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(rated E10+ for fantasy violence and frightening images)
Pokemon: The Song of Jewels
Episode 1: "A journey of his own! Sailing to the Minami region!"
The afternoon sun was high overhead as a majestic ship churned through the sparkling waters. But to a brown haired boy with tan skin that was relaxing in a beach chair on the upper deck, this was a welcome change of pace from the chaos of the Pokemon Center. Just think, in just a few more hours, I can kick back, relax, and explore the Minami region at my own pace for a month. he thought as he adjusted the tan hat with a black band that crowned his neatly combed brown hair and petted the six tailed fox creature that dozed in his lap. Although, it does feel strange going to a new region without Ash by my side...
"Brock? Is everything okay?" a man with slightly graying brown hair asks as he walks in the boy's room, where the boy is seated on his bed, strumming a bluesy melody on a black acoustic guitar. "You've been playing sad songs for an hour now--and normally you play more upbeat stuff."
Brock sighs as he sets the guitar aside. "It's because part of me still has an urge to travel...see the world..." he explains as he gestures to a photo album lying open to an old picture of him and a black haired boy. A yellow mouse creature smiles from the black haired boy's shoulder. "And I miss Ash too."
"You have over a month's vacation time saved up from your travels around Kanto helping Pokemon and helping at the Pokemon Center here at home..." a brown haired woman agrees as she joins the man in the hallway. "So pick somewhere, and we'll do what we can to get you there for a well deserved vacation."
After putting the guitar away, Brock gets up and studies the map of the world hanging on the wall by his window. "Let's see...out of all the regions in the world, where do I most want to go?" he muses to himself. "Houen would be nice--haven't talked to May in a while...going to see Ash in Unova would be great too, but that's a bit far..."
The region directly below Kanto gets his attention. "Minami...that sounds like a good place to go!"
He turns to address his parents. "I'd like to go to the Minami region."
"Great choice--you'd be right at home with their great theater scene." the man smiles.
"Not to mention you'd learn a lot of new stories not even your friends have heard before." the woman agrees as Brock carefully eases a suitcase from a closet and begins throwing clothes inside....
"Surprise!" the woman smiles as she reveals an array of shopping bags before Brock.
"Wow...is all this for me?" Brock gasps in amazement at all the bags.
"If you're going to a new region, you should at least have some new clothes--then you can make a great first impression to the people you're gonna meet." the man explains as Brock takes a deep blue shirt from one bag and lays it over what he is currently wearing.
"Did Brock see all the new clothes we got him?" a boy asks.
"I wanna see him wearing the shoes I got him!" a girl begs.
Brock just smiles as he gathers up the bags as more children arrive, all begging him to wear one item or another. "Tell you what, give me a minute to try all this on, okay?" The children cheer as he departs to his room.
When he returns some time later, he is wearing most of the new items--the navy blue shirt from before peeks through a tan safari jacket with some olive fleece. Some slightly darker brown cargo pants and silver shoes complete the look.
"Wow!" a girl gasps as Brock poses in the new clothes.
"He looks just like an explorer!" a boy agrees.
"Wait! He needs an explorer's hat if he's gonna be an explorer!" another girl protests.
A smile forms on Brock's face. "Hold that thought..." he assures the girl before strolling over to the hat stand in the foyer and taking a tan bowl-like hat with a dark brown band from one of the top hooks. "How's this?" he asks the girl as he puts on the hat.
"Now you look like Nick Dragonswift!" the girl giggles.
"Yeah, now you look like a brave explorer!" the man agrees.
"Considering the Minami region has a lot of mountains, you may want to take a hat so you don't get cold." the woman cautions.
"At any rate, thanks for all the clothes." Brock replies as he goes to add the hat to his suitcase....
"Well guys...this is it..." Brock smiles as he approaches the dock's loading platform with the fox creature and a small shrew-like creature with rock-like skin. A pink humanoid creature is nestled in a travel bundle in his bag, chattering happily. "I'm off to the Minami region..."
"Be safe, Brock..." The woman is first to hug Brock.
"Let us know as soon as you make it, okay?" the man asks as he hugs Brock. "Treat anyone you meet well, and don't go nuts over the girls."
"I'll try..." Brock giggles, embarrassed.
"Come back with souvenirs!" a girl pleads.
"Don't forget to write!" a boy adds.
"Learn a bunch of awesome stories for us!" another girl calls as she waves goodbye.
Brock starts towards the ship's loading platform, but turns to wave goodbye to his parents and the crowd of children one last time before coming aboard the ship....
[Daddy?] a small squeaky voice asks, snapping Brock back to reality.
He looks down on the deck to see the pink humanoid looking back up at him. "What is it, sweetie?" he asks.
[How much longer till we get to Minami?] the pink humanoid asks as the shrew creature joins her. [I'm borrrrrrred!]
Brock gently nudges the fox-creature awake. "Hinata...I need to get up." The fox creature yawns and hops down to the deck, allowing Brock to get up from his chair and lead his three Pokemon to a table nearby the entrance to the ship's dining area.
A deck of cards by Brock's end of the table gives him an idea. "Hey, Emi--wanna see something cool?" he asks the humanoid.
[Yeah!] Emi tottles over to a place where she can see Brock and the cards.
After Brock shuffles the cards, he cuts the deck and gives one half to the Happini before him. "Okay...what I want you to do is pick a card from your half of the deck, remember it, and put it on top." he explains.
[But what if you see it?] Emi asks.
"Don't worry--I'll turn around so I can't see which one you pick." Brock assures Emi before looking away from Emi. With Emi occupied choosing a card, he secretly turns up the bottom card and the second card from the bottom in his half of the deck.
[Okay! I picked one!] Emi announces as she gives back her half to Brock.
After reassembling the deck, Brock instructs Happini "Now, I want you to put the top card somewhere close to the bottom, put the bottom card somewhere near the top, then take the top card, turn it around, and put it somewhere near the middle--this middle card will show me which card you picked before."
Emi eagerly complies with Brock's instructions, then gives Brock the deck. "Now, if we spread the deck out on the table..." Brock proceeds to spread out the deck, where he sees one card, a three of hearts, face up. "Notice the three of hearts is face up?" he explains to the Pokemon. "That means the card Emi chose was the four of spades." The Pokemon gasp as he shows them the card next to the three of hearts, which, sure enough, is the four of spades.
[Wow!] Emi gasps. [How'd you know what I picked when you weren't even looking?]
"Magic, I guess." Brock smiles as he reassembles the deck--only he knows how the trick was done.
He then decides to show the shrew creature a trick. "Terra--wanna hear a little story with the cards?"
[Okay!] the shrew creature replies. What she doesn't know is Brock has removed the face cards beforehand and placed three queens, jacks, and kings on top of the deck to help in telling his story and performing the trick.
"There was once an apartment building somewhere in Pewter City." Brock began, gesturing to the deck. "Among the residents in the building were three beautiful ladies--one of them lived near the penthouse at the top..." He shows Terra the queen of hearts. and puts it near the top of the deck. "...another one lived on one of the middle floors...." He shows Terra the queen of spades and puts it somewhere in the middle of the deck. "and the third lived near the entrance at the bottom." He shows Terra the queen of diamonds and puts it near the bottom of the deck. One night, while everyone was asleep, a group of hoodlums got the idea to try and steal from these lovely ladies."
[That's not very nice!] Terra gasps, brandishing her claws as if the thieves in Brock's story are there.
"So one thief went to the top..." Brock shows the unnerved Sandshrew the jack of clubs and puts it near the top of the deck. "the second went to the middle..." He shows Terra the jack of diamonds and puts it somewhere in the middle of the deck. "and the third went to the bottom." He shows Terra the jack of spades, and puts it towards the bottom of the deck. "Of course, these thieves weren't very good at stealing, and all their clonking around woke the three ladies up! Naturally, they all screamed for help as loud as they could!"
"EE! EE! EEEEEEEE!" Emi screeches, making some giggles and "aw"s fill the air.
Brock sweatdrops at the crowd that has formed to watch his impromptu show. "Thanks, Emi." he sighs, to some awkward laughter. "Anyway, three officers heard the ruckus and hurried to help--one went to the top..." He shows Terra the king of hearts and puts it towards the top of the deck. "one went to the middle..." He shows Terra the king of spades and puts it towards the middle of the deck. "and one went to the bottom..." He shows Terra the king of diamonds and puts it towards the bottom. "Now, before we find out if the thieves were caught, I need you to cut the cards." he tells Terra.
Terra obediently divides the deck into two halves. "Now, shall we see if the police caught the thieves?" Brock asks his audience, and begins dealing out the cards.
Hinata gasps as sure enough, three kings, jacks, and queens appear in the middle of the deck. [Yay! They caught the thieves!] she cheers, to some applause.
"Thank you..." Brock acknowledges his applause as he puts the cards away.
[Will you tell these people a story?] Hinata requests.
[Yeah! Tell the story about the boy that sang magic spells to defeat a giant and save a princess!] Emi suggests.
