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Old July 31st, 2016 (4:50 PM). Edited August 1st, 2016 by Venia Silente.
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Venia Silente Venia Silente is offline
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    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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      #2    
    Old August 1st, 2016 (7:38 AM).
    Miz en Scène's Avatar
    Miz en Scène Miz en Scène is offline
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      Wow, this was a great read :O

      You get the impression that Virizion and the rest of the guardians are these kind of ancient, out-of-touch relics in a world that's moving far faster than they can keep up. The traditions like the vote help keep their relevance tenuously anchored to the present, but it seems clear that they don't play a very large role in the day to day running of the region to warrant them being there all the time. You can kind of see that in the contrast of the way people are looking at Virizion with the way Virizion seems to be all casual about his little walk – like they think that he's a portent of doom simply because he's there all of a sudden rather than because he's a natural part of the world like everything else. So in that sense, I really liked the contrast between the prince that thinks he's a bigshot but doesn't really do much and the people who fear the prince but don't really have a concrete reason to fear him or in fact need him to begin with (at least in their day to day lives).

      There was also something really charming about Virizion's interaction with his entourage. They're basically acolytes to a relic who all kind of sort of understand that they don't/can't understand Virizion due to his immortality, but at the same time they kind of feel a sense of traditional duty to him. Kind of like monarchies in many countries. I also found Virizion's dialogue with his entourage to be really good in a this-is-hilariously-charming sort of way. It was, I think, a perfect encapsulation of his relationship to his subjects.

      That said, Virizion's internal monologue was definitely the best part of this fic, aside from the dialogue. Even though he had kind of an arrogant prince sort of attitude (which I understand is actually canon?), his reminiscing of the past and the way he sort of took in the land and the train via its sights and smells and taste, and the way you described it, was really beautiful in its own right. It's weird, but I don't really mind the slow pacing as much as I ought to because it lends itself incredibly well in some places to the sentence rhythm.

      Quote:
      Originally Posted by Venia Silente View Post
      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.
      This part in particular I really thought was great, especially your use of onomatopoeia which played very nicely with the fitful, jerky sentence structure which signified his flow of thoughts and contemplations. I just thought that this part in particular was really artfully executed, so kudos to you for that.

      Having said that though, there was this one thing which I felt could be improved.

      For instance, a few times in the fic the narrative jumps back and forth between the thoughts of Caolené and Virizion. It wasn't as particularly jarring as it could have been, but at the same time I felt like it sort of took away from how special the sentence rhythm I mentioned previously was. Mainly because jumping between Caolené and Virizion's internal monologue has the potential to break the immersion the reader has in how the sentences sound within their head (if that makes any sense), and this is crucial in the case of your fic because its sentence rhythm was one its most amazingly well done parts! I understand that it's supposed to be third person omniscient, but at the same time third person omniscient almost always comes with a character focus from which the narrative distance is measured. In this case, I feel like the character focus should be Virizion because we're focusing on something of his life story. But if we jump between Virizion and Caolené, we lose the effect of the character focus and the writing comes off as uncertain regarding which voice it's trying to affect.

      Anyway, that was the only part which really bothered me. For the rest though, I really want to commend you on that really spectacular sentence structure up there. In this competition at least, I feel like the cadence of your writing was one of the best.

      Oh also, before I end this review, I just want to say I noticed this reference, which I thought was pretty funny:
      Quote:
      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.
      Also yes, the font choice was pretty distracting lol. I had to change it to Verdana with Firefox. :P
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        #3    
      Old August 1st, 2016 (9:08 PM).
      Aisu's Avatar
      Aisu Aisu is offline
         
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        ^wishing I could be as well-versed as this guy

        If there's anything I'm really fond if, it's reading about Legendary Pokemon and their relationship with Pokemon and humans, good and bad and all between. I liked your take on Virizion and how he was reminiscing about days passed, the now old Champion, and what's to come in the future. The syntax in particular I really liked (y'know, except when you forced me onto Dictionary.com) in that it matched how I saw Virizion in the story, this regal being detached from the present not because he wanted to be but because he was sort of "outdated," a god not quite able to catch up with time, though that Champion woman had the opposite problem.

