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  #26    
Old February 21st, 2011, 07:34 PM
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icomeanon6
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I can hardly believe this; 21 chapters and no reviews? Quite a shame, as I've just read the first three chapters and I'm rather enjoying it.

When I read those prequels you had posted, I had been of the opinion that your Brock seemed like the anime Brock in name only, but now that I've read this much of the story proper, I can see enough of the little things that make them more similar. The same goes for Ash. Even though he's a mage now, which at first seemed like an odd match for me, his personality is recognizable and the juxtaposition doesn't feel awkward. I think you have a good balance between the original and borrowed aspects of your canon characters.

Another thing I want to praise is the familiar system. It's a very interesting way of handling an analogue to Pokeballs and the traditional trainer concept in this non-technological world. I'm also a sucker for anything resembling a music-based game interface. The fact that Lugia's summoning tune is longer and more complex than Pikachu's is also a nice touch. Speaking of Lugia, ordinarily I have a problem when characters spend too much time on dialogue that's almost entirely expository, but I think it works pretty well in this story because of how interesting your new world is.

As in the prequels, Brock's story is charming and amusing. I'm going to guess that there are more of them, and that's more than fine by me.

The writing seems fairly well polished, and I don't recall finding any grammatical errors, though I wasn't looking terribly hard and I might have missed some. There were a few things I found problematic content-wise, though:

Quote:
-judging from his age, he appeared about eighteen to twenty years old, his earthen hair and tan skin the perfect complement to the dull red and gold tunic and white leggings he wore.
"judging from his age" doesn't make sense because you're supposed to be extrapolating his age based on his appearance, not something else based on his age. I would change the hyphen to the end of the previous sentence, and just start with "He appeared about..."

Quote:
Finally, the Scyther flew off into the brush, chittering happily over its revenge it had gotten over the mage that lay bloodied and beaten on the path.
This is just my opinion, but it seems to me like Scyther left a little too easily. I'd think it would at least have taken the food, first.

Quote:
The song was strong enough to banish Kione to the underworld, and when it concluded, his necklace shattered, scattering the beads to eight new locations should Kione try again to storm the Holy Realm.
This isn't a problem, but I couldn't help but think of Dragon Ball when I read this. xD

I'm impressed with what I've read so far, and I'll try to catch up with where you are right now in a few days. For future reference, I wouldn't update quite as quickly as you have for this fic. That might be a contributing factor to the lack of reviews because long fics-in-progress are less likely to get new reviewers, unfortunately. I know I don't usually start reviewing when the author is this late in the game, but your prequels compelled me to start and I'm glad I did.
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My chapter fics:
Kanto: The Disputed Frontier - 14 chapters, indefinite hiatus. Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure - 8 chapters, completed. Digimon Campaign - 7 chapters, ongoing

One-shots:
There's Always Tomorrow (SWC 2009), A Matter of Stubbornness (SWC 2010), Left by the Roadside
(SWC 2011 1st place),
Giovanni Destroys the World and Everything in It (2012), By What Right? (SWC 2013 1st place), Back in the Day (SWC 2014 1st place) (New!)


Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names

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  #27    
Old February 22nd, 2011, 07:22 AM
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Thank you--the initial chapters are a little rough because I was still ironing out the finer details of my paralell Pokeworld of Yoso when I started writing the story--Episode 2 I actually wrote first.
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  #28    
Old February 23rd, 2011, 01:21 PM
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Episode 22: The Icy Road West

[BGM: New Day in Town]


"Here we are...the great city of Hese." Janine smiled as the group approached two guard towers with sloped roofs before addressing the guard in the western tower. "I have been called on a journey to the outside, and wish to gather supplies here before departing." The guard nodded and waved the group through.

"Why are all the buildings with sloped roofs?" Dawn asked as she admired the many sloped roofs around her.

"Both a form of beauty and function--it promotes balance, and is excellent for taking shelter in rainy weather." Janine explained as they approached the magnificent marble temple overlooking the north side of the town square, its beacon a dull purple ball floating in the afternoon sky. "I will be in the market buying supplies..."

"And we will be inside, asking Anima for safety on our travels." Dawn assured Janine. Janine nodded and darted off into the crowds that were filling the eastern market district.

Maybe Anima can point us towards the remaining six Beads--cause I have no idea where the others are... Ash asked as he admired the tapestries depicting the glyphs in the Kaiji script for the different gods that hung from the walls. While most of the god's tapestries were on the walls, Anima's tapestry was draped in the left hand of the statue of Anima, with the purple tapestry representing Dorcha, the god of the good side of darkness and Anima's lover, hanging on the wall to the statue's right.

[BGM: Calling on the Goddess of Light]

Dawn approached the statue of Anima as the others looked on, singing a call to prayer as the boys knelt down before the statue of Anima. "Lady Anima, I come before you in the midst of a great journey...thank you for guiding us and fighting alongside us as we have searched for the Beads..." Ash whispered quietly over the song, every so often glancing up at the statue.

"...but now we don't know where to search next, so we come asking for direction and guidance." Brock added, his own prayer seemingly picking up where his companion's left off. "Send us a sign that will tell us where to travel next..."

[BGM: It is I, Anima]

When the song and the prayers concluded, the statue glowed with a soft white light as an image of Anima appeared in the room with them. "You have called, and I have come, bearing the information you seek." Anima smiled.

"So, where is the next bead?" Ash asked.

"Your journey now leads you to the western mountains, where there are many fears and worries coming from Chairo." Anima replied. "I have instructed Saidas, goddess of ice, to meet you on the pass and guide you through."

"What sorts of fears, my lady?" Dawn asked.

"The mayor's daughter has been stricken by a sickness the clerics there have not seen before." Anima replied. "I have stablized her for now, but if she does not get help quickly, she will succumb. The mayor will tell you more when you arrive."

"We will do what we can to get there as quickly as possible." Brock assured Anima.

"In addition, I have new spells and powers to grant you..." Anima continued, before waving her hand over the group, making Brock gain a red aura, Ash a blue aura, and Dawn a yellow aura.

"What was that?" Ash wondered.

"Since you are traveling to a cold place, I have given you two fire songs to combat the ice, ye who sings magic." Anima explained to Brock. "Next, I have given you a song that commands the four primal elements to locate something or someone for you, Sir Mage." she told Ash, who nodded in reply. "Finally, I have given you the knowledge of all creatures, so you will know the best way to fight, my lightbringer, if the minstrel cannot sing."

"Thank you, my Lady." Dawn replied. "We will use these powers well."

"May I try mine out?" Ash asked, fishing out the Dreamer's Flute from his bag as he stood up.

"You may." Anima replied.

[BGM: Song of the Tracking Cycle]

Ash focused for a moment before calling "Four elements, reveal to me where Janine waits! 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, revealing Janine walking through the market crowd to the town square. "Janine's on her way back..."

"We must part for now, great lady..." Dawn mused as the group turned to leave.

"We'll tell our companion of all you have said and done!" Ash agreed as he rushed out the temple gate.

"Farewell, heroes--we will be watching over you always." Anima replied before her image faded away.

Later that day...

[BGM: To the Mountains!]

"So Anima said that our next objective was to the west?" Janine asked. "Aren't the western mountains infamous for their blizzards?"

"They are, so we need to hurry and cross them now." Brock cautioned as the group got on the road to the western pass. "And if we do get caught in blustering ice and snow, we need only ask for the aid of Saidas, the goddess of all things snow."
Janine nodded before noticing the thoughtful look on Ash's face. "Is everything well, Ash-san?"

"Yeah...I'm just curious as to who this 'Dokusentoki' is you and the other ninjas always speak of." Ash replied.

"Well, since we have a way to go before we reach the pass into the mountains, I don't see any problem with Janine telling us." Brock replied.

"Master does know a few episodes of his story, but only a ninja would be able to tell you who he was--they see him as a legendary hero." Kissa added before beckoning for Janine to begin.

"Kissa-chan is correct--he is a great ninja said to have founded Hese, which the five villages encircle." Janine explained as Pikachu claimed aboard Kissa's back. "How he got from a humble village to there encompasses numerous stories and adventures."

"You don't mind outsiders hearing his story?" Dawn asked.

"Not at all--we take pride in our heritage, and we are grateful that others want to learn more about Dokusentoki and other heroes of ours." Janine assured Dawn. "But the story does not begin happily...I will try my best to tell it, but I am not a geshou like Karakashu-san by any means."

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

After clearing her throat, she began. "As I said before, Dokusentoki was a great ninja that had many adventures before founding the great city of Hese--we believe that even now, his courage and wisdom live on through his descendants."

"No wonder everyone makes a big to do over your father." Dawn mused.

"According to our records, my grandfather's father was one of the children of Dokusentoki's sons, Chisentoki--so Father is distantly related to Dokusentoki." Janine replied. "But I am straying from the story...he lived in a small village with his father and grandmother. His father, a warrior himself, taught him many things in addition to fighting."

"Like?" Ash beckoned Janine to go on.

"History, literature, how to survive in harsh conditions, how to tell which plants in forests were safe to eat, how to speak to Pokemon, art, music, science, and smithing, to name but a few." Janine replied. "One day, his father went out to help guide a hunting party through the plains, as he often did. But the hunters saw his many medallions, pelts, and feathers; and desired to have them for themselves. So that afternoon, as his father rested under a tree, they ambushed him and killed him."

"Rrrgh..." Ash growled, appalled that someone had the gall to murder someone's father in cold blood.

"His grandmother was understandably devastated, and after the funeral rites were complete, she vowed to continue teaching Dokusentoki all she could, so that son could avenge father." Janine continued.

"I hope those...those..." Ash sputtered, trying to think of the words to describe the hunters in Janine's tale. "...FIENDS got what they deserved!"

"Easy, Ash...it's just a story." Dawn assured Ash as she laid a hand on Ash's heaving chest in an attempt to calm his anger.

"Some months later, Dokusentoki's grandmother instructed him to bring her the Raikou pelt that his father had hung over a wire on that fateful day." Janine continued, unfazed by Ash's anger. "She then used the fine pelt to make him a tunic and leggings, and taught him to run as swiftly as a Raikou, and swim as fast as Kyorge. Hunting season came not long after this, and the party that had slain Dokusentoki's father came to the plains, eager to capture the many Sawsbucks that roamed there."

"And then?" Ash asked, noticably calmer.

"Dokusentoki's grandmother saw them as well, and instructed her grandson to swim across the river and run past where the Sawsbucks were approaching the river--this way, they would think him a Raikou on the hunt, and chase him." Janine paused to sit down on a rock by the road and massage her aching right foot.

"You're doing wonderfully so far...what happened next?" Brock urged Janine to continue as he sat down by a nearby tree to rest.

"Sure enough, the hunters thought Dokusentoki was a Raikou trying to steal a Sawsbuck, and hurried to their boats to chase him." Janine continued, massaging her foot all the while. "Dokusentoki was ahead of them, running swiftly on one bank, before jumping across to the other with all the speed and grace of a Raikou. Finally, just as the hunters started to catch up to him, Dokusentoki cried out to the sky--a signal for his grandmother to cast a kaze jutsu. While what jutsu she used is not known, it was strong enough to cause waves on the river and capsize the boats, making all inside drown. But Dokusentoki was not satisfied with having his father avenged--there had to be even more that had suffered as he had, and they needed to be helped. So with his grandmother's blessing, Dokusentoki gathered his few belongings and set out onto the plains, searching for people in need. He did not know of the many adventures that were soon to come."

[Cut BGM]

Dawn applauded. "Talk about starting off with a bang!"

"Bravo!" Ash agreed as he applauded.

"If that one tale was enough to anger you--most episodes of the cycle are like that." Janine warned as she hopped off the rock and led the way down the road.

Ash blushed. "I'm sorry...it's just that I tend to get angry when someone suffers unfairly like that, even if it is a character in a story."

"I can see you have a strong sense of justice, but there are times when even the fire must be tempered." Janine cautioned as the group approached a small hill as the sun dipped below a cloudy sky.

[BGM: To the Mountains!]

"This is it...the Western Pass." Brock smiled as he lead the way over the hill and onto a steep trail that wound around rocks at every turn. That, and snow was beginning to fall, though it was not falling hard enough to warrant a blizzard.

"I only hope we're not delayed on our journey to Chairo by snow." Ash grumbled as he wrapped his cloak around him to shield himself from the snow falling around him. He seethed at how calmly Kissa was walking through the cold for a moment. She has her own built in coat, and I'm stuck in a cloak...

Janine noticed Ash shivering. "If you are cold, I can lend you one of my extra fur mantles I keep for cold like this."

"Please do." Ash replied, allowing Janine to drape a large mantle over his back.

"How did the weather get so cold so quickly?" Dawn asked as she dug a fur cloak from her bag.

[BGM: In the Prescence of Gods]

"Rest assured, I would never send snow to torment you..." came a young female voice, which materialized into a young woman clad in a magnificent blue, white and purple armored bodice with a long flowing deep blue and purple skirt hiding a layer of chain underneath. "I am Saidas, Guardian of Ice--Anima informed me you were on your way through the mountains and bade me to protect you from the blizzards that rage in these lands."

"Can you tell us how far to Chairo?" Ash pleaded. "Or where we can take shelter just in case we are stranded?"

"Chairo isn't far from where we are--but I can't guarantee that the icy spirits here will hold back." Saidas cautioned before engraving something inside a a layered rock that looked like a musical staff. "If you are stranded here, play this song to summon my envoy." Once sure that the group could see the cryptic tableture, she continued. "In addition, I sense a newcomer to your party awaiting you in Chairo--you'll know more when you get there." With that, she disappeared in the swirling snow that was beginning to pick up.

Ash sighed--why was it that gods had to be so vague?

