The Shop on the Hill [#ANewChapter]
Boy you KNOW I'm in dis event, hell yeah
Hard target: Audino
Prompt #4: Rogue Pokemon/Trainer mistake
Chapter One: The Man at Dawn

The stuff
They came at dawn, over-eager and excited footsteps hurrying along the dusty road that lead to the top of the hill. It was Dinah that heard them first; three, no, four of them, holding the injured one in a stretcher, feet pounding about as loud as the poor lad's head. He'd been up on a roof, and reached a little too far for a tool; a few minutes later, he came to in the stretcher, the massive gash and crushing headache his only clues as to what had taken place. Dinah quickly ran inside to find Benjamin; when she found him, she gave her distinct Audino screech to alert him to the mens' rapid approach. Benjamin grabbed a rag off the kitchen table as he and Dinah walked outside; wiping his hands, he walked up to the men and, after talking for a moment, motioned for them to come in.

Benjamin was the town doctor, and one of the best doctors out there to boot; here, Benjamin lived with his daughter, Milty, and their assistant Dinah, at the top of the hill. Being the town doctor came with its privileges; Benjamin got a large plot of land to grow his medicinal herbs, which Dinah was beginning to water when she heard them coming. Now, the watering can sat on top of one of the watering boxes, as Dinah prepared some water and a sponge for Benjamin. They had the routine down pretty well; Audino had natural ability as healers, and they could sense what was needed at any time to treat any wound or illness; Benjamin used this to his full advantage, having Dinah collect the proper herbs and medicines to create their remedies. 

However, that wasn't going to be necessary today; they'd simply clean and stitch the gash on the man's head, then let the men take him back into town to rest. Dinah passed Benjamin some sleeping herbs before they started; Benjamin couldn't help smiling as he had the patient chew the leaves, and very quickly the man was asleep. Dinah always took pride in making sure none of the patients felt much pain; Benjamin never was sure if it was mercy, compassion, or just because she could sense the pain in the air and wanted to ease her own senses. Dinah watched as Benjamin cleaned off the gash, and then began sewing the injury back together. It all reminded her of the room down the hall, and she shuddered as she remembered...

Drawn out of her reverie, Benjamin had finished stitching the man up. The other men seemed delighted; one handed Benjamin a sack, presumably with payment, and Benjamin sent the men on their way, sleeping friend in tow, wiping those same hands over and over, as if wiping away all the guilt and sadness he felt. Within two weeks, the man would be totally fine. Dinah, however, wasn't sure their way of life would be; something was coming, even more this time than the last, and as she washed the blood from the rags, she couldn't help seeing her own reflection. Whatever it is, we'll make it through this time, she though, and a teardrop in the bucket of water was the only evidence of her thoughts, as Dinah hurried back to Benjamin's side and picked up the watering can.
Chapter Two: A Quest, and Rats

The stuff
It had been three weeks now since Milty had come down with the disease; three days of pure an utter torture for Dinah, the sickness's symptoms including hysteria and screaming-inducing pains, both of which were terrible for Dinah's sensitive hearing. Benjamin and Dinah were at it every day though; cleaning her up, taking care of her, feeding her, and providing her all the small comforts they could, but the fever would not break. Benjamin had turned to every natural cure he knew; incense, salves, potions, and all of it was for naught. He had wracked his brain for weeks since it started, and couldn't find a solution, and it was obviously driving him mad; They'd gone into town earlier in the week, and Dinah heard him begin funeral arrangements, and it scared her. She saw the way he eyed the materials, once used to put elderly to bed, forever. She wasn't going to let that happen.

That day, she decided to do something about it. She was a smart Audino; life with Benjamin had taught her to read, though her Audino hands couldn't hold the human writing utensils. After taking care of Milty in the morning, she left the shop and meandered down the hill. The town proper wasn't much, but she was headed a bit beyond. Dinah had heard tales of a wizard, one with books piled as high as his house and the ability to do spectacular and terrible things. If Milty was to be saved, and Benjamin stopped, she'd have to find a cure, and fast. Dinah had brought a small backpack with a few apples and loaves of bread; she also had borrowed a book of Benjamin's to read along the way.

