The Quest for the Legends (ILCOE)

This is an author's commentary intended for readers who have already read the entire ILCOE. My retrospective comments on the chapter are in bold below, with some remarks within the text and then some overall thoughts at the bottom. The commentary will contain significant spoilers! Do not read the commentary on your first read-through!

Chapter 2: The Book

When Mark woke up, the Charmander was still asleep, but this time curled up with the tail flame burning peacefully beside its head. Mark carefully placed his hand onto the Pokémon’s back; it was warm and seemed to be breathing normally. He gave a faint smile, dressed quickly and then tiptoed into the kitchen, where he was greeted by his parents’ serious faces and folded arms.

“Mark,” his father sighed, “we need to talk.”

-------

“Why not??” Mark shouted across the table, crushing his cornflakes violently. He couldn’t help noticing that despite his parents being very much unlike each other in outwards appearance – his father having black hair and being short just like him, but his mother a tall, thin blonde with big, toadlike eyes – they managed to look remarkably similar when they were both of the same mind.

There's something hilariously apt about the exaggerated sound of "Why not??" with the two question marks there, in this sentence about Mark violently crushing his cornflakes.

I like the scene break there, straight from the calm waking up and into the middle of the argument. It's probably genuinely several times more effective (and shorter!) than if I'd attempted to write what happens in between. Nice choice, fourteen-year-old me.

“It’s very simple, Mark; it’s dangerous out there,” his father sighed.

“So what? I’d have a Pokémon for my protection!” Mark said eagerly.

His mother replied quietly: “But what if your Pokémon turns against you?”

“That… that… just… doesn’t happen!” Mark said lamely. In fact, he had no idea, but he would soon learn it, if only they would stop getting in his way.

I like how Mark's absolutely losing this argument, but also absolutely still convinced he's in the right and his parents are just being obstructive. (Specifically, he was clearly meant to be losing the argument, which is good. It's nice to see I had some self-awareness.)

“Are you sure?” his mother asked kindly.

Lots of adverbs in this dialogue. We're going to be seeing a lot of them in this readthrough.

“Well, no, not really, but…”

“See, we just want to keep you safe,” she said in a voice Mark recognized as the one she used when she was trying to be convincing. Needless to say, Mark had grown completely oblivious to it over those eleven years.

“But, oh, mom…”

“Besides,” his father interrupted, “we’ve yet to check all the reported lost Pokémon.”

Mark didn’t say anything; he was aware of that, but he was still hoping somebody had released the Charmander on purpose. His father stood slowly up, not taking his eyes off Mark, went to the computer in the corner (which was mainly used to find recipes online) and typed ‘www.lostandfound.com’ into the address bar. Mark quickly jumped to read over his shoulder as he searched for ‘Charmander’.

They've just got a single lost and found website for the entire world, apparently? Amazing. (The HMMRCIG and YAR didn't give an actual web address here and just called it the official lost Pokémon website, which could've been just for the region or something. I have no idea why I felt the need to add the address in.)

It's pretty glaring how nobody here thinks maybe they should just, you know, wait for Charmander to wake up and ask him. I really wasn't great at portraying a society where Pokémon are actually treated as people. Mark, in particular, has cheerfully been assuming that if Charmander was released then that totally means he can be his trainer, right, without wondering if that's actually what he'd want. I'd noticed this properly by the time I started the IALCOTN, so it's significantly more convincing on the general Pokémon treatment front and makes a bit of drama out of Mark being so desperate to be a trainer that he takes Charmander out of town unconscious (though this is then far too easily resolved; Charmander takes it exceedingly well).

A broad grin spread through Mark’s face as the results appeared: Two lost Charmander, both of them in Kanto.

His father sighed. “That does not mean you’re about to go on a journey.”

Mark was going to protest, but was interrupted by a sound:

“Char?”

The little lizard carefully stepped into the kitchen and looked curiously around.

“Oh, it’s awake,” Mark’s father groaned.

“I’m not an ‘it’,” said the Charmander offended, at least if Mark’s knowledge of Pokémonish was as accurate as ever. The Pokémon’s voice, though rather high-pitched on human scale, was masculine.

Mark turned to his father with and said in a scolding tone: “He’s a he, dad. Should I have said ‘Oh, it’s awake’ when I came in here and saw you?”

“What’s going on?” asked Charmander, puzzled.

“We’re arguing over whether you will go psycho and kill me,” said Mark and shot a ‘what-weirdoes-those-adults-can-be’ look back at his parents. Charmander raised an eyebrow.

“Look, hon, that’s not quite the way we put it,” Mark’s mother began in an apologetic tone, but Charmander interrupted loudly:

Wow, I really liked "in a ___ tone" in my dialogue tags, apparently.

“What am I doing here, anyway?”

“Er,” was all Mark’s father said.

“I brought you in here when you fell unconscious on the road in the rain yesterday,” said Mark, leaning down to Charmander’s level so the lizard wouldn’t have to look so much up. “And the reason we’re arguing is that I was… uh… wondering…” Suddenly he felt like abandoning the idea; it seemed so ridiculous when he was starting to say it aloud.