        Quote:
        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.
        This is actually a thought I often have so I'm glad it's not just me being paranoid
        Quote:
        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.
        I gotta admit, I don't get the "rain on winter." Maybe because I live in Florida.
        Quote:
        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.
        Do I have to say why? I just love this quote.
        Quote:
        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.
        I thought this was funny, maybe because I'm overthinking it as Virizion showing some of humanity.
        Quote:
        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.
        If you're looking for something better-tasting than food pills, guy, you're gonna be sorely disappointed!
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          #4    
        Old August 4th, 2016 (7:01 PM).
        Venia Silente's Avatar
        Venia Silente Venia Silente is offline
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          Okay, time to get back to you guys and to all readers, of course.

          First, on a note that was added at the end of the original posting: after commentary from Miz-en-Scène, I've changed the typography for the story from Berkshire to Merriweather. Just felt like making note of it again.

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Bay
          One of the things I like most about this story is the way you describe the setting with the various senses, like the smell and sound of the train. Very nice you took advantage of that.
          'tis was the best chance to make use of broader sensory focus in a story in a long time. After all, one of the things that is known to trigger (and in certain ways, define) nostalgia is reminiscing thanks to our senses, which have a more direct, hardwired connection to the old, yearning part of our brains (and for a very good reason, mind).

          Plus hey, it's deers. Can't really help but somehow getting to take note of how relevant hearing is for them.

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Miz en Scène View Post
          You get the impression that Virizion and the rest of the guardians are these kind of ancient, out-of-touch relics in a world that's moving far faster than they can keep up. The traditions like the vote help keep their relevance tenuously anchored to the present, but it seems clear that they don't play a very large role in the day to day running of the region to warrant them being there all the time.
          I see you instantly caught on to what I wanted the story to be about, and I have to congratulate you on being able to see past the lacking parts. Virizion and the others have removed themselves from worldly affairs for so long, that they only mostly stayed relevant due to commitments they could not leave behind, such as this "Vote X for Champion" thing. And now they are trying - emphasis on that word - to get back on things, and it is difficult not only because they miss the past, though I'll get back to that point later.

          Quote:
          You can kind of see that in the contrast of the way people are looking at Virizion with the way Virizion seems to be all casual about his little walk – like they think that he's a portent of doom simply because he's there all of a sudden rather than because he's a natural part of the world like everything else.
          At the risk of spoilers of a sort, this is very relevant for what I intend to do with future stories. If you've read the Pokédex entries on the Muskedeer Trio one thing you'll notice is that unlike other Legendaries, they were known and documented to target and attack human settlements in times of old. Three guesses as to how this particular Trio specimen made their re-debut, which helps explain a bit why they do are seen as a "portent of doom".

          Quote:
          There was also something really charming about Virizion's interaction with his entourage. They're basically acolytes to a relic who all kind of sort of understand that they don't/can't understand Virizion due to his immortality, but at the same time they kind of feel a sense of traditional duty to him. Kind of like monarchies in many countries.
          Why thanks, I didn't really think I could portray that relationship all too well, which is why some of the gestures from the entourage you might notice look a bit forced. But if it works, I ain't breaking it. Also a good note on the monarchies thing.

          Quote:
          That said, Virizion's internal monologue was definitely the best part of this fic, aside from the dialogue. Even though he had kind of an arrogant prince sort of attitude (which I understand is actually canon?),
          From what I gather the only sapient Muskedeers we see in canon are the ones in the... well, Muskedeers movie, that and I think one of the trio members is a plot boss in one of the Rumble games?

          But overall it is kinda canon yeah that they have princely attitudes. I feel like it makes a lot of sense, as between Pokédex entries and some other elements of flavour (such as their signature moves being specifically called "Swords") it is hinted that the Muskedeers tend to, or tended to, have the closest relationship to humans among all Legendaries barring perhaps Ho-Oh / Lugia. So not only would their behaviour be easier to anthropomorphise, but also it would naturally acquire some traits usually adscribed specifically to humans, such as high-order concepts like loyalty or clanship.