The wizard's house wasn't far; the real problem was getting to it. She couldn't exit through the town; the guards wouldn't let her past without her Trainer, and she'd have a hard enough time convincing them without being able to speak the same language. The only other way past the towers was through the sewers, which ran below the gate and downstream, exactly the direction she was headed. Dinah was a bit hesitant, however; the sewers were rumored to be filled with hostile, territorial Pokemon, and she wasn't much of a fighter, but she thought of Milty and Benjamin waiting for her at home to put the determination back in her step. Speaking of, she was there; the beginning of the sewer tunnel. Her legs sloshed into the water a bit as she started into the dark tunnel.

Dinah's feelers emitted a small, faint light as she began into the dark corridor. The thought of a smile from Milty again kept Dinah's feet trodding through the muck; eventually, she made it to a bit of a raised platform that she could walk on instead. A small bit of Psychic energy filled her, as she used a Magic Coat to repel the waste off her legs, then began her journey again. The map she'd looked at before leaving said that the exit to the sewers was directly ahead of the entrance she'd started at, and Dinah could only hope it would turn out to be accurate.

Directions turned out to be the least of her worries, however, as she heard some scurrying around her. Dinah turned up her feelers a bit; a short distance away, three black shapes with red eyes stared at her. Rattata, the dark kind, with black whiskers and cream colored bodies, inching closer to her and making chattering sounds with their large front teeth. Dinah faltered a bit; she hadn't been taught many moves for fighting, and they were surrounding her fast. Abruptly, however, they stopped; Dinah heard a small noise, and then one of them spoke: "What... *chtchtcht* are you doing here in OUR territory?" The clacking of the Rattata's teeth caught Dinah off guard, but she quickly recovered a bit, and with a voice quivering with fear, said "I'm just passing through, it's urgent. Won't you let me through?" Dinah was glad that Pokemon spoke a universal language; it was a bit hard to piece together the Rattata's dialect, but it was a lifesaver in situations like these.

The Rattata seemed to chew over her words, literally, before his next response. Dinah noticed that the other Rattata eyes were focused on the one speaking; he must be the leader. "What is so urgent that you trespass on our territory? I'd wager you got lost, little one." Little one is a bit ironic, considering I'm a foot taller than you at the least, Dinah couldn't help thinking. "My Trainer's daughter is sick, and could die! I'm off to visit a wizard who might be able to help me make a cure!" She croaked out the last line, the thought of Milty in pain fresh in her mind at the recollection. The Rattata chattered a bit more, before responding: "A wizard, you say? Interesting... Alright, small fry, I'll let you off the hook, but on one condition: you have to bring my son here, Ned; he'll have questions for the wizard too, from the rest of us." Ned stepped forward a bit so Dinah could see him; he was a bit shorter than the others, his black whiskers shorter and his tail smaller than his brethren. "Fine," she said, almost glad to have company. "Can you tell me the way to get out? I'd love a bit of direction." With a click of his tongue against his teeth, the head Rattata beckoned her to follow him.

"Sorry about my dad," Ned said, falling in line with Dinah as they marched through the rest of the sewer; it wasn't long until they saw the light leading out, and the wilderness beyond. "Well, we're partners then now eh? I'm Ned; I can help you fight and whatnot until we make it to the wizard." Dinah couldn't help just nodding; it all felt so surreal now, but she was on an adventure. Don't worry, Milty, I'm coming, Dinah thought, as they stepped into the warm sunlight.
Chapter Three: There and Back Again: A Tale of Wizards and Serpents

The stuff
Dinah and Ned had traveled for two days, living off the land and avoiding encounters with other people and Pokemon, before they arrived at the doorstep of the wizard's house. Dinah couldn't help Magic Coating herself as they arrived at the large oak door; something about the place gave off an aura of refinement, and she wanted to look her best before meeting the wizard. Ned had proven to be a useful ally; he knew tricks for avoiding people, as well as intimidating away weaker Pokemon. He'd also taught Dinah the basics of Pokemon battles; what to watch for, what moves to use, and over the last two days she'd even been able to produce small Psychic effects. Now they stood on the doorstep of the wizard, Dinah ready to ask for the wizard's help with saving Milty, and Ned ready to ask for help for the Rattata (which he would not reveal, no matter how much Dinah prodded him).

