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Old November 9th, 2010 (08:23 AM).
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EmeraldSky
Make the Colors in the Sky!
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: At the arcade, playing DDR with Ash
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Episode 5: The Light of Whitespell

[BGM: Setting Out]

The group left Amhran Hall early the next morning with hopes of arriving at Whitespell by sunset. Ash led the way onto the plains, with Pikachu following him. Brock and Kissa walked alongside him, so Pikachu wouldn't be lost in the tall grass that waved in the light breeze.

For a while, Pikachu couldn't decide where to keep watch--he would walk on the ground for a moment only to find that he couldn't see anything in the grass. Climbing on his master's shoulder meant that he would feel the brunt of the wind and shiver from being so cold. Riding on Kissa's back meant that he would get hot from the sun, so he would dart back in the grass again in an effort to keep cool, beginning the cycle anew.

"For the Lady's sake, either walk or choose a place to ride!" Pikachu's indecisiveness was grating on Kissa's nerves.

Ash retrieved a small pouch just small enough for a Pikachu to fit. "Would you rather ride in here? It should keep you safe from the sun and wind."

Just then, Pikachu spotted a small blue flash in the grass. "Pika?" he wondered as he hopped off Kissa's back and raced into the grass.

"What is it?" Kissa asked as she followed Pikachu into the grass.

"Pika pi!" Pikachu smiled as he proudly displayed two vaguely square shaped deep blue chrysalises in his paws.

"Sapphire jewel bugs in the process of metamorphosis--a chrysalis can go for a nice sum depending on what variety of jewel bug." Brock noted.

"The skins from a ruby jewel bug can be ground into a powder to protect against sunburn, and jewel bug skins make a nice substitute for a gem in a pinch." Ash added. "But the rarest of all the colors of jewel bug is the diamond jewel bug--just the skins from one can fetch a price of 50,000 pieces of gold at the cheapest."

"Typically, they're more afraid of you than you are of them, but do not take kindly to someone taking their eggs, larvae, or chrysalises." Brock cautioned as he heard the familiar whining buzz of an approaching swarm of jewel bugs in the distance.

[BGM: Out of the Ground, Raze All Greenery in Flame! (battle theme 1)]

'Piiiiiiiiikaaaaaaaa!!!!" Pikachu screamed as he jumped to avoid the ice pellets the jewel bugs were shooting at him and balance the two chrysalises in his paws at the same time.

"Put those down and run for it!" Kissa called. Pikachu complied and ran back to Ash's side as Kissa scratched one bug, leaving a deep gash in its gemstone-like skin.

Ash drew his blade and slashed several bugs flying at him. Just as he could slash a wave, more would land and begin firing ice pellets at him, making him shiver with the combined cold and pain of hundreds of pellets landing on him at once.

"Chu!!!!!" Pikachu unleashed a Thunderbolt into the grass, but even this wasn't enough to dispel the swarm--more jewelbugs were arriving faster than the group could kill them off!

Inspired, Ash charged a ball of red energy in his hands "Out of the ground, raze all greenery in flame! Fire!" The ball of flames went flying through the grass, scorching many jewel bugs on the way, but not affecting the surrounding grass.

He thought he heard Brock's voice over the buzz of the swarm and the pit-pit-pit of ice pellets on his skin and clothing, but it wasn't until he heard a harp in the distance and saw his blade, Kissa's claws, and Pikachu's tail glowing red.

"Thanks, Master!" Kissa called to Brock over the noise. The squeal of dying jewel bugs and the crackling of flames filled the air as Ash and the Pokemon cut through the swarm, melting much of the frozen grass and setting many jewel bugs on fire.

[Cut BGM]

After a while, the remainder of the swarm retreated into the sky. "Good riddance..." Ash sighed as he sheathed his weapon.

"Next time, I hope we fight something not quite so messy..." Brock sighed as he looked out on the expanse of dead jewel bugs that dotted the grass.

"Who said that self defense was a clean job?" Ash countered as the skins of the jewel bugs crunched beneath his feet. "Scorched jewel bugs are useless for anything."

"You're right....let's move along before more jewelbugs come." With that, Brock motioned for the group to follow him, being careful to avoid jewel bug skins where he could.

---------

After the encounter with the sapphire jewelbug swarm, the group found themselves winding down another path in Hara Forest. Ash was particularly tired--for all he knew, they would emerge at the foot of Mt. Arian to the north--and he knew that Mt. Arian was too far north from Whitespell.

