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!

(The commentary is in progress; only the first chunk of the story has been commented. Check the Quest Blog for progress information!)

The Pokémon Festival – May 25th: Chaletwo's Arrival

Drumroll, please.

As appropriate as it would have been to release this chapter on May 25th, I wrote it in three days and posted it on May 8th 2005. Obviously, I'd been waiting anxiously to finally get to initiate ILCOE readers into the amazing real plot of the fic, so even the prospect of something as perfect as that couldn't sway me to wait. In hindsight that's a shame; I would've really loved to look back on this as the ultimate triple matchup of actual date, in-story date and chapter number. Alas.

Mark just suddenly realized that he was awake. He couldn’t recall waking up, or dreaming anything. That was a relief…

He reached for his watch and looked at it. It was seven in the morning. He sighed, closing his eyes. He didn’t feel tired at all.

His stomach fluttered as he thought about what day it was. His father had told him to stay in his room, lie on his bed and pretend not to exist. That was probably the wisest thing to do. His voice of logic told him that over and over with convincing, step-by-step arguments.

And there was really no voice to speak against it, because there was no question about it. There was no way to logically argue that he should rather take the risk and see Chaletwo. There was just a power which could silence all logic immediately. And Mark knew that there was no way he could lie in a room and wait while the most powerful Pokémon in the world was appearing outside. He just couldn’t.

I like that at least Mark is realizing this, and spelling out that obviously he shouldn't go, but he just has to anyway because of who he is. It's nuts that that's who he is, but running with that premise, I like the slow, numb buildup of this scene as Mark knows there's a very real chance he's about to go to his death.

He had a funny, numb feeling as he sat up in his bed and reached for his Pokéball belt at the foot of his bed. He took Sandslash’s Pokéball – no particular reason why, he just felt like it – and dropped it lightly onto the floor. Sandslash came out of it and looked around.

“What is it?” he asked.

Mark shrugged. “Nothing… just felt like talking.”

“About what?”

“Anything.”

They didn’t say anything for a while. Finally, Mark sighed.

Aw, Sandslash should be a better conversationalist than this! He should absolutely think of something to say if Mark wants to talk.

“The other day when I got my trainer license… it made me think,” he muttered. “I… do you really like me and the way I train you?”

“Well,” Sandslash sighed, “there is something I wish you would do…”

“What?”

“Let us outside a bit more. We would all love to be able to run around freely for a bit sometimes when you’re not doing anything. Pokémon don’t like being stuffed inside Pokéballs for too long…”

“Yeah,” Mark muttered. Neither of them said anything for a little while.

“I’m not sure I’m such a good trainer,” Mark said quietly.

“You are,” said Sandslash softly. “I am very grateful for you.”

“Why?” Mark asked. “I’m lousy. Take May…”

“You are a much better trainer than her,” Sandslash said immediately.

“But how?” Mark asked miserably. “Are you really being honest?”

“Well,” the Pokémon began slowly, choosing his words carefully, “when you first caught me, I thought you weren’t a very good trainer at all. I always lost and stuff…”

He trailed off, but then continued: “But then I slowly started realizing that… well, when you’re a young Pokémon you think of a trainer as a method of getting strong and nothing more than that, which was why I wasn’t happy to find that you didn’t appear to have much more skill than I did by myself… but then I just started to realize that you cared and really hated not being better, because you felt like you were being a lousy trainer for us. And that… touched me. The reason Pokémon tolerate the limits set by being possessed by a trainer, and thus the reason Pokémon training can work in the first place, is that it usually gives Pokémon an opportunity to be stronger, but in the long run, Pokémon don’t live for that. The reason Pokémon stay true to their trainers after the trainers retire and the Pokémon have reached the physical limits of their strength is that through a trainer’s journey around the world, strong bonds are formed between trainer and Pokémon. This is what keeps Pokémon training alive and what makes it so magical – and this is why you are a better trainer than for example May, who is an extraordinarily good battler, but will never feel like anything more to her Pokémon than a temporary training stage in their lives. It is sad that so many Pokémon stay with a trainer for years, never realizing how much more there is to life with a trainer than battling…”

“I… wow,” Mark just said.

“Take now for example,” Sandslash said. “When you’re a young, wild Pokémon, you don’t expect your trainer to send you out just to talk to you. It’s just not in your image of what you believe the purpose of a trainer is. When that happens, though, you realize that this is one of those moments that make you really appreciate your trainer, more than winning some battle will ever do. You’re a great trainer, Mark. May is everything a Pokémon looks for in a trainer – you are much more.”

Mark felt strangely warm. “Wow… thanks…”

“But as I said,” Sandslash continued, “we’d really love some more outside time. You should try that sometime soon.”

“I will. Thanks,” Mark said, smiling.

There are several things I like about this scene. Mark turning to one of his Pokémon to just talk when he's feeling nervous and terrified of what might happen is sweet, as is the fact that what comes pouring out in this vulnerable moment is these insecurities about not being a good enough trainer, and that he wants to hear Sandslash's honest opinion, and Sandslash's musings on what Pokémon expect from trainers compared to the bonds they can end up developing are cheesy but kind of interesting and sort of get to the heart of this world's interpretation of Pokémon training.

But, as so many things in this fic, it's undermined by the fact that what I've actually been showing in the fic hasn't been Mark being a particularly good trainer at all by the very standard Sandslash is outlining here. He points to the fact Mark sent him out just to talk as an example of why Mark's a better trainer than May - but this is literally the first time he's done this! As Sandslash himself just pointed out (hilariously enough), his Pokémon haven't been getting a lot of time outside their balls at all, let alone deep philosophical conversations. This'd be so much more powerful if sending his Pokémon out just to talk to them were actually a thing Mark's always just done, unthinkingly, because it's obvious to him, instead of a thing he's only just doing now.

