The Heart of The Forest 2.1

Arc 2 of Shadows Rise is finally live!

Written In Shadows

Shadows Rise

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[The Heart of The Forest | Spiritus 10th, 2525 | Late Night]

Claire sat at her desk, leaning over documents long rendered useless by the engrossing darkness. Her fingers toyed with a small silver band, watching the metal glimmer under the moonlight infiltrating the cracks along the walls. The office door was closed for the first time in days. Outside her cabin, the forest lay dormant. A soft breeze caressed the trees, raining down dried leaves across the ground and whispering false promises of safety to unassuming travelers. Being born within these woods, becoming part of the dangers lurking in its shadows, Claire held no illusions of safety. To her, home was just that: beautiful, tranquil, dangerous.

The pitter-patter of bare feet and the creak of a floorboard caused her to straighten in her chair, placing the silver ring on the desktop…

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Death and Grief

Hey, guys. As the title suggests, I want to talk about two very prominent themes in Shadows Rise; death and grief. If you’ve been reading along and keeping up with SR, you’ll know some specifics. If you haven’t, I’m not giving away any spoilers by saying this. The premise itself gives those themes away. When you have a group of people seeking revenge on a clan of assassins… The death and grief part is very much implied.

I previously wrote a post listing all the stupid reasons I’ve killed characters in the past and if you’ve been following me long enough you might have been around for the April Fools where I faked a favorite character’s death in our RP just to mess with readers, but… The people reading at the time were personal friends; I knew them, and the other participants of the RP were aware of what I was doing. I mean, Wifey co-wrote that death post with me. It was an evil prank, but I’d always been the one who gets pranked on April Fools and that year I had something I could use for revenge. They forgave me eventually. >.>

With that damning behavior out in the open,  let me preface this by saying that killing off a character to, so to speak, take something away from my readers isn’t something I would normally do. And it’s not something I can condone. As a reader I hate plot armor with a fury. I genuinely think that if in the back of my mind I can tell myself “Pft, there’s no way they’ll kill the main character” every time the going gets rough in a story, and I know it’s true, it takes something away from the experience. On the other hand if I start feeling there’s no point getting attached to any characters because the author doesn’t think twice about dropping them like flies… Yeah, that’s a much bigger problem.

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Disney Revisited Part 05 – Cinderella (1950)

Hey, guys! Been a while. Not my fault this time, swear. Last time I released one of these I said I was going to make this series into a collaboration with Plotstains (aka Doomed, for those of you who know him by that name), and… I did do that.

Basically how this is going to work is, we’re each going to watch the movie, post our own review on our respective blogs and if we find something worthy of discussion afterwards we will co-write a follow-up post and have it up on both our blogs as well.

At least, that’s how we figured out we want to do this so far. If we think of something else that works out better in the future, we’ll change it up as we go.

Movie Title: Cinderella

Release Date: February 15, 1950

Based On: Cinderella by Charles Perrault

First Impression

I remember watching Cinderella, but I don’t have that many fond memories of it as a kid. It doesn’t really set off any nostalgia.

Maybe I should point out that I was never one of those little girls who wanted to be a princess. I grew up with three older brothers. I played with their GI Joes and He-Man figures. The whole Cinderella fantasy wasn’t something I was particularly drawn to. I guess that’s why, even though I watched it back in the day, this wasn’t a movie I picked out at the video store (remember those?) very often. If I did go for the fairy tale princess classics, I’d often favor Sleeping Beauty over this one, but… we’ll get to that one when we get to that one.

My Impression Now

I really, really like it. Not gonna lie. This was one of the movies on my list I thought I would have to force myself to sit through, and it’s funny how a lot of the criticisms I wanted to make here gradually died out over the course of my viewings. Though, of course, not all of them.

Let’s start with the positives, though. Cinderella has a lot more personality than what I was vaguely able to remember. And compared to Snow White, I see her character as a major step up in terms of… Being an actual character. She clearly has her own thoughts and feelings about her situation, she expresses impatience, aggravation, and other negative emotions towards her step family, even if only in private, and she comes across more as someone trying to cling to a silver lining than someone who is either oblivious or uncaring to their own situation. She’s hardworking, kind, optimistic despite how unfairly she’s treated, and those are traits I can actually sympathize with. As opposed to Snow White whose only predominant quality was being innocent to the point of stupidity.

