Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Reading List: Catcher in the Rye

Hey, guys, what's up?  Welcome to another (I know, I actually wrote one of these again!) edition of The Reading List.  Today, I'll be reviewing Catcher in the Rye.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger tells the story of Holden Caulfield, a boy who drops out of school and decides to wander around New York for a few days in a psychological funk.  At the end, he has a mental breakthrough/breakdown and gets admitted to a mental hospital.  The whole novel is Holden's coming to term with death, sexuality, and other heady themes that are omnipresent in the adult world.

Holden is an interesting character.  While many stories use their main character either as an author surrogate or as a hero of the land, Catcher takes us through the fragmented view of  truly disturbed main character.  It's not the first bok to do this, nor is it the last, but few books that survive in our collective consciousness from that time read like it, if any.

So why?  Why does Catcher stay in our collective culture over fifty years after its original publication?

It may do good to look at the context of the book.  The 1950's were a radical time in the world, and this is reflective in some of the literature of the time.  The violence of World War Two could finally be looked at and comprehended, as seen in books like Elie Wiesel's Night (which I'm not looking forward to talking about) and the works of Ernest Hemingway.  Writers like Isaac Asimov and Daniel Keyes were looking at the new world filled with the promise of science with caution.  Meanwhile, two British friends were looking to the past to understand the space in which they were currently living.  Bradbury and Vonnegut were warning people about what the future could look like, while William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch attempted to encapsulate the culture that people didn't always want to talk about.

J.D. Salinger's only real success is an attempt at a lot of these ideas.  Holden's messed up headspace, while not caused by wartime trauma, is very much reminiscent of it.  Many a veteran has spent sleepless nights roaming around in a daze without help, although the vilification of war and soldiers that came with America's involvement in Vietnam was still a few years away.  Though it doesn't use the trappings of science fiction, it looks to the future through the unsure eyes of a cynical teen.  And though it isn't fantasy, Holden's flashback give context to the state in which he currently is.

The book is very much a product of its time, in both dialect and content.  Its language can be as foreign to some as a novel written in Old English, but the tone is what's important, and why I feel Catcher has survived so long.

Catcher very adequately captures that moment in your teenage years when you realize you don't have all the answers.  For Holden, its when he flunks out of school and doesn't know where he's going to go next.  For others, maybe its the first time you were rejected by someone you like, or when you learned something about your friends or parents.  Maybe it comes when you graduate high school and try to live as an adult for the first time.  You feel lost and confused, unsure of yourself.  You want to sit down and let the emotions rill over you, but you also want to be independent and strong.  You probably also want to go back home.

This is why Catcher remains so beloved today.  It still holds an important message to teens and anyone struggling.  That is why, of all the books from the 50's, this one still holds.  Wiesel, Hemingway and Burroughs are historical artifacts, better suited for history than English.  Asimov and Keyes' worlds seem naive to us now, while Vonnegut and Bradbury's messages need some tweaking to fit into our understanding.  Tolkien and Lewis still hold up, but lose a bit of their immediacy.

What Salinger was able to do was immortalize the pain and suffering that accompanies adolescence.  In this way, though the language and settings of Catcher become more and more distant, Holden's story and emotions still resonate with students today, and will probably continue to for generations to come.

Thanks for reading this installment of The Reading List.  See you next time!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Frozen: Disney's Most Overrated Film

I promised you guys, and here it is.  My feelings on the Internet's reaction to Disney's 2013 film, Frozen.  This will primarily be a rebuttal to some of the more popular claims to Frozen's "brilliance."

Now, don't misunderstand me.  I love this movie.  I really love it.  The music and visuals are beautiful, the characters are great, the humor is well-done for the most part, and the plot, while not the most original, still pulls out some neat twists.  But, if you read my last post, you know this.

However, I believe that nothing made by humans is perfect.  Everything has some flaws, and this movie is no exception.  That said, I also covered that in the last post, so I won't repeat them here.  Today, I'll be going over why Frozen is a good Disney movie and not Disney's secret, counter-cultural masterpiece.



