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Time and Dust excerpt: a second first encounter

Felt like sharing a little more writing today, because of reasons.

It was Rye’s night to close the shop, meaning it was Sorrel’s turn to go do whatever shopping needed doing. There was never much to get, but Sorrel appreciated the chance to walk about and unwind from the day. With the few items she needed in a bag on her arm, she found her way to the tavern up the road from her shop. The place was a small building of brick, with a creaky wooden door that whined as she pushed it open. The sound was like a welcome to her, followed closely by the voice of the bartender. Sorrel was a regular at the place.

“How’s life, Sorrel?” The bartender tonight was a man named Flint. Flint wasn’t Sorrel’s favorite person in the place, but he was friendly enough. He was lanky and tall, with long blonde hair and a pair of glasses too small for his eyes. Sorrel took a seat at the bar, where Flint had already set down a beer for her. He was quiet and apologetic, but the man had a good memory for the preferences of his regulars.

“Life, Flint, is exactly as it usually is. Busy being lived.” Sorrel glanced around her idly as she took a drink. The tavern was nearly empty tonight, save for a couple tables of off-duty workers and a woman sitting a few stools away at the bar. As Sorrel glanced at her, she noticed the woman quickly avert her eyes.

“Good summary,” Flint said with a chuckle. “How’s the drought been treating you?” Sorrel rolled her eyes.

“Prices on everything have gone up. Farmers are panicking, storing more of what little they’ve grown just so they can survive. And you know the old man is hoarding worse than any of us. I’m getting sick of it, Flint.” Sorrel eyed the lines of large bottles on the wall behind Flint. Why couldn’t their mother have left them a bar instead of a market? She had asked herself this many times, despite knowing there was no answer.

“I hope it ends soon too,” Flint said with a sigh. “Every time you come in here you look a little more stressed.”

“Yeah, well,” Sorrel remarked, “you have to remember my base stress level is at least a seven out of ten.” They laughed. Sorrel took another swig of her drink, and glanced back at the woman down the bar. She was white-haired and pale, and Sorrel could just make out what looked like a mark of orange rimming her eye.

“How’s it going, dustwalker?” Sorrel called down the bar to the woman, who looked up suddenly. After getting a better look at her face, Sorrel realized the woman was around her age, or possibly younger. Her eyes were big and almond-shaped, and stared back at her incredulously. Sorrel made a motion, welcoming her to come closer. The girl smiled at Sorrel, stood, and strode over to sit next to her.

“Don’t see many of your kind around here,” Sorrel said, not bothering trying to hide her curiosity. “Just passing though?”

“Maybe,” the girl said, “maybe not. I’m looking for someone, but I’m not entirely sure I’ll find them here. It’s complicated.” Sorrel nodded. It always seemed to be too complicated to talk about with dustwalkers.

“Well, I hope you find them. Third Rim isn’t exactly brimming with places to look.” The girl chuckled, a high and fluttery sound.

“You say that, but you would be shocked how long it’s taken me to look. People around here can be pretty hard to find.” It was true, Sorrel knew. The outlying towns were cut off from the rest of the world, in communication, politics, and technology alike. Sorrel held a lot of disdain for Third Rim because of that, among a lot of other reasons. The old man on the hill didn’t exactly have the best track record with the town he was supposed to be governing.

“I only just arrived, though,” the stranger continued, “so I have all day tomorrow to look. I’m pretty exhausted, actually, so I think I’ll head up to my room…” she glanced over at Flint, who had been half-listening as he cleaned glasses. He reached under the counter methodically, pulling out a key and handing it to the girl.

“Up the stairs, third door on your left. Let me know if the peole next door are too loud, they’ve been nothing but rude since they rented the room and I’d love an excuse to kick them out.” The girl chuckled again, hopping off the barstool and swiping the key into her hand. She headed for the stairs next to the bar, turning at their base to look back at Sorrel.

“It was nice meeting you,” she said, gazing at Sorrel with what looked like thoughtfulness for a moment before blinking, shaking her head slightly, and ascending the stairs. Sorrel wasn’t sure what that look had meant, but decided it was time to finish her beer and head back to Rye.

“Nice girl,” Flint commented as Sorrel took a long drink, “but a bit strange. She’s done nothing but sit there since she rented a room. Didn’t order a drink or anything, didn’t talk much. Just sat there, looking like she was waiting for someone.” Flint gave Sorrel a pointed glance, as if asking a question. Sorrel set down the bottle and shrugged.