Brock smiles--"The Giant's Captive" was always a favorite with crowds. "Once a fisherman and his son--let's call him Jiro--were at sea, when a terrifying giant appeared from the water and snatched Jiro from the boat." he begins. "All Jiro's father could do was watch as his son was spirited away to the giant's lair." he begins as he gets up from the table. "The giant took Jiro to a pitch black room and locked him inside, telling him to not light a fire under any circumstances."
Concerned murmurs fill the air at this. "Jiro huddled under a blanket, but the biting wind made him shiver, and on top of that, kept hearing ghostly noises." Brock continues as he takes a few steps back from the table, so he can see his "audience" and have room to move around. "But with no fire, he couldn't tell if they were other prisoners or ghosts. On the third night, Jiro decided he was going to defy the giant's instructions and build a fire--but with what?"
Nervous giggles waft through the crowd. "So that night, Jiro snuck out of the cave, took one of the boats moored to the shore, and sailed back to his father's house." Brock explains. "Once there, he requested some matches, flint, and tinder. As he hid the items in his son's clothing, Jiro's father told Jiro that if he was planning to escape the giant's lair, his wits would be the most valuable thing he could have."
He quickly interjects "Thankfully, the giant had no idea Jiro had gone and returned."
The crowd heaves a sigh of relief. "Jiro lit his fire, and found out the source of the crying he had heard--a princess!" Brock announces, to some "oh"s and light applause. "She had not seen any light in some time, so she yelped in surprise when she saw the firelight. However, that surprised yelp was enough to wake the giant, and it chased after Jiro!" Gasps went up from the crowd at this.
Brock is quick to assure his audience "Jiro finally lost the giant and took shelter in an alcove somewhere on the island. As he caught his breath, Arceus appeared to him and said..."
In a low and deep male voice, he intones "Long has the giant caused suffering in the land, but if you were to slay him now, he would still live, as his soul is not in his body."
"Jiro asked Arceus how he could shatter the giant's soul, and Arceus replied..." he narrates as himself.
In his "Arceus" voice again, Brock explains to the audience "On the other side of the ocean in a palace courtyard stands a post. Hit this post with your finger, and a sword will fall down from the sky. With this sword, kill an Ekans in the forest, and a Buneary will appear and race away. Catch that Buneary and cut off its head, and a Pidove will appear. If you can catch the Pidove when it flies to heaven, an egg will fall, and in that egg is the giant's soul."
Whispers fill the air as some children speculate on what will happen next. "Just as Arceus left Jiro, the giant discovered him!" Brock announces as himself, making the crowd gasp. "Jiro was taken to a high mountain peak, where he was left to die. He spent two days shivering in the cold before working up the courage to climb down. The mountain path led to a forest, where he found four mages arguing over how best to divide the meat of a Stantler they had killed. Jiro skillfully cut the Stantler into four even portions. The mages each gave Jiro a mystical gem as a reward for helping them. The fire mage gave Jiro a ruby that would grant him Entei's strength and power. The wind mage gave Jiro an amethyst that would allow him to soar like the twin Eons. The water mage gave Jiro a sapphire that would allow him to swim like Kyorge. The earth mage gave Jiro an emerald that would allow him to dig as masterfully as Celebi."
[Here comes the magic...] Terra tells Emi, who giggles in anticipation.
"Just then, the giant found Jiro again, but this time, Jiro was prepared--he held the ruby high and called..." Brock then pauses to sing Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul...
He continues over the light applause. "Sure enough, Jiro glowed red with the power of Entei's fire, and managed to throw the giant to the ground. While this didn't kill the giant by any means, it did buy Jiro enough time to get to the shore minutes before the spell wore off."
"And then?" a girl asks.
"Knowing the giant could find him at any moment, Jiro held the sapphire high and called..." With that, Brock sings Rou iitsa ron selga vichi....
"Jiro glowed blue with the power of water, and easily swam to the palace courtyard with Kyorge's speed and grace. He easily found the post and touched his finger to it, and just as Arceus had said, a beautiful sword fell from the sky and landed at his feet." he continues. "Jiro wasted no time in killing an Ekans, and just as Arceus had said, a Buneary darted from the brush. Jiro knew that a human had no chance of catching up to a Buneary naturally, so he found his amethyst and sang..." He then sings Karuto, iichiida shou...
More applause goes up at the song. "Jiro glowed with the purple energy of the wind, which gave him enough speed to catch up to the Buneary and cut off its head." Brock goes on. "No sooner had he done this, did a Pidove appear and fly to the heavens...just as the spell wore off. So he evoked the amethyst again-- Karuto, ichiida shou...
The audience holds their breath as they wait to hear if Jiro caught the Pidove. "This time, Jiro was able to soar through the sky, much like Latios and Latias. He caught up to the Pidove and caught it, causing an egg to fall from the sky." Brock continues. After he landed and the wind magic had worn off, he took the emerald and invoked the earth magic within." He then sings Imultao, ame no ga bakeno... before continuing "Once Jiro had dug through the earth and located the egg, he returned to the island and smashed it on the rocks, killing the giant!" Cheers went up at this.
"The princess was elated that someone had finally set her free." he concludes over the cheers. "They returned to Jiro's homeland, where they fell in love and married not long after their adventure. But Jiro kept the four magic gems with him, just in case he needed their power again."
[Bravo!] Hinata's cheers were the loudest.
Brock just took a bow for his audience--but little did he know that his four gibberish spellsongs were only four of eight keys to unlock some real magic--magic that would eventually save Minami and the world!
Episode 2: "Welcome to Shinjuna Town!"
After being reunited with his bags and his guitar, Brock stepped onto the pier and smiled at the wooden walkways. A sign by the docks told him the town's name--"Shinjuna Town--the boardwalk that welcomes you home."
Well, Minami's not home--but it is my home away from home for the next month. Brock thought as he strolled down the palm tree-lined path. He looked down at Hinata, who was eyeing a Beautifly flitting from one exotically colored flower to another. Terra was by his left side, keeping a watchful eye on the guitar case Brock was carrying. Emi was napping in her travel bundle, tired from the long voyage.
The palm tree-lined path led to a pathway that resembled the wooden walkway of boardwalks of yore. Small ramps leading down to the beach were also embedded in the walkway, as if inviting the throngs of people on the walkway to spend an hour or more relaxing in the sand and surf. But for the moment, Brock was not interested in soaking up sun or playing in surf--his first priority was informing his family of his safe arrival.
He had no problem locating the familiar red roofed Pokemon Center sandwiched between a clothing shop and a general store. For all the people on the boardwalk, the Pokemon Center was surprisingly quiet, save for a few trainers receiving a badge case to hold what badges they earned in Minami.
After finding a vacant phone, he inserted a coin and dialed his home phone number.
Emi whining snapped him from watching the phone screen flash "DIALING". Once Emi was safely cradled in his arms, the image of Flint, Lola, and some of the children blipped on the screen. "Hello?"
"Hi, Dad..." Brock smiled at the image of Flint on the screen. "As you can tell, we made it safely to Minami..."
"Great." Flint smiled. "Now that you're here, what are going to do first?"
"First, we're just gonna rest after a long trip." Brock explained as he consulted a map of Minami on the wall. "Then tomorrow morning, we'll start our walking tour by going to Brightstar Town."
"What's it like where you are?" a girl asked.
"Well, we docked in a place named Shinjuna Town--which is essentially one huge boardwalk with shops and a midway that overlooks a beach." Brock replied.
"Cool--maybe you can play your guitar for tips!" a boy suggested.
That reminds me--I need to practice sometime tonight. Brock thought as Hinata hopped on a stool next to him. "Don't worry, I will still practice while I'm here--if I get a traveling companion, we'll probably have campfire sing alongs..."
Flint laughed at this. "You've always liked playing for our campouts...but be aware of any rules they may have if you're going to do any busking."
Terra tugging on his shirt snapped Brock to attention. [Can we go play on the beach?]
[Yeah, we wanna play on the beach!] Emi agreed as Brock set her on the floor.
"Just a second..." Brock whispered to his audience before addressing the Vulpix, the Happini, and the Sandshrew before him. "You guys can go play on the beach..."
[YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY!] the Pokemon cheered.
"However..." Brock continued. "Stay where you can see the Pokemon Center, and come back here when it gets dark."
[Okay!] With that, Hinata led Terra and Emi past the crowds and into the sandy dunes...
After a short climb down a rocky outcropping, the three Pokemon arrived on the beach. [Here we are...what shall we do first?] Hinata asked as she looked out on the colorful umbrellas and beach chairs dotting the sand.
Emi darted up with a sand bucket. [Let's go dig for treasure!]
Hinata couldn't resist Emi's enthusiasm. [Okay, we'll dig for treasure.] To Emi, even shards of glass or seaweed was treasure.
[Okay--where do you think treasure is, Emi?] Terra asked. [Just tell me where to dig.]
Emi led Terra and Hinata to a sparkling patch of sand near the surf. [Start over here.] Terra started digging a small hole in the sand, but all she found was glass shards and some seashells.
Hinata, meanwhile, spotted an old Shellder shell by where Terra was digging. After a few minutes struggling to get it open, she gasped when she spotted something shiny inside. [Well, what do you know, a pearl!]
[All we've found is glass shards...] Terra sighed.
