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Thread: The Pantheon

  1. #1
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    Default The Pantheon

    Pantheon. Derived from the Greek roots of Pan (all), and Theos (God/Holy), this word is representative of a gathering of the gods, on display for all mortal men and women to witness. One of the most iconic ancient buildings in Rome, which uses this word as its name, was originally built as a temple to house the images and auras of every god worshipped by the city of Rome, and perpetuate the stories and myths that defined their greatness.

    I dunno about the greatness part, but THIS Pantheon will sort of fulfill its other purpose: a collection of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian stories (with more mythologies on the way) with an added bonus of having Pokémon involved. It will be a collection of one-shot fics that will adapt these stories, or potentially tell new ones, with a little Poké-twist sprinkled throughout. I sincerely hope you enjoy:

    The Pantheon

    Book 1: The Spider's Web

    Athena, looking down from her perch on the Spear Pillar, was troubled. The small, yellow-and-grey pixie was marveling over the world that her ancestors created, and the life, and even civilization, that she had kickstarted with her siblings. Villages had sprung up from the aether, humans and pokémon alike, but what she was truly intrigued by was the interplay between the two. Never in her father Arceus’ wildest dreams did she think that humans and their more bestial cousins would interact so freely, even working together to improve their lot in this harsh, chaotic world. The sacrifices made in her honor didn’t hurt, either, as the scent of freshly cooked meat, wine, and other savory treats filled her and her family’s nostrils at the top of Mt. Coronet every single day. It was a welcome addition to her waking moments.

    Which is why what her half-brother Apollo had shown her troubled her so much.

    She remembered the conversation quite clearly. She had been watching over the world through her mind’s eye just the other day, focusing her power through the jewel on her forehead, when she felt a tug on her psyche and Apollo’s voice whispering in her ear.

    [Such an interesting world this is, indeed, dear sister,] he said, [and what fascinating antics they get themselves into.]

    “And what, by Arceus, do you mean by that, brother?” she asked aloud, turning to the sneering azelf by her side. “Surely you have good reason for snapping me out of my vigil, unlike the past fifty or so, when they were naught but childish pranks.”

    “Ah, I’m so glad you asked, my stormy-eyed sister,” Apollo crooned. “Why, it can’t have been more than, say, a few weeks ago. I was floating around the Eterna village, minding my own business, and generally enjoying my time. Flowers had just started to bloom, and- “

    “Get to the point, Apollo!” the irritated uxie interjected. “By the gods, you have wasted so much of my time over the eons with your pointless drivel!”

    “I prefer the term philosophy, Athena.”

    “You don’t love wisdom, you rat, but merely to hear yourself speak. So speak. Tell me, succinctly, what you meant by antics.”

    “Ah, but hear oneself speak will soon become the way by which men gain their fame, my dear, closed-minded sister,” he shrugged. “I have foreseen it. The Pythia herself can attest to my claim. But, if you must know so desperately, I recently encountered someone who dared to claim he was greater than me. Me, of all people!” he repeated, raising his voice in faux-exasperation. Athena couldn’t help herself from chuckling.

    “Oh no, who could possibly claim to be better than you at anything, dear brother? Or perhaps I would remind you of Demeter, who taught the mortals how to farm, or even Poseidon, gods through him down a well, for guiding man across the sea, and even birthing the Horsea line, by himself, no less, onto the world! Or, pray tell, can you do those things better than the gods themselves? Hmm?”

    “But that is the issue, sister,” Apollo said, suddenly adopting a more serious tone. “It was not an immortal who said these things. It was a mortal. A human.”

    This stopped Athena in her tracks. That was an unprecedented action. A human, thinking themselves above their betters. It was an almost blasphemous concept.

    “That is…odd, to say the least,” she muttered. “I will allow you to elaborate, just this once.”

    “There was a human man,” he said. “Marsyas, I believe his name was. He claimed to be more skilled in the art of music than I could ever be. And I will grant, he was rather skilled. Not a match for a being on our caliber, mind you, but adequate, especially for a mortal. But he had the gall to challenge me to a contest of singing, thinking that he could best me, and proclaim to the world that he was a better singer than Apollo, which would increase his mortal fame throughout all of Sinnoh, no doubt.”

    “I take it he lost.”

    “If I remember correctly, I sang so well- “

    “Read, loudly.”

    “-that some sort of red ichor was leaking from his nose before he collapsed. Judging from the reactions of the crowd, he may have died due to the sheer beauty of my voice.”

    Athena sighed heavily. “Brother, did you use your Hyper Voice on a mortal again?”

    “The point is,” Apollo continued, “is that the humans are starting to become ungrateful of our blessings. I would be watchful, sister, as it may come to pass that a human may try to slander your name.”

    “I will keep it in mind, dear brother.”

    And remember it she did, as she had begun conducting vigil on the region more frequently since their talk. She had become convinced that someone, somewhere, was trying to demean her, lower her status, to that of a mortal.

    And lo and behold, as she looked down upon the Celestic village, she saw her fears manifest in physical form.

    A human woman – no, girl, more like it – and her companion, a large, red-and-yellow-and-purple insect – an ariados, if she had remembered the human name correctly – boasting about the pattern they had woven to a large crowd of mortals, human and pokémon alike. With the spider’s web, no less, all she was doing was giving it orders. Athena scoffed at the human's blathering talk. This is not her work, it is that of her pokémon partner.

    And then she heard these words through her mind’s senses: “Isn’t my creation utterly breathtaking? No one could create such a marvel. Why, not even Athena herself could weave such a beautiful web!”

    The anger that filled her heart was strange. It was not logical. She was the goddess of wisdom! She should not be thinking so irrationally about this.

    And yet. This girl was getting under her skin.

    And she would pay for her hubris.

    -------------------------------------------------

    When Athena arrived at the Celestic village, the crowd had more or less dispersed. Granted, when she flashed into existence in the mortal realm, some surprised humans poked their heads out of their rudimentary huts. She made no attempt to disguise herself, or her anger, and the girl was quick to notice her presence and go prostrate at her knees. At least some of her wits remain with her, Athena thought.

    “Lady Athena,” the girl exclaimed, “what matters bring you to our lowly realm, and grace us lowly vessels of clay with your divine presence?”

    Athena, however, would not be moved by her winged words. “What is your name, girl?” she ordered. “Speak.”

    “W-w-w-why must you know, goddess?” she stammered. “Surely y-y-you are above the affairs of mortals. Why even associate with us, let alone have need of our names?”

    “Ah, but your affairs are, in fact, important to me,” the uxie replied. She floated over to the web plastered on the wall. It was, truly, an immaculate design. Layers on top of patterns of intertwining web, so intricate and finely detailed, yet easy for the eye to follow. It was a thing of beauty.

    “Who taught you how to make this, girl?” the pixie inquired.

    “I, um…” The girl hesitated before answering. “It came to me over time. My partner, Thora, and I have been weaving webs like this for years, and this is our greatest design yet.” As she spoke of her art, her eyes lit like candles in the dark. “It truly is a special piece, isn’t it? I planned its structure, and Thora was gracious enough to lend me her webs in crafting it. It’s a design worthy of the go-“

    She stopped, seemingly realizing what she was saying. The look on her face changed, from one of delight to one of knowing dread.

    “You were about to say ‘worthy of the gods,’ weren’t you, mortal?” Athena asked.

    The girl, shaken, could only nod in response.

    “As I thought,” she muttered. “And who, then, would be the best among us to truly determine whether or not this is the case, if not a goddess?” She snapped her gaze to the ariados, which was standing by its master’s side. “I believe your human companion called you Thora, correct? I wish for you to make a web for me. Prepare your webs, and I will instruct you on a design of my choosing. We will compare the two works afterwards, to truly test her bold, blasphemous claims to the people of this village.” She directed her gaze entirely at the girl, who had slowly shrunken in on herself upon hearing Athena’s challenge.

    The ariados, meanwhile, began spooling web from the glands at the roof of its mouth, ready at a moment’s notice to obey the commands of the goddess. It knew, from the moment that its master had made her boast, that she would bring trouble. Pokémon had a keener sense for the will of the gods than did their human peers, and Thora had no intention of further stoking the legendary presence's ire. The way it made the girl recoil in horror was not something it wanted to contend with.

    Soon enough, the ariados received instructions in its mind about a design to web. It immediately got to work, weaving a design between two trees close to the town center. The intricacy of the previous design was very much present, but woven in the design were layers upon layers of patterns, three-dimensional shapes, and other constructions that when looked at together, created an image so complex, that everyone who would gaze upon it for years to come would see something different within the confines of the webs. After it was finished, even the previously arrogant girl could only stare at it in awe.

    “This is the work of the mind of a goddess, child,” Athena said. “Do you still think that your piece is worthy of such magnificence?”

    “…I could never make something like this,” she mumbled under her breath.

    “You still have not answered my initial question, girl,” Athena continued, inching closer to the frightened human, eventually facing her at eye level, but with her eyes clamped shut. “Tell me your name, so I may know the identity of the girl so arrogant as to proclaim herself the better of a god.”

    “A..Arachne.”

    “Hmph,” the uxie exclaimed. “A fitting name, befitting of the tangled mess of a web you had your partner weave on the wall beside us.” She floated a few meters away from the child, then stopped, as if lost in thought. “I wonder, how might I best punish you for your arrogance against the gods?”

    “W-w-wait, what?!” Arachne sputtered. “What did I do that was so wrong? So what, I may have said that. It was a thoughtless, careless act! I meant no wrong!”

    “It was that very thoughtlessness that must be punished!” Athena roared. “I am the goddess of wisdom, of rational, measured thought, not merely of the arts and crafts. Your foolishness, your rash, unbridled stupidity, is dangerous, and were others to see that you managed to degrade the name of the gods, even unknowingly, without punishment, who is to stop other mortals from shunning our gifts, our protections, because they do not acknowledge their betters? You disgrace the arts with your hubris, and you mock the very concept of wisdom with your loose tongue and thoughtless drivel!” Taking a deep breath, she continued.

    “I could turn you into an ariados, like your partner,” Athena quipped, knowing full well that this ability was not actually in her moveset, but also well aware that mortals didn’t know this. Seeing Arachne’s stunned reaction, she smirked, gleeful that her ruse had been successful. “However,” she continued, “I feel that fate would be…too good for you. You could still weave your treacherous web that way. Your human form is too limiting for your grand ideas anyway.”

    She suddenly flew directly up to Arachne’s face, stopping only inches from her nose. “I think I will take away what you hold most dear to you. Your ideas. Your so-called wisdom. I’ll even take away your stupidity, your arrogance, even your very words and ‘intelligence’. You will be left a shell, unable to conjure up a single, solitary thought. And even if your fellow mortals deem it fit to help you, raise you back to a barely functioning level, you will not be Arachne anymore.” She gave the girl a wicked smile, showing her teeth in an almost primeval display of intimidation. “Have you anything to say before your demise.”

    Arachne, who, mere minutes before had been openly boasting for all the world to see, could only find the strength to stammer, “I’m sorry.”

    It did not matter, though. Athena, quickly checking if anyone else was within her line of sight, opened her eyes. The gray-white glow stunned the girl, whose mouth went agape. They stayed that way for a few seconds, and once Athena closed her eyes once more, the human formerly known as Arachne crumpled to the ground, unmoving.

    “She is still alive, mortals,” Athena exclaimed. “I am not my brother or my father; I do have mercy. You may care for her if you wish. However, I leave you with this message. Engrave it in your hearts and minds for all time.”

    With that, she blinked out of Celestic, journeying off to her home on the Spear Pillar, but not before leaving one thought on everyone’s minds:

    [Remember, you are but men. Know your place.]
    Last edited by PhalanxSigil; 7th June 2017 at 4:25 AM.
    "Most of the titles for my pieces arrive because on computer, you have to call them something. So I have."
    -Ringo Starr
    (RIP MS Paint, you will be missed. Not.)

