered. Why was this job so dangerous? It certainly hadn’t seemed like it from an outside perspective. He didn’t even know how he was going to catch this Transgressor. If only he knew someone who did.

“Oh, hey Rob. What a coincidence!”
“Yup, that’s me.”
“Have you been waiting outside for me to leave?”
“Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Do you want to fill me in on what’s happened?”
“How do you know that something has happened?”
“You just ran out, fell over and squeaked like a hamster. I might be wrong, but those are the signals of distress to me.”
“The Karranans have chosen me specifically to catch a Transgressor.”
“Ooh, how exciting! Which Transgressor?”
“The woman we saw here yesterday with a knife.”
“Sounds tough. Well, at least she doesn’t have the knife!”
“How do you know that?”
“She put it in your pocket, remember?”

Rob reached down into his pocket. There were a lot of things in there, but not one object was a knife.

“Squid! The knife is gone. It’s gone.”
“Yeah, that’s because I have it right here.”
“How did you manage to take it from me?”
“So how do you plan to capture this Transgressor?”

Getting a straight answer out of Squid these days seemed to be getting more and more difficult. Rob was far too preoccupied with his perilous task to worry about that, however.

“I really don’t know. Do you have any ideas?”
“How about you go sit out in the open, waving that knife around?”
“Great idea! I’ll get imprisoned, and then when she’s eventually imprisoned I can capture her then. Excellent.”
“Oh, thank you.”
“That was sarcasm.”
“Oh. Well, maybe don’t brandish it about. She clearly left it in your pocket to avoid being identified by it, but she’ll probably want her weapon back. It’s very difficult to find knives in Candletower. Not that I’d know.”
“More difficult than finding one particular knife in an entire city?”
“Just trust me on this one.”
“Why should I trust you? You have absolutely no idea about any of this, you’re just making things up that don’t make sense, then you ask me to trust you. I don’t understand you, Squid.”

Squid stepped back, quite hurt by this rush of anger.

“Well if you didn’t want my help, you shouldn’t have asked. I’ll just stay out of your way in future.”

And with these words he walked off, not looking back. Rob felt slightly guilty, but was still quite angry. This was a serious matter, and he needed serious suggestions. Ones that would work, preferably. The Transgressor could be anywhere; he just didn’t know where to start. Where would Transgressors hide? He would have to ask one that question. He would have to find one first though. Ugh, this was no use, it just led in circles. Maybe he should try Squid’s idea, and while he was sitting around he could think of better things to attempt. Procrastinating on things is such fun.


It had to be said, the Piazza was a great place, even sitting and soaking up the atmosphere (with a knife on your lap) was fantastic. The smell of roasting chicken wafted over from the multitude of food stalls, pizza (Piazza pizza, no less) was being freshly made on others. Musicians strummed away at their lutes and reddened their faces with pipes, and strange men sold blobs that splattered on the floor, and then became spheres again. Squid was probably right – if Rob was a Transgressor, forbid the thought, then this would have been the first place he would have come to. There were many people, and this was advantageous for two reasons – it was easy to conceal yourself, and there was a comparatively high chance of finding the person you were looking for. A disadvantage? You might become distracted as Rob did. He was sitting on the edge of the central fountain, which depicted mermen with water pouring out of their binoculars, and the Great Light at its centre. With the setting sun glistening against the falling water, its beauty was quite entrancing. It was especially relaxing after many people had attempted to buy the knife you were guarding. Or trying to guard. Rob felt a tap on his shoulder.

“I believe this is mine.”

Turning, the sitting Rob found himself very close to the woman, who was now wielding her life again. Things had been going so well too. It was now time for Rob’s deviousness to come into its own.

“The price is fifty, and I’m not going any lower.”
“Stop messing with me, I know this is my knife.”
“You can’t do anything to me – I’m a Karranan! You would be hanged in mere minutes if you even laid a finger on me. No, not even a finger – a fingerprint! A tiny piece of skin, in fact.”

The woman sighed.

“Why does Gleam always rely on stupid minions to do his work? And as for me being hanged, I honestly don’t think Gleam would care. He kills Karranans all the time, never mind ordinary people.”
“I’m no ordinary person, I’m a… wait, what do you mean ‘he kills Karranans all the time’.”

She shrugged.

“How am I supposed to make that any clearer? Pretty simple concept really. I heard he likes to burn them alive.”
“False rumours! Transgression in our midst!”
“No, I mean I actually heard him say that. I guess you wouldn’t listen to me though. Anyway, there’s a lot that I need to talk to you about. Come with me.”

The woman grabbed Rob and pulled him onto his feet, pressing the knife against his back and whispering in his ear.

“It’s probably in your best interests to do what I tell you to do, but if you fancy dying then feel free to disobey me.”

Rob gulped, but remained silent. The woman pushed him through many streets, eventually reaching the old bell tower. The bell tower was supposedly man’s attempt to rival the Great Light-created Candletower, but given that its highest point did not surpass the walls of the city, it seemed that the men in question had failed miserably. It had now fallen into dereliction, which translates for criminals into “excellent hiding place”.​

Of course, the supposed "criminals" were only part of a resistance movement against Candletower's tyrannical regime.

In the end, however, neither the resistance nor Gleam were right in anything that they did -- they both lusted for power. Squid would ultimately be revealed as an agent of the Great Light, who does indeed exist, though he would be corrupted by power after taking control of Candletower. Rob would then leave Candletower in the final chapters in the book, but the idiocy of these kinds of regimes was everywhere. A fat man waddles up to him and commands thus:

"Bow down and worship the Huge One, or live in a world without butter!"

Please excuse the hide tags messing up, up there.
Alrighty then, here's something new. A preview of a storyline complimenting my soon to be art thread.

The sunlight peaked through the blinds of my room.

Slowly I opened my eyes in a daze trying to figure out where I was, and what I was doing. And then they snapped open as they realized what day it was.

Today was the day that I began working at Smeargle's Studio!

I whirled around to check my clock. It read 8:30 a.m. "Crap, I'm gonna be late if I don't hussle!!!". I hopped out of bed and jumped into my closet. A few seconds later I came out wearing what I normally wear every day.

Covering my legs were a pair of faded, slightly baggy jeans. A standard black T-shirt was fit onto my torso and was covered by my favourite black baggy zip-up hoodie. Adorning my head was a checkered black and red fargo hat which hid most of my blond hair. I dashed out the front door and chucked a pokeball into the air.

"Stymph! Let's ride!"

My skarmory burst in a flash of white light and before it could do anything else, I was already on it giving it orders. "Alright Stymph, I need you to fly me to Smeargle's studio as quickly as possible. You know, the gigantic building with the words Smeargle's Studio on it. Can you do it?"

With a confident grunt (can grunts be confident?) he hovered and mid air and began to pick up speed. A few minutes later, I could see the building looming overhead.

Without a doubt, it was one of the biggest buildings in the city of Smogon. Maybe even bigger than the White house in Washington. My eyes redirected themselves from the rooftops of the structure to the door. I narrowed my eyes as I peered at it. Why was it zooming up at me?

And then I realized that Stymph was about still going 80 km an hour.

"S-Stymph! Stop! We're gonna crash!" And stop he did.

My face made a not so friendly meeting with the cement as I skidded across the ground. Slowly I got up and groaned, returning my skarmory and thanking him for giving me a sub par ride to the Studio. My head looked upwards as I heard the automatic doors open and close. Standing before me was a friendly looking man with an Elgyem floating around him.

"Ah, you must be the new recruit! Welcome to Smeargles Studio! Let's go in now. We have a lot to discuss!"

Ooooooh, I wonder who the elgyem man is? Any guesses?