[A pearl?] Emi gasped. [Lemmee see!] She dumped the glass shards in a trash can and eagerly darted over to where Hinata was examining a small round white stone.
[Brock says pearls mean innocence and purity.] Terra smiled as she too admired the stone.
[They are also the stones of the sea...] Hinata smiled as she watched the sun sink below the sea.
[We'd better be getting back to the Pokemon Center...] Terra motioned for her teammates to follow her back towards the boardwalk, just as the first stars of the night began to appear in the sky.
[Daddy! We're back!] Emi called as she led the others back into the Pokemon Center, where Brock was dozing on a couch. Every one in a while, he would left his head to see if his bag and guitar case were still safe in a storage area, then fall asleep again.
Emi's voice jolted him awake. "Welcome back..." he smiled as he invited Emi in his arms. "How did your expedition to the beach go?"
[We found a pearl!] Emi proudly showed Brock the pearl.
Brock retrieved a tiny bottle from his bag. "Tell you what--let's put your pearl in here, so no one tries to take it from you."
[Great idea.] Hinata smiled as she watched the pearl fall in the bottle with a tink
[Can you do any playing for tips at all?] Terra asked--she always liked listening to Brock play guitar, whether jamming in his room at home, open mic night at the coffeehouse, shows all over Kanto, or playing for tips for some extra money.
"Turns out buskers are welcomed and encouraged here--this is a boardwalk, after all." Brock replied as he retrieved his gear.
[I'll keep watch over your tips.] Hinata offered as Brock made his way out into the breezy summer night.
After glancing around the shops, glittering lights, and neon signs, Brock noticed a bench carved from rock that overlooked a small garden. "How's this for a pitch?"
[We came from the west, and the boardwalk splits into two routes going north and east--plenty of takers.] Terra noted as she gave Brock a jar labeled "TIPS".
After setting his tip jar in a place where passersby could see it and it would not be knocked over, he opened the guitar case and set to work tuning the beautiful black instrument it carried.
Once he was in tune, Brock set to work with some simple strumming exercises to warm up his fingers. Yet no matter what sort of exercise he played, he always seemed to return to an E minor chord.
On a long and lonesome highway
East of Eterna... he sang over the E minor chord he was strumming.
You can listen to the engine
Moanin' out his one note song
You can think about the woman
Or the girl you knew the night before...
Some curious onlookers stopped to listen as he continued But your thoughts will soon be wandering
The way they always do
When you're ridin' sixteen hours
And there's nothin' much to do
And you don't feel much like ridin',
You just wish the trip was through....
So here I am,
On the road again....
There I am,
Up on the stage...
Here I go,
Playin' star again....
There I go,
Turn the page...
[Is this the one Daddy's been practicing on?] Emi whispered. Hinata nodded as she listened to Brock sing the mournful melody...
Well you walk into a restaurant,
Strung out from the road
And you feel the eyes upon you
As you're shakin' off the cold
You pretend it doesn't bother you
But you just want to explode...
Most times you can't hear 'em talk,
Other times you can
All the same old cliches,
"Is that a woman or a man?"
And you always seem outnumbered,
You don't dare make a stand...
Here I am,
On the road again...
There I am,
Up on the stage...
Here I go...
Playin' star again...
There I go,
Turn the page...
Some in the rapidly forming audience began waving their Match Calls and C Gears in time to the guitar as Brock continued Out there in the spotlight
You're a million miles away...
Every ounce of energy
You try to give away
As the sweat pours out your body
Like the music that you play....
He played the familiar saxophone riff, which faded into the night as he sang Later in the evening
As you lie awake in bed,
With the echoes from the amplifiers
Ringin' in your head... he sang over a single D chord.
You smoke the day's last cigarette,
Rememberin' what she said With that, he resumed strumming an E minor chord as he started the chorus again:
Here I am,
On the road again...
There I am,
Up on the stage...
Here I go,
Playin' star again...
There I go,
Turn the page....
Here I am,
On the road again!
There I am,
Up on the stage...
Here I go,
Playin' star again...
There I go...
There I go! The crowd roared as he played the last saxophone riff, which blended into his last strum.
[Bravo!] Terra called as the crowd applauded.
[It's not the same without the whistle...] Hinata sighed as she helped Emi collect tips.
[Yeah, it needs Ash playing the saxophone parts on the whistle.] Emi agreed. [It sounds better that way.]
Brock, meanwhile, looked out on his enthralled audience. "Any requests?"
"'Yellow Submarine'!" someone called.
Brock acknowledged the girl that had requested the song with a nod, then began In the town, where I was born, lived a man, who sailed to sea...
Episode 3: "Panic on Brightstar Path! The lost Eevee"
The group departed Shinjuna Town the next morning. Brock was the most excited as he strolled down the path leading out of town. I made 1500 credits playing last night, and I made my famous Pokechow--what better way to start a walking tour of a new region?
The wooden planks of the boardwalk gave way to pavement as the group left town. Then the sand dunes of the beach gave way to grassy plains dotted in flowers. The pavement also changed to a winding dirt path as Brock and his team approached the edge of a forest. "Let's see..." he mused as he studied a map of Minami. "If we keep following this path through the forest up ahead, we'll come to Brightstar Town, where the resident professor lives."
[I wonder if he--or she--is as nice as Prof. Oak?] Emi wondered.
[I'm sure we'll have a chance to meet him--or her--today.] Hinata assured Emi as she hopped over a tree root that protruded through the dirt path, signaling that they had entered the forest.
[Yeah--we should make it to town today if we don't run into trouble in the forest.] Terra agreed.
Brock looked up from his map and smiled as he looked around the forest. Doesn't look too much different from Viridian Forest back home... he smiled as he watched the Taillows and Pidgeys flit about in the treetops. Some Chespins skittered throughout the grass, challenging some Pikachus to race them to a Berry tree by the path.
Once the two competitors were at the starting spot, the other Chespins and Pikachus watched as a Fennekin announced [On your marks...get set...go!], and a Chespin and a Pikachu tore through the grass towards the tree.
[That looks fun!] Terra noted as the Chespin and the Pikachu disappeared into the brush.
"Wild Pokemon love playing games like that." Brock reminded her as he waved at a Bulbasaur sunning itself in a patch of flowers.
One Pokemon stood out among the other wild Pokemon going about their daily routines--a Pidgeotto was perched on a tree, quietly looking out over the forest. After a few moments, it asked a passing Chespin [Excuse me, have you seen any Eevees around here?]
[Nope--haven't seen any Eevees.] the Chespin replied before romping up a tree.
The Pidgeotto next asked a Froagie in a pond [Have you seen any Eevees around here?]
[No, I haven't seen any Eevees...] the Froagie sighed before hopping away.
Hinata noticed the Pidgeotto as the group reached a bend in the path. [That Pidgeotto looks like she needs help...]
"Well, why don't you ask her what she needs?" Brock suggested, pointing out the Pidgeotto in the distance.
[How did you know that Pidgeotto was a girl?] Emi asked as Hinata bounded off into the grass.
"Female bird Pokemon tend to be smaller than males, and contrary to most birds, female Pidgeottos tend to sing more and have the brighter plumes." Brock explained, pointing out a male Pidgeotto flying towards a pond, which was less brightly colored than the one Hinata was talking with.
Meanwhile, Hinata found the female Pidgeotto in a tree by some mushrooms. [What seems to be the matter, Miss Pidgeotto?]
The Pidgeotto sighed. [Early this morning, my mistress forgot to lock the gate to the Eevee pen, and one of the young Eevees escaped into the woods. I've been asking the forest Pokemon if they've seen him, but so far, I've had little luck.]
"Your mistress breeds Pokemon too?" Brock asked as he arrived with Terra and Emi.
[Yes, she and her family run Brightstar Dreams, one of Minami's top breeding facilities.] the Pidgeotto replied before studying Brock for a moment. [And where might you hail from, traveler?]
"Pewter City, up north." Brock replied. "I came here for a month long walking tour of this region...and I too care for and breed Pokemon."
[Say, maybe you can help me and my mistress find the missing Eevee.] the Pidgeotto smiled, now in a better mood. [Follow me--I'll take you to see my mistress.]
After following the Pidgeotto around the winding forest trail, the group came to a patch of tall grass, where a girl with dull red hair was examining a trail of dusty pawprints on the path. "Did you find him, Tenku?" she asked as the Pidgeotto fluttered into a nearby tree.
[No, but I did find someone who could help us--a breeder from Kanto.] Tenku replied.
Brock felt a hot feeling in his chest as he admired the red haired girl and the royal blue hat that matched her shirt. Remember what Dad said about not going nuts for girls... he reminded himself before swallowing the lump in his throat. "Could you maybe describe this missing Eevee for me?" he asked the girl.
"He's about a month old, and has a gold ribbon." the girl explained. "Very curious about things as well, which is why I have to keep the pen locked when the Eevees are outside. But today, I was called to help Mom make some Pokechow, and forgot to lock the pen in my rush to get inside. When I realized my mistake an hour later, he was gone. Luckily, I've found some of his tracks, so he can't be too far off."
"Does he have a name?" Brock asked.
"Raku." the girl replied. "He wants to evolve to a Jolteon when he's older."
[Here, Raku!] Hinata called into the brush.
