Chapter Seventy-Eight: Selene, Lucius, Toxica, Octa, Aqua, and Boreas
A gentle spring breeze whispered through the tall grass of Route 7 and the Sun shone down warmly on a generously decked table full of delicacies. At the table sat six pokémon, close friends of each other. The meal they were sharing was a very special one; not just because it celebrated the end of the Plasma war, but because it was the final one they'd share. Tomorrow an end would come to their team after three years of hardships and joy, fights and friendship. Each one of them had saved the life of each of the others at least a dozen times, and felt like killing that person at least as often.
As Boreas looked around at his friends, he realised the good times easily outweighed the bad ones. He had a special bond with each of these five pokémon, and to think they would part tomorrow felt unreal. It was sad to part, yet they were all happy with where they were going next.
Boreas smiled and lifted his glass. "To our new League Champion, and to the newest members of his team."
Five glasses tipped against his and they all took a sip. "Hear, hear," said Selene, "but Iwho is this new Champion? I didn't hear anything about a new Champion."
"He's talking about Cheren, birdbrain," said Lucius. "And he's gonna be the new Champion, 'cause we're gonna make him Champion."
"Oh, right," said Selene.
"It's stupid we have to go through Victory Road again, though," grumbled Lucius, "we did that twice last year, why do we have to go again?"
"Well, those are the rules," said Octa. "One isn't allowed to challenge the League unless one arrived there by Victory Road."
"On the positive side," said Selene, "we've been getting really familiar with Victory Road this way; I can't wait to meet some of my favourite rocks again!"
"Guess at least one of us'll be having fun."
"It's not as if it'll be as bad as the last two times for you either," Boreas pointed out, "since it'll be spring this time, instead of autumn or winter. I hear the Black Mountains' climate is relatively temperate in spring."
"Yeah," Aqua chimed in, "average temperatures only fifty degrees below freezing instead of a hundred. Positively tropical. If you're a Glaceon, at least."
Boreas laughed. "It's not that cold on Victory Road, you know."
"It sure felt like it," said Aqua. "And I should know about cold; I'm married to a Glaceon after all."
"Don't be so silly," chuckled Boreas, "it's not as if I ever expose you to cold, knowing how sensitive you are to it."
"I am not!" said Aqua in an overdone way. "Just because I don't have some kind of Glaceon-superfur that keeps all the cold out..."
"Sure you are," said Boreas, cooling a paw down to below freezing and poking her stomach with it, eliciting a loud squeal. "See?"
Aqua laughed nervously as she recoiled. "That's not fair, I'll get you for that!" She lunged at him and tried to tickle him, but was interrupted by Octa scraping his throat loudly.
"I do apologise if my having dinner interrupts your canoodling."
Boreas and Aqua broke it off and blushed sheepishly. "Sorry," said Boreas, "got a little distracted."
"Oh no, please don't let me interrupt you," spoke Octa snidely, "continue acting like animals all you like."
Toxica giggled. "You're not jealous of them, are you?"
"Of course he is," Lucius joined in with a grin, "after all, it's his anniversary."
"Oh yeah," laughed Toxica, "it's the third anniversary of you and Boreas' first meeting, darling. Hope you didn't forget to get a present for him."
Boreas and Aqua laughed along with them. "Yeah, Octa," teased Boreas, "I hope you didn't forget or thought just this dinner would be enough."
Octa struggled hard to keep a straight face and couldn't quite manage it. "Oh, do be quiet, you dreadful barbarians. I long for the day I shall be in civilised company again. Which just so happens to be tomorrow."
"Don't count your blessings yet." Toxica nudged Octa. "I'll be back in a week or two, and you haven't managed to civilise me yet."
Octa laughed heartily. "Ah, the horrors I exposed myself to when I consented to be given to a trainer. How shall I ever escape the barbarity I was immersed in?"
"I don't know," chuckled Toxica, sipping her glass, "but marrying a barbarian was probably not the best way to go about it."
Octa looked pensive. "Hmm, that might have been my mistake, yes..."
Octa and Toxica had wed on a beautiful day in October, soon after Castelia had been liberated. Team Plasma's hold on the capital had been strong, as all its factions agreed Castelia had to stay in their hands at all costs, actually working together for a change. When Boreas, Aqua, and Octa had joined Toxica, Lucius, and Selene there to help defeat Team Plasma the day after the victory in Nuvema Town, another four difficult months had started. Even as other cities threw off Team Plasma's yoke, their grip on Castelia remained tight, realising holding the capital was their final chance to win the war.
By the time the resistance had finally prevailed, Boreas was exhausted and tired of fighting and wanted nothing more than some peaceful rest. So when Octa had asked Boreas to be his best man, Boreas had expected his friends' wedding to be a welcome repose after the hard work. Little had he known that fighting Team Plasma was easy compared to fighting Octa's family. The entire thing was meticulously planned out, and absolutely everyone, living or dead, had gotten involved in some way. Boreas and Selene, as best man and maid of honour, had automatically been forced to join in on this circus of planning, to the great amusement of Aqua and Lucius who instead used the time to relax.
Still, the wedding itself had been utterly wonderful and made it all worth it, though Boreas had often felt like killing Octa and/or his entire family in the weeks leading up to it. Octa had surprised Boreas with how passionate he had kissed Toxica when Livia had proclaimed them husband and wife; Boreas just didn't know him to get that emotional.
After the wedding, it had been time to fight Team Plasma again, as usual, but without Castelia, its remnants had been chanceless. They had lost city after city, until by the end of the year only Lacunosa and Striaton were left, and a few days later Striaton was Team Plasma's final stronghold. The final splinter of Team Plasma in this city had proven surprisingly hard to vanquish, but on 26 February a free Unova could finally celebrate the end of the war. It had been quite a small war in terms of life lost and destruction wrought, yet its impact was enormous. There were far fewer trainers now, but there was something different about them too other than their dwindled numbers that Boreas couldn't put a finger on until Aqua pointed it out to him.
In a sense, N's dream had come true as the remaining trainers looked on their pokémon differently. It made sense, in a way: with the threat of death from Team Plasma and Zekrom's influence on the minds of all, most trainers had released their pokémon. The only ones that didn't were those who cared about their pokémon a great deal and were willing to fight for them and to risk all; and Team Plasma members. Since the second group was mostly behind bars these days, the remaining trainers were exactly those who treated their pokémon very well and realised they were more than just weapons or tools. To add to that, these had all gone through very difficult times with their pokémon and fought hard for them, which only increased their bond. Of course, with Team Plasma gone, the number of trainers was once again slowly increasing. Boreas hoped the example the current trainers set would be enough to avoid a return to the more mixed bag of trainers there used to be.
Boreas was snapped out of his thoughts by Lucius talking to him. "You know, pup, you're pretty good in a fight. Why don't you reconsider leaving and join us on Cheren's team instead? I'm sure he'll gladly replace some of the other losers there with you."
Boreas had actually considered that briefly, but it didn't really appeal to him. While he had gotten along decently with Cheren while they were in Castelia and it had been nice to have a trainer in charge of the team again, Cheren wasn't Black. He didn't like him that much. But more importantly, he felt it was time to move on. He had become quite restless lately, and looked forward a lot to seeing more of the world. "No thanks, Lucius. Been there, done that."
"Sure, but that's no reason not to do it again; it's a challenge after all. Plus, this time, when Cheren is Champion, he'll actually get to keep the title instead of, y'know, dying a few hours later. So we'll have to defend the title against challengers."
"Yes, sounds terribly exciting," scoffed Boreas, "waiting around in a single place for challengers to come to us and probably beat them easily. And it gets even better, because for half the year they won't come at all since Victory Road is too dangerous in winter. Sounds great."
"There's more to it than that! Champions get to fight in the world championship, and they have all kinds of other duties and tasks."