The reason I'm not writing is because I read this.  This is a REALLY well written rebuttal to a lot of the arguments I was looking at talking about here.  I don't agree with all of her points, but I don't really want to write a rebuttal to her post.  Read it and pretend she likes Frozen and you'll basically have what I was going to talk about.  She goes into a lot of details about why Frozen isn't actually feminist by using some good ideas and concepts from feminist theory and it's just really good and smart.

If I do have one major criticism, it's that it is far too negative.  I understand that she doesn't like the movie, but it feels like the writer is doing this more out of spite than anything else.  Regardless, she does raise good points.

I'm only really writing this because I promised you guys I would write something on how I feel about the responses to Frozen.  When I came across this in my research, I felt awful.  I knew I'd just link to the article and feel like a cop out.  I'm sorry, but I don't have much to add to the conversation.

Hopefully, you still found it enlightening.  Sorry, guys.  I'll have a not cop-out post soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Frozen: A Movie Review

I started thinking about Frozen again recently.  It's one of Disney's biggest hits in many years and has become the favorite of many a watcher, myself included.  It's also become one of Disney's most polarizing features, drawing ire from as many sides as give heaps of praise.  I figured I could give my two cents as someone who enjoys it, but can also see some flaws.  In this post, I will be going through the plot of Frozen and showing why Frozen is one of Disney's greatest films.  In the next post, I will be facing down Tumblr and saying why Frozen is Disney's most overrated films.

After preparing mentally for my Internet crucifixion, let's dive in.

Frozen opens with the traditional Disney castle opening, followed by the newer Steamboat Willie credit, and a slow, artsy shot of snowflakes panning back to reveal the main title.  The song that plays over it is the beautiful chanting of "Vuelie."  It's a nice opening and helps set the mood, but it does feel disconnected from the rest of the film.  It feels like it's trying to be "Circle of Life," but the rest of the film doesn't have music similar to it like Lion King did.  The next song is a much better indication of the music overall, but "Vuelie" is a better fit as an opener, so it's a bit of a catch-22.  It gives me chills everytime I hear it and pumps me up to watch the movie, though, so I guess it's doing something right.

The next three songs, "Frozen Heart," "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?" and "For the First Time in Forever" encompass what I think of as the exposition phase of the movie.  "Frozen Heart" starts this off with very literally.  It establishes the tone of the movie and songs to follow better than "Vuelie," and offers a few subtle clues as to what will come later in the movie.  It's a nice song, but a bit forgettable.  It does what it needs to; it's not superfluous or excessive in any way.

From "Frozen Heart," we get a beautiful pan up to an aurora and down into Arendelle (I'll talk about visuals  at the end, this is more of a plot summary and how well the music works with it) where we find our two main characters, Anna and Elsa.  Cute little Anna pesters Elsa to sneak downstairs so they can play with Elsa's special ice powers.  It's clear that this is a regular occurence with them and something they both enjoy.  They play, in a very adorable scene, until tragedy strikes and Elsa accidentally hits Anna in the head with an ice bolt.  Her mother and father come running and take Anna to a group of trolls who heal her (and adopt a young Kristoff & Sven), saving her life while removing all memory of Elsa's magic.  This scene sets up the primary conflict of the movie: Elsa has to keep an integral part of who she is hidden from everyone, including her dear sister.  The actual ticking clock, Arendelle's covered in a glacier conflict is a direct result of this.

Quick fade from Anna and Elsa being separated and "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?" begins.  This song is fun, upbeat and peppy for the first two verses, reflecting Anna's still youthful optimism that she can coax Elsa out of her isolation.  It also serves as a time lapse, showing what the rift of Elsa forcing her magic away from her sister did to their relationship over time, while also bringing the characters up to present day.  Structurally, this song is one of two in the soundtrack without a chorus ("Vuelie" doesn't count because it's just chanting).  This repetition of the same basic phrasing without a REAL repetition like a chorus indicates that this sort of exchange was a regular, perhaps even daily, occurence growing up.  Musically, the tune is simple enough to get stuck in your head with enough complexity that it's fun to listen to repeatedly.