To Be Continued...
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Last edited by EmeraldSky; February 25th, 2011 at 09:13 AM.
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  #29    
Old February 25th, 2011, 05:18 AM
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Whelp I finally got around to beginning to read this story - like icomeanon6 I've read the first 3 chapters and I do agree basically with what he's said. =) The characters in Ash and Brock seem nice (although my knowledge on the anime is more limited I feel), the concept and structure of the world appeals to me a lot as well (hurrah for music indeed, as well as the whole 'play a tune for a Pokemon' deal), and the small tales here and there both from Brock and Lugia (which I found as a neat choice of legendary btw, heh) were also entertaining to read, just like in the prequels. The world feels well established to me overall and some of the description was rather enjoyable as well.

The music links... some were neat and did help with the scene, but it was also on the flip side a bit annoying to go and load the video and go back to the story and so forth and so forth, and reading [BGM: Some tune] did interrupt at times, personally. That's more a personal opinion on it though I suppose, but I tend to prefer reading without additional music unless a specific scene calls for it as opposed to every scene. *shrugs*

And now for some stuff I found!
Quote:
some of the many minstrels across the land sang so passionately about fantastic Pokemon, great battles, and larger than life heroes
I feel it is better as 'larger-than-life'.
Quote:
He brushed the white porcelain dust from his blue and gray tunic into a tiny heap in the grass, then examined the vaguely bird shaped lump for just the right spot to put the air hole as the breeze carried away the dust through one of the many stone arches that made up the hallway, then slipped on the gloves that were the same blue as his tunic and boots and picked up a drill to begin drilling the air hole in one of the wing-like sections of the lump, using his own saefleita, which hung proudly around his neck, as a reference. Once that was done, he would drill six fingerholes, three on each side of the "bird"'s stomach, and polish it before it went in the bag of other saefleitas he carried--then it would be given to an apprentice, where he or she would use it to summon a familiar.
I felt the first sentence was too long and could have been separated into shorter sentences personally, and a bit nitpicky but 'drill/drilling' felt to be repeated a touch too often there in those two sentences - maybe consider changing one of them?

Quote:
"I'm almost finished with the last one, Milina." Ash replied before retrieving the drill.
One consistent error you made was with punctuation with dialogue. If the part following the dialogue is about who said what and/or how it was said, etc, and flows on from the dialogue, then you can treat both parts as one sentence - that means a comma should go in place of the full stop (because otherwise you're using a full stop in the middle of a sentence). Essentially you ignore the quotation marks with it and see if the part after the dialogue sounds right as a sentence by itself - if not then the dialogue and part following it should be one sentence and hence no full stop (but note it doesn't apply to exclamation marks or other forms of punctuation). So for instance:

Quote:
"I could give the extras to those that need them." Ash offered as he fished out the ten extra saefleitas that rattled in the bag before setting it on his belt nearby his sword.
The full stop after 'them' should also be a comma. At last you were consistent with that error, but that does mean more fixing to do. =p
Quote:
"Just as all hope seemed lost, a minstrel whose name is only known to Lady Anima finally managed to assemble all eight beads in a necklace, and unleashed the spell Rainbow Symphony atop Voima Hill, the one place in the north lands that is not affected by its harsh cold. Lugia replied.
Besides the full stop comma thing you're missing a quotation mark there at the end.


Quote:
It tried again and again to get to the frightened mage wielding the beautiful blade with angel wings inlaid with rubies forming the guard, but was blacked every time by the sword.
Blocked over blacked, and this sentences seemed a bit wordy - the description felt out of place given there was a fight going on at the time. Perhaps describing the sword at a different time would be better.

Quote:
"But before we begin any service at all, let's have your wounds heal first."
'first' feels a touch redundant to me as 'before we begin' already implies he'll do it first - but it's less important given it is dialogue where people can say such things I suppose. Still, something to consider?

Quote:
A few days later...
I'd suggest against doing that as it tends to break the fourth wall and interrupt the story flow as such - try including the timeskip within the storytelling itself.

Quote:
Brock waited for the applause to die down before continuing as himself "Sorin began to laugh, and Ursaring was angry that someone had the nerve to laugh at him."
Full stop seems to be missing after 'himself'

Quote:
...and books to turn to a certain page." Ash explained. As for having actual personalities,
And a quotation mark is missing before 'As' there.


Overall I've enjoyed it thus far, certainly. =) Just watch out for those small errors in the beginning if you go back to edit.
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  #30    
Old February 25th, 2011, 07:14 AM
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Thanks--I do try to check for errors, but a few do slip through.

I add the soundtrack in to help set the scene, but you are not required to listen
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  #31    
Old February 28th, 2011, 10:08 AM
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Interlude: Snowbound Under the Stars

[BGM: Caught in the Cold]

Dawn shivered as a blast of wind ruffled her cloak. "Cold..."

"But Chairo i-is not far from h-here!" Ash urged, trying all the while to hide the fact that it was cold, and the snow was beginning to pile up around them.

"Just summon Saidas' envoy--we're all cold, and have no desire to brave heavy snow." Kissa grumbled as she shook a layer of snow from her fur.

Ash sighed, took his saefleita, and reluctantly played a mournful melody that was nearly lost in the howling wind. He had been wanting to sleep in a warm bed somewhere, but the snow was accumulating quickly, making the trail to Chairo more and more hazardous.

[BGM: Summon Cycle--Articuno]

Just then, he heard a bird's cry and gasped as a large blue-white bird with a flowing tail landed before him. "You have called, and Articuno and I have come." Saidas assured him as she stepped off of Articuno and molded a safe path through the swirling snow.

Brock was about to thank Saidas when a twang of a broken string got his attention, so Janine offered a pale blue stone to Saidas as he set to work fixing the broken string. "Please accept this icy gem as our thanks for your guidance, O Snow Queen."

"The pleasure's all mine--we would never dream of sitting idly by while mortals were in danger." Saidas replied as she took the gem. "I will go on ahead and clear a path for you--follow Articuno to the place I have prepared.

"We'll meet you there!" Dawn assured Saidas as Articuno took flight into the gray sky.

Later...

[BGM: Relaxing under the Stars]

"There now, you'll be safe in here..." Saidas smiled as Articuno led the group to a cave in an alcove not far from the trail to Chairo.

"Beats all that blowing snow by far!" Ash smiled as he began arranging some sticks into a campfire pattern.

"I will do my best to make sure you can pass to Chairo in the morning--but for now, I'm afraid you won't be going any farther." Saidas sighed as everyone groaned. Articuno gave one last chirp before taking off into the snowy night with Saidas aboard her.

"And we came all this way, too..." Janine sighed as the cave entrance rolled closed.

"It's not an inn, but it's better than freezing to death." Dawn mused. "At least in an inn, Brock would perform for meals for all of us..."

"Come to think of it, I vaguely remember seeing Brock perform before..." Ash mused as he charged a ball of red energy. Once the fire roared to life, he continued. "It was the night before Ourania's Grand Market last year...Milina had brought me and a few apprentices there to see it."

"Oh, come to think of it, I remember you!" Brock laughed. "I was there at the inn that night, and I told 'The Tree with Magic Leaves' to begin my performance. You really got into that--you booed the tax collector and got everyone else involved in booing..."

"Not to mention you laughed when I played the role of the tax collector's wife..." Kissa added.

"That, and you requested 'Sorin's Flight'." Brock concluded as he began roasting some meat over the fire.

"Yeah--Milina had to squeeze my hand after I stuck out my tongue at the tax collector." Ash laughed. "That was her signal for me to calm down and behave."

"You must have had plenty of energy to keep your sensei on her toes..." Janine smiled.

"Well..." Ash mused as he glanced up at the small crack in the cave ceiling that exposed a little bit of night sky. "I grew up in Masuliro Town, and was always exploring the woods and plains by my house. So while my dad made weapons and Mom cleaned house, I was climbing trees or running through town having 'adventures' with my friends."

"How did you find out you had magical power?" Dawn asked.

"It was a total accident--I casted Ice without knowing I had done anything untill I noticed that one of my mother's vases was frozen." Ash replied. "You know the song 'The Prayer of the Sword?'"

"The one in which a hero's parents plot to kill him, but the hero discovers the plot after praying to Anima?" Dawn asked.

"That's the one--not an easy one to play, and not easy for a tenor to sing either." Brock interjected. "One verse involves the phrase 'Scatter your chilly sharp blades...'"

"...which is the same incantation to Ice." Ash continued. "I was singing that song, and I froze my mother's vase when I got to that line."

"Were you punished?" Janine was worried now.

"Not really--Mom and Dad took me to the mage's lodge, where I had to cast Ice again in front of the Archmage. When I successfully did it again, the archmage offered me a chance to study magic. I accepted, and with my family's blessing, I became a mage's apprentice." Ash concluded.

"Speaking of songs, I could use one to cheer us all up." Dawn grumbled--she had not counted on being snowbound in the mountains.

"A lot of songs you know seem to involve the Kami..." Janine mused.

"Well, in addition to hymns, we clerics also learn secular songs involving the gods--and I've picked up some from the minstrels that visited the temple." Dawn explained.

"Ooh, sing your call to prayer again!" Ash begged as Brock retrieved his bag and began looking for his instruments.

"Why? What do we need to pray for?" Dawn wondered.

"Pray for....Brock to have some inspiration!" Ash suggested. "A call to the muses, if you will."

"And to bless my instruments so they aren't out of tune." Brock winced as he unearthed his newly repaired harp and began tuning it.

[BGM: Calling on the Goddess of Light

Dawn closed her eyes and began singing the prayer call she had sang in the temple, making the various instrument cases gain a light blue aura.

"Try playing now..." Kissa suggested when Dawn finished. "Your instruments should sound just fine."

"All right...any requests?" Brock asked as he reached for his harp.

Ash thought for a moment. "Play....'The Love of a Priest', please."

BGM: A Heated Arguement

"Why that one?" Dawn protested. "It's much too bawdy for this time of night!"

"Dawn's right--that one's better suited for a tavern than an intimate gathering of friends." Brock agreed. "But if you REALLY want me to play it..."

"If it's about disgracing one of the Kami's priests, I have no desire to hear it." Janine cautioned.

"Ash, I'm surprised you even LIKE bawdy songs like that!" Dawn fumed.

"The version I learned was clean!" Ash protested.

"Relax...there are a few 'clean' versions of that song, but Dawn has a point--the original is not appropriate for times like this." Brock assured the others, dissapating the impending arguement. "Besides, I know many more songs besides that one."

[Cut BGM}

Ash thought some more. "How about 'Braviary's Flight'?"

"Now that I can play." Brock replied before beginning a brisk melody. Soaring through the rising sun, the champion of the skies...

His wings so large, beautiful and strong.... Dawn joined in. The four friends sang the tale about Braviary guiding a knight on a quest and other songs all through the night, their voices harmonizing on the icy wind outside...

To Be Continued...
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  #32    
Old March 3rd, 2011, 08:04 AM
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Episode 23: An Aura of Ice

[BGM: To The Mountains!]

"I am so glad to be out of that cave!" Ash smiled as he lead the way out of the cave the next morning and onto the miraculously cleared trail.

"Likewise, I am glad my shelter served you well for a night." Saidas replied as she landed before the group aboard Articuno.

"It wasn't the best accommodations in the world, but we made the most of it." Dawn assured Saidas as she wrapped her cloak around her.

"Can you tell us anything about where your Bead is?" Ash asked as the group started down the trail. Saidas and Articuno led the way, then Ash followed with Brock by his side. The girls were behind them, with the Pokemon bringing up the rear.

"The mayor of Chairo can grant you access to the icy caves that lie within the Frosty Forest." Saidas explained. "I left my Aquamarine there to further deter demons from trying to take it-if they didn't succumb to the cold first, they would lose their way in the forest."

"But didn't Anima say that the mayor's daughter is sick?" Dawn asked.

"That is correct-and he will not grant anyone access to the caves until she is cured." Saidas replied before preparing to take off. "This newcomer will help you find a cure." With that, she motioned to Articuno, who soared off into the pallid blue sky.

[Cut BGM]

Ash shielded his eyes from the sun for a moment before noticing some wisps of smoke in the distance. "We're not too far-I can see the smoke from the chimneys."

"I'll be so glad to be out of this snow and inside an inn!" Dawn heaved a sigh of relief as she followed the boys around a corner and down a path lightly dusted with snow into town.

[BGM: Sakura turns to Ice]

"Charming..." Janine mused as she admired the sturdy wooden houses lining the path.

"Milina told me once that the houses of Chairo are reinforced with enchanted stone to lend them extra strength in the harsh cold." Ash noted, pointing out a small stone tightly embedded between the wooden planks of a house.

"We're approaching the inn." Brock noted as the group walked into the town square, where a steady stream of people were criss-crossing between the various shops. Some children were nearby the well building a snowman, paying no heed to the group of travelers headed for the inn nestled between the general store and the smith's shop at the west end of the square.

Dawn was first to enter the inn, where the aroma of cinnamon filled the air. "Mm...smells good in here..."

"I'm glad-we're making cinnamon bread, Lady of Light." the innkeeper replied as he set a loaf of bread out to cool. "I have some slices already prepared, if you want any."

Janine found a plate of sliced cinnamon bread on a table in the northwest corner on the room and gingerly took a bite. "Hm...very chewy and sweet..."

"Reminds me of Mom's baking at home." Ash agreed as he took a slice of the swirled bread, warily eyeing the red haired girl clad in royal blue armor seated at the counter. "In addition to bread, she would back cookies, pies, and all kinds of sweet treats."

"My mom baked as well, but it is her cinnamon bread I remember most." Dawn replied before biting into a slice of the warm bread. "This bread is very close to her recipe."

"You must have traveled far..." the innkeeper continued as he slid another pan of dough in the oven. "Wherever your journey leads you, we're grateful you decided to stop here...name's Kellan, by the way."