He mustered a weak smile when he saw the shining yellow light of the circular beacon at the top of the temple's tower, but his relief became frustration when he heard thunder roll and rain began pelting the ground. "Oh, great..."

"We're getting close..." Brock assured him. "Protect the instruments at all costs!" he cautioned as he ran on ahead. Ash nodded and tossed a blanket over the cases containing Brock's harp and cadena and the drawstring sleeve protecting the Dreamer's Flute as he hurried through the rapidly dampening brush to rejoin Brock and the Pokemon at the gatehouse. Once sure the group was all together again, he knocked at the front door.

"Who's there?" a boy's voice called.

"Friends seek shelter in Anima's grace." Brock replied--the sign that to a cleric meant that the traveling party wished to rest at the temple. As if on command, the gate lowered, allowing the group access to the temple and the surrounding buildings.

[BGM: Seeking Information]

"Brock of Hopea...welcome to the sanctuary of Whitespell." the high cleric, a woman with dull green hair, smiled as Brock led Ash and the Pokemon inside the temple's main room. "What leads you to the temple on this dreadful night for traveling?"

"Sadly, it is not to share tales and rumors, Ethani..." Brock replied. "Not this time..."

"I understand--the Beads of the Elements have called you to find them--although that doesn't explain why I keep hearing a lost girl singing "Love, oh love" in the catacombs." Ethani replied as she accepted a drink from an apprentice. "For some reason, the singing has attracted monsters as well--we have managed to drive most of them away."

"Haven't you sent someone into the catacombs to find out the source of the singing?" Ash wondered.

"Well, no volunteer has come foward, and apprentices are not allowed into the catacombs alone." Ethani replied. "But the hour grows late, and you must be tired from your journey, so we will discuss the matter further in the morning." She paused to grab a piece of glowing gold thread from an overhang nearby an altar rail. "This is the thread that binds the Beads of the Elements to you, allowing you to use Rainbow Symphony when all eight are together--guard it with your life."

"I will, with Anima's help." Brock replied as an apprentice in a white robe with gold trim arrived to escort the group to the guest's quarters.

---------

Ash laid awake in his bed, watching the trees sway in the wind. The pounding of the rain on the roof was driving him crazy, and no amount of covering his ears was helping as he watched the rain fall, the temple beacon casting a yellowish glow on the raindrops and puddles in its range.

"You can't sleep either?" Brock asked as he watched Kissa curl up on a rug by his bed to sleep.

"Not at all." Ash sighed, enviously eying Pikachu, who was sleeping inside a small drawer on the nightstand by his bed. "I can sleep through a light rain, but this is too much!"

"If you want, I can try to silence the raindrops with Silent Song..." Brock offered as he climbed out of bed and walked over to the storage chest nearby the closet.

"I believe that's meant to seal magical ability, not silence sound." Ash interjected as Brock sat down on his bed, now carrying his harp. "But, any sort of lullaby would be nice..." Brock nodded and began a slow and quiet melody.

[BGM: Lullaby For a Rainy Night]

Ash took a moment to admire his friend's harp as the lullaby filled the air. The instrument looked similar to a large bow, with the column, neck, soundboard, and soundbox combining to resemble a sort of bird. He wanted to say it resembled a Swellow, a Pidgeot, or even Lugia, but there were no defining details to signal what sort of bird it was.

"Does your instrument resemble any sort of bird Pokemon?" he finally asked, snapping Brock from his performance.

"Not any specific one--just a general bird." Brock replied. "The craftsman that made the Harp of Divine Elements for me liked to incorporate birds or parts of birds into his work." He gestured to the head of the "bird" that made the top of the column, which had a sapphire for its "eye". "The column is the bird's body, and the neck, soundboard, and soundbox are its wings." Ash took a moment to admire the harp's feather-like inlay work studded with gems and smiled--whoever the craftsman was, he had to have put a lot of work into a beautiful instrument.

"Did you receive this harp when you fledged to a full minstrel?" Ash wondered.

"Yes--all I had to do was tell the craftsman my specifications." Brock replied before preparing to play again. "While I was still an apprentice and learning to play, I used a very simple instrument with minimal decoration." With that, he resumed his song.

"What is a typical day for a minstrel's apprentice like?" Ash was interested now--this was better than any tale for a bedtime story.

"After we rose, washed up, and had breakfast in the meal hall, we went our seperate ways to the different study rooms--what we studied each day and in what order differed." Brock began. "You could have a small group lesson in an instrument one day, followed by a lore lesson, then a lesson in composing...." He then realized that Ash had fallen asleep, so he quickly returned the harp to its case and dozed off.

The next morning...