    -------------------------------

    The Pantheon

    Next Chapter: Book 5

    Ionization

    Next Chapter: Chapter 4

  2. #2
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    Aww yeah! Been eagerly awaiting this! And I'm first to review! Let's dive right in~

    Quote Originally Posted by PhalanxSigil View Post
    Never in her father Arceus’ wildest dreams did she think that humans and their more bestial cousins would interact so freely, and even working together to improve their lot in this harsh, chaotic world.
    The 'and' there feels unnecessary since the second clause is dependent on the first.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhalanxSigil View Post
    “Ah, I’m so glad you asked, my stormy-eyed sister,” Apollo crooned. “Why, it can’t have been more than, say, a few weeks ago. I was floating around the Eterna village, minding my own business, and generally enjoying my time. Flowers had just started to bloom, and- “
    Ha, I love the way he talks (and the way it gets under her skin.)
    Quote Originally Posted by PhalanxSigil View Post
    “I take it he lost.”

    “If I remember correctly, I sang so well- “

    “Read, loudly.”

    “-that some sort of red ichor was leaking from his nose before he collapsed. Judging from the reactions of the crowd, he may have died due to the sheer beauty of my voice.”

    Athena sighed heavily. “Brother, did you use your Hyper Voice on a mortal again?”
    Pfft, morbid though this may be, their tone in discussing it is undoubtedly amusing.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhalanxSigil View Post
    And remember it she did, as she had begun conducting vigil on the region more frequently since their talk. She had become convinced that someone, somewhere, was trying to demean her, lower her status, to that of a mortal.
    Heh, so she does take him seriously at least a little bit. ;P (That last comma is unneeded though.)
    Quote Originally Posted by PhalanxSigil View Post
    The anger that filled her heart was strange. It was not logical. She was the goddess of wisdom! She should not be thinking so irrationally about this.

    And yet. This girl was getting under her skin.
    I like how the narrative outright says how irrational it is for a goddess to be so perturbed by a human.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhalanxSigil View Post
    “I, um…” The girl hesitated before answering. “It came to me over time. My partner, Thora, and I have been weaving webs like this for years, and this is our greatest design yet.” As she spoke of her art, her eyes lit like candles in the dark. “It truly is a special piece, isn’t it? I planned its structure, and Thora was gracious enough to lend me her webs in crafting it. It’s a design worthy of the go-“
    Ahahaha this is such a great "oh s***" moment. xD
    Quote Originally Posted by PhalanxSigil View Post
    “It was that very thoughtlessness that must be punished!” Athena roared. “I am the goddess of wisdom, of rational, measured thought, not merely of the arts and crafts. Your foolishness, your rash, unbridled stupidity, is dangerous, and were others to see that you managed to degrade the name of the gods, even unknowingly, without punishment, who is to stop other mortals from shunning our gifts, our protections, because they do not acknowledge their betters? You disgrace the arts with your hubris, and you mock the very concept of wisdom with your loose tongue and thoughtless drivel!” Taking a deep breath, she continued.
    One thing I did find interesting was that Arachne's offense is a lot more careless in this one-shot, whereas in the original story (which I looked up just now cause I know very little about Greek/Roman mythology) she was a lot more deliberate in her boasting, and outright asked for a contest. Kind of makes her a lot more sympathetic here.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhalanxSigil View Post
    “I could turn you into an ariados, like your partner,” Athena quipped, knowing full well that this ability was not actually in her moveset, but also well aware that mortals didn’t know this.
    Lmao, I love this.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhalanxSigil View Post
    [Remember, you are but men. Know your place.]
    Yep. Classical mythology don't mess around. :P But yeah, Uxie's Pokedex entry has always been one of the most chilling, hasn't it?

    ~Chibi~



    "Everyone wishes they could catch a Legendary, deep down, whether they’ll admit it or not.
    If you knew you could use one to change the world, something you’d been dreaming about for years, are you telling me you wouldn’t take that chance?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    September 02 Update: CHAPTER 27: “The Revolt” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 28 progress: 10/13 pages

    «On reviewing hiatus for the rest of the year. See you all in 2018!»

  3. #3
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    Man, I will never tire of people applying pokémon to historical/real-ish mythological concepts. Like, there's always a level of creativity involved in putting them together, whether you're doing a story about human vikings doing battle with pokémon or legendary pokémon in familiar myths. Granted, you were bouncing ideas for this fic off me, but pretend I wasn't, lmao.

    In any case, this came out gloriously. Your Athena is pretty much spot-on, with all the fanfare, high-and-mightyness (disguised as godlike regality), and icy seriousness that Athena is most certainly known for. This is especially true at the end, where it's not just a case of her stripping Arachne of her memories but instead stripping Arachne of everythingeven her stupidity. One of the fun things about the classical gods, I think, is that not only are they more or less like impetuous children (absolutely, a number of them would get pissed off at anything a human does that even remotely resembles a slight against the gods), but that they totally go overboard with their punishments. Arachne in the actual myth is a pretty nice example, but then you have people like Medusa in Metamorphoses, Acteon, literally anyone Zeus forced himself on and Hera then found out about...

    Anyway, point is, it's great to see pretty much a spot-on depiction of Athena's/the gods' usual bouts of righteous anger at work. Also? I'm really glad you chose such a depiction to start off a series about the Greek/Roman/Egyptian shenanigans. What better introduction to a one-shot series about classic history/mythology than, "Hey, by the way, the gods will totally ruin your life on a whim"?

    Also, I love your depiction of Apollo to boot. The banter between Athena and him was excellent, including but not limited to Apollo "accidentally" making a mortal's ears bleed with Hyper Voice and also...

    “By the gods, you have wasted so much of my time over the eons with your pointless drabble!”

    “I prefer the term philosophy, Athena.”
    ...the best definition of "philosophy" I've read. (Athena's response was equally Shakespearean and wonderful.)

    In short, this was a fun start to mythological shenanigans, and I can't wait to see what other myths you're gonna bring to the table. >8D
    Works In Progress:
    Anima Ex Machina | Electric Sheep
    (Sci-fi shenanigans in one convenient signature!)

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    *Explodes into thread* DID I HEAR SOMEONE MIXING TWO OF MY FAVOURITE SUBJECTS TOGETHER?!?!?

    You have no idea what you've done, Phalanx, now you'll get me going off and writing some sort of fanfic based off of mythology because the world needs more fanfics like this (and also horror fanfics but that is a discussion for another day). As a certified mythology nerd, I've got to say that I really enjoyed this first chapter. I'm surprised that you decided to start off with the story of Arachne of all things, and I really like how you've used the legendary pixies as Apollo and Athena.

    I think the things I enjoyed the most about this chapter were Apollo and Athena themselves. Like JX said, you've captured how the gods generally acted perfectly, right down to the "righteous" anger they used to have over the poor mortals that crossed their paths. Then, of course, there's the reference Athena makes to the original story. That made me smile and chuckle, it's quite clear Uxie is enjoying putting Arachne in her place here. I do hope she'll make an appearance in other chapters because she was the best part of it without a doubt.

    I will be watching over this with intrigue and anticipation - especially looking forward to what you do with Egyptian mythology!

    (And also I am now considering taking bets over which legendaries will be which gods. Calling it now Giratina and Shaymin are going to be Hades and Persephone).

    Currently working on a project for NaNoWriMo ~

    Current Hunts: - 4000 SRs (FR/LG) | Route 114 - 6500 REs (R/S)


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    Oh my freaking god, you guys are awesome. I did not expect this much buzz on such a weird idea in this short span of time, but MAN I'm glad I thought to put this on the site.

    Quick note before I get to the specifics, this is gonna be updated somewhat sporadically. These stories are one shots, and as such inspiration comes only here-and-there. I've definitely got a bunch of ideas for stories, but I don't want to crank them out, especially if I can't think of any way to adapt a specific story easily. This is a fun little project, and I kinda want to keep it that way.

    Now, on to the reviews!

    Chibi Pika

    First of all, consider your grammar checks noted and fixed. It's the least I can do.

    I'm so happy you and everyone else liked how Athena and Apollo interacted. You all know how I love writing sarcastic and sassy characters, and Apollo just hit all the right notes as I was writing. I also thought of including him due to the parallels of the Arachne and Marsyas myths (although technically speaking Marsyas is a satyr in the myth, not a human) allowing for an interesting motivator for Athena's worry and rage.

    I like how the narrative outright says how irrational it is for a goddess to be so perturbed by a human.
    That's definitely a valid interpretation of it. It's definitely one of the reasons, but it's also because she's the god of wisdom and logic, so an overabundance of emotions feels weird to her.

    One thing I did find interesting was that Arachne's offense is a lot more careless in this one-shot, whereas in the original story (which I looked up just now cause I know very little about Greek/Roman mythology) she was a lot more deliberate in her boasting, and outright asked for a contest. Kind of makes her a lot more sympathetic here.
    If you think about it, the original interpretation of Arachne, though more deliberately boastful and directly challenging, is still punished directly due to her carelessness. Bear in mind, stories like this were absolutely moralizing tales, so the gods had to seem in the right in their actions. In my interpretation, it's not a moralizing tale, so Athena can be downright nasty.

    JX Valentine

    Your Athena is pretty much spot-on, with all the fanfare, high-and-mightyness (disguised as godlike regality), and icy seriousness that Athena is most certainly known for.
    That's more of a modern interpretation of the goddess, albeit one that I LOVE. The ancient interpretation is a little more varied in her characterization, and perhaps even a little uneven, so I had to go with her modern take for a lot of her portrayal. HOWEVER, I wanted to make her especially brutal, just like the classical gods. WHICH LEADS INTO...

    This is especially true at the end, where it's not just a case of her stripping Arachne of her memories but instead stripping Arachne of everything—even her stupidity. One of the fun things about the classical gods, I think, is that not only are they more or less like impetuous children (absolutely, a number of them would get pissed off at anything a human does that even remotely resembles a slight against the gods), but that they totally go overboard with their punishments.
    Yes, yes, yes, all of the yes! I love that about the ancient myths, and I'm really glad that the way I depicted Athena's punishment lined up so nicely with the ancient methods.

    ...the best definition of "philosophy" I've read. (Athena's response was equally Shakespearean and wonderful.)
    Did you catch the other mythical reference? Hint: go find a copy of the Iliad somewhere and look up the words used to describe Apollo.

    Samayouru

    *Explodes into thread* DID I HEAR SOMEONE MIXING TWO OF MY FAVOURITE SUBJECTS TOGETHER?!?!?
    YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT I DID, AND YOU'RE GONNA FREAKING LIKE IT!!!

    You have no idea what you've done, Phalanx, now you'll get me going off and writing some sort of fanfic based off of mythology because the world needs more fanfics like this
    YES!! Please do! I'd totally love for us to, like, take turns writing stories like this, cover every mythological base possible. If this is actually gonna be a thing, I'd be so down.

    Then, of course, there's the reference Athena makes to the original story. That made me smile and chuckle, it's quite clear Uxie is enjoying putting Arachne in her place here. I do hope she'll make an appearance in other chapters because she was the best part of it without a doubt.
    I'm really glad you thought that. I hadn't really thought about it, and to be honest, I'm not sure the god/human/pokémon associations will always be consistent, as they weren't in the actual stories they came from, but clearly this Athena struck a chord with readers, so I'll keep it in mind.

    There WILL, however, be a sort of through-line in all the coming stories, and I hope you'll catch it when I post my next thing.

    Speaking of which...

    NEXT TIME: The triumphant conqueror of Egypt returns to Rome.

    -Phalanx, out.
    "Most of the titles for my pieces arrive because on computer, you have to call them something. So I have."
    -Ringo Starr
    (RIP MS Paint, you will be missed. Not.)

    -------------------------------

    The Pantheon

    Next Chapter: Book 5

    Ionization

    Next Chapter: Chapter 4

  6. #6
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    Not all myths and stories are based on the gods alone. In fact, much of Roman mythology was centered on historical figures and somewhat-true stories. This is the type of story I share with you today.

    Book 2: Triumph


    Octavian was tired. He could feel his body slipping into exhaustion as warm water soaked his skin. The last few days – no, make that the last few years – had worn on his mind and body, and he just wanted to relax in his personal bath, not worrying about how anyone saw him, or how he had to maintain a very specific image of himself. Every waking moment. Of every. Single. Day.

    His bath didn’t care, so why should he?