The final verse is a very hard tonal shift from bright and upbeat to sad and slow, reflecting the mourning the sisters are in after the death of their parents.  The shift in tempo and use of lower violin notes and clarinet accent this feeling.  What this does to the characters is interesting as well.  Not only does it give them some baggage to carry around, but, to quote from the Escapist's Bob Chipman's review of Frozen, "offing them [the parents] early instead of later...forces both girls into states of arrested development.  By the time they've reached adulthood...Anna is still a sweetly naive child desparate for affection and human contact, while permanently trapped in puberty; withdrawn, introverted, terrified of uncontrollable forces in her own body and paralyzed by self-conciousness of what people will think of her if she shows her true self."  What this also does for the movie is make the characters much more relatable.  To put it simply, Anna feels much more like she could be one of my friends than the 20-something she's supposed to be, and I know my little sister will turn into either one of them or a combination of the two by the time she's my age.

Frozen's exposition ends with "For the First Time in Forever."  This is where we meet the Anna and Elsa who will be doing most of the action.  We're introduced to the status quo of their lives by how they react to Elsa's coronation.  Anna reacts with excited optimism of a chance to interact with people again and maybe even find a special someone.  Elsa, meanwhile, looks on with fear and anxiety of having to put herself in the public eye, consoling herself with the knowledge that things will be more normal the following day.  The violin and woodwinds play quickly and vibrantly during Anna's verses, capturing her excitement perfectly, while Elsa's verse is softer and more regal, matching her uneasiness well.  Anna's solo choruses are dreamy and happy, while the use of brass and flutes during the last chorus blends both of their emotions together beautifully.  This is my favorite song from Frozen, just barely beating out "Let it Go," as the music is some of the finest in a lovely score.

From here, we are introduced to Hans, Prince of the Southern Isles.  He's an interesting character to say the least, and will be talked more about at that point in the story (you know what I'm talking about).  For now, he's a nice guy, someone who finally connects with Anna.  Like the young child she is inside, she falls pretty much instantly in love with him and, at the after party, they hook up in the peppy "Love is an Open Door."  "Peppy" is the word to describe it.  From the simple guitar and tambourine opening to the light accents of winds and violins in the verses to the massive swells in the chorus, the whole song is a great love song with a nice catchy tune.  As a villain song, (which it kind of is) it's cleverly disguised, but I feel people can read into it too much to make it a villain song.  While it has small elements that hint at some deviousness underneath, some elements people have pulled out seem really far-fetched.  Read this and see how many "villanous details" you agree with.

After this, Elsa rejects Anna's engagement, leading to a confrontation between the two where Elsa's ice powers are revealed.  Every thinking she's a monster, her worst fear, Elsa runs off into the mountains, freezing the sea around Arendelle solid.  Anna rides off after her, leaving Hans in charge.

This leads into "Let it Go," the big centerpiece of the movie and it's easy to see why.  The song swells from a simple yet haunting piano refrain, adding layers of strings as the piano becomes more complex.  The first chorus is nice and light, almost timid.  In the second verse, the piano and strings become more energetic and uplifting, becoming even more so as the second chorus comes.  The bridge seems to build and build, coupled with Idina Menzel's voice rising and rising in pitch until she bursts full force into the final chorus.  The music blasts into the uplifting final strains as Menzel belts out her final notes.  I am shocked she hasn't won a Tony yet and I hope, if she goes back to Broadway, she finally gets her dues.  "Let it Go" also serves a narrative purpose, aside from being the big, flashy "Under the Sea" or "Be Our Guest" of the movie.  This is the moment where Elsa finally loses her inhibitions and accepts herself for who she is.  This is probably why a lot of people, especially older fans, react so strongly to it.  Everyone who has been a teen has at some point felt this way.  They finally feel comfortable in their own skin and enjoy the person they are growing up to be.

After this, there's a long break of songs in the movie.  This section of the movie deals with Anna meeting up with Kristoff and Sven, an ice harvester and his pet reindeer.  Kristoff is a much different character than Hans, our other male lead.  Where Hans was charming and kind, Kristoff is a bit of a jerk.  He's a bit like the big, dumb jock to Hans' polite nerd, to use old stereotypes.  His interactions with Sven, speaking for him and acting as if he is his conscience, are immensely endearing, though.  This decision to leave Sven as a non-talking animal was smart, as it gave Kristoff a lot of personality he would have lost otherwise.

Oh yeah, Kristoff does get a minute long musical number.  It's a bit of a gross-out number and really forgettable, despite Jonathon Groff's really good singing voice.  I don't really like it, and it doesn't add much to the plot.