"Pleased to meet your aquaintence, Kellan." Brock replied as Kellan came to meet them. "In return for your bread and hospitality, would it be acceptable for me to share a few tales and tunes?"

Kellan's eyes lit up when he saw the emblem of Amhran Hall that was stamped on Brock's harp case. "Of course-it's not often that minstrels travel all the way out here. Do well and you can have all the bread you wish."

"Before I begin, I would like to introduce myself and my companions." Brock continued as he took his harp from its case and started to tune. "I am Sir Brock of Hopea, and this is my companion, Kissa." Kissa gently nuzzled Kellan and purred as a servant girl spread a rug on the floor by Brock's chair and set a bowl of milk on it.

"Made an archmage happy enough to give you speech, did you?" Kellan laughed as he admired Kissa's tiara.

"I didn't-it was my master that pleased the Archmage of Miranai." Kissa giggled, slightly embarrassed.

Ash took another slice of bread from the plate before beginning "I am Ash of Masuliro, good sir-third year of the Seventh Raikou."

"Dawn of Whitespell-Bowmaster of Anima." Dawn smiled as she set her bow and quiver by her chair.

"I am Janine of the Kimura clan of Miyakawa Village." Janine replied before giving Kellan a polite bow.

"Pleased to meet all of you." Kellan smiled before calling to the patrons and those entering the inn "Hear ye, friends! A minstrel from Hopea has braved the mountain's chill to share his skill and warm our hearts this afternoon."

The red haired knight balked at the mention of Hopea. Could it be? Nah, it couldn't-I'll listen and find out for myself if this is the same minstrel...

Brock acknowledged his applause, took his harp as he got up from his chair, and began to play his familiar introduction, making a smile creep across the knight's face. There's his introduction song...now to see how well he weaves a tale.

"My first tale for you comes from the five ninja villages." Brock began as he played. "It is a tale of a young maid captured by a fearsome dragon-which kind depends on which of the villages you visit-and how her brother rescues her with an unusual weapon..."

"Is he telling 'The Little Gold Flute'? Dawn gasped, excited.

"Sounds like it..." Ash agreed. A wry smile formed on his face as he fished out the Dreamer's Flute and laid it on the floor by another table-if Brock WAS telling that story, he would be more than happy to provide the sound for the titular instrument!

"I would be honored to play a role myself." Janine added as she heard the crowd cheer in response to Brock's request to tell the tale.

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

Once sure he had the crowd's attention and all was quiet, Brock began. "It is said that long ago, in a place far from here, there lived a mother and her daughter. Since the daughter loved the color red very much, she was named Akaiko, which means 'red child'. One day, as they worked in the fields, a great Charizard flew down from the sky and snatched Akaiko in his claws." He played a downward glissando to illustrate this. "Akaiko's last words to her mother as she was carried away were..."

"Mother, my mother, so dearest to me, someday my brother will come rescue me..." Janine interjected as Akaiko.

"I have lost my only child..." Dawn sighed as the mother over a sad interlude from Brock. "Who could this brother be?"

"Some time passed, and the mother had a second child, a son." Brock continued over his song. "The child was born looking up at the sky in wonder, so he was named Aozora, or 'blue sky'. The mother wished for Aozora to rescue his sister, but couldn't bear to give her son such a dangerous quest. So, for many years, she locked herself in her room and wept late into the night." As he finished the interlude, he continued "But one day, a Murkrow happened to land by a window and said to her..." He switches to a gravely voice reminiscent of a Murkrow. "Your sister's suffering way out there! Weeping in that Charizard's lair! Ruby red stains upon her back, digging up rocks with hands so bare!" The crowd roared with laughter at this for a moment. As himself, Brock continued "Aozora happened to overhear this, and asked his mother..."

"Is it true I have a sister?" Ash filled in Aozora's line.

"You speak true..." Dawn replied. "Because she loved the color red so much, she was called Akaiko, the red child. That evil Charizard who has slain so many took her from me ten years ago."

"Aozora took up a large stick..." Brock continues, prompting Ash to pick up a long stick by the table. "and said..."

"I'm going to slay that Charizard, and save my sister!" Ash triumphantly declared in character as Aozora. "Then he will never harm our land again!" He slammed the stick on the floor to prove his point, prompting some applause from the crowd.

Very clever of him to get his traveling companions involved! the knight smiled as she watched the unfolding performance. This is definitely the minstrel I remember!

"Aozora left early the next morning, and walked for many miles." Brock continues as Ash walked around the room for a moment. "As he wound around a mountain road, he saw a large rock blocking the way-and if he didn't remove it, it would mean a potentially deadly fall." At this, Ash stopped walking and examined an imaginary rock. "He thrust his stick under the rock and pushed with all his might..." Ash pretended to push against something heavy. "but his stick broke with a snap!" He played a loud jarring chord to mimic something breaking, allowing Ash to discretely return the stick to its proper place. "Then, Aozora picked up the rock, and threw it into a ravine with all his strength." Brock narrates as Ash picked up the imagined rock and tosses it away. "When Aozora looked in the place where the rock had been, he saw a tiny gold flute." Ash picked up the Dreamer's Flute, which is now lying by his feet. "So after examining it for a moment, he picked it up and blew a single clear note..." At this, Ash blew a single high D note. "He tried a few more notes..." Ash started going up the D major scale. "before trying to play a tune. No sooner had he begun playing, did all the Pokemon of the mountain come to listen and dance to the little flute."

Pikachu danced out onto the floor as Ash performed a quick reel. "But as soon as Aozora stopped playing..." Ash finished his song to some applause. "the Pokemon stopped dancing." Brock waited as Pikachu retreated to a chair by Kissa's rug before going on. "Aozora took the little flute with him, and continued on his way. Before long, he came to the Charizard's cave high on the mountain. While the Charizard was sleeping, the sheer number of human and Pokemon bones nearby were a testament to how many others had tried to save Akaiko and failed." The crowd murmured as Brock goes on. "Aozora also saw a familiar girl in red hammering away at the rock, with tears streaming down her face." Janine got on her knees and pretended to hammer at some rock while feigning sadness. "Although the girl wanted to cry out very much, if she ever did so, the Charizard would burn her with his flaming tail and scold her, saying..." He switched to a deep gravelly voice for the Charizard. "Ungrateful, loathsome Mistress Red! Since with me you will not wed, day by day, rock by rock, carve for me a handsome cave, or else I'll send you to your grave!" Gasps went up from the crowd-even the knight swallowed hard in fear as Brock continued "Aozora recognized the girl as his sister, Akaiko, and so he charged into the cave and shouted..."

"Wicked monster, Evil fiend! For torturing my sister so!" Ash announced as he strolled into the center of the room to some cheers. "Till your wretched life shall end..." he warned, retrieving the Dreamer's Flute from his pocket. "On this flute I shall blow and blow!" With that, he started another reel.

Brock continued over the music "Aozora then began to play the little flute, and the Charizard danced in spite of himself." Laughter filled the air as the crowd pictured a Charizard dancing to the lively melody. "Akaiko, meanwhile, abandoned her chiesel and hurried outside to watch." Janine ran over to another part of the room. "Aozora continued to play, and the Charizard continued to dance-the faster Aozora played, the faster the Charizard danced." The crowd laughed as Ash sped up his reel. "Akaiko came close to Aozora, wishing to speak to her brother, but she was very aware that if Aozora stopped playing, the Charizard would eat them both." Janine walked up by Ash's side and waved to get his attention, but Ash waved her away as he finished his tune. "Finally the Charizard pleaded..." He then heaves in character "Human, I see that you are stronger! Play no more, torture me no longer! I will send the girl home if you just leave me alone!" As himself, he continued as he played along with Ash. "Yet Aozora did not stop playing. As he played, he led the Charizard to a great lake. The Charizard fell into the water with huge splash, making the water level rise several feet. He again pleaded with Aozora..." As the Charizard again, he pleads "Human, I said that you were stronger! Let me stay inside this pond, and torture folk no longer!" as Ash finished his second tune. "Aozora replied..."

"Evil fiend, this is my bargain..." Ash intoned as Aozora. "Stay at the bottom of the lake, and never do harm again."

"With that, the Charizard sank to the bottom of the lake..." Brock continued. "Aozora took Akaiko by the hand..." Ash and Janine held hands. "and set out for home. They had not gotten very far when they heard splashing from the lake." Ash and Janine look behind them and feign fear. "The Charizard emerged from the lake, determined to kill the both of them."

"And then what happened, Sir Minstrel?" the knight asked after a few tense seconds of silence.

"Akaiko cautioned..." Brock continued.

"You go deep when digging a well, and you pull up roots when plowing a field, but while that Charizard lives, to kind ways he will not yield." Janine filled in the dialogue.

"Aozora raced back to the lake's shore, playing the little flute all the while..." Brock continues, prompting Ash to play yet another reel. "He played for seven days and nights, until the Charizard's body came floating back to him." Ash concluded this tune to some applause. "Sister and brother returned home, Aozora carrying the Charizard's corpse in his arms." Ash walked up to Dawn with Janine and pretended to offer something to Dawn. "When the mother saw her two children returning, she smiled with great joy, and ran to embrace them." Some "Aww"s go up from the crowd as Dawn hugs Ash and Janine. "They used the Charizard's scales and bones to build a house..." Janine, Ash, and Dawn mimiced picking off scales and building. "and the Charizard's teeth as plowshares...and using these plowshares, they never went hungry again." Janine, Ash and Dawn mimiced digging in dirt. "Yet Aozora kept the little flute with him, just in case he needed its song again." Ash added a little flourish on his instrument before Brock interjected "The end."

[Cut BGM]

The knight got up from her seat as the crowd cheered and coins rained into Brock's harp case. "It is you! The same minstrel I heard while passing through Kesara last summer!"

"I remember you too, Lady Knight-I tried begging for food from your plate." Kissa giggled as the knight stooped down to pet her.

"As do I-your laughter was the heartiest when I told 'The Boastful Suitor'." Brock smiled as he began counting the coins that had showered inside his harp case. "You never got the chance to introduce yourself, if memory serves..."

"I am Dame Misty de Juras, a water Aura Knight serving Mavi." the knight replied. "A pleasure to meet you all."

"Well, what brings you to this icy place, Lady Knight?" Dawn asked as she helped Brock count coins.

"I came searching for the three others in my training squadron, who were captured by eisfay." Misty replied. "While my superiors at home presume them dead, I have faith that they are somewhere in Yoso, alive. I was hoping the mayor of this place would help me out, but I can't go into the ice caves to look for eisfay until his daughter is cured."

"Likewise, Lady Knight, we were hoping to search the ice caves for one of the Beads of the Elements." Brock started as he showed Misty the necklace thread where Anima's Diamond and Raissel's Emerald hung.

"What do you know of the sickness the mayor's daughter suffers from, Misty-sama?" Janine wondered.

"The healers of the town have managed to develop a healing potion, but lack one crucial ingredient that grows in the forest." Misty replied. "That, and the mayor's going bonkers wondering why he keeps hearing someone singing inside the ice caves..."

"Then why don't we work together?" Ash suggested.

"Huh?" Everyone turned to look at Ash, confused.

"We help the knight find any information about her comrades, and in return, she helps us through the ice caves." Ash explained, nervously hoping that Misty would find his proposal enticing.

"A wonderful idea." Kissa mused.

[BGM: A Promise to Unleash the Colors (theme of the heroes)]

Misty thought for a moment. "Your proposal is sound, but before I accept, I want to see how well you all work as a team by helping the healers out-of course, I will come along to help you."

"Deal!" Ash smiled as he and Misty shook hands.

To Be Continued...
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  #33    
Old March 16th, 2011, 07:07 AM
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A preview of Episode 24:

"So, what exactly are we looking for in the forest?" Ash asked as Misty met the group inside a room in the inn later that evening.

"And what is the mayor's daughter suffering from?" Dawn agreed.

"She appears to be stricken by a flu-like malady accompanied by severe headache, according to the chief healer." Misty explained. "They have a potion almost ready, but they lack an herb popularly known as 'the blue star' that grows in the forest around here."

"I think they mean a plumen plant--a type of mint known to thrive in cold places." Ash explained. "Milina Tonjine was my mentor at the lodge--she taught me a lot about herbs and other ingredients found in potions."

"I have heard she is a fine herbalist, and her potions are as renowned as her spells and her wisdom." Misty replied. "Did she tell you anything more?"

"Plumen is called 'the blue star' because of its blue tinged star-shaped leaves." Ash continued. "But it's actually the flower or fruit that you want--the flower has a very strong scent, so the oil is often used to flavor candy and desserts, in perfume, and to ease allergies. The fruit, meanwhile, is used to heal the flu and similar sicknesses."

"Best consumed by themselves or in a potion of healing." Dawn added. "I too know a little about healing herbs...
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  #34    
Old March 25th, 2011, 08:12 AM
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Episode 24: The Blue Star

[BGM: Relaxing Under the Stars

"So, what exactly are we looking for in the forest?" Ash asked as Misty met the group inside a room in the inn later that evening.

"And what is the mayor's daughter suffering from?" Dawn agreed.

"She appears to be stricken by a flu-like malady accompanied by severe headache, according to the chief healer." Misty explained. "They have a potion almost ready, but they lack an herb popularly known as 'the blue star' that grows in the forest around here."

"I think they mean a plumen plant--a type of mint known to thrive in cold places." Ash explained. "Milina Tonjine was my mentor at the lodge--she taught me a lot about herbs and other ingredients found in potions."

"I have heard she is a fine herbalist, and her potions are as renowned as her spells and her wisdom." Misty replied. "Did she tell you anything more?"

