Discord Nickname VeniaSilente
Inspectious. Good for napping.
on the second floor's nest
Seen 50 Minutes Ago
Posted 20 Hours Ago
The normal routine of the bushland and the meadows was interrupted by a threat of a nature surprising to its inhabitants: quaking, commanding, thunderous, and above all sudden.
It all started late into the afternoon with the worry of the various bird Pokémon flying above who had surely seen something unusual in the distance; this anticipated a strange rumble coming from the eastern horizon, gentle yet forceful like that of an incumbent ruler scrambling across the realm. All of which was accompanied by a faint yellow light slowly growing in intensity, fiery like the sun but offering not the recourse of that infinite distance into the sky.
The many Pokémon across the plains and meadows were used to the rumble, the long roars and the steady uprooting of trees that characterized the fights between the stronger local predators; or the rustling and long whistles of the train that dutifully passed through the lands every other day at quarter past six.
But this rampaging force was unlike any of that.
One, two, three, the rumbling grew closer.
The yellow light grew and soon announced itself distinct to the usual features of the land, the rumbling became sharp tremors now that approached even closer to the meadows. All this prompted the Sentrets, Rattatas and Nidorans to lay flat on the ground, senses tensed, and to crawl fast into the nearest hole that they could come upon. Even those Pokémon whose life was hunting for sustenance grew wary of that coming threat, their surprise giving their prey the few precious seconds needed to escape.
Atop a small mound in the tall grass, a few Furret stood guard besides a giant crack on the rocky ground, calling for their younger kin to come to safety. Another Furret peeked out of their hole, and the ones standing guard quickly shrieked at him and shoved him back inside.
The light coming from the east now took the more recognizable form of a trail of flame approaching the meadows, and the tremors acquired a more rhythmic and measured beat. Up in the sky the Fearows circled and shrieked, whereas below some other flying and bug Pokémon sought a safe vantage point from atop the few nearby trees.
The threat rushed into the meadows mere seconds after having taken form, invading an ecosystem the local population had spent so many generations securing. The few small Pokémon that had dared to stay now scurried to the closest safe spots, be it nearby trees or dens under the ground.
What kind of image could the Pokémon who sensed this intrusion form in their minds? A flaming, furious stomping menace beating the ground in lively and furry orange protected by an impenetrable veil of yellow flame and heated air; and an aura that was focused and unstoppable but held none of the danger or ill intent that any Pokémon around would have expected.
One, two, three, to the meadows the merciless foosteps came.
The birds and the flying bugs like Fearow and Beedrill were the ones who could hold on long enough to see through the veil of fire and realize the nature of this invader. Taking to the updrafts or securing themselves above the trees, they held a tense wait as they observed the flaming trail.
Steady footsteps and rustling heated wind charged into the meadow and the various flying Pokémon could, if for a moment, catch a glimpse into these heralders of flame: the figures of an Arcanine and a Rapidash spearheading the trail, surrounded by a bristling, shrieking yellow aura that emphasized their lively manes.
As the last few guardian Furret gave warning shouts to their dens, the two flame-shrouded Pokémon stampeded across the meadows. Whichever Pokémon still stood nearby only had a moment to react before a shockwave of hot air burst across the meadow, strong enough to knock several of those Pokémon off-balance.
But as a good watcher one Furret managed to claw herself to the wall of their den; she clang to the rocky mound and recovered her balance soon enough to notice, to their surprise, that the Arcanine and Rapidash had ignored the inhabitants of the meadow and continued their stampede past the meadow, into the western lands, leaving behind only a trail of cackling, hungry flame.
Gone as suddenly as they came; the two Pokémon's stay had lasted only an instant.
A few Fearow, staying safe at higher altitudes, continued to look as the Rapidash and Arcanine left the meadow and headed into the distance, then turned around to watch as the trail of flame behind them – coming from the eastern horizon and now heading to the western one – threatened to consume the meadow.
No such calamity came, however.
The flames writhed, bending westward from the force of the winds and the energy of the two Pokémon that had come and gone. As if eager to reach for their progenitors, the flames cackled and attempted to spread, to create more of them to carry on the arduous journey ahead.
But the Arcanine and Rapidash were long and far gone, off to invade one after another patch of land without any malicious intent. Their cast-off flames, now condemned to a brittle life and lacking an aura of their own, soon started losing their colour, their heat and their lively cackling.
The flames themselves were, as well, condemned to a brief and brittle life; unbound to any desire to expand or destroy into the clearings and meadows, and lacking the aura of their progenitors, they would soon lose their colour, their heat, their lively cackling.
A few remaining flames cried one last time for life, before sizzling and dissipating; just a few seconds later the whole ordeal was over and all that remained of the sudden event was a long, thin trail of ash that would stretch from east to west.
A legacy of flame long enough that had this been anything more than a game it would have split the country in two.
Eltenios loved to run around ever since he was a pup. The Arcanine would have gone anywhere, used any excuse, so long as he did not have to stop, and he had been lucky enough to land a job that made such boundless runs common occurrence.
Today however he was racing for personal reasons, reminding himself to not break pace between the sparse trees around as he glanced to his right where his friend and competitor galloped alongside.
Berecien had been raised at the Estate, a small realm overseen by humans, to be a racing Rapidash ever since his days as a foal. Still, while he often won his races, the occasional one-on-one all across the land was a welcome change of pace.
Their race had started earlier in the morning and had taken them from the seas to the east; but in their eyes, their real race had started so long ago and it was a matter closer to their hearts.
Back then the wild lands beyond the Estate where Berecien grew faced difficult times. The Ponyta and other colts watched from a safe distance as wild Pokémon beyond the fence, like Cufant, Yanma, Zangoose and Growlithe fought for food more and more fiercely as Pokémon migrating from the mesa to the west had started taking up space. The younglings would gather under the protection of the various mothers who would assure them that within the fence, in the realm marked by humans, they would be safe.
