This was first presented for PokéCommunity's SWC 2021 under the prompt "contentment".
More details at the end. But for now, enjoy.
A Good Year to Rawr
End of WinterThe dragon woke up, but remained curled on the ground with his eyes closed. Isla Triángulo was a nice place to be if you wanted to be alone with your thoughts; that's what the Salamence had heard the human say when she first showed up on the island, and as a regular inhabitant of the place already the Salamence had been quick to agree.
Resting on the rocky ground of a cave somewhere in the middle of the island, the Salamence grumbled at having been awakened from his nap. He was sure he had heard something enter the cave, he was just not sure of what, as all he could hear was some weird shuffling across the ground, like fallen leaves being dragged across the ground. But this was his cave, and there were no trees in it.
Granted there were not many trees in the Isla to begin with, not even counting the Tall One, a majestic tree growing in the middle of a huge hole in the mountain that was perhaps the remainder of a long‑dormant volcano. Alone in its own cave, the tree grew into the sky reaching as tall as the mountain's peak. The Salamence had taken first notice of it in his welcome flight into the Isla... how long ago had it been?
The Salamence carefully tilted his head to put one of his ears to the ground, and listened for a moment to the source of the shuffling. It sounded small and heavy, and coming closer and closer, and the sensation reminded him of other things from the past. His mind went scouting for memories of days, weeks, months and years of waking up in the island's caves, until he accidentally fast-rewinded to the memory of a long night illuminated by countless homes and stores on fire, and humans rounding up other humans and killing them with strange stick-like machines that shot piercing metal projectiles.
The Salamence opened his eyes. His leg ached briefly at one of those old projectile wounds and his tongue recalled for a moment the scent and taste of human. The shuffling that he had been hearing was now much closer. Such old memory was always useful as a stopping point, for that was the second memory he had of being a Salamence and had now brought him almost fully awake.
The Salamence had to blink a few times more to let his sight focus, and realized now a fainter but persistent sound of countless droplets of water falling, coming from outside the cave; as the steps came closer and closer, the Salamence recalled more and more years of his life, spent travelling and hunting, until one morning when he decided to fly off the coast and ended up finding a particular island. Pretty, quite triangular pointing to the sky and also triangular in the shape of its coast, rich in small wild Pokémon unaware that they had now been marked as prey.
Listening to the shuffling some more, it became clear to the dragon that whatever creature had entered his cave was headed not for him, but for the mossy rock wall that was just a few steps besides him. He narrowed his eyes, still having a bit of trouble seeing from having just woken up. The creature was, perhaps, unaware of the Salamence's presence?
Any other wild Pokémon would probably have jumped at the intruder now that they knew their opportunity, but Taverna was the one Salamence, one of only two Dragons inhabiting Isla Triángulo, and he had nothing to fear. Barring the other dragon going out for food, the Isla was Taverna's, and Taverna's alone. So all the Salamence did was to turn his head only slightly, to try and gain sight of the creature approaching, and with his hearing was finally able to make out the presence of a small Pokémon that was apparently dragging or pushing a heavy object into the cave.
The Salamence moved his neck carefully, holding his breath, just a bit so he could be more comfortable. He finally got to see, just a couples steps away, a small purple-ish critter with a curled tail, dragging along a quite large green fruit as it ventured deeper into the cave. The Salamence remained in silence watching as the little prey, either bold or ignorant before the presence of the Salamence, headed to a crack in the mossy wall and made a minutes-long laborious effort of pushing the fruit into it without breaking it; then the critter disappeared into the hole as well, leaving the Salamence alone once again, his head tilted quizzically.
If anything, now the dragon knew he had at least one neighbour further into these caves, besides whatever could be said about the other sleeping dragon. Turning his head to face the opening of the cave, the Salamence wondered how long had he been napping that he had not noticed neighbours. The opening was well illuminated but the faint rain could still be heard outside.
Maybe it was a good idea to take a look outside? Maybe get some prey to eat, since he had in his amusement left the little critter escape, not that it would have made much of a lunch. With some effort the Salamence straightened his feet and propped himself up. He pointed his muzzle to the exit of the cave and decided to check himself. Was he hungry? Hmmm, belly seemed to rumble a bit in complaint. Was he sleepy? Well, he yawned, and he had had some issue getting his eyes fully open.