Toxica giggled. "You're not saying you'll miss Boreas, right?"
Lucius sniffed. "Miss him? Me? I just think he would make a good asset to Cheren's team. The same goes for the rest of you, by the way; I'm sure Cheren could be convinced to have you on his team."
"No, thanks," said Octa. "While it is an intriguing possibility, I wish to be with my family for now. I promised to, after all."
"You've seen what this place is like, Lucius," said Toxica. "They really need me. Besides, I'd rather not have my honeymoon on Victory Road like Boreas and Aqua. I'll be happy just to settle down with Octa."
It was quiet for a moment as Aqua slowly realised Lucius looked at her. "What, me?" she blurted out in surprise. "You want me to join Cheren's team?"
"W-well, not you in particular..." grumbled Lucius.
Aqua raised an eyebrow. "Me in general? Just any of all those Aquas I represent?"
"No, what I meant was... Just, anyone in the team, including you. Because you're all good fighters. And you're pretty okay, I guess."
Aqua smiled, genuinely surprised. "Was that a compliment I heard? What have you done with the real Lucius?" She chuckled as Lucius struggled for words. "Thanks. But no, I have no interest in the Pokémon League."
"Don't worry," said Selene, "you'll still have me."
"Yeah, that's exactly what I'm afraid of."
A content silence fell about the table. They had all finished eating a while ago, but none of them saw any reason to get up already, enjoying the evening and each others' company.
"Aqua, Boreas," asked Toxica, "do you know where you'll go yet?"
Boreas looked at Aqua. She shrugged. "Not a clue," grinned Boreas. "Isn't that wonderful?"
"Well, if you say so," said Octa. "It sounds quite dreadful to me."
Boreas chuckled. "Where's your sense of adventure, Octa?"
"I don't know, my dear fellow, but it's quite satisfied after all the adventure we've been through."
Boreas shrugged. "Not mine. We haven't been to a new place in over a year, just revisiting cities we've been through to get rid of Team Plasma. I'm just about dying to see new places."
"I don't think I shall ever understand you, my dear fellow. But it does not matter, whether I understand you or not, I have never had such a good friend before. I shall miss you, my dear fellow. All of you, for that matter." He scraped his throat and lifted his glass. "Here's to friendship. May ours last a lifetime." Six glasses met.
The early morning Sun shone upon the roofs of Crimson Village, demonstrating the source of the village's name. Six pokémon walked slowly through the nearly empty streets. Even knowing someone was waiting for them, they were in no hurry, as they were about to part.
Boreas walked in silence, even though part of him wanted to use these final minutes to talk as much as he could to Lucius and Selene. But it was as if he had said everything he needed to say. He just wished they could all stay together... But it was alright this way. They had spent three great years with each other, and now it was time to move on, as they each wanted to do different things. Soon there would be only memories left of their team, and it would be enough.
As they reached the village's small train station, they saw Cheren and his four remaining pokémon waiting for them. Far away, a train's sound could be heard. "Ah, there you are," said Cheren, "just in time. Are you ready to go?"
Lucius turned around to look at his friends, and Boreas' heart suddenly ached with the knowledge that this really was the end. "C'mon, birdbrain, get on my shoulder. It's time to go."
Selene hopped down from Aqua's shoulder and embraced her with her wings. While they said goodbye, Boreas felt he had to say something to Lucius. "Well, I guess this is goodbye."
"Yeah," said Lucius. "I guess so. Or it could be your last chance to change your mind."
Boreas shook his head.
Lucius shrugged. "Figured as much. It's a shame, it'd have been a blast."
"Yeah," said Boreas, "I guess it would." He was surprised to find tears stinging behind his eyes. He had barely realised how attached he had become to Lucius. He was an annoying jerk and never missed a chance to make a sour remark, but Boreas would truly miss those remarks and how they occasionally made him laugh. He was about to say something when Selene's claws gripped his shoulder and Lucius went to say goodbye to Octa.
"No more playing on Ferris wheels, alright?" said Selene. "It's all fun and games until you end up hanging from one by your tail without Selene there to help you."
"Alright, I'll be careful." Boreas grinned, petting Selene's feathers. "Thanks for making my world a little stranger every day."
Selene gave him an undignified look.
"Alright," he laughed, "a lot stranger."
"That's better," she grinned.
"Never stop doing the same to Lucius, okay? It really annoys him, in a good way."
Selene looked ignorant. "I don't know what you mean."
"Sure, sure," said Boreas.
"But," Selene continued with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, "if I ever figure it out, I'll follow your advice."
Boreas grinned. "Good."
Selene hopped onto Lucius' shoulder. "I'm all ready to go!"
"Then what are we waiting for?" chuckled Lucius. He turned to Boreas one last time and gave one of his rare smiles. "Have fun out there, pup."
"Good luck to both of you." They stood in front of each other for a moment, and then Lucius and Boreas moved forward and hugged each other briefly. Selene, sitting on Lucius' shoulder, gave Boreas' ear a friendly nibble. They released each other, and Lucius nodded to all of them. "See you around, guys."
He turned and walked to Cheren, who was quite impatiently waiting at the train by now. Selene waved at them with her wing as they boarded the train.
Four pokémon sat at the station, talking merrily. They had to wait an hour for the train to Driftveil, but they didn't mind, as it allowed them some more time together. When the train came, Octa would take Boreas and Aqua to Driftveil, while Toxica would stay behind to take the next train to Opelucid; she was going to travel Route 10 too, as far as the gates of Victory Road to spend some more time with her friend Selene. But since Cheren wouldn't leave Opelucid rightaway, she had chosen to spend a final hour with Aqua and Boreas as well. They were reminiscing together, and Toxica just finished an embarrassing story about Boreas.
"So," said Aqua slyly, "you were jealous of Toxica, hmm? Funny how you forgot to mention that to me when you told me all about your past..."
Boreas blushed. "Well, I did tell you she annoyed me. I just didn't go into endless details about the reasons..."
"I wonder what else he didn't tell you," giggled Toxica. "Did he say anything about Febby?"
"Not at first, no. He told me about her later, though."
"What about the time he got drunk and kissed me?"
"I beg your pardon?"
Toxica burst out in laughter. "Just kidding, just kidding. You should've seen all your faces!"
Boreas had to laugh too now. "Poor Octa, getting stuck with you forever."
Toxica stuck out her tongue. "Poor Aqua, getting stuck with you forever."
"I'm not sure which of us is to be pitied more..." said Octa.
"Well," said Toxica, "you would never have been stuck with me if it wasn't for Boreas."
"I was barely involved," said Boreas. "I just gave Octa a little push in the right direction."
"As well as a few punches in the right direction..." grumbled Octa.
"Well," giggled Boreas, "you needed them, so I gave them. Not just because I'm your friend, but also because I had promised Capella. Well, I didn't promise to punch you, that was my own input."
"I wonder," said Toxica, "what Capella would think of us if she was here now."
Boreas thought of his old friend and her kind smile and eyes that told you you could trust her with anything. Always kind and altruistic, and she had always been there when you needed her. "She'd be happy for us, I think. She'd be delighted you and Octa got together, and that we finally beat Team Plasma. And of course that we're all still alive against all odds."
A glad silence fell. "I wonder with whom she'd have gone..." said Octa.
"Maybe she'd have gone off on her own?" wondered Toxica. "Back to her old home in the river in Nacrene, perhaps."
The train could be heard approaching in the distance. Boreas felt a stab of emotion, knowing it was time to say goodbye to Toxica. "Remember when we first met?" said Boreas.
"How could I forget?" said Toxica with a smile. "You wanted to get rid of me as soon as possible, if I remember correctly. Looks like you got your wish at last."
Boreas smiled too, though tears stung sharply. "Yeah. Took me almost three years, but I finally did it."