Yet the young Berecien had seen that not to be the case. Already a pack of Growlithe was known for sneaking regularly into the domains to farm berries, drink water or even steal food from Pokémon and humans alike; they would even consort with Houndoom packs to attack at unison and provide distractions.
Some of the older Ponyta colts such as Berecien's brother would get in trouble for trying to fight them – a task that the lead mare insisted was left to the Pokémon specifically trained by humans.
Every time, Berecien would chase after his brother and pals in their escapades, wanting to be "in" with the older colts. Every time he would try to chase after some of the Growlithe to fetch back some of the stolen goods – or just to try and stamp his hooves hard on the dogs' skull. And every time his sight would focus on one particular Growlithe pup, the nimble one of the group to complement the smarter and stronger ones, that so far had escaped unscratched.
"There they are! Get them!" cried some of the local Pokémon.
"I got the bags! It's venison!"
One of the Houndoom howled a call. "Fall back! The rocky grounds past the hill!"
"Circle about! Come on, we can round them up!"
"No, wait! Herd them to the river!"
"So long suckers! Thanks for the food!"
Berecien heard his brother arguing with some other Pokémon.
"They are headed for the fence line!"
"We can't go there! Yecña said not to--"
Berecien was already gone, chasing after that particular Growlithe once again while the other Pokémon tried to fight and round up the other Houndoom and Growlithe. Some distance ahead the Growlithe looked back and snarled in annoyance noticing his usual company, then made a beeline to the thicker area of the forest leading downhill to the fences.
Both Pokémon focused solely on the chase, for they already knew the trail by heart.
The Growlithe noticed the thickets getting denser and made a hard turn to the right – away from the path to the river and heading instead to the hillside where the terrain was steeper and was adorned with some crags.
He glanced behind to watch the Ponyta emerge from the thickets and continue the chase after him, drawing an oh so perfect curve in his path. The Growlithe returned his attention to the path ahead and breathed in harder – the Ponyta was catching up now.
While most Pokémon wandering around would have taken to the lower areas and headed to the fences and the flatter ground, Berecien and Eltenios had repeatedly taken the upper paths to the rocky grounds, bent on challenging each other to a nearby ridge to get past the void and the lagoon below that separated two parts of the land.
"Forget it!" barked Eltenios as he flicked his tongue at Berecien. In between breaths he further mocked his competitor. "Poor little thing can't even leap a fence... you're not going to get across... that ridge."
For an answer the Ponyta raised his head and pushed harder, slowly gaining the upper hand. As he started climbing the ridge closely followed by Eltenios, Berecien lost sight of the other side; he just narrowed his eyes and readied for the leap.
Neither Pokémon would look down at the lagoon or back out of the challenge. In the time between a blink and a heartbeat the two Pokémon left the rocky ground at the very edge of the ridge, launching themselves into the air to reach a lower protrusion at the other side, their manes billowing and their nostrils flaring.
The sun behind them cast long shadows that reached up to the ledge the other side, as if beckoning the two Pokémon to break past the immense boundary.
Over the years, the sun would always accompany, for that leap wasn't the first and wouldn't be the last. Sometimes it was right above them, sometimes barely rising above the hills behind them.
Today, Berecien's Rapidash hooves landed on the solid ground at the other side, skidding momentarily and leaving a small dent. The Rapidash needed but two steps and graceful curving of his body to regain stability and resume his gallop chasing the Sun that today stood high before him.
Two steps behind a fluffy Arcanine landed on the same ground, rustling some pebbles around, and carefully avoiding a skid that could end with him rolling downhill, like certain crashes he had experienced in the past. Eltenios took advantage of the momentum to spring ahead a few times, shaking some dirt off his mane, and darted after his race partner.
The two Pokémon's race next carried them past the creeks and the uneven treacherous terrain populated with trees. After a few minutes, a wide plain stood before them, lush and green and lively with small Pokémon; they entered and steadied their pace.
Eltenios and Berecien raised their sights slightly to observe the mesa ahead – a forbidden territory they were using solely as a waypoint – and to the Sun that was slowly descending over it. Then they lowered their heads and motioned each other to the notice of a long white trail of steel and concrete that emerged from the south and coursed across the plains heading to the north: a railroad that would take the two racers to the coast.
As the two racers sped up, they saw a a second light coursing across the railroad south to north, accompanied by its own kind of tremor. The afternoon cargo train that came from one of the human cities.
Eltenios buffed a quick indication to his race partner, who nodded in response. Both Pokémon then took a slow, gradual curve to the north, to follow the course of the man-made trail and follow the path of the train, which has a good distance ahead of them.
The two Pokémon racing after, looked at the train and then to each other. Berecien gave an indignant buff and pointed Eltenios to the vehicle ahead. Eltenios looked back at Berecien and nodded.
At unison the two Pokémon stiffened their necks and hardened their step. Their natural auras burst out in tendrils of flame and, as they kept separated slightly and set their sights on the road ahead, they each collected their aura.
Suddenly Berecien jerked, still retaining his pace, and the flames emerging from his mane weaved into a tall plume of flame that shot ahead right into Eltenios' path; for his part the Arcanine spat out a swirl of flame that hit squarely on Berecien's flank.
The two Pokémon stampeded right into and past each other's fire attack, the offending flames somehow sucked in into their own. Then their auras exploded in a luminous show of reddish and orangeish pulses and flashes of fire as the fiery veils that the Pokémon held cackled and shrieked. And with that burst of energy, Berecien and Eltenios pushed further up, breathing hard and gaining upon the train ahead.
The train reached a curve and started turning to the west fast.
Only a short distance behind, Eltenios and Berecien leaned slightly as they took on the curve from the outer side; now reaching the tail end of the train, they inched closer to each other, their flame veils coming into contact, and they started slowly but surely passing the train by the right as they all approached a river and a bridge ahead.
