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Old January 14th, 2011 (01:17 PM).
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Episode 17: Roni's Challenge

[BGM: Contemplating Answers]

"Where are the waterfalls, anyway?" Ash asked Janine as the group tromped through one of the rare forested areas around the village.

"Patience!" Janine knows these areas, so trust her skill." Kissa assured him. Ash just sighed--they'd been tromping through one of the Kaiji Realm's rare forests for the better part of an hour, and he didn't see a stream or waterfalls anywhere.

"Don't foreget Kissa knows where the river is too." Dawn added, snickering about the morning's fish incident.

"I found it completely by accident..." Kissa confessed. "When I'm in a new place and there's a river, lake or stream, I have to try some of the local fish--and this was some of the best fish I've had in some time."

"I'm sure the Earth Kami would be happy to hear that, Kissa-san. "Janine smiled. "I'm also impressed you were able to find the river without help."

"So you've found the chunin?" a male voice began.

[BGM: In the Presence of Gods]

"Raissel!" Ash smiled as a green light flew before him, revealing a miniature version of the earth god.

"Great Earth Kami!" Janine bowed before Raissel. "I am the one chosen by your queen..."

"And confirmed by Brock's song." Dawn added.

"Janine knows this already, but I felt I would tell you also about the training area here." Raissel began as he led the group into a large clearing, where a large waterfall spilled into a rushing river. "Inside these caves are many traps and puzzles, one of which is another way into the shrine housing the Hikari of the earth village."

"The Hikari is gone, and Janine is helping us get it back." Ash explained.

"Her knowledge should help you, for these will not be like the puzzles you saw in the Whitespell Catacombs." Raissel cautioned. "Furthermore, you also need to prove yourselves to the dragon that guards the Hikari..."

"Forgive my interupption, but what sorts of puzzles can I expect to see?" Ash asked, a note of fear in his voice.

"While I feel it would be best for you to see them with your own eyes, I will tell you that they are harder than a game of Mystic's Eyes." Raissel replied. "I and the other gods have faith that you will have the wits to figure them out and bring whoever took the Hikari to justice." With that, he disappeared into the sky in a flash of green.

[Cut BGM]

There was a brief silence before Kissa asked "Well, now what?"

"So, we need to hunt down the thief in the caves..." Ash mused before showing the group some drawings. "We work our way through the caves..." he mused, gesturing to his stick figure scene of the group in a cave. "solving any puzzles they may throw at us..." he continued as he referrred to the stick figure drawing of the group flipping and spinning various objects. "convince Furuda that there's danger in his abode and we need to get rid of it..." Dawn stifled a giggle at the stick figure Ash negotiating with a stick figure dragon. "Have Brock play fiddle while I d-WHAT???"

Everyone laughed at Ash's reaction to the next drawing in the sequence: a scene of a slightly better drawing of Brock playing fiddle while a better drawing of Ash danced for the unseen dragon. "How'd this get in here?"

[BGM: The Mystical Waves (Kaimana's theme)]

At this, a blue feline-like creature with a mermaid-like tail emerged from the pond behind Janine, giggling with pride. "Kaimana-san, you know better than to play tricks on guests!" Janine scolded. "I am helping this mage and his friends on his journey--this is no time to ruin our plans!"

"Vapori..." the creature sadly sighed.

"I know you only wanted to play, but now isn't the time." Janine assured the creature before addressing Ash. "Forgive my pet, Kokenin-san--she enjoys playing tricks on others to get their attention...

"Ash, please..." Ash replied as he crumpled up the picture, revealing the correct picture of the stick figure group following a trail of tracks.

"How is it that an earth ninja receives a water Pokemon?" Dawn wondered.

"Father gave me Kaimana as a gift from a friend in Mizutoshi--I raised her from an Eevee to a lovely Vaporeon." Janine replied. "Despite her playful tendencies, she makes a fine scout and partner in battle; and a budding artist as well."

"So she was the one that drew the picture of Ash dancing?" Brock asked. Janine nodded. "She paints well, for a Pokemon."

"Thank you--she often paints pictures of what she desires rather than cry for attention." Janine replied before hugging the Vaporeon.

"I don't see any harm in an inspirational two-step before we go inside the caves..." Brock smiled as he unearthed the fiddle case from his bag.

"And I'm not that great a dancer, but I'll try." Ash agreed as he waited for Brock to tune.

[BGM: Ash's Forest Waltz]

When Brock was ready, he played a few bars of "Song for Marista" in rememberance of the woman that had spurred him to learn the way of the minstrel before segueing into an elegant waltz. While there were a few mistakes in the tune and Ash's steps were a bit jerky, Kaimana just nodded her head in time to the music, bemused in the mage that swayed and swirled about the forest clearing in time to the fiddle's song.

Some applause startled Ash, sending him falling to the forest floor. "Well done, dancing mage, but is that enough to prove you worthy of a goddess' bead?"

"Roni..." Brock growled as he put the fiddle away.

[BGM: What Are You Doing Here, Roni?]

"What do you want?" Ash wondered as he regained his bearings.

"I don't know how running around with shadow warriors will help find the Beads, but if you don't hit just the right notes, I'll be off with them." Roni replied as she strolled into the clearing.

"You take that back..." Janine cautioned, appalled at being called a "shadow warrior"

"What do you mean, hitting just the right notes?" Dawn asked, confused by Roni's challenge.

"Are you saying you want to challenge me for Anima's Diamond?" Brock retorted as he reached for his blade.

"Oh, no, Brock, I don't want to physically fight you...I'd rather have a duel of song." Roni assured her rival. "Win, and you can keep Anima's Diamond. Lose, and it's mine."

To Be Continued...
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