Kristoff and Anna are joined by Olaf, a talking snowman made in the exact same way the girls made snowmen as kids.  Olaf is introduced with the comedic "In Summer."  It has a simple melody, cute lyrics and some memorable visuals.  This is the only completely comedic song, with the comedy coming from his ignorance over what summer, a thing he desparately wants to experience, will mean for a snowman like himself.  It's cute while it lasts, but not terribly important.  It adds nothing to the plot and doesn't reveal too much about Olaf's character.  As a comic relief character, he might not need as much history as the dramatic characters, but it would be nice to know a bit more about him.

The group travels to Elsa's newly made ice castle.  Anna tries to reconnect with her sister, but Elsa's fears over what happened to Anna all those years ago make her brush Anna off.  This leads into the reprise of "For the First Time in Forever."  It follows the same structure as the end of the song, with different lyrics and one notable exception.  After Anna tells Elsa she accidentally blanketed Arendelle in snow, Elsa freaks out.  She conjures a mini blizzard around her and takes over the song.  Elsa overpowers Anna at the end, eventually leading to a beautiful crescendo followed by Elsa shooting Anna in the heart with ice and conjuring a massive snow monster to kick Anna and her party out.

Kristoff notices that Anna's hair is growing white, so he takes her to see his family; the trolls who long ago saved Anna from a similar blast.  Meanwhile, Hans has gone with a group to bring Elsa back to Arendelle.  Things go wrong when they are attacked by the snow monster that kicked out our heroes and two rogue agents attempt to kill Elsa.  Elsa nearly kills them back before Hans stops her and begs her to see reason.  She lets down her attack long enough for one of the men to knock her out.  She is then taken back to Arendelle and imprisoned.

Kristoff and Anna arrive at the trolls' home where they greet her and immediately assume the two of them are a romantic item.  This is my main problem with the trolls.  In the beginning, they seemed very noble, serious creatures that could have a quirky edge.  Here, they seem to be an amalgamation of every loud, noisy, over-interested family in media.  Either of these could have worked (though the second would have seemed a bit strange in the beginning), but instead, the trolls seem just inconsistent.  Coupled with the overly simple "Fixer Upper" and its awful rhyme scheme, the trolls are my least favorite part of the movie.  The only thing they do to advance the plot is to misdirect the climax, which I'll get to soon.

After informing Anna that only an act of true love can save her, they race back to Arendelle to get Anna back to Hans.  When they reunite, however, Hans reveals himself to be only interested in her to get the throne and that everything is going according to plan.  This twist was well done, revealed with a line that caused theaters worldwide to gasp in shock.  I've seen some criticism leveled at this, saying that the story could easily have been done with the Duke as the main villain and forcing Anna to come to a choice about who she would rather be with.  I can see that, but I think that would be putting too much emphasis on romantic love, which the story does not center around.

But, does this make the Hans turn bad?  No, and there is an interesting theory about why this might have happened that my friend shared with me.  In Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, which Frozen is inspired by, there is a mirror created by an evil troll which reflects all that is bad and ugly in the world.  Now, perhaps, Hans is based off of this mirror, just more literally.  He reflects Anna's excitement and love in "Love is an Open Door," the strength of Arendelle's people when he tells off the Duke while Anna is away, and Elsa's fear when he visits her in jail.  It's just a theory, but it seems to make sense.

After Hans leaves Anna to die, she is saved by Olaf and the two of them realize that Kristoff would be her true love.  Olaf tries to get Anna to Kristoff while Elsa breaks out of jail, causing a brutal blizzard.  Hans chases after her and the four struggle to find each other in the raging snow.  There's a great action scene here as Kristoff and Anna race to each other.  Meanwhile, Hans confronts Elsa and lies to her, saying that the ice magic finally worked its way through Anna's heart and killed her.  Distraught, Elsa falls to her knees, freezing the blizzard in place.  Kristoff and a nearly-frozen Anna see each other, but, in one final act, Anna runs to save Elsa from Hans' sword, blocking the blade but freezing in the process.  Elsa looks up to find her dear sister frozen solid.  She sobs next to her statue-like sister as the othe heroes gather around to mourn.