The sun gently brushed the boundary of sea and sky, its slow descent over the western horizon signalling that the day was about to end. The rocky beach that marked the westernmost land saw its boulders and rock walls tinted a faint blood red much as the undersides of the clouds above were.
Several Pokémon were scattered about attending to their own lives, flying, swimming or meandering about while keeping some of their attention on the setting sun. At the sand banks under the rocky cliffs, a few Krabby busied themselves with examining various pebbles and shells. At a clearing right before the beach, mother Ledian taught their offspring how to find valuable hidden seeds in the dirt, and far above mother Pidgeotto would teach their chicks how to identify good Ledyba to feed of.
A tremor rumbled from the distance in the east, growing stronger and closer; the air slowly heated up, the various Pokémon at the clearing hurrying away, the Ledyba and Ledian hurried towards the closest trees, whereas the many birds promptly took flight.
Once all the Pokémon around had dispersed, the clearing enjoyed a brief moment of tranquillity and solitude.
Then the heat wave came in.
From the lands to the east a plume of flame rushed in, followed by another; the two cackled and danced across the sinuous terrain and only broke pace once they found themselves at the clearing. It was only then that the flames faded and gave way to the two Pokémon.
The bulky, shaggy figure of the Arcanine, orange fur just a shade lighter than the orange in the sky, emerged from the flames first, whereas the slender and more uniform figure of the Rapidash emerged second. In between gasps for air, both Pokémon continued their competition, finding a good exit from the clearing and cantering, at a laboured pace, for a nearby rock formation right above the sea – the westernmost post they could possibly find.
Only atop the rocks, the flames dispersed for good and the trail behind the two racers fizzled from existence. Eltenios looked down at the sea and gasped for air to fill his lungs. After the first heavy breath he stepped aside, leaving some room for Berecien to trot in and take a good look at the ocean as well.
Both Pokémon panted and paced about tiredly for a long while, not caring much about the sea and the few Pokémon below them, nor for the long shadows they themselves cast to the east, to the paths they had come from. Berecien reflexively switched to a more collected step, still rapid but focused on circling about in a small path, as he would often do in between tests and examinations to prevent his body from fully relaxing. For his part Eltenios would walk from one end of the rocky protrusion to the other, paw and sweep around energetically a few times then head back and repeat.
With the sun about to touch the sea far in the distance, Berecien and Eltenios slowly started to wind down. Their ears flickered and their nostrils flared as the two came to fully pick the scents of the beach, from which their flames had shielded them the moments before.
At the beach below many wild Pokémon slowly started to cluster and organize themselves to enjoy the significance of this particular sunset. At the rocky outpost, also did the Arcanine and Rapidash take in the significance in dignified posture and contemplative silence. For in this moment of triumph the only thing keeping from progressing even further to the west was the tremendous scale of the world itself.
The creatures around remained in dutiful silence, listening to the crashing waves and the sea breeze. Far away the Sun was slowly disappearing past the sea, and the last tendrils of orange and red light painting the sky slowly faded as well, just like the flames behind the two racing Pokémon had before.
Eltenios and Berecien watched as the Sun was already half consumed by the horizon, and they took in as much air as they could in their lungs to revitalize themselves. Even if their hearts were pounding in their chests the two would not otherwise show signs of tiredness; they remained formal enough to make sure not to drool or heave from extenuation.
A sort of smile crossed Berecien's face. He turned to Eltenios and the Arcanine nodded and smiled in response. The smiles were the only gesture that betrayed their dignified posture.
The two Pokémon knew they had made it in time to watch the Sun depart. Just like last year.
Several hours ago they had stood at a beach much like this one, except they had been watching the Sun rise from beyond the seas. Each and every minute since then had been spent in a fervent race that took them from one end to the other of the landmass that the humans called continent and the Pokémon called realm. A little game, a test of prowess.
In their minds a day well spent.
Only about a quarter of the Sun remained providing light and the skies darkened and acquired an eerie red shade. Eltenios narrowed his eyes, noticing some birds and other flying creatures in the ocean ahead of him, and deigned finally relax his posture.
"Tally up?" he asked to the equine Pokémon besides him.
"Second place," Berecien answered. "Again."
"Eh, it was just five seconds," answered Eltenios.
Berecien tapped the ground once. "Second, still."
"That makes what..." Eltenios lifted a paw and his mind seemed to go somewhere else for a moment. "Five to three or something?"
The Rapidash took a single step and sighed. "I don't think I ever counted past ‘one’."
Eltenios smiled and allowed himself to drool. "And you are the illustrated one."
The two Pokémon looked down from their outpost to the various other creatures below. There was some chatter about but neither Eltenios or Berecien made any effort to hear better. The two returned their attention to the fading light and looked all around the sky, mildly impressed as they saw how the world slowly lost its light.
At some point Berecien looked up, trying to look at the first few stars that would show up in the night sky, but the sky was not clear and darkened enough for that yet. The Rapidash craned his head and resumed his waiting.
Of what was once a Sun of power and radiance now only a portion remained, casting eerie rays in the sky and reflections in the water. The murmurs of the many Pokémon around slowly faded.
Eltenios cocked his head and ventured a last bit of conversation.
"So, Berecien..." he inquired with a still dry and tired voice, "how long have you been living with humans already?"
Berecien furrowed for a moment. His voice came laboured, still trying to mask heavy breath. "Long enough. Why do you ask?"
"Because they always teach you things, ‘Illustrated One'," Eltenios answered half-mockingly. "Don't they have some means to track time?"
"Their worry is complicated and useless to us," answered Berecien, supplementing his answer with a snort. "They can't even decide if they want sidereal or nautical days, who cares what the difference is."
Eltenios nodded. "The day is over when you go sleep. The Guardians instructed me as such."
Berecien raised a brow. "Sounds simple enough to work."