Also, I wish Mark had more to say here than just "Wow."

Originally, Sandslash specially called out Jolteon as really wishing he'd get to stretch his legs a bit more. Then, I think I essentially treated the Pokémon as being able to talk to each other while they're in their balls, however that'd work. Here, I figured Sandslash wouldn't really know.

-------

Mark spent the day as it were his last. He didn’t encounter May at all, but he was really feeling so much different that he was glad for that. He focused on enjoying himself, such as by buying a lot of candy, and had a crazy, hyperactive ‘happy’ attitude throughout the day. He had no idea why he wasn’t more nervous. He just felt crazy.

It would've been lovely to actually see this instead of being told about it.

I wonder why he didn't encounter May at all. She's knocked on his door to wake him up for the festival every day now; why's she just disappeared without a word for today? Did they never talk about whether they were going to see Chaletwo at all?

That changed, however, when the time approached four o’clock. Suddenly the voices in his head were all screaming again; he wanted to go back to the Pokémon Center as he walked past it, but his feet wouldn’t obey and continued towards the slowly gathering crowd of people in the patch of grass just outside the city borders.

I've always been picturing this patch of grass as basically being the patch of grass right outside the east side of Celadon City.

In the previous versions, there was a delightful bit here about the Chaletwo merchandise being sold at the site:

At four o’clock, everyone was gathering around the grass patch where Chaletwo appeared. There was a man selling small Chaletwo figurines (which looked like he had bought a lot of Mewtwo figurines and then painted over their eyes) and another one selling black T-shirts with bright yellow eyes in the background saying “I saw Chaletwo – have you?” in red letters.

If Chaletwo makes scheduled appearances in the next revision, I will definitely bring back the merchandise. I guess I wanted to keep this scene serious and dramatic here, but that doesn't mean you can't have moments of levity. Chaletwo merchandise.

A circle with an approximately five meter radius had been marked off in the grass. Nobody stepped into it. Mark felt numb as he found himself a place behind a few other people; he could peek out between them.

He waited for what seemed like an hour; then somebody in the crowd shouted “Ten!” The rest of the audience joined in the countdown.

“…Four! Three! Two! One!”

And suddenly Chaletwo just stood there in the middle of the circle.

He wasn’t like Mark had expected. The illustrations in the book about the Ouen legendaries didn’t capture the way he looked at all. Yes, he had the exact same, lavenderish-white skin as Mewtwo, same strong legs but thin arms, same bulgy toes and fingers, same distantly human torso and catlike head – and, indeed, his eyes were closed. But the artist had missed two important details. One was that it was clear that Chaletwo was looking through his eyelids; he didn’t even distantly look like Mewtwo with closed eyes. The other was that Alan had been absolutely right: Chaletwo was obviously not evil. It wasn’t hard to imagine him as evil from looking at the pictures, but Mark just realized suddenly that he had been wrong. He had no idea why, but it didn’t seem like something to question. It was just true.

Resist the brainwashing, Mark

Everybody was immobilized as Chaletwo looked over the crowd. He then started turning slowly around to see the rest of the audience. Mark’s heart hammered in his chest as the Legendary turned towards where he was.

And stopped.

The people in front of Mark automatically shifted to the sides before he knew, and he found himself frozen, looking straight at Chaletwo’s closed eyes. After what seemed like an hour, during which Mark’s mind and body seemed completely frozen, Chaletwo finally turned away.

Mark released his breath as Chaletwo was no longer looking at him.

He’s facing away… you could just throw the Master Ball…

Seriously, where does this sort of thought come from.

The voice spoke clearly out in Mark’s head before he could help it. Chaletwo turned sharply back towards him; Mark stared desperately at the Legendary with only one thought in his head: I don’t want to die now.

Then Chaletwo’s eyes opened.

The first thing that occurred to Mark was that the ‘Good or Evil?’ poster in the Pokémon Center had gotten Chaletwo’s eyes completely wrong too. On the poster they had been bright yellow, but they were much more than that. They were terribly, blindingly, unearthly yellow, their extreme brightness piercing through his eyes like a knife, yet so oddly beautiful that he didn’t want to look away.

Then all of a sudden, Mark felt like a burning hand was ripping his heart out through his chest. The pain was unthinkable; he screamed, but the sound seemed unrealistic and far away. He faintly heard an echo of other people’s screaming as his vision faded to black, all except for the horribly bright eyes that were somehow the worst part of all…

I'm very surprised in hindsight that I didn't spend more time describing this. Really, fifteen-year-old self, you managed to write a whole lengthy paragraph about what Chaletwo looks like and then didn't expend that sort of lavish detail on Mark dying excruciatingly? I am disappoint. I think the main reason is probably that I was just keeping it quite close to the previous versions; here's how this looked in the UMR:

The first thought that occured to Mark was that bright yellow did not quite describe Chaletwo’s eyes; they were a lot more than bright yellow. They were terribly, blindingly, unearthly yellow, each ten times as bright as the sun, piercing through his eyes like a knife, but yet so oddly beautiful in their terror that he couldn’t turn away.

Then, very suddenly, came the pain. For short, it felt like a burning hand was trying to rip his heart out, just ten times worse. He screamed, but it sounded far away. The screams of the people all around him when they realized what was happening followed, sounding just as far away. His vision was also fading; everything was slowly turning blacker except for the eyes, the worst of all, still as terribly bright...

Here, I rightly saw that "For short, it felt like a burning hand was trying to rip his heart out, just ten times worse" wasn't a great way to convey this excruciating agony, but ultimately only managed to rephrase it slightly rather than come up with something more genuinely visceral.

In part, though, it seems like I was trying not to seem too interested in this part. In the Serebii thread I implied I'd toned it down from the previous versions and was dismissive of the idea of writing at length about pain, what, I'd never do that, maybe I did it in the past but absolutely not now, no.

