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Old December 27th, 2010, 03:10 PM
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EmeraldSky
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Episode 14: Harp of the Plum Blossom

[BGM: The Meowth's Call]

Thunder rolled and rain splattered on the roof of Ash's tent, providing a sort of rhythm to the song he was practicing. It had been three days since they had left Sindura, and the group was now on the Kaiji Plains after crossing over the famous covered bridge that linked both Raben and Sindura to the realm of the ninjas. Granted, the storm had ruled out their only other option--crossing the great Lake Keshou by boat, which would have delayed their trip by many more days. That was pretty much the only positive of waiting out the storm Ash could think of--Pikachu was napping on his sleeping bag, sleepily listening to him play "The Meowth's Call" on the Dreamer's Flute.

When he had finished, he contemplated playing another song from his meager repetoire, but boredom overruled the desire to play any more. "Is this rain ever going to stop?" he groaned in frustration. "We should be in Miyakawa by now!"

"But you have been traveling many days, young mage...you need the rest." a young male voice replied.

[BGM: In the Presence of Gods]

Ash whirled around to see a young man with pale green hair standing before him. "Who are you?" he asked, reaching for his sword.

"Peace--I am Raissel, lord of the earth and all creatures in it." the man replied as he wrung out a deep green and gold cloak that covered a tunic that was a lighter green and some baggy blue green leggings. "Anima asked me to guide you to my bead, hidden somewhere in the realm of the ninjas."

"You didn't have to send all this rain!" Ash complained as Raissel fastened his cloak with a star shaped crystal clasp and adjusted the green sash with gold trim that served as a belt. Pikachu sleepily woke up and admired the diamond shaped emerald that glinted in the center of the sash.

"Complain to Mirenai, then--she rules the rains, not I." Raissel gently scolded him. "If it doesn't rain, then how else would the plants and creatures I have created get water? That, and you are a half day's walk from Miyakawa--if you push yourself now, you would be exhausted."

Ash nodded--the god of earth had a point. "Anima has shown us that one of the chunin from Miyakawa is joining our quest--can you show us exactly which one She meant?"

"You would have to ask the hokage for her name, all I can show you is what Anima showed you before." With that, Raissel conjured an image of the girl from earlier dueling with a small sword-like weapon. "We will talk more after you have found this chunin--if you need something to pass the time, ask your minstrel companion about this area--or have him play for you." With that, he disappeared in a flash of green light.

{Cut BGM]

"Ash?" Brock peeked into the tent, concerned. "Is everything okay?"

"Raissel, god of the earth, appeared to me...I think his Bead is in this area...." Ash mused as he put away the Dreamer's Flute. "But what can you tell me about this place?"

[BGM: The Mysterious Singer]

"It's a wonder the stringed instruments survived this trip..." Brock muttered as he retuned the harp and cadena for what was seemingly the millionth time. "The Kaiji Realm is home to warriors trained in the mystical arts--or ninjas, as they are popularly called." he explained.

"While generally, they keep to themselves, they relish any visit from the outside world due to the harsh weather conditions of the plains." Kissa added before shaking herself dry. "There are smaller settlements scattered throughout this area, but the main cities are the five villages--Miyakawa being the earth village."

"The others are Mizutoshi, of water, Himachi, of fire, Denkoto, of lightning, and Kazemura, of wind." Brock continued as he finished tuning the cadena and starting on the fiddle. "So named because each village specializes in a different type of jutsu."

"Jutsu?" Ash was confused.

"Their word for magic spells." Brock replied. "Since they don't often visit the outside world, their language and magic is different from ours."

"Ooh, tell Ash and Dawn about the Five Hikaris!" Kissa giggled as Dawn joined them in the tent.

"The Five whats?" Dawn asked.

"Patience, Kissa, I'm getting to them." Brock assured the Persian before addressing Ash and Dawn again. "Each of the five villages has a special weapon that is said to protect the village, which they call a hikari, or light."

"So Five Hikaris means five lights..." Ash mused.

"The Hikari is housed in a shrine adjoining the ruler's--or hokage's--house, and is only wielded in times of great need." Brock concluded.

"You said earlier you performed for the hokage of Mizutoshi when you were younger--have you performed for the hokage of Miyakawa at all?" Ash was interested now. "Or any of the other hokages?"