          As a warning note tho, not all my Legendaries are like that. You do not want to meet my Weather Trio.

          Quote:
          ...but I don't really mind the slow pacing as much as I ought to because it lends itself incredibly well in some places to the sentence rhythm.
          Glad that it worked for someone, considering the slow pace was a bit of an hindrance in both the editing process (made difficult to find the boundaries of sections to remove) and the judgment of the submission.

          Quote:
          This part in particular I really thought was great, especially your use of onomatopoeia which played very nicely with[...]
          Can't claim credit for that one. When I was first trying to figure out how to work the description of the train effects into the long scene in a concurrent / parallel manner, one of my betareaders reminded me that I could just onomatopoeize (is that even a verb? if not, I'm claiming that) the sound and it would give off the intended "in-progress" vibe.

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Bay
          While I can see you have Virizion and the Levanny reminiscing while looking at the train, I think the problem lies, at least for me, is that it’s kinda confusing to track both of their thoughts at the same time. You go from Virizion thinking about the Champion and their time with the other Musketeers, then to Levanny’s thoughts when the world wasn’t as much as advanced before, and then Virizion’s thoughts on how to approach the new Champion. I think it would be easier to focus on just Virizion’s thoughts as you’re on the right track (pun not intended haha) with him reflecting on their times with the Champion.
          ...and...

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Miz en Scène
          Having said that though, there was this one thing which I felt could be improved.

          For instance, a few times in the fic the narrative jumps back and forth between the thoughts of Caolené and Virizion. It wasn't as particularly jarring as it could have been, but at the same time I felt like it sort of took away from how special the sentence rhythm I mentioned previously was. Mainly because jumping between Caolené and Virizion's internal monologue has the potential to break the immersion the reader has in how the sentences sound within their head (if that makes any sense), and this is crucial in the case of your fic because its sentence rhythm was one its most amazingly well done parts!
          These two. So. Much.

          The jumping from one perspective to the next was one of the things that the judges, and some of my betareaders, took notice to and gave various advice about it, but I did not have the time to cut and rework it cleanly given that one aspect of Caolené's thoughts (that she wouldn't expect Virizion to have "forgotten" about things) was pivotal to convey for the jump to the "sequence of Champions" to make sense. If I get to rework this story, that perspective jump and the abruptness of the ending are the two highest elements in my list to rework.

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by bobandbill
          I suppose it may be hard as there was not a lot of action, although points like the food pills event (heh) did help break it up. It’s not so easy to pinpoint the causes for the overly slow pace,
          Note taken on that and on paragraphs like the one you suggest to check.

          One of the main reasons of the particular pacing, although it ended slower than I originally intended to, is that I needed the piece to be "introspection broad" rather than "introspection heavy", and cutting off on action (or more specifically engagement) offered me a wider surface to work with and correct mistakes early than if I had started with something abrupt happening to any of the characters.

          For example, the story would have been much more direct if I had Virizion already at his meeting with the Champion, and it would have been much easier to convey the feeling of "missing her", but the overall nostalgia feeling would have become much harder to convey for me because such a meeting would not have been passive enough that Virizion would've stuck to the state of mind to think not about how far back things go, but of how many different things do go back.

          It did pay off not perfectly, but well enough that I'm willing to experiment more with it. And I feel like it does fit the characters involved enough to make it worth, I mean, down the line a Virizion or any other sort of long-lived Legendary doesn't really need to concern themselves with "thinking fast" unless their lives are at stake (and even then, I bet they can mostly rely on instinct at the beginning).

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Miz en Scène
          Anyway, that was the only part which really bothered me. For the rest though, I really want to commend you on that really spectacular sentence structure up there. In this competition at least, I feel like the cadence of your writing was one of the best.
          Thank you, this means a lot for me as sentence structuring is one of the things I have been trying to improve the most from my previous contest endeavours (be it here or in other pastures).