The description of Chaletwo's eyes as "terribly, blindingly, unearthly yellow" is some phrasing that's been constant throughout all three versions of this. I may keep it for nostalgia.

-------

Suddenly, it all stopped. The pain was gone. Everything around him was eerily dark and silent.

What happened? he thought.

“Your consciousness has been separated from your body,” answered a calm, telepathic voice. Mark somehow knew it was Chaletwo.

“What… wait a minute… are you saying I’m… dead?” he asked slowly.

“That’s the basic idea, yes,” Chaletwo replied.

“But I can’t be dead!” Mark protested. “I’m right here!”

“Here is nowhere,” was Chaletwo’s confusing answer.

“That doesn’t work,” Mark argued. “We’ve got to be somewhere, if you’re here.”

“No,” Chaletwo said firmly. “I took you to a place that doesn’t exist. We’re in a void of nothing.”

“Why can’t I see you?” Mark wondered.

“You are dead… a floating consciousness…” Chaletwo replied. “Without eyes, you cannot see.”

“But how can I be dead? I mean, if my brain isn’t here, how can I be thinking?”

Chaletwo sighed. “You are as dead as a brick, human. If you’re still not convinced, tell me if you’re breathing.”

Mark waited a few seconds; he couldn’t deny it.

“I don’t think I am,” he muttered. “Fine, I’m dead. But why did you kill me? And those other kids?”

“I needed to talk to you,” Chaletwo answered.

Mark was getting slightly annoyed. “Can’t you talk to people without killing them first?”

I love how casual this whole conversation is. Mark's just been murdered and a legendary is talking to him, but his first thought is to argue about where they are and whether it makes any sense that he's dead, and then get annoyed about it once he's been persuaded that he is.

The previous versions did the same thing, but with an even more amusing contrast where Chaletwo starts out sounding dramatic and serious like you'd expect of a legendary, only to explicitly drop it as as Mark's questions frustrate him:

“What the - ? No, wait a minute... are you trying to tell me I’m... dead?”

“Indeed you are,” said Chaletwo.

“But... but... that’s impossible! I’m here! With you!”

“Here is nowhere,” said Chaletwo.

“Of course here is somewhere,” Mark argued back.

“No. Why do you think you can’t see anything here?”

“Because there’s no light here! Or I’m blind!”

“Wrong. It’s because there is nothing here to see. Nothing but the two of us.”

“Then why can’t I see you?”

Chaletwo’s voice suddenly didn’t sound as mystical. “Because there is no light here either, you idiot!”

Note that the explanation for why Mark can't see Chaletwo is different - originally, there just wasn't any light in the void (though Chaletwo still hilariously starts out insisting that's not the reason he can't see anything), and after this Chaletwo did produce an orb of light that let him see him. In this version, it bothered me that a floating, detached consciousness could see - after all, he doesn't have any organs to detect photons with - so I changed it to have Molzapart feed him a live 'memory' of what's going on instead.

Chaletwo sighed. “No, I can’t. Somebody can always overhear, and I can’t teleport a living body to a place that doesn’t exist – there’s no oxygen here, so you would die. And humans are exceedingly easy to fool if you know how to do it. You always think in this ‘If you can do something, you’ll do it’ fashion. Very stupid, of course, but makes it infinitely easier for me to convince you that I kill people for no reason without anybody getting even slightly suspicious. Humans are so blind, it’s entertaining.”

I guess it's a fair point, given the established discourse on Chaletwo, that people just jumped to "Gasp, maybe Chaletwo is evil!" rather than "Okay, but why is he doing this?" However, while Chaletwo chalks this up to humans being silly, he doesn't mention what this means for the legendaries. Why aren't they getting slightly suspicious that one of their own is publicly murdering children? Isn't it kind of more important to ensure the legendaries don't get suspicious than humans?

“Huh?” Mark asked confusedly.

“Well,” Chaletwo said, “your parents will cry their eyes out, and those crazy people will write some more articles about how evil I am, but after a while your death will be accepted and you can peacefully walk around under a different name.”

“What do you mean, walk around?” Mark asked, puzzled. “I can’t walk around if I’m dead.”

“You won’t be dead anymore,” said Chaletwo impatiently. “What good can a floating consciousness do even after you talk to it? I’m going to resurrect you after we finish talking. I just hope Molzapart is coming.”

“Molzapart?” Mark was even more confused now. “Is Molzapart in this with you?”

“Of course,” Chaletwo said like it was something obvious. “We’re good friends… oh, here he is…”

They're not actually particularly good friends - note how they spend 90% of their screentime together in the fic sniping at each other - but I love that Chaletwo would call him that anyway. He is a cool legendary who definitely has friends, not just friends but good friends

Another telepathic voice sounded.

“Hmm… kinda foolish, that one, don’t you think, Chaletwo?”

“Foolish is fine,” Chaletwo replied. “Better, even. We don’t want logic to get in our way. Molzapart, would you imagine some sight for him?”

This was phrased a bit differently in the previous versions:

“Lots of courage in this one,” Molzapart said, looking at Mark (he supposed Molzapart could see ghosts). “In fact, enough courage to count as... foolish...” He peered at Mark.

“That’s not a flaw, Molzapart,” said Chaletwo. “We don’t need someone who will go on as long as there is hope. We need someone who will go on when there’s no hope at all and give us new hope. We’re running short on time, Molzapart, and you know it.”

It's kind of cheesy, but conveys the point Chaletwo was going for better, I think. That being said, I enjoy the way that "We don't want logic to get in our way" sounds like either an off-hand insult or outright sinister supervillainy. It is extremely Chaletwo to just say this bluntly anyway without properly realizing or caring how it sounds.