“Never met her.” She mumbled, now a bit self-conscious. She finished her drink hurriedly, put her two lapis coins down on the counter, and left the tavern feeling confused and cluttered in the head. It felt like she was forgetting something that she had been prompted to remember all day.

Shattered Gemstones Jade: Prologue (excerpt)

Those following me either here or on Twitter may know that I’ve been spending the last couple months working on a sort of reboot of Shattered Gemstones, the discontinued fanfiction series I wrote for The Pokemon Podcast some time ago. Some things in this new, more well-written version will be the same, and some will be different. More on that to come when the series actually begins.

One thing I decided to do with this new version of the story is add some narrative segments to the story’s prologue. The prologue, like that of the original, is arranged as a timeline of events spanning several years. However, I realized this did a bad job of conveying what the rest of the series would be like, so here we are. Enjoy! Or don’t. Feedback is, of course, welcome.

July 2nd, 2005

It was the dead of night when the orbs were stolen for the second time. Nobody was at the shrine. Mt. Pyre was quiet, save for the occasional Chimecho drifting about in the cold night air, like a nearly imperceptible soundtrack to what was about to occur. Two men moved through the shadows, staying silent under the wind and chimes.

Two orbs sat at their altar, only recently returned to their homes. They glimmered in the moonlight; one red, one blue. It hadn’t been long since the day they were stolen. The day the earth trembled and the sea writhed in its bed. The day the sky parted to calm them.

July 6th, 2005

Night was falling in Lavaridge, a sleepy mountain town at the foot of towering mountains. Children were called inside for dinner, and trainers began to make their way out of the Pokemon gym. The gym leader was in the middle of the pack, talking with her trainers and laughing, ready for a night off. It had been a long week, and Flannery decided that she had more than earned a bit of a break. She led her group of rowdy trainers towards the one bar in town, where she knew a welcome as warm as the heat of her gym awaited them.

When the first quake struck, it was lightning fast, as if the earth had been kicked. The whole group stumbled, shouted, and tumbled into one another. Flannery looked around at her posse, about to make sure they were all okay, when something else began. A low, gentle rumble below her feet. Except it wasn’t just below her, she realized, her head snapping up to look above them. It was in the air.

Mt. Pyre had not erupted in decades, at least. The mountain was monitored regularly, and the whole town would have been evacuated by now if something was brewing in the belly of the great mass of earth. Flannery’s heart raced, her mind abuzz. When she had inherited her father’s gym, he left her instructions on what to do in case of a sudden eruption. But he had also sent her instructions of a different kind, instruction which she had never understood until now. Now, as the mountain began to light up the sky, she began to understand what she was up against.

The whole town was cast in bright blue light. It burned atop the mountain like fire, a torch announcing the march of more to come. Flannery looked around at her trainers, their skin turned periwinkle, their hair cast in electric blue. She flashed back to the wisdom her father had left her; to be used in the event of blue fire. READ. She realized, now, that her father had wanted her to read it in advance because when the mountain lit up, there wouldn’t be time to run back to her house and read through the old, handwritten pages.

Flannery took a deep breath. Her trainers watched her, their eyes asking for leadership. There was no time for fear. She turned to face her group, twelve strong, and raised a hand in the air. They silenced themselves. Flannery took a deep breath, and spoke.

“What I’m going to ask you all to do is not what you signed up for when you joined my gym. I know that. But when you joined, you swore yourself to the town of Lavaridge, and right now that town needs you. Up there,” she pointed up towards the mountain and its menacing, alien glow, “is a threat. Our first priority is to get everyone in this town away from that threat. Are you with me?”

There was a moment of silence. For a single second, Flannery’s heartbeat felt ten time stronger, ten times louder, than the rumbling beneath her feet. But then one trainer stepped forward, nodding.

“Absolutely.” He was followed by another showing their support, and another, and then the whole group was cheering their devotion. Flannery smiled for a second. She was in control. This was her time, and her people – no, her friends – were with her. It was time to go to work.

Juan heard the news of Lavaridge’s evacuation hours later, and by then he already knew what happened next. With his gym locked up for the night, he departed Sootopolis in a rush. He rode on his Pelliper’s back through the cold night air, until they came to the spot where he knew the Seafloor cavern lay. Around the hollow of dark water, the waves had begun to shine an unearthly red. Juan shuddered, shook with the sudden realness of what was taking place. There was not much time to spare. Standing on the ring of shallows surrounding the cavern, he called out his Wishcash. The Pokemon looked undisturbed by the red sea, and Juan felt a pang of envy for his Pokemon. With that, they dove.