          Quote:
          Oh also, before I end this review, I just want to say I noticed this reference, which I thought was pretty funny:

          [snip quote about a certain doge]
          Aaaaaaaaaaand here I was expecting no one picked up that one, quick everyone we have to switch to plan B. Hey, good work! Glad that you noticed and glad that the Arcanine courier is still remembered. And yes, this story and Playfield do take place in the same continuity, and relatively close together.

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Aisu View Post
          ^wishing I could be as well-versed as this guy
          ...Don't we all

          Quote:
          I liked your take on Virizion and how he was reminiscing about days passed, the now old Champion, and what's to come in the future. The syntax in particular I really liked (y'know, except when you forced me onto Dictionary.com)
          Glad to hear that you liked, and ooh? May I ask where and how did I force you into dictionary? Just to check with my betareaders :p

          A good thing that you mention the future. See, one thing about nostalgia is that it's not necessarily about the past, and not necessarily about losing things. In a sense, it is mostly defined by otherness in sensing, by a feeling that it is not the place or the object itself that is missing something, but that your experience of it is somehow incomplete compared to what you had before. One can feel nostalgia about something one has not experienced yet, at least from what I can understand, provided the lack of experience projects itself as an expectation. For example, one can live in a house and feel a form of nostalgia towards it, despite one already being there, because one knows will have to move to another place in a couple of months.

          ...Or something like that. I'm not really a psychologist, I only read a couple of articles and magazines on the subject soooooomewhat hurriedly. :p


          Then, back to the story, thinking about the future is relevant for the Muskedeer trio, as they have to try and figure out how to re-engage in a cycle of tasks, of experiences, such as voting for the next Champion. They are returning to things as they were, hence the title, but they do understand this also incorporates the loss they already had about that, and thus they can never get the feeling of "here-ness", fully back:

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Venia Silente
          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.
          The feeling of otherness they get causes a task that by their standards should be more or less mundane, to become not only alien but also unwelcome. They're back home, except it's not really it, and in a certain way it's because they returned that it feels different. It's because they return to their place, that it is no longer theirs.

          A weird sort of quantum mechanics nostalgia if you want.

          (Speaking of, a weird addendum: While researching for this story (because why yes I do waste crucial writing time during contests in doing research ) I did read somewhere that there is a specific term in... Psychology? Sociology? for the nostalgia-like feeling of specifically when you *are* at home but the time you've spent in it makes it alien/unrecognizable. I can't remember it ATM but it was an interesting note to realize that such phenomena as nostalgia are studied this deeply)

          Quote:
          [...]it matched how I saw Virizion in the story, this regal being detached from the present not because he wanted to be but because he was sort of "outdated,"[...]
          Don't worry. He and the others will get better... at least a bit.

          Quote:
          I gotta admit, I don't get the "rain on winter." Maybe because I live in Florida.
          Substitute with "crocodiles in a swamp" then o3o - but yeah, what I wanted to convey was that, for Virizion, receiving an answer from one of his subordinates / acolytes is something that is in their nature - it just has to happen, and thus he has the luxury of just waiting it out.

          Quote:
          Quote:
          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.
          Do I have to say why? I just love this quote.
          ...Huh. Funnily enough, that paragraph was the hardest to write for me in the entire story. I needed it to convey not only the kinda-unending sequence of people to have gone, but also the variety of things both humans and Pokémon can do in their lifetimes, without making it feel like the Muskedeers would have to care to remember each and every thing learned.

          Quote:
          I thought this was funny, maybe because I'm overthinking it as Virizion showing some of humanity.
          I refer you to my commentary above about the Muskedeers feeling more human (or at least "humanizable") among Legendaries. In a sense, removing the fact that they are extremely long-lived cervids, one can mostly describe them under the same judgments of ethics and personalities as oe describes, well, the classical Musketeers.