[BGM: Welcome to Whitespell]

"Yes?" Ash sleepily yawned as Kissa walked into the room, shielding some of the sun from his eyes.

"Sh--the apprentices are having morning prayers." Kissa shushed as she watched Ash get dressed and wash up. "The high cleric has agreed to let us go through the catacombs, so we must meet her outside by the target range to meet the cleric that will guide us."

"Coming!" Ash gathered his gear and motioned for Pikachu to follow him as he followed Kissa down the stairs and around a corner to the temple's main hall, then down a stone pathway to a clearing dotted with simple striped targets. Brock was already present with Ethani on the steps overlooking the target range.

"Your guide is one of the three masters and mistresses that train the apprentices in using a bow." Ethani explained. Ash could see a black haired cleric approaching from the barracks off to the west, carrying quivers filled with arrows of all shapes and sizes, protective gear, and spare bows. Judging from the green, deep blue, and purple trim on her white robe, she was one of the many clerics tending to Whitespell, with the arrow design on one sleeve symbolizing that she was one of the bowmistresses. If some gold trim were added, she would have been a high cleric like Ethani. He watched two more clerics in similar attire arrive and begin preparing the targets for the morning practice.

The black haired cleric, meanwhile, began rigging a few targets to some trees as she softly sang As I walked through the wood one morning, as the sun shone down through the trees; I asked my cheerbringing companion what beast we would bring to its knees...

"Interesting song..." Ash noted.

"It's a song popular in the town of Mavi and the surrounding villages of Mt. Arian called 'Diamonds in the Wood'" Ethani explained. "It's about how a great hunter and his jester companion talk about finding treature in a forest, and they find a diamond there--perhaps your minstrel companion knows it?"

"Unfortunately, that's one song I don't know..." Brock confessed as he accepted his harp from Kissa. "However, I DO know a different song from Ash's hometown of Masuliro that is often set to the same tune--'The Prayer for Justice'."

"The one where something terrible happens in a town--exactly what varies from minstrel to minstrel--the people plead with the priest to find out who committed the crime, and after many nights in prayer to Lady Anima, She guides him to the perpetrator?" Ash wondered--he had heard the song before, but under a different tune.

"That's the one." Brock assured him, adding a little flourish to prove his point.

[BGM: All is Well, I'm Here (Dawn's theme)]

"Forgive my intrusion on your conversation, but I'm surprised you know 'Diamonds in the Wood', Sir Minstrel." a female voice interjected. "Not many minstrels that stop here know that song."

Brock looked up and saw the black haired cleric looking back at him with a shy smile. "Unfortunately, I will have to be added to that number, Lady..."

"Lady Dawn of Hikari's Enclave, Bowmistress of Anima, at your service." the black haired girl replied. "Her Grace Ethani asked me to take you through the catacombs."

"Sir Brock of Hopea, and his companion, Ash of Asimiro Lodge." Ethani added, allowing the boys a chance to offer a handshake to Dawn.

"Pleased to meet both of you." Dawn replied.

[BGM: Whitespell Under Fire!]

Just then, a male cleric bust into the clearing. "Lady Ethani! There's a couerl trying to storm the temple! We've held it back with a Wall spell, but I don't know how long it will hold!"

"I'll go!" Dawn volunteered as she grabbed her bow from the pile of bows and followed the cleric down the path to the temple green, where a large feline creature with snake-like appendages from its head hungrily eyed the crowd of apprentices from behind a glowing blue wall.

"By Anima..." Ash gasped as he and Brock arrived and saw the beast held back by the Wall--Kissa looked tiny compared to the huge cat.

"Lady Dawn, how are we supposed to fight the demon cat?" a male apprentice asked as tears of fear welled up in his eyes. "No weapon would be able to pierce the Wall we made."

"I know a way we can attack it!" Ash announced. Once sure he had the crowd's attention, he continued. "My companion is one of the very few minstrels that can sing magic as easily as a song--so the spell likely would pass through the wall!'

"Sooner or later, the Wall will dispel--so we need to prepare and be ready to fight when it does." Dawn agreed before turning to Brock. "Sir Minstrel, please perform a spell that will buy us time."

"Sure..." With that, Brock climbed on top of a rock facing the temple gate and readied his harp to play. "Spirits of slumber, send this creature to the world of dreams! Dreamer's Dust!"

Ash swallowed hard as he watched the harp's lullaby create sparkling gold dust that fell onto the couerl, making it lie down as it drifted to sleep--was putting it to sleep going to be enough to subdue it?

To Be Continued...
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