The two Pokémon idled about for a moment, waiting for the world to go into darkness. Somewhat bored, Eltenios stepped closer to the edge, with Berecien eyeing him curiously. The canine Pokémon looked around, then to the horizon, and as he turned his sight to the Rapidash he pointed a paw to the horizon.
"But they understand this, right?"
The canine Pokémon turned his sight to the horizon. "The humans," he stated flatly.
Berecien hummed and pondered for a moment, then followed his partner's gaze. Neither of the two could ever say it was not a beautiful sight in the least. The Sun was now almost completely gone behind the eternal curtain of water that spread far beyond what Berecien could imagine. The very few clouds that remained in the sky, close to the horizon, had acquired a particular colouration, dark red with prominent shades about as prominent as those of the clouds that announced storms.
Back at the land, even if Berecien and Eltenios would not turn to see, every single patch of grass, piece of rock and even the bodies of the two Pokémon perched cast long shadows that grew several meters behind them, to the east, creating a mystical effect of a valley of shadows.
Berecien gathered his thoughts, thinking back to Eltenios' place in the realm he served – an enormous plain of greenery where humans would do lots of agrarian work for some Legendaries in charge.
"You would know well they do," the equine answered, letting out a hint of confusion in his tone as he wondered where was Eltenios going with this. "Farmers and builders ought to know their Sun and their seasons."
Eltenios stared back at Berecien for a moment; after that he shrugged and turned away. "I could be mistaken about the humans outside."
Berecien looked at his race partner for a moment, puzzled about the particular take of the conversation. His face let out an inquisitive expression yet Eltenios did not seem to realize, and after a moment Berecien simply neighed and turned his attention to the darkening seas and the final rays of sunlight.
All around them, the many creatures solemnly watched as the star fell in the end, conceding temporary defeat to the elements of the night; the last rays of sunlight were very faint now, and the shadows over the land extended and slowly became more diffuse, soon they would cover everything until the next sunrise.
Berecien looked up to the sky again, being now able to see, one by one, how many little starts started dotting the sky.
"That we do know is what matters," spoke the Rapidash with an air of finality. "Or we wouldn't come to race today."
To that the Arcanine smiled. "It only makes sense, you know." He sat down on his hind legs and shook his creamy mane, and then he added, essentially talking to no one, "What other day can we stand a chance chasing the Sun, if not the estival solstice?"
The last tendril of sunlight still emerging from the horizon fumbled and subsided, and any remnant of the yellow shape of the Sun was now gone. Countless pupils started adjusting in that moment for the variation in the intensity, and the very nature, of light.
Eltenios and Berecien hummed in unison.
The longest day was gone. In its place now stood the shortest night.
The night was slowly overtaking all the land, the many Pokémon around were little by little returning to their various activities after enjoying the end of the longest day – an event that of course took place once a year.
The Rapidash and Arcanine had moved from their perch to the sand banks below to mingle with the other Pokémon, and Eltenios was more than happy to try and make small talk with the few Krabby and Ledian around, not that they had shown to be eager to reciprocate.
A bit dissatisfied with his attempts at socialization, Eltenios trotted further into the sand bank to where Berecien was waiting. The two Pokémon shared a moment of silence, then Berecien motioned for the Arcanine to follow and they took off to a nearby creek where they could drink and relax – which they did in a content, relaxing silence and dutifully ignoring everything else around them.
Berecien sensed some sudden motion and turned. Eltenios had climbed up to some nearby rocks and once there he lifted a paw and gave it a hesitant look. Berecien looked up at him for a moment but before he could ask if something was wrong, the Arcanine started shaking and licking his paw, trying to get rid of the sand.
"This is the only part of this game that I don't like," he mumbled in between licks.
The Rapidash's ears were quick to pick up the complaint and the Pokémon let out a snort, avoiding his friend's sight. Eltenios arched and shot Berecien an indignant look, fangs bared, that lasted for a while.
After a moment of evading Eltenios's stare, Berecien shook his mane and made a mock gesture to wander off.
"Say what?" asked Eltenios, interrupting the perceived leave.
Berecien breathed idly. "You complain like a contest Pokémon," he shot then, venturing a scowl at his friend. "A novice one, even, trained by a city girl."
Eltenos narrowed his eyes at the equine. "Blah blah woof woof," he snarled, tilting his head around. Defiantly, he switched paws to continue cleaning himself.
The two Pokémon remained in their place in silence, one cleaning himself and the other just letting his gaze wander. They both listened to the waves crashing a short distance away the way they came, however. Where Berecien's eyes every so often wandered into the sky to appreciate how more and more stars made their presence known amidst the darkness, Eltenios's eyes were focused on his paws, the ground and the more menial task of getting himself presentable.
For a while they remained in their positions, their ears scanning the surroundings, until Berecien seemed to hear something in the sounds carried by the wind. He shook his head and took off to the sandy banks in rapid, short steps that allowed him ambling pace just a bit shorter than that of an usual trot.
Eltenios saw his race partner leaving and let out a half-hearted growl. "You should be mindful of how you speak."
"The tide is rising," answered Berecien not looking back. The equine did not mind Eltenios much and strengthened his pace towards the sand banks.
Once at the sand banks Berecien joined the meandering of many anonymous Pokémon from land and sea who watched intently as the beach was being submerged into the sea with each growing wave. Berecien's eyes took to the sea to see countless marine Pokémon emerging to the surface to take in the moment. After that he felt something rubbing his hooves and looked down: the water was already getting to his hooves.
It was time to go. This was the only part of the game the Rapidash did not like.
By the time Berecien got to the edge of the sand bank and the beginning of the short grass, Eltenios was already there feeding on a few small bugs and crustaceans he could find. The Arcanine welcomed Berecien to the brief dinner with a gesture and Berecien obliged, he would need it for the return trip.