“If you can be my trainer?” Charmander finished for him, sensing that Mark wasn’t about to continue. Mark nodded nervously; the Pokémon just smiled. “Sure, why not, since you saved me and all… I need a new trainer anyway…”

“What’s your name?” Mark immediately asked, feeling comfortably warm and light.

“I don’t really have one, just call me Charmander,” he answered cheerfully. Both of them looked hopefully up at Mark’s parents, wearing the broadest grins they could manage.

Well, that was quick. I really regret my utter lack of interest in writing Charmander as an actual character here. The moment he's woken up in a strange house and been told he was taken there after he wandered somewhere exhausted and lost, fell unconscious in the rain and would've died without help, he's immediately agreeing to let this random kid train him and eagerly joining in with trying to persuade his parents to let them go (he wasn't even here for the whole debate). I made a bit more of an effort in the IALCOTN, but even then it really wasn't enough. It would totally be possible to make this first meeting actually cute and good, I think, but nope, I just went straight for "They've said a dozen words to each other, now they are Best Friends and this makes total sense."

“No way,” said his father, folding his arms. Charmander’s expression dropped.

“Maybe I should just leave, then,” he said emptily, turning around.

“No, wait… you can stay here and all… just as a pet or something!” Mark’s father called after him, not wanting to send the poor thing out to die in the next downpour. Charmander turned slowly back to them.

“Do you trust me more here than out there?”

“It’s just that...” Mark’s father started, but his wife interrupted:

“You can’t deny that there are dangerous Pokémon out there – and you’re too small to handle them if they do attack.”

“But they’re usually nowhere near Sailance!” Mark argued.

“Usually,” his father emphasized.

Charmander couldn’t think of anything to say – it looked like his and Mark’s silent plan wasn’t working.

Yet.

-------

For a few days, Charmander was a pet. Mark and he always went to bed very early, but set Mark’s digital watch to beep at two AM or so, and then in the dark bedroom with Charmander’s tail flame as the only light source, they discussed ways to get out on a journey. Just for fun, they started imagining this was the dungeon in the castle of two evil lords who kept them imprisoned, inventing loads of ideas of how to escape, each more absurd than the other.

“I think we must use our cunningness for this,” Mark whispered, leaning closer to Charmander. “You will set the castle on fire and while they burn, we will run and tell the world of their dictatorship so that peace can reign in Ouen again.”

They both snickered.

This is sort of cute but so weird. Why is Charmander immediately so invested in the idea Mark's parents are evil and unfair. Also, this game they're playing together makes Charmander seem like a child, but this is pretty much the only scene in the story where he comes across that way - while he's unevolved, he's supposed to be mature enough to help a beginning trainer on a journey. He ought to be at least asking some questions about why his parents don't want him on a journey and all in all acting vaguely responsible here.

“Hey, Mark…” said Charmander thoughtfully, “I think I have an idea. A real idea…”

-------

Mark walked into the kitchen in the morning, his face expressionless.

“I don’t want breakfast, mom,” he said gloomily. “I just came to say goodbye.”

“What?”

“I’m gonna kill myself.”

Ugh, this entire thing is so horrendously flippant and inappropriate. I hate it. Please stop. Do not.

Crash. A second cup went to waste. His mother’s expression was so priceless he almost burst out laughing, but resisted it; he had to keep the depressed-and-tired-of-life face.

“No, you’re not!” she screeched.

“It’s just… my friends are all gone,” he went on.

“But how do we fix that, dear?” she asked in a worried tone.

“I just wish I could go and meet up with them, on my own journey.” Mark immediately realized that the smile that followed was far too hopeful. And too un-depressed. His mother sighed.

“You’re not funny, Mark. I mean… do you even have any idea how much that cup cost?”

Oh my GOD, Mark's mom.

“A lot, if I know you correctly,” Mark muttered, well aware that the cup was just a random thing she turned her attention to because she had been very upset. Neither of them said anything for a while, until his mother sighed again.

“Are you that desperate to go on that journey of yours?”

“Of course I am!” Mark replied, his expression brightening up. “Mom, Charmander and I have been secretly thinking up plans at night! We’ve been imagining you’re evil dictators keeping us inside a dungeon and planning our escape in the middle of the night!”

“And,” said Charmander’s threatening voice as the lizard Pokémon entered the room, “we will do that every night from now on and there’s no way for you to stop us.”

Mark’s mother put up a weird expression halfway between a smile and a hopeless look, and then said: “You’re incredible, boys – I think there’s no way to keep you in here for very long before you think of a way to force us to let you out.”

“YES!” Charmander shouted.

“WHOOOOO!!!!” Mark yelled, giving his Pokémon a high five. He hugged his mother tightly.

“Thanks, mom.”

She just hugged him back, tears in her eyes.

