#ANewChapter(3): Silver Mine Mystery
Chapter 3: Treasure
Rank: Medium
Aiming for cash again

New Chapter Target is Duraludon

The dust finally settled as the cave-in finished in a mist of pebbles & grainy dust. The stone tomb lay dormant for a time, nothing but the darkness and silence of the underground as company. The earthquake had erased all signs of life from the recently bustling cavern. Then a point of light from below emerged as a shower of rubble erupted from underneath the fallen rock. Axion poked his head out, unable to see much beyond the pitch black of the area surrounding them. He grasped for his flashlight, but found only an empty spot on his belt where it once lived. Sighing, he grasped further around, finding his pokeballs, and lightly depressing the switch. The rubble-strewn cavern momentarily illuminated dimly with a crimson glow, only to be swallowed again by the pitch black. Excadrill moved over to his trainer, carefully stepping across the rough stone underfoot, and Axion felt a hand touch him. He blindly groped until he found the pokemon’s head. “Excadrill, move me over to our mysterious pokemon. We need to see if it's still alive after that… ‘wondrous’ plan of mine.”

As the duo moved around the small crater that had been their savior, Metagross shifted in the darkness, causing a small cascade of rocks underfoot. Axion nearly tripped over one,  barely keeping upright as Excadrill struggled with the sudden additional weight input on him by the sudden re-balancing of his master. Finally restoring his balance, Axion’s foot found something more solid than the surrounding stones and knelt down. He placed his hand gently on the unconscious being, feeling very shallow yet steady breaths. Removing his pack, he blindly brushed off the rubble and felt around inside until he felt the familiar shape of a revive. Unsure of its effectiveness for the current situation, he sprayed a large swathe across the pokemon’s body; he followed it up with a full restore he had also packed for the trip. Then, his medicinal supplies mostly depleted, he sat down & waited.

As their mysterious ally’s breathing became deeper & more rapid, Axion expelled a sigh of relief. Changing focus to that of their current situation, he began crawling around, feeling for the familiar shape of his flashlight. When his hand finally found the cylindrical light, he immediately snapped it on, wanting to be ready for anything. Its feeble yellow beam barely pierced the all-enveloping blackness that surrounded them. He turned the beam towards the slumbering steel beast, and watched as its eyes slowly opened. It reacted, somewhat expectedly, with fear as it stood up and swung its tail at Axion, taking Excadrill out and barely missing the trainer in its attack. “Axion, shining the light at his own face, held up a hand again, attempting to show the pokemon his nonviolent intentions. “I’m not here to hurt you! Heck, I just scared off your torturers, at least wait to kill me until after I check to make sure you are better.” 

The pokemon eyed Axion as he slowly advanced, cautiously allowing the trainer access to where the damage had been most severe. Pointing the flashlight directly at the affected area, Axion noticed a notable improvement despite the medication being applied so recently. He shrugged it off, merely accepting it; he was not a doctor, he had no idea how effective the pharmaceuticals were. But the pokemon seemed better, and that was the key. “See? All better. Now, if you could maybe hold off on killing us, if you lead us out of here we would be more than happy to forget this whole thing. This trip has already felt more like a death wish than an inheritance anyway...”

He returned his scattered belongings back into his bag and climbed the short slope to stand on top of the wreckage of what once had been the dig site. The entry they had come through appeared to have collapsed, as well as the doorway that their opponents had vacated through. The only option he saw now was a smaller path off to the right, partially hidden by now crushed crates. Turning towards their native companion, Axion motioned towards the smaller passageway. “Is there a way out through that door?” The metallic head nodded, and heavy footfalls began to make their way towards the aperture. Axion, recalling Metagross as he waited to follow, waved Excadrill up as the pair made their way behind the larger being.

As they began to make their way through what amounted to a labyrinth of tunnels shaped mysteriously like their guide’s body, Axion sneakily removed his pokedex, muting it as he scanned in front of him. The screen flashed to life, rendering the spitting image of the pokemon before them. It said “Duraludon” and was limited in scope. He inwardly cursed for not getting a regional update, slid the useless machine back into its designated pocket, and resigned to follow this mysterious metallic dragon blindly forth. 