[Raku!] Terra called.
My Pokechow! Brock thought. "I made some Pokechow last night, and have enough left to make a little trail back here." he explained to the girl as he unzipped his bag and grabbed the jar containing the Pokechow he had made the previous night.
"There's an idea--eventually he'll get hungry and follow the food trail here." the girl smiled as she watched Brock set Pokechow nuggets in the brush in a zig zag pattern leading to the path.
Silence filled the air as Brock and the girl watched for any sign of the Eevee. [Does Raku have a favorite thing he likes?] Terra asked after a few minutes had passed. [Like a favorite toy?]
"He likes listening to the Taillows sing in the morning--but I can't do bird whistles to save my life." the girl confessed. "I mean, I can whistle for Tenku or to get attention, but mimicking birds is out of my league."
"Observe." With that, Brock proceeded to mimic the familiar trilled whistle Taillows performed at sunrise.
A rustle got the girl's attention. [There's a Taillow? Where is it?]
[That's Raku!] Tenku gasped.
"That was pretty good!" the girl giggled. "Do some more whistles!"
Brock nodded, and mimiced the melodic whistle typically associated with a Taillow song. Then he tried a few variations of the same whistle, all of which he had heard Taillows sing before. He spotted a flash of brown as he finished one mimic. There he is. he smiled when he spotted a yellow ribbon around the Eevee's neck. The Eevee, meanwhile, was curiously nibbling on one of the Pokechow nuggets Brock had left in the brush.
[Keep mimicking Taillows--I think I see him!] Tenku smiled as she too spotted the yellow ribbon.
Now for the grand finale--the little melody Taillows sing around noon. Brock smiled, before mimicking the call in question--a series of trilled whistles.
Just then, the Eevee ran into the girl's arms. "There you are!" the girl laughed as she cradled the Eevee in her arms. "You had me worried all morning!"
[I just heard a Taillow singing and followed it...] the Eevee explained.
"Actually, it was just a breeder from Kanto that helped me find you." the girl explained. "who also happens to know how to be very good at mimicking Taillows." She turned to address Brock. "I can't thank you enough for helping me out--so if you need a place to stay tonight, you can stay with us at Brightstar Dreams."
"I would be honored, miss." Brock replied before motioning for Hinata and Terra to follow him down the path towards a town...
Episode 4: "My name is Wendy! The young breeder of Brightstar Town!"
"So, Brock, what do you do for fun back in Kanto?" the girl asked as the two of them continued down the path to town."
"Currently, I'm a Pokemon Center volunteer by day, storyteller by night." Brock replied.
"You tell stories?" the girl gasped, excited. "What kinds of stories?"
"All kinds--myths, legends and lore from around the world, adventure tales, pour quoi tales, tales of virtue, and tales of my travels across five regions." Brock replied. "When you have a large family like I do, reading a book is usually an exercise in trying not to lose your sanity."
"I can imagine!" the girl giggled. "I may not have any human brothers or sisters, but with all the Pokemon roaming around Brightstar Dreams, it can get just as chaotic."
"So telling them stories goes a lot smoother." Brock continued. "With nine other kids in the house, there's never a shortage of material, either."
He suddenly realized he had not asked the girl her name. "I've told you my name, now will you tell me yours?"
"I'm Wendy." the girl replied. "Wendy Gorman."
Brightstar Town wasn't too much different from Pallet Town or any other small town Brock had seen. The only buildings that stood out were a large silver building to the northwest of the town square. The only other large building was the one Wendy was leading him to--a large white building nestled at the north end of town with a red awning at the entryway. He could see a woman similar in appearance to Wendy in one of the aviaries connected to the building, feeding some baby Bulbasaurs while the mother Ivysaurs looked on.
"Mom, are you about done feeding?" Wendy called to the woman.
"Almost--let me get the Bulbasaurs and Ivysaurs back inside before you turn Tenku loose." the woman replied as she put away the Pokechow bucket and opened a small door leading inside. "Did you find Raku?" she asked as the Bulbasaurs and Ivysaurs romped inside.
"Yeah--I had a little help, though." Wendy handed Raku over to her mother to examine before gesturing to Brock. "This is Brock, of Kanto--a fellow breeder. He's not too bad at mimicking bird Pokemon, either!"
"Nice to meet you." Brock offered a hand to Mrs. Gorman.
"Weren't you the one in charge of the Gym in Pewter City for a while?" Mrs. Gorman asked. Brock nodded. "What made you decide to get involved in breeding?"
"If you think about it, Pokemon aren't really all that different from human children." Brock explained. "They need to be loved and cared for as much as human children do."
"Very true..." Wendy agreed before motioning for Brock to follow her inside. "I'm gonna get Brock settled in and let him meet the other Pokemon, okay?"
"Okay hon--just be sure to lock the pen if you take the Eevees outside." Ms. Gorman replied as she examined Raku.
[Wow...] Hinata, Emi, and Terra gasped as they walked into the festively decorated common room, where a number of baby Pokemon and their parents milled about.
[Hi!] a Pichu called to Emi as he ran after a ball.
"This is our common room, where all the babies can socialize and mingle." Wendy explained. "Out of all the Pokemon we raise here, I specialize in Eevee and its evolutions."
"I see..." Brock smiled as he petted an Eevee.
"In fact, if you ever wondered where all the Bulbasaurs, Charmanders, and Squirtles in Kanto come from, a lot of them are born right here." Wendy continued, giggling a little as a Squirtle spritzed her. "I chose to specialize in Eevee because I like how each Eeveelution has its own unique talent, like actors in a play."
"Oh?" Brock asked.
Just then, a Vaporeon trotted in the room and looked long and hard at Brock. "This is Mizuchi." Wendy explained before assuring the Vaporeon "Mizuchi, this is my new friend Brock."
The Vaporeon, meanwhile, looked Brock up and down, stepped back, and hissed at him. "That's her warning to people and things she feels are a threat." Wendy assured Brock. "She will not hesitate to use Water Gun if you ignore that warning."
Brock was about to start for another room when he felt a PLISH hit his back. When he turned to see what it was, he saw a large wet water stain on his jacket. "Why don't we head for the living room until Mizuchi's more willing to interact with you?" Wendy suggested as she led Brock and his team into the living room foyer at the left side of the room.
A brown haired man peeked in the room. "Is everything okay, Wendy? I heard Mizuchi spray something..."
"I think she's afraid of my new friend Brock, Dad." Wendy explained. "Either that, or one of his Pokemon."
"Mizuchi's met other tall people before and had no problem." Mr. Gorman mused. "She may be challenging the Vulpix and the Sandshrew."
"That's probably it..." Mrs. Gorman agreed. "In the meantime, why don't you get Brock settled in while you wait for Mizuchi to calm down?"
"Great idea." Wendy then led Brock upstairs to the guest room, which was across the hall from the bathroom.
"You mentioned earlier that you liked the Eeveelutions because their unique skills are like actors in a play..." Brock began as he unpacked his essential items by the bed closest to the entryway. "Have you thought about becoming an actress yourself?"
"Yeah." Wendy replied from the other bed. "But I've never left on the PokeTheater Challenge because of my duties here...though I've wanted to for the longest time."
[What's that?] Terra wondered.
[Is that like a Gym challenge or contest for actors?] Hinata agreed as she laid down on the soft blue sheets on the bed."
"Basically, you travel to every PokeTheater in Minami and perform in a play there." Wendy replied. "If you do well, the impresario--or impresaria--will give you a rose button that fits your strength--a red rose means you had a great overall performance. A white rose symbolizes an actor's skill, and a pink one symbolizes an actor's appeal. If you get at least five of them, you get to sing the League anthem before the Minami League begins."
[Cool!] Hinata gasped.
"But in order to perform in a play, you have to audition." Wendy cautioned. "That's why so many don't bother trying, or only manage to get one or two roses. Many aspiring actors and actresses try every year, but only one will earn five roses and sing for the League--and I've always wanted to be that one."
"Why don't you show Brock the lyrics you wrote yesterday?" Mr. Gorman suggested as he passed by the room.
"I will after dinner." Wendy assured her father as she and Brock made their way to the bathroom to wash their hands.
"...and so after trekking across five regions, I returned to Pewter, where I served as a member of the Pokemon Center's staff." Brock concluded his story of why he had traveled to Minami for Wendy and her family. "But after a few months and seeing hundreds of Pokemon day in and day out, I yearned to travel again--take a walking tour of a region I had never been to, meet some fellow breeders, and learn some of that region's lore and legends for storytelling shows at home...so here I am."
"I'm sure you know thousands of stories..." Mrs. Gorman smiled before passing Wendy the green beans.
"Well, I can start your collection off with this Minami tale..." Mr. Gorman offered. "The story goes...."
Brock scrambled for a piece of paper and a pen. "Okay, fire away."
"The story goes that long ago, near where Yushoku City is today, Giratina came to Minami seeking to tear the region apart." Mr. Gorman began. "Of course all the Legendaries in heaven were terrified at this, but it was Meloetta that volunteered to stop Giratina. So she flew down to earth and started singing her strongest spellsongs in each of the elements--one for each of Minami's badges."