That was quick, x2. In the IALCOTN, there's actually a reason his parents give in so easily: they're hoping that if Mark sets off now from Sailance, he won't make it to Green Town in time for the festival and thus won't be there for Chaletwo's appearance (which was the main reason they didn't want him on a journey). But I'm pretty sure that was all something I retroactively came up with to justify this in the IALCOTN, so here she was just actually persuaded by Mark being so desperate he'd pull something like this.

It's kind of cute that Charmander's idea of a threat is "We're going to keep imagining you're evil dictators!" (better than threatening suicide, GOD Mark why), but all in all this was an exceedingly pointless and generally terrible delay in the start of Mark and Charmander's journey. Let's all just pretend none of this ever happened.

-------

Things were being packed into an old red and blue backpack that looked like it could burst at any time. Mark’s father was not happy, but he had ended up giving in to his wife, who was suddenly all for it like she had never thought otherwise. Mark and Charmander bounced around the house in a wild celebration-dance. He got a nice sum of money to buy things for. Finally, he set off with Charmander by his side.

“Bye dad! Bye mom! I promise I won’t get myself killed!” Mark’s mother smiled through the tears as he waved. Then he turned and started running.

And of course, he does in fact get himself killed. This was very intentional; I was probably cackling at my own cleverness here.

The Gyms in Ouen had been arranged so that the recommended first Gym was in Cleanwater city, a big one which was conveniently not that far from Sailance, then went in a spiral inwards until the last gym was in Acaria city in the heart of the continent. Cleanwater was near the edge of the Pokémon-inhabited part of Ouen, built near a mysterious lake which was famous for being so clear that the bottom was always visible in details, despite being the second-deepest lake in the whole of Ouen. It was therefore called “The Lake of Purity”.

It's super-convenient how the gyms are set up to make Sailance pretty much the ideal place to start your journey from, isn't it, as opposed to, say, Green Town (where the regional starter giveaways happen). Almost like I created the region with that in mind. (In-universe I can sort of justify this as a product of how powerful the wild Pokémon happen to be in different areas, but obviously this was in no way a coincidence.)

But Mark was not headed to Cleanwater city yet. He was going to the Sailance Library to get a book about Pokémon training.

I'm deeply amused at how I didn't capitalize the "city" in "Cleanwater city" but did capitalize "Sailance Library". I was pretty confused about English capitalization. (In Iceland, we only capitalize the actual first letter of titles and proper nouns, and in general we just capitalize way less, so English capitalization conventions were pretty foreign to me.)

Mark, despite all his interest in Pokémon, was a rookie when it came to the trainer career itself. He knew how it worked, of course, and the rules of the Pokémon League, but frankly he was rather clueless about the rest. His parents knew no more, seeing as they had never been trainers, so they had advised him to go to the library. There had to be some kind of a book explaining all that stuff. He had just never looked for one since he never thought he’d need it.

This is so bizarre. Mark's incredibly invested in becoming a Pokémon trainer, but... knows nothing about it? Schools teach battling strategies, but not the basics of being a trainer? What this is setting up is the eventual revelation that Mark has been training Pokémon illegally because he doesn't have a license, because he didn't know he needed one - but that at the very least should be incredibly basic knowledge! Surely even if your family doesn't have a car you still know there's such a thing as a driver's license and you need one if you want to drive. This is weird nonsense, and to boot the whole thing about Mark not having a license is entirely unnecessary. (And if it weren't unnecessary, it'd be far more interesting to have him knowingly training illegally! That could totally be fun if I were actually going to do something with it. But the fic doesn't in fact do anything with it - Mark just gets Ash to give him a license, problem solved - so none of this ought to be happening.)

The library was a huge, bright white building in the middle of the town. The walls were decorated with carvings of various Pokémon; Mark’s favorite was located over the door and was a big Articuno flying to the left, its tail feather swishing behind it and looking amazingly alive. As always when Mark entered the library, he bowed his head slightly as he looked at the magnificent bird. The automatic door slowly slid open before him, and he prepared to walk inside when he remembered that Pokémon weren’t allowed in the library.

“Sorry, Charmander, you’ll have to wait outside,” he said guiltily. “I won’t be long.”

“No problem,” said Charmander, smiling. “It’s not like anybody could steal me or anything.”

This sounds hilariously like it's about to cut to Mark coming out of the library and finding somebody has, in fact, stolen Charmander.

Mark eyed a few people staring at the Pokémon like a miracle, and pride started spreading around his chest. To think of it… he was a trainer.

He smiled back at his Pokémon friend, and then entered the building.

The search computers along with a few shelves of paperbacks with huge titles greeted him, along with the familiar smell of books that Mark had always loved. But he ignored them and walked right to the elevators, as this book would be on the second floor, which was devoted to Pokémon training. As he entered the lift, an endless row of Marks stared back at him from the mirrors on the sides. All of them turned to the buttons at the same time, and all of them managed to slip their fingers between buttons two and three, accidentally highlighting both as the elevator started ascending.