They walked in silence for what felt like hours, occasionally stopping for Duraludon to sniff around, as if he used the musty cave smells to navigate. They eventually stopped, and Axion was taken aback at the magnificence that lay before them. A massive geode expanded from the small doorway, thousands of crystals refracting light that was sneaking in through the smallest of holes in the ceiling. A few scattered snowflakes occasionally fell in through the same hole, giving the room a cheerful wintery feeling. Below the hole, on a flat stone at the center of the geode, was a flattened stone that acted as a natural dais. And sitting on it, quite out of place in this natural wonder, was a man made wooden chest. As Duraludon moved out of the way, Axion stepped further into the room, noting the lack of any other egresses from the hemispherical geology. “I’m assuming the exit is that tiny hole up there” Axion grumbled, pointing at the hole far up in the ceiling. Duraludon nodded, seemingly quite proud of itself for potentially removing the latest intruders to its home. The trainer sighed, and took a step towards the center of the room, mentally preparing for the wondrous task of escaping through the miniature aperture.

And stopped as soon as his eyes returned to the ground.

In front of him, spaced unevenly across the gray sandy floor, were what appeared to be shrunken pokeballs. All were partially buried, and none were showing the telltale button iconic to their standard design. Axion resisted the urge to pick one up, sensing that something was altogether wrong with this image. He took a cautious step forward, placing his foot well away from any of the suspicious entities littering the space between the party and their destination. He slowly moved forward again, taking intentional and small light steps to avoid the clusters of orbs. Axion continued tiptoeing around the pokeball-like protrusions, trying to not make a sound as he moved closer to the center of the geode. Every few moments he had to stop and adjust himself as his backpack shifted from the awkward motions. And every time he resumed, he felt that the telltale signs of whatever was beneath the grey soil had shifted. He made slow progress, attempting to find the quickest way to his destination, but more than once found himself at a point that essentially formed a dead end, whatever it was too close to make any safe progress. Frustrated, he turned around, and felt his boot hit something harder than the surrounding soil. As he quickly pulled his foot back, escaping the cave grew more distant in his mind as he heard a far more pressing and dangerous snap.

He gave up on any pretense of caution, and began running as fast as he could. Behind him he heard multiple snaps and heavy footfalls as Excadrill and Duraludon attempted to keep up and avoid the living minefield exploding behind them. As Axion’s leg narrowly avoided getting chomped off by the last of the pokemon, his feet found purchase on the central stone and almost launched himself to the center where the mysterious chest lay out, inviting if not for the current situation that was rapidly closing in behind him. The two pokemon made it onto the platform just as the wave came upon the edges of the stone, gnashing metal teeth appearing from beneath the ground as their owners lashed out for sustenance. Axion attempted to get a good look at the pile of bodies as they swarmed towards them, seeing only grey formless shapes dotted with green. As the first flopped its way onto the relative safety of their rocky pillar, the trainer noted its similarities to Stunfisk of the Hoenn region, though much more deadly and less derpy. Before he could further inspect the madly chomping creature, Duraludon smacked it away with its tail as another flopped, causing Excadrill to brush it off with its long claws. 

As more and more foreign stunfisk pushed forth, attempting to bite at the delicious intruders, Axion pulled out Metagross & Scizor’s pokeballs. The duo appeared, instantly noticing the oncoming attack, and began assisting Duraludon & Excadrill in fending off the mass of biting teeth. Metagross swiped swathes away with his large front arms, while Scizor hovered about, using his claws to bat away those that tried to fly above the steel-type wall that Axion had constructed. Axion, unable to help much against sentient metal mouths, attempted to pick up the chest that had been the focus of his attention before fleeing for his life. It was old, roughly rectangular, and looked reasonably new; it had likely not been here as long as the antique equipment scraps they had passed by on the way in. It was secured with a combination lock, which required four numbers. What the numbers were, Axion had no idea. As it currently stood, he stuffed the small case into his backpack and frantically looked for some way to escape from yet another near-death experience on this series of unfortunate events. A Stunfisk analog crept its way around Duraludon’s flank, launching itself towards the trainer’s face. Its silver triangular teeth glistened as it flew through the air, mercurial saliva dripping from the pokeball that served as its small mouth. Axion stared into the pokemon’s eyes, unable to move in that instant. Before he could summon the strength to react, Scizor clamped down on its target, causing a small crack to appear on his claw where the razor sharp teeth met the hard metallic shell. The pokemon winced as it wound up and threw the floppy being against the spiked crystal wall of the geode, before retaking his place with the others. 