But Disney doesn't kill off a marketable princess yet.  The misdirection I mentioned with the trolls happens here.  Instead of the act of true love being a standard kiss, Anna's sacrifice out of love for her sister thaws her heart and revives her.  With this power of love, Elsa thaws all of Arendelle and our heroes live happily ever after.  Curiously, she does this to a reprise of "Vuelie," which ordinarily would call back to that number, but as "Vuelie" doesn't do too much with the story, it feels out of place.  Maybe they were trying to bookend the film, but there are still a few minutes after this, and the film ends with an instrumental reprise of "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman," another slightly odd choice.

Frozen looks absolutely gorgeous.  The animation is unlike anything else Disney's done; at once cartoony and realistic.  "Let it Go" is the visual splendor of the movieThe locations draw heavily from Scandinavia, particularly Norway, and they could not have picked a more beautiful setting.  The fjord used for Arendelle's inspiration is apparently Naeroyfjord, a beautiful fjord and what most people think of when they think Norway.  The movie is littered with small homages to Scandinavian and Sami culture, which give it a unique style.  The effects are stunning, especially Elsa's magic and her ice castle.  The way the light reflects and refracts inside it are simply stunning.

The voice work is equally as impressive.  Kristen Bell plays Anna wonderfully sweet and awkward, Idina Menzel capture Elsa's emotions very well, Jonathon Groff keeps Kristoff likable while staying the straight man, Santino Fontana plays both sides of Hans extremely well, and Josh Gad is fun to listen to and laugh at.  The minor characters are all memorable too, with props going to Alan Tudyk for making his Duke of Weselton both hilarious and despicable with each line.

If you've made it this far, congratulations!  You just read 2,866 words of some random guy on the internet's opinion on a children's movie!  (Shut up, I had to write it all!)  In all seriousness, thank you for making it to the end.  I hope you enjoyed it and maybe found something interesting to think about.  I really do like this movie, and would put it in one of my top movies of all time.  However, no movie is without it's flaws and I hope I've addressed some major ones.  Next time you see me, I'll be discussing some of the many reasons why Frozen is Disney's most overrated movie.  See you then!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nuzlocke: Moving On

Hey guys,

I've been doing some thinking and I have decided to stop updating Beryl Dreams here.

I will continue to update on the Nuzlocke forums, but, realistically, it's easier to read it there.  It will update more frequently and allows for easier user commenting and input.

I may delete the previous updates in the future, but for now, they will remain here.

If you would like to check out further updates, please follow this link to the Nuzlocke forums.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Beryl Dreams: Part 12

Part 12: Tidal Rise

I was standing above my last battle in the Dewford Gym.  We had given Steven his letter and escorted him back to town, where he gave us a TM as thanks.  After that, we healed and headed over to the Gym, where we had been battling for the past hour or so.

"Use Gust, Heather!"  I said, watching my beautiful butterfly blow away the Machop in front of her.  The girl recalled the small, human-like fighter.

"Heather, take a little break."  I said, recalling her.  "Go, Daniel!"

"Come on out, Meditite!"  She said, sending out the small meditating Pokemon.

"Daniel, Ember!"  I said.  He breathed small flames at the short Pokemon and knocked it out.

"Great work!"  I said.

Daniel turned back to me and smiled.  Then, he started to glow a hot white.  He grew at least a whole foot taller, grew long arms and a beak and even longer claws.

I smiled.  "Looking good."  I said.  Daniel looked down at his new evolved form.

"Thanks."  he said.  His voice was deeper, like a kid going through puberty.

"How does it feel?"  I asked.

Daniel stared at his newly formed arms.  "Really weird."  he muttered, fixated on them.

I smirked.  "Come on, let's go."

Our team walked into the arena.  Like in Rustboro, it was a large room rimmed by seats with a rocky battlefield covered in stalagmites.  Unlike Rustboro's gym, though, the field was ringed by a quickly running river, and the seats were filled with jocks and martial artists.

The daimyo, Brawly, was sitting on a rough-hewn rocky throne, looking down on me with contempt.  He wore an orange kimono, blue and white waves flowing on the bottom of it.

He stepped down off the throne and onto a small platform in front of it.  The crowd exploded into bellows and chanting.  After about five minutes, I was annoyed and ready to fight.