"You did," she said, her voice breaking, "you must be very h-happy."
Feeling his own tears break through as well, Boreas hugged Toxica tightly. "O-only happy we became such good friends. You're like a sister to me, Toxica: we're very different and argue and annoy each other a lot, but it doesn't change anything about how much I like you."
"Th-thanks, brother," grinned Toxica, letting him go and drying her tears. "I hope you'll have an awesome time, wherever you're going."
As the train reached the station, Toxica said another heartfelt goodbye to Aqua. Boreas found himself crying again as he boarded the train. It was bizarre how attached he'd become to the bratty little Oddish. Boarding the train too, Octa kissed her. "I'll see you in a few weeks, darling."
Toxica nodded and waved her goodbye to them as the doors closed. Boreas and Aqua sprinted to a coupé and looked out of the window to see Toxica running along with the train, waving at them. They waved back until she finally began falling behind and disappeared from their view.
Three pokémon sat in the train and watched landscapes scroll by rapidly as they chatted about everything and nothing. Boreas knew the hardest goodbye of them all was yet to come, but didn't let it bother him. It was barely imaginable, really, that he would soon leave Octa. Rather, he used their final hours together to their fullest. They laughed and talked and talked. Aqua mostly stayed outside of the conversation, understanding their need to spend some final time together.
They talked much about Black and laughed at the memories of how bad he had been at understanding them at first. The number of times he'd managed to correctly interpret his pokémon before Victory Road could be counted on one paw. Yet they also remembered how much he had cared for them and how brave he had been. It was easy to underestimate Black as a teammember, but he had been at least as important as any of the pokémon. When Boreas' life had fallen apart in Chargestone Cave, coincidentally underneath the hills they were passing over, Black had been all he had left.
From Black the conversation turned to other things, from the adventures they'd had together to astrophysics. They discussed Cheren's odds of becoming the new Champion, things Octa and Livia were hoping to change, and much more. Boreas realised most of his happiest moments with Octa had been spent like this, talking about all kinds of things and enjoying his friend's enormous knowledge and wit. Those that weren't spent making up after bickering like an old couple, at least.
Slowly, yet way too fast for Boreas' tastes, the train came to Driftveil. It pulled into the city's old station, and together they got off, heading through the familiar city to the docks.
"Was it difficult to convince them to give you a boat as a token of gratitude?"
Boreas sighed. "'Difficult' doesn't even begin to describe it. It was difficult to make it clear I wanted a boat, and I hadn't even got to the convincing part yet. You know how hard it is to make humans understand you."
Octa nodded. "It is. So how did you do it?"
Boreas shrugged. "Well, I decided to convince Alder, since he knows well what happened in Plasma's Castle, and can actually understand pokémon. Well, he understood me after a few tries, at least. Then he took some more convincing, but finally he talked to other people, and eventually I got my boat. I guess some people along the line must've looked at him really weird when he told them he wanted to give a boat to some pokémon."
"And that instructor looked at him really weird too when he was teaching us to use the thing," recalled Aqua. "Pretty sure she thought it was a joke."
"It's not that surprising," said Octa. "It's one of your sillier ideas, my dear fellow. Were you perchance unaware of the existence of ferries and planes? 'Tis not uncommon to have pokémon travel onboard those, you know; you don't need your own boat to travel."
"True," said Boreas, "but it's a lot more fun when we can pick where we go ourselves. And we can get to places ferries don't go."
Boreas shrugged. "I'll know when I get there. There's that lost continent inhabited entirely by pokémon, for example..."
"That's just a myth, my dear fellow."
They had reached the water now at a familiar-looking small pier on the river. Boreas was flooded by memories and blushed a little. "Look, my love, that's where we first kissed..." He pointed to the water next to the pier.
"I remember," giggled Aqua, "I was expecting you to kiss me at some point all day, and had been looking forward to it quite a bit."
"Well, I was really nervous... You had me completely enchanted by then, and I was terrified of messing it up. You might've given me more signs you wanted me to kiss you."
Aqua burst out into laughter. "Because I really was incredibly subtle about fancying you, you're right."
"Alright," laughed Boreas, "I guess you gave me a fair few signs."
"Fair few? I practically had giant red neon letters "I FANCY YOU" around my head. I'm almost embarrassed thinking back to it and how strongly I was coming on to you. The long loneliness got me a little funny in the head, I think."
"Well, to be fair you've stayed a little funny in the head ever since I've known you."
As they walked by the river's shore, they saw a small blue ship lying ahead. It had a single mast and two sails, which were currently under wraps, as well as an engine. It was small enough to controlled by two, yet large enough to comfortably house those two for long periods of time in its cabin.
"You both are," said Octa kindly, "which is why I believe you'll be together for as long as you live."
"Octa," said Boreas, "what got you feeling so prophetic all of a sudden?"
"The fact that it's become time to say farewell to my best friend."
Octa continued. "My dear Boreas; Aqua. You shall only have each other to rely on for now, therefore heed well my words. Be patient with each other. Always let there be love, not anger between you. Let the other be your all and take care of them before yourself, and you should be alright. When you fight anyway, never give up, but stay at work to repair your relationship. Never forget the love you carry for them.
My dear fellow, you have one of the finest minds I have ever had the pleasure of encountering, and as long as you use it, you can get out of any problem. Aqua, it has admittedly been a mixed bag, knowing you. I used to suspect you of treason, to think you were a bad influence on Boreas, an annoyance, and a bad person. However, I have since discovered I was mistaken."
Aqua smiled. "Thank you."
"You are, in fact, a good person and a great influence on Boreas. Moreover, I have eventually come to think of you as a friend. Will you accept my apologies for my behaviour in earlier days?"
Aqua embraced Octa. "Of course. I had almost forgotten it by now."
"Thank you. Then I shall simply wish you nothing but happiness eternal."
Aqua nodded and let go of him. "Thanks. Take good care of Toxica, alright? She'll enjoy being with your family for a while, but eventually she'll want to leave."
Octa nodded. "I know. So, admittedly, shall I. We do not intend to help Lady Livia forever, nor shall she need our help forever."
Octa and Aqua nodded to each other as a final greeting, then Octa turned to Boreas. Aqua left, saying: "Take all the time you need; I'll get the ship ready."
Octa and Boreas were left looking at each other. Bores suddenly realised this really was the last time he would see Octa in a long time and he couldn't stop the tears. There was no-one in the world he knew as well or as long as Octa, not even Aqua. He could barely remember not knowing him. "O-Octa..." he said. "I-I think maybe I don't want-"
Octa grasped him and resolutely cut him off. "No, you do. I have seen you look forward to this for more than a year, my dear fellow. Do not let the difficulty of parting stop you from doing the right thing. You didn't let it stop you in Team Plasma's castle, and you shouldn't let it today. The world awaits you and your bride, my dear, dear Boreas, and I know you shall have an utterly wonderful time there, even without me. All good things come to an end, my dear fellow, even this friendship."
Boreas nodded; he knew Octa was right. "You're right, Octa. As always."
Octa smiled even as tears rolled over his cheeks too. "And don't you forget it. My dear fellow, what more can one say on an occasion such as this? 'Tis very sad to lose you, yet I'm glad you'll finally get to do what you truly like to do. I hope you shall see things beyond your wildest dreams, which I know are pretty wild."
"T-thank you. I hope you'll cherish the time you spend with your family... And then live happily ever after with Toxica. You've deserved it after all you did for me."
Octa gave an uncharacteristic sign of modesty as he tried to brush off the compliment.
"No, really," insisted Boreas. "I won't even get into the life-saving; you've basically educated me all by yourself, and you've always been there for me. I know you'll get the happiness you deserve. You and Toxica will be happy together for a long, long time, and you'll have lots of cute little... sprouts together. Parts of your family will object, of course, but in the end it'll just help them see it's a new time now."