Nose up, he heard the sound of the rain outside for a moment. From what he recalled, rain ever only hit Isla Triángulo for two or three weeks of the year at most, at the tail end of winter. And winter was a time unkind to dragons, even in the little corner of isolated paradise the island was in. The Salamence pawed at the ground for a moment, flexed his wings, and decided to check himself once again. Was he hungry? The little purple critter and his fruit had not even rang his attention. Was he sleepy? Well, his legs and wings were still a bit sore and he yawned again and he really did not want to get out in the rain.
Besides all that, there was another issue – the other dragon inhabiting the island. Unseen for several months already, its presence known by the local wildlife mostly by the grumbles and snoring that came from down the hollow of the Tall One. The Salamence suppressed a snort; even if (big if!) the other dragon wanted to go out in winter, the Salamence would certainly not want to have to meet it in such ill weather.
The dragon let out a low grumble, breathed in for a moment and then breathed fire down around his feet, to warm his temporary bed a bit. With some effort he stood up and walked two or three circles in‑place, muttered something to himself, then lied back on the ground as he had been before, just with his head curved away from the cave's opening and his paws aimed at the crack in the wall, just in case he could catch himself some unaware snack later.
This way he delivered himself to yet another nap, for a week or so. The world could wait.
High ground, difficult to reach, even harder to stay in, was always contested ground in the Isla. Even more once the various berry trees started giving better fruit.
The Krookodile took a step back nearing for a tree as one of the Rockruff lunged at her; with a swift movement of her arm he took the canine Pokémon's bite and swung her entire body around, crashing the still clamped Rockruff against the tree behind them. With a yelp the smaller Pokémon fell to the ground; but another canine tackled the Krookodile without leaving her any time to react, and the two Pokémon rolled past the tree.
The two sides had fought valiantly for the small plateau between two cliffs, rich in new berry trees, and perhaps one of the sides would have earned the right to rule it and loot it for sustenance. Most likely the Krookodile, as unlike the three Rockruff trying to surround her, she had few if any wounds and had managed to deal a crippling hit on at least one of the assailants.
The two groups growled at each other, and as the fallen Rockruff recovered and limped back to his partners, the two groups readied for another go at claws and bites.
They then heard a different roar in the distance, above them. Sharp, raspy, approaching and – above all – angry. Their heads turned in various directions; one of the Rockruff let out a cry when he saw a shadow moving in the ground. The four Pokémon turned their heads to the sky to the north, where they saw the figure of the blue dragon, blood-red wings, circling the area, eyeing them down.
Another roar, shorter and more laboured, and the figure of the dragon turning to dive towards the contested escarpment. The Pokémon all braced for what they knew was coming – for the island had only enough room for one apex of the skies; one of the Rockruff scurried behind one of the trees and the Krookodile braced to hold her ground just as streams of violet flame raged across the platform and very briefly engulfed it in shrieking burst of flames, knocking the Krookodile off to land on her tail and sending at least one of the Rockruff around to who knows where.
The Krookodile got back up fast; she looked around nervously for the blue dragon, but the tongues of dragonbreath had started smoking furiously, clouding her vision. She was sure she had heard the beast zipping past the plateau, so it would soon attack again, but from where?
Swinging her tail and raking her claws on the ground, the Krookodile took a look to the edge of the plateau, seeing one of the two Rockruff dragging one of its fallen allies out of the danger zone; the other, if still alive, she could not see amidst the smoke. The Krookodile had an idea and kicked some dirt to one of the tongues of dragonflame, trying to snuff it out.
It was too late; she felt a pressure in the wind, she heard a low grumbling sound, and she turned around just in time to watch as the Salamence diving for the plateau, holding an orb of what appeared to be steaming water before its muzzle. Tremors and explosions shook the plateau as the dragon crashlanded, exploding the water into a steaming blast; its armoured belly protecting it against the sturdiness of the terrain and the savagery of its own technique. The flames around were instantly extinguished by the water and the dirt, and two of the nearby trees were punctured by various pebbles turned into shrapnel, right before the steam overtook the plateau.