Mark could suddenly see the two Legendaries as if it were a memory he was recalling in his mind. Molzapart looked like a golden-feathered bird with blue tips on his wing feathers, a long beak and a flame burning on his head. He also had a long, wavy tail feather that Mark recognized from Articuno.

“Wow,” he said, astonished. “This is cool. Why didn’t you let me see like this earlier, Chaletwo?”

Chaletwo sighed. “Only Molzapart can mess with memories.”

“While poor widdle Chaletwo can just kill people,” Molzapart teased.

Chaletwo glared at him. “Don’t listen to him; I’m keeping balance in the world, while Molzapart’s powers are just for playing around with.”

I love these petty bickering legendaries.

“Oh, will you two just tell me what this is all about?” Mark said in frustration.

“Sorry,” Molzapart apologized. “We got carried away. What we wanted to tell you is… well…” He looked at Chaletwo. “Where to begin?”

“See,” Chaletwo began, “once every thousand years, a great disaster happens.”

“Yes,” Molzapart confirmed. “This disaster is called the War of the Legends. What happens is that the Legendary Pokémon will lose power, at different rates depending on how powerful they already are, until they are all equal and virtually powerless.”

“Why does this happen?” asked Mark confusedly.

“Because of a Pokémon,” Chaletwo replied, “which we have never seen, but is called the Destroyer. It appears to drain power from the Legendaries over the course of the last hundred or so of those thousand years, always faster and faster. When the Legendaries are almost out of power, the Destroyer sends the power multiplied back, and all this power basically finds all the Legendaries in the world again… and when they suddenly gain all this power, they all go insane somehow.”

And they shall fight
with all their might
until but one draws breath.
His conscious thought
shall back be brought
when all has met its death,
” Molzapart recited.

Why does this random stilted poem exist, though. It's not like this is some sort of prophecy delivered by an oracle speaking in verse. This was new in this version, even. I guess Mew must have taught it to Molzapart and Chaletwo, and maybe it's just a rhyme some Creator back in the day came up with to explain the War and taught to their legendary creations, but why did I think this was needed.

Also, just use singular they, fifteen-year-old self.

“Basically,” Chaletwo explained, “once the Legendaries are all mad, they will seek each other out, kill everything in their path, and fight so viciously that everything in their path is destroyed. They will keep fighting until only one of them is left alive.”

“And the one that is left alive,” Molzapart said, “will then have the responsibility of creating new life and making the world whole again…”

“Wait a minute, how do I come into this?” Mark interrupted.

“We’re getting to that,” Chaletwo said. “The thing is… if there were no Legendaries to receive the power, the War of the Legends wouldn’t happen. Molzapart and I started noticing our power loss around twenty years ago or so, so we talked to Mew about it. And Mew told us about this – he was the survivor of the last War of the Legends – and we became very concerned. So we asked Mew if we couldn’t just get all the Legendaries to agree on being inside Pokéballs when this happened, as that might prevent it all from happening. Unfortunately, though, Mew just said some nonsense about not trying to avoid the inevitable – he is all into this fate stuff, you know – and refused to help us, and the other Legendaries we talked to weren’t too happy about us telling them to get caught when Mew had forbidden us to tell them what it was really about. So we decided that we’d have to take them by force, and Molzapart started killing kids, erasing everybody’s memories of them, and trying to get them to go out and try to capture the other Legendaries. However, we didn’t have as much success as we’d have hoped – the kids were terrified of Legendaries and didn’t want to come anywhere near them. Then recently we were getting really worried, and we had this idea of letting me try – after all, everybody knew where and when I appeared every year, and lots of people who loved Legendaries always came to watch me. So I could just look over the crowd and search for a longing to catch me… not very hard to find, but I found the strongest and killed that one. I was a lot more successful than Molzapart ever was.”

Originally, Chaletwo quoted Mew's reaction to their plan: “If the War is not supposed to happen now or ever again, someone will hold all the legendary pokémon captive at the Moment of Madness, no matter what we or you do. If the War is supposed to happen again, there’s nothing we can do to stop it. And I’d rather be free than waiting in a pokéball for the inevitable.” Makes it sound a fair bit more coherent: Mew simply believes that if the War truly is meant to end now, that'll happen regardless, rather than being insistent that it definitely is meant to happen, which is how it sounds in this version. Obviously, both versions were originally written to be taken at face value, with Mew genuinely believing in fate. Both versions also now make sense as simply Mew's post-hoc justification for not doing anything, but I definitely prefer this version hinting from the start that Mew definitely insists no it will happen and there's nothing we can do about it so stop trying.

Molzapart snorted. “Successful, maybe, but you’ve always done it rather sloppily. Too busy being a guardian to even attempt to cover your tracks. Look at the reputation that has gotten you.”

“That was never the plan,” Chaletwo snapped. “I have a protective aura that should be convincing everybody that my intentions are good. Humans are just too stupid to see it.”

“And…” Molzapart looked at Mark, “the human thinks your way, even if successful, could use some improvement comfort-wise.”

In the old versions, Chaletwo said that Molzapart had a thing for torturing people to death using Thunder, Blizzard, Fire Blast, Drill Peck and Psychic at the same time and Mark was lucky it'd been Chaletwo who killed him instead, to which Molzapart made the point about how at least he kills them discreetly while Chaletwo does this messy public thing - in other words, not even disputing the idea that he tortures people to death. That's very me, but why on earth would he deliberately torture the people they're trying to recruit. That's not exactly the best way to get them to like you. No wonder they all ended up not wanting to come near legendaries.

In all three versions, Molzapart then triumphantly picks up on Mark thinking actually Death Stare was pretty torturous as well and tries to rub that in Chaletwo's face. I still love these bickering legendaries.

