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Playfield Redux: 10th Anniversary Version

Venia Silente

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Merry Delayed Saturnalias, dear readers.

Since it'd be a bummer that the year was spent without me publishing more stuff here, I decided to update one of my older stories posted in Serebii. "Playfield " was published a good 10 (ten) years ago after being originally published as a submission for a PokéCommunity contest. Back then it was rather limited by stuff like contest constraints and far shorter experience as a writer than I have today.

Now, taking advantage of the Estival Solstice that shortly ago passed us, I completed a rewrite of that old story putting it up to speed with my more current work and setting for Pokémon. “Playfield Redux” is intended to be a truer and more complete retelling of the original. Like, the two characters now have names!

Let us enjoy the story. Thanks in advance to Spiteful Murkrow, Virgil134 and Cynsh (from PMD Writers United) for proofreading and "are you ready yet?" emotional support.

Official Wiki Article contains more information and release links. Also published in PokéComunity | AO3.

PS: You shall excuse me the Serebii devs the plainer formatting and lack of scene anchors compared to the other official releases. Other than that, everything should work wonders.



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?"

"...Who?"

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?

⌚ ›​
 

Virgil134

PMD Writer
Alright, time to give this a proper read! Since I’ve already looked over snippets here and there when you were still working on it, I’m looking forward to seeing the final version now.

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.

I think this first scene has some pretty good description and I wanna give props to that. That said, I do think it could have been a little shorter since it did drag on a little.

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

I see even this Eltenios is a thief :p

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.

I really liked the addition of flashback scene since it expands their character quite a bit from the original Playfield. However I’m not really a fan of the writing style here for how you transition between the past and the present. Since it’s all happening in a single scene without a break, it’s not always clear whether a part is set in the past or the present for example. The part I quoted here being a prime example.

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.

I see Suocéverse takes Rapidash’s Pokédex entry quite literal when it comes to Rapidash’s speed. I will say that seeing them running faster than a train was a little jarring, since even with Flash Fire boosting it seems like such a stretch to me. But I guess it’s a matter of preference in the end.

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.

Well that got rather grim quick.

the clearing enjoyed a brief moment of tranquillity and solitude.

Then the heat wave came in.

It’s the Fire Nation. o3o

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.

This paragraph feels a bit strange since you already introduced the characters and revealed their species. I think it could have worked quite well if this was at the start of the story since the readers are still getting to know Eltenios and Berecien at that point, but that’s obviously not the case here.

"Their worry is complicated and useless to us," answered Berecien, supplementing his answer with a snort

While I could get this coming from a wild Pokémon like Eltenios, it does seem a bit strange to come from a Pokémon who has been owned by a trainer his whole life.

Random Pokemon: “Hey Berecien, when’s that race supposed to be?”
Berecien: “I dunno, we’re Pokémon we don’t keep track of time lol”

an enormous plain of greenery where humans would do lots of agrarian work for some Legendaries in charge.

Wait, why are farmers working for Legendaries?

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."

898142bbf86bc150214d86363d563f47.png


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.

Wait are these real life bugs and crustaceans that Eltenios is eating or Pokemon? Since if it’s the latter I’d actually be kinda shocked that Berecien is perfectly comfortable with all of this. Also it wasn’t until the end of the second paragraph that I realized that Berecien wasn’t eating meat with him, so that’s something.

"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."

I was thinking this exact thing when Berecien first started protesting about racing back. I mean doing this would even be faster than not racing and heading back at a normal pace.

"They may look like us but I don't think their legs and hooves are bound like ours."

Wait, so the Muskadeer trio in Suocéverse is even faster than these two?

"Next you will tell me there are magical, fairy Rapidash living in some fantasy island?"

I’d like to see Eltenios’ reaction to meeting a Galarian Rapidash. XD

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

They’re certainly different than their Fledglings counterparts, that’s for sure :p

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.

Bold of you to assume nobody has ever done this before, Berecien.

The equine Pokémon snorted.

I think I pointed it out while proofreading another scene, but this is kind of an awkward epithet. I think synonyms in general are good since they prevent writing from getting repetitive, but at the same time it’s best to avoid obscure ones like this one right here. Since Berecien’s name was last mentioned 4 paragraphs ago, I think just “Berecien” would work fine here. Otherwise, go for a simpler synonym like “The horse”.

Aaaand, I’m at the end. Overall I thought it was fun and a great improvement over the original. Well done!

I think what I like the most about the remake is how much you fleshed out Eltenios and Berecien. Not just because of the addition of the flashback, but throughout the entire story they feel a lot more colorful than they did in the original. I know how much you have developed these two since the original Playfield, so reading the characters as they are today in one of your stories was definitely nice. Me and Archen write our version of Eltenios and Berecien so much, I sometimes almost forget that they aren’t the original haha. But I like seeing OG Eltenios and Berecien and how you handle them. Hope to see that with more characters in the future. Valatos story, when?

Until next time!
 

Venia Silente

[](int x){return x;}
Thanks for the commentary @Virgil134 ! It was about time I got to give Berecien more proper screentime after the work you and @Spiteful Murkrow have done with him.