"One of my personal goals is to perform for each of the hokages at least once." Brock replied. "So far, I have performed for Mizutoshi, Miyakawa twice, and Denkoto--I have yet to visit Himachi or Kazemura."

"What's their music like?" Dawn asked--If Brock had really been all over the world, he would have heard a dizzying array of songs in all sorts of styles.

"Well..." Brock toyed with the fiddle for a moment. "It's both very soothing and calm and blazing fast--you'll hear wood flutes, zithers, the occassional harp, and a three stringed fiddle known as a tikin." After rosining the bow and stroking a few notes, he winced at how out of tune the fiddle still was after being in the damp conditions. After seeing that the harp was the only stringed instrument he had that was in tune, he decided to play that. "I'm going to try and play what was originally meant for zither on harp--this tune's name roughly translates to 'Kazemura Breeze'. With that, he began a flowing melody that sounded vaguely like a lullaby at some times, and a dance at others.

[BGM: Kazemura Breeze]

Dawn was mesmerized by the cascading glissandos and soothing melody. "And to think that they write hundreds of songs using only five notes..."

"Well, the Kaiji harp has two sets of strings, and Master is only performing with one, so it's not as harmonious as I'd like, but still a very nice attempt at foreign music." Kissa commented.

"Kissa's right--the harp the ninjas play has strings on both sides, so they can play multiple parts at once--not to mention make some amazing harmony." Brock replied as he concluded the song. "In fact, when I first visited Denkoto, my host, Lian, asked how I was able to play with just twenty-four strings, and showed me their harp, the kinanda....

[Cut BGM]

"Oh, so that's what it's called--I can never remember its proper name." Kissa sighed, blushing a little. Ash pictured Brock keeping track of 48 strings and smiled--if he was this good with 24 strings, he could only imagine what his performance would sound like on a harp with twice that many.

"She deemed my harp 'Vina', which means 'the little singer'--that and her nickname for me eventually stuck throughout all five of the villages." Brock concluded as he peeked outside. "The sun is finally out, so we can continue."

Finally! Ash smiled as he broke his camp--he was eager to see if all those things Brock had said about the ninjas were true!

---------

[BGM: Miyakawa, Guardian of the Earth]

The sun was sinking below the horizons as the sloping roofs of the village of Miyakawa came into view. "It's beautiful!" Dawn commented as she admired the ribbons on the doorposts that were fluttering in the evening breeze.

Just then, a girl spotted Brock in the distance. "Karakashu-san!" she called. "Karakashu-san's back!" she reported to some other children. The children immediately abandoned their toys and ran to embrace Brock and Kissa.

"Karakashu-san?" Ash asked.

"My title in their language." Brock explained. "It means 'the color singer'"

"Not so hard, please..." Kissa gently reminded some other children who were enthusiastically petting her. "Kissa-chan has traveled a long way to see you."

[BGM: The Exalted Elementals]

"Hold!" a boy wearing a red training tunic announced, "No outsider enters the five villages without passing the Exalted Elementals first!"

"Oh, Takuya, not this Exalted Elementals stuff again...." a girl sighed.

"Ninja of the Red Flame, Himachi!" Takuya announced.

"Ninja of the Green Earth, Miyakawa!" another boy in a green tunic announced

"Ninja of the Pink Wind, Kazemura!" a girl in a dull pink training tunic announced.

"Ninja of the Blue Sea, Mizutoshi!" a girl in a royal blue training tunic announced.

"Ninja of the Yellow Lightning, Denkoto!" a third boy in a dull yellow tunic announced.

"We are the Exalted Elementals, and you will not pass!" the children chorused.

"Now wait a minute!" Dawn protested. "You guys don't even know who we are!"

"That's right, and you must be punished for setting foot on our land!" Takuya retorted before Dawn could complete her sentence. "Hi Majiiro no jutsu! Whirling Fire Ring!" he commanded, sending a burning ring flying at the group.

"Power of darkness, hear my song and embrace the light! Hypnotic Aria!" Brock commanded. As he played a calm melody, he added "You will stay your spell, and inform your parents that we come in peace."

[BGM: Ancient Light, Rise and Revive (Song Magic cast)]

"I will stay my jutsu and inform Mom that you come in peace." Takuya repeated in a monotone as his eyes swirled under the spell of the harp. "Hi Majiro no jutsu, tachisaru." he commanded, making the ring of fire fizzle out as quickly as it appeared.