Ned was the one who knocked on the door in the end, a few raps on the door before stepping back into line with Dinah. They heard movement inside the house, and an old, wizened voice call out "One minute!" before the door opened wide to reveal a rather tall man decked in robes. The wizard himself was brown, with cheeks the color of dark roses and a large pointed gray hat resting precariously on his balded head. Small wisps of a black beard made the wizard seem a bit young, but the most defining feature of the wizard was his robes; swirls of red, blue, and green coalesced into a pattern, making the wizard almost impossible to look at, like an optical illusion. Dinah's eyes couldn't help spinning looking at the robes, but she shook herself out of her confusion to voice herself to the wizard. "Sir, my name is Dinah, and this is Ned. We've come--" she suddenly cut off, as she realized that the wizard would have no way to discern what she was saying, but her fears were quickly put to rest. "You've come to? Fear not my child, I don't bite. Come in, come in!" The wizard beckoned, and Dinah, still in amazement that he could understand her, stumbled forward into the house.

The inside was even more deadly to the senses of the two Pokemon; the swirls of color did not stop at the wizard's robes, instead seemingly extending from his robes throughout the tapestries and bookcases. The house was fully made of strong out, and strong too; Dinah saw that the house was fully built against the side of a tree, which held the house upright and peeked into the living room. Large bookcases, holding books of various sizes and colors, stood on the far side of the wall, but elevated over the fireplace and stairway, which Dinah assumed led up to the wizard's quarters. There was a balcony on the far wall as well, allowing access to the bookcases and the sole window in the room. Dinah took the whole room in as the wizard strode forward, grabbing his staff off the counter of the kitchen as he called them over. As they stepped forward in awe, he asked with a large, warm smile, "So how can I help you two?"

It took a while for Dinah to get through her story; telling the wizard of the sickness and Benjamin's misguided judgment, and how she wanted to save Milty. The wizard had furrowed his brow a bit, and ran up to the balcony with the books, shouting for Dinah to describe the symptoms; DInah had obliged, and the wizard shortly after exclaimed "A-Ha!" The kind man bounded his way downstairs, almost tripping over himself as he brought a book with a full recipe cure for Milty's affliction, as well as a bottle containing the necessary ingredients (Dinah had slightly worried about collecting some of the far-out ingredients, like "spider milk". Ew!). Dinah couldn't help being flustered, the wizard having given up such precious information and ingredients without a second though. She bowed and screamed "Thank you!" as she walked out the door to await Ned; he had mentioned her leaving the room before he made his request of the wizard.

Dinah closed the door behind her, eager to begin the journey back home as she put the recipe and ingredients into her pack. Soon I'll be able to see Milty's smile again! she thought with glee, though she then heard Ned's voice squeaking away. She turned; the door was properly closed, so... elsewhere? She remembered the window, and her curiosity got to her. Dinah rounded the house, in time to hear "...which is why my family is in great danger, oh wizard. Do you have any cure for us?" The wizard stroked his chin a bit before responding, very carefully choosing the words. "I... do not, young one. Dark type Pokemon do not take the same cures as most others, instead relying... on the Pokemon they fear most..." The wizard trailed off, but Ned quickly brought back his focus. "Who? Who do I need to find?! I'll do anything!" The wizard shook his head. "I cannot help you child. Only a Fairy Pokemon can heal Dark types like you, and I do not have any knowledge of where you might find one; most disappeared in the war years ago..." DInah quickly jumped down and back to the front of the house, right as Ned burst out of the door. "We're leaving," he said, curtly, with hostility and hurt mixed into his words. Dinah couldn't help feeling a little guilty for eavesdropping, but the question puzzled her as well; no one had seen a Fairy type in ages, the Dragon and Fire lords having annihilated them in a great war. Dinah couldn't help feeling sorry for Ned, though; having come so far only to get such a disappointing answer...