Also, that amazing bit of Chaletwo being very indignant about humans being so stupid that they don't all automatically trust his magic brainwashing aura.

“I… I don’t know what Death Stare feels like!” Chaletwo said defensively. “And I’m not ‘too busy being a guardian’! That’s what I exist to be!”

Molzapart snickered. “What a lovely guardian, with lethal weapons in his eye sockets.”

“Chalenor had them too!” Chaletwo said sharply.

“Yeah, how come the guardian before you had lethal weapons in his eye sockets? Bit hypocritical if you ask me.”

Don’t you dare insult Chalenor in my ears!

Yeah, Molzapart, what was up with that? I wonder.

Obviously, as usual, I had no idea this was a pivotal line of foreshadowing at the time. It was just something Molzapart said to annoy Chaletwo. When I finally figured out Chalenor was the Destroyer, so many things fell into place that seemed obvious in hindsight. I really like that I accidentally had this line here, right in the chapter where the legendary plot is first introduced, asking a question that turns out to be key to the central mystery of the story. That's totally how a clever writer would have written it already knowing what was going to happen.

Chaletwo probably asked Mew this question once, too, when he was young, and didn't get much of a satisfactory answer. Mew was probably visibly rattled by it despite her best efforts, and Chaletwo was too young to internalize that as anything but A Bad Question. He's got dangerous eyes because Chalenor had them, and Chalenor... he just did. Chaletwo's grown up to think of Chalenor with reverence, as the sort of Platonic ideal of what he was meant to be; although secretly he kind of resents him, for the fact he can't ever seem to live up to him in Mew's eyes, he'll still take any insult towards him kind of personally.

Mark wasn’t feeling that nice at all. Something about them arguing made the atmosphere very uncomfortable.

“Stop it,” he thought desperately.

Are you asking to be attacked?

I’ll show you an attack!

A dark purple orb formed between Chaletwo’s hands while Molzapart took an electric blue glow.

“STOP!” Mark’s mind screamed. The two Pokémon looked at each other; Chaletwo pressed the orb together into nothing and Molzapart’s glow faded.

“Sorry,” Chaletwo sighed. “This is all putting us under a lot of stress. We keep arguing… it’s lucky this didn’t turn into an early start of the War of the Legends.”

In the previous versions I actually made it clear that he doesn't mean this literally - the actual War starts at one single moment (which I gave a special name, 'the Moment of Madness'), and once that moment comes, the legendaries are instantly robbed of their free will until the War is over. Here, it's kind of vague. I used to sometimes get questions where people misunderstood this, and at the time I didn't understand how, but maybe this line was why.

Rather than blaming it on stress, Chaletwo in the old versions had a rather more elaborate theory on why they went so far:

“Then what happened?”

“We can’t know for sure, but I have my theory,” Chaletwo said. “Well, we are too powerful to give up in any way. I’d even go as far as saying it is against our instincts to give up in any way. So when you answered the boy’s question...”

“I have a name,” Mark commented.

Mark’s question, then. Well, when you answered his question, you just happened to put in a little comment about me being too busy being a guardian to help you with anything. And I can’t just let you say that, so I come with a little comment... you answer it... and so on until we’ve started attacking each other. It’s lucky that you were here, Mark,” he added, turning to Mark, “otherwise this might have been an early start on the War of the Legends...”

(My favorite bit of this is Mark going "I have a name", though. So good.)

“So basically,” Mark said, getting back on topic, “you want me to somehow go out and magically catch all the Legendary Pokémon?”

“Well,” Chaletwo said, “we got some unexpected help. Rick, the Cleanwater City Gym Leader, has simplified the problem immensely by catching a great many of the Legendaries for us. He released some of them, such as Suicune, but most he kept for further experiments. And the other trainers haven’t been completely unsuccessful either – admittedly it’s getting so close now that you’re the last trainer we’re asking for help. The Legendaries yet to be caught are Articuno, Mew, Entei, Suicune, the Waraider herd, the Color Dragons, and Rainteicune.”

The other legendary hunters being "not completely unsuccessful" was new here: in the original, they explicitly hadn't caught any legendaries, and it was all Rick providing the help. Jeez. I don't think I was planning to ever have any of them appear in the fic even here, and I made it sound like they played a very minor part in all this, but that's pretty ridiculous. I'm glad I went on to ignore this and declare that Leah and Mary had caught 15-20 legendaries each.

Originally, the Color Dragons weren't one-of-a-kind, so Chaletwo stated Rick had caught all of them except one Dragoblack and one Dragold. In this version, though, where I'd made the Color Dragons these siblings and made them more distinct from one another than just being different colors, I thought it'd be a shame if some of them were just already caught and not going to make an appearance, so I made them all uncaught, adding four legendaries to the total that Mark had to hunt down. I don't think at this point that I'd thought of the thing about having them fight the male and female siblings together, so according to my plans at the time this meant probably adding a bunch of length to the fic, but since I basically didn't yet have any real plans for the post-League legendary hunting until they got to Mew anyway, I didn't think much of it.

Although I added four legendaries here, I actually got some comments saying it felt like fewer legendaries, likely because here I had Chaletwo group the Color Dragons and Waraider herd together when listing them, whereas in the old versions I named all the unicorns individually, which made it sound like more.

Back in the previous versions, where I wasn't thinking about future-proofing the fic for later generations, Chaletwo also individually listed all the legendaries that Rick had caught. This included Hogia, who was in the book in chapter two but who I'd just managed to find embarrassingly uninteresting enough to figure ehhh nah let's just have Hogia already caught. We barely knew thee, Hogia.

“How am I supposed to do that?” asked Mark miserably. “There’s no way I can catch like twenty Legendaries before they all go mad! You’re not even sure if it’s going to work in the first place!”

Chaletwo sighed. “At least you can try.”