"Then, you will tell Karakashu-san that you're sorry for mistaking him and his companions for intruders." Brock continued.

"I'm sorry I mistook you and your friends for intruders, Karakashu-san." Takuya repeated. "I will not do it again." With that, Brock ended the song, snapping Takuya from his trance.

[BGM: Miyakawa, Guardian of the Earth]

"Forgive Takuya, Karakashu-san." a woman in a royal blue robe began as she hugged Takuya. "He and his friends like to pretend they are guardians of the villages, when we have the Five Hikaris to do that."

"Don't worry--he won't be bothering travelers for a while." Brock assured the woman.

"Emina." the woman smiled.

"Well then, Emina...is the hokage receiving visitors at the moment?" Brock asked.

"I'm sure he would be delighted to see you perform." Emina smiled before flagging a messenger. "Inform the hokage that Karakashu-san has returned." The messenger nodded and hurried off towards an ornate house on the western end of the village.

---------

"Hokage Keiji, Karakashu-san has arrived and wishes to perform for you." a servant announced as the group approached the receiving hall's oranately decorated door.

"Send him in." came the reply.

The servant gently pushed the door open, allowing the group access to the simple yet elegant room, where a black haired young man was seated on a small golden chair, who Ash assumed was Keiji. While Dawn took a moment to admire the screens on the walls depicting flowers, trees, and the sea; Ash marveled at the hokage's ornate green, gold, and brown robe as Brock stepped foward and bowed before him--there were many designs of leaves, flowers, and trees woven throughout the swirling patterns adorning the layered robe.

[BGM: The Shadow of the Earth (theme of the hokage)]

After a few tense seconds of silence, Keiji spoke. "Welcome back, Karakashu-san...have you perhaps come to entertain all the new chunin? Or maybe sing of one of Dokusentoki's exploits?"

"The chunin exam has already passed?" Brock was surprised. "I wanted so much to come and inspire the candidates...but Megami Anima had other plans for me."

"Indeed She has...I have heard much about how you found Her gem in the catacombs of Whitespell, and how you drove a demon out of Sindura with Her help." Keiji replied. "But what is past is past--you can still sing the praises of all our fine chunin, or weave us a tale or two."

"Before that, though...I want to introduce you to my companions, who will be helping me..." Brock began before gesturing to Ash. "Ash of Masuliro Lodge, my guardian..."

"Welcome, Kokenin-san..." Keiji replied as Ash gave a shy bow.

"Kokenin means 'guardian' in their language." Brock discretely whispered to Ash before addressing Keiji again. "And Dawn of Whitespell, our advisor in things both secular and sacred." Dawn shyly smiled before bowing to Keiji.

"And our welcome to you too, Chiryoshi-hime." Keiji replied.

Dawn stifled a giggle at the title Keiji had bestowed on her. "Forgive me, great hokage, but I am far too poor to be considered a princess..."

"And yet you serve the mighty Megami Anima, Queen of Heaven--isn't that an acceptable reason to be called a princess?" Keiji assured Dawn. Dawn nodded in agreement--the hokage had a point, but her red tinged face signaled that she was still embarrassed of her new title.

"Now that we have finished the introductions, I will weave you a tale." Brock smiled before retrieving his harp. "Listen, and Vina will tell you of a time long past..."

"What tales are popular around your hometown, Kokenin-san?"" Keiji interuppted. "I have not heard a tale from that area in some time...maybe a Buneary tale?"

"Well, Buneary's counterpart in my hometown is the wily Pikachu Sorin." Ash explained.

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

Brock took that opportunity to begin a quiet melody. "One day, Sorin was walking along a jungle path, and saw Chimchar swinging about in the trees. Just watching Chimchar catch something with his flaming tail gave Sorin an idea. Early the next morning, Sorin gathered hundreds of vines and wove them into a trap that worked in a similar fashion. He walked for a while until he saw Wargle's nest on a ledge, but when he threw out the noose to snatch an egg, he brought down the whole nest with him!" He adds a downward glissando for effect, to some giggles from the hokage's servants. "Fortunately, the nest landed upright, so no eggs were harmed." he adds as an aside. "Sorin took one of the eggs and added it to the many treasures stashed in his burrow. "When Wargle saw her nest on the ground and one of the eggs missing, she flew into a panic and screamed..."