"Plumen is called 'the blue star' because of its blue tinged star-shaped leaves." Ash continued. "But it's actually the flower or fruit that you want--the flower has a very strong scent, so the oil is often used to flavor candy and desserts, in perfume, and to ease allergies. The fruit, meanwhile, is used to heal the flu and similar sicknesses."

"Best consumed by themselves or in a potion of healing." Dawn added. "I too know a little about healing herbs...

"It's settled, then!" Janine got up from her chair. "We search for this herb in the forest and bring it to the healers immediately!"

"I appriciate your enthusiasm, Lady of Kaiji, but the Frosty Forest is named as such for a reason." Misty cautioned. "It is extremely cold, particularly at night."

"The knight has a point." Ash agreed, gesturing to the darkening sky outside. "We would have better luck if we set out in the morning."

"That's right...Marista once told me that those that ventured into the Frosty Forest at night rarely returned alive." Brock noted.

"Oh, THAT'll help us sleep soundly, Mr. Spoony Bard." Misty sighed as she got up from the table.

[BGM: A Heated Argument]

"Who are YOU calling spoony?" Brock shot back as he jumped up from his chair and ran down the hall to catch up with Misty. "I have trained under some of the best minstrels in all Yoso, and you have the gall to call me spoony when you have seen my skill firsthand?"

"Well, I will say this--you are far than spoony. In fact, you're way better than the minstrels at home in Mavi." Misty replied, calming Brock down a little. "Not only are they usually flat and way out of tune, they forget lyrics and stories on a regular basis. Hearing one as skilled as you was and is a treat in my eyes."

[Cut BGM]

"I'm glad you think so, but why did you call me spoony back there when you now say I am not?" Brock asked, confused.

"You could say I am known for my wit--and I have gotten scolded for my droll sarcasm before." Misty replied. "It's a hard habit to break, so I may unleash a witty comment when I don't mean to."

"There is a time and a place for wit, but please be careful with your words." Brock sighed, now in a slightly better mood.

"Yes...words can sting as much as a blade." Dawn agreed.

"Can we change the subject?" Ash interjected as the group entered their room. "Or discuss something a little more pleasant?"

"Okay, then; Sir Mage...what would you like to talk about?" Misty asked as she stepped behind a screen to change for the night.

"How were your comrades taken by eisfay?"

[BGM: How Could This Happen?]

Misty's face saddened as she emerged from behind the screen some moments later. "You know that eisfay are fairy-like bugs that live in cold places, yes?"

"Yes--and they are strong enough to carry even a human to their nest." Ash replied.

"Well, we were in the great forest that links Raben, Ourania, and Kesara together, searching for an herb to cure our master, who had been wounded while searching for a rogue Salamence." Misty explained as she sat down on her bed. "It had been two days since we began our search, and this particular day was looking to be no different. Just as we were about to return to our camp for the night, we were enveloped in the pale blue fog of a swarm of eisfay we had inadvertently disturbed."

"Oh no..." Dawn swallowed hard.

"Try as we might to fight off the swarm, I saw my three companions trying to ward off the eisfay through the fog--well, all I could see were the flashes of red, yellow, and green of their armor as they cast their spells."

"So why didn't you help?" Brock wondered as he settled on a bed with his harp.

"One, the fog the eisfay were creating was quite thick, so it was a miracle I could even see the aura energy in their armor, and two, there were just too many for even the four of us to battle." Misty replied as she brushed away a tear. "By the time the fog had cleared enough for me to see anything, the eisfay were gone, and my comrades with them. So to recap, there was nothing I could've done to save them, even though I wanted--and still want--to save them."

"You have an admirable goal indeed." Dawn assured Misty. "But there is still the chance they have been lost..."

"I acknowledge that may be true, but even if they have been killed, I will not rest until I either find them alive, or bring their bodies home for a proper burial." Misty mused as more tears began forming in her eyes.

[BGM: Brock's Harp: Lament for a Grieving Knight]

"Play a song of assurance for Lady Misty." Ash whispered to Brock as Misty began to softly cry. Brock nodded and began a hopeful melody, as if to tell the sobbing knight "It's okay...we will do anything in our power to help you, even if we must go to the ends of the world."

To Be Continued...
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  #35    
Old April 12th, 2011, 10:40 AM
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Episode 25: The Harmony of Power


[BGM: Memories of Home]


"Wake up..." a female voice assured Ash. He rolled over and noticed Kissa looking back at him. "Today we explore the Frosty Forest..."

"That, or you can train your powers here in town..." Brock agreed as he joined Kissa in the room.

"There's someone that can train magic here?" Ash asked, excited. If the Frosty Forest was anything like what Misty had told him the previous night, he wanted to be prepared. "What sorts of spells does he teach?"

"Any spell you like, provided you're willing to work hard to learn." Brock replied. "The girls have gone on ahead to scout out the forest and gather supplies, so I'm keeping watch until they return."

Kissa dropped a small piece of paper into Ash's hands. "Lady Misty has left a message telling you more about the mage that lives here."

Ash raised an eyebrow, unfolded the paper, and began reading:

The mage that lives here in Chairo, Ardan Fanamar, was a fellow apprentice of your mentor, Milina Tonjine. While she stayed behind at the lodge to teach more apprentices, Ardan set out to make a name for himself. While he spends most of his time training his own skills or teaching others the way of the mage, he has also written several books about the places he visited on his travels--so he may have information about our quest.

I hope you'll tell me what you learn when I return this evening.

Until then,

Misty


A smile began forming on Ash's face as he glanced at the roughly drawn map on the back, folded up the note, and put it away. "I'm going to pay a visit to Sir Fanamar and see what spells I can learn." Brock nodded and waved goodbye as Ash gave Pikachu a hug, then disappeared down the hallway.

Later that morning...

[BGM: Sakura Turns to Ice]

"Hello?" Ash called as he approached a spacious looking cabin on the southern side of town, while it didn't really stand out too much from the other log cabins in Chairo, the only clue that the cabin's owner was someone important were the small banners fluttering in the cold yet calm breeze--the yellow one hanging from the left depicting the sign of Anima, and the purple one on the right the sign of Dorcha. For without light, there is no darkness, and without darkness, no light. Ash mused as he walked up to the cabin's stoop and hestantly knocked at the door.

"Who's there?" a male voice asked.

"A fellow mage seeking knowledge." Ash replied, swallowing the lump in his throat all the while.

The door opened, revealing a man clad in a majestic royal blue robe. Although the man's muscular frame and wry smile seemed to comfort Ash a little, the swaths of gray in the man's otherwise black hair testified to his age. "What brings you all the way to my icy abode, Ash of Asimiro?"

Ash gasped. "How...how do you know my name?"

[BGM: The Mage That Listens For a Dream-Ardan's theme]

"The spirits of light keep me informed of the goings on in the world...even here, in this cold and remote place where few venture--nothing escapes the wary ear of a great mage." the man replied as he motioned for Ash to follow him inside. "You came seeking knowledge from Ardan Fanamar, and knowledge you will receive."

Ash nodded and followed Ardan inside, past intricately carved furniture and a large stone fireplace before entering into what Ash assumed was Ardan's study or library, judging from the many books on the shelves. He wondered what sorts of information were contained in the books as he took a seat at a large table facing Ardan.

Ardan speaking snapped him out of his awed admiration of the books. "Now then...I have heard you wish to cure the mayor's daughter, Lera?"

"Yes--we have been told the final ingredient to the potion that will heal her lies within the Frosty Forest." Ash explained. "The rest of my companions are already there scouting it out."

“It is fortunate they have chosen to enter the forest early in the morning--the stronger creatures do not come out until evening, and snow does not fall untill afternoon.” Ardan replied before spotting the Dreamer’s Flute peeking from Ash’s bag. “That is a gift from a minstrel, I presume?”

“Not just any minstrel, Sir Ardan--one with the rare gift of singing magic.” Ash replied befor taking the Flute from its sleeve. “I have learned to sing magic a little in return for my service.”

He was about to name a spell and perform when he heard Ardan call “Ancient light, rise and revive! Wall!”, enclosing the entire room in a sparkling greenish blue wall, similar to what the clerics at Whitespell had done to hold back the couerl. “There--now we can cast all the spells we want for a while without harming my library or ourselves.”

“Okay...holy fire, rend through the coldness of evil! Crimson Claw!” Ash commanded before launching into “The Silver Sword”, making small arrow-like flames fly in all directions, only to die out with a hiss if they impacted the Wall.

[BGM: The Silver Sword]

Ardan applauded. “Impressive--whoever has taught you how to sing magic has taught you well...but perhaps you would like to strengthen your spells? The Forest has many creatures a Fire spell alone cannot defeat--so the spell Fira is more effective. However, these stronger spells take more strength than the ones you have been casting before--so be careful not to overdo it.”

“Teach me Fira, at least!” Ash begged as he returned his instrument to its sleeve--the prospect of new spells sounded exciting!

[BGM: The Mage That Listens For a Dream-Ardan's theme]


“Very well--I will teach you three of them to start.” Ardan replied. “The basic elementals--Fira, Blizzara, and Thundara. You have seen Thundara before--so can you recreate it for me?”

That’s right! Anima casted Thundara back in Sindura! Ash smiled as he began charging a ball of electrical energy. Now what did She say to cast it? He thought for a moment, before gasping in horror as the energy ball went flying, impacting the Wall in an explosion of thunderbolts.

“You waited too long to command the energy, and so it flew elsewhere.” Ardan explained. “Try again, and focus on remembering the spell’s command.”

Ash sighed, closed his eyes, and focused on creating another energy ball. Anima, what did You say to smite a man back in Sindura? he frantically prayed. He knew he had the power to cast the spell, but the incantation escaped him! He stayed the spell in desperation and covered his face to hide the tears streaming down his face. Why now? Why do I not remember the incantation when I want so much to learn a new spell?”

“What’s the matter?” Ardan asked, concerned by Ash’s tears.

“I know the spell, and I have the power to do it, but I don’t remember the command...” Ash explained before wiping away tears.

“Calm yourself.” Ardan assured him before conjuring a hankerchief for Ash to dry his tears. “I see you have the will to cast the spell and the strength to do it, but without our commands to guide the magic, it will not take form. So repeat this: Heavenly bolts, bring divine justice.”

“Heavenly bolts, bring divine justice...” Ash mused before the lightbulb went off in his head. This is it! This is the incantation Anima said! Inspired, he quickly charged a large ball of electrical energy. “Heavenly bolts, bring divine justice! Thundara!”

“Very good!” Ardan smiled at the streaks of lightning impacted and fizzled out on the Wall. “I knew jogging your memory would do the trick...are you ready to learn Fira and Blizzara?”

“You bet!” Ash smiled--he was eager to return to his friends and tell them about Ardan--and show off his new powers as well.

To Be Continued...
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  #36    
Old April 27th, 2011, 09:06 AM
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Interlude: Warming the Spirit

[BGM: Memories of Home]

"So? What did you learn from Master Ardan?" Misty asked as the group met in the inn's common room that night.

"I learned three new spells--Fira, Blizzara, and Thundara." Ash replied before charging a red ball of energy. "Starfire, awake and--!"

"Sea wind, attack with water's power!" Misty commanded, making the swirls in her armor glow blue. "Sapphire Tornado!"

"Yipe!" Ash quickly stayed his spell and dove under a table in an attempt to avoid the whirlwind of water and sapphires that roared in his direction, only to emerge dripping wet some seconds later.

"So THAT's why you are called an aura knight..." Janine gasped. "You channel the chi through your own armor--very clever!"

"Not every element, just what we have trained to harness--in my case, I know how to harness the power of water as well as things derived from it, like ice and some healing magic." Misty explained.

"But what about the glowing armor?" Now Dawn was interested.

"The armor is made via a top secret process out of an enchanted material that channels magic." Misty explained. "I would tell you what the material was, but then I'd have to kill you." Nervous giggles filled the air. "So only a select few and their apprentices know how to make an aura knight's armor."

"It must be an honor to make something like that." Dawn mused.

"The way into the forest is locked by the same means that my home city's gates are locked--a singing crystal." Misty explained, changing the subject. "To open the door, the crystal is struck, and you have to either repeat the note that is struck or sing something in that key."

Brock swallowed hard. "I have not sung in several days...."

"Oh come now!" Kissa scolded. "Maybe if you warmed up a little, you would sound just fine!"

Brock sighed, found his harp, and plucked a low D note, humming it to be sure he was in tune before singing Ah... up the scale. Next, he slowly repeated the phrase "Through darkest mists with stoutest boasts he thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts" a few times, getting faster each time.

"Interesting means of warming up..." Janine was impressed at Brock's ability to repeat the phrase three times quickly without tripping.

"The idea is to try and speak clearly, and tongue twisters are great for practicing clarity. If you trip, start again until you can say it quickly and clearly." Brock explained.

"Through darkest dists--" Ash quickly started before trying again. "Through darkest mists with stousts--through markest---through darkest dist--AUGHHHH!!!"

Everyone laughed. "Good try, though." Brock assured Ash, who was blushing a little. "Try starting slow and working your way up next time." With that, he resumed his warmup by humming a few arpeggios before making a few purring noises.

"Yes, yes...just like me!" Kissa smiled, pleased that her master was back in form to sing.

"Well! Someone left a drum in here..." Misty noted as she picked up a small frame drum that lay againt the wall by the table. "So if Sir Brock has his voice warm, why don't you try to sing 'Light at the Close of Day'?"

"I know that tune!" Ash gasped before grabbing the Dreamer's Flute and beginning the jig in question as Misty provided the beat with the drum.

[BGM: Light at the Close of Day]

Un-oh-di-lay-oh, eh-ah-eh-di-dil-eh-oh-dil-eh-oh-ii-de-ah-dil-ah-ii-eh-oh..." Brock sang along, doubling the flute an octave below.