The road was quiet for those two days. Ned barely spoke, and only ate the bare minimum to be able to travel the next day. Dinah's enthusiasm about getting home and seeing their families seemed to perk Ned up a little bit, but only fleetingly; then the sadness would return, and Ned would go silent for hours. Eventually, they made it back to the sewer entrance. Dinah had to try again. "We're here Ned; thanks so much for all your help again!" Ned barely acknowledged her as he took off into the tunnel, and she began following behind him, her feelers once again lighting her way... until she heard Ned scream ahead of her. "Ned? Ned!? What's the matter?" she yelled, as she ran towards the scream. Dinah heard the scampering of feet and a loud noise coming towards her, as Ned bolted past her. Behind him, white fangs and illuminated symbols thrashed after Ned, the body of the Seviper stopping short at Dinah's lights.

"What'sssssss thisSSSSssss? More... fooodssssss?" The Seviper asked, calmly looking down at Dinah's terrified figure. The Seviper was taller than her, and the symbols on its face and sides glowed in the dark menacingly as it summed up Dinah. "So plump.... Ssssssseviper bets foods is juicssssssy!" With a flash, Seviper opened its mouth and shot a spray of venom at Dinah. She couldn't help crying out, putting her hands up as the attack came down on her- or so she thought, until she heard Ned shout as he jumped in the way of the acid. Dinah cried out as the acid dissolved on Ned. "I'm sorry... Dinah... run away..." he croaked, before falling unconscious.

A fire lit in Dinah's eyes at her friend's self-sacrifice. An aura surrounded her, before exploding outwards; Dinah's normal pink skin had been replaced with a glowing white body. The energy surrounding her burst outwards, instantly curing Ned's wounds as Dinah marched towards the Seviper. Even the Seviper seemed to be caught off guard; it tried to rear back and Belch some more acid out on Dinah, but she pushed it away psychically with ease. Dinah then let lose her Psychic attack, the power drastically increased from her time training with Ned. The attack took the Seviper completely by surprise, jettisoning it off into the muck of the sewer. The noise awoke Ned; the healing energy of the Audino-Mega had cured him completely... even the corruption he and his family bore. Ned looked at Dinah with amazement; she was a Fairy! She could save his family!

The Seviper had taken off after being thrown by Dinah, and Dinah calmed a bit as Ned came to stand by her. "Dinah... if you don't mind, could you..." Ned trailed off, but Dinah smiled. "I already know, Ned. Sure, take me to your family." The smile on Ned's face was all the payment Dinah needed; they traversed down the tunnel quickly, and Dinah put her hands on all the Rattata in the sewers. The corruption cleared immediately, and after she was done they took her to the entrance of the sewers, thanking her profusely for saving them all. Dinah waved back at them as she went back up the hill, her Mega forme fading as she made it back into town.

Dinah quickly ran up to the shop on the hill. She walked through the door with trepidation, hoping beyond hope that Milty was alive and well-

and she was, barely. Benjamin had purchased the coffin that morning; some Eversleep pills in his pocket to put Milty out of her misery. It took Dinah a few minutes to get Benjamin to pay attention to the book, him crying over her return; he'd considered her dead when she disappeared that morning. He quickly got the gist of the recipe; they made the ingredients, and fed the potion to Milty. Dinah refused to leave Milty's side throughout the night, as they waited for the medicine to work.

And that next morning, at dawn, Dinah woke to Milty stepping out of the bed for the first time in a month. Tears flowed down the Audino's face. She'd made it in time, she'd stopped Benjamin, and she got to see Milty's smile once more. Dinah, Milty, and Benjamin watered the flowers and herbs together that day, and they spent the rest of it together, in that shop on the hill.
Claiming Chapter 1.

EDIT: As we discussed, I'm revoking my claim. Good luck on your edits, fam!

