Venia Silente

Inspectious. Good for napping.

Male
on the second floor's nest
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Posted 1 Day Ago
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12.7 Years
Hello there! I want to present you with my entry for the 2016 Get-Together writing contest. Under the prompt "nostalgia" (hey, pretty fitting for the 20th Anniversary of a certain franchise!) I've submitted this story - or what I could make of it.

The aforelinked thread has the scorings by the judges; "As They Were" scored in the 4th place. Seek the thread listing for other threads starting with the [SWC] tag to find some of the other entries, they seem to be good reads!

In what concerns to my own efforts, I hope you all enjoy this entry.

Without further ado...




“As They Were”





A hoofed cervid walked across the farmlands, maintaining a regal stance under the morning sun. His tall figure scanned the surrounding wheatfields and the paths crossing them. “Virizion” reveled in how his gracious stag-like figure’s green sharply distinguished him from the surrounding and extremely uniform yellow.

This Pokémon paraded along the dirt path. Sharply distinguished indeed! He looked back at the various humans and Pokémon working the land as they turned from their activities upon noticing the majestic creature and its cohort of four Grass and Bug Pokémon. Rumors quickly came and went, some people and Pokémon exchanged glances showcasing many different emotions- though, as the leader of the caravan was quick to notice, there was one that recurred most often.

Alas, it was not that of the awed, dumbstruck feeling of amazement most people felt when they saw one of the very rare Pokémon they had branded as “Legendaries”.

An expression of dread before a vague but visible threat painted most human visages instead. Accompanied, Virizion noticed, by something that was somehow missing.

“Caolené,” demanded the regal figure, as he and his cohort reached a slope down on the road.

From the group of acolytes, a Leavanny rushed forward. “Yes, O Guardian Force?” she asked.

The leading Pokémon looked down at his follower for a moment. “Explain this to me,” the leader commanded, and then he marched down motioning for his cohort to follow.

The Leavanny blinked and turned to follow her leader’s march; it was usually not her place to explain, but to pass down orders, and the behaviour of their leader was somewhat unusual to the escort. Caolené looked ahead to see a railroad crossing downhill, and wondered if this was what had caught the leader’s attention- seeing the crossgates closed and hearing the warning booms from the nearby siren.

Caolené buzzed uneasily; she knew that the three Legendary figures had been absent from the land for so many years but she presumed that, as some of the creatures of their class with the closest ties to humans and one of the rulers of the “Sovereignty” -territory ruled by Pokémon such as the Legendaries-, the one before her would know well of the machines the humans used to travel across the land.

Caolené hesitated and turned to her companions to ask for a wordless indication, her plea met with a likewise hesitant shrug from a Lopunny. After some silent bickering with another of the Pokémon in the escort, the Leavanny straightened her stance and walked down to the majestic figure.

The legendary Virizion paced idly in front of the closed crossing, intently watching the gate as if measuring it. At some point he seemed to remind himself of his cohort’s presence and turned to look down at Caolené with a frown.

“Ahem… O Guardian Force,” she began, tarsi clamped together, “the railroad is part of the network the humans use for their daily migrations across the region.” She then pointed an arm to the direction she presumed the train would come from. “This crossing is closed for safety as the train appro-”

“Not the human roads, Caolené, we know about roads,” buffed Virizion not bothering to look down at the Leavanny.

“...O-oh.” The Leavanny fidgeted for a moment in place; she was not sure exactly what the leader figure asking about. Figures, the Leavanny thought: at least they were not that out of touch with the world.

“This,” answered the Legendary to her unspoken question, following with a gesture of arcing his head to indicate the farmlands they were crossing.

That “this” however, did nothing to ease Caolené’s doubts. What exactly was the question the Legendary was asking? She tried to speak something, but could not even find in her mind a proper question to speak.

Much as she had lived within Pokémon and human civilizations for a good while, she could not make out the idea behind Virizion’s question. How could she possibly understand? For creatures like her, worship to the trio of larger-than-life figures was correct, normal, natural even; she never had to stop to think if that worship was out of respect, dread and / or fear.