    Just as his eyes were beginning to droop due to the comforting warmth, his mind picked up on another presence in the room. Irritated, Octavian rested his right arm on the rim of the bath, making sure to display the sharpened spike extending from his elbow. For good measure, he extended the tip with psychic energy, letting the intruder know his frustration and anger.

    “Did your father not teach you manners, miscreant?” the gallade growled. “Or perhaps your pedagogus did not sufficiently reign in your flippancy during your early years, allowing you to conclude that it was polite to invade a man’s privacy without giving the courtesy of a knock?”

    “Ah, I mean no offense, Thurinus. In my efforts to see your future, I seem to have lost my earthly courtesy. Carry on.”

    “Do NOT call me by that name!” Octavian shouted, rising suddenly from his tub, covered in water and scented oil with eyes of white flame. “Only Antony called me by that blasted title, and he is languishing in Hades with the shades of the damned. You will address me as Caesar, or may the gods allow me, I will gut you where you stand!”

    However, where any other Roman would cower, the intruder was chuckling to himself, hiding his face behind a light green wing. “I am glad to see your morning soak has not dulled your nerves, Octavian, even this early in the morning.”

    Sinking back into the tub, the gallade rested his face in his arms, now facing away from the xatu, who was reveling in Octavian’s irritation. “What do you want, Lepidus?” he groaned.

    “Ah, taking me seriously now, Gaius?” the xatu crooned, clapping his wings. “Splendid, splendid. If only you had done so when we were triumvirs together. What a marvelous team we could have been.” He sighed, approaching the tub. “All joking aside, Gaius, I have done what you asked. Your fortune for this final triumph has been laid bare before my eyes.”

    “And?” Octavian asked. “What did the gods tell you, pontifex?”

    “Good fortunes all around, it seems,” the bird intoned. “As I was gazing into the sunrise, gleaning all I could from its rays, a flock of wingull passed through my vision. The leader of the flock faltered, its right wing shivering, but after uttering a resonant screech, it righted itself and led the rest onwards. Thinking this a sign, I made a quick sacrifice to Phoebus Apollo. The entrails told me a similar story. It seems Fortune is tipping your favor, as my auguries have yet to fail.”

    “Well, what exactly does it mean?”

    Lepidus placed a wing under his chin. “I interpret the message as such: your procession today will proceed normally, as the two before it. The right axle of your chariot will either buckle or break, but the Roman masses will not care, as you will win them over with a winged speech the likes of which our dear departed Cicero would be proud, after which point you will finish the procession unfazed.”

    Octavian couldn’t help but grin. “The gods continue to favor me, Lepidus. Even through such adversity, both Fate and Fortune continue to grant me their blessings. I cannot help but be touched by their generosity. And what of the games?”

    Lepidus let out a deep sigh. "You of all people would know that I don't need an augury to see how that will play out. All you need is a program. The main draw at today's games is a match between a Spartan toxicroak and a Thracian incineroar. They're coached by the same handler, so more than likely you'll be asked to give one of them orders. Which would you prefer? I've heard rumblings that the incineroar is scheduled to lose today, so I'd suggest the toxicroak."

    "Oh, Arceus, not another hand-to-hand bout. Would it have been such an effort to schedule more flashy fighters for such a spectacular event? Some greater level of garishness and spontaneity would have been nice. "

    "Would you prefer swords and spears?" Lepidus sneered. "And if you're so into spectacle, why not participate yourself? It is sure to cause quite a stir, and besides, you would not be the first high-born sort to sell himself to the gladiators."

    "Oh, please," Octavian scoffed, "don't link me with such barbarity. I would not dare to squander my gods-given blessings on the likes of those infama."

    “Careful, Gaius, the gods are fickle. Must I repeat the creed to you?”

    “What, that old slave mantra? Lepidus, I have not forgotten my mortality, my insignificance compared to the gods. I am merely suggesting that the gods favor me, like they did with my father, and the heroes before him.”

    “Yes, clearly the gods favor you. They gave you Agrippa and drove Antony into the hands of Egypt. Hey, would you mind spreading some of your ‘blessings’ to me? I could really use some new furnishings for my beach house in Circeii.” He leaned closer to Octavian’s face. “You know, the house from which I cannot return without your express permission? As you exiled me there?”

    “Bygones, my friend, bygones,” the gallade replied, placing his hand on Lepidus’ shoulder. He then used that shoulder as a handhold, pushing the xatu’s shoulder down as he rose out of the bathtub. “And when you return to Circeii after the triumph has concluded today, you can be content with my clemency towards your presence here today. For even though you invaded my privacy, not to mention the fact that it only through my leniency that you are still alive so close to the borders of Rome, I will let you live to tell the story of how you told the future of Gaius Octavius Caesar.”

    Octavian exited the tub, grabbing a towel from a stool positioned close to the door. As the door closed behind him, Lepidus stared at the door, eyes narrowing in anger.

    “Oh, I’ve read your future, Thurinus,” he muttered, “and you’ll be happy to know that you will be exalted by your peers. Called Augustus, even!” He spit into the tub in a fit of rage. “I despise you, Octavian, and it gives me no shortage of pleasure to know that, though you will be great, gods curse you, you will be the last, nay, only great man of your line. All of your successors will be incompetents at best, and downright freaks at their worst, and the wretched empire that you seek to create will collapse on itself with your legacy being tarnished and forgotten!” Lepidus sighed, hanging his head. “But you will still be great.”

    Lepidus prepared a Teleport spell, readying himself for returning to his home, or perhaps prison, in Circeii. And as a bluish-white glow enveloped him before he departed, he spit in the tub one final time, and said, with both voice and mind:

    [“You are not worthy to call yourself Caesar, Gaius, let alone Augustus, as they will call you. You fancy yourself a dictator, a king even, but you are nothing more than a petulant brat. Know that for the rest of your days.”]

    And with that parting shot, and content with the knowledge that Octavian had heard him, Lepidus blinked out of existence.

    ------------------------------

    Lepidus’ words stung, to the point where, even amid the procession, Octavian could not focus. The exultant crowd chanting his name around him, the soldiers and senators marching behind him (a first in Roman history), the sight of the Egyptian loot and prisoners in front of him, nothing could ease his mind. Not even the presence of the children of Cleopatra in his chariot, the two young riolu, the twins who represented the only significant challenge to his rise to ultimate power, being trapped in the confines of his chariot – not even that could assuage his growing sense of dissatisfaction.

    Was it due to the events of the past two days? This was, after all, the third day in a row he had triumphed, and he was worn out. But no, that couldn’t be it, a triumph was the greatest honor that could be bestowed on a Roman. If anything, the experience should have been invigorating.

    Was it the presence of Antony’s children? Or perhaps the implication that Antony was an integral part of this whole ordeal? He looked out at the procession of bounty and prisoners collected from Egypt, and gazed upon the effigy made in Antony’s likeness. The graceful figure of the disgraced mienshao was turning quite a few heads.

    From the stray thoughts that he gleaned from the crowd, Octavian began to put a name to his unease. Their thoughts were on the figure of Antony, and how grand and magnificent it was. And why wouldn’t they be? Antony was a hero from the days of Caesar, his adopted father, and the figure made to represent him was grandiose and elaborate, much like the man himself. He was beloved by the masses, like Caesar was. Most did not even pay any mind to the fact that he had betrayed them for Egypt. For Cleopatra.

    And begetting the children now gaping at the crowd from his chariot.

    Octavian’s thoughts were interrupted by a rumbling from beneath his feet. He turned towards the slave standing to the side. The golden laurel that he was holding above the imperator’s head was shaking as the young man tried to keep his balance. After a quick glance, Octavian could see that none of the other figures either in front of or behind him were giving even a shudder. He breathed a sigh of relief. Neptune was not angry with him, praised be the gods.

    However, that did not stop a peg of the right wheel of his chariot from snapping, rattling the wagon and everyone riding on it. Everyone on the chariot had the presence of mind to grab the railings, so as not to fall off the chariot as it skidded to a halt, but this did nothing to help Octavian’s unease. Why now? he thought. Why can’t things just go more easily? Are the gods truly ignoring me today?

    But then he remembered. Lepidus said this would happen. In all his years as pontifex maximus, he was never wrong when performing an augury. So, what else had he said?

    Octavian smiled.

    “Camus, you and the other slaves parading behind us get to work fixing the wheel,” he commanded, gesturing to the slave holding the laurel. “You do not have to hide it; everyone can see that it is broken.”

    “And what will you do, imperator?” Camus responded. “You must be careful with how you proceed, or you will befall the same ridicule as Magnus did during his third triumph.”

    The proud gallade chuckled. “Not to worry. I will turn Rome’s attention away from you.”

    He turned to the mass of people to the chariot’s right, flipping the skin flap on his back like a cape so it would catch in the breeze. Octavian never tired of bragging to everyone he knew about how the gods blessed him with a form that could transform, making him grander, more intimidating in appearance, merely by concentrating on a tiny stone. The more evidence that Octavian was favored by the gods the better.

    He scanned the crowd. They were all chatting amongst themselves, not paying attention to any one thing now that the procession had stalled. Some were pointing at the slaves laboring to fix the chariot wheel. That needed to be amended. Clearing his throat and focusing his mind on the crowd, he spoke.

    [“My fellow Romans! May I have your attention for but a brief moment?]

    His method of speaking both vocally and telepathically worked. Everyone’s eyes, straying before, were now fixed on his tall, regal figure. Their mouths, continually flapping before, were silent. Smirking, he continued.

    [“The gods see it fit to humble me today. My chariot has lost a wheel. No one is hurt, thank Arceus, but this grand ceremony has slowed to a crawl.”] He let out a quick laugh. [“But that does not bother you, does it? This is the third day of festivities in a row. You have all seen this before. Some may even be sick of seeing my face in public by now. I know I tire of painting this blasted red pigment on my face.”]

    He gestured to his face, which was indeed painted a stark shade of crimson. Every triumphator painted their face like this, and every one of them thought it was silly, Octavian included. Apparently, so did the crowd, as chuckles and chortles rippled through the mass of people. He’d succeeded in shifting their focus.

    Now the fun could begin.

    [“But as I stand here, face itching with this blasted ink, I am reminded of a mantra that has been handed down by those who triumphed before me. My friend, Lepidus, told me of this phrase before his own procession. ‘Remember, you are but a man.’ And these…inconveniences, if you will, have reminded me of this fact. It is true. I am a man. I am mortal. Like you.”] He paused, milking the crowd’s anticipation. [“But the more I think on it, I hit a quandary? Are we, but men, fellow Romans?”]

    The crowd grew quiet immediately. What did Octavian mean by that? Men, but somehow not? Confused murmuring rippled through the masses, trying to wrap their heads around what the imperator had said.

    Perfect.

    [“Just look at what has occurred today, my brothers,”] he continued. [“The gods have spoken to me, given me a sign that they are watching over me. And they are watching over all of Rome as well, else we would not be having this celebration today. Need we forget all the favors the gods have given us?”]

    He spread his arms towards the crowd of people. [“Let us not forget, Venus guided her son, Aeneas, to the shores of Italy with the sole intent of fostering a great people.”] He chuckled. [“It would make a great epic, if one were to write it down.”] Thankfully, the people watching laughed along with him.

    He wasn’t actually joking, though, he was thinking of having a poet do it. Now, though, he knew Romans would read it, thank Apollo.

    [“Our glorious founder, Romulus, was beget by Mars himself,”] he continued, [“and my father, Julius, was descended from Iulus, who was the grandson of the great goddess Venus! Can we not deny that the great men of Rome were touched by the gods?”]

    The crowd was getting into his speech, chanting divus at the sound of Caesar’s name. He was made a god, after all, thanks in no small part to Octavian’s efforts to glorify his name.

    [“I know how much the great Caesar meant to you all,”] he said, waving down the growing fervor of the masses. [“And as you all well know, I wish to continue his legacy. And thus, I have come to a decision.”] He motioned to the children standing beside him. [“I believe these two need no introduction. It is not my place to tell you that these young ones, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene, are the son and daughter of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra Ptolemy.”] The names uttered elicited boos and jeers from the audience, but Octavian waved those down as well.