Brawly lowered his arms and everyone quieted down.  Then he looked up at me and smirked.

"Welcome to the Dewford Gym."  he boomed.  "I am Brawly, and I will be your opponent.  Defeat me and you win.  Are you ready?"

"I was ready before I even got here."  I huffed.

Brawly laughed and threw his kimono open.  He was shirtless, with a pair of navy blue hakama held up by a belt that also held his Poke Balls.  He grabbed one and sent out the Pokemon inside.

A Machop popped out onto the battlefield and flexed his muscles.  The crowd went insane once more.

"Heather, let's do this!"  I said, sending out my Beautifly.

The crowd erupted into laughter at the sight of her.  Heather looked down and blushed.  I gritted my teeth as I felt my blood boiling.

"Heather, Gust that runt out of here."  I snarled.  Heather looked back at me, questioning.  The audience was still guffawing.

"I said, Gust!"  I yelled.  Heather turned back to the Machop and beat its wings at it.  The wind whipped Brawly and mine's jackets and knocked the Machop to the floor.

The crowd went silent.

Brawly looked at me and smiled.  "Machop, use Seismic Toss."

"Use Gust again!"

Heather beat up another gale while the Machop struggled to get close to her.  Eventually, the wind lifted him off his feet and he landed, fainted, at Brawly's feet.

"Alright, then."  Brawly sneered.  "Makuhita, go!"

"Daniel, show them what you're worth!"  I said as I returned Heather and sent him out.

He stood, staring down the small bag-ish Pokemon, and shook his legs, emitting small sparks.  Makuhita punched his open hand and stepped into a fighting stance.

"Daniel, Peck!"

"Makuhita, dodge."

Daniel shot forward, beak first and jabbed at the Makuhita.  It jumped out of the way and Daniel went in for another jab.  The Makuhita continued to slide out of the way.  The two of them danced two full circles around the ring.  The crowd was starting the snicker again.

I screamed.  "Daniel, use Peck!"

"Knock Off."

Makuhita jumped above Daniel's attack and slammed its fist into his beak.  Daniel fell with his beak sandwiched between Makuhita's fist and the ground.


I couldn't breathe.  My vision blurred with tears, and I felt a pain in my side.  My hand found its way to Daniel's ball and clicked the button.  Daniel disappeared into red light and was replaced by Heather, which I guess my other hand found.

I briefly felt the wind that blew Makuhita away and the thud that followed as it landed in the center of the battlefield.  I ran as soon as the buzzer signaling my victory rang, ran through the maze of the gym and into the bright sandy beaches to the center.

"Wake up."  I heard someone say in the recesses of my mind.  I woke up slowly to see Brawly standing over me, wearing an orange t-shirt and shorts.

I glared at him.  "Why are you here?"

"You forgot this."  he said, handing me the Knuckle Badge.  I took it reluctantly from him and placed it in my pocket.

I stood up, stretching out the kinks I'd attained from dozing in a chair.  Brawly grabbed my shoulders and pulled me in close.

"You need to get your emotions in check if you want to go further."  he whispered.  "My goal is to try and get you riled up and off focus.  Your Combusken is going to be fine, but I guarantee if you try that with another leader, they will die."

He pulled away from me and smiled, regaining a public facade.  He bowed to me and I bowed back.  Then, he left me to my worrying.

"Sir?"  The nurse said, waking me.  "Your Pokemon are healed now, sir."

I sprang up and ran down the hall, past nurses and Chanseys imported from Kanto, and over to the operating room.

Two lines of beds sat along the walls, filled with various sick or injured Pokemon.  I walked slowly over to the second bed down on the right and knelt down next to it.

Daniel was doing a lot better than before.  He was sitting up, awake and breathing.  He looked at me with no small amount of hurt in his eyes.  His beak was wrapped in white gauze bandages.

"Daniel,"  I started, my eyes blurring from tears.  I threw my head onto his lap and flung my arms around his neck.

"I'm sorry."  I sobbed into him.  "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

Daniel wrapped his small, new-ish arms around me and rubbed my back.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

"It's okay."  Daniel whispered through the bandages.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

"It's okay."

I stayed like that for a long time before I finally thought Daniel was being serious.