"Mm-hm, and then?" Brock asked as he finished writing down a sentence.
"Whatever these spellsongs were, they were enough to seal Giratina deep below Yushoku." Mr. Gorman went on. "The people rejoiced and hailed Meloetta as a hero--even to this day, there's a huge music festival in Yushoku every spring to commemorate Meloetta's victory."
"It is said that if someone finds the jewels Meloetta sealed these spellsongs in, and Meloetta deems them worthy, they can sing magic themselves." Mrs. Gorman added. "But very few know what the jewels are, and no one has even tried to find them that I know of."
"Sounds interesting." Brock smiled as he finished writing down the story's bones.
Wendy then showed Brock a piece of paper as Mrs. Gorman gathered up the dishes to be washed. "Here are those lyrics Dad was telling you about."
Brock read over Wendy's neat italic script for a moment, then smiled at one verse. "You know, I think I may have a melody that would fit with this..." he mused as he cleaned his place.
"The piano's in the living room, if you'd like to play your masterpiece." Mrs. Gorman smiled.
"Thanks." Brock replied.
Wendy watched as Brock settled before the majestic black digital piano and limbered his fingers by playing a short boogie-like riff. "Wanna hear another one?" he jokingly smiled. Wendy giggled at this as Brock composed his thoughts.
Once he was ready, Brock started a quiet yet playful melody that started soft, with a melody line in the higher register. A slightly lower melody answered the first one, before the first melody returned, with the second melody answering.
I see--maybe two people could sing this? Wendy thought as the two melody lines intertwined with a bass line that built up to a triumphant fanfare. Both melody lines played together for the grand finale, with the first melody line playing the final flourish.
[Yay!!!!] Emi applauded when the last chord died.
[Encore!] Hinata agreed.
"That was great!" Wendy smiled as she applauded. "How did you get so good at composing?"
"Just like anything else--practice." Brock replied. "My main instrument's guitar, so I've written many of my own songs and arrangements for storytelling shows.
"Cool--I play a little fiddle myself." Wendy agreed. "I'm not playing in fiddle contests, and I don't know enough to play in jam sessions, but I've always wanted to jam with a guitar player."
"Well, the basics of any solo is a scale..." Brock started.
Wendy winced at the mention of scales. "Practicing scales is my least favorite part of practicing fiddle--I keep tripping over the notes every time I try, and even with a metronome. By the time I get the dumb thing sounding right, I've probably played the same thing fifty times!"
"Maybe if you approached it like you did if you were going to sing them instead of play them, it would be easier?" Brock suggested.
"How so?" Wendy asked as she watched Brock adjust a few settings on the piano. "I mean, anyone can sing scales--do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do."
Brock noticed the mirror by the piano, which had Wendy's reflection in it. "I have a little singing game I use to help kids--and absolute beginners in music--understand the concept of scales. It also introduces the concept of improvising in music, which is important if you want to play gypsy jazz and jazz fiddle, period."
"That's why I wanted to learn fiddle to start with." Wendy smiled. "When I was little, Dad played fiddle in a gypsy jazz band that grew to be pretty popular. But eventually the band broke up because the other members had too many conflicting commitments. He still plays for fun, though."
Brock smiled. "Okay...I'm going to start the game by teaching you the tune, then you sing it back to me as best as you can without worrying about mistakes. Then we'll both sing it together. Got it?"
"Got it." Wendy replied.
"Here we go then..." With that, Brock started a slow shuffle rhythm in E minor. After giving himself a few beats for an introduction, he sang as he played the jazzy tune. Do...
Do re mi re do, do...
Do re mi fa fa, so...
Do re mi re do, do
So do so mi do mi mi re...
Do re mi re do, do...
Do re mi fa fa, so...
Do re mi re do, do...
So do ti la so fa,
He then scatted an improvisation around the E minor scale before telling Wendy "Okay, your turn..."
Wendy swallowed hard, then hesitantly sang Do...
Do re mi re do, do...
Do re mi fa fa, so...
Do re mi re do, do
So do so mi do mi mi re...
Do re mi re do, do...
Do re mi fa fa, so...
Do re mi re do, do...
So do ti la so fa,
She then sang her own variation on Brock's scatted solo, with Brock doing a vocal trumpet an octave above to back her up. Then she sang the descant while Brock sang the lead part. Then Brock would sing a variation on his scatted solo, and Wendy would answer with a variation on her part.
The two of them traded solos like this for what seemed like hours, unaware that Mr. and Mrs. Gorman, Mizuchi, Tenku, and a number of other Pokemon were listening. They then sang together in the key of F minor Do...
Do re mi re do, do...
Do re mi fa fa, so...
Do re mi re do, do
So do so mi do mi mi re...
Do re mi re do, do...
Do re mi fa fa, so...
Do re mi re do, do...
So do ti la so fa,
After one last round of scat solos, the song ended. "That was great, Wendy!" Mr. Gorman smiled.
"Encore!" Mrs. Gorman agreed.
"And you thought playing scales was boring..." Brock grinned.
"That was actually fun!" Wendy laughed. "I'll have to remember this for the next time I practice!"
"Why stop with the next time you practice?" Mr. Gorman smiled. "You two need to take that on the road!"
"If you're on a walking tour of the region, you should see Prof. Willow." Mrs. Gorman suggested. "She'll show you some of Minami's great treasures and lore--things that the guidebooks don't tell you."
"I'll take you up on that offer." Brock replied, ever aware of Mizuchi's icy glare in his direction. Maybe she can tell me more on that story about Meloetta and Giratina.
Episode 5: "Professor Willow's quiet wisdom! The journey begins!"
The next morning, Brock and Wendy departed Brightstar Dreams for the lab across the south path leading out of town. "The thing to remember with Professor Willow is, if she's busy with her research or updating Pokedex entries..."
"Updating entries?" Brock was interested. "You mean..."
Wendy nodded. "While Prof. Oak is correctly attributed with the invention and the patenting of the Pokedex, it was Prof. Willow that wrote--and still writes--all the entries. However, she can get so involved in writing these, or a paper, or other research, that not even a train passing by can get her attention--a state I like to call 'zen mode'"
"So how do you snap her out of zen mode if you need to talk to her?" Brock wondered as he followed Wendy up the hill to the lab's entrance.
"Any loud and grating noise will do--I've found that crackers and party horns work very well." Wendy replied before knocking on the door.
A sandy haired assistant opened the door and smiled. "Wendy, hello!" he cried. "Who's your friend?"
"Oliver, this is Brock, of Kanto." Wendy began. "Brock, this is Oliver, Prof. Willow's head assistant."
"Nice to meet you." Brock grinned as he shook Oliver's hand.
Oliver, meanwhile, was admiring Emi. "Aw...Chanseys and Happinis don't often appear in Minami..." He then flagged down a dull brown haired assistant. "Is Willow still busy with those Unova entries?"
"I'm afraid so..." the assistant sighed as she filed away some paperwork. "Good luck trying to snap her out of her work trance...I've tried banging on a trash can and that didn't work."
"She's in zen mode again..." Wendy mused.
"If you want to try and snap her out of it, be my guest." Oliver sighed as he opened the door leading into the professor's office. "To this day, I can't find something loud enough to snap her out of it...I've just learned to wait until she is finished."
"Come on..." Brock motioned for Emi, Hinata, and Terra to follow Wendy inside the room, where a woman with slightly graying black hair was before a PC, editing a Pokedex entry.
"Willow?" Wendy called, waving a hand in the woman's face. The woman said nothing, but continued writing in new information on the Pokemon Chespin.
[Wow...look at all these books!] Emi gasped at the sheer number of books in the room.
"I don't think any of those contain fairy tales, Emi." Brock replied as Emi climbed on a table to examine some books on a shelf.
Terra, meanwhile, spotted a silver trombone lying against its case by the door. [Isn't that the same kind of trombone you used to play when you joined the Diamond Band?]
Brock sighed--it had been a year since he had been forced to leave the band because of his duties at the Pokemon Center. "Even if I were to try and play, I don't know if it would sound very good or not--I'm out of practice..."
Hinata rummaged through Brock's bag and dropped a trombone mouthpiece in his hands. [Only one way to find out if you sound good or not!]
[Which one of those Taban etudes did you always start your practice sessions with, again?] Terra asked as Brock carefully set the mouthpiece inside the trombone.
"Taban #4--'Peaceful Skies'". Brock replied. "One of the first etudes any trombonist will learn--made a great warmup...so let's see If I still remember how to play it..."
With that, he started playing the peaceful melody, but after the first few notes, the song quickly dissolved into squawks and blats instead of the tranquil song the etude was supposed to sound like.
[Daddy wasn't kidding when he said it would sound terrible!] Emi covered her ears to block out Brock's horrible performance.
[To be fair, he hasn't played in a year.] Hinata assured her as she and Wendy both covered their ears.
Some giggles got Brock's attention as he heaved with exhaustion from his performance. "Not bad for having not played in a year." the woman smiled as she got up from the PC. "A few weeks of regular practice and it will sound as beautiful as it once did."
"I'm sure it did sound beautiful at one point, Willow..." Wendy smiled as Brock quickly returned the trombone to its place by the door. "So anyway, this is Brock of Kanto, a fellow breeder." she began, gesturing to Brock.