    [‘Now, now, hold your ire, Romans. I know those names may be as poison to your mouths. But we are not barbarians, you and I. How could we be, when we have borne witness to the clemency of the great Julius Caesar.”] He placed his hand on Alexander’s shoulder. [“I wish to continue my father’s legacy, and I will begin by showing this same clemency to these children and their servants. For they did no harm to Rome, and besides, the gods have granted that we bring Egypt into our fold, like they permitted with Gaul, Hellas, and even, dare I say it, Carthage.”] The crowd erupted in cheers again, and this time Octavian did nothing to stop them. He did, however, turn to the two riolu, and smiled. [You should be grateful, you know,] he messaged to them. [Pray you take this kindness to heart, lest you end up like your half-brother.]

    The children began to quake in the chariot, but Octavian paid them no further mind, as his attention was focused back on the crowd. [“These gifts are but a few paltry reminders that we are most loved by the gods of all men of the world. Just look at our stadiums, our arenas, filled to the brim with pokémon from all over the known world! They, and those Romans who see fit to deny themselves the pleasures of our society, perform magnificent displays of power for our viewing pleasure. They serve us with their bodies, like theinfama they are, and it is our role to take pleasure in their barbarism."] The crowd laughed. ["But that is not all, my friends. All that we see, all that we touch, we better. We took the madness of Carthage and quelled it. We took the squabbling of the Hellenic cities and gave them Roman virtue. And we took Egypt, mighty Egypt, and brought her under our yoke so that we may benefit from her bounty. So, I ask you once again, my people. Are we but men? I say, nay, we are more than mere men. WE ARE ROME!”]

    The masses erupted in applause, and Octavian couldn’t help but bask in it. So this is what Cicero must have felt after a great speech. He felt a tap on his shoulder. It was Camus, signaling that the wheel had been fixed. With a nod and a gesture of his hands, the chariot began to move once again. The procession began its march onward, its destination, the Temple of Arceus Optimus Maximus, waiting for him to enter and conduct the final rites of triumph. His unease, his anger, it had all dissipated.

    Truly, no one in history had been so close to the gods.

    ----------------------------------------

    Terms and Clarification:

        Spoiler:- If You Need It:
    Last edited by PhalanxSigil; 28th May 2017 at 11:22 PM.
    "Most of the titles for my pieces arrive because on computer, you have to call them something. So I have."
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    The Pantheon

    Next Chapter: Book 5

    Ionization

    Next Chapter: Chapter 4

  7. #7
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    I love the literature of classical myth, although I also despise it, and I feel much the same way about Rome; it's grotesque, really, as empire usually is, but there's a shininess to it that comes from a couple thousand years of distance from the ugly reality. What I love in a much less complicated way is Pokémon, so the marriage of the two is definitely right up my street.

    And this sure does deliver. Other people have mentioned your spot-on evocation of the caprice and violence of the archaic Hellenistic gods, and while I agree with them there's only so many times you can say that without getting repetitive, so I'd like to focus more on your treatment of Rome, which I think is great. I remember once reading a book on Senecan tragedy that posited it as a response to the waxing powers of the emperor – like, what happens when you've got all that power, more power than anyone else has ever had? What do you even do with it? The point the author was making was that the prevailing model for a completely fulfilled life was that of the mythical hero, and that that's kind of what a lot of the emperors were aiming for with their weirdness and grandiosity. I think you evoke that kind of restless power, power too big to even be used for everything, power so big it can only really be squandered, very well. Your Octavian's reaching for something beyond the human is just that. Obviously, the Empire is right here in the process of being born, and we're a long way off from what you might call the decadent years, but in Octavian's self-mythologisation as much as Lepidus' prophecy, you show the seeds of what is to come. On a slight tangent, I also like how you highlight that the job is essentially just a matter of massaging the mob to keep them on side, and yet somehow it comes with awful power, in both senses of the word.

    I also love how you touch on “Roman virtue”, even if just in passing; it's an excellent little touch, virtue being derived as it is from virtus, the Romanness of a true Roman man. That right afterwards you go with tradition and characterise Egypt as female is another wonderful detail; imperial masculinity/colonised femininity is obviously an opposition with a really long history, but it's definitely a very Roman thing too, especially with regard to Egypt.

    If I had a concern, it would be that a lot of this doesn't necessarily read like it needs to be fanfiction. They're good, even excellent, retellings of the stories, but the pokémon don't always add much to them. I like what you did with the material Uxie's pokédex entry in the first chapter, and I suppose the idea of Octavian using mega evolution to start building up the myth of the emperor is doing kind of the same thing, but to me the second story in particular reads more like a straight retelling rather than recasting it in a pokémon context.

    Having said that, I can't deny that it's all really well-written and very engaging. I'm definitely interested to see how you end up treating whichever story you revisit next!
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    IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

  8. #8
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    I admit I don't know nearly enough about Caesar specifically as you do (my knowledge of the Roman period tends to be limited to the mythology and the beautiful drama that was its involvement with Cleopatra—and even then with the latter, I've always been more interested in Cleopatra than Caesar), so reading through this was very much the polar opposite of the "I don't know enough about ____ to dispute it" meme. Like ... the amount of detail you put into this is already astounding, right down to Caesar's little-known actual, will-kill-you-if-you-use-it name. That and, to be perfectly blunt, from what I know about Caesar, his entire personality is hilariously legit here. He would be the kind of person I would enjoy watching get stabbed in the back seventy-one times.

    I mean, just look at that first scene. Even if someone only barely knew Caesar and Lepidus (or didn't know them at all somehow), it's not that difficult to understand why Lepidus hates Caesar so much. It's very clear, based purely on this gallade's actions, that Lepidus is right: he does think of himself as a king, and that comes with all the lovely looking-down-on-my-subjects that kind of lofty thinking encourages. Granted, yes, okay, Caesar has every right to feel irritated by Lepidus's sudden appearance (in the bath—never mind it's the one moment where Caesar can relax, but legit, it's the bath), but it's just astounding how much sarcasm and exasperation you've conveyed in every single line he speaks without using outside narration. You can just hear how close to stabbing someone he is.

    But that second scene just reinforces how delightful this character can be. The grandiose nature of his speech, complete with the fact that he transmits it telepathically as well, just screams hubris. You can tell he's just asking for trouble, from how he says the gods have blessed him above all others with a different form to how much of a straight-up politician he is. Sure, the plot of the chapter straight-up tells us he's only saying these things to distract the crowds from his slaves and to make himself sound important, but there's just something slimy about his words, about the fact that he's using the patriotism of his crowds to put himself on a pedestal ... it's politics at its finest, definitely, which means it will likely be marvelous to watch everything he's been building up come crashing down around him later on.

    Regarding Cutlerine's point about how loosely this ties into Pokémon, I admit that I kinda noticed this with this chapter especially. While the first chapter felt a little more tied into the source material (what with its use of legendaries, plus the whole trainer-pokémon thing going on between Arachne and Thora), but in this case, it feels like something's missing. True, there's use of psychic abilities and a mention of mega evolution, but at the same time, it's also true that this could also be simply a fantastical take on the story of Caesar. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure what you could do to change things up a bit, especially since this feels more like a PMD fic (where oftentimes, you do have situations where the characters come off as more or less people with supernatural powers). Perhaps if you brought in humans or discussed the possible pokémon-based caste system (given that, I'd imagine, psychic or elemental abilities such as Caesar's psychic powers are also gifts from gods)? Or discussed more pokémon-based culture in general? Idk.

    Still, that aside, this is shaping up to be a rather delicious political drama, and it'll be fun to see where Athena's moral from the first chapter comes into play here. Because of course it will.
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    Normally I don't revisit people's comments so quickly after I posted, but both Culterine and JX Valentine made a really good point about this chapter in particular: it doesn't read all that much like Pokémon fanfic.

    And after re-reading it...yeah, I totally see where you're coming from.

    I guess what I was trying to do a little more with this story was to indulge in an itch that I've had for a while, which was to write a story about Octavian/Augustus and his triumphs. In my efforts to make it more authentic, as that was basically what I've been focusing on for the past year with my thesis, I lost the "Pokémon" aspect of the story, and I'm kinda bummed about that. This is a Pokémon forum after all.

    I will say, though, that this is a collection of one-shots. Octavian's story is done, for all intents and purposes. This is the tale I wanted to tell, and I feel like I told it pretty well, albeit in a way that ignores a lot of "Pokemon-isms."

    HOWEVER. I have a trump card, and one that I'm ashamed that I didn't utilize in the actual story, and it's a surprisingly simple fix: include a couple of lines about gladiators. Gladiatorial combat and games were not only integral parts of ceremony in Rome, but unlike many modern depictions, it's also more akin to a sport than a bloodbath. Around 90% of all gladiator matches didn't even end with much injury, let alone death, so who's to say that in this PMD version of Rome, gladiator fights weren't conducted with swords and spears, but with fire and lightning? Also, I could use the concept of infama, or disreputable person due to using their bodies as a way to make money, to further distinguish the line between the Romans and everyone else. Bear in mind, most gladiators were either criminals, people who had no other options in order to make money, or foreigners. The Roman elite could find the act of Pokémon battles barbaric, but still fun to watch, just not participate, and use that line of thinking to distinguish themselves from the rabble.

    TL;DR, I hear you about the not looking like fanfic part, and I'm gonna try to correct it in this small way to make it ever so slightly better. I'll have to rethink how I go about doing these stories going forward (and I've actually had to scrap one Egyptian idea that I was so looking forward to writing), but I think it's gonna be better for it. So, thanks for the heads up, and look forward to more in the future.

    -Phalanx, out.
    "Most of the titles for my pieces arrive because on computer, you have to call them something. So I have."
    -Ringo Starr
    (RIP MS Paint, you will be missed. Not.)

    -------------------------------

    The Pantheon

    Next Chapter: Book 5

    Ionization

    Next Chapter: Chapter 4

  10. #10
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    Now this was something! I think my favorite part about this was just how much flavor is pushed into every line of dialogue, every bit of narration--there truly are no wasted sentences--everything comes together to paint a picture of a Gallde who, while he insists he knows he is but mortal, is so utterly convinced of how the gods favor him so, that any sense of humility that one would get from an admission of mortality has gone straight out the window.

    That bit where Lepidus told him what he truly thought of him was tense. Heck, the whole time I was flinching like "don't let him hear you" but then he wanted Octavian to hear him. That was just chilling. Definitely did a good job conveying that sheer hatred dripping from his voice.

    It's interesting just how much you were able to convey about Octavian and how he sees himself and how he sees Rome in such a small, straightforward story. That said, I totally would have liked to see his triumph! That would've been cool. Glad you added some extra lines discussing it, though. I also really liked the addition of the detail that Octavian is offended by the idea of taking part in the pokémon battles himself. Because surely he is above such things.

    Until next time~!

    ~Chibi~



    "Everyone wishes they could catch a Legendary, deep down, whether they’ll admit it or not.
    If you knew you could use one to change the world, something you’d been dreaming about for years, are you telling me you wouldn’t take that chance?"

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    September 02 Update: CHAPTER 27: “The Revolt” POSTED!!!
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    «On reviewing hiatus for the rest of the year. See you all in 2018!»

  11. #11
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    This is a really neat project, and I imagine a lot of fun for you to work on as well. The thesis just isn't enough time spent with the ancient world for you, huh?

    I would say that character is where these two initial entries shine the most. In the first one in particular captures the hauteur of a Greek goddess perfectly, for example (the Greek gods were DICKS, pass it on). Uxie is vain and cruel and petty and just like the classic portrayal of the fickle, flawed Pantheon the Greeks and Romans worshipped (and feared). And in the second entry, Octavian is, well... vain, and probably cruel, and petty... but most of all arrogant, and that's something that comes through in spades. The third person limited perspective works well for you here, allowing you to get across that hubris not just in the way Octavian speaks, but also the way he sees himself and other people in his internal narration: Octavian himself is "tall, regal;" the Roman people are an undifferentiated mass that Octavian is interested only in manipulating. Good stuff.