It stopped on the second floor and a tall, thin young man with a suitcase stepped in, holding a book. Curious as to why such a man would be reading something on Pokémon training, Mark took a peek at the title. It was something stupid about Pokémon battles being a bad influence on kids; however, Mark completely forgot to get out of the lift until he discovered that the door had closed and they were starting to go up again. The elevator came to a halt and the door opened. Mark looked uncomfortably up at the man, who looked out of the book and seemed to wonder why Mark hadn’t exited yet. He hated to be stared at by strangers; that feeling pushed him out through the door to enter the floor about Pokémon in general.

This was the floor he usually stopped at when he went to the library. Every so often, he would return his books and take new ones, most of which were always about Legendary Pokémon. The shelf containing those books was located… right in front of him.

He had automatically walked straight up to that shelf when he exited the elevator. And as he had so often seen that shelf, he immediately noticed a new book that made his heart pound faster. On the black spine, golden, curly letters formed the title:

The Ouen Legends

This whole sequence of events is amazing.

In the original, chapter two involved Mark staying at a random farm and reading a book about legendary Pokémon. There were no signs he was particularly interested in them before this, but after he was done reading a giant infodump about all my bad fake legendaries, he turned to Charmander and announced he was going to become a legendary collector and capture every legendary Pokémon in the world! I scrapped this plan as a pretty silly one before I got too far with it - but then the fic's title didn't make sense anymore, so I had to make up another plot involving catching legendaries instead, and that's how the War of the Legends plot happened. Yes, really.

In the HMMRCIG, I rewrote everything completely from scratch, and by this point the UMR had already briefly established him as always having been fascinated by legendary Pokémon. But for some ungodly reason, I felt compelled to still make him read a book about legendary Pokémon in this chapter, justifying it with a series of contrivances. Mark's super-interested in legendary Pokémon, but he doesn't know anything about the ones in his own region... because there are no books about them, but now there is one! But then why would he go to the library, if it's never had any books on them? Uhh, to get a totally different book. But then why would he look in that section at all? Well, see, he accidentally pressed two buttons in the elevator, and then he was gripped with a sudden desire to go check the third floor and check out a particular shelf! In my mind this was all totally reasonable because something had given me the silly idea that it made my fic better if Mark was destined to end up being picked by Chaletwo in Green Town, and fate itself would guide him towards what needed to happen - I just considered that intriguing hints of the epic plot to come.

Needless to say, I was wrong. There's no destiny and Mark was picked out of a crowd because he seemed like someone who could be convinced to go out and try to capture legendaries, and that actually turns out to be a major part of the point of the story. It's really irritating to me that in the HMMRCIG I actually started to try to make Mark special in ways he hadn't been before. As much as I'd improved my writing in most areas, this was an infuriating step backwards and it really annoys me that I couldn't see that.

The HMMRCIG, YAR and original ILCOE all had that guiding hand of destiny thing going, whereas the version you see here is the ILCOTEM (December 2004), which changes things a bit: instead of Mark just having these destiny impulses, this guy just walks in and distracts him, and then he exits on the wrong floor in a #relatable moment of social awkwardness, and then he walks over to the legendary shelf on autopilot because that's where he always goes at the library. I'm pretty sure now that I must have made this change because I'd realized the whole destiny thing was silly and didn't want that in here anymore - but instead, I managed to make it into an absolutely hilariously contrived series of extremely specific events that just happen to land him there, looking at this book, by sheer coincidence. I'm sorry, 2004 self, but I'm not sure this was actually an improvement; this kind of sounds more guided by destiny than before.

Glaringly, it would've been pretty reasonable for Mark to genuinely just want to check the third floor while he's there, because he probably checks for new legendary books every time he goes to the library. Making him just decide this instead of having strange impulses about it would've been the simplest possible change here. But I guess if I'd done that we wouldn't have gotten that delightful moment of Mark getting off at the wrong floor because he accidentally pressed two buttons and forgot to exit at his floor and now a stranger is staring at him expecting him to get off. So socially awkward penguin.

The IALCOTN very correctly just removed this whole library trip altogether; the Ouen legendaries are just as well documented as other legendaries, and Mark already knows about them (and how Pokémon training works) from the start. See, that was easy.

It was an interesting fact that while all the Legendary Pokémon of Kanto, Johto and Hoenn were well known and their existence definite, the Ouen ones appeared to be very shy. Many scientists didn’t even believe they were real. All photos were too blurry to tell if the creatures on them were anything more than normal Pokémon. No Pokédex data recorded. A ton of reported sightings with no evidence to support them. Hence, Mark could well imagine why it would be hard to write a book about them; at least it had to be, considering that he had never seen one before.

It turns out in chapter 24 that actually there are books; his parents just somehow pulled strings to get the librarian to put the books away where Mark wouldn't see them because they knew he'd want to see Chaletwo and get himself killed (apparently, somehow the existence of the huge Pokémon Festival held around his appearance was also something they managed to hide from him, despite that he knows starter Pokémon are given away in Green Town every year at an event that takes place at that festival). But I'm pretty sure I didn't think of that until way later, so this was all meant to sound reasonable here. I severely underestimated people's ability to write books about cryptozoology.