Working on giving the two characters a more well defined frame for their capabilities of the race was a challenge. I wanted to mention that since you tackle the point of taking Rapidash's Pokédex entry more literal. I had to to some calculations back when I planned the rewrite (which I think I already shared with you? But if not, bear with me for a moment presentation time o3o) and if you take it literal a Rapidash's top speed is recorded as 240 km/h but Arcanine's is even higher, reaching ~400 km/h. At those speeds the distance you can cover during a summer solstice without obstructions is a little over 4200 km. which is.... long.

Of course working with those numbers quickly grows ridiculous and makes the story less believable and of course we can't let Berecien be that much the slower of the two, so I dialed back the numbers a little and took a compromise in portraying both top speed (the kind of speed you can push and stress for as peak performance) and cruise speed (the kind of speed you can remain stable at while maintaining high performance).

So the first scenes portray cruise speed as they are navigating the world out in the open with rocks, fences and Furrets, not exactly in a pre-made racetrack designed for the task; but the train scene goes for the top speed and shows what both Pokémon are capable of if they don't have to do it all day long. Plus the idea of both of them Flash-Fireing each other was far too good to let pass. I'd consider it a bonus but at least Eltenios would complain he is not paid enough to Flash Fire all day plus it would burn out all of his fat, or as he'd call it, "muscle".

I hope that helps clear it a bit and helps both Pokémon remain more relatable, down-to-Pokéarth characters.

I see even this Eltenios is a thief
Now now, out there in nature it's called Treasure Gathering o3o

But yeah, just like in the Fledglingsverse Eltenios does not exactly have a happy childhood. They both got better, to a point.

Regarding Berecien's take oon human time-measuring concepts:

While I could get this coming from a wild Pokémon like Eltenios, it does seem a bit strange to come from a Pokémon who has been owned by a trainer his whole life.

Random Pokemon: “Hey Berecien, when’s that race supposed to be?”
Berecien: “I dunno, we’re Pokémon we don’t keep track of time lol”

It's less that Berecien doesn't care and more that he finds humans complicate it without need. He does not understand much arguing about time minutia (what kind of week/day/year, if it is micro or milliseconds, timezones maybe, etc) when he and other Pokémon find and feel time to be more "intuitive": Pokémon "know" when the day is over, "know" when the solstice arrives and follow simpler rules for the same concepts (he finds Eltenios' idea that the day is over when you go sleep seems to "work").

I could rework that part for a rewrite. Sounds like a good note considering for example Eltenios' concepts of time are broader and oriented towards work rather than measure (eg.: weeks or seasons).

Regarding the flashback scene,

I really liked the addition of flashback scene since it expands their character quite a bit from the original Playfield. However I’m not really a fan of the writing style here for how you transition between the past and the present.
It was quite the bet and the experiment. This is the first or second tops, time I write a scene that fades in and out of flashback rather than being separate scenes with cuts. I really wanted the integration to be there because of how the story is strongly focused on time and it was a good opportunity to show that the characters are experienced without falling back on "because I say so". It is one thing to work extra on a potential another rewrite certainly, and I think you make a good point in showing that particular example where the writing could apply to any or both of the past and present, but amibugous as it is it is not even clear that that could be the case.

Writing-wise, I got the idea of designing the scene that way from a Watchowski movie. Weird as they are, they do tend to be very good examples of how to portray stuff like backstory or broad-scope background events.


Oh well, I'll have to write more stories to gain more experience~ Valatos story when indeed

Wait are these real life bugs and crustaceans that Eltenios is eating or Pokemon? Since if it’s the latter I’d actually be kinda shocked that Berecien is perfectly comfortable with all of this.
Fear not: "IRL-esque" bugs and crustaceans. And grass, on Berecien's end now that you were commenting on that. Since I tend to go with there's also IRL-esque wildlife in the Pokémon world (i mean, there's trees...) I try to be very explicit when a scene involving predation or hunting is about Pokémon and or IRL-esque animals. So the Pidgeotto are specifically teaching how to hunt down Ledyba - IRL-eque worms and spiders put up far less of an opposition.

I see you also took a bit of an interest in the workings of the Sovereignty Eltenios works for, so I took the liberty of checking these two notes:

Wait, why are farmers working for Legendaries?

While I have mentioned it in passing in other stories (and it is described somewhat in the wiki), part of the idea of the Sovereignty is that humans are living there in exchange of helping Pokémon maintain and take care of that little realm: farming and harvesting the food needed, mining for Gems and minerals to trade, keeping trails and water courses clean, etc. So it's less they are working for Legendaries and more they are helping the Pokémon who do work for them.

Wait, so the Muskadeer trio in Suocéverse is even faster than these two?
Our little lead characters speak more metaphorically and in perhaps awe that the three Legends can reach where he couldn't, or that they won't loose their footing from whatever attacks or disasters may happen.

Now, for speed proper, maybe in very specific circumstances they can move as fast as Eltenios and Berecien can, on incredibly short bursts to evade attacks and stuff like that. Other than that no, they are not anywhere as fast or that steady as our main characters. Eltenios is under their employment for a reason~

Eltenios said:
"Next you will tell me there are magical, fairy Rapidash living in some fantasy island?"