The cave into which Juan emerged was dark and damp, but Juan knew his way around. He made his way through the blackness as one who had done so many times before. As he turned a corner, he was met not by darkness, but by bright red light. The great chamber shone with a crimson light, shining from the pool of water in the room’s center. A figure stood at the water’s edge, well-built and brawny. As Juan approached, the man turned, giving Juan a good look at his face. His eyes shone red, flickering like lamplight. He wore a sickening grin on his face, and through the gaps in his teeth a crimson light glowed. Juan knew that between himself and the man who stood before him, only one would leave this place. He wasn’t sure he liked his odds.

Time and Dust: Prologue (excerpt)

The following is about half of the prologue to the book I’ve been working on this summer, and conceptualizing since about a year and a half ago. I’m sharing this half because it’s the half I think is good enough for public consumption, as I can tell the rest needs a lot more work. Feedback is welcome, of course. I just felt like sharing this because (1) this blog hasn’t gotten enough action and (2) I find myself suddenly consumed by the need to share my work. So here goes!

  “Sorrel, stop being such a baby!” Teased a young boy, swinging a stick around carelessly. His shaggy black hair was very dirty, full of dust from running and playing all day. His sister continued to protest loudly at him.

“I’m not scared, Rye! I’m not!” The girl, with long, straight hair the same color as her brothers, was the older of the two, and was quite fed up with her little brother. A second stick lay at her feet, untouched.

“Then pick up your sword, dummy! Let’s duel!” Rye smacked the ground with his stick, grunting with infantile impatience. Sorrel scowled.

“No, Rye! You’ll get hurt, or I will, or we’ll both-”

Sorrel’s words were torn to pieces by a sudden, loud crackle, like the sound of a fire being started. There was a flash of bright light. Sorrel screamed, and Rye toppled back. A pulse of heat seemed to wash over them both, before dispersing along with the light. Sorrel, who had instinctively squeezed her eyes shut at the flash, now opened them to see what had been its source.

In the grass, unsinged by the wave of heat, lay a girl. She was young, Sorrel gathered, around her own age, or her brother’s. Her skin was pale, her hair pure white. There were three orange marks around her left eye, like stenciled tattoos. She wore a light violet dress, with dark lines sewn into the hems. Around her, wisps not unlike the marks on her eye flickered, and faded away in the air. To the young girl’s eyes, they looked like fire. Sorrel blinked, watching them go before turning her attention back to the girl. Rye was still laying on the ground, dumbfounded. Sorrel cmae over to help him up.

“What was that? Who is she, Sorrel?” Who indeed? Sorrel glanced from the girl to her brother, and nodded.

“Watch her, Rye. I’ll go get Dad.” Sorrel jogged across the yard, to the back porch. Rye watched his big sister as she went, before turning back to the girl. She lay there, not moving except for breathing. She was very pretty, Rye observed. He hoped she would wake up soon. He wanted to learn how to do the crackly thing.

Sorrel’s parents were sitting at the kitchen table when she burst in. They were deep in a conversation, but whatever they had been discussing was dropped as soon as Sorrel’s father saw the look on his daughter’s face. He turned, asking her what was wrong. Sorrel gulped, only half-aware that what she was about to say would probably sound exceptionally silly.

“There’s a girl…there was this big sound, and this girl fell into our yard. She won’t wake up, I-I don’t know what to do…” To Sorrel’s surprise, her father didn’t react jokingly to the claim. His face got serious, and he stood suddenly.

“Three orange marks?”

“What?”

“The girl, sweetheart. Did she have three orange marks around her left eye?” Sorrel blinked.

“Um, yeah. Yeah she did. Rye is out there with her.” Her father just nodded, running out the door. Sorrel’s mother stood, staring after her husband, and followed. Sorrel followed too, not wanting to miss anything important.

Sorrel came through the back door to find her father already bent over the girl in the grass. Rye stood to the side, shuffling around uneasily. Their mother approached him, pulling him away, saying to give the girl some space. Then she knelt down next to her husband. Sorrel wandered close enough to listen in on their conversation.

“Who do you think she is, Rowan? One of the refugees?” The woman gingerly touched the girl’s arm. The man shook his head.

“No, I don’t think so. Look at her skin. Whatever’s going on over there right now, that’s not the side of it she’s on. No, I think she’s upper-class Thelondrian.

“Then why is she here? Do you think Thelondria is under attack?” Her husband sighed a deep sigh, looking up at the sky above them. He shook his head absentmindedly.

“I really don’t know. All we can do right now is make sure she’s okay, and hope someone comes for her.”