Lady Tremaine was a very solid villain. By real world standards she is probably the most believable Disney villain I can think of, in fact. There’s something in the way she talks to Cinderella right from the start of the movie that is just terrifying if you try to imagine yourself growing up under someone like that. The voice actress does a fantastic job of sounding menacing without ever truly raising her voice, never making any direct threats. Everything in that relationship reeks of psychological warping and manipulation. From the moment Cinderella wakes up to do her morning chores to their very first interaction, it becomes more and more clear by the way she just goes through the motions; even when Anastasia and Drizella are complaining to her, that she’s been broken down. She’s optimistic in the sense that she looks for positives and chooses to hold on to them, but she’s also resigned to this being her life. It’s very subtle and very striking at the same time. And as a writer I can’t help but appreciate that depth I didn’t even know existed in this character. Snow White was a very innocent character and that was her whole schtick. She never changed from that. She had no emotional depth or growth to speak of, but Cinderella has the optimism of someone who is constantly trying to stay happy. And eventually, right before the Fairy Godmother shows up, she does fall into despair. In fact, in that whole section with her talking herself out of wanting to go to the ball to thinking she’ll actually be able to go, to then having it literally ripped away from her, she goes through a wider range of emotion than the entire cast of Snow White. And I think it deserves a lot more credit than it gets. You know, it’s a kid’s movie. It’s easy to overlook these things when you leave it on in the background so your kids will shut up for an hour.

Now let’s address some of the criticism I said I wanted to make going into this, and where I think Disney actually did a good job with this story, at least in making an attempt to justify some of the stupider parts of it. Not gonna say they absolutely succeeded, but they tried and I appreciate that.

During the ball they made an attempt to show that Lady Tremaine couldn’t get a clear look at the girl the prince was dancing with. They implied that the Fairy Godmother ‘let’ Cinderella keep the glass slipper after midnight rolled around, either because she knew what was going to happen later or just as a memory of the ball. There is a very brief moment of acknowledgment to the fact the slippers should have turned back to normal and didn’t.

The whole ‘trying on the shoe’ thing was the king’s idea as sort of a loophole to get his son hitched (more on that in a bit) and the Prince isn’t the one who goes try the shoe on the women himself. And that’s a big one. I was actually good this time in not looking up the original tale, but I have watched a fair share of reviews of low-budget fairy tale adaptations (just because I do that, not particularly in preparation for this lol) and they always, ALWAYS, have the Prince himself go around like a moron trying on the shoe on every woman he meets like he has face blindness or something. And I like how they tried to remedy this by having the king being like “Okay, so he’ll marry the owner of the shoe. Find someone to wear the shoe”. The king doesn’t care if it’s the right woman (again, I’ll get more into that in a bit), and the Prince isn’t there for the shoe fittings, so it’s possible he doesn’t even know this is happening at all. It’s a stretch, but… Yeah, alright, Disney. I’ll suspend my disbelief for you on that one. At least you bothered to pay attention.

Now on to what I actually didn’t like about this one. My personal criticisms after watching it three times now. First and foremost… The mice are extremely obnoxious. EXTREMELY. And they didn’t bother me as much as a kid, I think, because I watched this dubbed in Portuguese, and the way they talked wasn’t that annoying in the dubbed version. But I swear, I was rooting for Lucifer to murder the little bastards the entire time. And I hate that they sorta move the plot in a way, because it’s their fault Cinderella had Anastasia and Drizella’s things added to her dress; the mice scavenged them. They have to be the ones to come and unlock the door so Cinderella can come out and try on the shoe… So you kind of have to put up with them. And I was not amused. At all.

The Prince is a plank. I don’t get why everyone loves to complain that the heroines in these early Disney movies lack personality and always need rescuing. I mean, yeah, Cinderella wasn’t a badass, but she was a character with a personality. With a name. The Prince is “The Prince”. The freaking dog can get a name (it’s Bruno), but the guy Cinderella is supposed to marry? Nah. He’s not important. Screw him.