Pokémon: 7       Badges: 1         Deaths: 2            Current Location: Dewford Town

Beryl Dreams: Part 9

AN: Holy crap, how did I never post this one?  This is like really important.  Whoops.

Part 9: Stone Cold

"Great work, Tiffany!"  I said as the last Geodude fell to the ground, unconscious.  The young Trainer recalled the small rocky creature and handed over a small stack of cash.

"Congratulations." he said.  "Now you're ready to fight Daimyo Roxanne."

"Great, where is she?"

"Right this way."

A secret door behind him opened.  We walked through the small corridor to a dark room.

Suddenly, the lights all went on.  In front of me, was a giant battlefield littered with jagged boulders.  A lot of Hikers and Trainers with rock-types were in the stands, cheering Roxanne's name.

On the other side of the battlefield, Roxanne stood on a raised platform.  Her brown hair was tied back into with a pink ribbon and she wore a long, blue and pink kimono.

"Welcome, challenger, to the Rustboro Gym!"  she said.  "I am Daimyo Roxanne.  Here, we are one with the Pokemon of the mountains, the Rock-type."

"It is an honor to challenge you, Daimyo."  I said, bowing to her.  "But we will not lose."

"Well, let's see about that."

I walked up to my platform.  The referee walked onto the field and started the match.

"In the red corner, the Daimyo of Rustboro, the queen of the Rock-type, the master of the mountains, Roxanne!"

The crowd screamed for her.

"And in this corner, from Littleroot Town, the newcomer to the Trainer scene, please welcome, Challenger Matt!"

Everyone applauded and some even called my name, wishing me good luck.  I waved to them and smiled, blushing a little.


"Go, Geo!"

"Tiffany, let's go!"

The two combatants stared each other down.  The crowd roared in anticipation of the coming fight.

"Tiffany, Water Gun!"

Tiffany spat water at the small rock, knocking it out.

"Geode, your turn!"  Roxanne said as she sent out her second Pokemon.  Tiffany Water Gun'd it down before it could attack again.

"You're doing well, but how will you handle this?  Go Nozu!"  she said, sending out a small rocky nose Pokemon.

"Alright, you know what to do, Tiffany."

"Right!"  she said, before Water Gunning the Nosepass.

Sadly, it was still standing after the drench, though it was a little unsteady.  It then jumped into the air before slamming down again, launching rocks into the air.  They crashed into Tiffany and pinned her wings.

"Tiffany!"  I screamed.

"I'm okay!"  she called back before launching another Water Gun.  The rocks fell away from her as the Nosepass was pushed back.  Tiffany flew around, trying to avoid attacks and shoot another Water Gun.  Once the Nosepass got its footing, it shot another Rock Tomb and pinned her to the ground.

"Tiffany, Water Gun!  You almost have him!"

"Nozu, Rock Throw!"

Somehow, the Nosepass moved first.  Rocks erupted from the ground as the Pokemon glowed a dull tan.  They hovered over Tiffany, her eyes filled with fear.

I watched helpless as the rocks fell and crushed her.

"Tiffany!"  I screamed.  My vision grew blurry as tears filled my eyes.

"Oh, Arceus."  Roxanne said.  "You have Nuzlocke, don't you?"

I nodded wordlessly, fumbling for the right ball.

"We don't have to end this."  Roxanne tried.

"No."  I said.  "We have to.  Heather, use Absorb!"

Heather flew out into the field and Absorbed the last remaining energy from Nozu.  It fell to the ground, knocked out cold.

The crowd cheered for my Pyrrhic victory.  I ran out onto the field and began frantically scraping the rocks to find Tiffany.

I cringed when I saw her.  Her wings looked broken, her body slightly flattened.  A trail of blood flowed from her beak.

"No."  I whispered.

"Matt?"  she weakly asked.

"I'm right here."  I said, trying to hold back sobs.

"Did we win?"

I smiled through the pain.  "Yeah. We did."

"Did I do good?"

I sniffed.  "You did better than I ever would have imagined."

Tiffany started breathing heavily.  "Can I ask you something?"


"Can you sing to me?"

I blinked back tears and held her mangled body to my chest.

Just close your eyes,

The sun is going down.

You'll be alright,

No one can hurt you now.