I’d like to see Eltenios’ reaction to meeting a Galarian Rapidash. XD

Don't we all~ If I get to write more about them that's the kind of scene that *has* to happen. Just imagine Berecien's face to Eltenios' reaction. he's saving up for when he can savour that moment most likely because Galarian Rapidash are that fabulous, it's a worthy in-universe investment.

Bold of you to assume nobody has ever done this before, Berecien.
Let's let him enjoy it, it seems to have gotten him in quite high spirits. Who knows, I've never actually decided if this feat is or is not something that earns them a place among the "legendary".

And finally re the epithets, I'm getting better at that, some of them use cases stil escape me sometimes :p But this should be a notable improvement over the first version where the characters didn't even have names, certainly.

All in all good thing that you enjoyed it and thanks for the feedback. There is hopefully a future with more Berecien and Eltenios screentime, not that what you two have done with the concept is not notable except maybe making poor puppy Elty suffer, whyyyyyy. I actually wanted to have hinted at Eltenios having a mom (because of course he has one) somewhere but couldn't fit it and also couldn't fit the development in to give Berecien's sibling a name so those hooks are open for when any of you two want to contribute some goddamn fresh canon stuff.

And more characters, why not

And until next time indeed, thanks!
 
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Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter
Ah yes, Playfield, my beloved. I honestly don’t know how it is that I’ve gone all these years without giving it a proper review. But as fate would have it, I rolled this story as part of an offsite review exchange, so it’s time to tie down a loose end that’s been dangling for a number of years now…

Playfield Redux

The normal routine of the bushland and the meadows was interrupted by a threat of a surprising 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 heralded 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.

Eltenios: “Is it a bird? Is it a plane?”

The many Pokémon across the plains and meadows were used to the rumble, the long roars and the steady uprooting of trees that characterized were common of the fights between the stronger local predators. They were also used to 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.

Eltenios: “A rocket? A train?”

One, two, three, the rumbling grew closer.

The yellow light grew and soon announced itself revealed it was distinct to the usual features of the land, the rumbling became sharp tremors now that now 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 quickly into the nearest holes 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 they needed to escape.

Meadow Pokémon:
spongebob-patrick.gif


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.

Eltenios: “One of those new timebike dergs that’s all the rage-?”
Berecien: “For crying out loud, Eltenios, you can just say it’s us already!” >_>;

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.

- Meanwhile in the meadow -

Berecien: “Oh come on, we’re not doing that much collateral damage from this little run-” >.<
Eltenios: “I mean, we honestly kinda are, but hey, it’s flashy, so it’s all good. Even if I kinda have some different music on my mind right now.”
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Berecien: “Yeah, and what would that be?”
:what:


What kind of image could the Pokémon who sensed this intrusion piece together 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.


Eltenios: “♫ Fireball, fireball, a magic light on the city- ♫”
Berecien: “No… just no. How on earth can you even stand that racket?” >_>;
Berecien: “Oi! My song was more thematically appropriate than yours! But fine, since you have to be such a nitpicker about it…”
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One, two, three, to the meadows the merciless footsteps 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 the 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.

Oh hi, Eltenios and Berecien.


Eltenios: “Better?”
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Berecien: “On what planet is this an improvement?” >.<
Eltenios: “Hey, if it’s good enough for Palamutes in Flash animations, it’s good enough for me.”
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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 them off-balance.

But as a good watcher one Furret managed to claw herself to the wall of their den; she clung 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, and they were gone as suddenly as they came.

And bye there, Eltenios and Berecien. Or at least until the proverbial camera catches up with you two.

- Cue the entire meadow staring after the fire trails as Eurobeat from nowhere blares off into the distance -
Sentret #1: “... I need to lay off the Lansat Berries for a while.” ._.

A few Fearow, staying safe at higher altitudes, continued to look gape 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.

Eltenios: “See? That whole fire trail thing sorted itself out!”
Berecien: “I should probably give you more crap about being this blithe about leaving giant scorch marks across a continent, but meh. Not just gonna roll over and let you beat me that easily.”

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.

I think that one of thee two paragraphs was an original version that you forgot to axe, since the two are very similar in composition and content to one another.

A few remaining flames cried for life 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 countryside in two.

I mean it technically is already splitting the country(side) in two by virtue of literally burning a dividing line along it. :V

––––​

As a little mechanical one-and-done recommendation for this review, but on Serebii, the [ hr ][ /hr ] tags to make linebreaks need a character in between to render properly. It’s something that I noticed in your doc that would be a fairly straightforward QoL fix.

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 a common occurrence.

I can already hear the seething jealousy from some corners of the multiverse. :V

Today however he was racing for personal reasons, reminding himself to not break pace between the sparse trees around him 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.

Eltenios: “... How do your humans not get worried by you going off on your own like this?” .-.
Berecien: “I have experience sneaking out from the Estate going back to my Ponyta days?”
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Eltenios: “Right. That explanation feels familiar somehow…”

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.

Eltenios: “... Good riddance, really. Imagine being stuck surrounded by the sea all the time.”
:fearfullaugh~1:

Berecien: “Yeah, not like we’d ever wind up in a situation like that. I’m pretty sure I’d go crazy if I had to stay on a boat all day!” >_>;
- Meanwhile off in soggier corners of the multiverse -
Elty: “... (Why do I feel like someone just insulted me right now?)”
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Cradle!Berecien: “(Oh, so it’s not just me who felt that way.)” >_>;

[ ] 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.