Eltenios pranced about for a moment and reached for Berecien while the Rapidash was busy munching on some grass. "So it is truly done for," the Arcanine said in a burly and energetic tone.
Berecien munched some more and then raised his head. He stomped on the ground for a moment. He inhaled and held some of breeze for the last time and turned around to depart, waving his head at Berecien as a parting gesture.
The Rapidash had managed not ten steps into the grassland when his ears turned back to catch a whine from the Arcanine.
"So what, nothing else to say for the day?"
Berecien tilted his head. "If this is about before, I think I have more than earned my speech," he shot back at the Arcanine as he walked away.
Eltenios darted merrily behind Berecien and caught up to him. "Not that but thanks!" He sprung right in front of Berecien, blocking his path. "You have. What I was wondering was about today."
Berecien blinked as he found himself stopped. He neighed an excuse and took on in another direction. Eltenios circled about in place a few times then followed again.
"...The day is gone," stated Berecien coldly. "What else do you want?"
"Say," inquired the canine Pokémon, "what do you think if we up the ante?"
The two Pokémon walked alongside each other for a while; Berecien gave the Arcanine a mildly incredulous look and, getting a rather sincere if goofy smile in exchange, he let out a sigh.
"Up what...? You mean another challenge?"
Eltenios nodded eagerly, most traces of tiredness from the previous race already gone. He lifted a paw and pointed it to the grasslands to the east, from where they had come earlier in the day. "I was thinking we could race back."
"Race... back?" Berecien narrowed his eyes at the road ahead.
Eltenios nodded and seemed to wait for confirmation, while Berecien merely focused on the road and pointed his ears at the Arcanine every once in a while. When it seemed that Berecien needed more prodding and Eltenios made motion to explain further, Berecien shook his head and cut him short before he could speak.
"We still have to return to our places," he announced sharply, stiffening his posture. "You know we are short on time."
"Well," barked Eltenios as he backed and turned around, gazing at the path. "We are always short of time... we should make the most of what we've got."
Berecien walked up to Eltenios and planted himself by his side. He craned his head. "Which is exactly why we should return to our places." He inched just a bit closer and with one of his forelegs he gently tried to push Eltenios aside. "I have an exhibition race in a few days and a pregnant mate to attend to. You serve the Deer Sovereign and I figure they won't want to be kept waiting."
"Well yes, but I thought," continued the canine Pokémon, watching Rapidash brush him aside and walk ahead, "that we could race back, just because."
A disapproving "not interested" sort of neigh was all that came from Berecien.
Eltenios didn't budge however. He assumed the most adventurous pose he could and said, as if it was nothing of importance: "Come on, it will be fun racing at night. All the way back to the starting point..."
Berecien's head circled around fast. He stared at Eltenios coldly. "You're out of your mind?" he yelled. "Did you even look ahead?!" he cried while pointing to the seas with his horn. "It takes us the longest day to chase the Sun all across the realm. Tomorrow there will be―"
"That's second-place talk... You're chickening on me?" teased Eltenios, loosening his posture to appear smugger, softly pawing the ground and disregarding direct eye contact with the Rapidash.
In but a second Berecien fully turned around with a stomp, to face the Arcanine and fumed for a moment. To his credit, Eltenios knew exactly how to push Berecien's usually composed demeanour.
Berecien swung his horn and mane. "Chicken your ass! I chicken out to no Pokémon!" he retorted holding his stare strong at Eltenios. "I'm ‘the' thoroughbred of the Estate. I've beaten every other racing Pokémon around! Had my share of fights, too."
Eltenios smiled showing off his tongue a little and waved a paw at Berecien. A gesture so blatantly smug that were they not friends it would have come off as an affront to the Rapidash's honour. "Come on, I've sought the Emperor of Flame. I'm not impressed," he added in a burly tone.
"Like that's led anywhere," spat Berecien without thinking.
Eltenios raised his head and returned the Rapidash's seething gaze with an assured one. He had for long welcome the challenge and was not the least dejected at Berecien calling him out.
Berecien seemed to calm down, he lowered his head. "I know if he's out there you'll find him," he admitted in a low voice.
"I'll have to, would the Deer order me to find him." Eltenios answered. He then simply nodded and made a gesture to ignore the whole thing.
Berecien however was not as quick to let it go; he thought of the three Deer Sovereign, three guardians of the southern plains Eltenios served for, wondering if they were "okay" with a race like this or with him chasing off myths... or the sun.
Yet another thing they could afford to handle as friends, as despite Berecien's repeated insistence that the «Emperor of Flame» was a myth, he had never put doubt in Eltenios's accounts of his chase of a Fire-type Pokémon of even a higher order and prowess that Eltenios and Berecien themselves could be.
Berecien sighed in a mixture of relaxation and hesitation. He struggled for a moment to get a hold of the conversation again, and Eltenios simply sat on his haunches and waited him out.
"In the end, anyway, these are the kinds of things that hold us busy," managed to speak Berecien in the end. "We have to return to our work."
Those words managed to make a slight dent in the Arcanine's posture. Eltenios's semblance turned serious and, to a point, repentant. He lowered his head a bit and moved closer.
"If not now, when then?" he asked. "You said it yourself. Mates. Races. Sovereign. Work. All these things take time." He circled and let his eyes wander around, looked past the sand banks and into the the seas again. "The year will come when we won't meet to race again."
Berecien's ears flicked at the comment, his muzzle opened as his thoughts died before his throat. He wouldn't admit it, but it was true that he grew more busy in the recent years despite the fact that he was growing old enough to retire. Once the Rapidash would return to the land of his Trainer the next morning, he wouldn't have spare time to share with his mate until very late in the autumn: in the worst case, he may even miss the birth of his own offspring. The cold breeze that was starting to blow only emphasized the discomfort Berecien felt at the thought.