"Thank you, my dear fellow. I hope you're right. I would say something similar to you... But I know what you and Aqua think of children, therefore I know you shall be happy with just the two of you instead. With that... I-I believe 'tis time to say farewell."
"Y-you're wrong, my friend. It's time to say goodbye."
Octa's face cheered up greatly. "It is?"
Boreas laughed and hugged Octa tightly, holding on to him. "Of course it is. You didn't think I would leave a friend as dear to me as you behind forever, did you? We'll meet again."
"You're right, my dear, dear fellow," said Octa softly as they embraced, "we will meet again, though I do not yet know where or when. Be warned, though, that I shall want to hear your every adventure to its tiniest detail that day."
"Of course. And the same warning goes to you." He let go of Octa and looked him straight into the eyes. "Goodbye, Octa. I've never had a friend better than you."
"Until we meet again, my dear fellow. May your heart be full of joy and your eyes full of wonder."
They nodded to each other a final time before Boreas slowly turned around and jumped into the boat. Aqua embraced him softly, seeing his eyes were wet with tears, and he got behind the mainsail she had unfurled. They sailed south, to the river's mouth and the sea. After a while Boreas looked back and saw the distant figure of Octa smile his goodbye. He smiled back as the Serperior disappeared behind a bend in the river.
Boreas looked at Aqua. Octa was right; now that the goodbyes were over with he realised this was going to be great fun. "Now," he said with a happy smile, "let's see if we will find something wonderful... Or if something wonderful will find us."
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Two years ago, I had an idea for a way to style a pokémon Nuzlocke Challenge comic I was considering making. The idea came from playing a lot of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and was essentially that the protagonist was the pokémon world equivalent of an Assassin, fighting against the tyrants of Johto. These would have been the Gym Leaders, cruel governors from a tyrannical emperor; Lance. Pretty soon into thinking of this, I realised it would work much better as a fanfic, and began to toy with the idea.
I soon decided the main character's main pokémon would be a Glaceon named Boreas; I liked the name and it seemed approppriate for a Glaceon. I decided the main character and Boreas would embark on their journey of revenge against Lance's empire because both their families were killed by his governor, Falkner. I had much more planned out, but the details are unimportant. It would have followed the plot of HeartGold and SoulSilver for the most part, but cast in a much darker light.
With my idea there, I started writing. But where to begin? How to begin? I struggled with finding a good beginning for it, despite several attempts. Slowly during this period, the idea of making the main character the Glaceon instead of his trainer dawned on me. It occurred to me it was very odd that we are all into a fandom revolving around fascinating creatures, yet for the most part have boring old humans as the main characters (this doesn't just go for fanfics, but even moreso for official pokémon media including the games), having the pokémon themselves far too often as nothing but characterless weapons of the real main characters. Besides, I thought, it would be fun to see humanity from the outside, through a pokémon's eyes.
So Boreas became the main character. This still left the problem of how to start. I tried many starts, but it didn't hit me until I saw a very cute picture of a Vaporeon on deviantart. ( pequedark-velvet dot deviantart dot com/art/VAPOREON-59144071 ) The drawing had a lot of character, and in fact as I saw it a character popped into my head. I certainly wouldn't claim Aqua came into my mind fully-formed, because there was a lot about her I didn't think of until much later, but the overt part of her, her cheerful, flirty, somewhat odd demeanor, came to me right away. She made a lot of sense as a love interest for Boreas, and almost immediately I pictured a funny scene where she was sunning on a rock, as she was in that picture, in the sea between Olivine and Cianwood, and Boreas saw her while on a boat and instantly jumped out to go talk to her. Just one problem with that idea: it wouldn't come to pass for a very long time, if I ever got that far into the fic.
But that's when another idea struck me: what if I started the story right there? Just in the middle; the early parts could be filled in through flashback later, but at least I had a beginning this way. It might make it look like the story would be a romance, but that was too bad; I believed I had found a good beginning, and I would go with that and began writing. "Boreas yawned as he stared off at the passing waves, bored out of his skull..."
But by now, I was beginning to come off the idea of the HG/SS/Assassin's Creed inspired story as I hadn't played either of those games for a week or so (I can be just as fickle as Boreas). Rather, I had been playing Pokémon Black. And I had been imagining a bit of a story with it, imagined my character's responses to people and personalities to my pokémon and such. One character that originated from this was Octavianus, my starting Snivy, who I imagined... Well, as Octa. Smart, funny, and extremely smug. Another thing I took from this was a far greater interest in doing the story in Unova instead of Johto. So I tried to take the same basic idea, but transposed to Unova... And quickly found there was no need for it. Unlike HG/SS, B/W already has a good story, which could become much better with some tweaking. There was no need to make a new story if I could give my take on the story already there. Not the most original approach perhaps, but it sounded like fun, so I threw the entire fic's course around.
However, Boreas and Aqua and Octa were still definitely in; and in fact I had already written much of the first chapter with Boreas and Aqua and had no intention to throw it away as it was a good beginning. In fact, the whole Team Plasma storyline got me to think it would be interesting to have a protagonist who was on their side, and Aqua seemed a perfect fit, as a wild pokémon. So I made the first chapter include the beginnings of that dynamic.
I was nearly done with the chapter when I realised a problem: there was no sea in Unova. There were rivers, but you never really went there in the story... Well, that just meant I had to change the story a bit. So the encounter between Boreas and Aqua now took place in a river near Driftveil.
I was glad to see people liked the first chapter when I posted it, and started work on the second. But not only did I run into the problem of beginning again, as this was meant to start off a flashback, but the chronological origin of Boreas I had worked out was now no longer working, since there was no more evil governor Falkner to kill his family. I just began writing chapter two, and some random Zangeese ended up eating Boreas' family. Not my strongest hour, I admit.
However, it did allow me to introduce Octa, and develop Boreas better, who I had not really thought of a personality for yet. Between chapters 2 and 3, I went on a journey to France to conduct research on organisms on its rocky coasts (tip: studying biology rocks). This journey gave me time to think about how to go on with the story and the characters from here. (I think the jump in quality at chapter 3 is quite obvious) I also read Foundation's Edge by Isaac Asimov here, and not only did the main characters have a friendship that for a certain part inspired the peculiar friendship between Boreas and Octa, but one of them, Janov Pelorat, had a peculiar way of speaking that inspired Octa's. The 'my dear fellow' is a direct reference to Pelorat.
With chapter 4, it was time to introduce the main plot with Ghetsis, N, Team Plasma, Cheren, and Bianca. And Diego, of course, but he wouldn't become important until later. I used a lot of dialogue straight from the game, a practise I would later quit since the lines from the game really didn't flow well when in story format instead of being displayed on a little screen one by one.
Chapters five and six are very notable for how close they stick to the game and the game's plot; in the beginning I stayed very close to it, and then began to drift further and further away from it into my own plot. Therefore chapter five has the distinction of containing the only battle against one of the rivals (Bianca) and the only battle against a totally random opponent, while chapter six follows the first encounter of Plasma as villains in the game incredibly closely.
Boreas stayed in the background quite a bit for these chapters, being a completely inexperienced little Eevee cub with little to no fighting skills he let Octa do most of the work. However, I already knew Boreas was very clever and was considering ways to show this trait off. So then I realised he could use his mind to fight rather than his skills; that would make for much more interesting battles too. So I tested this out in chapter 7 by having him use macaroni, a bowl of soup, and a table cloth as weapons; and totally loved the result. Since readers seemed to love it too, Boreas' fighting style was set.