That fact only made his need to read this book even more overwhelming. He felt drawn to it like a fly to a lightbulb. Barely even realizing what he was doing, he extended his hand and grabbed the book with a firm grip, slowly drawing it out of the shelf. What surprised him was that the book was dusty, like it had been there for years.

This implication that there's something mystical about this book is kind of cute - reminds me of some of my favorite children's books, which definitely inspired this - but of course this never comes up again. The prior revisions actually go even further with this, explicitly saying the book itself looks fairly recent and was printed five years ago, but it's dusty like it's been on the shelf for longer than that. Presumably this is another change I made in the ILCOTEM with the intention of toning down the weird mystical implications.

Mark shook his head and, with the book in his hands, walked over to a big, fluffy and comfortable-looking green couch. He flung himself into it, examining the cover illustration. At the top were six dragons in different colors, the so-called Color Dragons. Below them, eight unicorns. At the very bottom… Mewtwo?

Yup, he was sure of it. The whitish-purple anthro cat-like shape was unmistakably that of the first super-clone that had ever been created and had gotten such experiments banned. A Kanto Legendary.

What’s Mewtwo doing on the cover of a book about the Ouen legendaries? Mark thought. He looked better at Mewtwo’s shape. The eyes were closed, but looked creepily open all the same. It’s that highlight, said Mark’s artist eye. The shading gives that effect, the highlight on the eyelid looks distantly like a pupil. But it was still scary to look at closed eyes that seemed to be watching. Had the cover artist drawn it like that on purpose?

Either way, Mewtwo wasn’t supposed to be there at all. Mark scanned his head for a reason why Mewtwo would be on the cover of a book about the Ouen Legendaries, but found none.

He shrugged and opened the book. He flicked past the title pages, leant backwards and sank himself into the book.

It started with the Color Dragons. The left page had a watercolor illustration of them, with their names written near them.

Lidreki was small and cute with silver scales. What caught Mark’s attention about it, however, was that somehow, the scales broke the light into the colors of the rainbow where the light shone directly at them. Lidreki technically wasn’t one of the real Color Dragons; it evolved into them. That made it no less of a Legendary, though, as it was just as shrouded in mystery as its adult forms. The Color Dragons themselves were all larger than Lidreki; they were basically European-style dragons with big, clawed legs, small arms and broad wings spreading out from their shoulders.

Dragoreen, the Dragon of the Poor, was a metallic green, feminine-looking dragon and didn’t have any outstanding features over the others. She glared hatefully at Preciure, the Dragon of Wealth, opposite her on the page; he was a golden male with silver spikes lined down his back. He returned the gaze, full of loathing.

The crimson dragon above Preciure was a female: Raudra, the Dragon of Fire. She shook her golden mane, facing her back at her brother Dracobalt, the Dragon of Water. He was deep blue in color, with a fin down his entire back, and shot a sideways glance at Raudra, clearly not too keen on her either.

The last two were Puragon, the White Dragon, and Venoir, the Black Dragon. Puragon was a pearly white female with four narrow crystalline horns, looking serenely at the viewer. Venoir, on the other hand, was pitch-black in color, a male and had dark purple, bull-like horns. His eyes were creepily red, staring hungrily at his sister across the page.

Mark smiled, his gaze moving over to the right page.

THE COLOR DRAGONS

The legend says that an ancient, powerful dragon Pokémon named Vaxil, the Dragon of the Rainbow, laid six eggs and hid them where no living creature could harm them. One she dropped into the crater of a volcano, one she hid at the bottom of a deep lake, one she secured in a dark cave, one she buried in snow, and two she took with her to her own cave, filled with gold and treasures.

The first egg to hatch was one of the eggs that Vaxil had taken with her. As the other eggs would later, it hatched into a Lidreki. He was greedy and loved nothing more than burying himself in his mother’s gold.

The second egg to hatch was the one in the volcano. That Lidreki was female, and she loved the lava, fed on it and never felt the need to leave the volcano’s crater. The third egg was the one in the dark cave. It was a male, and he fed on poisonous Pokémon that lurked there in the dark, without ever finding out that there was anything outside the cave.

The fourth egg that hatched was the one in the snow. The young Lidreki was a female, and slowly became oblivious to the cold. The fifth egg was the one at the bottom of the lake. A male, he adapted to underwater life, hunted fish and rarely went out of the lake.

Finally, the sixth egg hatched – the other egg that Vaxil had taken with her. It was a female, and a deep rivalry immediately started between her and her older brother. They hated each other, and one day, he fought her out of the cave, and she sought her brothers and sisters to help resisting him.

She went to her sister in the volcano and to her brother in the lake. She went to her brother in the cave and to her sister in the snow. She lived with all of them for a while, and told them all – because Vaxil had told her – where the other ones were hidden, and asked them to come and help against her oldest brother. They came, rather for seeing their mother than for helping their sister, but as they traveled, they developed hate for each other in pairs, and upon their arrival in Vaxil’s cave, a fight broke out. The oldest brother fought the youngest sister, the sister from the volcano fought her brother from the lake, and the brother in the cave fought his sister in the snow. Vaxil attempted to stop them, but they merely fought her back and in the end Vaxil threw herself off the cliff to her death. The siblings were horrified, each blaming another, but slowly they became enveloped in a white glow and evolved, each to one of the Color dragons depending on their habitats from birth.