"He's warm, all right!" Dawn smiled as she applauded when the tune concluded.

"Now just a little humming in the morning and I'll be ready!" Brock assured the group as he made his way to his room for the night.

To Be Continued...
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  #37    
Old May 15th, 2011, 04:25 PM
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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.

[Cut BGM]

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.

[Cut BGM]

"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...
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  #38    
Old June 6th, 2011, 08:12 AM
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Episode 27: One Last Challenge


[BGM:Sakura Turns to Ice]


"Brave travelers...words cannot express my joy and my gratitude for saving my little girl." the mayor began as the group gathered in the mayor's house the next morning. "Name your reward, and it is yours."

"Well..." Ash thought for a moment about how to address the wiry and muscular auburn haired man before him. "We desire nothing more than passage into the ice caves..."

"The gods have decreed that the next object on our quest is within their frigid walls." Misty explained as a blonde haired girl entered the room and made herself comfortable in a chair by her father's desk.

"If you have braved the forest and returned safely, I see no reason to stop you from entering the caves." the mayor assured Misty as he retrieved a map from a drawer and spread it out for the group to see. "This is the most recent map of the caves I have--you may study it if you must prepare for your journey."

"Let's see..." Dawn mused as she glanced at the twisting and turning passageways marked in blue. "There are likely many routes inside, so we have to stay together at all costs."

"What about this footprint shaped room right here?" Janine asked, pointing out a room in the upper left corner that resembled some kind of foot.

"The caves have been known to hold as many treasures as it does creatures--but the treasures usually lie in shaped rooms like that one." the mayor replied before addressing the girl. "Do you have any advice for your rescuers, Lirena?"

"I've heard talk of bandits appearing around the caves..." the girl replied. "It's strange, though--treasures appear in the caves all the time, and bandits haven't shown up here before because of how cold it is. So there has to be something valuable inside for them to even consider coming up here."

"Have you seen any bandits at all around the caves?" Brock asked.

Lirena just shook her head. "No--just a lot of footprints."

"If we find any, we will tell your father right away." Janine assured Lirena as the group turned to leave.

"May Our Lord and Our Lady watch over you on your journey." the mayor smiled as the group walked out onto the snowy path. Liana stood next to him on the stoop, waving goodbye as the party set out from town and onto the path leading to the caves.

The group made good time across the twisting path once they opened the way with the singing crystal--the A note it produced was no problem for Brock to hit. But just as the white walls of the caves came into view, Ash spotted an array of men and women clad in black milling around a makeshift camp and creating a large pile of gems--a bandit's camp.

[BGM: A Plea for Passage]

The burly leader of the group suddenly spotted the party. "Hold! No traveler ventures to the ice caves without paying a toll to the Black Griffons!" he barked as the party approached the entrance to the caves.

"Since when have bandits shown up here?" Dawn demanded--Lirena had said it was unheard of for bandits to appear in such cold conditions.

"We have permission to come through here, so let us pass!" Ash protested.

"Pay up, magic user, then we'll let you pass! the bandit replied.

"Psst, Master...did you bring your fiddle?" Kissa asked.

"I have the harp and the fiddle with me--why?" Brock replied as Ash and the bandit continued arguing. He listened as Kissa whispered a plan to him, a wry smile forming on his face all the while. "What a great idea, Kissa!" With that, he retrieved the harp and commanded "Power of darkness, hear my song and embrace the light! Hypnotic Aria!" Kissa gained a light blue aura around her as the harp played, signaling to the girls that she was the one to evoke Hypnotic Aura. She nodded to Brock as she approached Ash and the bandit, prompting him to switch to the fiddle.

"...and that's why we should go through the caves!" Ash concluded his case on why the group had the right to go through the ice caves.

"Besides, the last few travelers you didn't steal from, so it's not fair that we should be stopped like this." Kissa mused as she joined Ash.

"Try and make us, kitty!" the bandit growled.

[BGM: The Nanab Do-si-Do]

Kissa nodded to Brock, who began a rhythmic melody before she began singing. You bow to the left, then bow to your right... she sang as she swayed to the song. You take your partner's hand, and you hold on tight! The bandits proceeded to partner up. You pull'em in close, and you don't let go! And you do a little Nanab do-si-do! You push'em down quick, and you pull'em in fast, then you spin'em real hard so the dizziness lasts! Then grab'em by the shoulders and shake'em like so, and you do a little Nanab do-si-do!

Misty burst out laughing as the bandits pulled each other close, spun each other around, and shook each other to the spritely melody Brock was playing. "Well played, Kissa!"

"Very clever, indeed!" Dawn wheezed from laughing so hard at Kissa's crazy, yet clever plan.

Then you grab'em by the waist, throw'em high in the air, and if they go high enough, they'll need intensive care! You're doing a handstand, and walkin' real slow as you do a little Nanab do-si-do! Kissa commanded, prompting the bandits to toss each other skyward and do handstands.

Even Ash was laughing as Brock broke off to solo. "What did Kissa DO, anyway? This is hilarious!"

"Maybe she knows Hypnotic Aria?" Janine suggested as the bandits continued dancing.

You promenade as you're dancin' through the icy glades! Kissa continued as she led the dancing bandits to an icy field not far from the caves. Skip to the beat, til you can't feel your feet, yeah!

"Take it, Brock!" Ash called, allowing Brock to play a long solo as the bandits whirled and skipped and froliced in the snow.

Kissa rejoined the group some time later. "That ought to keep them busy for a while...they'll keep dancing as long as they hear Master's fiddle."

"But Karakashu-san can't play forever!" Janine cautioned.

"That's why I have one of these!" Ash announced as he fished a clear stone from his pocket, which absorbed the fiddle's song inside. "This song stone will continue to play whatever song it absorbed until shattering, so with Brock's solo continuing forever, these bandits will be dancing for some time." he explained as the now green stone flew to the hill where Brock was performing, allowing Brock to rejoin the group as they walked into the caves. The bandits, meanwhile, kept dancing in the snow as if Brock was still there, not knowing that he had long since disappeared...

To Be Continued...
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  #39    
Old June 17th, 2011, 09:36 AM
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Episode 28: Flames in the Ice

[BGM: Hearts in Ice]

"Wow...." Ash gasped as the group stepped into the ice caves--the sun peeked through a hole in the ceiling, making the many walls of ice and the icicles hanging from them shine, but not melt.

"It's beautiful..." Dawn agreed as she led the way down a sloping path.

Janine, meanwhile, was piqued in some odd writing in one corner of the map. "In order to brave the cold blue...need the warmth of...Rose.

"Hm?" Janine's musing got Brock's attention.

"I see an odd message on this map of the caves." Janine explained. "In order to brave the cold blue--what comes next is smudged--need the warmth of--then a word I do not know--Rose"

"Maybe..." Misty started before gasping at the appearance of vaguely humanoid creatures made from ice. "Ice shades--here?"

"Worse--we even have eisfay too!" Dawn shuddered as some fairy-like creatures began flying in from the hole in the cave ceiling, their fog making it hard for anyone to see.

"Hi Magiiro no jutsu! Infernal Explosion!" Janine commanded, embedding some ruby shaped orbs around the swarm of monsters. An explosion rocked the cave seconds later, dispelling the eisfay fog and allowing the group to continue on.

"Thanks, Janine--I don't think I want to discover where Misty's comrades are by being brought to their location by eisfay." Kissa replied as she shook some cinders from her fur. Miraculously, the ice had not been melted by the explosion.

"What were those things, anyway?" Ash wondered--Milina had never told him of ice shades, so surely Brock knew something.

"I don't know their true name--'ice shades' is their popular name because they behave very much like a ghost." Brock explained. "But I DO know what could be creating them..."

"What?" Now Dawn was interested.

"Someone--or something--that knows Song Magic is here in the caves." Brock replied. "Ice shades--for lack of a better name to call them--can only be sung into existance. That means that we're dealing with a monster that likely knows a corrupted form of the spell Rallying Call."

"Hm..." Dawn contemplated the new information for a moment--Rallying Call being used to summon other monsters besides Pokemon was not unheard of, but demons and monsters that could do it were few and far between.

"But does that have anything to do with the message Janine found?" Misty asked.

"Let me see that for a second..." Ash grabbed the map away and studied the odd message as he cleared away some dust from the smudged area."In order to brave the cold blue--something..." he mused.

Then an F revealed from the dust gave him an idea--was it possible the message was referring to a spell?"

"That's it!" he blurted as the group arrived at the bottom of the slope and into a darker room filled with sloping paths. "The message is referring to a rare spell!"

"What kind of spell?" Brock hurried over and glanced at the map, where Ash was pointing at the slightly cleaned up message. "..need the warmth of Feu Rose...whatever that is..."

"Feu Rose is a protection spell--it makes a wall of fire that can even melt arcane ice." Ash explained.

"Explain to me how we are going to find a fire spell in an ice cave." Misty sighed as she carefully eased herself down a slope that led into a large outdoor alcove with a large lake in the center. A flock of Prinplups was present as well--some of them sliding into the lake's icy water, some sunning themselves on ice floes, some waddling about with Piplups close behind, and still others gathering fish.

"We could try asking the Prinplups if Kissa can understand them..." Dawn suggested.

"Actually...I have a better idea..." Ash sneakily smiled as he took the Dreamer's Flute, crept up to a Prinplup delivering fish to a crowd of Piplups, and whispered the incantation to Hypnotic Aria so as not to scare the flock away. When the Prinplup turned to waddle off towards a sloping wall, Ash started to play a march like melody. The Piplups, meanwhile, were fascinated by the song, and began following the flute playing mage to the alcove's northern exit.

[BGM: Prinplups on Parade]

"Well, that's one way to get a Pokemon's attention." Misty mused as some other Prinplups and Piplups paraded by her.

"Music does tame the savage beast after all." Brock reminded her as the group rushed to catch up with Ash and the procession of Pokemon, which had entered a sloping corridior.

The odd parade wound down the sloping path until a rumbling noise got Ash's attention--an avalanche from outside!

[Cut BGM]

One Prinplup motioned for Ash to climb on its back, and slid down the icy slope in a desperate bid to outrun the oncoming snow. The others followed on Prinplups of their own, arriving safely at the bottom seconds before the snow impacted an icy wall.

"Thanks for the ride!" Dawn thanked her Prinplup before running to see if the flock was all right.

Brock, meanwhile, was giddy from the ride. "That was so much fun! Anyone for another round?"

Misty sighed. "Thanks, but no thanks,"

"So dizzy..." Janine moaned as she tried to regain her bearings. "Next time, Ash-san, warn me if your next proposal involves an avalanche!"

To Be Continued...
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  #40    
Old June 28th, 2011, 12:42 PM
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a really good story i can't wait to hear more.
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  #41    
Old June 28th, 2011, 02:49 PM
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Thank you!

I wanted to attempt to write a fantasy story set in the Pokeworld, and this is the result
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  #42    
Old July 5th, 2011, 04:53 PM
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Episode 29: The Legend of Feu Rose

[BGM: Hearts in Ice]

"The Prinplups were okay..." Dawn assured the group as she healed an injured Piplup. "Just a few minor scratches."

"Next time, Ash, play only when you're sure you're not going to cause an avalanche." Brock cautioned. "The vibration of the flute against the cave walls likely caused what happened back there."

"I'm still curious about Feu Rose." Misty mused. "One, what is it doing in an ice cave, and two, what lore is behind it?"

"Number one I don't know, but number two I'm sure Brock could tell you about way better than I could." Ash replied.

"A thousand gold pieces says he breaks a harp string in the cold." Kissa whispered to Janine, who giggled at the thought, knowing Kissa's bet was only in jest. But no twang echoed through the icy corridors, only the plings and plungs that signaled that the harp was being tuned.

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

When he was ready, the now familiar strains of Marista's Song echoed through the cave before Brock began "There was once a king who had a lovely daughter. Many a prince or adventurer came and asked for the princess' hand in marriage, but the first two to ask were Entei, the Fire Beast, and Manaphy, Prince of the Sea. Manaphy went to the castle and asked for the princess' hand in marraige, only to discover that Entei had asked first."

"Shouldn't Manaphy have her?" Ash asked. "Water does beat fire, after all."

"What you say is true, and Entei and Manaphy both knew that as well, so a battle between them would be unfair." Brock replied. "So the king decided to allow them both to display their power for the princess, and whoever could put on the better show won her hand."

"Fair enough." Misty mused.

"It was decided that the contest be held in an ice cave like this one, with the royal wizard serving as a judge." Brock continued over an interlude. "The day of the contest came, and not even the biting cold turned away the many spectators that came to watch."

"So who won?" Janine asked.

"Entei stunned the crowd with his red flames, and Manaphy created icy patterns on the cave walls." Brock continued. "But the two Pokemon ended up in a tie, and so the royal wizard asked them to attack at the same time. The point where the fire and ice met erupted into a pink flame that protected either side from being injured-Entei and Manaphy then realized their fighting over the princess was foolish, and left the pink flame spell in the snow in rememberance of their fruitless battle-so ends the tale of 'The Conest Between Entei and Manaphy'

[BGM: Hearts in Ice]

"But who did the princess eventually marry?" Misty asked.

"It depends on which minstrel you ask-some minstrels say she married the royal wizard. Others say she married a wealthy noble." Brock mused as he put the harp away. "Myself...I leave it for you to decide who she married."

"Maybe if we find the scorched ice that Entei left and Manaphy's designs, we could find Feu Rose." Ash suggested.

"It's just a story, Ash..." Dawn cautioned as the group continued down the icy corridor.

"That may be true, but for all we know, their contest may have taken place in this very cave!" Ash countered. He calmed down when he heard some icicles rattle, ever mindful about the avalanche from before.

"Remember what I said about not everything in a story has to be true?" Brock warned. 'This is one such occasion."