The Legendary on the other hand seemed to just not care; he just stood there listening to the crossing’s siren, thinking of his activities for the day, awaiting for Caolené’s response as if it was to come as naturally as the rain on winter.

A sound came from their right, accompanied by a vibration along the railroad, prompting Caolené to lean over and take a look. She noticed a train coming, most likely the morning service returning workers from the nearby city. As the leading wagons reached the crossing, the Leavanny resumed her position by Virizion and watched as the vehicle passed slowly.

Virizion did not seem to react to the arrival of the transport, at first. His neck straightened as the train approached, and then the Pokémon looked away from the crossing. He did not mind the train, but he did mind what it brought with it.

Takata-ka

The sound was not stranger to the so-called 'Swords of Justice', used to hear it in the distance when they pranced across the flatlands.

Takata-ka

For many years they had kept an ear on human inventions like this one, which they were allowed to use within the Legendary’s realm so as to assist their way of life, with certain boundaries in place.

Takata-ka

Right now, Virizion was reminded of the woman who served as the liaison between the Legendaries and the human way of doing things. The one humans trusted to protect them and Pokémon trusted to teach them.

Same humans and Pokémon who now looked dumbfounded as they saw, out of the windows of their wagons, the figure of one of the ‘Swords of Justice’ just a couple meters away from them.

She was old already, as was her team, but that did not make her any less a wonder. She carried a title, a recognition of her skillset and feats, and everyone called her like that, “Champion”. Virizion and his peers respected her as well, as for of all the human Trainers she was the one most capable to fight back - when the Legendaries felt like doing it for the art, anyway.

Even back then when Virizion and the others first met her and when she first fought them, her team of six was well capable of fighting back despite being so... young.

So they called her Champion too. The Three knew her human name, but when it came to business she was be called Champion.

As they did the human who preceded her, who taught them about telephones; and the human who preceded that one, who accompanied them exploring caves and dense forests; and the human before that, who tried to explain what the stars in the sky were like; and the one before that, who was the one to help lay out the railroads; and…

...And many others before.

Always one at a time.

Takata-ka.

The rhythmic sound, not unlike that of a clock, reminded Virizion he was on his way to a meeting with his peers, precisely to discuss matters about that human.

The two Pokémon looked at the large vehicle, going on and on in front of them. The Leavanny’s eyes inspected the wagons as she noticed the many eyes and flashes of light (of cameras she presumed) that were suddenly trained on them. Certainly it would take some time for everyone to get used to the three rulers of the land actually showing up from place to place.

Takata-ka

“How disrespectful,” Caolené buzzed. Luckily for the two, as the train went on its way, the humans inside had only enough time for a quick glance, maybe a picture. Maybe for the few luckiest of them, a scan from their Pokédex.

Caolené looked up at her leader. Like many Pokémon, she had heard the tales of “ago”, a time back when the City was young and the trains were scarcer; a time where the Guardian Forces were so unknown to mankind they didn’t even have information about them in their scanning machines.

Those times of long ago, what were they like, Caolené wondered? Accounts varied, of course, depending on who you asked. Sure, she could just ask the figure before her, but she wouldn’t dare to. No one really did. Everyone talked about the tales; with a sigh she looked deeper into her own memories to recall no one in her life ever asking about fact. Everyone said “glorious”, “peaceful”, awesome”, “fantastic”, but no one ever explained why.

Maybe she would ask, some other time.

Virizion listened patiently, unaware or uninterested in Caolené’s conflict; he was merely waiting for the train to pass and not bothering to glance at it. As the wagons zipped by, he instead pawed at the ground and tensed his muscles every once in a while, imagining himself easily leaping over the train to continue on his way.

Takata-ka

The thought left his head after a wagon or two - the idea of earning even more attention from the humans brought him a certain uneasiness. Not to mention, and he had to remind himself this, leaving his servants behind would be in bad taste.

The train made some more noise as it went through, to which the deer-like Pokémon had been paying some attention: he knew these “taka” sounds as the usual sound of the machines, though for some reason, the Guardian Force felt them this time as irregular, as hollow, as… incomplete? Straightening his neck as the last few wagons passed by, Virizion smelled the air, taking in the scent of the crops being harvested, of the humans and Pokémon working, of the train…

Taka...ta...ka

…or at least some part of it.