Due to their mother’s death, they decided not to keep fighting and let each other leave in peace, and supposedly they still lurk out there, desiring only superiority over the opposite sibling.

All of them have special abilities. Raudra, Dracobalt, Puragon and Venoir have immense powers of fire, water, ice and poison respectively, but Dragoreen’s attacks are independent on the defender’s weaknesses or resistances, and Preciure’s golden scales can repel any attack well and effectively.

Notice the "special abilities". Originally, I liberally gave all the Color Dragons three or more types - Fire/Dragon/Flying, Dragon/Fire/Flying, Dragon/Fire/Steel/Flying, Dragon/Fire/Poison/Dark/Flying, etc. The HMMRCIG and YAR never mentioned their typing and I'm not sure I'd decided exactly what I was going to do with them yet - maybe I was still reluctant to change the fact they had many types but didn't want to actually make this explicit because I'd realized it was a bit silly. But when I made the ILCOEth revision, I made a document of notes on the new Ouen legendaries where I nailed down their types, abilities, and the stats they focused on. In these notes, I decided the Color Dragons were all just Dragon/Flying-types with abilities that functionally give their adapted types STAB. I wrote in this paragraph hinting at this, then promptly went on to forget all about this for years until I was coincidentally going over some old files, opened 'legendaries.doc' and was surprised to find a bunch of info about the Ouen legendaries that I'd forgotten I ever wrote down, and still more amused to find when I checked that I'd actually alluded to this all along here. At least I discovered that in time for chapter 59.

I think I probably chose to make them all Dragon/Flying there to differentiate them a bit more from the Dragons of Ouen, who were another set of elemental dragons who hated each other. The Color Dragons actually didn't become that until the HMMRCIG - prior to that, they were literally just a set of possible elemental evolutions for Dracolor (the original name for Lidreki), who were not even one-of-a-kind - though Rick happened to have captured all of them except for one Dragold (Preciure) and one Dragoblack (Venoir). They had no lore or backstory at all; the UMR actually outright stated that the only reason they were considered legendary was that they had more than two types (which was apparently sufficient).

In addition to fixing this to make them vaguely sensible as legendary Pokémon, the dragons' names and designs were changed in the HMMRCIG; after all, the original ones I made up when I was twelve were literally called "Dracolor", "Dragoreen", "Dragold", "Dragoblue", "Dragored", "Dragoblack" and "Dragowhite", and the only visual difference between them was the color. Their new names are probably relatively transparent aside from Raudra and Lidreki, both of which are based on Icelandic: Raudra comes from "rauður" (red) while Lidreki is a portmanteau of "litur" (color) and "dreki" (dragon). In other words, still not very creative, but I'd finally figured out that being bilingual allowed me to make my uncreative names sound a lot less boring.

The legend was then tweaked and fleshed out considerably in the ILCOE; originally, where the six separated Lidreki had come from was brushed over, and Dragoreen was young and helpless and tried to live with each of the others only for them to fight her away. It appeared that otherwise they'd never met each other, but they still desired nothing more than superiority over the opposite sibling, which was a bit nonsensical, so the ILCOE version is definitely more coherent. In chapter 59 it turns out what really happened was a bit more complicated, but the basic gist of the ILCOE legend is true.

Mark turned past some pages consisting of the few things he already knew, interviews with people who claimed to have seen them and some old paintings of the Color Dragons, and finally reached the next chapter.

The left page again had a watercolor illustration. It showed the unicorns all together, dashing towards the viewer. The first one, Waraider, was white with a bony, swirled horn and broad, feathered wings extending from his shoulder blades. Emphire, to Waraider’s left, was also white but had a flaming mane and tail, a golden horn and fiery wings of some sort flapping at her sides.

Next was Seasar, who was dark blue in color. He didn’t appear to have a tail or mane at all; instead, a stream of water flowed smoothly down his neck, along his whole back and then gracefully dropped down behind him like a waterfall, only to dissolve into thin air before reaching the ground. Although hard to see, he had wispy, formless, vaporous wings.

Electhrone was the fourth one, to the left of Seasar. He was whitish-yellow, but sparks of electricity appeared to replace his mane and tail. The horn was a bit crooked; odd, very straight, pointed feathers formed his two wings.

Natruler was next; her fur was off-white, but where the mane and tail should have been, grass and leaves sprouted right out of her skin. Long, feather-shaped leaves formed into her thin wings, and the horn looked almost wooden. At Natruler’s side was an icily bluish-white one, Freezaroy. Her silky mane and tail produced snow that spiraled after her, blown away by the flapping of her giant wings. The wings were made of thin icicles rather than feathers. So was the horn on her forehead.