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Though I wonder if the text ought to beat it over the readers’ heads a bit harder that this is set in the past. Something like “It all started years ago” since the opening of this scene is technically set in the present day while everything from like the second paragraph on is not.

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 in 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.

I mean, considering what happens to racehorses that get too injured IRL…
:fearfullaugh~1:


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 retrieve 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.

Well that’s something that Eltenios can hold over his marine counterpart, since Elty certainly didn’t have as impressive a track record with his fights with Sea!Pony. :V

"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--"

I… kinda wonder if there should’ve been more description here, since unless if this was set in some night or whatever when Berecien had poor sensory perception or else his memory of events is hazy with time, that he’d have remembered more distinct actions and sights that happened in this sequence with the dogmons yoinking food from the Estate.

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.

Ah yes, the story of how their racing rivalry got started. :V

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.

Eltenios: “Tch, you just don’t know when to quit, do ya?”
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Berecien: “No. Today, you’re finally getting a good old-fashioned kick in the head for all those times you made me look like an idiot!” >:|
Eltenios: “... ‘Look’ like an idiot?”
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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."

de7.png


Careful, Eltenios. Wounded pride can be a surprisingly powerful motivator. ^^;

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.

Eltenios: “Waitnobodysaidanythingaboutalagoonbelowus!
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- Cue Berecien making clucking noises -
Berecien: “What’s that? Giving in already?” >:V
Eltenios: “As if! You’re on, horseface!”
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The sun behind them cast long shadows that reached up to the ledge on 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.

- Blinks -
Wait a minute, I thought that we were still in the earlier flashback there. You… probably want to add more of an explicit transition back into the present day than you presently have, if not use an outright scene break.

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 racing partner.

Oof. I take it that a couple of those left a mark. Even if I doubt Berecien’s been fully immune to those himself.

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.

So what’s “steadied their pace” when their baseline racing speed leaves fire trails in their wake anyways? :V

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.

Wait, is this the same one from the first scene? If so, are we going in reverse chronological order here? Or is this further up the tracks from earlier? It might make sense to drop in some indication one way or the other.

As the two racers sped up, they saw 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: “... I’m sorry, are we supposed to find this impressive? Since I’m pretty sure we could run circles around that thing all day.”
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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 was 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 steps. 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.

Oh, so they literally are just going to run circles around that train, huh?
803821849384583219.png


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 orangish 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.

Eltenios: “Hah! This is easy!
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The train reached a curve and started turning to the west fast.

Eltenios: “O-Oh dammit, seriously?!
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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.

Eltenios: “Oh thank goodness, we don’t have to try and jump in front of it.”
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Berecien: “Pretty sure we’re going to have to eventually once we make it to that bridge, so…” >_>;


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 of the rocky beach that marked the westernmost land were 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 on.

But are the Krabby blowing bubbles off towards the sunset is the most important question. :V

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.


Eltenios: “♫ Speedy speed boy, every night and day, wind is on my face~ ♫”
Berecien: “Eltenios, are you doing this to try and distract me?!” >_>;
Eltenios: “Nah, it’s great running music. The distraction’s just an added bonus.”
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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 beneath them.

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.

Eltenios: “For reference, that’s entirely muscle and a winter coat. No fat on this body at all!”
Berecien: “...”
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Eltenios: “It’s true, okay?” >_>;

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.

Eltenios: “You know, even though I hate being around water, for some reason this feels weirdly at home for me.”
Berecien: “You know, I have the same feeling right now. Must be post-race exhaustion getting to us.”

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.

That honestly makes me wonder if these two’s marine counterparts would be able to bait these two to go out onna-sea by making Combusken noises at them from a boat or something like that. :V

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 also took in the significance in sight with 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.

Eltenios: “Well, that and the giant, salty ocean in the way, too.”
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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.

Neat comparative imagery there, really.

Eltenios and Berecien watched as the Sun was already halfway consumed by behind 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. And they remained formal composed 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.

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Though that’s a pretty impressive feat there given that I’m presuming these two raced against the sun over something a bit wider than a run-of-the-mill peninsula.

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 to finally relax his posture.

"Tally up?" he asked to the equine Pokémon besides him.

"Second place," Berecien answered. "Again."

Just getting this out as a pre-emptive, but I notice that ‘canine’ and ‘equine’ get used a decent amount of times in this story, while they’re a bit technical. In general, ‘canine’ and ‘equine’ sound most natural when used as adjectives, as you do here. In places where you’re using them as nouns, you probably want to consider just turning it into ‘dog’ and ‘horse’, or some other simple epithet.

Eltenios: “...”
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Berecien: “Hey, you were the one who asked for the score, so…”
476581281094828033.png


"Eh, it was just five seconds," answered Eltenios.

Berecien tapped the ground once. "Second, still."

The cope is real with this dog.
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"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."