Come morning light,

You and I'll be safe and sound.

R.I.P. Tiffany
Lv. 4- Lv. 13

Pokémon: 5 Badges: 1 Deaths: 1 Current Location: Rustboro City

Eulogy:  We have our first death.  This does not bode well for us.  Poor Tiffany.  Managed to take on the entire Gym up to that goddamn Nosepass.  I thought she could still outspeed him after two Rock Tombs, but apparently not.  R.I.P. Tiffany.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Beryl Dreams: Part 11

Part 11: Grotto Nuevo

I stood on the deck of Mr. Briney's ship and stared out over the ocean.  The sun turned the ocean and sky a blazing amber as it sunk lower in the sky.  I sighed, then walked back down into my room.

John jumped onto me as soon as I flopped onto the bed and curled up into a ball on my chest.  Tyler laid down next to him and Heather perched herself on my headboard.

"Is something going on guys?"  I asked.

"We're just tired."  Daniel said as he jumped onto the bed, followed by Brandon and Bryan.

I smiled as we all drifted asleep, rocked by the gentle waves.

"Thanks for the ride, Mr. Briney!" I said as the team and I walked onto the golden sands of Dewford Island.

The town was much smaller, almost as small as Littleroot.  There was a Pokemon Center, a couple houses and, of course, the Gym.  But that wasn't why we'd come.

"Come on, guys.  Let's go deliver this letter."  I said.  We walked north along the beach, taking in the salty air and the sunshine.

"Hey, kid!"  a man called to me.  I looked and saw a fisherman sitting on the beach a little ways away.

"Battle?"  I asked.

"You know it."  he said, standing up.  "Go, Haepari!"

He set out a small blue and red jellyfish, which floated slightly in the air.

"Come on, let's go Brandon!"  I said as the little bug Pokemon jumped in front of me.

"Poison Sting!"


Brandon jumped forward to slice up the jellyfish, but it shot out a long, purple-glowing tentacle, which hit Brandon square in the chest.  Brandon cut the Tentacool and jumped back, looking queasy.

"Brandon, come back!  Bryan, use Pound!"

Bryan shot forward from behind me, jumped over Brandon and knocked out the Tentacool with one ear strike.

"Dang, you're good."  the fisherman said, recalling his jellyfish.

"Thanks."  I said, scooping up Brandon from the sand and rushing back to the Center.

As soon as we were healed, we walked back to the beach and into Granite Cave.  It felt big and empty, yet still teeming with unseen life.

We walked further and further into the darkness, descending and descending into the inky depths.

Suddenly, I heard another set of footprints approach.  I turned around and stared into the black.

A small, bipedal yellow Pokemon stepped up to me.  He punched his fists together and stared us down.

"Human.  What are you doing here?"  it said.

"I'm just trying to deliver a letter to someone."  I said, waving it at him.

"If you wish to pass, you must defeat me."  he said, stepping back into a fighting stance.

I looked down and saw Brandon walking towards the Makuhita.

"You sure about this, Brandon?"  I asked.

"Yes."  he said, staring down his opponent.

The two Pokemon stared each other down for another moment.  Then, Brandon leaped forward, claws outstretched.  The Makuhita grabbed him and threw him to the ground.  Brandon jumped up again scratched him twice before he was thrown down again.

"You okay?"  Bryan called from right behind me.  I could feel Daniel steaming from a little bit behind me.

As the Makuhita came closer to him, Brandon spun, cutting the Makuhita across the front.

"I'm fine."  Brandon said.

The Makuhita got to his feet.  "You have truly bested me, sir." he said.  "I ask you to finish this fight."

I knelt down next to Brandon and looked at him.  "How would you like to come with us?"  I asked.  "You could train with many different partners and get much stronger."

He looked up at me.  "Do you really think so?"

I smiled.  "Definitely."

He nodded.  I pulled out a Poke Ball and touched it to his forehead.  He was sucked into the ball, and it clicked.

"What's his name?"  Heather asked.

I checked the digital display on top of the ball.  "It says 'Spencer'."

I stood up and let the ball disappear into the ether.  "We'll see him back in town.  Come on, let's go find Steven."

Pokémon: 7       Badges: 1         Deaths: 1            Current Location: Granite Cave