The last two were Mysticrown and Darkhan. Mysticrown’s tail and mane were magenta, and a big, purple gem replaced the horn. Similar smaller ones glistened in various places on her body, most noticeably on all of her white wing feathers. Darkhan, on the other hand, was pitch-black with leathery, bat-like wings and some sort of thick black smoke forming his mane and tail.

Mark turned to the information page.

WARAIDER’S HERD

Waraider the Normal type leads the group of his special-typed counterparts; unlike the Color dragons, all of them supposedly keep close together wherever they go. According to the legend, their being together keeps the world balanced, and should they ever be separated, chaos will reign until they reunite.

There have been interestingly many reported sightings of the herd, but neither photos nor Pokédex data exist to prove any of them.

I did not yet know that there was only one unicorn here, of course, but the legend feels nicely like it's setting it up.

I think the mention of there being a lot of reported sightings of the herd may have been included here because Mark actually bumped into the Waraider herd in chapter 31 of the original. Chaletwo outright advised him to not try to fight them and instead leave his Pokémon behind to approach them in as nonthreatening a manner as he could, then just throw a bunch of balls. The unicorns simply ran, and all in all nothing came of the encounter. This was of course cut entirely when the ILCOE got there.

The unicorns also got new names and designs in the HMMRCIG. Emphire, Natruler and Freezaroy were originally literally called "Flamer", "Leafer" and "Freezer", because I was an amazingly original twelve-year-old; you can see all of them in their full glory as I drew them in 2002 here. However, the version of the legend you see here actually originates in this version, the ILCOTEM. The HMMRCIG up through the ILCOE all featured basically the same backstory that the unicorns had in the UMR, which in turn dated back to the original: there were originally eight Waraider, and then seven of them evolved into different elemental forms. (The HMMRCIG, though, ditched the bit where the reason they evolved was that they were near a town when a bunch of kids started throwing rocks at them, and some of them were evolution stones.)

This is, of course, blatantly incompatible with what turns out to be Waraider's actual deal in chapter 70 - I didn't have that realization until I was NaNoing the remainder of the fic in 2012, and by that point I'd only looked at the ILCOTEM for years. If anyone'd remembered what they originally read, they should've cried foul, especially on those sites where I never put up the ILCOTEM version of these chapters, but nobody did (understandably; chapter 70 was posted twelve years after this one).

The change in the ILCOTEM was quite possibly motivated by the fact that that version of the legend really made them far too similar to the Color Dragons - another bit of cheerful disregard for the fact that (at this point) legendary Pokémon weren't supposed to evolve, another plain basic form evolving into different elemental ones. What I ended up with is much more distinct and interesting than the original idea ever was, so all in all I'm very grateful for the ILCOTEM here.

Mark skipped past a lot of pages, just for the sake of finding out what he was the most curious about: why Mewtwo was in that book. He thought he remembered one more Legendary – if he knew correctly, one of the Ouen Legendaries was in fact confirmed to be real – but the name escaped him at the moment.

He looked at the illustration first as he had done before. Again, its eyes were closed in that creepy ‘watching’ manner that had been on the cover picture. Mark couldn’t help wondering why it was drawn like that, though. He would’ve believed Mewtwo’s eyes would usually be open.

The answer was on the right page, where the title – partially – explained it:

CHALETWO

“Oh, yeah,” Mark muttered to himself. “That was the name.” He definitely remembered Chaletwo as one of the Legendary Pokémon – however, he didn’t believe he had ever seen any pictures of it. At least he thought he’d remember if there was an Ouen Legendary that looked exactly like Mewtwo.

Seriously, so bizarre. He has heard of Chaletwo somehow at some point, but he still has no idea about the Pokémon Festival where Chaletwo appears every year and was completely baffled to see something that looks like Mewtwo on the cover of the book? How is he getting this extremely selective information and nothing else? Did his parents feed him these vague nuggets while simultaneously somehow bribing an entire town to never talk about the Pokémon Festival, where this extremely significant legendary Pokémon regularly murders people, in Mark's presence?

He started reading the text.

Chaletwo is the only one of the Ouen Legendaries whose existence is definite and confirmed. He appears every year at the exact same time and place: 4:26:45 PM on the 25th of May, just outside Green Town. It is thanks to the tourist attraction that sprouted from Chaletwo’s annual comings that Green Town became so big.

Chaletwo was originally created as a clever way to one-up all the entries in a fakemon contest that were rarer than Mew and Mewtwo and Celebi put together: he only exists for a few seconds a year, how's that for rare?! (The origins of everything in this fic are glorious.)

So, specifically, his deal was supposed to be that he just briefly looks around to make sure everything's okay, which he can do because his eyes can see through the entire Earth when they're closed, and then he immediately travels through time to next year. This, of course, ended up incompatible with the fic's time travel mechanics, once I actually hashed them out: if he just kept traveling to the future, he'd still belong to a much earlier time and should bounce back there before the War. (Which would also mean there should be another copy of Chaletwo running around, namely the one who went the long way around after bouncing back.) Thus, the actual deal about traveling into the future every year is now uncanonical - he's just out elsewhere doing other things for the rest of the year - but it leaves his yearly appearance near Green Town as kind of an odd artifact: why does he go out of his way to appear publicly in this one spot at the same time every year at all?