    The lack of a strong connection to pokémon has been mentioned, but more than just more pokémon-y things, what I'd like to see is more Rome! Octavian is leading a procession through the city streets--what do those streets look like? What kind of buildings line them, what are the people crowding them wearing, eating, drinking? What about that bounty Octavian brought in, what exactly does it consist of? While I think you did a fine job of the characters in this story, I think you could go a little farther in creating the atmosphere of the ancient world by giving more details about it, about the sights and sounds and smells of Octavian's empire. Mostly you invoked the flavor of the place through the situation Octavian was in and some of the specialized vocabulary he used, but I think you could evoke a stronger sense of the ancient by giving some more vivid descriptions of the world around him. This would also offer you an opportunity to link the story more closely with pokémon; for example, you mentioned how gladiatorial combat might incorporate a pokémon flair, and that's a great little detail! Similarly, how might the fact that Rome is made up of varied species with elemental powers affect the make-up of its military? Or the subjects of its artwork? By calling out to the little ways pokémon shape the setting, you can both provide a more colorful and immersive world for your characters to play around in and more extensively utilize the (video game) canon you're working with.

    I think that sort of thing is why I preferred the second entry to the first. The first is a retelling of a myth, and other than a couple of twists at the end, it's pretty much the story of Arachne with uxie subbed in for Athena. That is, the fact that it's uxie involved doesn't do much to change the course of the story; it's pretty much the same as it was before. Now, the changes you made are cool because they do differentiate uxie from Athena and draw on some pokémon-specific lore, but ultimately you're a lot more constrained by the form of the original myth. I think stories more in line with the second one, which are more fictionalized retellings of events than straight-up recounting, give you a bit more freedom to play around and add fun twists that will help distinguish your work and give it life.

    Your proofreading does look a little iffy in these chapters, so you might want to try and give another read-through or something before posting. Your commas get shaky at times, and you missed a few question marks, but most of your errors are in the homophones or otherwise easily-confused words department. Some examples:

    “By the gods, you have wasted so much of my time over the eons with your pointless drabble!”
    I think you mean either "drivel" or "babble" or maybe "prattle."

    ...and the girl was quick to notice her presence and go prostate at her knees.
    I really hope you meant prostrate! (Generally you don't go prostrate "at the knees," though, you just go prostrate, i.e. throw yourself on the ground. You could say "fell to her knees" if you wanted her to only go halfway.)

    All in all, this looks like a fun series to work on, and I hope you enjoy cooking up the next few entries. My only suggestion is to get a little wild, have a little more fun with envisioning all the ways the ancient pokémon world would be like, but also different from, our own. Hopefully that's something you'd enjoy!

    In which an undead trainer, a bloodthirsty super-clone, and an irascible ex-Rocket grunt set out to rescue an imprisoned Mew--if they don't end up murdering each other first.

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  12. #12
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    Alright, so I meant to respond a little earlier, but now that it's been a bit, let's see what you guys had to say about the last story.

    Cutlerine

    I already mentioned the main criticism that you (and Jax and now Negrek) mentioned, and I made a couple of quick edits to help with that. Thanks so much for pointing that out.

    But that aside, what else stood out to you?

    On a slight tangent, I also like how you highlight that the job is essentially just a matter of massaging the mob to keep them on side, and yet somehow it comes with awful power, in both senses of the word.
    I'm actually really glad you mentioned this, and I want to take a second to go on a bit of a tangent. Of my Pantheon stories, this one was actually the first one I conceived, and it was mostly due to my thesis paper, which was heavily focused on how Octavian/Augustus used concepts of Roman tradition to craft a public image for himself through spectacle. It's largely through spectacle that he was able to gain the power that he did, and much of it had to center on placating the masses AND the governing class, which was in itself a struggle. The fact that you noticed this theme makes me super happy, and makes me feel like I did my job well.

    I also love how you touch on “Roman virtue”, even if just in passing; it's an excellent little touch, virtue being derived as it is from virtus, the Romanness of a true Roman man. That right afterwards you go with tradition and characterise Egypt as female is another wonderful detail; imperial masculinity/colonised femininity is obviously an opposition with a really long history, but it's definitely a very Roman thing too, especially with regard to Egypt.
    Not gonna lie, I totally ripped this usage of the Roman man-Egyptian/monster woman from the Aeneid. Specifically, it's mentioned like that on the Shield of Aeneas from Book 8, which depicts the Battle of Actium. In it, Cleopatra is literally dubbed the monster queen, and it struck such a vivid picture in my mind that I couldn't help but include it.

    And the "colonized" aspect that you mentioned is also really important, as it's actually a bit of a theme in the Aeneid. In a way, there are aspects of the epic that act as a sort of aetiology as to why Rome acts so imperiously in its conquest of other lands. How could I not include it?

    JX Valentine

    First of all, quick clarification, this is Gaius Octavius Caesar, or Octavian, that is the main character of this story, not Julius Caesar. If it was the other way around, we'd be getting anachronisms out the wazoo.

    But really, the vast majority of your commentary on Octavian makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Something that Octavian himself was never meant to be. I'm super happy that you really saw how slimy and arrogant I made him, because I kind of just imagine he would have been this way. Think about it; when he was 18 years old, he was formally adopted by Julius Caesar, posthumously, and given custody of all his wealth and holdings. Through his recruitment of competent army tacticians like Agrippa, he was able to score massive military victories and bring himself to sole power in Rome at a young age. Who WOULDN'T be blinded by their ego at that point? He was incredibly fun to write.

    Chibi Pika

    That bit where Lepidus told him what he truly thought of him was tense. Heck, the whole time I was flinching like "don't let him hear you" but then he wanted Octavian to hear him. That was just chilling. Definitely did a good job conveying that sheer hatred dripping from his voice.
    That bit was SOOOO fun to write. You all must know by now that I love writing sarcastic characters, but this was an opportunity to write one that wasn't good-natured, but rather malicious and hateful, and I feel that it came out perfectly. And if Lepidus were present at the time (which he wasn't), I could totally see him acting like that to Octavian. He was SCREWED by the rest of the Second Triumvirate, and would more than likely have no qualms showing it. And the fact that he knew Octavian's future in the story and had no problems with letting him know how his family's name would be squandered made that passage all the more delightful.

    Negrek

    Hey, good to see you on the thread! I'm happy that you liked the stories as much as you did. Consider the grammar stuff fixed, by the way, thanks for the catches. (Really, come on Phalanx, prostate? You gotta check for that.)

    I would say that character is where these two initial entries shine the most.
    To be honest, after reading my other stories, I'm starting to get the feeling that character is my main strength as a writer. Character interactions are so interesting for me to write, personally, and I'm glad you think that I do it pretty well. That said, I'm working on the other facets of my writing. That's partly what this series is for: not just to scratch my ancient history itch, but also work on my writing as a whole.

    what I'd like to see is more Rome!
    Hmm...you might be a little disappointed, then. This was meant to be a series of non-interconnected stories, really only connected by a similar theme of the relationship between man and god and a certain line/phrase that will appear in every story. (Have you found it yet, dear readers?) My next story is Egyptian, and when I next return to Roman myth, it's not actually gonna be in the city, most likely. I hate to disappoint, but if I can find another Roman story that more effectively uses the city and culture of ancient times, I'll definitely try to make it. For now, though, it's gonna be a while before we return to Rome proper.

    To sate your appetite for stories, however...

    NEXT TIME: The king is dead. Now the queen, her sister, and the god of the afterlife must pick up the pieces.
    "Most of the titles for my pieces arrive because on computer, you have to call them something. So I have."
    -Ringo Starr
    (RIP MS Paint, you will be missed. Not.)

    -------------------------------

    The Pantheon

    Next Chapter: Book 5

    Ionization

    Next Chapter: Chapter 4

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    Oh, sorry, when I said "Rome" I just meant I'd like to see a little more focus on the environment/worldbuilding in general, not on Rome, the city, specifically. I was just using the name as a stand-in because the last entry was set there. I think it'll be cool to see some Egyptian stuff coming in the next installment, since I'm definitely a sucker for ancient Egypt. It's just I would like to see a little more focus on the world the story's taking place in than there has been in the last two entries--in this case, how poké-Egypt is different from Egypt-Egypt. Some more detail on the world around the characters.

    In which an undead trainer, a bloodthirsty super-clone, and an irascible ex-Rocket grunt set out to rescue an imprisoned Mew--if they don't end up murdering each other first.

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    In modern times, the gods are looked upon with a more idealized sheen. They have more quirky personalities, and their stories are made more wholesome.

    But make no mistake. Theirs were harsh times, and their stories reflect this reality. It is one of the most famous, and perhaps the most brutal, Egyptian story that I share with you today.

    Book 3: Pieces of the Dead


    There was blood on the floor. No body. No weapons. No trace of the victim except for a pool of red lining the patterned blue tiles. Another smattering of the crimson ooze lined the throne, these splotches hand-shaped. There was no trail. The victim was not dragged out of the room, and the bits of gore spattered throughout the blood puddle suggested a far more loathsome fate.

    It took all her strength for Queen Isis not to scream.

    She did not need to see a body to know what had transpired. This throne room belonged to her husband, the great god-king Osiris. She had returned from her daily vigil to the city of Memphis, checking on its inhabitants and tending to the weak, relieving them of their nightmares, if they had any. Her role was often small, however, as Osiris’s reign was nothing if not benevolent towards its people. He was kind, and brought order and prosperity to Egypt. Under his rule, the Nile shores never failed to run red with nutritious silt, and harvest was always plentiful.

    Why had Ra forsaken him, after giving him such a prosperous reign?

    “Lady Isis…what is this?”

    Turning to the door, the cresselia noticed that she was not alone in the room. Her sister, Nephthys, stood just as mortified as the queen at the sight of the horrors in the room. She gingerly entered the room, taking care not to place her soft blue paws on any soiled tile or let her flowing purple mane touch any defilement. She couldn’t stand the sight of such corruption, but at this moment, her sister was more important.

    “What else could it be, sister?” Isis murmured, turning back toward the main blood puddle. “Osiris has been murdered.” She floated closer to the mass of red. “And perhaps worse, if these bits of f-flesh are any indication.” Tears flooded her amethyst eyes. “What sort of monster would do such a despicable thing?”

    “I think…I may know.” She bowed her head in shame. “My lover, Set, has grown worrisome of late. He rants and raves about his superiority to your husband day and night, often for hours without end. He tosses and turns in his sleep. I fear he is going mad with, what, jealousy? Spite? For his own brother, no less.” She looked at Isis again. “I fear that he may have gone too far this time. This is his doing, I am sure of it.”

    Before Isis could respond, her sister summoned forth a storm of rain, wetting the floor with pure, icy water. She calmly strode across the floor, and with every step removed another chunk of blood and gore. It was a well-loved trick of hers, and one that made her popular amongst the mortals whenever blood was spilled.

    “It would not do for the Pharaoh’s throne room to be defiled so.” She walked up to Isis, who was resting on the floor, and placed a paw on her shoulder. “If it will ease the pain you are feeling, I will help you find Osiris. Set has more than likely gone insane, but even he, in all his power, cannot annihilate the body of a god-king completely. We will find him, piece him back together if it comes to that, and give him the proper funerary rites. I know this is callous, but it is the only thing we can do for him now.”

    Isis glared at the suicune. “If Set was so far gone in envy of my husband, why did you not stop him, or at the very least warn someone?”

    “I did not know he would go this far. I already told you this. It was a horrible oversight, and I cannot begin to express how regretful I am that I did nothing. But now, it is all we can do to pick up the pieces.”

    “And it’s pieces that we will find him in, no doubt,” Isis deadpanned. “I am grateful that you wish to help me find his body, for I would have made you assist me even unwillingly. Who better to find a dead man than a goddess of death?”

    Nephthys gave the cresselia a wry look. She knew something that her sister did not.

    “Perhaps the son of a death goddess.”

    --------------------------

    Anubis was an odd creature for an immortal. He wore the head of a jackal, similar to Nephthys’ own dog-like face, but he stood on his hind legs alone rather than on all fours. His fur was mixed with both the soft blue hew of his mother, but also the blacks and browns of his father.

    It was his father that made Isis so skeptical of his usefulness.

    “Nephthys, remind me why we are bringing the son of Set to help us find Osiris,” she growled. “Is it not wrong for a son to go against the actions of his father?”