          Quote:
          If you're looking for something better-tasting than food pills, guy, you're gonna be sorely disappointed!
          And now I'm left wondering if a well-meaning human acolyte would try baking a "dried grass"-tasting food pill and what the ensuing response from the Trio would be. :-p



          All in all, thanks for the reviews, also congratulations on the results of your own participation in the contest.
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            #5    
          Old August 4th, 2016 (9:02 PM).
          Bay Alexison's Avatar
          Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is offline
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          So, I was originally going to expand a bit on my initial comments, mostly pointing out some parts I like, but you replied heh. I'll copy and past my review for reference and then reply to your replies then, woo.

          Spoiler:
          One of the things I like most about this story is the way you describe the setting with the various senses, like the smell and sound of the train. Very nice you took advantage of that. I can see you slip in a bit of humor too (REAL FOOD ONLY), so I enjoyed that as well. Bobandbill mentioned some of the thoughts dragged on a bit and while I agree to an extent, I wasn’t bothered by it that much.

          While I can see you have Virizion and the Levanny reminiscing while looking at the train, I think the problem lies, at least for me, is that it’s kinda confusing to track both of their thoughts at the same time. You go from Virizion thinking about the Champion and their time with the other Musketeers, then to Levanny’s thoughts when the world wasn’t as much as advanced before, and then Virizion’s thoughts on how to approach the new Champion. I think it would be easier to focus on just Virizion’s thoughts as you’re on the right track (pun not intended haha) with him reflecting on their times with the Champion.


          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Venia Silente View Post
          'tis was the best chance to make use of broader sensory focus in a story in a long time. After all, one of the things that is known to trigger (and in certain ways, define) nostalgia is reminiscing thanks to our senses, which have a more direct, hardwired connection to the old, yearning part of our brains (and for a very good reason, mind).

          Plus hey, it's deers. Can't really help but somehow getting to take note of how relevant hearing is for them.
          Ah huh, that works. Again, cool you made some good use of the senses there.

          And yes, deers do have great hearing lol.

          Quote:
          The jumping from one perspective to the next was one of the things that the judges, and some of my betareaders, took notice to and gave various advice about it, but I did not have the time to cut and rework it cleanly given that one aspect of Caolené's thoughts (that she wouldn't expect Virizion to have "forgotten" about things) was pivotal to convey for the jump to the "sequence of Champions" to make sense. If I get to rework this story, that perspective jump and the abruptness of the ending are the two highest elements in my list to rework.
          Ah, okay. Yeah, understandable the deadline makes it harder to smooth out the deal with perspectives there. I can see where you're getting at geting the thoughts from both characters, but I think you might still be able to do fine with just Virizion's thoughts. Looking forward to seeing the changes when you get the chance.

          Quote:
          (Speaking of, a weird addendum: While researching for this story (because why yes I do waste crucial writing time during contests in doing research ) I did read somewhere that there is a specific term in... Psychology? Sociology? for the nostalgia-like feeling of specifically when you *are* at home but the time you've spent in it makes it alien/unrecognizable. I can't remember it ATM but it was an interesting note to realize that such phenomena as nostalgia are studied this deeply)
          I just want to point out nothing wrong with research, haha. I wouldn't be surprise if there's a feeling like that in psychology, though.
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            #6    
          Old August 10th, 2016 (6:40 PM). Edited August 10th, 2016 by icomeanon6.
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          icomeanon6 icomeanon6 is offline
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            This is an interesting and well-written piece, but I find myself frustrated with it. b&b mentioned a slow pace, but I would say that the pace is actually fine--the issue is rather that the story doesn't have a destination, at least not as I read it. The overall structure of a short scene in the present interspersed with short segments about the past is a good one for the prompt, but I don't think it works as well when nothing really changes between the start of the story and the end of it. We're introduced to a lot of details and concepts, but in an entirely additive way where we expect stories to take established details and move them in different directions. When I reached the end, it felt more like I'd read the introduction to a story; like I'd just gotten caught up on what I need to understand for the story proper. Hope that makes sense, and maybe I'm just missing something.