“Why me?” Mark whined.

“Because you’re a foolish little kid who confronts Legendaries when he knows he shouldn’t,” said Molzapart tiredly.

I like how blunt this is. Mark's not special, just the sort of person who'd do something stupid like try to catch legendaries. (Wow, though, the narration calling Mark's honestly pretty reasonable question whining.)

“We just need help here,” Chaletwo said. “If you do it, we’re probably still all going to die. But if you don’t do it, we are all going to die.”

Nice summary, though a bit uncharacteristically realistic for Chaletwo.

“I guess,” Mark replied doubtfully.

“So, is that all?” Molzapart asked questioningly, turning to Chaletwo.

“I think so,” Chaletwo answered. “Make him remember all of this before you leave, though.”

Molzapart’s eyes glowed deep blue and the memory of the conversation in Mark’s mind was strengthened. He wasn’t sure if it was really needed; he felt like he could never forget even the smallest detail of this. Then Molzapart flickered and disappeared, and Mark could no longer picture what was happening.

“Well,” Chaletwo said, “any questions?”

“Why do you look like Mewtwo?” Mark asked, having wanted to ask this question during the whole conversation. “And why do you have a two in your name? Are you a super-clone?”

“That’s not the kind of question I was hoping for,” Chaletwo mumbled.

“Can’t you still tell me?”

Chaletwo sighed deeply. “Before the last War of the Legends, there was a Pokémon called Chalenor – you heard me mention him when Molzapart and I were arguing, didn’t you? – and Chalenor was like me. The Destroyer isn’t alone, you know. There is a triangle. The Creator is Mew, because Mew survived the last War of the Legends. The Preserver is me, but used to be Chalenor. Chalenor had my powers… don’t bring up why he could use Death Stare if he was the Preserver, because I don’t know.

The Creator/Preserver/Destroyer triad was new in this version; before, Chalenor and Chaletwo were just referred to as "guardians of life".

“Chalenor could travel through time, just like me, and once he happened to venture far into the future and find Mewtwo there. Mewtwo was interested in Chalenor’s time when he heard that Mew had existed then – Mew and Chalenor were good friends.

In the original, I said that Mewtwo had introduced himself as the most powerful Pokémon of his time, and Chaletwo added that he wasn't sure what that meant for the War of the Legends, since the most powerful Pokémon today are him and Molzapart. I don't remember this ever meaning anything, which makes me really wonder why on earth I would've written in this apparent inconsistency and then immediately pointed it out like it was important. Maybe I initially wrote it by mistake, then caught myself but left it in as a hook, thinking maybe I'd think of something relevant later?

“So Chalenor agreed to take Mewtwo to his time, but what they didn’t know was that at that time, the War of the Legends was rapidly approaching. And while Mewtwo was still there, the Destroyer made all the Legendaries mad – including Mewtwo.

“Chalenor died in the War of the Legends, like everything else. So did Mewtwo. Only Mew was left alive. When his madness wore off, Mew found Chalenor’s body and realized that the Preserver was no more… but his left eye was lying somewhere and was still loaded with power, and in a desperate attempt to save everything that could be saved, Mew transferred the life force contained in the eye to the nearest whole body – Mewtwo’s – and created new life in it… that was me. Chalenor’s powers in Mewtwo’s body…

“I was Mew’s first creation, and helped creating the new Pokémon under Mew’s supervision… then I took over Chalenor’s role as the Preserver and became a guardian of life… so Mew called me Chaletwo because I was Chalenor’s heir, and in honour of Mewtwo whose body I was created in.”

“Wow…” Mark was surprised; nothing he had ever thought of had come close to any of that. He had always been stuck in the clone theory.

Hello there, overabundance of ellipses. I'm amused I specifically included this thing about Mark having had his own theory on Chaletwo, the Pokémon he only just found out existed some ten days ago and that we haven't seen him doing any theorizing on at all.

I actually forgot for a while that Chalenor had existed in the original - for some time I thought I'd just made him up for the prologue once that came about. But I should have remembered that Chaletwo always explained his existence here - it was just that I didn't design Chalenor's appearance, or anything about him, until shortly before I started the HMMRCIG. Originally, after all, Chalenor wasn't meant to be in any way significant - he was purely an element of this hastily cobbled-together excuse for why my fanfic had a murder-eyes Mewtwo in it. The placeholder in my head for him at the time was some sort of black and green Celebi (because Dark type who travels through time), but I didn't expect to ever have to mention him again once I'd explained why Chaletwo totally makes sense guys. For the HMMRCIG, though, I sat down and gave him an actual design, and I guess after that I started to think a lot more about him and want to give him some greater significance.

Obviously, at the time Chaletwo's story here was supposed to be the truth of what happened; in reality, it's a lie that Mew told him when he was very young and started to probe about his origins, when Mew inadvertently let slip that the body he'd used to make Chaletwo was from the future. Chaletwo, knowing only that Chalenor was supposedly the Preserver before, assumed that meant Chalenor had brought him there. Mew hastily made up the thing about Mewtwo having wanted to see Chalenor's time on the spot in the hope of avoiding further questioning, knowing immediately that this didn't actually make sense with the mechanics of time travel. However, Chaletwo didn't yet know this, so he didn't question it at the time, and by the time he learned more about time travel, the story of his creation had become a simple, unquestionable truth that it didn't even occur to him to scrutinize.

(This is something I wrote into a document that I vaguely considered having as an extra near the end; the first chunk of this document ended up as the inspiration for the final scene of chapter 76, though it took a rather different approach, while I deemed the second, unfinished scene that contained this particular bit unnecessary.)

“Can I ask another question?” he asked.

“Fire away.”

“Can I tell somebody about all this?”