As for his Arcanine pal, Berecien thought, he would be busy relaying messages and jewels for the Sovereign, passing down instructions to some selected Pokémon down at the agrarian realm they ruled, spending days at a time out here and there; Berecien knew Eltenios had not set foot in his old pack's land in at least two years, not that there would be any family back at that old home to meet.
The two Pokémon stood together in contemplation for a short tense moment, listening to the sea breeze and the sounds made by various bugs. They knew with each heartbeat time was slipping past, and no matter the choice they took the moon and the stars would be their only guide.
Eltenios was not going to abandon his idea however, so after getting clearly bored with the contemplation he started whining and growling at Berecien, more and more as the minutes passed, to try and convince him.
The Arcanine used every trick in the book – drooling like a pup, circling about to his own tail, muttering raspy "please"s, howling in mock mourning and leaning his head away ever so slightly; all the while Berecien would just turn his head away and pretend not to smile at the sight of Eltenios making as much an embarrassment of himself as he could.
By the time of Eltenios's who-knows-how-many-th round, Berecien sighed and flattened his ears.
"...Damn it," the equine cursed, bating his tail. "I want to but..."
"Pretty please?" insisted Eltenios with a yip. "This will be fun!"
Berecien's eyes wandered for a moment and the Pokémon turned about slightly. Sensing an opportunity, Eltenios's eyes suddenly lit up; he smiled and drooled like a young Growlithe as he approached the Rapidash once again.
"If you still feel urge to return, how about this?"
Berecien's ears flared up, and he held his breath in suspicion.
"We will be crossing through the Estate on the way back, anyway," Eltenios pointed out in between drools, "so if you want to you can just give up when we get there."
Berecien felt his heart skip a beat; he shot a hard "you didn't just suggest that" look at Eltenios and he emphatically huffed and stomped at the ground as if to curb at once any ideas that that was going to happen.
Of course, Berecien realized as soon as he made that gesture that his mind was set up; the night, as he had heard humans often say, was not getting any younger. Berecien took a last, brief look at the sea and then let out a long held breath.
"Fine, then," he declared. "Just this once."
Eltenios let out a happy yip and hopped around and bumped onto Berecien's flank in celebration.
"The things I do for you," Berecien stated with an added huff for emphasis, as he rolled his eyes at his friend's lack of decorum.
"I'm quite likeable!" The Arcanine retorted with a laugh. He gave Berecien an accusatory glare. "Helps you suffer being the second best of all the realm, it seems?" taunted Eltenios, taking care to not move forward past the point is partner was still stuck in.
Berecien's mane lighted up and the horse shot a quick glance at the road they had first come from. "I don't suffer well being late, nor my skills being taken for granted," he countered with a hardened tone. "Get ready; time for a lesson on how to dust off that fur of yours."
Taking up the most regal posture he was able to, Berecien motioned Eltenios to follow him the spot they had chosen already as their new starting point, and led the way by means of exuberant ambling in one of the more classical "paso llano" styles he was trained for; the equine's step was smooth and showing off of all his professionalism, hooves beating rhythmically and orderly in a one-two-three-four pattern on the sand.
As if picking up on the importance of the challenge he himself had cast, Eltenios' response was to follow after his friend in a collected and dignified powerful walk pushing each of his paws against the sand in full and leaving a clear trail behind him, instead of his usual pathless and carefree prancing.
Still, there was no ignoring how Eltenios sported now the widest grin he had ever shown in a long while.
Once the two Pokémon found that sweet spot near the edge of the sandbank for starting their race again they occupied themselves with pawing at the ground, clearing it of pebbles and impurities and checking that there would be no random Pokémon nearby.
After so many trials, the day that had just gone felt mostly like spectacle; now they had to ready themselves for what could truly be the race of their lives.
The two Pokémon stood at the spot marked for starting their new, old race – this time with a twist. Berecien's ears turned as he caught the faint sound of the Arcanine's muscles tensing.
After some minutes of working, they stood now on a clear patch of compact sand, relatively flat and lacking in pebbles or large stones. In such a wilderness, a good place to start a race.
Berecien was certainly prepared for a new race; he was not prepared however for the offering Eltenios suddenly came up with.
"Then we're doing this, for real," Eltenios howled in no indoor voice. "What only flying creatures and the Divine can do, we'll achieve before dawn."
Berecien reared his head up and turned to his partner. Puzzled, he sniffed the air just to make sure there was nothing more than the breeze of the sea. "What are you thinking of now?" he tentatively asked.
"Racing to the sunset sounds trivial when you think of grander beings," muttered Eltenios not looking him back. "I wonder if the Deer have ever done it."
Berecien craned his head. "This is... not a fair comparison, you know?" He respectfully straightened his posture next, and shared his partner's long stare into the distance. "Flying creatures fly. Divine creatures do ‘divine’ things," he added as he cocked his head, unsure of how to explain himself further. "I mean, it's their sort of thing."
Eltenios shook his head. He gazed to the south. "I've never seen the Deer do anything divine. But I know they can. I've felt it." His voice betrayed a hint of fear and respect. "They may look like us but I don't think their legs and hooves are bound like ours."
The Arcanine craned his head then shook his mane lively.
"It's different for us," he stated.
Berecien remained in silence for a moment, unsure what his partner was getting into. He recalled some things he had heard about the deities both humans and Pokémon worshipped. "Different how?" he ventured.
For an answer, Berecien got a treacherous stare from his partner, and a half-friendly, half-teasing show of fangs. "We do this for fun."
Taken aback for a moment, Berecien gave a half-hearted laugh at that comment, his seriousness quickly returned as his tail and mane betrayed an expectant shaking. He had not had fun – real old-fashioned fun – for a while if he had to admit. Worthy opponents in the racetrack became scarcer every year and they would not venture out of the tracks. His rider, his "human partner", was becoming older, and so was Berecien and so were everyone else.