Prof. Willow smiled as she got up from the PC. "I remember Oak telling me about your skill with the Rock type..." she smiled as Brock made himself comfortable by a table. "Why don't you introduce your team to me?"
"Okay...this is Hinata, who I caught in Celadon Fields while traveling to Celadon City for a Pokemon health fair." Brock began as Hinata hopped on another chair. "This is Terra, who was hatched and raised in Pewter City, my home Pokemon Center..."
[Pleased to meet you.] Terra gave Willow a little bow as Brock petted her.
"...and this is Emi, who I hatched myself while traveling in Shinou." Brock explained, gesturing to Emi perched on a bookshelf by the table.
[Hi!] Emi smiled.
"If I may ask, how did you receive a Happini egg?" Willow asked as she carefully coaxed Emi down to the table.
"I got it as a prize in a Pokemon Contest." Brock explained. He wanted to tell Willow about how he had faced Dawn in the contest, but decided against it.
"Fascinating...what did you have to do to win the egg?" Willow asked as she examined Emi.
"The Contest was divided up into three parts--first, you dressed up your Pokemon to look nice using a box filled with random costume pieces and props..." Brock began.
[Don't remind me about the grass skirt....] Hinata shuddered at the memory of being paraded around the ring as a hula girl.
"Then, each Pokemon had to dance with their masters..." Brock continued.
[That was fun!] Hinata smiled. [We performed to the song "Tanoshi to Jazz"]
Brock hummed a little of the tune for a moment before continuing "Then, your Pokemon made five appeals to the three judges--then your scores are added up, and the pair with the most points, won. In the end, a friend edged me to win the ribbon, but the egg was the prize for second place."
[You have to admit Dawn and Piplup were having fun with "Personality"] Hinata giggled.
"I've danced to that one too--it was initially my first choice, but Dawn got it first." Brock smiled.
[Oh-wo-over and over, I try to prove my love to you...] Emi sang as she teetered around the table, trying to mimic the dance Brock had done to the song in the past.
Everyone laughed. "I'm sure you've had many more adventures...but what brings you here to Minami?" Willow wondered as she organized some paperwork.
"I've always wanted to take a walking tour of a region I've never been, meet new people, and learn some of that region's legends and lore." Brock mused. "So here I am."
"Well, the most prominent legend you'll find around here is the legend of Meloetta and Giratina." Willow began. "Essentially, Giratina threatened to tear the world apart, but Meloetta sealed him deep beneath Minami with eight holy spellsongs, one for each of the region's badges."
"Mom and Dad told him that one last night." Wendy interjected.
"And I dutifully copied down the bones to it, like any good storyteller should." Brock added.
Willow smiled. "If you want to see one of the places where the jewels holding spellsongs supposedly lie, Honoru City, to the south, has the Tower of Runes standing nearby. Although, you may not want to go inside--Meloetta was said to have left many traps to deter those unworthy of singing magic."
"But if you do make it to the top, Meloetta will grant you one of the spellsongs, right?" Wendy smiled.
"That's what the story says, but no one has ever ventured inside and returned to my knowledge." Willow replied. "Those few that have either turned up dead inside the tower, or never returned and are presumed dead."
"I guess I know where I'm beginning my walking tour of Minami, then..." Brock smiled.
Willow handed him a business card with her contact information on it. "If you're wanting to learn more about an area, or need a suggestion on where to travel next, here's my contact information."
"Say..." Wendy mused. "You don't suppose I could serve as Brock's tour guide for his adventure, do you?"
"Sure--and besides..." Brock then intoned "It's dangerous to go alone."
Everyone laughed at this. "Yes--it's better to have someone go with you when you travel." Willow giggled as she wiped a tear of laughter from her eye.
"My little girl...be safe on your travels." Mrs. Gorman smiled as she hugged Wendy one last time.
"If you do take the PokeTheater Challenge, I look forward to your grand debut." Mr. Gorman agreed as he too hugged Wendy.
[Wait!] squeaked a familiar voice.
"Huh?" Wendy gasped when she saw Raku and another Eevee dash up to her feet.
[If you're going on an adventure, Satomi and me wanna come too!] Raku pleaded.
[Please?] the other Eevee begged.
"What do you think, Mom?" Wendy looked to Mrs. Gorman for advice--neither she nor Brock counted on any of the young Pokemon wanting to come.
"Raku and Satomi are weaned--so I'm sure they'll be okay." Mrs. Gorman assured Wendy.
"Besides, you have Mizuchi, and they like her." Mr. Gorman agreed.
Wendy grinned at the two Eevees. "Okay, you guys can come on this adventure with us."
[YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!] Raku and Satomi cheered.
"If you need anything, just call us or Prof. Willow." Mr. Gorman began as he watched Satomi climb into a pocket of Wendy's messenger bag.
Brock smiled as he gathered his gear. "Did we forget anything?"
"I have my stuff and my fiddle for campfire jams." Wendy replied as she shooed Raku from a pocket of her fiddle case."
After making sure his own gear and guitar were accounted for, Brock told Professor Willow "By the way...I promise I will get 'Peaceful Skies' back up to speed and play it for you before I return to Kanto."
"Take your time--you have a while to practice." Professor Willow replied. She and the Gormans waved goodbye as Brock, Wendy, and the Pokemon disappeared down the road into the sunset....
Episode 6: "The master storyteller's lesson! Wendy and the legend of Princess Kaguya!"
For a while, the journey from Brightstar Town was uneventful. But just as the sun sank below the plains, Wendy heard the female Eevee complaining. [Can we stop walking? My paws are tired...]
"Good idea..." Wendy agreed as she located a spot to camp on the pains that was by a stream. "This a good spot for a camp?" she asked Brock.
"That looks good to me." Brock smiled as he set down his gear in the grass, where Wendy was pitching her tent by a tree. "Terra, will you take Emi and get some firewood?"
[Okay!] With that, Terra and Emi romped off into the bushes.
[I can catch a Magikarp, if you need food to cook.] Tenku offered as Brock got his cookware in order.
"I appreciate the offer, but I have food already." Brock assured the Pidgeotto as he got out some spiced sausage and sweet peppers from a cooler. "Tonight's menu is sausage and pepper kabobs..."
"...and s'mores for dessert!" Wendy added, triumphantly holding up some graham crackers and chocolate bars.
[Wouldn't peppers be too hot for the two baby Eevees to handle?] Hinata asked as Brock started slicing the sausage and peppers and sticking them on metal kabob sticks.
"These are more sweet than hot, so they should be safe." Brock assured Hinata as Terra and Emi returned with twigs and branches. After arranging the sticks into a nice pattern, he told Hinata "Okay, start the fire!"
Hinata obediently fired an Ember at the sticks, starting a hearty blaze and allowing Brock to begin cooking the kabobs.
"Okay if I borrow a kabob stick to roast the marshmallows?" Wendy asked as she stacked chocolate bars on the graham crackers.
"Sure--that would get a lot of s'mores done quickly." Brock replied as he turned some of the kabobs.
After dinner had finished and the campsite had been cleaned, Emi lightly tugged on Brock's shirt. [Can we sing some songs now?]
Brock grinned--Emi had likely been looking forward to singing songs around the campfire all day. "Okay, we'll have a campfire singalong now." he replied as he reached for his guitar case.
[YAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!] Emi cheered as Brock tuned up.
[This is my favorite part of a campout.] Hinata smiled as she and Tenku watched Brock and Wendy tune their instruments. [Brock knows millions of songs and stories for performing around the campfire.]
[Is that so?] Tenku was impressed.
Emi nodded. [He'll even take requests!]
"Let's see here..." Wendy started playing the first few measures of a hesitant melody, which grew into the reel "Traveling to Akari". Brock joined in with a soft rhythmic accompaniment, which picked up strength as the set progressed, but never overpowered the fiddle as its melody grew more and more confident.
[Wonderful, as always!] Tenku smiled when the set ended.
[You're getting so good!] Raku agreed.
Wendy giggled. "I'm not concert hall material yet, but that was fun." She turned to address Brock. "You play backup really well--what's your secret?"
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret anymore, would it?" Brock replied. Wendy giggled as he explained "There really is no secret--just remember to let the melody instrument--you--shine. I just listened to your part and adapted my playing accordingly."
They were about to start another set when Emi requested [Sing 'Day-O', please?]
Brock nodded, and sang over a D chord Day-o! Me say day-o! Daylight come and me wan go home...
"Hey Brock?" Wendy stammered as the last notes of another set faded into the night.
"Hm?" Brock asked as he set his guitar aside.
"M-may I tell you a tale of Minami? To add to your collection of tales?"
"Go ahead--you can start when you're ready." Brock assured Wendy as she too set her instrument aside.
Wendy swallowed hard, then began. "A long time ago...um...in a place far from here..., there was an old couple that had no children. They made their keep by cutting and selling bamboo. One day, the man went to a forest to cut bamboo as usual, and found the bright bamboo."
Brock nods and encourages Wendy to continue, even though he can see her shaking with nervousness. "He, uh, thought the bamboo could be sold for a good price and he tried to cut some." Wendy stammers, her voice wavering in fear. "But suddenly, he noticed there was a little girl in one stalk. He was very surprised, as he and his wife had wanted a child for a long time."