I posted on my Twitter recently that no one ever takes into account the time period these fairy tales were written or take place in when they make criticisms to the insta-marriage relationships in these early Disney movies, but… Honestly… It feels a lot more jarring watching this a third time with a more analytical mindset and seeing all these little nuances in a character just to then watch them supposedly fall in love with a cardboard cutout. It almost undoes all that character depth when you really think about it and that’s just a shame in my opinion.

The king is an asshole. That’s all I have to say about it really. I mean, I could sort of sympathize with him growing distant from his son and wanting the joy of grandchildren before he dies, but he clearly doesn’t give a crap about his son in that process. Like, he hears that he’s in love (instantly, but whatever) and he’s determined to find this woman and make her his wife, but he just.. Doesn’t think that’s at all important. He just wants his son to make a baby and whoever he has to bone to make that happen is good enough for him.

Songs Overview

I actually have some fond memories of the music in this movie. Though it’s not from watching the movie. It’s from these VHS tapes I had as a kid called Disney’s Magic English and they were, you know, English lessons. They came with a book and a VHS, my mom would get them at the news stand every week for me. And they had activities and sing-a-longs. And one of them had the Sing Sweet Nightingale section from Cinderella and I freaking loved it. I thought it was just so pretty and I… Still think that. A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes is equally memorable to me for that reason.

HOWEVER. I do not like Bippity Boppity Boo. It’s equally memorable, but not pleasant to me. It will not leave my head and I hate that. Even as a kid, I hated that. I… I want to be harsher on it, because of this, but honestly… It’s a great song. It’s a great song that hinders my enjoyment quite a bit, but it’s still a great song. Damn it.

Overall song rating for Cinderella: 7/10

Racist Moment Spotlight

I couldn’t find one. If you can think of any… Let me know in the comments.

Conclusion

I like this movie. I didn’t think I was going to like it this much. And I was surprised with how much I had to actually say about it. I enjoyed it on my first time viewing and I actually found some depth in it once I sat down with a more critical eye as well, which was an unexpected bonus. I mean, even if I want to say I’m looking too deeply into this, it made me think. It inspired something. If you recall Bambi… I had very little to say about it. It was a story that happened and then other than it was visually stunning for the time, there wasn’t much to pick apart there. It was the fastest review I ever produced. Ever. So I can’t say that you can inject meaning into anything if there wasn’t something already there to find. I don’t believe that if you really want something to have substance you can just make it happen. Not if you’re genuinely looking at it with a critical eye. So I need to give this movie credit. It’s not as visually stunning as some of the previous entries. It’s not as unique or interesting as Pinnochio or Snow White, but I enjoyed it more. I enjoyed Cinderella as a character more than Snow White, and the parts that irritated me were a lot less irritating than the issues I had with Pinnochio, so… My ranking as of now:

  1. Cinderella
  2. Snow White
  3. Pinocchio
  4. Bambi
  5. Dumbo

So that’s it guys. If you want to read Plotstains’ Cinderella review check it out on his blog. Give him a like and maybe leave a comment shaming him for being the reason I’m so late with this one. 😛

Next up is Alice in Wonderland. I have my reservations about that one, but… Cinderella surprised me. I’ll try to keep an open mind.

B.B

Uprise 1.11

Written In Shadows

Shadows Rise

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[Valcrest Forest | Helios 2nd | Late Afternoon]

Sebastian ducked behind the trunk of a tree. His whole body shuddered as he struggled to control his breathing. With each frantic beat of his heart, listening to his surroundings became increasingly challenging. His right hand was tight on the hilt of his sword. Peering from behind his cover felt like too much of a risk. Any sign of movement would be enough to give him away, but against his better judgment, he closed his eyes. Gerald had taught him to meditate and while Sebastian was sure the man would call being chased through the woods the wrong time and place, what he needed was to be calm. Be still. To stay focused.

Since his arrival at the Outpost, Sebastian witnessed Johanna sneaking up on people multiple times. While he’d thought that to be an…

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Uprise 1.10

Written In Shadows

Shadows Rise

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[Abandoned Outpost | Otium 15th | Early morning]

“We’ve been going over this for days. One way or another, you need to make a decision,” Gabrielle stated, looking over the crenelated wall atop the Western tower. The sky was clear and tinged in a cold, pale lavender where sunlight hadn’t yet touched.

“I promised.” Johanna’s tone was soft but resolute.