The legendary figure buffed and took in some more air, if only to check.

There was the sound, which from what he understood came from the motor and the devices humans used to make the train move. There was the scent, which from what Cobalion had explained, came from the heating of the components and fuels humans used to power the machines. There was the sight, in as much as Virizion knew, the machine looked much like any of the other ones he had seen.

Virizion lowered his head again and closed his eyes.

«I’m sorry we humans are so… simple, I guess?» spoke into Virizion’s mind the voice of the Champion woman, once again young and defiant as it was decades ago. «It looks like chicken, it smells like chicken, it tastes like chicken-»

Virizion shook his body. Hah! As if he was to chase after the train machine to lick it. No, he mentally roared to no one as he dug a hoof firmly on the ground; those tasks were better left for serfs. Maybe… the Arcanine Terrakion had brought into servitude as the Triumvirate’s courier. Virizion turned his head to watch the last wagons go past him. That serf liked to run… to chase after the sun pretending he was a pup, even.

Such energy would be better spent catching up to a train and reporting back what it tasted like.

Still…

«-it better be chicken. Not a “food pill”. I take it you’ve never tried any?»

A nauseous memory quickly passed through Virizion’s mind, a memory of his sibling Terrakion puking, of the grass-type acolytes back at the City flailing around in a panic, of an afternoon-long argument with their human liaison; all those thoughts were sunk into their proper place again with another head shake accompanied by a buff.

What a time had that been.

Watching the leader figure so tense, Caolené struggled for a moment to remain in her place. She wondered if anything about the report had brought in this sudden anger, if anything had been done wrong.

The deer-like Pokémon turned to stare at her for a moment and then looked above her, to the farmland without end in sight. Virizion’s gaze seemed to lock on the very concept of nowhere.

Be food.

What had been the point in such torture, he still found himself wondering every once in a while. A “food pill”. How had humans come to make food into that. What had come into their heads? The Champion never explained.

The three siblings had agreed, that time, to never ever again accept such gifts from humans. It had taken an entire afternoon for their then-young female liaison and her team to convince Terrakion the humans were NOT trying to poison the Triumvirate.

Next meeting the Triumvirate had, it only took five minutes to agree for new commandments about what offerings would the Guardian Forces accept. Second one on the list:

[ REAL FOOD ONLY ]

For the humans that had been so long ago. Virizion idly wondered if the human woman even remembered it. Virizion didn’t bother counting, but he knew Cobalion did - someone had to keep the memory of that time so that Terrakion would never live it down.

Because what a time it had been.

The Leavanny standing by the Guardian Force leaned forward and scrutinized the face of her leader, turned to the direction of the train disappearing in the distance, and then turned to the legendary figure once again. If the Bug-type felt like asking a question, she made good to pretend otherwise. She buzzed and merely waited in place until Virizion returned to a more serene posture.

Such serenity could not yet reach into the mind of the creature, however.

This train and the others Virizion had crossed paths with in the last few days, they lacked something, he was sure of it. The scent of the fuel was with them no more, replaced with a persistent buzzing and a weird scent similar to that of Steel-type Pokémon hurt by electricity, but Virizion could not make a clearer idea in his head. Virizion presumed the change in scent was somehow normal, yet there was something else attached to it, in the form of something lacking, that made Virizion’s experience of the trains feel “incomplete”.

Deeper than that, Virizion felt it was one of those things he would not find a proper answer for until he consulted with the human.

“Ahem…” spoke the Leavanny, noticing Virizion’s frown.

Of one thing he and the others were sure, at least: everything was missing the same. The humans, the Pokémon, the landscape.

In the years the ‘Swords of Justice’ had spent away, everything had changed.

Caolené had mentioned it, everyone had noticed. Not that things had changed, no; rather, that the three leaders had been gone for so long.

“Ahem… as I was saying, O Guardian Force,” the Leavanny insisted as she cautiously stepped forward. “Life in the fields has returned to normalcy. Back in the City things are, I guess, almost fine, too.”