The last part of the beginning runs into a blur as Wendy blurts "Th-Thenhedecidedtotakeherhomeandraiseherashisowndaughter!!!!"
"Easy...calm down..." Brock realizes Wendy is not getting any farther in her story, and helps her breathe deep a few times, easing her nervousness
"H-how was that?" Wendy begins, still a little nervous.
"You were doing well until nerves kicked in." Brock explains. "Just working up the courage to tell for me is the first step towards becoming a good actress."
"Really? Even though I dissolved into a blathering mess?" Wendy asks.
Brock nods. "Even the best actors and actresses have to deal with nerves. When I feel nervous before the beginning of a concert or storytelling show, what I do is take a few minutes to breathe deep a few times like I did with you, and remind myself the audience wants me to do well. You don't go a concert and say..." He proceeds to mimic Wendy's voice. "Boy, I hope this show is terrible!"
Satomi bursts out laughing. [That would be silly!]
"No--you want the performer to do well." Wendy agrees, giggling at Brock's scarily accurate impression of her voice.
"Exactly--if an audience thought you would do terrible, they wouldn't even come." Brock explains. Wendy writes down tips on some paper as Brock goes on. "Which leads me into a few storytelling tips that also apply to acting...first, know your story--or your role--well enough that you don't say "uh", "er", "um", and the derivatives therein. That means read the story--or your lines, well enough until you know them like the back of your hand. Once you know your part, get to know your character--what are they like? What would others say about your character? What are their hopes, their dreams, their flaws, their wishes, their regrets? Things like that bring a character to life."
He notices a book sticking out from Wendy's bag--"50 Tales of Kanto". "Mind if I look through this?"
"Sure--I brought it so Raku and Satomi could look at the pictures." Wendy replies as she writes down Brock's last tip.
"Would you like me to tell you one of the stories in here as I tell it, so you can see what you wrote in action?" Brock offers.
"Yes, please!" Wendy gasps, her eyes shining in excitement.
After thumbing through the book for a moment, Brock set it into the grass and began "There was once a fisherman who longed very much to have children. So he went to the town sage, and the sage told him to catch a Goldeen, have him and his wife eat one half, and then bury the other piece of meat. So the fisherman did as he was told, and thought nothing of it. Imagine his surprise when he found his wife had given birth to two children, a boy and a girl!"
Wendy and the Pokemon laugh as they picture the fisherman's reaction. "On top of that, their Arcanine had two Growlithes, their Rapidash had two Ponytas, and two Cheri trees sprouted on each end of the front walk." Brock continues. "The children were named Kendall and Meredith, in remembrance of the waters the Goldeen had come from."
[Very fitting--both names mean 'water'] Tenku notes.
"The years went by, and Kendall and Meredith eventually came of age." Brock goes on. "They both longed to go out into the world, but their mother assured them that Kendall would try his luck first, and if fortune be unkind to him, Meredith would go. So Kendall took his Growlithe, his Ponyta, and the harp Meredith had made for him...." Excited whispers race through the small crowd as Brock retrieves his own harp--a silver crescent moon shaped instrument with gold inlays and sapphires. "and told her that so long as the Cheri trees bloomed, he was alive and well. But if either of them wilted, he needed her help. If one of them had bright blossoms, that meant he had found fortune, and she was to come join him."
[I wonder what adventures Kandall will get into...] Raku muses.
[What a pretty instrument...] Satomi is more interested in the harp as Brock slips some fingerpicks on his right hand.
"Kendall traveled a long way, until he came to a far away land." Brock continues as he walks around the campsite, the harp still cradled in his arms. "He asked the local sage about the castle, and the sage told him that the king was seeking a husband for the princess--we'll call her Yumi. Each would be suitor had to pass three trials--if he completed them, he would have Princess Yumi's hand in marriage. If he failed, he would die."
[Oh no!] Raku gasps.
"Kendall's not gonna die, okay?" Wendy assures Raku.
"But Kendall decided to try anyway--the next day, he traveled to the castle courtyard, and started playing his harp for the servants and the ladies." With that, Brock plays "The Riverbanks of the Moon" for effect.
Applause goes up when the last note dies. "Even Princess Yumi heard the song, and told her father about the minstrel in the courtyard." Brock continues. "The king summoned Kendall before him and asked what Kendall was doing there. When told that Kendall sought Princess Yumi's hand in marriage, the king gave Kendall his first challenge--cut a certain thick log in one stroke of a blade. Kendall was so distraught, he didn't even feel like picking up the harp that night."
He then plays a soft D chord to represent Princess Yumi. "Even Princess Yumi was concerned, and asked Kendall what was wrong, as she had grown fond of him. When Kendall told her what the matter was, Yumi just smiled and urged Kendall to play for her, and she would have an answer for him in the morning."
After playing the song "Come Give Me Your Hand" to simulate the passage of time, Brock continues "The next morning, Princess Yumi told Kendall she had studied much about magic and fighting, to name a few things. She laid a hand on Kendall's blade, making it glow blue with a spell of strength. Needless to say, Kendall had no problem cutting the log!"
The audience applauds at this. "The king then told Kendall to take his Rapidash and ride for three miles with a chalice filled with water. If even a drop was spilled, the king would have his head." Brock continues, making more concerned chatter fill the air. "Kendall was troubled again, so much so that he didn't even pick up the harp that night."
Hinata's, Emi's and Raku's cheers are the loudest as Brock plays Princess Yumi's motif. "Princess Yumi grew concerned, and asked Kendall what was wrong. When Kendall told her his dilemma, she urged him to play for her, and she would have an answer in the morning."
The waltz "Starry Night" fills the air to simulate the passage of time. When Brock finishes the song, he continues. "The next morning, before Kendall left, Princess Yumi laid a hand on the chalice and sang..." In character as a young girl, he sings Rou iitsa ron selga vichii...
More cheers go up at the sung "spell". "The water instantly froze to ice, thereby fulfilling the king's challenge.' Brock explains as himself. "But the third challenge was the hardest--face Princess Yumi herself in a non-lethal duel in the royal arena. Kendall was a fine swordsman in his own right, and his sword still had the strength spell on it, but he figured Princess Yumi was years ahead of him in skill."
Silence fills the air as Wendy and the Pokemon ponder how Kendall could defeat Princess Yumi. "That night, Princess Yumi assured Kendall that she would tell him how to defeat her in the morning if he just played the harp for her that night." Brock assures his audience before playing "The Fairy's Waltz" to simulate the passage of time.
When the last note dies, he continues. "The next day, Princess Yumi told him that at one point during the duel, she would throw out a sapphire. If he cut it, she would know to hold back and let him win--as she was so skilled, it would look very much like she lost naturally."
Brock then plays a frantic melody to simulate the duel. "The duel commenced, and Kendall did very well matching Princess Yumi step for step. In fact, for many hours, the duel was too close to call!"
"So did Kendall ever win?" Wendy asks as the last chord fades away.
"At last, Princess Yumi threw out the sapphire, and Kendall cut it to seal his victory." Brock replies over a triumphant flourish. "The king didn't know that Princess Yumi had let Kendall win, as it looked for all intents and purposes that Princess Yumi had lost naturally."
He concludes over a triumphant melody. "Kendall and Princess Yumi were soon married, and even Meredith came to join in the festivities when she saw the right Cheri tree glow. They all lived happily for many years."
"Bravo!" Wendy's applause is the loudest as Brock takes a bow. "The harp was a nice touch!"
"Thanks--I mainly use it when portraying my minstrel character Flynn Devine, or his Gekijou variant, Kashu." Brock explained as he put the harp away. "In creating all my characters, I keep one thing in mind--don't just play the character--be the character."
"I see..." Wendy smiled. "It goes back to what you said about getting to know your character and their wishes."
Brock nods. "Also, look at how your character interacts with others. Who do they love? Who do they hate? Who are they afraid of? Who do they want something from? I could go on for hours about becoming a character..."
"Tell me about Flynn Devine and how you portray him." Wendy begged.
"Well...he is very reserved, and yet playful." Brock explained. "He also tends to speak flowery language..." He then slips into character as Flynn for a moment. "So he will not speak using contractions or popular turns of phrase."
"Kinda like Arran Seluna on TV..." Wendy mused as she put her fiddle away.
"Not the TV version of Arran...the comic version of Arran is a bit closer to Flynn." Brock replied. "So when I am playing Flynn in public, I act a bit more reserved than I usually am, but still smile and wink so he doesn't come across as shy."
[Cool!] Raku smiled.
Wendy, meanwhile, was processing everything Brock had said. Know your character...know your story...become the character....sounds easy enough...
She sighed and asked. "May I try telling 'Princess Kaguya' again?"
"Go for it--I'm listening." Brock replied as he put his guitar away.
Wendy took a deep breath to calm her nerves, then began "A long time ago, near what is now Akari City, there was an old couple that made their keep by cutting and selling bamboo. One day, the man went to a forest to cut bamboo as he always did, when he found a stalk glowing with an ethereal light."
"Looking good so far, but try not to speak so fast." Brock replied.