"Then how do you explain this?" Ash asked, gesturing to a series of black char marks that looked like it could have come from fire on one wall.

Dawn studied the char marks. "You know, I think you may be right, Ash!"

TO BE CONTINUED...
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  #43    
Old July 21st, 2011, 10:11 AM
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Episode 30: A Desperate Moment


[BGM: Hearts in Ice]


"Janine...can you sense how old a char mark is or how it got there?" Ash asked, perplexed by the black marks gouged in the ice.

"My divination jutsu isn't the strongest, but I can try." With that, Janine lay a hand on the charred ice, making a red aura appear on the wall for a few moments. "Karakashu-san's tale may be right--this char is from a time long ago."

"Look what I found!" Dawn reported, gesturing to another wall with glittering water-like designs.

"Then maybe Feu Rose will be there if we find the point where these designs meet!" Even Misty was giddy with excitement. as the group trudged down another corridor. "But be aware that we still have to deal with whatever monster makes its lair in the cave..."

"What do you suppose could've sickened the mayor of Chairo's daughter and created a barrier of ice that no spell alone could melt?" Dawn challenged as everyone glanced at Ash.

Ash swallowed hard and thought for a moment. Think Ash, out of all the creatures and Pokemon you read about in the lore books that sing magic, which one would make its home in an ice cave?

He sat down on a rock nearby another charred wall, with a glittering wall across from it. Skygers can sing magic, but they live in the clouds of heaven. Dragons have been said to sing magic...

"Pika!" He was snapped from his musing when Pikachu frantically gestured to some canine-like pawprints leading down a corridor.

"You think that whatever creature caused this mess was a canine creature?" Ash asked. Pikachu nodded as his master got up from the rock and followed his comrades down a corridor. That makes narrowing it down a lot easier--no ordinary wolf, fox, or dog can sing magic.

"Any theories?" Misty's question snapped him back to reality as the group entered a large open room with seemingly no other ways out.

"Well..." Ash took a few deep breaths to calm his racing heart, then began. "Pikachu found some pawprints that look canine in nature back in the corridors, so I have several candidates. One is the serigala, a bear-like wolf often seen in the mountains."

"Has a very melodic howl that many unlucky travelers mistake for a girl--that's why it is notorious for luring lost travelers to be eaten." Brock added. "Its distinctive howl is also how it can sing magic--although I use the term sing very loosely."

"Another possibility is a were-creature--but that would require demonic activity in this area." Ash continued as he eyed a spot of snow that glowed pink.

"Would a felilupe work?" Janine suggested.

"Wrong area--they are more of a forest dweller." Misty replied as she watched Kissa dig through the pinl spot of snow.

"Forgive me for interrupting the debate, but perhaps this is of interest to you?" Kissa interrupted, gesturing to a large slab of glass containing pink flames.

Misty gasped. "Is that...?"

"Feu Rose!" Ash knelt on the ground and laid a hand on the glass slab, making his hand glow pink as he absorbed a little of the pink flames.

Just then, an oddly pleasent sounding howl pierced the chilly air. "Oh no..." Dawn swallowed hard and readied an arrow as a white canine with a hulking body akin to a bear leapt into the room, making the caves shake and icicles rattle.

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

"We are dealing with a serigala!" Misty gasped, but before she could draw her blade and attack, Kissa had leapt at the monstrous creature, only to be thrown into the snow.

"Life's refreshing breeze, blow in energy! Cure!" Dawn commanded, enveloping Kissa in a soothing blue light.

"Searing heat and winter chill, come together to protect us! Feu Rose!" Ash commanded, making a pink wall of flames surround the group. The serigala tried again and again to break through the flaming wall, but only yelped in pain at every attempt.

Finally, it howled in frustration, making glittering dust fall into the room.

"Dreamer's Dust?" Misty yawned before falling into the snow, asleep.

"You forgot that our opponent can..." This was as far as Brock got before he too fell asleep.

Ash panicked as one by one, his friends fell under the spell the serigala had sung. If he didn't think of something quick, he too would succumb to Dreamer's Dust and they would all be killed!

Brock's necklace gave him an idea. The Necklace may not be complete yet, but I need to borrow some of that magic!

He grabbed the Dreamer's Flute and called over the serigala's howl "Shining beacon of many colors, show me the way to power! Rainbow Spark!" With that, he played a calm melody that formed a wave of sparkling light, catching the serigala by surprise and awakening the others.

"Impossible!" Misty was the most surprised. "I didn't know a mage could tap into a minstrel's spell!"

"Others can try to cast Rainbow Symphony, but it will always be a different spell." Brock explained as he eased himself to his feet and found his harp. "Ash is merely borrowing some of my own power to hold the serigala down." With that, he called "Light of heaven, guard us from the unending darkness! Holy Mirror!" as the serigala howled again, sending the second wave of Dreamer's Dust back onto itself.

[cut BGM]

"Thanks, Ash..." Dawn smiled as Ash concluded Rainbow Spark.

"My pleasure--now who wants the honor of slaying this beast?" Ash asked.

[BGM: Guiding Light, Shed Magic Power From Above! (tide turns in heroes' favor)]

"I'm not done yet!" and Brock's song turned frantic. "Wind of light, bring forth your colorful promise! Diamond Breeze!"

"What in the..." Misty gasped as a whirlwind of diamonds and rainbow wind formed around the snoozing serigala.

"The serigala almost killing Kissa must have enraged Brock enough to awaken a new spell!" Dawn agreed.

"It did--this should banish it from this place!" With that, he played a sweeping chord, engulfing the serigala in the Diamond Breeze.

[cut BGM]

"No wonder that creature was so aggressive--look what I found!" Janine called as the last of the Diamond Breeze died down. She held up a pale blue stone that glowed as it sang Give it some words, and...

"Saidas' Aquamarine!" Ash gasped as the stone flew over to Brock's necklace and latched on next to Raissel's Emerald.

Misty smiled. "You did wonderfully working as a team--I would be honored to come with you on your quest."

"Really?" Ash asked, interested. "But what about your comrades?"

"I have not forgotten about them--I'm curious to see if their disappearance is connected to your quest for Rainbow Symphony."

"An interesting thought indeed." Kissa agreed. "For now, let's return to Chairo--my fur is freezing!"

TO BE CONTINUED....
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  #44    
Old August 6th, 2011, 04:32 PM
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Episode 31: Flight to the Desert


After returning from the ice caves, the group departed from Chairo and made their way back to Hese early the next morning. While most of the group was in high spirits after retrieving Saidas' Aquamarine, Dawn was unusually quiet.

"What seems to be the matter?" Kissa asked as the group stopped to rest on a hill overlooking Hese. "You haven't said a word ever since we left Chairo."

Dawn sighed. "Before we left, the mayor of Chairo told me that my mother had been spotted in a desert town. Ever since she disappeared long ago, she was long presumed dead...but is it true she is alive? If she is, then what has she been doing all this time?"

"Fear not, Bowmistress of Anima--your mother still loves you very much, and has not abandoned you." a familiar voice began.

[BGM: In the Presence of Gods]

"Deami..." Ash gasped as a red light appeared before the group and formed into the shape of the fire goddess.

"Is it true my mother is alive?" Dawn asked.

Deami nodded. "Your mother yet lives, and has made her home in a city of the desert, where my ruby lies."

"But how do we get to the desert, much less survive in it?" Misty asked, concerned.

"The desert lies across the sea from here, and we have no Pokemon that can fly..." Brock agreed.

"One awaits for your aid somewhere on the plains--find her, and she will take you wherever your search for the Necklace beads leads you." Deami assured the group. "I will tell you more when you arrive in the desert." With that, she disappeared in a red flash.

"I hope none of you are afraid of heights..." Kissa sighed as the group made their way into one of the rare forested areas around Hese.

"Nonsense! We build gliders in the village!" Janine assured Kissa.

"Wind aura knights took me flying all the time while I was in training!" Misty agreed. "So why should I fear being in the air?"

"Should we tell them the tale about why Wartortles have cracked shells?" Kissa giggled as the group approached a river.

[BGM: Resting in Camp]

"Nah--we don't need to hang on by our mouths, anyway." Brock replied as he began gathering some clay from the river bank and rolling it into a ball.

"I suppose we are camping here?" Janine mused as Dawn began pitching her tent.

"May as well--we've been traveling all day." Misty agreed. "Ash, would you mind going to gather some wood for a campfire?"

"Sure!" Ash replied and started into the forest, watching all the while as Brock cut the clay ball in half with a small knife and began working one half into a bowl shape.

"Pika?" Pikachu wondered as he watched Brock work for a moment.

"We can ask what he's making when we get back to camp." Ash assured Pikachu as he ran down the forest path, picking up sticks and branches all the while.

[BGM: The Hunt is On!]

Suddenly, Pikachu noticed a large net draped across several trees in the distance. "Pikapi!"

"What is it?" Ash set aside his bundle of wood and looked into the trees above him, where Pikachu frantically pointed out the netting. Some familiar brown feathers clued him in on just what the giant net held--a Pidgeot that was uneasily sleeping.

"Pika pika pikachu?" Pikachu asked.

"I don't know who caught the Pidgeot or why, but they somehow hoisted the net into the trees in hopes they could possibly come back for it later." Ash explained before climbing up into the tree nearby, where the net's bindings were connected. "If I just cut the net loose from the tree..."

Suddenly, the Pidgeot woke up and let loose a terrified screech, nearly sending Ash falling to the ground. "Peace--I'm not going to hurt you." he assured the frightened Pokemon. "I'm trying to get you out of here..." he explained as he drew his sword.

The ringing of a sword being drawn spooked the Pidgeot even more, making it squawk and scream as it struggled to flap its bound wings. Ash just calmly severed the bindings with a stroke of his blade before jumping down onto the ground, sending the net falling into a makeshift bed of leaves Pikachu had made.

"What's going on here?" Misty led the way into the clearing with the others, where Ash was gently sliding the net off of the captured Pidgeot.

"I found this Pidgeot trapped in the forest canopy, and I'm trying to set it free." Ash explained as he heaved the net into a bush.

"It's going to take more than a person and a Pokemon to set a bird of this size free." Janine cautioned as she examined the many knots binding the Pidgeot's wings.

"Plus, who could've wanted to capture a Pokemon this big?" Dawn wondered.

"Poaching is forbidden on these lands." Janine added as she began working on untying the knots, only to rear back when the Pidgeot screeched again.

"We're only trying to help you!" Dawn assured the Pidgeot, but this proved fruitless as it screamed again.

"It's no use..." Misty sighed. "We can't cut it loose, and magic would harm the Pidgeot..."

"But how to calm it down so we can set it free?" Kissa yelled over the Pidgeot's panicked screaming.

[BGM: Brock's Ocarina: Lament for Mina]

A low whistle-like noise suddenly drifted through the woods, calming the Pidgeot. The girls saw their opportunity and began working to undo the knots.

Pikachu looked around, interested in the noise, but all Ash could see was the girls fratically undoing the knots. He then spotted Brock in the distance, playing the strange lullaby-like melody on a newly made ocarina.

"Pika..." Pikachu gasped, impressed.

"So that's what you were making earlier today!" Ash gasped.

[cut BGM]

"Marista showed me how to make an ocarina once--but Amhran Hall is not exactly close to a river." Brock explained. "So I never really got the chance to practice making one until now."

"He learned to play one from a fellow apprentice in his class--a lass named Kenja." Kissa added.

"What about the song? Is it special?" Ash asked.

"I just made it up on the fly." Brock confessed. "I think I'll call it 'Lament for Mina'..."

"Mina..." Dawn mused. "'Wind' in the holy tongue..."

"A fitting name for a Pidgeot." Janine agreed.

"Keep playing that song...I think she likes it!" Misty suggested as she continued undoing the knots around the Pidgeots left wing. Brock nodded, and resumed the haunting melody that drifted skyward into the night...

To Be Continued...
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  #45    
Old August 24th, 2011, 07:28 AM
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Interlude: Whistles on the Wind

[BGM: Resting in Camp]

Ash woke up the next morning and gasped in shock--Mina was nowhere in sight! "Did you ever finish setting the Pidgeot free?" he asked as Misty brought him his breakfast.

"The girls did set the Pidgeot free--and I managed to tame it." Brock added before picking a blade of grass. "Watch."

[BGM: Grasswhistle: Mina]

With that, he cupped his hands around the grass and blew, making a raspy voice-like noise fill the air. A Pidgeot's cry pierced the sky a few seconds later as Mina fluttered into the clearing, clutching two Magikarps in her talons.

"Wow!" Dawn was impressed.

"Show me how to do that!" Ash agreed.

"Grasswhistles are quite simple to make, and very good for signaling." Janine explained as she searched around for a good blade of grass. "Flat blades work the best." she added as she picked one. Once Ash had found a suitable blade of grass, she continued. "Now, hold one end between your thumbs, and catch the other end by slightly bending your thumbs while pressing them together."

Ash scrambled to avoid losing his blade of grass, but managed to get it in the right position. "Like this?"

"Perfect, Nincada." Janine smiled. "This is the tricky part--straighten out your thumbs to pull the blade tight, being careful not to snap the blade as you do so."

Ash winced as his blade snapped. "Great..." he sighed as he found another blade and prepared it.

"Now, purse your lips slightly, put them against your thumbs, and blow." Janine instructed. Ash nodded and blew, making a flat squawk ring through the clearing.

"I don't know if you or a sick Psyduck sounds nicer..." Kissa groaned as Ash continued to squawk.

"What's your secret to getting actual notes?" Ash asked Brock, who was roasting the other Magikarp over the fire.

"I use the same technique you would use to play a horn--try puckering your lips a little like you've just tasted a wild Nomel Berry." Brock suggested.