“We all made promises we couldn’t keep.” Gabrielle watched her with the corner of her eye. “I can’t make decisions for you. Tucker can’t either. That’s for you to do, but. . . He is right. You do realize that at least?”

“They shouldn’t be like us.”

Gabrielle paused, choosing her next words carefully. “They already are, Jo.” She turned to face the other woman, leaning her lower back against the wall of the tower. “I know it’s been nice feeling like you’re taking…

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Well, This Sounds Familiar

Hey, remember when I reviewed Pinocchio back in 2015 and I said:

And yeah, all those kids who get turned into donkeys… We never see them again. Most of them get sent to the mines or whatever, but those that can still tal-… Wait, wait, wait… Pinocchio’s Universe is a part of the Shrek universe and there’s the… Uh… Talking… Donkey… In… That… Movie…

You’re welcome, MatPat. 😛

B.B

Uprise 1.09

Written In Shadows

Shadows Rise

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[White Shadows Encampment | Lithius 21st | Early morning]

Gabrielle inhaled deeply. Every step from her heavy boots brought forth the earthy scent of freshly trampled grass. Her steely gaze traveled the multitudes of white tents spreading across the vast fields; ornamented by broken stone walls and ruined buildings. What was once the great city of Blackhurst, now a campground of neatly rowed tents which spread as far as the eye could see. White-gowned people marched in and out. Traversing the encampment could leave anyone in a constant state of deja vu—every tent, and every row of tents, looked exactly the same—yet the healers never seemed to waver in their stride or lose their sense of direction. Like worker ants, they walked the narrow paths of the encampment in a steady pace; dutiful and filled with purpose.

“Greetings, Miss. I’m sorry, but if you…

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Ups And Downs

So, I wanna talk about my life situation right now.

It sucks. It honestly sucks. I’m in a bad living situation I can’t really get out of. I’m under a lot of stress. And to be quite honest… I’ve been feeling really depressed the past two or three weeks; give or take.

The other day I tweeted that this week feels like it belongs in 2016 and yeah… Because that’s still, without a doubt, the worst year of my life. And I’ve been feeling something  reminiscent of that right now. That’s part of the reason I haven’t been around much on Twitter as well. I don’t feel great. I don’t feel great to the point of being annoyed by other people’s positivity. And I don’t wanna be that person. :/

A lot of if is tangible things in life causing me stress. I’m not making enough money to support myself and because of my mom’s health issues at the moment I’ve become restricted to work I can do from home. None of it pays nearly enough and all of it is dull work. It also means being stuck on the computer for longer than it would be considered healthy. But, my siblings don’t have the availability to be around and, you know, it’s my mom. What else am I gonna do?

There’s also been sort of an existential stress added to it now. I mean, I turned thirty this year and My Immortal Commentary is still the most popular thing I’ve ever written. Look to your right and see what’s popular on this blog. Nothing else I’ve ever produced has gotten thousands of views except for that.

On that note… In 2016 I had a really huge moment of resenting myself and resenting the time and effort I put into my writing. And, this is not the case now. As burned out as I’ve been with everything else in general, the only actual enjoyment I’ve had in doing something this past week has been what little writing and what little editing I’ve managed. So that’s probably what I’m gonna do with my weekend. I’m gonna bury myself in my work. Like a loser. >.>

There’s a post I wanna write about the whole experience of starting a web serial and the process of writing/editing and maintaining all the accounts involved with that. I’ll be doing that when my head’s a little better. And while that’d be a good post to make on Written In Shadows, I wanna write it from a more personal perspective, so I’ll probably be doing it here.

In the meantime, guys… You wanna help me feel better? There’s a very simple thing you can do: Read Shadows Rise. And if you like it, consider supporting it. Because working on this keeps me feeling human when everything else is shit. And if we gather enough support that I can devote more time to it, I’ll be a happier person.