Duraludon swung his tail again, but was showing signs of dizziness, the constant twists and swipes catching up to it. Excadrill showed similar signs of wearing out, its arm swiped becoming more flaccid as its strength wore out. Metagross and Scizor were the only ones who showed no outward signs of fatigue, however both had numerous scratches where their hard shelled bodies had impacted against the teeth of the living bear traps. Looking up at the diminutive escape hole, he thought deep as another Stunfisk landed by his feet, which prompted him to kick it away as fast as he could. While he succeeded in saving himself for the moment, the pokemon’s hard surfaces caused his foot massive pain as it smacked, knocking him over as the force removed Stunfisk from the stone dais. Scizor, noticing his trainer’s vulnerable state, backed up in an attempt to better cover that section. Metagross moved over and attempted to fill in the gap left by the aggressive bug, but was soon overwhelmed. Multiple Stunfisk latched onto the gigantic limbs of the psychic type, slowly weighing it down. Axion returned Metagross to his pokeball as the swarm attached fell to the ground with a collective SNAP as their jaws closed on the air that now occupied their mouths. Excadrill fell next, toppling over as it used the last of its strength to brush off the enemies that had weighed down its partner. Axion recalled it as well, now relying on Scizor as he stood up, doing his bes to ignore his throbbing foot. 

Duraludon looked back at its new allies, Scizor deftly blocking his human from the Stunfisk horde that was coming to a head, more of the pokemon flopping their way towards the squishiest of the assembled prey. It looked at Scizor and they mutually nodded. Duraludon began to spin, gaining momentum as his tail flicked the closest of the Stunfisk away. As he maxed out his speed, his tail glowed a pure white, the emanations reflecting through the crystal walls and causing the chamber to radiate with blinding light. The tail unleashed a wave, hitting all the Stunfisk and launching them away. Many were knocked out as the force of the impact drive them against the geode’s damaging walls. Of those who remained conscious, roughly half began to flop purposefully back towards the platform, refusing the denial of a good meal. As Duraludon regained its balance it stood in the way, blocking the voracious pokemon from advancing as Scizor tossed Axion over his back, using his limited flight capacity to launch himself at the roof and the small opening. His claws took on a silver shine as they impacted the ceiling, creaking a hole just large enough for the pair to escape. Scizor landed, Axion rolling into the snow as Duraludon looked up, then turning to face his inevitable end. The horde came at him with resounding force, steel jaws clamping down on his legs, and further up as the Stunfisk piled up to reach new, unbitten areas. The pokemon resigned himself, knowing that he had saved lives today, as well as protected his home from the intruders who meant to steal away that which was precious. As the teeth began finding purchase around his neck, he closed his eyes and relaxed. He felt weightless, as if he was floating into the air.

And opened his eyes, realizing he was, in fact, floating into the air.

He looked up through the now larger hole through which Scizor had escaped, and saw the familiar claw of Metagross sticking through, pointing at the levitating dragon as Stunfisk slowly lost their grip and fell to the stone below. As Duraludon’s head & body began appearing above the ground, the remaining Stunfisk recoiled at the light, falling into the welcoming darkness of their cavern home. The only one that remained above was quickly nipped off by Scizor, dropping it down unceremoniously to join the others. As Duraludon landed on the snowy surface, he looked at Metagross & Axion in thanks. “We couldn’t just leave you down there, it wouldn't be very nice after what you did.” Axion was already holding a fresh potion as he sprayed the pokemon’s metallic skin with the revitalizing spray. The dents & scratches created by the Stunfisk’s steel teeth slowly reduced in size, though not all disappeared immediately. Axion figured it would need time or a more professional approach to fully heal. Duraludon safe for now, Axion pulled out the box that had caused them quite the trouble today. He fiddled with the dials for a while, not sure what number combination it could be. He tried 0000, his birthday on a whim, even the death date of his relative. But try as he might, he could not figure out what date would have been known by both himself and this long lost uncle. The lock finally clicked as Axion noticed he had put in his mother’s birth date, the only number sequence likely to be known by both him and his uncle. Eagerly opening the box, he was quite surprised when an oddly colored pokeball rolled out. He grabbed it before it could roll down the nearby hole and finally recognized it as a heavy ball, one of the rarer balls from his homeland of Johto. As he opened it, a small note attempted to blow away, Scizor gently pinching it between his claws.

“Dear nephew, while we have never met, I hope this note finds you well.” Axion scoffed as the multiple near death experiences rolled through his mind. “While I never had the chance to meet you due to familial differences, if you do by chance find this, please be sure to say hello to Duraludon for me, and to apologize that I never got back to see it before my death. I allowed him free reign of this abandoned mine I picked up years ago, as it was his home as well. I hope you respect my decision to allow him choice over staying or travelling with you.” The note slipped away at that point, lost to the mountains and the snow-laced wind. Axion brushed off the snow covering his pants before tossing the small case down the hole for the Stunfisk to gnaw at. “Well Duraludon its up to you. While we are still stuck on a deadly mountain miles from civilization, it would be an honor to have you join the team.” Duraludon nodded, stepping closer to the trainer with an arm out for a handshake. Laughing at the relative absurdity of it, Axion took the pointed tip, a single shake cementing their newfound partnership.

