Episode 26: The Ice of the Wood
[BGM: Welcome to the Woods]
The group departed the inn the next morning in high spirits--Misty led the way, with Brock following behind, then Ash, with the girls and the Pokemon bringing up the rear. Despite the cold and whirling snow around them, Ash was confident that they would find the plumen leaves they needed to heal the mayor's daughter and enter the ice caverns.
"This is it..." Misty began as she led the group up to a large stone door with a red stone in the middle. "The crystal door that leads into the Frosty Forest."
Ash hesitantly approached the door, drew his blade, and struck the crystal hard enough to create a ringing E note that could be heard all the way back in town. No sooner had Brock hum back the note in reply, did the door rumble open, nearly blinding the party with a blast of wind and snow.
[BGM: Wandering in the Cold]
"I thought the snow would have subsided by now!" Dawn gasped as she wiped snow from her eyes.
"Much less it get this bad at this time of day!" Janine paused to wipe snow from her eyes as well.
"When they said the weather here was unpredictable, they weren't kidding!" Ash agreed as the group made their way into the maze of pine and fir trees.
"Unfortuantely, there's nothing I can do about this weather, so we'll just have to deal with it for now." Misty sighed--she had not counted on everyone's complaining.
"I could call upon Saidas again!" Ash volunteered. "She brought us here, so maybe she can guide us through this maze."
"That's an idea, but I wouldn't invoke the gods unless we really needed help." Misty replied as she led the group around a bend.
"You also have a means of creating a map, you know--remember the spell of tracking Anima taught you?" Dawn added as she carefully stepped over a stick and into more snow.
[BGM: Tracking Cycle]
Ash quickly fumbled for the Dreamer's Flute and called into the howling wind "Four elements, reveal to me where the plumen grows! Tracking Cycle! With that, he played a playful melody down the scale for the Earth section, followed by a mystical response up the scale for the Fire section. After repeating the playful call again for the Wind section, a quiet response for Water completed the cycle.
[BGM: Secrets in the Snow]
"Whoa..." Dawn gasped as a large glowing map of the Forest appeared in the sky, with a rainbow ball representing the group's current position and a blue ball marking their destination.
"See? When you put your mind to it, anything is possible." Janine assured him. "Learn to consider your options before charging to battle." Ash nodded to show Janine he understood, then focused on following the shining map's directions to the plumen grove.
It took several hours of winding through the forest's many snowy paths and walls of trees, but just before the sun set, the group arrived at a large wall of newly formed ice. "Oh dear...perhaps the Tracking Cycle was incorrect?" Kissa mused as she and Pikachu contemplated how to pass the blue-white wall before them.
"Easy--it's just ice, so all we have to do is cast a fire spell on it!" Ash assured the others before taking a few steps back and charging a ball of red energy. "Star fire, awake and deliver your judgement! Fira!" The large ball of fire went flying at the ice wall, but when the flaming explosion disappated, the ice wall was amazingly still standing!
"Burning fire, become like water to sear my foe! Fire Mist!" The ensuing calm melody from Brock's harp and the red cloud of hot mist created from the strings did nothing to damage the ice.
"Hi Magiiro no jutsu! Great Fire Tornado!" Janine's firey whirlwind fizzled out upon impact with the ice wall.
"Any more bright ideas?" Misty asked as the boys and Janine tried again and again to make any sort of dent in the ice wall.
"This is no ordinary ice..." Janine concluded. "Apparently someone or something created this ice, and it doesn't appear to be the great Saidas..."
"The Ice Queen wouldn't dream of putting up an ice barrier unless she was protecting something..." Dawn mused.
[BGM: In the Presence of Gods]
"You'd be correct, Bowmistress." Saidas replied as she flew in aboard Articuno. "However, do not be so quick to accuse me of blocking your way to the blue star--this ice is not mine, and I have no reason to seal the plumen grove."
"Well, if you didn't do it, who did?" Ash demanded.
"Something far more sinister than the malady that struck the little one in Chairo--something that makes its lair in the ice caves." Saidas replied. "What this being is, I'm not sure yet, but it wants to see the little one dead and the way to its lair sealed."
"But how do we break the barrier, O Ice Kami?" Janine pleaded. "All our jutsu have done nothing!"
"One spell alone will not be enough, but there is a way to break the ice down." Saidas assured Janine before flying off into the swirling snow aboard Articuno.
There was a moment of silence as the group contemplated their next move. The sun was about to set, and if they didn't think of something now, they would be left to survive whatever lurked within the Frosty Forest at night.
Finally, Dawn spoke up. "Say..."
"What is it?" Kissa asked, piqued.
"Since none of our spells alone have done a thing to the ice barrier...why don't we try casting all of them at once?" Dawn suggested. "Brock could play Fire Mist using the Song of Light..."
"And then Ash join in playing a fire spell himself..." Kissa added.
"..and then Chiryoshi-hime power Kokenin-san's spellsong with her voice!" Janine cried, excited. "It's a great idea, and worth a try, since our time of light grows short."
"Okay..." Brock replied as he readied his harp to play again. "I will start the song Fire Mist using the tune of the Song of Light. When I finish one cycle of the tune, Ash will join me with a spell of his own, with Dawn's voice enhancing whatever Ash decides to play. The combined power of both spells should at least make a dent in the barrier."
"Whenever you're ready." Misty mused.
[BGM: Let Our Songs Combine]
Brock nodded and whispered "Burning fire, become like water to sear my foe! Fire Mist!" before beginning the familiar rising and falling melody of the Song of Light, making a large cloud of red mist engulf the wall.
"Holy fire, rend through the coldness of evil! Crimson Claw!" Ash commanded before joining in with a countermelody on the Dreamer's Flute, with Dawn singing a descant to make the glowing red crystals glow brighter than before as they impacted the icy barrier with a hiss.
"It's working!" Misty joyfully cried as she saw the first drops of melting ice begin forming on the wall a few minutes later.
"Keep playing!" Kissa urged as a melting icicle landed at her feet.
The song continued for about twenty minutes, with the barrier growing smaller and smaller ever so slowly until it disappeared completely, revealing a small grove filled with blue leafed plants.
"The plumen!" Ash eagerly pocketed the Dreamer's Flute and rushed to pick some of the blue leaves from the odd plants.
"Just in time, too..." Misty added as the sun sank below the horizon.
Once enough plumen had been gathered, the group was whisked back to Chairo just before the first stars of night appeared with a call of "Beacon of Anima, take us to Chairo! Time Hole!"
To Be Continued...