“What makes you think anyone will? How will they know where to look?”

“Because of all places, she landed in our backyard. My guess is she was sent here, for her own safety.” The man took the girl up in his arms, her limbs hanging limp and unresponsive. He stood, and the woman followed suit. Sorrel moved a little closer to her brother, hoping not to get caught eavesdropping. Luckily, her parents barely paid her any mind as they hurried inside with the girl. Rye followed eagerly, leaving Sorrel alone in the yard. She stared at the burned patch of grass in which the girl had lay. It wasn’t a circle, really. It was like a flowing stroke of a brush, thick in the middle and thinner at the ends. Sorrel felt a small shiver go through her, and wasn’t sure where it came from. She decided it was important that she go inside to see what her parents were doing with the girl.

Rye glared poutily as the girl was set down on his bed. That was his spot, and her occupancy of it suddenly made him a lot less interested in becoming friends. He stood with crossed arms, watching his parents examine the girl closely. He heard the words “fever” and “body stress” a few times, and a lot of other, bigger words he didn’t know. Rye thought these sounded like ridiculous excuses. He had had fevers before, but that didn’t mean he had to take up someone else’s bed. What made this girl so special?

Rye heard Sorrel come up behind him, and his mother say for her to get him out for a bit. Rye protested, but was forced to follow when Sorrel pulled forcefully at his arm. The two retreated to the small living room, plopping down on the couch. Rye looked indignantly at his sister.

“Why did you take me away? Don’t you want to see?” Sorrel swung her legs back and forth idly, staring at the floor.

“Yeah, but sometimes we have to listen to mom and dad. They know what’s best, Rye. You’ll understand when you’re older.” Rye rolled his eyes. He felt that seven years old was plenty grown up.

“You’re only ten, what do you think you know that I don’t?” Rye stuck his tongue out at his sister, who responded in kind.

“Responsibility for one, buttface.” Rye giggled, and Sorrel did too. Then the pair got quiet.

“Who do you think she is, though?” Sorrel asked. The girl didn’t look like either of them, both with jet black hair and skin the color of chocolate. Neither of them had seen someone like this in their lives.

“She’s pretty.” Rye said it quietly, as if he was the first to ever say those words about anyone and so wanted to make sure it came out just right. Sorrel smirked.

“Don’t be dumb.”

“I’m not! You’re dumb. And she’s pretty.” Rye nodded, agreeing with his own assertion. Sorrel shook her head.

“Did you hear what mom and dad were saying?” Sorrel said. “Stuff about refugees. Do you think things have gotten that bad out there?” Rye shook his head indifferently, and Sorrel changed the topic. Sorrel had learned some things about what was going on out in the world from listening to her father, but Rye had yet to show any such interest.

“I wonder how she did that, though. Don’t you? It was kind of scary.” Sorrel shifted uneasily as she spoke. Rye just nodded some more.

“I thought it was cool.” Rye muttered. Sorrel blinked at her brother. Usually he was the timid one when it came to big things he didn’t understand, so what made this different? It was beyond Sorrel’s understanding, for sure.

“You’re just saying that because you think she’s pretty.” Rye bolted upright, standing on the couch.

“Nuh-uh!”

“Uh-huh!”

“Nuh-uh, buttface!” Sorrel stood too, with a good six inches of height over her brother.

“You can’t take that word from me, buttface. That’s my word!” As their visitor rested above them, Sorrel and Rye began to argue about the ownership rights of words.

Bringing this back. Again. That’s how I do. A thing is happening that I can tell you about.

This is something I thought about keeping secret, but I’ve let slip to a few people anyway so I might as well say it. Shattered Gemstones is getting a revival in the form of a semi-reboot. The original story would have resulted into something frankly not that great, and what I now have planned is a story that will incorporate characters and chapters from the original unfinished version. The prologue will have a lot more to it, and some chapters will be entirely new. Many chapters up to the point where I stopped (mid-part 2) will either remain the same or have some small changes. I know that those of you who read the original version may be disappointed by this, but I’d still encourage you to read this new version from the beginning. For now, the new reboot is being called Project Jade. Name subject to change, because who the fuck hears that name and thinks “oh, that sounds like a finished thing.”

Thanks for receiving this broadcast. Please ignore any ringing in your ears, and dismiss any sudden and unfounded nosebleeds. These will pass.

On the topic of Pax’s “DIversity Lounge”

The following is a collection of tweets made last night by myself. I thought I may as well compile the entirety of my standpoint all in one place. Be warned, things got a bit heated. Everything is my opinion, and not indicative of Hey Poor Player or any other organizations I am or ever have been a part of. This is all me here.