I think you want something like ‘enlightened’ there based off context, since ‘illustrated’ means that Berecien’s either a drawing or the subject of a drawing’s depiction. Though why do I get the sneaking suspicion that the score is really something like ‘three to five’? Since if I remember how original flavor Eltenios ticks well enough… :V

The two Pokémon looked down from their outpost to the various other creatures below. There was some chatter going about, but neither Eltenios or Berecien made any effort to hear it 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.

Honestly, if you ever get a banner for this story, this feels like it’d make for a pretty good moment to capture in a drawn depiction.

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.

Only a portion now remained 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 also 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?"

Hmm… something about this transition to the conversation between these two feels a bit rushed. Maybe it makes sense to spend an extra sentence or two talking about Eltenios having the gears turn in his head, or having thoughts that were crowded out by the race all day come to mind.

Some food for thought, anyways.

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?"

See earlier note re: ‘illustrated’ and substituting it with something like ‘enlightened’.

"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: “Wait, nautical days? As in ones for going about on ships?
:grohno~1:

Berecien: “Well, yeah. That’s why I’m not super hung up on human measures of time.” ^^;

Eltenios nodded. "The day is over when you go and sleep. The Guardians instructed me as such."

Berecien raised a brow. "Sounds simple enough to work."

Huh. So this Eltenios doesn’t really pay attention to specifics for absolute dating himself in your writings, huh? I actually never realized that about those two, but it definitely fits vibe-wise with characters so built around running about, and it helps sell the sense that he and Berecien aren’t human in thought process.

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?"

"...Who?"

The canine Pokémon turned his sight to the horizon. "The humans," he stated flatly.

Berecien: “...”
:fearfullaugh~1:

Eltenios: “... That’s a ‘no’, isn’t it?” -_-;

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.

Berecien: “Are… we sure that we want to be hanging around this beach, Eltenios? Since I’m pretty sure this is a recipe to get rained on in short order.”
:fearfullaugh~1:


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 the mystical effect appearance 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.

I kinda wonder if it’d have made more sense to give a bit more detail to ground the audience’s understanding of what Eltenios’ job is. Not necessarily anything too crazy, but IIRC he’s supposed to be a messenger and ‘fixer’ on behalf of the local Swords of Justice, and it’s admittedly a detail that I’m not really sure is coming through at the moment. Even something as simple as “He was what they called an ‘Envoy’ on behalf of higher powers, was he not? Shouldn’t he already know this from his job?” would more firmly hint at what Eltenios is for the readers.

"You would know well they do," the equine Rapidash answered, letting out a hint of confusion in his tone as he wondered where Eltenios was 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."

Eltenios: “Oi, I thought that you said that you didn’t keep track of time.”
:what:

Berecien: “I don’t keep track of human measures of time. The sun and the seasons aren’t human measures, even if it’s a little surprising that they don’t have any analogue to it.” .-.

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, pick up on it. and After[/b],[/b] 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 stars started dotting the sky.

Eltenios: “Wow! Just look at them all!”
916590509810679808.png

Berecien: “Eltenios, we were in the middle of a conversation…
:what:

Eltenios: “... Right, as you were saying?”


"What 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 festival solstice?"

Wait, summer or winter solstice there? Though it’s a neat reminder of how the natural rhythms of the planet effectively set the calendar for these two.

The last tendril of sunlight still emerging from the horizon fumbled and subsided, and any remnant of the Sun’s yellow shape of the Sun was now gone. Countless pupils started adjusting in at that moment for the variation change 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.

Aha, so this is a summer solstice story. Though it figures given that the text indicated that these two would struggle to race the sun on any other day of the year.

Aaaaaand this review's a bit chunky. Kinda like Eltenios, so I'll pick up the rest in a second post:
 
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Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter
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.

Wait, how do these two have the energy for this if they’ve been running for 12+ hours earlier? I mean, I won’t question it too hard, but still. .-.

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 been 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.

On one level, that sounds like a terrible idea, since I’m pretty sure that’s how you get moments like Taverna swooping in to ruin your day. On the other hand, they’re an Arcanine and Rapidash, so I suppose I can’t blame them for having their guards down about the surrounding world.

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.

Berecien: “Are you… licking sand out of your fur?”
424925435651031049.png

Eltenios: “Well, yeah? What did you expect me to do instead? Take a dunk in the sea?”

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."

Eltenios: “Say what?
916590061942894602.png

Berecien: “Did I stutter?”
810360235285020713.png


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.

… Wait, what does ‘woof woof’ sound like to Pokémon anyways?

The two Pokémon remained in their places 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. While 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 making himself presentable.

I’m honestly a little surprised that Eltenios cares so much about making himself presentable to Berecien. That’s definitely something that his soggier counterpart will be a bit slow to come to an agreement on. :V

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 an 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."

Berecien: “But I wasn’t speaking just there-”
:what:

Eltenios: “I meant earlier. Run your mouth off like that constantly, and you’ll get into all sorts of fights.” >_>;

"The tide is rising," answered Berecien answered, not looking back. The equine Rapidash 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 submerging into the sea with each growing wave. Berecien's eyes took to the sea to see watch 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 them.

It was time to go. This was the only part of the game the Rapidash did not like.

Just saying, you could’ve avoided all this by not lingering on the beach so long, Berecien. :V

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.

