Ancien Régime

A small walled city dominated by the nearby historic Shabboneau Castle, Camphrier Town (which seems to be Orléans, complete with the Loire River, visible just to the south of the town) prides itself on its aura of history.

Camphrier Town as depicted in the anime series.

  Although the place certainly looks nice, there isn’t really a whole lot there of particular interest, other than Kalos’ resident Bill understudy, Cassius, and a small hotel staffed entirely by one portly concierge.  Even Shabboneau Castle is a bit of a let-down, sadly – apparently, the castle’s owner long ago ran deep into debt and had to sell most of his possessions, and as a result the whole place is incredibly bare and a little run-down.  Good grief; this is a town that values its heritage sites?  Camphrier must be in a pretty bad way.  Shauna and I ask the castle’s current owner and curator, a Black Belt, whether he can tell us anything about Mega Evolution.  The answer appears to be no: he doesn’t even know what we’re talking about.  Well.  That lead went cold pretty quick.

As we stand there talking, another man rushes into the castle to tell the owner that “it’s back.”   What, he does not deign to say.  Shauna insists that we follow them down route 7 and find out what’s going on, which I reluctantly agree to do.  Not like there’s anything else to do around here.  We stroll down route 7 as far as the next bridge over the Loire, which is being blocked by – what else? – a colossal Snorlax, sound asleep after its latest feasting binge.  This is, apparently, a regular occurrence.  The owner of Shabboneau Castle has been called in (as, I assume, he normally is when a Snorlax emergency takes place) because he owns and can play a Poké-Flute – except that he no longer has it.  It has been taken from him by the owner of the nearby Parfum Palace.  Well, I suppose there’s nothing for it, then.  He’s just going to have to go and get it back.  It’ll be hard, and it’ll probably take a long time, but I for one am willing to make the sacrifice of waiting here for as long as it takes.

Shauna is glaring at me for some reason.

Eventually, I am persuaded to go north with Shauna to recover the flute from the Parfum Palace.  This place (geography be damned) is the Château de Versailles.  I know this because I have gotten lost in Versailles (this is not a difficult thing to do when your French is as bad as mine).  The dead giveaway is the Hall of Mirrors on the second floor (one of the most famous features of the real Château de Versailles).  Versailles is best known as the seat of the French monarchy starting from the reign of the palace’s most famous inhabitant, the ‘Sun King’ (in French, le Roi Soleil) Louis XIV, the man associated with the famous dictum “l’état, c’est moi” (roughly translated, “I am the state”) – perhaps history’s most concise and self-assured description of the concept of absolute monarchy.  This is not just a king, this is The King.  I feel this is important background to the Parfum Palace, because the dialogue of the various tourists and servants in the building and its gardens clearly seems meant to invite a reflection on the rights and wrongs of aristocracy and monarchy – in particular, on whether the undeniable beauty and sophistication of the palace’s art and architecture can justify the massive social inequality that allowed it to be created in the first place (of course, it’s only because it was created in the first place that it can survive today, for everyone to enjoy…).  The game’s position seems to be “well, no… but it is lovely, isn’t it?”  Some of the people in the palace also seem to wonder whether the position of an absolute monarch is really all that desirable, as isolating as it must be – applying the same questions to the building’s current owner, by all accounts a very lonely and somewhat stressed man, who is currently in a panic over the disappearance of his favourite Pokémon, a Furfrou.  Though she’s not exactly enchanted with the owner, Shauna hates to see someone upset at losing a Pokémon, and insists that we help find it.  We eventually find the damn thing in the palace’s enormous gardens, and manage to corner it in a hedge maze.

The owner is so effusively joyful at being reunited with his precious Furfrou that he immediately orders a wonderfrou (no, that’s not a typo… sadly…) fireworks display to be given in celebration, suggesting that we head for the balcony to enjoy it properly.  Up on the balcony, Shauna… turns on the charm, shall we say?  “You know… I’ve never watched fireworks alone with a boy before,” she says, and murmurs that although she hasn’t even seen them yet, she knows she’ll remember them forever because she watched them with me.  Look, Shauna… much as that is a really sweet thing to say, we’ve known each other for, like, a week; also I think I have a boyfriend in Lumiose City and I might be engaged to Serena too, I’m not really sure, so I really don’t need any further complications in my love life right now.  Luckily, our conversation is interrupted by the end of the fireworks display and the return of the owner with his Furfrou.  He asks whether that will be enough of a reward for us, and Shauna remembers the reason we came here in the first place – the damn Poké-Flute.  The owner agrees to let us borrow it, and we get on our way.

On the way back from Versailles, I spend some time mucking around in the worryingly tall grass on the approach to the palace.  More Pokémon!  Nincada, Sentret, Kecleon, Oddish (really tempted to stuff you into my party… maybe later) and two more new species: Espurr and Honedge.  Honedge is a possessed sword that feeds on its trainer’s life force… so that’s fun.  Something to keep firmly away from my main party, I think… It’s a Ghost/Steel Pokémon (but weak to Bite – do Steel-types no longer resist Dark attacks?  That would change up the game nicely) and a very physical-heavy tank with the No Guard ability (okay, that definitely merits further investigation later).  Espurr is a Psychic-type all-rounder with, as of yet, no particularly remarkable powers, although I do find her Pokédex entry very strange – “the organ that emits its intense psychic power is sheltered by its ears to keep power from leaking out.”  What, you mean her brain?  And how does a physical barrier stop psychic power from leaking?  For that matter, psychic power can leak?  Ah, whatever; I’ll give her some training later and see what happens…

Shauna and I return to the bridge and present the Shabboneau Castle Black Belt with his Poké-Flute.  He warns me that Snorlax can be grumpy when it wakes up, so I may need to subdue it.  Excellent.  I motion to him to begin playing, and have Ilex stand ready to fight.  Snorlax is Snorlax, and is a bit of a pain by definition, but this one is only level 15, and unlike most other wild Snorlax from earlier games, it doesn’t seem to know Rest, so I’m able to chip its health down, dust it with Sleep Powder, and capture it without much fuss.  Once Snorlax is dealt with, we are approached by the owner of the Parfum Palace, who observes that the Black Belt could do with more practice to play as beautifully as he did when he was young – so it makes sense for him to keep the Poké-Flute.  Wow.  This guy is a master of the back-handed compliment.  Still, all’s well that ends well.  We cross the bridge and are introduced by Trevor and Tierno to a fairly standard day-care centre set-up, after which another catching spree ensues, adding to my Pokédex Croagunk, Ducklett, Hoppip, Illumise, Smeargle, and a… a sentient ball of candyfloss.  I… I just… bluh.  This bizarre creature is a Fairy-type called Swirlix, a relatively tough supporter Pokémon who protects both himself and any nearby allies from sleep, by… I don’t know, giving them a sugar high or something.

Might stay here for a while and level some of the new Pokémon I’ve caught; see what happens.  After that, I suppose it’s on to the next attraction: an imposing building Trevor calls the Battle Château…

…oh, hey, is that a shiny Flabébé?

Ridiculous quote log:

“Don’t try to sleep in the king’s bed!  It’s ir-regal!”
…speak again and I will end you.

“Wow!   Get a look at these chairs! They’re absolutely ‘chairrific’!  Get it?”

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