Chaletwo took a bit of time to think, but finally answered: “You should not flag it – the Legendaries might hear it. If you really trust somebody, you can tell them, but Molzapart is really getting too weak for the trouble of mass memory modification. Oh, and talk to Ash Ketchum – that’s very important. I’ll resurrect you a little while in the future so you’ll be pretty much forgotten – Molzapart will help with that too. At first when you’re back to life, you’ll be unconscious, but when you wake up, Molzapart and I will be in your Pokéballs and might communicate with you occasionally for as long as we have the power to.”

By which you mean you might communicate with him occasionally and we'll pretend Molzapart doesn't exist.

“Is that all I need to know?” Mark asked nervously.

“Should be, yes,” Chaletwo replied.

“I’m never going to manage this,” Mark muttered.

“Just remember that you’re our last hope…”

That's not the most helpful answer, Chaletwo.

Mark felt himself fading away. The last thing he heard was Chaletwo’s echoing voice:

“You… have… to… try…”

Wow, this chapter is wild. I never noticed before just how weird it is. I've got this slow, dramatic buildup as Mark realizes he may be going to his doom, that raw, somber conversation with Sandslash, the long-awaited appearance of Chaletwo, Mark's sudden and agonizing death - and then I just ditch all that. Mark, Chaletwo and Molzapart squabble back and forth in a rapid, kind of comedic, all-over-the-place conversation with absolutely no sense of importance or gravitas. Mark has no real emotions about being dead, or the fact he's talking to legendary Pokémon, or even the quest he's being given - he's mildly irritated and confused, but overall he takes all this completely in stride somehow, moving the barrage of exposition along basically without pause.

Like a lot of things around this point in the fic, I imagine this is due to me sticking too closely to the previous versions, still too excited about the content of the conversation to properly look at it objectively and really rethink it for the revision. Funnily enough, there are various changes to the details of how it plays out and the information given, but the overall feel of the scene is very, very similar.

While Mark's part in this scene is severely lacking and he absolutely fails to act like an actual human being, I kind of adore how different Molzapart and Chaletwo are from how you'd expect legendaries to act in a fanfic like this. Even Mew in this version was serious and grave and dramatic, but Molzapart and Chaletwo don't have a whiff of that. They're characters, childishly sniping at each other, arguing like Mark isn't even there, defensive and irritable and just kind of desperate. They've got a little too much exposition to get through to truly show that desperation as well as I'd like, but they're so utterly and obviously flawed and 'human', and I genuinely love that here and think it probably sets this fic apart a bit.

In the next revision, I will be replacing Molzapart somehow, though I'm still not quite sure with what. For a long time I was planning to replace him with a different character entirely, Mementity: a fourth counterpart to Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf, representing memory. She was meant to be sort of a casual trickster type, who doesn't take this nearly as seriously as Chaletwo does but he managed to rope her in anyway. But once I actually wrote more of Molzapart, I started to dig his particular character and dynamic with Chaletwo, and today I'm kind of more inclined to use the same fundamental character and just not make him an Articuno/Zapdos/Moltres hybrid that can randomly modify memories just because. I have recently toyed with whether I could just make it Moltres, which wouldn't rattle my existing mental image of his scenes too much, but I've yet to completely think through whether that would work (I'd have to give the memory modification powers to Chaletwo himself, for instance, and Moltres can't teleport); alternatively, Lugia is a bird that's a Psychic-type and that might be close enough while making it easier, and the fact Lugia is Mark's favorite legendary could lead to some fun.

Either way, the next revision would redo the conversation to treat Mark more like an actual person. He'd be terrified and in shock at first, wondering if this is the afterlife and exactly what just happened - and then Chaletwo speaks to him and tells him not to be afraid, that he had to kill him because they need him for something important, but he'll be resurrected once they've explained. And Mark's just speechless with awe at first, wondering if this is some sort of dying hallucination, why would a legendary be recruiting him for something, he's not special - and Chaletwo says well, no, but he's really excited about legendaries, and they need someone who'd be willing to go out and capture all the legendaries, so he figured he was their best shot. And as Mark's just sort of like wait... what?, not-Molzapart arrives, and they start frantically explaining their kind of incoherent plan and talking over each other and bickering, and all in all Mark has a little bit of an identity crisis as they clash glaringly with his mental image of what legendaries are like, and that's when Mark starts to get more frustrated and ask more questions. Yes, I'm absolutely definitely keeping the bickering. Just with better character writing around it, particularly from Mark.

There were a couple of noteworthy changes to the War of the Legends concept in this version, compared to the original and UMR. First of all, as I mentioned, the Creator/Preserver/Destroyer triad was new. I made that up on the spot for the Serebii Q&A on December 17th 2004, between chapters 16 and 17, ironically as an answer by Mew to whether Chalenor was "the creator". Prior to this, Mew was of course still the survivor of the War who recreated life after it, and Chalenor and Chaletwo were "the Guardian of Life", but there was nothing analogous to the Destroyer. The War was described in the previous versions as being caused by an "ancient magic", probably inspired by the "ancient magic" of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, an absolute natural law that even Aslan and the White Witch were bound to: essentially, the War was just this fundamental feature of the world, one that didn't have a cause as such but simply was. However, this person referring to "the creator" prompted me to think well, the survivor of the War could be called the Creator, and the Guardian of Life could be called the Preserver, and then maybe there's also a DESTROYER that causes the War! That sounds cool! (I was inspired to think of these three things as a set by the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva from Hindu mythology, but don't expect that inspiration to reach any further than the concept of having this triad with these names, despite my attempts at the time to make it sound like um, yes, I definitely did serious Hindu mythology research and it's all highly relevant to the fic, this is absolutely not a thing I just made up on the spot.)