Huh. Somehow I completely forgot that there are vanilla animals in your setting. Even if I have to wonder just what sort of bugs could give an Arcanine meaningful sustenance.

Eltenios pranced about for a moment and reached for Berecien while the Rapidash was busy munched on some grass. "So it is truly done for," the Arcanine said in a burly and energetic tone.

Hm. On one level, I feel the “burly and energetic tone” feels a bit “told and not shown”, on the other hand, I’m admittedly short on ideas of how to tweak that. Perhaps it might make sense to have Eltenios show off some body language that would be “burly and energetic” such as something with his tail or the way he walks around?


Berecien munched some more and, then raised his head. He and stomped on the ground for a moment. He inhaled and held some of the breeze for the last time and turned around to depart, waving his head at Berecien as a parting gesture.

IMO, the “stomped on the ground” sentence should be merged into either the prior (as I made an attempt at doing in my suggestion) or the following one. Since it reads as a fragment at present.

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 more about today."

IMO, the “You have” in brackets should be spelled out a bit more with regard to it being an affirmation to Berecien’s line about earning his speech. e.x. “Hey, not disagreeing with you there.”

You might also want to be a bit more explicit about what the “before” in Berecien’s line is, since I admittedly was kinda struggling to figure out what these two were referring to.

Berecien blinked as he found himself stopped stood in place. He neighed an excuse and took off in another direction. Eltenios circled about in place a few times then followed again.

"...The day is gone," stated Berecien stated coldly. "What else do you want?"

[ ]


"Say," inquired the canine Pokémon, "what do you think if we up the ante?"

This bit feels like it’d work a bit better with some additional body language or the like from Eltenios to transition into his line. e.x. If he’s suddenly getting an impish grin or the like before piping up.

The two Pokémon walked alongside each other for a while; Berecien gave the Arcanine a mildly incredulous look and after getting a rather sincere if goofy smile in exchange, he let out a sigh.

"Up what...? You mean another challenge?"

Eltenios: “I mean, ‘up the ante’ means raising the stakes, so…”
476581281094828033.png

Berecien: “Yeah, but you lost already, so how are you planning on doing that without another challenge?”
:what:


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.

I take it that Pokémon are built strong™ in this setting if these two are already considering a cross-continental rematch within the span of a couple hours at most from their arrival to this beach. :V

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 a 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."

Eltenios: “I mean, technically I’m not, since my job has me wandering the boonies on a regular basis.”
916590076010586142.png

Berecien: “Okay, let me rephrase that. I’m short on time, and if you’re planning on having many more of these races in the future, I need to not piss off my humans.” >_>;

"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."

>implying Eltenios hasn’t already been keeping the Deer Sovereign waiting

I mean, from what I remember of OG!Eltenios’ depiction, it would be pretty on-brand. o<o

"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.

Berecien: “Did you listen to a single word I said?”
810360235285020713.png

Eltenios: “Nope!”
916590076010586142.png


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: “Eltenios, we just finished a race across a continent!” >_>;
Eltenios: “Sounds like you’re just scared you’ll lose.”
916590076010586142.png


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 took 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.

Oh, that’s right, Eltenios actually goes there in his dialogue.
822923369149890622.png


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."

Now Eltenios just needs to work on being able to taunt his way into more consistent wins. Not that this isn’t already impressive on his part. :V

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.

Oh, so Eltenios is literally doing a
916590076010586142.png
right now, huh?
803821849384583219.png


"Like that's led anywhere," spat Berecien spat without thinking.

Eltenios raised his head and returned the Rapidash's seething gaze with an assured one. He had for long welcomed the challenge and was not the least dejected at Berecien’s putdown calling him out.

Berecien seemed to calm down, he and 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.

This feels like another block that would benefit from some more explicitly described body language on Eltenios’ part there.

Berecien However, Berecien was not as quick to let it the matter go. He thought of the three Deer Sovereigns, 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. Despite Berecien's repeated insistence that the «Emperor of Flame» was a myth, he had never put doubted in Eltenios's accounts of his chase of a Fire-type Pokémon of even a higher order greater power and prowess that Eltenios and Berecien themselves could ever be.

I’m assuming that this is supposed to be Entei, but not sure. Could also buy this being Ho-Oh, really. If it’s supposed to definitely be one or the other, you might want to add some more hints as to who this ‘Emperor of Flame’ is.

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," Berecien managed to speak say Berecien in the end. "We have to return to our work."

Eltenios: “Which you could do by racing back…”
916590517268144138.png

Berecien: “Eltenios!” >:|
Eltenios: “Come on, don’t make me break out the chicken noises to motivate you, Berecien.”

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."

iu


After all, time and tide stop for no man. Or ‘mon for that matter.

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’d grown 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: if the worst case came to pass, he may could even wind up missing 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 or 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 that time was slipping past, and no matter their choice they took, the moon and the stars would be their only guide.

Eltenios: “Come on, Berecien. Stop beating around the bush already, you know you wanna do it…”
916590116670144542.png

Berecien: “Oi! Don’t rush me here!” >_>;

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.