Thus, the next revision would probably not involve Chaletwo appearing yearly at the Pokémon Festival at all - it turns out not to matter - but I will kind of miss it. It was such an iconic thing to my younger self, this image of Chaletwo appearing in the crowd at the slated time, turning slowly, stopping on Mark, then opening his eyes. Some nostalgic part of me feels like I can't quite have this fic without it.

The first time that a human witnessed him, he supposedly said telepathically: “Do not fear. I am Chaletwo and do not intend to harm you nor any other living thing. I only wish to come here once a year and have a quick look around the world.”

Nobody knows why he bears such a striking resemblance to Mewtwo, who is in fact a Kanto Legendary (although that is arguable, considering that he is man-created).

Well, at least it wasn’t just something that Mark had never found out.

Due to Chaletwo’s limited availability, Mewtwo has been asked about this by a reporter.

“Do you think I wouldn’t like to know?” he answered before teleporting away. “He said he didn’t wish to tell, least of all me. He wouldn’t reveal anything else. Stop asking.”

I am deeply amused by how much Chaletwo and Mewtwo absolutely do not sound like themselves, and in fact sound oddly like each other, in these quotes. In a different world, maybe there'd be some kind of amazing plot twist about Chaletwo and Mewtwo having traded places.

People wonder whether Chaletwo might be another Super-clone, backing that up with the name he after all introduced himself with (which ends in the trademark “-two” of a genetically modified Pokémon clone), but experts doubt it.

“He’s not just a simple second Mew clone,” Ash Ketchum explains. “I’ve studied both of them carefully, and I’m telling you that every last hair on their bodies is the exact same. Technically, Mewtwo’s creators could have made an additional one with almost the exact same genetic code, resulting in a clone that’s the same, but face it, according to all sources we have, Mewtwo destroyed the lab and everything in it, which would have had to include another embryo if one had been there.”

Chaletwo differs from Mewtwo in two aspects: his eyes will destroy or kill anything they are pointed at except his own eyelids, and Pokédexes record a Dark element in him in addition to the Psychic that Mewtwo has. Pokédexes also classify him as the most powerful Pokémon in the world, tied with…

Mark suddenly checked his watch, discovering for how long he had been reading, and jumped up, quickly returning the book to the shelf as he ran down to meet up with Charmander again.

...Molzapart. That's what the next word there should have been.

In the HMMRCIG, and all the way up to the original ILCOE version, Mark actually finished reading the section on Chaletwo, which explained his power was equal to that of Molzapart. Then Mark infodumped for a paragraph about Molzapart and the new version of his backstory, where he was created when Mew, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres all attacked a Mist Stone to destroy it as a dangerous object, only for the stone to transform into the 'evolved form' of their combined attacks. (A mild improvement on his original backstory, where they attacked the Mist Stone because they thought it was a Geodude.)

By December 2004, I was starting to feel increasingly self-conscious about the fact my fanfic involved something as ridiculous as legendary fusions - and so, when I made some revisions to the opening chapters in preparation for posting the fic on PokémonElite2000 (the ILCOTEM version), I made a bold decision to just take out the bit about Molzapart. Molzapart wasn't something I could throw at readers in chapter two, when they were still forming a first impression, deciding if they wanted to read onwards or not. I had to give the fic a chance to prove itself before easing the reader into the sillier elements inherited from the previous versions. So instead of even reading Molzapart's name, I had Mark abruptly leave mid-sentence. I vaguely planned to add in something introducing Molzapart in a later chapter instead. I never did. This version of the story simply never explains Molzapart at all.

This is a huge oversight, but at this point I'm probably just going to keep it this way, rather than introduce an extra revision adding this information back in - I used to think I could just revert it back to the original ILCOE version, but as there were a number of other changes for the better to the text in the ILCOTEM, reintroducing the Molzapart paragraph would mean writing a new version of the text of that part of the book. There are a lot of other things that don't make any sense in this story, and I've got better things to do than suddenly write up a new edit to a revision from 2004. But it's bad.

I always used to confidently call this chapter the worst one in the story, and although there's plenty of bad to come, I think it's still a strong contender. I enjoy the scene break at the beginning, but practically everything else in this chapter is some level of bad - the beginning of Mark's relationship with Charmander, the treatment of Charmander in general, the grossly uncomfortable suicide threat bit, the nonsensical arbitrariness of what information Mark does and doesn't know about the world, the ridiculous way Mark ends up reading the book, the entire lazy infodump of spending half a chapter on him reading a book, the legendaries themselves generally just being far too many dragons and unicorns (very twelve-year-old me) with no real sense that they're Pokémon, the out-of-character Mewtwo and Chaletwo, the whole Molzapart goof. It was an amusing one to reread, but that's about all I can say for it. Hopefully I won't have to eat my words when a bunch of later chapters turn out to be even worse.


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