            That said, the details are all really good stuff. I'm especially intrigued by the dynamic you've set up between this legendary trio and the human populace; one where their closeness has varied wildly across centuries at the whims of the legendaries. I'd love to read more about how people react to their new reign after such a long absence. And like other readers I loved how Virizion wanted to taste the train. Your prose is solid, and you used it to paint a clear picture of the setting and Virizion's character.

            I notice in your signature that you have this story under "The Suocéverse," so I assume this all takes place in the larger world you've laid out in your thread in the Writer's Lounge. So take pride in this: you have succeeded in making me want to read your world-building thread and associated fics.

            tl;dr: You've done good work here, but to me it doesn't stand on its own as a story as well as it could. It has hooked my interest for your fanon though, which speaks well for your ideas and prose.
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              #7    
            Old August 28th, 2016 (8:08 AM).
            Venia Silente's Avatar
            Venia Silente Venia Silente is offline
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              Since I am finally able to do it in peace (aaaaargh keyboard), am now responding to the latest reviews.

              First, sorry for getting ahead of you if it was any bother Bay, it's just standard procedure for me for contests, to reply to judges' commentary as well as thread commentary once it's available. ;-)

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by Bay Alexison
              I can see where you're getting at geting the thoughts from both characters, but I think you might still be able to do fine with just Virizion's thoughts. Looking forward to seeing the changes when you get the chance.
              Yeah, it will be interesting to reformulate this to be solely from Virizion's perspective, as well as cover a slightly longer time frame. While not right now, I'll add it to my schedule plans, though it'll be most likely that PC will be hearing more of these deers sooner from some other of my stories than from the rewrite of this one.

              Quote:
              I just want to point out nothing wrong with research, haha.
              ...Until you get lost into it, ha ha :p

              But note taken!

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by icomeanon6
              The overall structure of a short scene in the present interspersed with short segments about the past is a good one for the prompt, but I don't think it works as well when nothing really changes between the start of the story and the end of it. We're introduced to a lot of details and concepts, but in an entirely additive way where we expect stories to take established details and move them in different directions. When I reached the end, it felt more like I'd read the introduction to a story; like I'd just gotten caught up on what I need to understand for the story proper. Hope that makes sense, and maybe I'm just missing something.
              That makes a lot of sense to me. Deadlines for contests usually mean for me that I don't get to portray the scope of things as broadly as I'd have wanted to. Here, the cut was mostly in the end. The ideal scenario, I think, would have been the final musings with the "as things were" be part of the meeting between the trio proper and the woman Champion, - since she's already old, I could have been able to reflect more of the effect of the prompt on the character of Virizion as he observes her, both the old, real, and the young, idealized version of her, and realizes what things have changed and how.

              At least, that's where I'd intend to take a rewrite. It also gives me the chance to present a food offering to Terrakion and examine his reaction.

              Quote:
              I'm especially intrigued by the dynamic you've set up between this legendary trio and the human populace; one where their closeness has varied wildly across centuries at the whims of the legendaries. I'd love to read more about how people react to their new reign after such a long absence.
              Don't worry you'll get to. I already have a beta reader, for example, who is more aware of the concepts behind and after this story, and he really wants to have some strong words with Virizion it seems :p

              Am glad to hear that you found my prose more solid, as it had been giving me issues before. A proper check later will tell me how should I make to keep that a good going.

              As for what you say, yes, this story (and everything Pokémon for me ATM) flies under the Suocéverse banner, and though I've taken care to not make my contest entries too dependent on it or on each other, there are some slips here and there not helped in this particular case by the obvious abrupt cut at the end. So that will be something to work on.

              As an off-note, further reading into psychology denotes the feeling of "home has changed", described above in another of my reviews, as a form of "Solastalgia", the melancholy brought by exterior changes to one's home environment, such as urban development and climate change. Hey! The more you know! :-p
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              As They Were 2016 : Simpler than Magic 2017 :

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