Writing just Boreas and Octa for a while had been fun, but I felt it was time for new characters to be added. It was time to step up the threat of Team Plasma as villains. I had already decided the Sages would play a much larger role in my story, as they would allow me to just make the grunts the idiotic pushovers they are in the game instead of struggling to make them threatening. So I thought of a fun expansion on the stuff with the Team Plasma grunts stealing pokémon on Route 3, which turned out to be my first somewhat major deviation from the game. Nowadays, I would probably have done the entire thing as I had it in two chapters, but I split it in five. Why? Well, in these days I considered this story just a silly little thing to have some fun with and not spend much effort on. I was as good as sure I would never finish it, and I intended each chapter to be a brief, fun writing exercise. I easily wrote two chapters a week because I didn't consider either quality or length very important. I even considered not proofreading when I finished a chapter, but I know how awful my writing is before proofreading at all, but figured that would be too lazy. Doing my entire plan for the daycare storyline as a single chapter, or two, would definitely have been way too long under that policy, so I made a separate chapter for just about every event. However, to maintain a form of connection between these five chapters within the larger story, I called them "Dire Difficulties at the Daycare, parts One to Five" (I adore alliteration, in case you hadn't noticed). These were chapters 8 to 12.
Lucius and Toxica both had a certain simple concept when I introduced them, and for the first half of the fic, they sadly never developed beyond those simple, one-dimensional concepts as I focussed on Boreas, Aqua, Octa, and Capella. I consider this one of my story's big mistakes and even felt that way while writing these early parts, but didn't take serious measures to increase their screentime and characterisation until much later. I also think Toxica's introduction in chapter 12 is very poorly done.
Anyway, on to something I do like from this five-chapter mini-arc: the first battle against one of the Sages. I found these chaotic, full-party battles against impossible odds great fun to write (as you might have noticed by how many of them there end up being near the end), and I think it was a good idea to have the sages actually do stuff and be very powerful. With Rood I had the particular fun of making fun of a fellow Dutchman. (Every sage except Ghetsis is named after a colour in a certain language, and I had them originate from those countries. Since Rood (pronounced 'road') is Dutch for red, I made him Dutch)
Another thing that happened in this part is that Octa and Boreas ended up fighting for the first time and making up. I should note that was really the event that solidified their friendship and thereby more important than it may appear at first.
Chapter 13 is my least favourite chapter of the entire story. It's built entirely around an attempt to set up Grimsley (every Elite Four except Caitlin is set up by an earlier chapter, of course. Why not Caitlin? Because these chapters tend to be pretty filler-y and I didn't have room for her; as well as to troll people who went to look for her in earlier chapters), but does so pretty clumsily and mainly ends up being pointless filler. Even the battle with N is very filler-y and mostly follows the game's dialogue; it's a big shame Octa evolving to a Servine and Boreas unmasking Diego as a Zorua come in such a lame chapter. Not one of my proudest moments.
With chapter fifteen, we met Capella. At this point, while I hadn't truly planned things out, I had more and more of an idea of what would happen in the (distant) future. Including that Capella would die, and that people would need to be attached to her for it to mean anything. Like Lucius and Toxica, I took a while to settle on a good characterisation for her, but I hit it after a few chapters instead of a few dozen, and she became one of my favourite characters, as well as that of many readers. Since the pokémon on Black's team are for the most part quite quibbly and sarcastic, it's nice to have one of them just be a sweet, patient angel like Capella.
Another thing that came with chapter fifteen was that I had stopped following my old creed of keeping the chapters short and spending little effort on them. The chapters were growing and I was planning things out more. And one thing I was beginning to realise was that the current fifteen chapters were becoming a bit of an unwieldy mess, both to navigate and from a story perspective. And that would only get worse with more chapters added to it. I liked the mini-arc feel of chapters 8 to 12, of how they were connected by something larger than a chapter, but shorter than the entire story, and so I decided to divide the entire story in parts. But how best to divide them? Well, as luck had turned it out, Black had defeated his first Gym Leader in chapter 7 and his second in 14. looking at what I was planning for the next few chapters, I realised they would fight Burgh in either chapter 20 or 21. Looking further forward, I realised that a Gym Leader battle every seven chapters would be quite possible, and would place the entire story at 77 chapters, with part nine being Victory Road, part ten the Pokémon League, and part eleven Team Plasma's castle. Such lovely symmetry seemed a great way to divide the story into larger, more manageable chunks, and so I created the parts, retroactively making the first seven chapters part one, the next seven part two, and chapter fifteen the first chapter of part three. Since the mini-arc of chapters 8-12 was no longer needed, I renamed all of those chapters to give them individual titles. From part four onward, the parts would play a big role in how I planned out the story, which meant each of them had their own identity and the chapters were thought out to make the part work as a whole. Not part three yet, though, since I began it before I thought of chopping the story in larger parts.
So far, Boreas and his friends had won every important fight they'd been in, and the pokémon were always doing all the work, while Black had much less time to shine. So I thought it would be interesting to see them lose against a Sage and explore the consequences of that, and then having Black rescue his pokémon and be the hero for once. Originally, there would have been a chapter entirely from Black's perspective, but I found it impossible to write. I realised the fact that we see things entirely from pokémon eyes was one of the strengths of this story, and didn't find changing to a human worked well at all. The removed chapter ended up meaning I could spend chapter 20 in the present instead, following Boreas and Aqua, who I had spent far too little time with lately.
Being captured by Team Plasma also allowed me to finally give Boreas closure for his family's death. I had always known this would involve him making friends with a Zangoose, though I didn't know the exact way until I begun writing chapter 18 (I was considering having a Zangoose in the sixth position on the team, which was later filled by Selene). I also hit on the idea of introducing an earlier love interest for Boreas here, as I thought this would be much more interesting than having Aqua be his first love. This is where the flashback format really pays off, because I think that if I had written it chronologically and followed the same storyline, everyone would have seen Febby as Boreas' True Love and considered Aqua an annoying distraction when she dropped in around chapter 30 (especially since their romance would just completely cover about five chapters in a row that way). I never decided to bring Febby and Boreas together, though; I think it would've made the story too romance-heavy (and it already has quite a lot of that stuff).
Boreas' evolution comes straight from my original Assassin's Creed-based idea. I had no intention of having him as an Eevee until Twist Mountain, and I didn't want him evolving without reason either, so I thought up the idea of a chip of Sinnoh's Ice Rock coincidentally evolving him. I can't remember how the trainer was supposed to get his hands on it in the original idea, but Boreas would also have evolved during the battle with the third Gym Leader (well, governor) after his bag was cut open and the stone fell out. It made sense to have Bronius, as a rock-type master, be interested in the piece of stone, which made it a good way to get it into Black's hands. Strangely, I was very used to having Boreas as an Eevee at this point and felt quite weird to have him turn into a Glaceon. Nowadays I can barely imagine him as an Eevee any more.
Boreas hadn't been inside a pokéball at all until this point, and I feared chapter 22, as I had carelessly had him say he was in his pokéball while they were on route 4. This meant I would have to figure out what the inside of a pokéball was like at that point. Fortunately, I worked out a non-awful way to portray it, but it hit onto some philosophical issues, which Aqua and Boreas actually discuss in this chapter. This is also the chapter where we finally begin to learn there is more to Aqua than her seemingly happy, flirty mask as we see her lie to Boreas about why she left (though it's portrayed a little clunkily).
As soon as I thought of the parts, I realised there was enough to do in Nimbasa City for its own part, with little travel. It could be a relatively calm part, with no sage battles and stuff; and having them lose against Elesa (easily the second-hardest Unova Gym Leader) seemed an excellent way to keep them hanging around Nimbasa for a while.