A few seconds later, the dust and steam cleared, Taverna paced around the plateau. He looked down inquisitively and dragged one of his feet across the ground. He smiled at the Krookodile under his feet, her belly and right arm burned by the steaming water, crying in pain but still trying to claw at the Salamence's foot to free herself. Taverna lifted his foot and slammed her with his tail, sweeping her away and sending her rolling down the plateau.
Taverna eyed the Krookodile as she tumbled down and disappeared from sight. Good, she would not be returning, not today, not soon. He turned around to one of the edges of the plateau, where one of the Rockruff had been knocked out cold (or rather, hot) and another one was stepping ahead to defend its fallen companion. The dragon straightened his neck and growled in their direction. He was not hungry for meat, but they did not need to know that. He let out a roar and breathed in to signify he was about to breathe fire at them; in just a couple of seconds the second Rockruff decided to cut his loses and abandoned its comrade, scurrying and whining all the way.
Now alone atop his new perch, the Salamence wandered about for a moment checking the trees to make sure they had not suffered much damage from the attack, nor that they had been looted by previous intruders. He eyes one of the berry trees and approached, to notice he berries now pearly and steaming from the clash, but otherwise apparently unharmed.
Taverna tilted his head. He sniffed around and noticed another Rockruff sprawled near the tree. This one had not moved in a long while, the Salamence noticed, so he would very likely not be moving anytime soon anyway. The dragon eyed the sky looking for any clues that the other dragon was in the move but, as was the tune for many days already, the sky was clear save for some birds lazying about in the thermals.
With varied sources of food secured, the dragon turned to the tree once again to rub his legs against the tree, letting loose a few scales just so any future intruders would remember who this island belonged to. After that, he walked to one of the edges of the plateau, looking to the mainland, and decided that the best use of his time was to just lie belly flat on the ground, wings sprawled, to soak up some sunlight; he let out a long yawn of victory (that he really hoped it sounded like a warcry of victory in the distance).
His final thoughts before another nap were of his plans for the rest of the day, but nothing came up besides the foggy idea of flying off to the mainland to explore the coast, as well as scouting the Isla to ruin the day of the next loser‑down‑the‑food‑chain he would find wandering about.
Late SummerEver since Taverna had first found the human and her Pokémon in the Isla, the two would make each other company every once in a while (long while, the Salamence would make sure of that). True, he liked to be feared and left alone by most of the wildlife in the Isla, but sometimes meeting up with other people and humans made the day much more interesting. Even though he would not openly admit it, he had even accompanied her party when they went on to hunts of their own, against some evil humans and their machines.
Taverna grumbled as a Krabby that he had been following and teasing with bites and clawings from rock to rock finally managed to escape him, slipping into the cracks between some rocks by the beach. The Salamence pawed and clawed at the rock for a few times… How did this happen? He had to guess he was just not that hungry to begin with. He tried peeking into the cracks but he was not able to gain any insight as to where would the little crab have gone.
Suddenly the Salamence heard plants – many of them – shuffling and cracking in the distance; as he raised his neck to see what was going on he saw some of the trees in the area grow taller, and he felt the ground shift slightly under his feet, a vibration strong enough to loose some of the random pebbles and snail shells around him.
Taverna listened for a moment and could barely hear in the distance what seemed to be the voice of the human and her Pokémon companions; deciding that they were already calling enough attention to themselves, he took flight and headed over to the next beach to see what were they up to. He landed a short distance behind them, making sure to stomp and land as loudly as he could as some of the Pokémon accompanying the human turned around to look at him.
The green leaf vixen leading the party – surely the cause of the trees' unrest – was the first to notice him, she turned around and greeted him with a concerned growl. Taverna waved his wings and growled in response, complaining that the human's party had interrupted his activities. The vixen growled back even louder, not very welcoming to his presence. Then Taverna turned his attention to the human, who greeted him with the usual wave of her arm and some warbles in human language, from which the Salamence could make the general idea that the team was busy with sparring and gathering fruits, and that they were surprised that the Salamence was not watching over the hollow of the Tall One (where, he had to remind himself, the other dragon was sleeping).
Taverna saw a skull lizard and a color-eye moth hushing at the development, and realizing that his presence in the beach was being questioned, the Salamence bat his tail and growled louder, declaring to the human and her party that as a dragon he would go where he wishes, when he wishes.