EDIT 2 Electric Boogaloo: Nevermind! Grade will be up ASAP.
Things that are well-done!
  • One of the keys to a successful introduction is acquainting the reader with the characters; one of the keys of acquainting the reader with the characters is showing, rather than telling, the way the characters act in their day-to-day lives. You did a very good job on both of these things. While there was some exposition delivered flatly - such as mentioning the routine that Benjamin and Dinah have - it was seamlessly integrated into the story’s flow, and it wasn’t so big as to overcrowd the details that were being shown rather than told.
  • The detail and pacing in this chapter were really nice. The moments were well-described, and Dinah and Benjamin’s routine definitely felt real and familiar. Since I read all three chapters, I also understood where you were taking a lot of the setup. The garden was a good detail, as something logical and as a setup to part of the second and third chapters’ actions. The chapter is functional on its own, but most of it also pulls double-duty as a solid introduction to Dinah, the people and things she cares about, and her status quo.
  • I can tell that this was good and proofread. While I have a few Thoughts™ on your sentence structure, your grammar and spelling were nigh-impeccable. The writing is very neat, and I can tell that you put care into it.
Things to learn from!
  • Now, for my Thoughts™ on sentence structure! I’m going to throw stones from my glass house, here, but I feel like you went a bit overboard with the semicolons. The biggest example I can find is here:
    They had the routine down pretty well; Audino had natural ability as healers, and they could sense what was needed at any time to treat any wound or illness; Benjamin used this to his full advantage, having Dinah collect the proper herbs and medicines to create their remedies.The use of two semicolons in one sentence is generally frowned upon unless you’re writing some sort of list. Semicolons are generally most useful to keep two independent clauses in the same sentence, so that there’s less of a pause between the clauses. “Audino’s healing abilities” and “Benjamin’s use of Dinah’s powers” are more related to each other than “Benjamin’s routine” and “Audino’s healing abilities”, so in this particular instance I’d suggest changing toThey had the routine down pretty well. Audino had natural ability as healers, and they could sense what was needed at any time to treat any wound or illness; Benjamin used this to his full advantage, having Dinah collect the proper herbs and medicines to create their remedies.This also gives the reader a nice, short sentence to stop and “breathe” on before a much longer and more content-laden sentence. While I love a good semicolon, I’d advise you to be more selective with using them. Focus on varying your sentence lengths and structure. Don't be afraid to break one long thought into two shorter sentences!
  • Another thing I’d caution you about is the use of third-person omniscient perspective here. It’s not a bad perspective, but it’s one that’s easy to fumble. There were a few times where I couldn’t tell whether it was Dinah or Benjamin “speaking”. Given that the rest of the story seems to use third-person limited perspective, with only Dinah’s perspective to go on, my honest recommendation would be to just switch the first chapter to third-person limited. You can still discuss her feelings on and relationship with Benjamin, while avoiding the confusion of which character has the focus.
  • This is more of a whole-story critique than a critique for this specific chapter, but since it was in this chapter, I feel the need to bring it up all the same. I’m not sure exactly what Dinah is remembering when she references the room down the hall or some sort of “last time”, unless the next two chapters are actually a flashback. In that case, I'm not sure what coming disaster Dinah is thinking of. Either way, having that setup with no payback is unsatisfying in the end, and I would advise either cutting it or making it clearer to what you refer later on. 

In the end, I settle at the Easiest rank for this chapter, earning you $3k. While there isn’t enough detail in this introductory chapter to bring you up to the Simple rank, you did a magnificent job setting things up for the rest of the story. If you did want to bring this chapter up to the next rank, I’d suggest redirecting your foreshadowing. Focus on Milty - on how Dinah and Benjamin care about her, and how she’s getting sick or will get sick - so that there’s one single, concrete plot thread to follow through the story. For now, though, enjoy your money!
Chapter 2 grade:

The good:
--Delightful characters with natural emotions; the bonds between the characters shine through in word and in action.
--Nice test arc in something this short; we have a problem (the illness) declared, the protagonist deciding to do something about it, a challenge (the rats) and a solution (diplomacy), which doesn’t solve the original problem but is clear advancement towards doing so.

Room for improvement:
--Long sentences; for instance the first one in the story is 41 words. It’s definitely important for each one to carry its load, but sometimes you’re introducing lore about three or four distinct topics in one go. Try spreading those out a bit more, tying the lore introduction to the point where it becomes relevant.
--When doing dialogue, each character’s response (whether word or action) should be a new line/paragraph. In the paragraph where the Rattata chews over the words, you switch subject six times. Breaking it up helps the story flow better and is easier to follow when stories get longer.

Definitely passes the simple mark, Rattata-Alolan captured!

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