By now, I realised a problem with my story: the villains were uninteresting. Yes, the sages were strong and evil and stuff and their battles pretty cool, but they never interacted with the main characters directly (this is why I later made them and all other pokémon masters able to understand pokémon), and they were basically just seven old evil guys. N is a pretty interesting concept, but he too is a human, and he's barely a villain. I knew I needed a pokémon villain, who could be a lot more personal a foe for Boreas than the Sages. Oddly, I had thought of someone like that all the way back in chapter 4: Diego. Originally, he was supposed to become more like a rival to Boreas than a villain, and would have basically been a good person (hence why I named him after Don Diego de la Vega a.k.a. Zorro; which was also a hint to him being a Zorua in reality. I would probably have named him differently if I knew how evil he would become). But in chapter 4, Boreas couldn't even fight yet, so Octa did it instead. And in chapter 13 I somehow forgot my plan for Diego and just had him fight Octa again. However, with the next N battle arriving in chapter 25, I decided it was high time I kicked off the rivalry between Boreas and Diego (now evolved). As I wrote it, the fight turned quite brutal almost automatically and Diego instantly took a dive into the deep end of the alignment pool. I realised the new evil Diego was perfect as a pokémon villain and happily let him evolve into that role. I realised it was important Boreas wouldn't just be able to defeat him, as it would reduce his threat in the future. Plus, having Diego win would allow him to really get nasty and give Boreas a good reason to hate him. Chapter 25 is one of my favourites, and it definitely kicked the fic into a higher gear.
I had struggled for a while on how to fill the team's sixth slot. I had some vague ideas, the biggest of which was a friend for Lucius, who really had a tendency to do nothing in each chapter. Realising anyone who liked Lucius had to be crazy, I decided to go all the way and make the new character a weird oddball who was drifting somewhere between actual madness and pretend-madness. With Murkrow being one of my favourite pokémon, Selene was born. At just the right time to save Boreas from Diego hanging him up by his tail. Selene's name is a reference to Luna Lovegood, who served as partial inspiration for her.
When I divided the story in parts and thus planned it out, I found a place for Boreas and Aqua to finally snog each other: the end of part four. Rather than just having a Gym Leader battle to round off the part, there would finally be some movement on the romance plot. Aqua and Boreas were never supposed to be a will-they-or-won't-they couple, as both made it very obvious they fancied each other and it would just be stupid to pretend they didn't. With chapter 29, I also had some fun with Boreas' reaction to his first kiss, and Octa being annoyed with his behaviour.
The main event of part five was of course ending the flashback, which still required tying up some loose ends. Mainly that Boreas needed to be ready for Aqua, as he acted nowhere near as confident with Febby, hiding his feelings and being nervous instead; and was still into Febby at this point. Enter Esper. Sadly for him, Boreas had to learn the hard way what happens when you don't tell someone you like how you feel about them. It also allowed some touching moments with Capella, who I was really beginning to regret my decision to kill off.
Black being kidnapped was an interesting idea, I think, because it allowed me to show the bond between him and his pokémon without much talk between them (talk between a human and a pokémon is annoyingly awkward to write) while also giving Lucius some time in the spotlight, and being a final adventure for the team before the end of the flashback, which happened in chapter 33. It was an odd moment to tie the entire fic together like that, and another one of these milestones I had never truly expected to reach when I begun writing. (I think chapter 50 was the final one of these milestones... After that point, I pretty much knew I would finish the story)
When I first created her, Aqua was exactly as she seemed. But only a few chapters in, I had realised there was no way she was truly 100% like that. She was coming on to Boreas so strongly, she was so strangely carefree; there was clearly something going on. I can't remember quite when I figured out Aqua's backstory, but it was some time before chapter 15. Chapter 22 already told little bits of it, but as soon as the flashback was over, it was time for her to share her entire dark secret with Boreas. To show the increasing love between them in more interesting ways than with smooching, because it really needed to be revealed, but also to show the happy romantic times for Boreas were reaching an end, and real life went on for him. Interestingly, a few readers also correctly guessed Aqua had a dark secret, but usually the guess was that she was a member of Team Plasma (which she wasn't yet at this point).
With part six, dark times came. It had always been planned as the point where Capella died and Boreas found out Aqua had joined N, but originally I didn't even grasp the connection between these two events. Boreas would have been relatively stoic through them, really. Especially Aqua joining N would have been met with only brief anger before he accepted it. But as I wrote, I got very attached to Capella, and began to realise just how great the impact of her death would be on Boreas. Also, I got a better idea of what Boreas was like as I wrote him and I realised that brief anger before acceptance was really not how he would respond to Aqua joining the enemy. Especially so shortly after seeing his second-best friend murdered gruesomely (I think in hindsight Capella's death perhaps skirts the upper edges of a T rating a tiny bit. Maybe I should not have made it quite so gory, though I do think the horribleness of her death helps hammer home the shock). He would be utterly furious and fight Aqua in his rage and thus truly ruin his relationship. Realising this part was really going to ruin Boreas' life, I embraced the chance with open arms. Its sheer bleakness was difficult to write, and it resulted in longer times between chapters, but it worked very well in my mind. I was especially glad to see peoples saddened reactions at Capella's death; the worst thing that could happen when killing her was finding indifference.
Another thing this part resulted in was a big change in my plans for the ending. Originally, part eleven was mainly going to be walking through N's Castle. Then Black would catch Reshiram, he and N would battle, Ghetsis would come in and there would be a final battle with him. Yawn. I knew this was an anticlimax more and more (though it was good in the game), and once Diego had become a major villain in chapter 25, I struggled to find a good way to have him and Boreas have a proper showdown in it. To solve the anticlimax problem, I planned a sequel in which the seven sages would launch a plan B and get foiled by Boreas and his friends again, this time in truly epic fashion. But as I wrote part six, I realised what a crime it would be to let this story down with an anticlimactic ending just to set up a sequel. So I experimented with the idea of moving the N battle to the end of part ten and having part eleven be a huge Lord-of-the-Rings-with-pokémon-style battle. I dismissed it at first, as it was too radical a change, threw away too many cool things I had planned out for the final battle, etc etc. But I warmed up to it quickly and you know how it turned out.
Even after I planned the violent breakup between Boreas and Aqua, I planned for them to be reunited really soon after. My plan was that Aqua actually keeps to the promise she made of meeting him in Mistralton as she feels bad about their falling out, and they end up making up (as well as out) with each other within seconds of seeing each other. No way. So I threw around my plans for part seven a bit to make their reunion hapen later and with more setup: first Boreas had to make up with Octa, and Boreas and Aqua both already needed to partially forgive each other. Only then could they make up, and it wouldn't be with them just jumping each other with kisses as I first thought of; they really needed to talk about that stuff.
I didn't think of doing chapters 45 and 46 without Boreas until I begun writing 45. 45 would've been what became 47 at first, and then Boreas would rejoin his friends and go to Celestial Tower and Octa's family with them in 46 and 47. But as I began, I realised two things: 1: Boreas had been through an awful lot lately and really deserved a break. 2: Toxica was still one-dimensional. I had done a paragraph from Toxica's point of view in chapter 43 to help flesh her out, and decided I liked it, so figured it would be cool to write these two chapters without Boreas, with Toxica standing in as protagonist instead. A good choice, because this clearly is the point where Toxica became a true character instead of a one-dimensional joke. It was also the first point where I seriously considered her and Octa ending up together.
Chapter fifty was a chapter that was important in my planning for a long time and only grew in importance. It was always going to be a big battle in Dragonspiral Tower, another encounter with N, and the real beginning of the plot with the legendary dragons. After chapter 25, the second battle between Boreas and Diego was added to that. Then, over parts five and six, I realised I really wanted to step things up for the last third of the fic and so the idea of Team Plasma declaring war on all trainers came to me, and again chapter fifty was the best point to start this. I was quite hyped up about chapter 50, and in fact you can see it being foreshadowed all over part seven.