    “I have no love for Set,” Anubis tersely replied, his eyes aglow with a metallic blue sheen. “I may be his child, but he is no father to me, only rage against my uncle. And besides, Mother always told me my future duty was to judge the souls of the dead before entering the Underworld. What better soul to judge than that of the great god-king Osiris?”

    Even in her mournful state, Isis could not help but smile at the boy’s words. He was so young, and yet already well on his way to taking his place amongst the gods, if his mannerisms were not false.

    “Well then, my dear son,” Nephthys interjected, “why don’t you show us the way to the great god-king?”

    “With pleasure.” Anubis closed his eyes and focused his thoughts on a space between his hands. After a moment of concentration, a bluish-white shape began to materialize out of thin air, warping and twisting as it sprung into existence. The lucario reached his hand towards the shape, which had by now taken shape as a long, cross-shaped loop. An ankh. Grabbing hold of the rod, it solidified into the glass-like, bluish-green substance that the People of the Nile valued as faience. “This will guide us to him. It allows me to channel my aura senses to pinpoint any traces of a life source. If Osiris is truly a descendant of Ra, I’ll be able to track his life force. Or at least, what’s left of it.”

    He held out the ankh in front of him, and it began to emit a faint bluish-white light from its three tips. As he moved the rod around him, the tips grew stronger or fainter as he turned.

    “It’s rather fitting, isn’t it?” Nephthys remarked. “A spawn of the dead, using the symbol of life to find the pieces of Osiris. He’s a talented boy, is he not?”

    Her remark let out a rare chuckle from Isis’ lips. “I’m more pleased that your son is helping us. It is nice to know that the gods have not forsaken my family.”

    “I would not be too sure of that, Aunt,” Anubis interrupted. “I think I’ve found the pieces, and they’re not in great shape.”

    “What do you mean?”

    The lucario gestured for the two goddesses to follow him. Isis was a little confused by the boy’s trepidation, but Nephthys showed a look of growing concern, and perhaps even fear, due to where the ankh was pointing.

    The Nile.

    ---------------------------------------

    “Thousand arms of Ra protect us, what have you done, Set?”

    The river, once pristine and crystalline in it beauty, was soiled. Black-and-red splotches of filth and grime polluted the life-giving waters, and the fish that made man’s meals were sagging on the surface of the Nile.

    Someone, or something, was poisoning the waters.

    “Nephthys, quickly, we need to purify the Nile!” Isis commanded. “Leave the river this way for long, and all the people of Egypt will suffer. Crops will not grow, there will be no more fish to catch, and everyone will-“

    “Aunt, please, slow down!” Anubis interjected. “This corruption is bad, yes, but it also serves a purpose.” He flashed the ankh in front of the cresselia’s face, showing a very powerful glow that was not this strong before. “The rod started glowing more brightly as we approached the polluted area. With this, alongside my aura vision, I have very good reason to believe that a piece of Osiris is actually causing the corruption of the Nile.”

    “But, but how?” Isis stammered. “He was a good devout man. How could he create such poison?”

    “It’s not his fault, sister,” Nephthys responded, “it’s merely because he is a dead god in the middle of the Nile.” She leapt onto river, purifying the waters with every step. “Son, share your aura vision with me. I’ll find the piece of Osiris in the river while purifying it. Search for any other pieces while doing so. Two pidgeys, one stone.”

    “Even better,” the lucario continued, “we could simply look for the corruption in the river. It is as clear a sign as any of where a piece was hidden.”

    “Yes, but we must move quickly,” Isis said. “If there are more spots like this, then I fear our people may be in danger.” She gestured to the polluted river. “If mortals drink this water, or eat any of the fish or plants that have been tainted by the presence of the dead, a great plague might spread through Egypt, killing hundreds, if not thousands. The pieces may be easy to find, but we must have the mortals in mind. Remember, they are but human.”

    Nephthys gave a curt nod before rushing to the blighted river. She quickly walked over the corrupted space, purifying every corrupted droplet that she could. Once she was satisfied, she turned toward Anubis, who threw the ankh at her open jaw. Catching it, she dove into the river, searching for the remnant of the god-king that rested there. However, when she resurfaced, she wore a confused look on her face.

    “This is a left forearm,” she said, throwing the piece to the shore. “However, unless my memories deceive me, this isn’t Osiris. Not at all.”

    The arm was green and scaly, ending in clawed fingers meant to grab and slice. This was not the limb of her husband, and yet, somehow, she knew it was his.

    “I don’t think the corruption is just the presence of death…I think Osiris himself is tainted.”

    ----------------------------

    There were 15 pieces in all, scattered all across the Nile River. As the trio fished them out of the water, Isis’ fears were made manifest. Every piece that they found was wholly unrecognizable.

    The legs looked like a cat’s. Or were they more dog-like? The arms had become scaly and lizard-like. His tail was transformed to that of a fish, and the head? Utterly alien. His hawk-like head had grown a crest, the beak had fused with the face, and the whole of his head had lost all its color, rendering his visage a deathly white. Whether it was from the loss of blood or the dark magic, she could not say.

    Set had done far, far worse than merely kill him and cut him to pieces. He twisted every piece of the great god-king into something wholly wretched.

    “It’s like he’s not even your husband anymore,” Nephthys intoned. “Is it even possible to piece him together again?”

    “Even if it isn’t, I will,” the cresselia replied. She looked at the remnants of her once great husband, and set to work.

    She may not have had control over the kingdom, but there were some who felt that her magical abilities far surpassed those of her partner, and even bordered on psychic. Her first instinct was to bind each piece of Osiris’ body together. She knew no true adhesive magic, but she figured that her powers over frost and ice would help her here. Laying each piece where she thought they should go, she commenced coating the limbs with rings of ice, creating a makeshift cast surrounding each fracture. When men were wrongly maimed or executed, she was known to use this same technique to piece them together, so she figured, with her husband being an immortal, this would be enough to restore him.

    After binding all the pieces together, she waited, unable to do much more for the moment. Nephthys poured over the now-whole body, coating it with a purifying foam to remove the stink of death. Even Anubis chipped in, generating a pulse from his hands that organically stitched the parts together.

    Isis could only hope that their efforts would pay off.

    Osiris’ body looked completely alien, even after all of the limbs were plastered together. His front legs were replaced with arms that would be better suited on a crocodile, and he crouched on his haunches like a feral dog. His eyes, now a lifeless grey, stared straight ahead, looking off into the distance, comprehending nothing.

    “He might need a little help recovering,” Anubis said. He focused his aura energy again, forming a helmet-like structure, which he them placed around Osiris’ skull. “I’m worried that, if he wakes up, he’ll be hurting. And besides, he has no place in the living world anymore. We might as well begin the process of his entombment.”

    Isis nodded, placing a hand on her stomach. “It is only right to do so. I can only hope that his child will be able to avenge him, and he can smile upon us from the Underworld.” She turned to Nephthys. “What will become of him?”

    “A dead god in the Underworld?” the suicune responded. “And with his reputation? The only fate I see for him is eternal rule. It is not an ideal status, to be Pharaoh of the Dead, but it is an important task, nonetheless. I expect he will attack his duty with the same sort of vigor that he did in life.”

    “Yes,” Isis exclaimed, “of course he will.” She approached Osiris’ lifeless husk, showing him her belly. “Do you see him, Horus? This is what your treacherous uncle did to your noble father, my son. Turning him into this – this chimera, this horror! Promise me, when you are grown, you will do right by your father and avenge him. Promise you will drag him through the fiery plains of the Underworld for all time, and let him know no mercy.” She turned away from her husband and spit an icy globule into the Nile.

    “It is the very least he deserves.”
    "Most of the titles for my pieces arrive because on computer, you have to call them something. So I have."
    -Ringo Starr
    (RIP MS Paint, you will be missed. Not.)

    -------------------------------

    The Pantheon

    Next Chapter: Book 5

    Ionization

    Next Chapter: Chapter 4

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    I was looking forward to your Egyptian story, and you haven't disappointed! It's interesting that you went with the Greek names for all the major players and places; that was something I was wondering about – like, the Greek names are familiar, so that helps ground you, but equally the Egyptian ones give a bit more flavour, so both routes definitely have merit. Also interesting that you went with the pictorial representations of the gods as animal-headed, which I would have thought would create some issues with whether or not they could be represented as pokémon – but you sort of mash them together, as with Anubis and lucario, which is certainly an interesting way of getting around it. Sometimes it gets a little confusing; you have Nephthys interact with the world with her jaw, as you'd expect of a creature without arms, but then Isis places a hand on her stomach at the end, which requires her to have body parts that I'm not sure a cresselia actually has. Maybe this is a play on the way the gods of Egypt are double-formed, with animal and human shapes – but if so, I'm not sure it's developed enough to properly come across.

    A little thing: in your description of Anubis, you've got 'hew' for 'hue'. Other than that, I didn't really notice any typos, which is obviously a good thing. The pokémon aspect is definitely much more apparent than in the Octavian story, and it puts a neat spin on the myth. Nice work!
    GO HOME
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    Ah, Isis, Osiris, and Horus! Not a bad place to start with your Egyptian myths. I know there are a skajillion different versions, so I don't really know what changes are down to us knowing different versions and how many are deliberate on your part. Aside from the characters being pokémon, I mean. Pretty sure that wasn't in the originals. XD

    This story does incorporate soe poké-elements, like Suicune's ability to purify and lucario's aura sense, but eh, I still think you could go farther with trying to make this feel like a particularly pokémon retelling of the story. Although it sounds like most of the citizens of Egypt are actually humans? That would make for an interesting dynamic. I also would have liked to see more personality from the various characters here. In your past one-shots I think we got a very strong sense of who the main characters were, but here I thought Isis, Anubis, and Nepthys were a bit more generic.

    His fur was mixed with both the soft blue hew of his mother...
    * hue. I'd also probably use "and," not "but," in this sentence.

    I'm trying to figure out who Set might be, hmm. Brown and black fur, probably a legendary? Entei, maybe, or Terrakion. Well, Entei doesn't really have black on him, but there aren't a lot of legendary candidates. I also wonder--was Osiris previously Arceus? That would be a cool parallel with type:null, who was apparently designed with Arceus' aspects in mind. The idea of using type:null as the resurrected Osiris is defintely a cool one, as it totally embodies that kind of Frankenstein chimera you'd expect to get by sewing together pieces of a dead god.

    I know you've said that these one-shots are intended to stand alone, but did you intend to continue this one? Obviously the story does continue, and right now I think it doesn't really feel complete. Osiris dies and is "resurrected" as type:null, but the situation isn't really resolved, and the story basically ends on a cliffhanger. Whether or not you do, this was a neat detour down to Egypt. As always, looking forward to your next story.

    In which an undead trainer, a bloodthirsty super-clone, and an irascible ex-Rocket grunt set out to rescue an imprisoned Mew--if they don't end up murdering each other first.

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    Hey so it looks like you're doing a Pokemon spin on several myths/histories, and thought I should check what you got so far.

    For Spider's Web several folks already mentioned the banter betwen Athena and Apollo are fun. Chibi Pika and Jax apinpointed a couple of my favorite quotes (mainly when Apollo mentions being in Eterna village and the "sang so well" "loudly" part). I can see why you have Uxie there, and I like the "you are but men" line there. I vaguely remember the Arachne myth, but indeed this is what you get for challenging the gods.

    Now for Triumph. It's been a long while since I familiarized myself with some Roman history, but I think you pulled Octavian's dialogue well as others mentioned, especially his speech in Rome. Lepidus's part is great here too. I admit to missing the reference of Mega Evolution the first time but then I caught the subtle mention with some details like Octavian's cape and tiny stone. I like the mention of Pokemon gladiator fights, though I agree with Negrek you can take a bit more advantage with giving Rome more atmosphere.

    I also enjoyed Pieces of the Dead overall. I also see you put a bit Pokemon flavor to it like with both Suicune and Cresselia's abilities and introducing Type Null (I too think it would be cool if Osiris was originally Arceus). Cresslia having hands did cross my mind too and I kinda scratched my head over that, but it's very minor.