You know what would be a much more inviting and legitimate safe place for equality in minorities? THE WHOLE CONVENTION. 

I just…fuck Penny Arcade. This time last year I was questioning them, but still enjoyed and respected them as an institution. No longer. I am just so completely done with the insensibility, closed-mindedness, and incompetence the entire group has shown in the last year.

And before I hear a single god-damned one of you tell me how “oh, they’re trying their best” no they’re not, go fuck yourself. They have made SO MANY MISTAKES in the last year between this, the revival of dickwolves, and the Gone Home fiasco. And you know what those things SHOULD HAVE BEEN? Learning opportunities. Do not tell me to give them a second chance. At this point, they have had more chances than they deserve, and they just keep making things worse. I don’t want to hear a god damn word.

My last word on this whole matter: 

You know what promotes diversity? Because I’m pretty sure making and continuously reviving rape jokes, and being insensitive to a large group of people to the point where it drives away DEVELOPERS? Yeah, That’s sure as fuck not gonna do that. And neither is setting up this “hub of diversity” which you KNOW none of the people who laughed at Dickwolves and the transjokes will be going ANYWHERE near. All you’re doing is offering people further isolation and detachment from the rest of the “community”. Do you know what WOULD promote equality and make Pax feel like a safe place for all? Not repeatedly shooting yourself in the foot with more and more comments and jokes that directly offend and disgust people! (by which I mean not just gay, bi, or trans individuals, but all sensible people) In other words, MAKING ALL PEOPLE FEEL WELCOME. If you insist on making the comments Gabe and Tycho have, it only proves that you are clinging to lowbrow humor with knuckles whiter than your shitty, fedora-clad fanbase! And I will admit I have been guilty of laughing at shit like this in the past, but I’ve grown up a bit and know when it’s pushed too far. 

tldr; equality is not achieved by singling out those who strive for it, it is achieved by making people welcome REGARDLESS of who they are. Guess what, dipshits? It is perfectly possible to write humor without offending an entire group of people.

hppofficial:

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I reviewed the new Pokemon games. I fucking loved them. Find out why.

Oct 2

CALL OUT TO PROSPECTIVE GAME JOURNALISTS

hppofficial:

     Do you have a passion for critical writing, reporting, or reviewing? Do you love the shit out of video games? If so, Hey Poor Player may have an opportunity for you. 

     We’re looking for one or two writers to join our team. Everyone on the site does a fantastic job, but sadly we alone are no longer able to generate the amount of new, engaging day-to-day content that we would like to. That’s where you come in.

     We’re looking for writers potentially capable of handling both reviews and news pieces, but if you have a special area of interest that’s not a bad thing either. Hey Poor Player is very much the kind of website that likes to let each of its staff pick what they want to cover, and so we welcome you regardless of what area of gaming you are most interested in.

     So what actual criteria must you meet? We would prefer people with some prior experience, but exceptions can be made. Sometimes a person just has a really strong, albeit untapped, ability to write well. Even if you’ve never written for a website, though, we do need some kind of proof of what you’re capable of. Anything from previously published work to solo reviews written on your personal blog can work. It’s not so much about your history as it is your ability that matters to us. 

If interested, email us at deadpixels@heypoorplayer.com. This would not be paid work,a s we are not large enough of a website to make a substantial profit. We’re just enthusiast writers with lives, who love doing what we do. All applicants will be given the time of day, and your work will be looked over. We are only looking for one or two writers, but we welcome one and all to come to us. Best of luck and game on!

The Scholarly Update

I know, I know, I need to start using this blog more. I’ve been balancing the start of college with continuing to write for Hey Poor Player as much as possible, and things have been very busy. But busy is good.

A month in, College is pretty great. I’m taking an acting class I’m not a fan of, but that’s just one of my humanities. I probably won’t take anything with the teacher again, because she doesn’t exactly command respect in the classroom. All my other classes are good, though, and I’ve met some very cool people. Living away from home has been an absolute godsend as well. I’ve been able to focus on things a lot better.

On the Hey Poor Player front, I took a week or two off to settle in, but you can find some new stuff all the same, certainly since the last time I updated this blog. I reviewed Rayman Legends, as well as Mighty Switch Force 2 and Shin Megami Tensei IV a while back. The Kickstarter Watch series is back in full swing as well, most recently featuring Europa 2022. More to come, of course.

So yeah, keep an eye out here for more stuff about my writing and whatnot. Woo!