With chapter 50 also came the reintroduction of an old friend: Zeph. At least, that's what I had planned after I felt sad about killing him in chapter 2 and decided to bring him back later, having survived his death by an Audino healing him. The reporters in chapter 27 were added specifically to give him a reason to go look for Boreas (originally they would have been in chapter 21 and shown Zeph Eevee Boreas evolving to Glaceon, but I completely forgot to put them into that chapter). But soon I had no more need for Zeph as I found other fun characters to write and forgot Zeph. Plus, him surviving his apparent death set a nasty precedent, with Capella having been killed off recently. I really don't like stories were characters just come back from the death easily as I find it really cheapens things, so I didn't want Zeph to come back. Around chapter 40 I decided he wasn't coming back.
But that meant I had to find another character for the sixth slot on the team. But who? The only one I had was Aqua, and she definitely wouldn't join at this point. I thought of a vague idea for a character as a love interest for Octa - this character later became Aurora Invicta – but as Toxica became a true character I already had a love interest for him. I was going to have proto-Aurora become the sixth team member to replace Capella anyway, until the crazy idea of having Zeph apparently return, but it actually being a disguised Diego hit me. I laughed at it at first and thought it was a silly idea, but the more I thought of it, the more I liked it. It would allow all the plans and backstory I had for Flareon-Zeph not to go to waste, and let Boreas and Diego face off mentally for once instead of just physically. I thought of all the little ways Diego would betray himself and hid them in the chapters of part eight so that not only Boreas could guess the truth, but a reader too.
Aqua was a little tricky to handle in the later parts of the story. In my early ideas, she would leave Team Plasma around part eight and return to being a wild pokémon, but make a surprise entry while the team was fighting Ghetsis and change the course of that battle. Why she would leave, I wasn't sure. I considered things like her carrying Boreas' cubs and leaving Plasma to protect them, or her just leaving because Boreas was on the other side and she didn't want to hurt her relationship with him. Fortunately I soon realised how poor and sexist these plans were. If Aqua was to leave Team Plasma, she should do so because she didn't think they were on the good side any more. So she ended up getting a lot of character development here, which eventually led to her joining the team much sooner than I had originally planned, because it was the logical next step for her.
Part eight was great to write, full of action and with the constant suspense (for me) about Zeph being Diego. I wrote quickly during this time, eager to get to chapter 57 and the third battle between Boreas and Diego. And it all worked out well; people seemed to enjoy that a lot and I heard a lot of speculation. But then, when chapter 57 was done, I had lost my incentive to write on. With the Zeph-Diego thing solved, it didn't pull me forward any more. And chapter 58 featured another battle, which I had quite burned myself out on by now (this is very notable when reading it). So I just didn't enjoy writing any more. It took me two whole months before finishing chapter 58, and it would've taken even longer had the fic's first birthday on 4 May 2012 not been approaching, which made me force myself to get the chapter out before then (the same day, as it turned out). It was basically writer's block and truly sucked quite a bit. Once I was through 58, it was easier as I had no more battles to write for a while, but I still went slow for most of part nine.
At this point, Aqua was more and more becoming a part of the team, and I realised she would become a true teammember soon; it was unavoidable as I just didn't have the time to introduce a new character to be the sixth on the team. I was concerned about this hurting her character if I just had her join like that, and wanted to do this in a fashion true to her, which is why she leaves the team for a while just before Victory Road and doesn't join them until she's really confronted by Team Plasma's evil.
Diego seemingly being on the road to redemption was something that wasn't planned at first, but just naturally evolved from him playing Zeph. I knew that he would become a true villain once again in part eleven, but decided it would be fun to pretend he was going to be redeemed by the experience. It also seemed a good way to make the third and fourth battles between him and Boreas interesting, albeit in a different way, even though I knew they wouldn't be as epic as their first, second, and fifth battles. If you dig into Diego's personality a bit, you find he has redeeming qualities, and that there is some good in him. But if you dig below this, you will find it is just a superficial layer, and that below it there is nothing but a shrivelled, black heart.
While on vacation in Austria, I finally had a lot of time without much distraction. Every day I would go for walks in the mountains and take my laptop in my backpack. Then on a bench in some gorgeous place, I would write some Surprising Adventures. Chapters 63 to 65 got written like this, yet it took me quite a while to get them out. The reason for that was that I still needed to proofread them, and was suddenly swamped in study stuff as the year began again. But it still allowed me to keep up a decent pace despite the busyness.
As I said before, I made sure the Elite Four were set up beforehand, with the exception of Caitlin. Grimsley was in chapter 13, Marshal in chapter 27, and Shauntal's pokémon were in chapter 46. The Elite Four battles themselves were difficult to write, as I had always found the Gym Leader battles relatively uninteresting (you can clearly see this as from Elesa onward the Gym Leader battles get less and less attention in their chapters with each ongoing leader) and writing four full six-on-six battles was a rather daunting task. But by focussing on more interesting matchups within the battles (Froslass vs. Boreas is my favourite) and even more on character development I made those chapters interesting after all. I knew it was my last chance for character development, as part eleven wouldn't have much room for it, so part ten is crammed quite full of character things.
With chapter 69 we finally deviated from the story's original course to get to the much improved ending as it starts on the morning of the final battle. But things don't truly get interesting until chapter 70. While I was originally going to have them actually fight Reshiram to catch it, it felt like too much of a distraction from the important things of the chapter: the confrontation between Aqua and N; Black and N; Boreas and Diego; and finally the relationship between N and Diego. The interaction between Aqua and N is probably my favourite because it shows how much she has changed since they last met, twenty chapters earlier. I puzzled around a bit with how to handle the battle, as Zekrom had to be shown very powerful, yet it had to be beaten. The best way to do this would be to have most of Black's team fall to Zekrom before winning, but there's another problem: Diego. He too had to be shown to be powerful, as he always has; and Boreas couldn't beat him yet: that was reserved for their final battle. So both needed to take down multiple of Black's pokémon. I think the solution I used, of having Boreas go first against N's other pokémon and just completely defeat all four of them on his own turned out pretty funny and was quite a cool moment for Boreas. Of course, the fourth battle between him and Diego is probably their most minor one, and this has a good reason: they fight again in only six chapters! Since that was supposed to be their big final showdown, I would only take away its shine by letting Diego do much in chapter 70. Instead, the fight between him and Boreas was over fast, and the fights between Diego and Octa and Aqua not portrayed at all. It annoyed me to have to skip over the fight so much, and I was right in expecting it to annoy readers too, but I hope you see it was worth it to make chapter 75 really great.
I'm not sure where the idea to have the Sages use the pseudolegendaries and Kyurem came from. I think Ghetsis' Hydreigon being such a monster in the games made me want to give them all one, to spice up their teams for the final battle, as each of them had after all been defeated once already. However, with six pseudolegendaries and seven Sages, I had a bit of a problem. Especially since I wanted Ghetsis to have Hydreigon, and couldn't just go with the other Kyurem idea I had. Well, I went with it in the end; too bad about Hydreigon. The previews for Black and White 2 were shown quite shortly after I changed my plans to the way they became in the end, and unfortunately they probably were the death sentences of N and Black. Although it is likely N would have died in any case to get him out of the way and to truly cement Diego's villainy.
The final battle draws some inspiration from The Lord of the Rings, and was incredibly fun to write. It was chaotic and crazy and sometimes made me wish for a more visual medium of storytelling. However, it did have the same effect as part eight: by its end I was tired of writing battles (which wasn't much of a problem, since chapter 75 is a different style of battle than the others and chapter 76's focus doesn't lie on the fighting). It was hard, and fun to do. Boreas and Aqua getting married in battle was a silly idea that was oddly enough not consciously derived from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, though I've watched that movie a dozen times. I knew it would just make part of my readers groan and facepalm, but as long as the rest laughed and loved it, I figured that was worth it, since I enjoyed the idea myself. I did make sure to keep all the silliness in the battle restricted to chapter 72, locked up safely inside it so the rest of the battle could be quite grim.