I can only imagine how beet red Eltenios would turn if this was caught on camera and shown to his bosses, since boy is he getting shameless here.
803821849384583219.png


Eltenios: “Just saying, I will make the chicken noises, Berecien. And for the rest of the year afterwards whenever we cross paths if you really do back out.”
916590528802480208.png

Berecien: “That’s hardly a threat when you’re the one that will wind up looking like an idiot-”
810360235285020713.png

- Cue Eltenios making clucking noises as Berecien narrows his eyes -
Eltenios: “So… easy choice, right?”
916590076010586142.png


By the time of Eltenios's who-knows-how-many-th round, Berecien sighed and flattened his ears.

"...Damn it," the equine cursed, batting his tail. "I want to but..."

"Pretty please?" insisted Eltenios with a yip. "This will be fun!"

Eltenios: “You know you want to, Berecien…”
916590096067756082.webp

Berecien: “... Starting to get why my humans keep saying you’re a bad influence.” >_>;

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 the urge to return, how about this?"

Berecien's ears flared up, and he held his breath in suspicion.

Berecien: “... Eltenios, do you have to drool so close to me?”
424925435651031049.png

Eltenios:
589897202890047522.png


"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.

Wew, Eltenios really does know how to press this horse’s buttons.
662499150147092533.png


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."

Narrator: “It will absolutely not just be 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].

IMO, the bit where you have Berecien eyeroll works better yeeted into a preceding paragraph, or else taped onto the one above where it might also make sense to show off a bit more of Berecien’s body language at the moment.

"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 his partner was still stuck in.

I’d change ‘Helps you suffer’ to something along the lines of ‘Sure burns you up’ to better lean into the “you’re just salty”-ness of Eltenios’ line there.

Berecien's mane lit up and the horse shot a quick glance at the road they had first come from. "I don't suffer well being late well, nor my skills being taken for granted," he countered with a hardened tone. "Get ready. It’s 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 Rapidash'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.

Oh, so Berecien’s basically doing:

prancing-velkhana-dragon.gif


huh? :V

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. He took care to pushing each of his paws against the sand in full and leaving leave a clear trail behind him, instead of his usual pathless and carefree prancing.

Still, there was no ignoring how Eltenios sported now sported the widest grin he had ever shown in a long while.

Eltenios: “Heh, I knew you’d come around.”
916590076010586142.png

Berecien: “Yeah, yeah. Enjoy it while it lasts, since you’re about to take another loss on your record.” >:|

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. Each 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 a spectacle. Now they had to ready themselves for what could truly be the race of their lives.

Well, I suppose “this could be our last hurrah” is always a good motivator for giving it your best for race day, huh?

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.

I’m honestly surprised the two didn’t just take off running right then and there. Guess that’s a sign that at some point, one of these two faceplanted shortly after the starting line and wound up losing given how meticulous they’re being about having optimal starting conditions.

Berecien was certainly prepared for a new race. What he was not prepared however for was 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:
the-incredibles-spit-out-water.gif

Eltenios: “Did I stutter?”
916590096067756082.webp


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 muttered, not looking him back at him. "I wonder if the Deer have ever done it."

Berecien: “Eltenios, if you’re seriously thinking of trying to beat the sunrise, it’s the Summer Solstice! The shortest night of the year! It took us all day to make it out here!”
:grohno~1:

Eltenios: “So… I take it that this means you’re forfeiting in advance?”
:lolithe:


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: “So then why do you think it’s a good idea to try and cover the same ground in half the time?!
:grohno~1:

Eltenios: “To see if we can? Hey, if this is our last race together, we might as well make it memorable, right?”
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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."

Berecien: “Correction, I do this to win.”
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Eltenios: “Not with your win-loss ratio, you don’t.”
:lolithe:


Taken aback for a moment, Berecien gave a half-hearted laugh at that comment before his seriousness quickly returned as his tail and mane betrayed an expectant shaking. He had to admit that he had not had fun – real old-fashioned fun – for quite a while if he had to admit. Worthy opponents in the racetrack became grew scarcer every year and they would not venture out of the tracks. His rider, his "human partner", was becoming older, and so was were 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 mean, having Eltenios’ trademark maturity™ certainly helps with that. :V

"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 don’t see anyone able to accomplish."

- Eltenios glances between himself and Berecien -
Eltenios: “Oh really now? Never thought of taking a shot at being that legend?”
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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.

"There were 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."

Huh, nice internal Pokémon folklore there. It gives me some very Watership Down vibes to it, if obviously tailored to Ponyta and Rapidash.

Eltenios:
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Berecien: “Oi, you asked for the story, and that’s what happened, alright?”
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"...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: “...”
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Eltenios: “I mean come on! Arceus needing to be pulled by four Rapidash? In the sky? That’s definitely somebody’s fantasy at work!”
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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."

That… actually makes me wonder if Berecien’s myth is based off something from IRL now, since it’s certainly a curious tale, especially if he’s also hearing it from humans in his setting.

"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.

I did a double-take since I definitely didn’t remember this one in my original readthrough of Playfield, but nice shout out to the Galar games there.

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 He 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 are."

I can already imagine the lulz to be had dragging these two kicking and screaming aboard a boat in their setting. It’s certainly different from their incarnations chilling in the Cradle.
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"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.

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Ride on a cruise ship and run laps around the top deck. Those ships get pretty hefty in short order.