“Almost fine?” questioned Virizion, raising his head, not turning to look at her.

Caolené held her stare upon the Legendary for a moment. There was no curiosity, animosity or displeasure in that statement. His eyes seemed to wander into the distance, unfocused.

“There is still tension,” she explained, “about the vote… at least, those who know about it.”

Ah, the vote. This time, Virizion nodded. He remembered the agreement he and his siblings had reaffirmed long ago, when they first realized the Champion, their liaison, was growing old. Even the strongest of Champions was not able to beat fate; like any of her mortal kin, she was to grow old, which she did, and eventually her clan would set to replace her by a younger-but-just-as-skilled figure, which they did.

When the time would come for that, the members of the Triumvirate would gather and place their vote of confidence on the trainer or trainers they trusted to guard both the human and Pokémon inhabitants of the lands.

Which they did... not want to.

Virizion observed with veiled displeasure as the crossgate opened. He nodded to the Leavanny by his side and then resumed his path, not paying attention to if Caolené and the rest of his cohort would follow suit.

The Sovereigns were not clear yet on what to do with the reign they had retaken. They had sensed deteriorating times and had emerged from the fog of myth and folklore they had sunk into maybe a thousand years ago, to return to the place they had once taken as rulers of these lands.

They were clear, however, in that they missed her. They missed what she meant, for them and for the people of their small realm; they missed having an understanding figure, someone who could help them relate to the lives of other people and Pokémon, and their matters - things like trains and (here Virizion repressed a reflex) ‘food pills’.

Virizion had looked at the morning sky, at the dirt road ahead, at the wheatfields around, at the train that had come and gone; all these things were normal and everyday, yet he felt like he would no longer understand them.

In a certain way, he would not. Once this Champion would leave, Virizion and his peers would have to get used to the new one, assuming this one survived in this rank a couple of decades.

A new chain of trust would have to be built before Virizion felt like he was capable of asking questions to the human about the signification of trains, of food, of time, of everything.

Virizion sighed as he left the railroad behind. He and his siblings had survived many people and many Pokémon. Welcoming a new Champion was routine, one they did not like, but one they would go through nonetheless.

Yet, the legendary figure wondered…

...If it would one day stop.

If a time would come where it would be them who would have to be replaced, by new caretakers more fitting to oversee the entire region.

He wondered, if and when that time would come, would Virizion and his peers be allowed to return to the fog of myth, of the wild, just like the elder Champions were allowed to walk into the fog of time and "retirement". He wondered if the three siblings would then roam the land without any more worries than to find their next meal for the day.

He wondered what returning to that time before the Sovereignty, before the worship, would be like. What things would look like, smell like, taste like.

Because what a time it had been.





Author's Notes



Thanks to the judges of the Small Writing Contest for the even and the opportunity to take part of it. The scoring and commentary from the judges can be observed in the SWC thread linked at the beginning, on page 3.

Of course, commentary from other people is welcome. If the deadline for replying to this thread passes, by all means drop me a word over VM, I don't currently eat internet denizens! :p

I apologize for the delay in publication; as some of you might know, Pokécommunity had some downtime issue right about by the time of the Get-Together. They just happened to align poorly with my available spare time. But now that's solved~

Regarding the story proper:

This is the version sent to the judges, barring a couple of minor changes for flow of the story; basically, word reordering. Certainly, the fact that the story is not (at least in my opinion) properly finished might have influenced the opinion of the judges, as I am sure it will influence somewhat the reviews in the thread.

So, there might be a future revision coming up later (down the whole bottle if you've already heard that one :| ) but doesn't mean you don't get to enjoy the concept and the story as of right now! As I hope you did.

After the first round of reviews and or commentary, I will post my reply to the commentary by the judges.

Also: if the typography chosen makes reading the story hard, lemme know and I'll fix it in a mo.

EDIT - 2016-08-01: as per Miz-en-Scène's suggestion, changed the font from Berkshire to Merriweather. They both fall back to te browser's default serif if unavailable.

Thanks all!
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