    Well, looks like I got caught up now. I do enjoy your take on these myths/histories, looking forward to more!
    Foul Play
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    Chapter Three up!

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    HELL YEAH TYPE NULL.

    Man, I totally wasn’t expecting you to be able to do anything related to Type:Null in the Pantheon! And what better way to portray its creation than cobbled together from the pieces of a dead god!

    I can definitely see what you mean about not being able to go all out with the sass like in previous entries, due to the rather grim topic at hand. But I think the dialogue wound up a bit dry as a result. I do realize that it certainly wouldn’t have done well to go overboard with the grief seeing as the characters are more focused on helping Osiris pass on—the fact that death is merely a transition is an important part of the story. So with that in mind, I’m actually not sure what the best way to improve it would be. It just felt like there was a lot of focus on the ‘how’ and the ‘what’… the best example I can give is the river scene, where the dialogue felt very methodical, like they’re narrating what they’re doing and why it’s important. I think a more emotional approach might have been stronger. That way readers could feel the urgency and importance of their task, and also get a bit more personality from them in the process. Likewise, with the moment when the pieces have been gathered. The narration indicates the sight as a horrific one, but I don’t really feel that from the characters.

    Like Negrek, I also tried to deduce what Set was while reading. But then I found out that irl Set is based on some kind of ~mystery doggo~ so we’re unlikely to get a straight answer on that. :P As for Osiris… while it would be cool for him to have been Arceus (given the fact that Null was an attempt to emulate Arceus’s abilities), you also mention Ra’s thousand arms. Plus Ra makes more sense being Arceus seeing as he’s a god of creation.

    Also, I’d be totally up for a later one-shot returning to Egypt with a battle between Horus and Set over the throne. Just saying. :P

    ~Chibi~



    "Everyone wishes they could catch a Legendary, deep down, whether they’ll admit it or not.
    If you knew you could use one to change the world, something you’d been dreaming about for years, are you telling me you wouldn’t take that chance?"

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    September 02 Update: CHAPTER 27: “The Revolt” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 28 progress: 10/13 pages

    «On reviewing hiatus for the rest of the year. See you all in 2018!»

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    I'm so sorry about not responding for a while, but let it be known that I read all of your comments and have taken them into account. You're totally right, the characters felt way more bland and generic than the previous two stories, but that's because I really haven't been able to find good, established modern interpretations of the Egyptian gods for me to latch onto. I know, that's my fault, and I probably could've done more with them, but that's my excuse.

    Anyway, here's the next one.

    -----------------

    The Norse had a strange view of their pantheon. They revered their gods, to be sure, and some of their stories are as dark and twisted as they come. But they also sported a wicked sense of humor with regards to the gods and their stories, and this next story may just be one of their strangest. Please enjoy.

    Book 4: Loki's Gambit


    “Why did I open my damned mouth?”

    Loki was perturbed by the sight in front of him. A massive, obsidian wall interlaced with veins of ice towered over him. On top of the wall, an icy, dead-eyed dragon with vestigial arms sat, contentedly looking over the masterpiece of his creation.

    Or, perhaps more accurately, the masterpiece of his horse’s creation.

    ------------------------------------

    This embarrassing fiasco had begun not three seasons prior, when the frost-bitten jotun, named Kyurem, had wandered into the halls of the newly constructed Valhalla, supposedly looking for work. The gods, troubled at the presence of such a vile creature in their halls, but still naďve in their curiosity, inquired further.

    “It is a rather simple request, truly,” the beast growled. “I am a builder, held in high regard by human and Frost Giants alike.” He gestured to the hall in which he stood with his withered, ice-covered wing. “I would think that noble beings such as yourselves would want to protect that which you hold in these walls. For that, I can build a wall, a fortification, if you will, that will keep invaders from attacking the gates of Valhalla.”

    And how, pray tell, do plan to do this, creature?” mighty Odin asked. Although seated on his haunches, he was still an intimidating presence, with his glowing, silver eyepatch, his long neck craning over all present, and his disc of arms giving off a menacing golden sheen. “I see no tools on your person. How can one with such a deformed figure as yours possibly hope to complete such an immense project?

    The husk gave the gods a toothy grin, and then proceeded to conjure a wall of ice right in front of him, much to the shock of all present. “All jotun can conjure ice such as this. It’s sturdy stuff. As for the stone needed for the bulk of the project, however, I have my ways. It will be done, and it will be done well.”

    A loud grunt echoed through the halls. “I don’t like this, All-Father,” thunderous Thor bellowed, standing up from his own throne. The black dragon glared intensely at his icy counterpart, his right hand grasping the lightning bolts that comprised his mighty hammer, Mjolnir. “The jotun always have strange tricks up their sleeves, and you know as well as I do that the Frost Giants hate us for giving them the icy realm of Jötunheimr. There is something more afoot.” The lightning bolts coalesced into its hammer form, sparking with electric energy of a Bolt Strike. “With your permission, Father, I would like to smite this cretin from the Nine Realms.”

    “At ease, brother,” Loki interrupted, his hand momentarily leaving his thick, blood-red mane to off-handedly wave off his more boisterous brother. “This jotun has not even named his price yet, and you mean to bash his brains in? At the very least, hear him out, and let our father name his conditions.”

    The noble Odin scoffed at the zoroark’s words. “You know full well you are no true son of mine, trickster,” he mumbled under his breath, before continuing at full volume. “I have conditions two. If you do not accept these terms, you will not build this fortification. Is that acceptable to you, giant?” Kyurem, after taking a second to think it over, nodded his head in agreement.

    Condition the first!” Odin shouted. “You will finish the fortification wall within three seasons. For someone of your alleged craft, this should be more than enough time to complete this task.

    Odin paused, making sure the jotun was still paying attention. Seeing his face remain stoic, he continued.

    Condition the second! You will receive no help! Not from any man, woman, or beast of similar ilk!

    “Can I…clarify one thing quickly?” Kyurem interjected. “I accept the conditions, but, on the subject of the second, would it be alright if I bring my horse along? He will be useful in carrying the supplies I will need to-”

    Denied,” Odin interrupted. “You will receive no help. Not from man, woman, or beast of similar ilk. I will not bend my condition, for I am master of the Nine Realms, and my word is LAW!

    “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait just a moment, All-Father!” Loki exclaimed, standing up from his seat. “Are you truly suggesting that this jotun, this thinking, speaking being, is as bestial as a creature that plows the fields for man?” He sat down again, waving his hand to dismiss the issue. “I have no issue with this Kyurem having his horse play carpenter with him. Do as you please, dear jotun.” At his words, the rest of the gods, Odin included, grudgingly acknowledged the truthfulness of his claim, and agreed to let the giant have his horse.

    The ice dragon smiled, his jagged face splitting into a toothy grin. “I’ll name my price, then, if that’s settled.” He took a deep breath. “I name as my price the sun the moon and the goddess Freya thank you I’ll begin work immediately.” Before anyone had time to react, the jotun, betraying his withered form, bolted with an almost supernatural speed out of the halls of Valhalla.

    Oh, horse shit, Loki thought, worried that he had make an incalculable mistake.

    ---------------------------------

    His fears had proven warranted. It was two days from the end of the third season, and the wall was nearly complete. However, Kyurem himself had barely lifted a finger throughout the entire process. No, in his stead, the damned horse did most of the work. Strong as an ox, yet swift as the wind and green as the leaves of Yggdrasil, this horse was a freak of nature. Svađilfari was its name, if he remembered correctly, and what a monster it was.

    Needless to say, Odin had grown more and more angry at Loki as the seasons dragged on. And for good reason, it was his idea to let the damn thing help Kyurem in the first place. As punishment, Loki was given one task. Stop the horse.

    Stop. The bloody. Horse. Like that was possible.

    Loki sighed to himself, and tried to think of a plan. What could he possibly do to distract the horse for long enough that the fortification would not be finished in time? And do I WANT the fortification to be stopped, he thought. We do need protection, after all, and he is doing us a great service-

    He stopped, aghast with himself for even thinking such things. Odin commanded him to stop the jotun, so it was his duty to do so. He couldn’t think twice about it. And besides, the sun, the moon, and Freya as a price? That was rather exorbitant, even by Loki’s admittedly lax standards.

    So, what shall I do? He looked closely at the virizion, who was tugging at a chunk of obsidian rock to be placed on the wall. He’s a strong stallion, that one, he thought, and rather young from the looks of it. Those types of horses do not get distracted by much, not even to eat. Perhaps what he needs is a little-

    Loki’s back went rigid when he realized what he would have to do. This would take every bit of his willpower, mental fortitude, and physical stamina to even come close to doing this most heinous of deeds.

    “HORSE SHIT!!”

    ---------------------------------

    Kyurem was feeling very relaxed on top of the wall. Svađilfari was as powerful a presence as ever, and he was aiding him in what may have been his greatest scam to date. He had swindled the Frost Giants into giving him the horse in the first place, he had conned the humans of Midgard into thinking him a hairy ape that lived in the mountains, and now he was going to have the hand of one of the great goddesses of Valhalla. He chuckled to himself. Things were going rather swimmingly.

    Suddenly, Svađilfari stopped in his tracks, turning towards the nearby woods in a state of shock. “What, did you see a nice little feeding place?” Kyurem taunted. “Do you need your eat’ums? ‘Cause if it ain’t, get back to wo-” He froze in the middle of his sentence, almost not comprehending what he was seeing.

    A beautiful, white mare, her mane dancing with flickering orange flames was standing at the edge of the tree line. Her ruby-red eyes beckoned the stallion, shining in the sunlight with her onyx-black hooves and pointed horn. She’s like the unicorn of legend, Kyurem thought to himself. I never thought I’d see the day…

    However, his thoughts returned to reality when the mare, as if spooked by something, turned and fled back into the woods. Svađilfari, still transfixed by what had once been there, stared into the woods. Its muscles, much to Kyurem’s horror, began to tense. “Don’t you do it, you bloody animal, or I swear I’ll-”

    The virizion, not listening for a second, reared back onto its hind legs and sprinted away from the wall at top speed. It wanted the mare, and it would take it if it was the last thing it did.

    “Oh, you bloody piece of horse shit,” Kyurem muttered as he stood up to chase the horse. He couldn’t let this random event get in the way of his greatest coup to date.

    He was going to get that horse back, even if it killed him.

    -----------------------------------

    It took far longer for Kyurem to catch up with the AWOL virizion. It was a speedy specimen, and when it sprinted off into the woods, it looked like it was on a mission.

    But an entire day? Yeah, the frost giant was none too pleased when he finally reached the damned horse. He was sweating ice pellets profusely from his scaly skin, his ice armor was chipping from the constant shocks of his legs hitting the ground, and his hazy breath was coming out in rapid, misty spurts.

    “Alright, you piece of filth, what the hell was-”

    He stopped, suddenly realizing the scene was different than he thought. And not in a good way. Svađilfari, far from resting contentedly after catching the mare, was lying on its stomach, fresh blood flowing into the frosty soil from its slit neck. A haughty-looking zoroark was lounging next to the dead body running his clawed hand through its massive black-and-red mane, a sly grin spread across his face.

    “A little late, aren’t we, jotun?” Loki crooned. “Sorry to say, but your horse isn’t in the best shape. Needs a little eternal rest in Hela’s domain to fully recover.” He patted the virizion’s stomach. “Damn shame, too, that thing’s a monster. It took me a full day to get the thing this tired. AN ENTIRE DAY! And he just…dropped dead out of exhaustion. And just after a little jog? ~Sigh~ And here I thought you trained him better than that.”

    The icy dragon was seething in his anger. It almost appeared as if smoke were rising from its frozen form. “If what you say is true – if Svađilfari just dropped dead – then why is his throat slit?”

    “Oh, that. Well, I couldn’t take any chances on him getting back to work, now could I? The gods told me to prevent you from finishing the fortification by any means necessary, and I thought the mare form was going to be enough, but damn, that beast was a fighter. So, I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to get a little blood on my hands?” He showed Kyurem his paws, stained red and crusted with the horse’s blood. “And guess what? I did.”

    “You monster!” the jotun screamed, bolting towards the smaller form of the god of mischief. “You’ll pay for what you’ve done to me!”