The leaf vixen replied matter-of-factly that in that case, the dragon was welcome to stay for the fruit gathering.
A brief silence befell the group as the Salamence found himself unsure of how to answer. He pondered briefly if to repeat his threat, perhaps punctuating with the usual show of fireworks, but then again it was true that the human's party had limited themselves to their own activities until he landed behind them.
Well, given that he had already lost crab for breakfast, Taverna was more than willing to receive a tribute of berry fruit to compensate for that loss, anyway – if anything, it would save the Salamence having to grab berries from the more isolated ridges. As if to emphasize their offer, the leaf vixen pointed her leaf to a half-full basket of berries.
Taverna let out a more friendly growl and agreed to rest by the beach's border until the basket was full, and warned the vixen he was a big eater. Even if what he preferred to eat was recently-live meat, but so long as the vixen was offering free food she did not need to know that.
Opening of AutumnEvery once in a while, living creatures of all kinds, even a Salamence, would meet others of prowess far above their own or even of groups of their own. These unique creatures would look down at the world, and the earthly creatures would respond in reverence.
Taverna beat his wings hard trying to reach higher altitude and looked up – so far up – at the figure of the serpentine dragon that had emerged from the hollow of the Tall One. The “other” dragon living in the island, he had awakened from a year long nap yesterday morning, had ascended early to face the rising sun and capture its light in the yellow stripes that adorned its emerald green hide, to then let out a high-pitched roar challenging the sky. The few Pokémon that had dared to fly hat morning watched how, after dancing in its snake-like form for a while, the wyrm had shot up straight for the sky with a speed and grace that could only be found in the feather-mirage dragons.
Today was a different day, and Taverna found himself in an even better mood that he had found himself yesterday with the wyrm's rumbling.
The sea around them seemed calm and the island below was going with its day. The winds were strong, growing stronger as Taverna beat his wings to ascend, to reach to where the wyrm of emerald hide and streaming light was basking under the Sun that surveiled the horizon. Taverna straightened his neck and pointed his body towards the figure of the wyrm dancing in the ether. He breathed in as much air as he could.
Taverna pondered that the green dragon above had slept for quite long; the Salamence thought that, much like he himself did, the wyrm would love to stretch his muscles and to make himself known under the clear sky.
He would love, certainly, a greeting and a fight.
Taverna roared his welcome greeting, as loud as he could. He roared that he was Taverna, the chiefest hunter in the Isla, and that he was pleased to meet another dragon that would, like him, take pleasure in their dominance over land and sea and be no afraid to put it to the test. The Salamence's heart beat harder in anticipation as the wyrm stopped dancing and turned to look at him down. Down! He dared!
Any lesser being would have braked hard, right there, and relinquished their feeble claim to the skies; but Taverna liked the challenges and solaces the Isla had given him, so if he would find anything interesting in his day he would not stop climbing up to meet it.
The Salamence heard the wyrm roaring back his own challenge, and he slowed his ascent down just a bit; after all, he needed to aim.
The day was sunny and the high winds were graceful. The sea below was undisrupted by challenges. The human down at the Isla was resting or probably playing around with her party. Only the two dragons lorded over the sky, even if at a tall difference, and seized each other in the distance as they zoomed towards each other.
Taverna breathed in hard, collected his natural energy from every inch of his body, and shot out a white, hyper-charged beam of raw energy to open his new adventure of the day.
And now, for the usual
- The entry got 74/90 points (4th place) in the SWC 2021 contest. Hyzenthlay and Juno are the winners this year.
- For those who remember by back-then-original Pseudo Legendary: yes, same dragon~ (and the same human and Leafeon for that matter)
- Taverna's steam attack comes from the Trading Card Game's Salamence (Roaring Skies) card, which entry describes a "Steam Blast" attack. I thought it'd make sense for a dragon lording over a small island.
- If you play Monster Hunter and are getting a "why do I hear boss music?" vibe from Taverna's attack in Scene 2: you're not wrong. The scene was modeled to give off the same vibe as Bazelgeuse's ecology video in Monster Hunter Rise. Yeah they are quite alike a*oles.
Official article: "A Good Year to Rawr" at the Suocéverse wiki - at this date still incomplete.