Also the more readers it gets, the closer I get to having something better than My Immortal Commentary become my most popular work. And that’s the dream. 😛

B.B

Family Guy Review: Why Seahorse Seashell Party Actually Sucks

I didn’t think this was gonna be my return to writing actual reviews on this blog. Actually, I never thought Family Guy would be a show I’d cover here at all. I remember having it on a list of shows people need to shut up about a long time ago, in fact. And to be honest, I stand by that. I think that with most shows it’s worth discussing why and how they’ve deteriorated. With Family Guy, the answer is, simply put, Seth MacFarlane’s massive ego. Any internet reviewer who’s covered a bad episode of this show would be able to tell you that.This was a show that started out with some clever social commentary and just devolved into an outlet for the creator’s blatant jabs at celebrities he doesn’t like or just… The audience itself. And it doesn’t have to care about actually being funny, because now people will watch it just to get mad at it. And people probably enjoy being mad at things more than laughing at them nowadays, so I can’t say I completely blame Family Guy for this.

But I digress.

If you’re not familiar with this show, there’s two things you need to know before you continue reading. Everyone, and I mean everyone, hates Meg, but her family are definitely the worst about it. And in this episode Meg gives every single one of them a verbal beating of epic proportions. She makes good points, and it’s actually very cathartic because the other characters actually start to look at themselves as a result. And, no matter how good it is, the fact that this scene is so effective to begin with is where this episode fucked up. This is a mistake they make time and time again in their most infamous episodes, in fact.

So the family starts to antagonize one another because of this and they all run off, leaving Meg behind with Seth MacFarlane’s self-insert, Brian. And yes, the fact that Brian is a self-insert is VERY important here. Because this is the conversation that follows:

Now, every review of this episode I’ve ever seen gets emotional about this. Because yes, it’s easy to see this as either trying to make light of actual abuse or being misguided in saying that people should stay in an abusive situation for their abusers benefit; as TheMysteriousMrEnter said it in his review of this episode.

However; and no, this isn’t a defense of this episode, that’s not what this scene is trying to say. This scene is meant to talk to the audience about something, yes, but it isn’t abuse. It’s about status quo.

If you’re not familiar with what ‘status quo’ means in relation to television shows. I refer you to TV Tropes:

Within a work, particularly long-running series and franchises, almost nothing changes. If something does change, it’s generally reset back to the way it was before very quickly.

The fact that Brian is Seth MacFarlane speaks volumes towards the real intent behind this scene. Brian and Meg aren’t discussing abuse, they’re discussing Meg’s *role*, not within the Griffin family, but in Family Guy itself. And basically, by having Meg accept this role, this is supposed to make us, the audience, accept it as well.

Basically this is Seth MacFarlane saying “Look, just because I do these things to this character, it doesn’t mean I hate her”. As a writer, I can sympathize with that sentiment, but as a writer… Nothing and I mean NOTHING peeves me quite as much as a creator trying to address criticism within their actual work. If you feel you need to justify something about your work, then fucking man up and change it. And if you think it doesn’t need changing then man up and take the heat for it. Simple as that.

Either your show adheres fully to status quo rules and even when character development does happen it means nothing; in which case that very well-written, very cathartic confrontation scene you wrote is fucking pointless. Or you commit to having your characters evolve and stick to it. It’s not hard. The Simpsons has multiple very heartwarming episodes that were as if they never happened in the next. And people still loved them for it anyway. Heck, Family Guy itself has managed to pull this off with Meg and Peter on more than one episode, where they had them bond over something one episode and have him be a dick to her like usual the next. And that back when show was still at least decent.

Now, as I previously stated, the confrontation scene being so damn effective is where this episode fucked up the most. It humanized Meg to the point where the audience was never going to be able to look at her as just a character afterwards. Even if the things she was saying were literally, and sometimes word-for-word, things the audience had been complaining about. This episode’s fatal flaw was playing into people’s emotions and then expecting them to be purely rational when you go “Okay, listen…” about it. It’s NEVER gonna work. EVER.

Did people read way too much into this? Yes, absolutely. I’m 100% sure no one looks to Family Guy for ‘very special episodes’, and this was never meant to be one. Does that mean this episode is redeemable? Fuck no. No one asked for this piece of condescension with Meg and the rest of the episode is either annoying dad noises or a literal drug trip.

It does majorly suck, no question.

B.B

Pokémon Leaf Green Randomized Nuzlocke – Part 02

Alright. Today’s run was… Emotional. I’m gonna be upfront about this, there were casualties.

The first of them was, to no one’s surprise, Lionel.