"Oh no! Someone stole one of my eggs! We have to catch the thief!" Dawn fills in the dialogue.

"So the Pokemon of the jungle went to ask King Entei about what to do." Brock continues. "After listening to Wargle's tearful plea, he said to the other Pokemon..." He switches to a lower pitched version of himself. "We will leave the nest here, and catch the thief when he returns to steal another egg." As himself, he continues "But Sorin had been listening the whole time--he knew they would be leaving Delcatty to catch the thief. Sorin knew that Delcatty was as strong as she was beautiful, but he wasn't scared. That night, while all the Pokemon slept, Sorin set up his trap on the path to Wargle's nest, being careful to disguise it so others couldn't see it. Once sure his trap was set, Sorin crept to some bushes and rustled them, alerting Delcatty!" Ash rustles some grass for effect. "She leapt to attack, but tripped the noose, leaving her helplessly dangling from two trees." The entire court roared with laughter at the mental picture of a Delcatty hanging upside down.

"And then what happened, Karakashu-san?" Keiji wheezed, wiping away a tear of laughter.

"With Delcatty hanging in his trap and too busy crying for help, Sorin snatched another egg." Brock continued. "When the Pokemon returned that night, they set Delcatty free, but Wargle was shocked to find another egg gone. Delcatty assured King Entei that she had not seen anything suspicious, but King Entei vowed to capture the thief. Primeape volunteered to watch the nest the next night, and Sorin again set his trap and rustled some leaves, When Primeape rushed to attack the intruder, he too was caught in the trap, and Sorin snatched another egg." More laughter filled the palace. "The other Pokemon quickly set Primeape free, and he said to King Entei...

"There's a trickster among us..." Ash fills in the dialogue.

"Leopardash volunteered the next night, saying he could outwit any trickster, but he too was caught in the trap." Brock continued. "One by one, the Pokemon tried to catch the thief taking Wargle's eggs, but they would all be caught in Sorin's trap. Finally, only one egg was left."

"So who finally caught Sorin?" a maid asked.

"Finally, Wartortle volunteered, saying..." Brock continued.

"I will catch the thief." Dawn confiently declares in character.

"But if Delcatty, Primeape, Leopardash, and the others all failed, how will you succeed?" Brock asks as King Entei.

"Just you wait." Dawn replies as Wartortle.

"King Entei decided to trust Wartortle, and put her in charge that night." Brock continues as he plays a brief interlude. "Wartortle decided to climb inside the nest alongside the last egg, where she watched Sorin set his trap and rustle the bushes, eager to see who he would catch. But when no one came, he looked into the nest, where there appeared to be two eggs. He was about to snatch what he thought was a large egg when Wartortle bit him on the leg!" The audience laughs at this. "Sorin pleaded and pleaded for Wartortle to let go, but in all the confusion, Sorin wound up caught in his own trap!" He begins one last interlude as the laughter quiets. "King Entei commanded Sorin to return Wargle's eggs, but as he did, he was already plotting what sort of trick to play next--because that's Sorin for you!"

"Nothing less from Karakashu-san!" a servant smiled as Brock led the bows.

"Well told, Karakashu-san." Keiji smiled.

[BGM: The Shadow of the Earth (theme of the hokage)]

Brock's expression turned business-like. "My true reason for my visit is because of a vision of the great Megami Anima...She has revealed to me that one of the chunin is fated to go with me."

"I could call every one out for you to inspect..." Keiji offered.

"Oh no...that would be too time consuming." Kissa interjected.

"Then how about this...in the morning, I have all the chunin gather in the square to prove themselves to you--the one that passes whatever test you determine is the one the Queen of Heaven has chosen to go with you."

"We accept your proposal." Dawn replied.

A maid then approached the group. "Come...you have likely traveled far, and must be exhausted."

[BGM: Safe at Home]

"We have prepared a room for you--the hokage's guests deserve the very best." another maid agreed as she led them down a hallway and into a room decorated with an ornate green and gold rug and a large bed with a sakura print bedspread. Two sofa-like beds encircled the bed.

Ash was about to jump in the large bed, but a maid gently guided him to one of the sofa-like beds. "No...that bed is for Karakashu-san. You sleep here." He sighed and collapsed into the smaller bed--the least he could do was humor his host, and they had a busy day in the morning...

To Be Continued....
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Last edited by EmeraldSky; December 28th, 2010 at 09:09 AM.
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