Still, Berecien shot a proud glance to his Arcanine friend, who had managed to retain that Growlithe-like joviality despite years of work and a position serving three legendary guardian Pokémon, position which – Berecien had to remind himself every once in a while – the Arcanine was bound to for life.
"I'm... not sure we can reach such greatness," Berecien stated, his ears tracking about, somewhat conflicted. "There's legends about our kind, feats that I could not see anyone able to accomplish."
Eltenios approached the horse Pokémon and gave him an inquisitive glance. He smiled. "You have spoken before of some Rapidash in the sky?" he asked as he turned around.
"Four of them. Long ago." Berecien sighed and stared long into the sea where the Sun had gone off to. "Back at the dawn of life when the world was new, the Sun would stay still in the sky. Eternal light and radiant heat that blighted the land so that not even Fire-types, not even the simplest grass, would thrive."
He paced about. "The Deities tried and failed to help, their combined powers bringing further blights into the world. In the end the Primordial One decided that it would have to be done with the assistance of the common creatures.
"He summoned the four strongest, fastest Rapidash of All Creation. He cast his own blood into four strings, attached them to His golden wheel and gave them to the horses four. As the Primordial One held the blights back with infinite arms, He commanded that the Rapidash would drag Him, and with Him the Sun, across the sky." He turned to Eltenios who was shooting an expectant glance at him. "Thus the day and night were born."
"...Rapidash galloping across the sky?" Eltenios blinked and held his breath for a moment. The two Pokémon shared a knowing look.
The Arcanine broke out of his surprise and waved a paw. "Pfah! I've heard stories and then this one," he stated with an air of defiance. "Where did you get this from?"
Berecien moved his head around. "I hear it from humans and from other Pokémon from time to time. It would inspire many to race for honour, and to join forces to accomplish supernatural feats."
"Sure thing." Eltenios smirked and gave his partner a mocking gesture as he stepped forward and readied to race, waving his tail at him. Still, his voice betrayed a respectful tone. "Next you will tell me there are magical, fairy Rapidash living in some fantasy island?" he added with a prodding tone.
Berecien's ears peeked forward and he quickly recalled some facts from the northern continents; the equine Pokémon's muzzle almost betrayed an "actually..." yet he restrained himself. He figuratively bit his lip as he narrowed his eyes, and followed after Eltenios with a tense posture.
The night had settled in; Berecien would rather keep the chance to return home early and give Eltenios the pleasant surprise (and a further lesson) next time, and would savour the potential of the moment until then.
All Berecien spat as he followed was a cursory comment with feigned disinterest. "Alas, I've been to very few islands."
A short distance away Eltenios was busying himself pawing at the ground in a spot he was currently considering as his starting place. "Well I for one won't be touching any sea no matter how nice are the islands beyond."
"Water too wet for your fur?" Berecien whined with the flattest expression he could manage.
Eltenios' ears flickered. "Have you seen those human boats?" he whined. "Far too small a room to wander about comfortably."
"Aha... a fair point," Berecien nodded, giving the matter little thought before he too collected himself and readied himself for the race.
As he was gathering his breath and stomping the ground in his position however, an idea came into Berecien's mind. He mulled it over for a moment before he turned to Eltenios.
"We have to do this for honour as well, then," he spat.
"Honour?" Eltenios inquired, ears flickering, as he turned back to his partner. "Yes but... What do you mean exactly?"
Berecien's eyes fixated on a far away infinite ahead. "If we can do this in the shortest night of the year, we would confirm we are the best."
"But we already are the best," answered the Arcanine with a burly tone in his voice, "or didn't you notice the world blurring out back there?"
"No, I mean something superlative. We will beat the Sun."
The Arcanine's eyes betrayed surprise yet the Pokémon said nothing, not even when Berecien glanced at him as if to get his response. Eltenios frowned, unsure of where was his partner going with this.
"...Yes we already said we'd be doing that," the Arcanine prodded.
"No, we said we were going to race back," spat Berecien. "That's abstract. But beating the Sun to the dawn in the shortest night of the year – that's a concrete goal. If we do this," he continued, raising his head for added emphasis, "we will be the first ever; no matter if others later imitate our feat, we'll be the first and the best, like no other's been before."
Berecien allowed himself a boastful posture and stomped on the ground. "Everyone else will have to compare to us."
Eltenios's eyes gleamed for a moment at the idea of having his pawprint leave his mark in history. "Future warriors trying to measure against our feats..." A faint smile drew in his face as his eyes scouted the sky, and his mane flustered for a moment, before he brought himself back to his dignified stance.
Berecien turned to his partner and spoke sharply as if to dispel any remaining doubt.
"We achieve this... and tomorrow you would bring great glory to the name of your guardian Deer," he stated.
The Arcanine mumbled something, his nostrils flared as he thought of the idea. He shook his head and licked his fangs a few times. If there was the barest indecision in his mind, it was gone fast.
"Then we are going to do this," Eltenios barked. "I can't let an opportunity to brand my species as a symbol of virtue just pass along!" He pawed at the ground just to emphasize the latter part of the sentence.
Berecien recoiled for a moment, wondering if he had sold his idea too well. Having Eltenios around in good spirits was welcome of course, but the Arcanine was sometimes too boisterous for his own good.
"I mean," spoke Berecien, "sure your species is already held in high esteem..."
Eltenios nodded and cocked his head, proceeding to explain: "Pal we are like, the virtue."
"Oh Arceus here we go," mocked Berecien.
Eltenios circled around. "They say the first humans were afraid of everything, of night and storms and fire. In particular of fire: they said it emerged from thunderstorms and consumed their dens and food, leaving them defenseless in the world."
Berecien neighed and Eltenios responded by turning to him and showing a smile with just enough fang to it to remind anyone but Berecien that Eltenios was still a wild, powerful Arcanine.