The final showdown between Boreas and Diego was possibly the most fun chapter I've written in the entire story, and is one of my favourite moments of it. Not only is it a resolution to their long-standing enmity, but it is also some good action and it involves Boreas at his most badass showing how powerful he has become and barely winning despite the crippling injuries he received.
Boreas getting badly wounded in the fight with Diego wasn't just important because this makes sense fighting someone so powerful, but also because if Boreas emerged from his showdown healthy, it would've been a fight with Kyurem that awaited him when he got to Ghetsis' throne room. But he had just done his climactic fight; that would be boring. Rather, in chapter 76 he would face a moral challenge instead of a physical one: could he sacrifice his life, and that of his friends, for the greater good? In short: is Boreas a hero? I think the chapter gives an answer to that question. It was not a lie when I said I got misty-eyed writing the paragraph where he looks back on his life as he thinks he's about to die. A large part of that was the realisation that the story had reached its end, even if Boreas hadn't.
I decided to be quite mean with Boreas' apparent heroic sacrifice to hammer it home better, cutting it off right at the moment it seemed he had died and switching over to his friends for their reactions. The many utterly saddened responses to it mean a lot to me, as it shows you all like Boreas a lot, just like I do.
Chapter 77's beginning was originally planned to be seen from Octa's perspective until I realised it would be far more poignant to portray it from Aqua's, and for that reason much happier when he turned out to be alive.
Chapter 78's content was planned to be part of 77 until very late; I think I decided to split them when I was in Austria. Part of this was to allow one to mainly deal with the battle and the war's resolution while the other dealt with the characters going their own ways, but another part of it was that I just wanted to hear your reactions on Boreas not being dead after all before the end.
And just now, nearly two years after the story's beginning, I typed out the wonderful words "The End." on my laptop, while sitting in a train. It was easily the most bittersweet moment of the entire fic for me, which is why I typed out this entire ridiculously long story of the story. I have greatly enjoyed writing Boreas, Aqua, Octa, Toxica, Capella, Lucius, Selene, Black, and even Diego and I would love for there to be more chapters to write; but there aren't. I have considered several sequel ideas, but at this point a sequel is not very likely. However, I might yet do it.
There are still a lot of errors in this story. Some are easy to fix, some aren't. I plan on going back to the beginning and fixing all I can fix to make this story the best I can. Then, when the story is as good as I feel I can make it, I'm going to have a single copy of it printed for myself, because that just seems like an awesome idea. After that, it'll truly be goodbye to Boreas from me as I will probably work on some original stories (though I might go for a sequel after all...)
As for you, dear reader, I really hope you enjoyed The Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova, whether or not you are still reading this way too long annotation. While I write for myself in the first place, your comments have been of enormous value to me, and I probably wouldn't have reached 320134 words, about 400 pages, 78 chapters, 11 parts, in short, one whole story without you. I have enjoyed every one of your comments and even now, after it's over, I will still gladly get more. If you're reading this twenty years after I type these words and have something to say about chapter 53, please go bug my 41-year old future self. The old bastard will appreciate it. You can reach him by reviewing or mailing to jochematteveld at gmail dot com . I intend to respond to any comment that requires a response, though obviously I can't do so to anonymous ones.
In any case, whether you comment or not, I want to thank you all again for reading my story. And here, for the last time, are my answers to your questions.
FEEDBACK: AvatarCat13: Q: I'd sure like to see the finale of this epic tale. I've read about this from TV Tropes, and I've started reading this story ever since. When I first started reading it, this story was on its 66th chapter. So much time has passed...
A: Yeah, a surprising amount of time has passed even since such a recent chapter. Once upon a time, there were at least two chapters each week... But then, those chapters were shorter and easier to write than my current ones.
Vulpix411: Q: Sorry about that. I had spent most of the day reading so I could not think straight, but I think an apology is in order: IAMSORRYIAMSORRYIAMSORRYIAMS ORRY!
A: It's alright, don't worry. I'm quite glad you like Boreas so much.
Duststar1: Q: Dude...you know that I was going to kill you if Boreas died right? (I'm sure a lot of people would have joined in) I would have just injured you if you killed off Aqua or Febby but Boreas...he has become my favorite characters. To me, he has one of the most realistic personalities and I can relate to him.
A: And the same goes for you. Glad to see I'm not alone in liking Boreas so much.
Q: By the way have you read "A Miscellaneous tale of night and day" by Starran? The romance and humor in this fanfic reminds me of hers'.
A: I unfortunately have very little time to read fanfics, so I haven't read it. But I might give that one a try.
LemondoughnutPXC: Q: Oh, thank Arceus Boreas is alive. I thought he was dead for sure! I can't believe he's alive. But, expect the unexpected, right? Though it isn't really unexpected if you expect it...never mind. Great chapter! I can't wait for the ending. I don't really want it to end though D:
A: Well, they are the Surprising Adventures of a Glaceon in Unova. You should probably expect the unexpected. And I don't want it to end either, yet here the ending really is.
fractalman: Q: Garak: "They were all true"
Bashir: "what about the lies?"
Garak: "My dear doctor, especially the lies".
Star trek: deep space nine.
It seems relevant, given the content of your notes.
A: First of all, thanks for comparing me to my favourite Star Trek character of all time. And secondly, the notes to chapter 76 were indeed, just like mr. Garak's stories, indeed mostly lies with chunks of the truth mixed in.
ShinyEsp: Q: I think I dislike Boreas, actually. You've put him in an insane number of situations where he could have easily died, but he has protagonist-itis and must survive.
A: Fair enough, I can see how you would feel that way.
Synco: Q: Wow. Just...wow. I am very, very glad that you didn't end up killing as many people as I thought you were going to. Anyway, since this story is coming to a close, are you still going to continue ask boreas and the others?
A: Sure, I'll continue answering question posted there ( askboreasandtheothers dot tumblr dot com )
Guest: Q: They never got the Icicle Badge?
A: Yes, they did; it just wasn't portrayed directly because of the battle being more important.
Q: though I dislike how he just randomly died on a Hydreigon at the end. That just came out of nowhere and was all like you were thinking, 'Dammit, I have to kill him off quickly! And the Hydreigon is hungry! And I promised the readers! Quick, have the main villain be consumed by a random Hydreigon because falling off a bloody cliff wasn't good enough!'
A: Well, the Hydreigon was essentially intended as an aversion of the standard 'Disney-villain death' of falling to his death. I dislike it for how overused it was and considered having him appear to survive it, only to be devoured by his 'saviour' an amusing way to avert it. However, judging by the response to it I should probably have just had him fall to his death.
Decimator1337: Q: perfect title. "The Surprising Adventures" fits this... epic saga perfectly.
A: Which is rather surprising in itself given that it was a pretty random title I pulled out of the air when I quickly had to think of one when I was posting chapter 1.
Q: So... there might be a sequel.
A: Possibly... Though I really am not sure at all. Count on there being no sequel; I might happily surprise you.
Q: Don't forget, though, to tell us what happened to Brittanicus in the end.
A: Well, he was wounded in the battle but turned out okay and is still alive.
Q: Oh, and this is kind of embarrassing for me, but I must say: Thank you for not being as cruel to your characters as I am to mine. ;)
A: Hehe, you're welcome. I suppose I did go a little soft on them there near the end. But they deserved it.
Feral: Q: Finally finished this fic. One of the best I have ever read. I was teary-eyed in the end just knowing I wouldn't be adventuring with your characters anymore.
A: So am I; this story has become such a big part of my life for the past two years. And now, it is really over as this is the final question. Thank you all again for reading and I hope to see you again.
UPDATE: And now, one year later, I've begun the sequel after all! It's called The Glaceon and the Shadow, and I just posted the first chapter.