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.

Eltenios: “... Where is this coming from again?”
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"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."

Berecien: “I mean, you asked me if I wanted a chance to be a legend, right? Well let’s put our reps on the line. All-or-nothing with this goal!”
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Eltenios: “H-Hey, wait just a minute here!”
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"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."

Berecien: “You did propose it earlier.”
Eltenios: “B-But that wasn’t explicitly canon!
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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 his partner was 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 to do it. No matter if others later imitate our feat, we'll be the first and the best, like no other's been before."

Berecien: “Or do I need to start making chicken noises to motivate you, Eltenios?” >:V
Eltenios: “No, no. Just… go on with that whole ‘becoming legends’ thing a moment?”

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: “So, is that a ‘yes’?”

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.

Eltenios: “Oh hell yeah, let’s do it!”
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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 faintest 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.

Gonna have to break out that Sonic reaction image after this at this rate. :V

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..."

Ah yes, a little nod to Arcanine being the ‘Legendary Pokémon’ there… I think.

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: “And you were calling my story implausible-?” -_-;
Eltenios: “Ah-tah-tah-tah! Not done yet here!”

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. In some places, they even compare it to some of the Divine creatures."

That… would actually explain a lot about why Growlithe and Arcanine are so popular as police Pokémon, really. Even if I don’t quite take this legend at face value. Though IMO “salvaged” works better as “scavenged” or “gathered”, since “salvage” is something you do with wreckage or a ruin of some sort and in the context of food, it is usually talking about trying to separate some usable portion food from a larger whole that has been damaged or despoiled.

Eltenios laughed and pranced about, rising his knees high and posturing to 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:
bender-laughing.gif

Eltenios: “They do, okay?!”
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Berecien could but snort. "There must be Arcanine with good traits like that somewhere, yes."

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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.

I mean, considering how graceful Eltenios has been this entire one-shot, I can’t blame Berecien for getting in his dig there. :V

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: “I… think you’re going to need some work on the ‘grace and nobility’ part before you get any legends on that front, Eltenios.”
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Eltenios: “Nah, I’m plenty graceful and noble!”
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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 just that 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: “I mean, technically I just have to in order to become a legend. You can just forfeit and stay a nobody once we make it through the Estate.”
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Berecien: “Nice try, you’re not getting rid of me that easily, Eltenios.” >:|

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."

So just how exhausted are these two going to be after their attempt at beating the sun to the other coast and backtracking through half the distance? :V

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.

inb4 their feat winds up causing forest fires all up and down their race routes from how much they have to push themselves.

"What's our cue?" Berecien inquired.

"As the third wave crashes if that's okay with you."

Eltenios: “... Why are we using the sea to count down again?”
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Berecien: “Because it’s a convenient source of noise we can both agree on? Besides, all of this will be long behind us soon.”

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.

inb4 random shrubs and driftwood in the background start catching fire

Down the rocks, a Krabby that had arrived earlier to bid a farewell to the sunlight tried to pick up the 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 rose for an instant before being pushed away by a tremendous burst of wind that came from the land, followed by a thunderous sound.

Cue the theme music starting in the background


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 130 BPM EDM tracks blaring off into the distance.

- Meanwhile off in the distance, some faint voices can be heard on the winds -
Eltenios: “♫ Night of fire, come on come over me~ Come on over the top, you've never been here~ ♫”
Berecien: “Eltenios, knock it off already!
Krabby: “I am so confused right now…” @.@

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?

Oh, so these two have actually tried this nighttime race in the past, huh? Well, guess we’ll have to see one day whether or not they actually beat the sun back across the continent. :V

Alright, and that’s enough craziness for now, time for the postmortem:

To start off with the things that I liked… well, the characters are the main standout, obviously. There was a reason why Elty and Berecien from Fledglings got their start back in the day as homages to the Eltenios and Berecien in this story. Even if my and @Virgil134 ’s own flavor of these two has diverged a bit by now, their original “race the sun” incarnations were and still are a blast to read, and I’m honestly rooting to see more of them from you in the future. There’s also a lot of attention to mannerisms and mindsets of the characters to make them distinct from humans. It’s something that a lot of writers overlook, but it’s here in spades, and it’s very well-done in a way that makes Eltenios and Berecien feel very much like they are a fire dog and fire horse in mindset. The species-specific folklore was also a nice touch, and probably those Watership Down influences working their magic on you there.

As for stuff I was less fond on, the most immediate thing that caught my attention was that some of the phrasing in general was kinda clunky. In general, it might make sense to give the story a once-over to smooth some phrasing out here and there. I also thought that some bits were a bit lacking in transition, while others would’ve benefitted from having a bit more description bandied around. The the Estate raid flashback is the main standout for both of those issues, since it threw me a bit to go from the present day, to the past, and then back to the present day without much transition either way. There was also a pretty big and action-y sequence in it that… was essentially about 10 paragraphs of almost completely disembodied dialogue.

Even so, I had a blast revisiting this story, and it’s definitely stronger and more tightly put-together than the version of Playfield I remember reading way, way back when. Kudos on the good work @Venia Silente , and I’ll be looking forward to seeing you and your cast pop up here and in other parts of the internet. ^^
 
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