    “Oh come now, boy,” Loki countered, completely unworried as Kyurem grabbed onto him with his jaws. “Remember, I am a god, and you are but a lowly mortal. We couldn’t have you taking a goddess as a prize. Surely you realized that, right?” He paused as a thunderclap echoed in the distance. “Oh, drat,” Loki continued, his devilish grin expanding wider. “Time’s up. I fear that Thor is on his way over here now. I believe he means to bash your brains in.” Effortlessly breaking free of the jotun’s grasp, he began to slide into the forest, out of sight.

    “Ta-ta, Kyurem. May we never meet again.”

    ----------------------------------

    Loki would not enter the halls of Valhalla for another week. His physical form was completely drained from the ordeal, and he’d needed some time to recover. He had requested to meet specifically with the All-Father, and thankfully, he was alone when the zoroark entered the throne room.

    So, you have completed your task, little trickster,” Odin said, his long neck towering over the much smaller figure. “I would say you have done a noble deed, but I would assume you relied on methods uncouth to complete your mission. I do not consider it an honorable thing you did, slitting the throat of that steed, but you did your job, and that was what I asked of you.

    “Oh, were it so simple,” Loki muttered. “It took much more than merely slitting its throat, All-Father. I had to trick it.”

    Of course you did.

    “So I took the form of a mare. To distract it, of course. It chased me for a full day.”

    After which it collapsed, and you killed it. I know the story, my son told me what the frost giant said.

    The zoroark hesitated, taking a moment to calm himself. “That’s…not the full story, All-Father. You see, it didn’t collapse right away. It…actually caught me before the day was up.”

    And?” the arceus pried. “Get to the point, boy!

    Loki took a deep breath.

    “I AM PREGNANT WITH THE HORSE’S CHILD, ALL-FATHER!”

    Silence. The enormity of Loki’s statement echoed through the halls. It took Odin a long time to process the words that had erupted from Loki’s mouth.

    And then he began to laugh.

    You…you mated with the HORSE?!” he stammered incredulously. “You, in all your infinite wiles, thought the best solution to distract it was to HAVE SEX WITH IT??!! Oh, and I thought Thor was thick-skulled. Hehehahah!!

    “It worked, didn’t it?” Loki attempted to counter. “I exhausted it so it couldn’t run anymore, and then I-”

    By the Nine Hells, no more!” Odin interjected, still giggling uncontrollably. “Please, just leave. I cannot look at you anymore without laughing.” He began to walk away, shivering in his laughter. “Loki, Horse-Father! I think that fits you perfectly, trickster.” The inner doors slammed shut as Odin exited the room.

    And there Loki stood, alone in the halls of Valhalla. A godly horse growing in his belly. He sighed, and patted his stomach.

    “Horse shit.”
    "Most of the titles for my pieces arrive because on computer, you have to call them something. So I have."
    -Ringo Starr
    (RIP MS Paint, you will be missed. Not.)

    -------------------------------

    The Pantheon

    Next Chapter: Book 5

    Ionization

    Next Chapter: Chapter 4

  20. #20
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    Bwahahaha. Alright. This was probably my favorite out of all of them. Loki as a zoroark is absolutely perfect and the way you wrote him was absolute gold. Both his dialogue and narration oozed personality in all the best ways, both silky and sleazy. To say nothing of how zoroark completely and utterly fits Loki both in theme, personality, and powers!

    Kyurem was quite fun to read as well, in all his deceptive glory. The constant references to his withered, broken form were a nice contrast to the fact that he very nearly tricked the gods themselves, if not for Loki outmatching him in the end. I pretty much lost it at the part where he belts out his demands so quickly that no one can counter them and then high-tails it out of there.

    And Thor was pretty much exactly the trigger-happy hothead I was hoping to see. :P Nice detail having Mjolnir be made from Bolt Strike.

    By the Nine Hells, no more!” Odin interjected, still giggling uncontrollably. “Please, just leave. I cannot look at you anymore without laughing.” He began to walk away, shivering in his laughter. “Loki, Horse-Father! I think that fits you perfectly, trickster.
    Odin's reaction here gives me life.

    Also, I almost missed the particular occurrence of the series' recurring line in this one.

    ~Chibi~



    "Everyone wishes they could catch a Legendary, deep down, whether they’ll admit it or not.
    If you knew you could use one to change the world, something you’d been dreaming about for years, are you telling me you wouldn’t take that chance?"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    September 02 Update: CHAPTER 27: “The Revolt” POSTED!!!
    Chapter 28 progress: 10/13 pages

    «On reviewing hiatus for the rest of the year. See you all in 2018!»

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    Kyurem for the wandering jotunn is a really inspired choice, I think – like, Kyurem is a cold corpse that birthed two hot, living things, and given how the world of Norse mythology begins, with Ymir spawning lumps of life from his comatose body and then being butchered by Odin and friends, it seems like a very fitting choice for the jotnar representative here. And that's just the start of it; you do a lovely job of capturing that brilliant combination of low cunning, blundering ignorance and prideful bigotry that makes the Norse gods such compelling characters. They're all very human, and most of them aren't particularly good humans, either. Your Thor is someone who lets his weapons take over thinking from his brain, your Odin is simultaneously wise and exasperating, and your Loki is the Norse equivalent of a wheedling second-hand car dealer. It's all so good. It would have been nice to see more of Freya -- her voice is often weirdly and conspicuously absent from tellings of this story, despite the fact that I would imagine she had some strong opinions about all this -- but what we do get is great.

    It does feel a lot more like a straight retelling with pokémon flavouring than some of the other stories, though – like, the Arachne story diverged from the original in interesting ways that made great use of the pokémon setting, while this one more or less maps the characters involved onto relevant pokémon. However, it does that very well, I think, and a good deal better than some of the other stories. I've mentioned Kyurem already, and I think that zoroark and Zekrom for Loki and Thor were also exceptionally well chosen – especially since Zekrom is more than just a lightning pokémon, it's a lightning pokémon with incredibly destructive potential and a predilection for following big ideas.

    And you know what? Apart from anything else, this is a really entertaining entry. It's a fun myth, showing the Aesir at their uh-yeah-we're-totally-in-control-of-all-this-wait-crap-what-was-that best, and you add some fun of your own. Nice work.
    Last edited by Cutlerine; 5th August 2017 at 11:01 PM.
    GO HOME
    Some people just won't see reason.

    ARBITRARY EXECUTION
    If the cover-up is real, it isn't a conspiracy theory. It's a conspiracy fact.

    TIME AND TIDE | A LEASH OF FOXES
    IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

  22. #22
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    “If I remember correctly, I sang so well- “

    “Read, loudly.”

    “-that some sort of red ichor was leaking from his nose before he collapsed. Judging from the reactions of the crowd, he may have died due to the sheer beauty of my voice.”

    Athena sighed heavily. “Brother, did you use your Hyper Voice on a mortal again?”
    Apollo pls

    “I could turn you into an ariados, like your partner,” Athena quipped, knowing full well that this ability was not actually in her moveset, but also well aware that mortals didn’t know this. Seeing Arachne’s stunned reaction, she smirked, gleeful that her ruse had been successful. “However,” she continued, “I feel that fate would be…too good for you. You could still weave your treacherous web that way. Your human form is too limiting for your grand ideas anyway.”

    She suddenly flew directly up to Arachne’s face, stopping only inches from her nose. “I think I will take away what you hold most dear to you. Your ideas. Your so-called wisdom. I’ll even take away your stupidity, your arrogance, even your very words and ‘intelligence’. You will be left a shell, unable to conjure up a single, solitary thought. And even if your fellow mortals deem it fit to help you, raise you back to a barely functioning level, you will not be Arachne anymore.” She gave the girl a wicked smile, showing her teeth in an almost primeval display of intimidation. “Have you anything to say before your demise.”
    Clever adaptation of Arachne's punishment to a (an?? idk I always pronounced it with a consonant noise up front) uxie's powers.
    Octavian never tired of bragging to everyone he knew about how the gods blessed him with a form that could transform, making him grander, more intimidating in appearance, merely by concentrating on a tiny stone.
    "Concentrating" on it. Yeah. Why do I get the feeling he actually tripped over a dawn stone or something equally undignified.

    There were 15 pieces in all, scattered all across the Nile River. As the trio fished them out of the water, Isis’ fears were made manifest. Every piece that they found was wholly unrecognizable.

    The legs looked like a cat’s. Or were they more dog-like? The arms had become scaly and lizard-like. His tail was transformed to that of a fish, and the head? Utterly alien. His hawk-like head had grown a crest, the beak had fused with the face, and the whole of his head had lost all its color, rendering his visage a deathly white. Whether it was from the loss of blood or the dark magic, she could not say.
    Congratulations! Your Darkrai (?) has evolved into Silvally!

    God, what if that were possible in-game. Chop up one monster, put it back together, get another. Guess it wouldn't be rated E for Everyone anymore. :B

    Also: guess who intially mistook the Ringo quote for author's notes, despite knowing damn well that's been in your sig for a time, and thus fleetingly tried to figure out how the hell that quote could apply to that story.

    I mean it's not like silvally have a elaphant foot. :B

    This embarrassing fiasco had begun not three seasons prior, when the frost-bitten jotun, named Kyurem, had wandered into the halls of the newly constructed Valhalla, supposedly looking for work. The gods, troubled at the presence of such a vile creature in their halls, but still naďve in their curiosity, inquired further.

    “It is a rather simple request, truly,” the beast growled. “I am a builder, held in high regard by human and Frost Giants alike.”
    Okay jotun!Kyurem is fitting af.

    “At ease, brother,” Loki interrupted, his hand momentarily leaving his thick, blood-red mane to off-handedly wave off his more boisterous brother. “This jotun has not even named his price yet, and you mean to bash his brains in? At the very least, hear him out, and let our father name his conditions.”

    The noble Odin scoffed at the zoroark’s words.
    As is zoroark!Loki ajhdfs...

    “I’ll name my price, then, if that’s settled.” He took a deep breath. “I name as my price the sun the moon and the goddess Freya thank you I’ll begin work immediately.”
    XD That delivery...

    Loki’s back went rigid when he realized what he would have to do. This would take every bit of his willpower, mental fortitude, and physical stamina to even come close to doing this most heinous of deeds.

    “HORSE ****!!”
    More like HORSE F--you know. :B


    As I suspected, these are hella enjoyable. Looking forward to the next!

  23. #23
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    I can't believe how much I am in love with this at the moment. I love pokemon and history and I love the blend of this mythologies. I think it's the Ace Attorney fan in me, but the names Athena and Apollo made me think of Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes. I'm loving the details and really loved the line: Humans are becoming ungrateful of our gifts.

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    So, I should preface this by saying I'm not the most well-versed in mythology stories, so I can't comment much on how true you are to the stories or how you diverge from them or anything. Sorry. XD

    Anyway! The dialogue is, for the most part, sounds exactly what I'd expect from a mythology story - it's pompous, wordy, and dripping with every fact possible to emphasize how arrogant the characters are, lol. Some of it seems a tad forced and flows oddly, but nothing too badly that distracts me from what's happening.

    The pokemon choices are pretty spot on, too. I was happy to see a variety of 'mons out there, including zoroark, gallade, and - even though it's a legend, it's an uncommon one - virizion. Each one fit the role perfectly, especially Kyurem. Uxie's another favorite of mine, and I think it was my favorite tale out of all of them, given how you incorporated its 'dex entry about it opening its eyes and being able to reduce any creature to, well, basically nothing.

    I apologize for the lame review, lol. I simply read and enjoyed the tales for what they were, without taking many notes. So I don't have much to say besides what I already did, honestly, except that they were entertaining reads and I appreciate all the little details you put into them to make them feel like real myths.
    YOU AND ME AND THE DARK MAKE LIGHT.
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    | | flying in the dark | | love and other nightmares | |

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    I enjoyed reading these so far... Quirky, but in a good way.


    The choices of Pokémon used were great, and I look forward to the next installment. Whether it's based on Mayan, Celtic, Chinese, Hindu, or Shinto gods, etc... Either way I'll be satisfied with your work regardless.

    EDIT: If you need help with more obscure myths, feel free to let me know. I know a lot of these things...

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