Okay, pucker like I've eaten a Nomel Berry... Ash reminded himself as he pursed his lips again with a slight pucker and blew, making a buzzy A note.

"There you go!" Brock smiled. "To get higher notes, make your lips into a tighter pucker, and loosen them when you want to go lower, just like a horn."

Pikachu listened, piqued, as Ash squeaked and squawked some more. "Pika..." he warned, sparking a little bit in annoyance.

"Okay, I'll go practice elsewhere." Ash assured Pikachu as everyone laughed.

Later that day...

"Now, can you use your new grasswhistle to call Mina?" Misty asked as Ash emerged from his tent.

"I may not be very good yet, but I'll try." Ash assured Misty as she turned Mina loose to fly a short distance away. He waited until Mina was just a speck in the afternoon sky, then played a wavery and flat version of the melody Brock had played before.

[BGM: Grasswhistle: Mina]

"He did it!" Dawn cheered as Mina came fluttering back to Ash's side.

Ash heaved with exhaustion, but hugged Mina. "May I have my own melody to call you? Blowing on grass is hard work!"

"You mean, you have another signal?" Misty asked.

"My saefleita." Ash explained as he showed Misty his saefleita. "We mages use them to call Pokemon as familiars." With that, he demonstrated by playing the melody for Pikachu.

[BGM: Saefleita Call: Pikachu]

"Pika pi!" Pikachu smiled as he bounded on Ash's shoulder.

"We can release Mina again and see if she responds to the bird's flute." Janine agreed.

"Yeah--it would come in handy if we're going to a place with little or no grass, like the desert." Dawn agreed.

"All right, here she goes..." With that, Misty sent Mina into the sky again.

[BGM: Saefleita Call: Mina]

Ash nodded, then played an oddly pleasent six note melody that echoed through the forest. After a few tense seconds, everyone cheered as Mina returned carrying a few Berry branches.

"Good girl, Mina." Ash smiled as he hugged the majestic Pidgeot again. "I can't wait to go flying across Yoso with you!

To Be Continued...
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  #46    
Old September 8th, 2011, 08:49 AM
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Episode 32: Sands of Intrigue



[BGM: Rhythm of the Sands]

"Wake up..." Dawn whispered as she nudged Ash awake. The group had been flying aboard Mina for most of the night, but to Ash, it felt like years had passed since they had left the forest.

"Are we th-" he started, but gasped when he saw the dunes below him, splashed with orange and red from the setting sun. "Wow!"

"It's beautiful!" Misty agreed as Mina came in for a landing nearby an oasis that lay nearby a rock. "I'm sure that the cities in the desert are just as beautiful!"

"But why did Mina land on such a high dune?" Janine mused as she looked down on the shifting sands far below. "Does she sense something we do not?"

A low rumble in the distance got Brock's attention. "I'd say she does!"

"Sandstorm!" Ash screamed as he noticed a cloud of dust rolling in their direction. Everyone gathered their gear, scrambled under Mina's wings, and covered their faces as the wave of sand rushed over them.

[BGM: Safe at Home]

He wasn't sure how long the sandstorm had lasted, or where he had went after that, but when Ash opened his eyes some minutes later, he balked when he saw himself inside a tent, with an older woman with graying black hair and tanned skin in a elaborately patterned dress cleaning what sand was on his clothing and dressing the bruises on his arms and legs. "Where am I?"

"Peace, ostati--you and your friends are safe here." the woman assured him as she offered Ash his clothes, now clean. "Some of our tribe found you and your friends by the Oasis of Faith and brought you to our camp."

"Thank you for your aid, Lady..." Ash started as he stepped behind a screen to change.

"Tsura, of the Domari tribe." the woman replied. "I am the tribe's healer and oracle...the gods have called you here to our desert home, yes?"

Ash nodded as he emerged from behind the screen, fully dressed. "The fire goddess has led us here in search of her ruby, and we were caught in a sandstorm on the way."

"I see..." Tsura smiled as she invited Ash to take a look outside her tent. "Look here--your friends are well."

[BGM: Rhythm of the Sands]

Ash peeked outside and heaved a sigh of relief at what he saw--Kissa chasing a Yanma, to the delight of some children, Janine and Misty nearby a makshift tent, talking to who he assumed were warriors, judging from the circles and squares decorating their light leather tunics. Dawn was over by another tent, helping another tribesman start the cooking fire as Mina looked on from a large palmwood pearch nearby. But the one he could easily pinpoint was Brock, who was tuning his instruments by a third tent as some tribeswomen spread blankets on the sand. "Thank Anima nothing was damaged and we're all okay..."

"It isn't often that outsiders come this way..." Tsura mused as she led Ash outside. "But lately, more and more have been coming to the city of Amanta to enter the grand tournament."

Ash was about to ask Tsura another question when he heard a call of "Make way for the chief!" in the distance. He saw the tribe members and Tsura bowing as a procession of tribesmen, most of them warriors, entered the camp escorting a Camerupt. He bowed on one knee himself as the procession arrived at the largest tent in the camp and the Camerupt's rider, a dark skinned man wearing a rainbow robe-like outfit with gold swirls and suns decorating it, was helped onto the ground.

"That is Stefan de Kardos, our chief." Tsura explained. "He is a wise and just ruler."

"And who is that?" Ash asked as a tan skinned girl in a green and blue robe ran to embrace Stefan.

"That is Stefan's daughter, Iris--our princess." Tsura continued. "Her mother was claimed by the desert when she was very small, and so I have served as a mother figure to her."

"What does ostati mean?" Ash interrupted, piqued by what Tsura had called him before. "I don't know very much of the desert languages..."

Ostati means 'child of power' in our language--what we call one trained in the magical arts, like you." Tsura explained as she led Ash to Stefan's tent, where the others were waiting. "Chief Stefan--these are the outsiders Deami told me would brave the desert for the Tournament of Fate."

[BGM: Searching in the Sands]

"Tournament?" Misty was interested.

"I thought large tournaments were held in Madari...." Dawn agreed.

Stefan smiled. "While it is true that large competitions are held to the north, jarina of Anima, Amanta has an arena of its own for grand affairs like the Tournament of Fate. Hundreds will test their powers over the next several weeks within its walls, but only one will walk away with the ruby of the fire goddess."

"Deami's Ruby...a prize for a tournament?" Janine asked.

"How did Lady Elesa find such a priceless treasure?" Misty agreed.

"That, I do not know, but I think the five of you have the potential to win the ruby and keep it from falling in the wrong hands." Stafan assured the group.

"I shudder to find out what someone with a black heart would do with Deami's Ruby..." Misty muttered.

"We have to get it back, no matter what it takes." Dawn agreed.

"Your enthusiasm is honored, but the hour grows late..." Stefan cautioned as the sun sank below the dunes. "There is still time to enter, and Amanta is only a few hour's walk from our camp." Mina chirped in agreement. "Or an hour by flight."

[Cut BGM]

"Very well...we will travel to Amanta in the morning." Ash assured Stefan, to the cheers of the tribe.

"Then tonight, you will join us for a feast as our guests, brave ones." Stefan announced. "The lanto with you is more than welcome to perform, as well."

[Brock's Harp: Dance on a Desert Night]

"I would be honored, great one." Brock replied as he took his harp. "Please accept this song as a token of my gratitude." With that, he began playing a joyful melody that echoed into the night. Ash joined in with the Dreamer's Flute, his song a prayer for strength in the tournament....

To Be Continued....
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  #47    
Old September 24th, 2011, 04:57 PM
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Episode 33: The Dance of Blessing

[BGM: Rhythm of the Sands]


Festive cheers filled the air as the Domaris welcomed the group to their campfire that night. A large bonfire had been built, over which some meat was roasting. What meat was ready for consumption was then set onto long rods, where the tribespeople could help themselves.

"These are delicious!" Ash commented as he grabbed a handful of green Berries from a bowl, then passed it to the girl next to him.

"I'm glad, ostati Ash--Meli Berries only grow by an oasis." Tsura replied as she took some bread from another bowl, then gave it to Ash. "They are from the same family as Nomel Berries, but not as sour."

"Please, take as much as you like--we have plenty to go around!" a tribesman told Janine as she took some Berries from the fruit bowl.

Dawn, meanwhile, was swaying to the beat of the drums, lute and fiddle being played by a group of tribespeople nearby Tsura's tent. "Great music here!"

"Princess Iris loves to dance, and so her father makes sure that music is played as often as possible so she can hone her power." a tribeswoman explained before sending another bowl of vegetables around the circle of people gathered by the campfire.

"Power?" Ash asked over the festive tune--or at least, he thought it was festive.

"Iris is an ostati herself--only her protective magic manifests if she dances." Tsura explained. "If she asks to dance with you, consider it an honor." She let that hang as the joyful song concluded to some applause.

[cut BGM]

"Attention, all! We praise the great Deami for bringing us guests to share our campfire tonight!" Stefan announced, to cheers and applause. "These travelers may have traveled far on their journeys, but the Dorami spirit of kindness and humility will go with them always." More cheers went up at this.

Iris then stood up to address the crowd. "Father has told me that our guests seek to win the ruby of Deami in the Tournament of Fate..." After finding Brock seated by a tent on the left side of the circle, she continued "I would like to dance with one of them to bless them for the tournament--if the lanto will give us a tale for this evening, I will show him my healing dance in return."

Brock got up from his place in the circle, his harp in one hand. "I accept your offer, Your Highness." he replied before playing Marista's Song.

"Such a beautiful melody..." Tsura whispered.

"He plays it in memory of his teacher, who died protecting him from demon Mightyenas." Ash explained. "She was primarily a storyteller, and so he plays that song before he tells a story." Tsura nodded slowly and listened as the last note faded away.

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

Once all was quiet, Brock began. "There was once a little village at the base of Mt. Arian, where the flowers bloomed and the Taillows sang. There were only thirty families in this village, brought together by chance when fleeing a great fire years before. They shared everything they owned, and stood by each other through thick and thin. For the most part, they were happy and content, tending the fields and hunting in the nearby forest.

He then began playing the accompaniment line to Marista's Song. "Now, one of these villagers was a young man--I will call him Ancha. Ancha had come to the village when he was very small, but his parents were claimed by a terrible disease soon after. Ever since then, the other townsfolk had raised him as one of their own."

After waving an interlude into the tune, he continued. "There was also a widow in that village who had a beautiful daughter--I will call her Yuna. The villagers considered Ancha and Yuna brother and sister, their friendship ran so deeply. One day, Ancha was hunting in the woods--while he was very skilled with a bow, his prey kept eluding him. Suddenly, Dorcha, Lord of the Night, came to him in the form of a ranger and gave him a magical bow and a quiver full of arrows that shone like the moon. From then on, not even demons could stand against his bow!" Cheers went up from the crowd at this.

"Get ready...your part in the story's coming up, if you wish to play a role." Kissa whispered to Ash, who nodded and retrieved the Dreamer's Flute from his bag.

"Likewise, Yuna had grown into a strong and wise young lady." Brock continued, still playing the accompaniment line to Marista's Song as he spoke. "The scenes on the tapestries she wove looked as if they would come alive at any moment, and all who saw her work were amazed at her skill. She would often sing while she worked, and her voice was so strong and so clear, even Pokemon would stop what they were doing to listen." At this, Dawn sings a quick prayer in the holy tongue to the tune of the song for effect, to some applause.

When the applause dies down, only the harp is left, playing the accompaniment line again. "One day, as Yuna was out gathering wood, Anima, Lady of Light, appeared to her as an instrument maker, and gave her an enchanted flute made of silver. Yuna practiced hard, and before long, no matter how tired they were, all that heard the magical flute were given renewed strength." Ash joins in on the Dreamer's Flute for effect. "For a while, the village flourished, and all the villagers were happy."

Then, Marista's Song turns into a forboding melody in B minor. "Then one year, another disease struck the village, and many of the villagers groaned as their stomachs swelled." Brock continued. "Ancha and Yuna did their best to ease the villager's suffering, but the number of sick grew daily, and if something was not done soon, many would die."

"So what did they do?" Stefan asks.

"Yes, was there any among them that knew a cure to the plague?" Iris agrees.

"There was the village elder, who was a very wise man." Brock replies. "Ancha and Yuna went to see him, and he told them that there was a cure for the disease, but two ingredients were required for the potion--Liepard's blood and leaves from the mithi plant. If they did not find the two items in three months, people would begin to die."

After playing an interlude, he continued "Ancha and Yuna decided to split up and search for the ingredients--he the Liepard's blood, and she the mithi leaves. Ancha crossed eight high mountains and eight deep canyons, among other things, until he came to a little cave nearby a river. It didn't look very forboding as various Pokemon came and went, and many flowers grew nearby, but the pawprints at the entryway signaled Ancha that a Liepard lived there. He waited for three weeks, hunting Bunearies and Parchirisus if he was hungry and drinking from the river if he was thirsty."

"So did the Liepard ever appear?" a boy asked.

"Yes, and it was a fierce battle, but in the end, Ancha slew the beast, and took a vial of its blood and its skin as his prize." Brock assures his audience before his interlude turned hopeful. "Yuna, meanwhile, had easily found where the mithi grew, but when she arrived in the field, she saw many children gathered around, picking the leaves. When a girl asked why she had come, Yuna gently explained her quest, and that she needed some mithi."

Ash snaps to attention as Brock continued. "Another girl saw Yuna's flute and begged her to play on it, and so Yuna played a set of reels, which sounded something like this..."

Dawn led the clapping as Ash played "Rambling On to Mavi", "The Silver Sword" and "Kyuki Picking Mata" before finishing the set with "Ninetales' Blessing."

"Bravo!" Tsura led the applause when the last note died. Ash just took a bow and waited for his next cue.