LeafGreenNuzlocke2_03

And yes, that’s where my Pokémon go when they ‘die’. I don’t actually release them. I like to keep track of my casualties. >.>

As much as I harped on him, and even thought I tweeted while grinding on route 1 that all it was doing was show me better Pokémon I could have caught… I wasn’t actually expecting to lose him this soon. I mean, he got hit with a Self-Destruct move so freaking fast, I hadn’t even screenshot the battle because I was just grinding. Pft. A level 3 whatever-that-was? Nothing important here.

And I feel really bad. I mean, yeah, he was kinda crap, but… A lot of my favorite Pokémon are considered crap. More notably so Zubat and Magikarp. I mean, I know Magikarp is objectively crap, but I would always manually train mine in Pokémon Yellow from level 2 or so up until it evolved into Gyarados and Gyarados is one of my all time favorites in that game. So, you know, I know that something crap can actually pay off if you put effort into it, but for a Nuzlocke… That’s trickier to do. Lionel wasn’t gonna go very far even after learning Metronome. 😐

At this point I still had Tala, Sparky, and Squidward, though. I leveled them up a bit and went into Viridian Forest, finally. My first trainer battle was uneventful and then I had my first close call of the day. Latios.

LeafGreenNuzlocke2_05

The only reason I got out of this was that he used a move that inflicted damage on himself and Squidward was able to take the damage; barely. The other two were already on red health and I’d used my one potion for the battle. So, yeah, pretty damn close, but I made it and I got through the forest just fine.

Brock was kinda… Meh. His randomized Pokémon were pretty weak. I mean, the Spoink he used first only used Splash the whole time. Oh yeah, Ranger Max. He wasn’t Brock, he was Ranger max. 😀

Also, being able to play as a girl in this game makes Brock’s dialogue a little more uncomfortable, gotta say.

Aaaaanyway… I beat “Ranger Max” without much issue. I fought the trainers leading up to Route 3 without incident as well.

LeafGreenNuzlocke2_11

Though I did get indoctrinated into the Cult of Shorts. :/

Found a… This thing… on Route 3 but didn’t manage to catch it.

LeafGreenNuzlocke2_13

Ran into this creep in the PokéCenter but didn’t have enough money to buy his “Magikarp” yet. And yes, that counts as a ‘Gift’ Pokémon even though you have to buy it. So, off to MT. Moon I went. My first encounter there actually had me pretty excited and I managed to actually catch it. Things were looking up!

Not for very long though. My second trainer battle turned out to be quite the nightmare. All thanks to a level 14 Wailord. It had Water Gun and Rollout. And it annihilated Sparky in one single hit.

LeafGreenNuzlocke2_21

Fuck you, Wailord! 😐

So, at this point, I was pretty freaked out. Rollout was gonna be super effective against Lily; the Butterfree I had JUST managed to catch. Not to mention she was still only level 10. One Water Gun was gonna be the end of Tala, and Squidward didn’t stand much of a chance either. I thought I was done for. Both Lily and Squidward went down pretty quick. And then it was all down to Tala, my starter, the Arcanine.

I used Bite. It didn’t that much damage, but… Wailord flinched. I used bite again. It flinched. Holy shit. I did it again. And again… It flinched. At this point I was pretty shocked. I actually managed to flinch this damn thing, in succession, enough times to kill it. And I survived! With just Tala left in my party.

RIP, little dudes, you all made me proud. 😐

I took my earnings and retreated back to the Poké Center. Time to see what this creep had to offer.

LeafGreenNuzlocke2_14

His “Magikarp” ended up being a level 5 Ninjask. I named it Badass in the hopes it’ll live up to it. He is now Tala’s only companion.

The rest of my play session was leveling this guy up and then fighting a couple more trainers in MT. Moon. I ended up having to go out soon after. I did however, find a few of these roaming around in MT. Moon.

LeafGreenNuzlocke2_30

And while I know I probably wouldn’t be able to capture one with just regular Poké balls… AAAAAAH I WANT ONE. Mew is THE FUCKING BEST.

But alas…. >.>

So, yeah. This is my team as of today, Tala and Badass:

They’re both around level 15-16 now. Hopefully we’ll be able to survive Mt. Moon and make some new friends on the other side. >.>

Not sure when, I might not have time to play during the week,  but we’ll see.

B.B