"One night some starving Arcanine approached a human settlement during a fire, and let out a majestic roar that scared away all the serpents and dragons attacking the humans. As an act of gratitude, the humans shared with the Arcanine the food they had salvaged. Ever since, my kind has been allowed in human settlements to ward off monsters and prevent fires from spreading."
Berecien nodded. "I've heard of that. Humans consider Arcanine the reason they lost their fear to fire. Some places they even compare it to some of the Divine creatures."
Eltenios laughed and pranced about, rising his knees high and posturing the challenge the skies as he circled around in front of Berecien. "And you know what more? They consider us the greatest symbols of the good attributes they value in the world."
"Things like loyalty, yes."
"Heh, not only that, come on look at this."
Eltenios paced about and pawed at the ground, showing off his fur and somewhat blatantly trying to imitate Berecien's trained gaits. "That is the best things like valour, might, responsibility..."
Berecien could but snort. "There must be Arcanine with good traits like that somewhere, yes."
Eltenios turned violently and planted himself in front of Berecien, leaning to one side, fur and ears bristling. "Traits including?"
Berecien did not move a muscle; he retained his focus on the world ahead and tried to ignore the Arcanine blocking his sight as well as he could, not even bothering to make eye contact.
After a brief moment, Eltenios leaned closer to his partner. "Come on, say it."
Berecien sighed, his ears flattened. "...Grace and nobility," he muttered in a flat but still miffed tone as he rolled his eyes.
Eltenios leapt suddenly and circled back to his starting spot. He let out a howl while Berecien idly looked at his hooves.
"Grace and nobility yeah!" howled Eltenios. "Right here. We are the best! There have to be more legends about us! We have to do this!"
Berecien stomped on the ground and dragged his hooves a few times as well. He too wanted to leave a special mark in the world.
"This beats those boring racetracks any day."
The Rapidash snickered and, noticing the night was becoming even darker, took a look at his partner and let out a mumble. "There's the little detail..."
"What are you thinking?"
The equine Pokémon snorted. "Say we manage to beat the Sun, no doubt about that; we still have to return to our homes, before the Sun awakens my masters and yours."
Eltenios's tail waved around a couple of times and the Pokémon bared a fang. "Darn-"
"That's about... half the country extra," announced Berecien in a half-threatening tone.
Eltenios turned his sight to the east. "You know how to up the ante, pal."
Both Pokémon slowly let out their internal fire, more manifest in the case of a Rapidash's mane. The air around them slowly started heating up. They started listening and sniffing around, taking notice of the waves at the shore, of some Pokémon flying around, and of the breeze brushing the nearby grass.
"What's our cue?" Berecien inquired.
"As the third wave crashes if that's okay with you."
Berecien smiled and moved one ear to the right, perceiving the first wave crashing against the rocks behind them.
The energy emanating from the Arcanine and Rapidash was now stronger. The air around them was hot enough that it took on a faint orange glow, forming an eerie aura that surrounded them both. As both Pokémon sensed the second wave crash against the rocks, their manes started bristling and their breaths became heavier.
Down the rocks, a Krabby that had arrived earlier to bid a farewell to the sunlight tried to pick a small shell of a Shellder, that had been carried by the waves.
Eltenios and Berecien built up energy in their leg muscles, locked their eyes and ears on the road ahead as if they were in a trance. Their breath halted for just an instant, both Pokémon expecting the sound that would allow them to, again, scorch the soil under their feet.
The random Krabby managed to pick up the shell with one of his pincers, and pulled up to the top of a large rock just as the third wave approached and crashed against it, almost sweeping the Pokémon and its prize away. The water brushed the surface of the rock while the froth arose for an instant before being pushed away by a tremendous burst of wind that came from the land, followed by a thunderous sound.
A bit scared, the Krabby put up the shell as a shield and took a quick glance back to the end of the sandbank to see the place where the wind burst had originated from.
There only two pairs of small holes remained, both of them surrounded by a portion of heatened sand and smoking bits of grass, any fire there quickly subdued by the humidity of the sea breeze.
And far in the horizon, right in the border between the land and the skies to the east, two intense flames could be seen, drilling into the horizon.
Just a moment after, they faded away...
...maybe until next year?
‹ ⌚ ›
Yes, the usual meta.
This rewrite has been in the plans for the entirely of 2019, but could only be properly worked on and completed during the months of October to December 2019. Much of the inspiration to rewrite this and give it a truer spin cme from the very good reception Forever Catch had.
And now: For some changelog.
- The major change is that now the two characters have names. Eltenios was first named in TvTropes's roleplay "Wild Pokémon in the Big City" in early 2011, whereas Berecien was first named in character design discussions with Serebii regular Fobby ca. 2013, and only saw onscreen naming at first by his and Virgil134's adaptation of the character into "Fledglings".
- Unlike the original, care is taken to indicate that the solstice the characters are racing through is the summer solstice of the Southern Hemisphere, or Estival Solstice, in the month of December.
- Ambling gaits for Berecien are now written to look more similar to the paso llano of colonial Peruvian breeds and the true marcha of the Campolina and other Brazilian breeds. This to reflect on Suocé being a stand-in for various South American locales.
- In the original, the three Legendaries that Eltenios served were hinted to be a trio of Gerbils, one of them the cited "Flame Emperor". As per Suocéverse canon this is now corrected to Eltenios serving the Deer Guardian Forces, the same trio seen in "As They Were" and "Forever Catch".
- As for the Flame Emperor, this is now corrected to the "Emperor of Flame", a name I totally did not take from the Teostra "legendary" from Monster Hunter thanks to Fobby, and hinted to be an Entei.
- Betareading by Fobby / Spiteful Murkrow (Serebii), Virgil134 (Serebii), Cynsh (PMD Writers United) and maybe others I forgot.
Official article: "Playfield" at the Suocéverse wiki - which still has to be fully updated but will contain information on both the new release and the original version.
Cross-Publications (currently pending): AO3 | Serebii Forums | Canalave Library