Needless to say, this story would have ended up very different if not for this reader and this spur-of-the-moment decision that maybe it wasn't just this nebulous ancient magic, maybe there's somebody who's drawing in the legendaries' powers. Giving the War this identity opened a whole new line of questioning and basically created this whole driving mystery of the plot. Originally, after all, there was no mystery: this was the chapter where everything was revealed, and it was a straight shot from there, just finding and capturing all the legendaries. Mitch was mysterious, but I didn't expect him to have anything to do with the legendary plot. Originally I envisioned the Destroyer simply being some sort of ancient legendary sealed away somewhere - I remember for a time picturing a gigantic pterodactyl bursting out of the ground - and wasn't at all sure if or how they would actually come into the story, but I knew this was only a placeholder and I'd probably want to figure out something more interesting.

The other major change is that originally, the "legend" of the War of the Legends was explicitly that it would happen once every thousand years until a human "legendary collector" held all the legendaries captive at the Moment of Madness. In other words, Mark used to basically be a prophesied chosen one - though Molzapart and Chaletwo made it very clear here that they had no actual idea if Mark was the legendary collector spoken of in the legend; they just hoped he might be, and had previously picked out a bunch of other people in that same hope. (I knew I didn't want Mark to be destined to succeed from the start - he would, of course, but the story should also leave it open that maybe he wasn't the fated legendary collector at all.) I wondered for a while as I was rereading why I hadn't taken out the bit with Mark declaring he was going to be a legendary collector in chapter two of the UMR, but I guess this is why - I'd ended up making the particular phrasing of being a "legendary collector" into something significant, so Mark had to still say it even when I no longer had any intention of making him try to collect any legendaries until ordered to here.

Either way, by the time I wrote this version, I thought the whole prophecy thing was a bit tacky, and I removed that element entirely - the War ending has not been foretold in any way, and Chaletwo and Molzapart thought up the thing about capturing all the legendaries simply in the hope of cheating the system, rather than trying to bring about a prophesied end to the War. And of course, Mark isn't special in any way whatsoever - he's just a kid, who ultimately turns out to be exactly the sort of person they need at the end as Mewtwo² struggles with the force of the War, but not because he was predestined for anything.

The last notable change is that originally, Chaletwo stated that If there’s as much as a single legendary pokémon still roaming free at the Moment of Madness, the ancient magic behind the War of the Legends will make sure all the other ones will get out of their balls at that very second. Here, I didn't mention what would happen if there were a single legendary left at all. It's possible I just left out this information rather than consciously having decided to change it by this point, but either way this change was important to making the actual ending work: it turns out there is a single legendary out when the War begins, and rather than the others popping out, this leads to that single legendary just winding up with the power of all the others. It wouldn't surprise me if by this point I'd already gotten dissatisfied with my original couple of plans for the ending, and I saw my chance with this revision to change it to facilitate my third ending plan, where it turns out coincidentally that Mewtwo² was out and the main characters are forced to face him in an epic final battle. (I'm pretty sure I thought of that long before Chalenor came into it in any way.)

Some further interesting things that were stated in the previous versions but lost here:

  • Originally, since Mark could see Chaletwo before Molzapart arrived, Mark noticed Chaletwo still had his eyes closed, even with nothing there to accidentally destroy. Chaletwo answered that he's blind with his eyes open. Mark said that was weird, but Chaletwo said it might be weird from a human's point of view, but to him, eyes were just weapons when they were open. I kind of liked that exchange, but there wasn't a place for it after Molzapart arrived here.
  • Rather than just saying they were good friends, Chaletwo explained why he was acquainted with Molzapart in particular: as soon as he felt a source of power rivaling his own, he immediately headed to Seafoam Islands to investigate and befriend this new creature, or else they could've killed each other or worse.
  • Originally, Mark actually asked about why Molzapart had wanted Rainteicune to be wild, as Alan had told him about before, and Molzapart explained that they'd figured rather than tell Alan to never send out Rainteicune again because reasons, they'd rather have one more legendary for the legendary collectors to capture. I'm not sure why I took this out here - maybe it was because I saw the fridge logic of why Molzapart wouldn't just have, like, led Rainteicune to one of the existing legendary collectors immediately. Apparently I didn't think far enough to just decide that was what happened and remove Rainteicune from the list altogether, though.
  • Chaletwo used to explain what happened after his creation in a bit more detail, including the fact that he and Mew went around resurrecting humans and modifying their memories (which they could apparently do at the time, even though only Molzapart seems to be able to do it now, because I guess the Creator's additional spark of power just after the War, or something).
  • Chaletwo also gave us a little exposition dump on how resurrection works in this universe: you don't actually need massive psychic powers to perform a resurrection, but the body needs to be able to recover, and unless the victim has only just died so their ghost is still located in their body, you must be able to find the ghost in order to reattach them, which Chaletwo said only he, Molzapart and some Ghost Pokémon could do. I made this up to be consistent with the Tower of Terror anime episode, where Ash and Pikachu apparently die, float around as ghosts for a bit, but then return to their bodies: the Haunter was able to see them, communicate with them and resurrect them. I think I also specifically intended at the time that Mew couldn't see ghosts, so he could only resurrect someone who's only just died, like Scyther, to explain why he couldn't just actually resurrect Chalenor. But later I thought of the thing about not being able to sense Dark-type ghosts specifically, which was a better explanation for that.

All in all, this is an incredibly bizarre chapter, in a very entertaining way; it really was a blast reading this again. I still just love that my idea of having my character chosen for an epic quest by legendaries involved him being killed and brought into a void where he argues with a legendary about whether he's dead or not, and then another legendary gets there and the two of them start arguing and throwing petty insults at each other, and Mark has to stop them murdering each other over some childish sniping, oh and somewhere in there they manage to explain that he's exactly the kind of sucker they need to capture all the legendaries to save the world. Magnificent. I love you, thirteen-year-old me.


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