"The children danced as Yuna played, and many more came to listen." Brock continued. "When the final tune faded into the blue sky, they pleaded with Yuna to play some more. So Yuna thought for a moment, and played a tune of lament..." At this, Ash plays "Dorcha's Lament for Anima" as Brock plays some soft accompaniment.

"The children felt sorry for Yuna when the song ended, and gave her as much mithi as she could carry. They then called upon Isori, the Master of Wind..." Ash then plays his signal for Mina, making Mina chirp and the crowd laugh. "and Yuna was whisked home on a great gust of wind, where she was reunited with Ancha. The potion was made, and the village was healed. Ancha and Yuna were hailed as heroes for all time, and their story was told throughout the villiage for years to come." Brock concludes. "So ends the tale of 'The Dark Bow and the Shining Flute'".

[BGM: The Mysterious Desert Jewel]

Roars of applause went up from the tribe as Iris strolled by Brock's side. "Well told, lanto... Lady Anima has blessed you with great skill and equally talented companions." she began, giving Ash an acknowledging nod. "You have more then proven yourself to receive our blessing...so take my hand, and we will dance!"

Brock set his harp on a blanket and swallowed hard as he took Iris' hand. He then felt himself being pulled into a whirlwind of blue, green, and silver light as Iris spun, jumped, and twirled around the fire. He then looked down and gasped--the power seemed to be coming from Iris' light and graceful steps! At the same time, he felt stronger, as if he knew how to do this dance all along.

"Wow..." was all Dawn could muster as the many colored magic rained around them, and Brock and Iris spun and skipped across the sand, lost in a euphoria that neither of them wanted to end....

To Be Continued...
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  #48    
Old October 9th, 2011, 05:05 PM
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Interlude: The Tournament of Fate


[BGM: And So, Our Journey Continues]


The Domaris bid the party farewell early the next morning--yet as Mina soared through the desert sky, Ash's mind swam with questions--had there been something on the scale of the Tournament of Fate before? If so, what were the ramifications of that? What could he expect within the arena walls?

"Why the thoughtful look?" Misty asked some seconds later, snapping Ash from his silent grimace.

"I've been thinking about our next objective...I've never competed in a tournament on this big a scale, and I want to know what to expect." Ash explained.

"Well, I've been in a few tournaments before, but I'm sure a mage's tournament is way different from the jousts and Pokemon battles knights compete in." Misty assured him. "Of course, I'm a little unsteady on Ponytas, so I mainly battled with my team of Water types."

"We battle Pokemon too, only our hand to hand battles are fought by casting spells at each other until one side submits." Ash added. "The most famous mage's tournament, however, is the famous Gauntlet of Illusion." He smiled as he remembered past matches against his classmates in the lodge and watching Milina run the Gauntlet of Illusion. Milina was very good at battling too--I wish I could've gotten the chance to run the Gauntlet!

"That's how our duels are fought too, only we can use weapons and jutsu." Janine mused.

"Most clerics are too busy at the temples to compete in any sort of tournament, but that's not to say that clerics have competed at tournaments before..." Dawn interjected.

"For example, there's Dalziel MacCulleon, the Greyscale Priest..." Brock suggested, counting the various clerics on his fingers as he named them. "Nino Vidavan, the White Phoenix...Rosetta the Cursebreaker...Tirrya Darkchaser...and my personal favorite to sing about, Lemira Selrath, Anima's Singer. She's unique because like Dawn, she too could sing magic."

"Could you maybe sing about one of her adventures?" Dawn asked, her eyes shining--she'd always wanted to hear about another cleric that sang spells.

Brock was about to oblige when Janine interuppted "But what about you, Karakashu-san? Do geshous have a competition?"

"Well...there's storytelling contests, musical contests and the drama contest on Rainbow Day that all the halls participate in." Brock replied. "The hall that puts on the best performance of the first performance of Rainbow Symphony wins a special tapestry, which is hung in the main hall untill the next Rainbow Day. As for me, I have participated in a few storytelling and music contests, but didn't win anything--highest rank I ever got was fourth place in the Harper's Competition."

"Here's an idea for you all..." Dawn suggested as Amanta came into view in the distance. "Suppose the Tournament of Fate is all of what we've discussed, plus some competitions we have never seen before?

An uneasy silence filled the air as Mina raced for the adobe walled city--whatever they would face in the Tournament, they would face it together. Deami's Ruby was too priceless and too important to let fall into the hands of just anyone--and who was Ash to think that it could fall into the wrong hands?

To Be Continued...
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  #49    
Old November 4th, 2011, 08:19 AM
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Apologies for the long delay, but in between USB port failure and writer's block--I haven't had time to write on this.

But a new episode is coming soon--potentially sometime next week
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  #50    
Old November 8th, 2011, 02:02 PM
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Episode 34: A Date with Drama


[BGM: Searching in the Sands]


"Wow..." Ash gasped at the imposing, yet dusty, adobe, stone, and marble buildings as Mina landed before the front gate of Amanta later that evening.

"So many people--are they all signing up for the tournament?" Janine asked.

"They have to be--for large tournaments like this, they set up registration kiosks all over the city to handle the eager throngs that want to sign up." Misty explained, pointing out a couple of simple wooden booths on the sides of the street marked "TOURNAMENT REGISTRATION" that had rapidly growing lines.

"Come on--signing up for a tournament can't be that hard!" Ash giggled as he ran to get in line.

"You were saying?" Brock chided a few moments later, as Ash struggled to carry the large stack of paperwork needed for the five of them to compete.

Dawn was just as surprised at the sheer minutiae of the questions. "Great grandmother's maiden name?"

"Uncle's profession?" Brock was just as surprised at one question on the form as the five of them settled in the town square to fill out the papers.

"Don't blame me for the questions--many of them you don't have to answer." Misty assured the surprised group. "They just add many obscure questions to weed out those that wouldn't survive the competition."

"I know we can survive! We have to!" Ash declared as he went to work filling out the form. Brock just sighed and focused on finding the star marked required questions on his form.

[BGM: Brock's Harp: Love by the Illumise Light]

After several hours of working, Ash gave Misty his form and watched her hurry off to a registration booth nestled in the brightly decorated stalls of the market district. He admired the square shaped stone houses and buildings around him as he listened to Brock play the wistful yet playful melody of a song Milina often sang--"Love by the Illumise Light". Judging from the intrigued Yanmas and Taillows gathering around him and the coins filling the harp case, the song about a maid finding her true love with the help of an Illumise was both soothing and enjoyable as he looked off towards the north district, where a magnificent marble building stood, its red, yellow, blue, and green banners fluttering in the evening breeze. That can't be a temple or a guild hall... he mused. A palace, maybe?

[End BGM]

Some applause startled him from his speculation--he looked up and saw a young woman about Brock's age clad in a red, purple, and blue suit with gold trim enthusiatically applauding Brock's performance. "Bravo, Sir Minstrel! Well played!"

"Thanks." Brock shyly stammered as he cleared out his tips and put his harp away. "I was merely playing to pass the time in waiting for my companion to return from signing us up to compete in the tournament."

"Here for the Tournament of Fate, are you?" the woman smiled. "I am Silvana Bianchi, the impresaria for the Theater Royale of Amanta. It's that large building at the edge of the north district." She pointed out the marble building, then fanned out five blue tickets with a gold circle hanging from them before the group. "As thanks for a wonderful performance, I would like to invite you and your friends to see our current production, 'Tabithi and the Sword of Mystic Light'"

"We would be honored, Lady Silvana." Ash smiled before taking the tickets from Silvana.

"If you plan to come, our next show begins at seven tonight." Silvana explained. "If you cannot come, you're welcome to give them to anyone in need of a fine show." After brushing some of her dull blonde hair from her face, she departed. "I hope to see you there!"

"Bye, and thank you!" Dawn called after her just as Misty returned.

[BGM: Searching in the Sands]

"Okay--we're due to report to the arena at nine tomorrow morning for the opening ceremony." Misty replied. "In the meantime, we're free to explore and see all Amanta has to offer."

"How about going to the theater?" Ash suggested as he proudly showed Misty the tickets.

"Where'd you get those?" Misty asked as she examined one of the tickets.

"Oh, Brock was just playing harp to pass the time, and the impresaria of the local theater happened to hear him." Dawn explained. "She was so touched by his performance, she gave us those tickets."

"But who is this Tabithi? Is she like Dokusentoki?" Janine asked, piqued.

"Tabithi is said to be one of Mavi's great rulers--her claim to fame was retrieving a blessed sword to slay a dragon that an evil wizard summoned." Misty explained as the group started towards the theater. "It's a thrilling story--action, comedy, a little romance, and adventure...I'm sure Brock knows a few episodes from it."

"That I do." Brock replied as he stopped to admire the swords and bows for sale at a smith's stall. "I know the episode where Lugia blesses Tabithi with courage for her journey, and the episode in which she and her companion Reine find a magical harp."

"I have never attended a theater from the outside--what is it like?" Janine was even more curious as the group approached the theater, where a large crowd was gathered. "Most productions we put on are very simple in nature--few sets, simple costumes, perhaps a musician or two, but nothing more."

"A lot more elaborate." Ash explained. "Beautiful costumes, acrobats, musicians galore, pantomime, and even puppets! In fact, I remember the time Milina took me to see 'The Mage and the Hunter'--they used a puppet for the Chimchar, and the acrobatic routine the birds did in Act 2 was amazing!"

"I had the honor of playing Entei in 'Briadon, Rider of Flames' once, when Amhran was competing in a drama competition..." Brock added. "The Entei Briadon rides we decided to portray in two forms--during the scenes where Briadon actually rides him, we made a large Entei puppet that needed three people to perform--one to work the head and do the voice, one to perform the front end, and one to perform the back end--all seen from the audience. When Entei appears to Briadon in spiritual form, we used an actual actor--me."

"Is Entei a full masked Pokemon, or what?" Ash asked.

"You're right, Entei is a fully masked Pokemon, and so the channeler in the chorus speaks and sings his lines while the actor in the costume just follows the narration in pantomime." Brock replied. "Not easy to see inside the head mask, and since the head mask we had on hand was meant for someone with a larger head, it felt very loose--was half afraid I would be unmasked mid-show."

"What's the difference between masks?" Janine interrupted as the group got in the line that snaked across the theater grounds.

"There's three main kinds of mask--the quarter mask, which only covers the eye area of your face..." Brock explained. "Then there's the half mask, which completely covers your face, and then the full mask, which completely covers your head." Janine nodded to show she understood.

"If you have any more questions, the narrator typically explains what's going on at the beginning." Misty assured Janine as the group approached the theater entrance.

[BGM: Impresario's Rag]

"Tickets, please." a boy in the familiar red and gold suit of an usher called. He smiled as the group flashed their tickets. "Guests of our lady Silvana...right this way, please." he smiled before leading the group inside the theater. Ash was careful not to lose the usher as he almost ran down the plush red carpet with elaborate golden swirls.

The group wound around several corners and passed many different lecture rooms, a ballroom, and some smaller theaters before finding themselves inside the main theater, which was beginning to fill with people.

"When we get to our seats, you give the usher the gold circle as proof that you've paid to get in." Dawn told Janine as the usher led them up a small stairwell to the balcony seats, where five seats with a "RESERVED" placard on them were waiting.

"And here we are, everyone." the usher smiled as he removed the placards. Once Ash was settled in his seat, he carefully removed the gold circle on his ticket and handed it to the usher. Janine hesitantly did likewise, then Dawn, Brock, and Misty. "There...enjoy the show." the usher smiled before running to assist another group.

"I've never seen a huge stage before..." Janine gasped at the large sloped stage before them.

"Well, you have to account for the actors, the chorus, the narrator, acrobats, extras for a crowd scene..." Ash explained. "So a lot of room is needed." He was about to say more when he heard a tic-tic, tic-tic-tic and the lights flashed twice, quieting the chatter.

[Cut BGM]

"That means the show's about to start." Dawn whispered to Janine as the crowd settled in and quieted.

[BGM: Overture to 'Tabithi']

A flowing harp melody filled the air, and after a few tense seconds, the lights revealed the performer--a pale orange haired girl in a long green and blue tunic with gold ivy designs swirling around it, with some purple and gold boots to complete the look. But her harp was the most impressive--it was crescent moon shaped with the column resembling Moltres flying, and studded in many rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, with some feather decorations at the top.

"If only I had an instrument like that..." Brock gasped as the last chord of the overture faded away.

"Good evening and welcome, travelers--tonight, we wish to present to you the daring exploits and exciting adventures of the Blade Queen Tabithi, and how she saved her kingdom from a terrifying dragon with a sword blessed by Anima." the narrator began. "If you are from another land and visiting us tonight, I must first explain some conventions of the stages of Yoso. First of all, our plays are very musical in nature, and so I have a chorus here to help me, led by our house venutist, Melin." Applause went up as a spotlight appeared on a black haired girl in a purple robe clutching a long and slender flute made of a dark wood. She bowed for the audience, then the light returned to the narrator. "Sometimes our costumes for Pokemon, monsters, and spirits require the actor's head to be fully covered, so our channeler Tania will speak and sing for those actors that can't speak or sing themselves." Applause went up as a brown haired girl in a blue robe stood up and bowed. "And finally, any stagehands, prop masters, and puppeteers are all in black for a reason--they are but shadows, and unseen to you."

"Ah, no wonder I see people all in black by the chorus's section..." Janine mused as the narrator prepared to play again.

"Now, in a time long ago in Yoso, a great queen named Tabithi ruled the city of Mavi." the narrator began. "She was a kind and just ruler, and well loved by her people." With that, she played a regal melody as the curtains rose to reveal an elaborate set of a palace.

Ash smiled as he studied the beautiful set--maybe seeing the adventures of a great hero onstage would inspire them in the tournament!

To Be Continued...
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