“Now that we are done with that subterranean hellhole… how do we get back to civilization?”

Diction: Intermediate

You've included some very good visual descriptions and you've chosen strong verbs in a few places to provide plenty of meaning. To give a couple of examples, I particularly liked your description of the large crystal-studded room in which most of this story takes place. One good verb you used in the beginning is "groped", when Axion is trying to find his Pokemon in the darkness. While it may seem simple, the word "groped" includes some strong connotation that helps solidify just how dark the environment is at the beginning.

I chose those two examples because they illustrate things you did well and will also help me illustrate some room for improvement.

When Axion first enters the crystal room, you say, "A few scattered snowflakes occasionally fell in through the same hole, giving the room a cheerful wintery feeling." This shows that you've attempted to use words that will help build a mood. That's an important feature of good writing, and you've got a good start. You can improve this effort by using words that will show the mood, rather than having to come right out and tell your reader what kind of mood they should be feeling. Think about what it is that makes winter cheerful. I think of things like bright white snow, even at night. A gentle silence. A refreshing chill on your nose (if, like Axion, you're bundled up heavily everywhere else). If you can use elements like those, or adjectives and verbs that evoke the same feelings, then your reader should understand the mood.

I've chosen to call out your use of "groped" here because of another word that your pair with it. The full phrase you use is "he blindly groped", which is redundant. In the context where you use it, the word "groped" already implies that Axion can't see what he's doing. This is what makes "groped" such a strong word choice, but it also means that your writing would be even stronger without the word "blindly"--it's not needed.

And now I've typed the word "groped" more than I ever thought I would in my life, to be honest.

Grammar / Style: Intermediate

Your story was grammatically sound. I didn't notice any particular issues, so you get good marks here.

Stylistically, you've used the passive voice in a few places, and had to word sentences oddly as a result. Here's the example I'll call out:

Quote:Axion nearly tripped over one, barely keeping upright as Excadrill struggled with the sudden additional weight input on him by the sudden re-balancing of his master.

This sentence is tricky because, at first glance, it looks all active. In the first half, "Axion nearly tripped", and in the second half, "Excadrill struggled". If Excadrill were struggling with something unrelated to Axion, then this sentence would work just fine. The problem is that the sentence is reflexive. Excadrill is struggling because of something that Axion did, but you've worded that part of the sentence as something that's happening to[i] Excadrill, rather than something Axion is [i]doing. I would reword this sentence to focus on Axion's actions. If you described him tripping and steadying himself against Excadrill, then you could show Excadrill reacting, by grunting for example. This would retain the action of the sentence, but with a less awkward structure.

Character / Plot Unity: Basic

This story is filled with action but not a lot of character agency. Axion influences the action most clearly by helping Duraludon at the beginning, which inspires Duraludon to fight to save him in the end. In general, though, Axion's actions and his Pokemon's actions are pretty generic. You haven't played up any specific character traits to give meaning to their action beyond, say, absolutely having to fight to save themselves.

I think you had at least one opportunity to work in some character traits. When Axion arrives in the crystal cavern, he sees the treasure, then starts walking toward it without realizing the danger he's in. If Axion had even just uttered something like "Finally!" when he sees the treasure, it would have reinforced that he's tired of having to deal with the stuff he's been through just to claim his inheritance. If you had introduced the Stunfisk traps a little earlier, too, you could have shown more clearly that Axion decides to disregard them at first--making a bad decision because of his motivation to finally get the treasure.

Pokemon Integration: Intermediate

You've scored highly here primarily for your use of Stunfisk as the main environmental antagonist. It's a fitting Indiana Jones-esque obstacle and by including so many Stunfisk, you increased the stakes by quite a lot. To score higher in this category, for reference, you could work in the Stunfisk as more than battle opponents. For example, if the Stunfisk had actually managed to clamp onto one of the Pokemon, or Axion himself, it would have created an opportunity for Axion to react, which would give you the chance to show more character development, etc.

Setting: Intermediate

The crystal cave initially comes off as a very beautiful, triumphant place, but quickly turns scary as the environmental obstacles reveal themselves. The nature of the cavern creates a strong mood when Axion first arrives, and that it supports that Indiana Jones-style feeling where the treasure comes with a price.

Dialogue: Basic

There's very little dialogue in this chapter. It does provide continued to support to Axion's kindness as a Pokemon trainer, but there isn't enough to do much else for the story.

Verdict: Medium

For reaching the Medium rank, you've earned $15,000 in cash.

Additionally, since Duraludon played a part in each chapter, Duraludon is captured!

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