What is The Quest for the Legends, you ask? Well, it is a poorly titled, endearingly bonkers completed 77-chapter original trainer Pokémon fanfic, written by me, Butterfree/Dragonfree/antialiasis. I started the original version on June 19th 2002, when I was twelve years old, did various revisions and then started over with a reboot from scratch in April 2004, and eventually finished that reboot on the story's sixteenth anniversary, June 19th 2018, when I was twenty-eight. After finishing it, I wrote an author's commentary, where I reread the whole story and added my later-day thoughts and insights into the creative process as bolded paragraphs within the text, and over the course of a year from the story's nineteenth anniversary on June 19th 2021 and its twentieth on June 19th 2022, I drew an illustration for each chapter. Alongside the illustration project, I made some light edits to the chapters, mostly for grammar and such, and that version is now the primary version you can read here.

Eleven-year-old Mark Greenlet has always wanted to go on a Pokémon journey, but wasn't allowed to last year when all his friends went. After an abandoned Charmander wanders into town, he finally gets to head out to be a trainer, but finds himself grappling with a Pokémon team with a variety of emotional problems, a gym leader who clones legendary Pokémon, a traveling companion who treats her Pokémon questionably, being recruited halfway through his journey to help a desperate legendary save the world by battling and capturing other legendaries, and the fallout of a murder.

As a project I began when I was twelve years old, the story is an amusing cocktail of ideas I had when I was twelve, my subsequent patchings of those ideas when I was thirteen or fourteen, my further patchings of those ideas when I was fifteen or sixteen, and so on. I stuck with it because I never stopped: even by the time I found my twelve-year-old self's ideas bad and embarrassing, the current stuff I'd been writing was stuff I dug, and by the time I found those ideas pretty silly too, I was writing something yet further along that I was still excited about. I'm very stubborn and very attached to my creations, and I never considered not completing it, even when a couple of chapters took me over a year. Today I read the whole thing back and find the story starts to basically hold up on its own terms for me in the mid-thirties range of chapters, but before that point I still deeply enjoy how indulgently wild it is, full of enthusiastic off-the-wall ideas I had when I was a kid. And it satisfies me on a deep level to know that my twelve-year-old self would also have enthusiastically loved how I ended up wrapping it all up.

Should you read it? That's very much up to you. I would say if you're down for watching a fun romp written by a young teenager based on ideas she had when she was twelve developing slowly into a more mature story written by an adult but still building faithfully on what led up to it, it might be a good time. From the start it's high on big drama and creative if sometimes bizarre ideas, and it's generally low on filler - there are definitely some bits that drag a bit and are mostly skippable (mostly some trainer battles in the first half of the fic that I would excise or shorten today), but there are no entire chapters that are simply an episodic adventure we'll never bring up again, and extended battles with no plot or character significance aren't a regular thing. As it goes on, it focuses on character development and explores themes like guilt, responsibility, complancency and mortality.

So if that sounds fun to you, go ahead and read and tell me your thoughts! If not, no harm done; by all means scroll on by if you'd rather read something else.