Oops, I was rushing again... Wendy blushed a little, but regained her composure and continued. "But when he tried to cut the bamboo, he found a pretty little girl inside. He was quite surprised, as the old couple had wanted a child for a long time. He decided to take her home and raise her as his own daughter. When he got home with the girl, the woman was surprised but very happy. They named the girl Kaguya and took care of her as their own daughter. The years went by, and they lived happily for some time--until Kaguya came of age to be married."
Brock made a V gesture at his eyes--a discrete request for Wendy to look at him and the Pokemon. "Kaguya grew into a beautiful lady. Many people said that her beauty was not like a human, but a fairy or the sakura. Her hair was extremely long and jet-black like a Murkrow's wing. Her eyes were as dark as the night, and her lips were ruby red. Not only was she physically beautiful, but beautiful in the heart was well. Every man who heard about Kaguya wanted to marry her. However, she didn’t want to marry anybody for some reason...."
"...After Kaguya had left, the king ordered the Taka medicine burnt on the peak of the highest mountain in Minami, which is why it is named Mt. Taka." Wendy concluded some time later.
Brock led the applause. "That was better than your first time, but remember to look at your audience and not speak so fast. I like your enthusiasm, but I can't understand you if you're going a hundred miles an hour."
Look at my audience and don't talk too fast--got it! Wendy reminded herself as Brock put out the campfire for the night.
[Are we gonna see Mt. Taka tomorrow?] Emi asked Wendy.
"Not tomorrow, but you will get to see it soon." Wendy replied as Brock arrived to tuck Emi into her bundle for the night....
Episode 7: "An arrow's first flight! Ambush in the camp!" (part 1)
The party departed with high spirits the next morning--Tenku flew on ahead, Brock and Wendy were next, and their Pokemon followed. Emi was inside her travel bundle, and Hinata walked by Brock's side, so she could help Wendy keep an eye on Raku and Satomi, who were happily chasing each other around Wendy's legs.
Finally, Brock's curiosity got the best of him. "Why are Raku and Satomi running around your legs like that?"
"It's a natural instinct and favorite game in the wild--they will run in circles around trees or logs to build endurance and agility--although table legs make a nice substitute in a house." Wendy explained, grinning a little at a memory of Mizuchi running around the kitchen table's legs when she was an Eevee. "Even when they evolve, they will still do this--Mizuchi has a pole in the common room to play chase with the other Eevees."
"Reminds me of the Eevee Bros. of Stone Town..." Brock mused.
"Oh?" Wendy is interested. "Is that a place in Kanto?"
Brock nods. "See, one day, my friends Ash and Misty and I were traveling in a forest somewhere in Kanto--on my first trip around Kanto, in fact--and Ash's Pikachu found an Eevee tied to a tree."
"Did it have an owner, or what?" Wendy was curious.
"My first thought was it had been abandoned, which spurred Ash and Misty to fight over who got it." Brock went on. "They tended to fight a lot back then--sometimes over the silliest things!"
Hinata recognized the story Brock was telling. [I think you have pictures from that day!] With that, she dove into Brock's bag and surfaced with a thick book labeled "KANTO PHOTOS"
Brock thumbed through a few pages until he found a picture of the Eevee in question. "Here we go...maybe having the pictures will help jog my memory." After thinking a moment as to where he is in his story, he continues. "Just before the fight could get really bed, Misty saw the Eevee had a license--and it read 'Stone Town-House 3-14'."
He referred to a picture of an orange haired girl examining a tag on the Eevee. "Misty looking at the Eevee's tag..." he explained. "Before I go any further, some context is in order--most of the evolution stones in Kanto come from a single mountain--appropriately named Mt. Evolution."
[Wow!] Raku was impressed.
"Cool!" Wendy agreed.
"Stone Town sits at the base of this mountain, and every year, there's a big party when all the Eevees in town evolve." Brock goes on. "We discovered the festivities for that year were just getting underway when we arrived at house 3-14--which was a really beautiful mansion."
Satomi gasped at the picture of the decorated mansion. [Whoa--Brightstar Dreams could fit in there and there would still be room!]
"So who owned that Eevee?" Wendy wondered as she carefully stepped over a tree root in the path.
"It turned out the party was for the youngest of four brothers--who didn't want to evolve his Eevee because he liked it as it was." Brock continues.
The lightbulb goes off in Tenku's head. [So he left it in the forest so he wouldn't be forced to do something the Eevee probably didn't want any more than he did.]
"Exactly." Brock smiles. "The other three brothers believed that evolution was the only way to go..." He refers to a black haired boy with a Pikachu on one shoulder angrily lecturing someone out of the frame. "Ash sticking up for the Eevee's master."
[He looks so brave!] Raku sighed dreamily.
"Raku wanted to be a Jolteon after hearing many stories of Ash's Pikachu...." Wendy mused as she admired the picture.
[I wanna be an Espeon!] Satomi declared. [And levitate things, and teleport things, and predict the future....]
Wendy giggled. "I presume these were taken before the other four Eeveelutions were discovered?"
Brock nodded. "To this day, I wonder if that Eevee is still an Eevee..."
He composes himself as he continues "Ash's passionate speech about letting the Pokemon evolve when they want to led to a big fight between him, me, and the brothers. They tried to make Ash evolve Pikachu and me evolve a Vulpix I was caring for on a friend's behalf, but we both declined. While Ash and I were busy defending our points and checking out the party, Misty was busy telling the boy how to stand up to his brothers, and how to be brave..."
[I'm sorry for interrupting the thrilling tale, but can we please stop to rest?] Tenku wheezed. [I'm getting hot...]
"Yeah--we shouldn't be traveling during the heat of the day." Wendy agreed as she began pitching her tent by the tree Tenku was perched on.
Just when I was getting to Team Rocket... Brock sighs. "I'll tell you more once we get back on the road." he assures Wendy and the Eevees as he puts away the photo album.
The Eevees, meanwhile, are thrilled by the tent. [I'm so glad to be out of the sun!] Raku smiles as he darts in the tent.
Wendy pauses to give the Eevees some water, then tells them "Tenku's gonna go catch us a Magikarp, and I'm gonna go find us some Berries--stay here in the camp until we get back, okay?"
[Okay!] the Eevees reply as Wendy disappears into the woods.
Brock is equally relieved to not be walking as he rests under another tree. But then a long branch by his foot piques his interest. A dried yew branch...with no knots, twists, or limbs...
[Whatcha making?] Satomi asked, piqued in Brock bending the branch.
"I'm gonna turn this branch into a bow--so that way, I have something to protect you if you guys can't fight." Brock explains as he retrieves a pocketknife from his bag and starts shaping the branch into a bow.
The thunking of the knife gets Emi's and Hinata's attention. [How do you make a bow, Daddy?] Emi wonders.
"Well, start by picking a good long branch and bend it--if it still holds, it's good bow material." Brock explains as he works. "Then you shape it until the middle is thick and strong, and the ends are thin yet flexible, meaning they bend easily. Keep in mind the stick's natural shape when it bends, though."
Once happy with his bow's shape and wrapping the center with some wet leather, Brock continues "Next, I'm going to cut two places to put the string--one on each end." After doing this, he retrieves some fishing line, a prop quiver pilfered from home, and arrow making supplies from his bag, and strings the bow once it is dry.
"Now for the arrows..." he explains as he lays a variety of dead sticks he has collected both from home and on the road, and sets aside 20 of those that are half the size of his bow. "To make arrows, start by smoothing your sticks out, and then cut a small notch in the back end--this is where the string on the bow goes." He then reaches for a bag of arrowheads and begins attaching them to his arrows. "Then you put on the sharp end--although you can just carve a sharp point, if you want."
He is in the middle of making fletching when Tenku returns. [Making arrows, are we? I can lend you a few feathers if you ever need fletching.] she smiles as she lays her catch on the ice in the cooler.
After starting a campfire and the Magikarp was roasting over the flames, Brock takes his new bow and quiver and looks into the forest for a suitable target. Now to practice shooting should I ever have to use this...
[Try aiming for that old stump over there...] Tenku suggests, pointing out a large stump about ten yards away from the campsite.
Brock nods, readies his first shot, and fires--only for his first arrow to land a few inches away from the stump. [Aw...so close.] Satomi sighs.
[That's okay--just try again!] Emi assures her. She watches Brock ready another arrow, only to fire it into the grass.
Terra draws a line in the dirt with a claw. [Here's a guide line to shoot from.] she suggests.
[He has surprisingly good form for someone who has never taken a lesson...] Tenku notes as Brock's next shot almost hits the stump.
[Maybe if he meets a good archer on our journey, he can learn a thing or two.] Hinata smiles.
[Oh, Daddy's shot arrows before, so he can do it well if the target's not too far off.] Emi assures Tenku.
[Oh yes--the target range at the athletic center!] Hinata remembers Brock taking part in free archery lessons in the past.
"I'm still a little out of practice, though." Brock confesses before firing another shot.
A scream startles him from his next attempt. Wendy? When he looks into the forest to find the source of the scream, he gasps when he finds Wendy running in his direction, with an angry Ursaring in hot pursuit!
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 8: "An arrow's first flight! Ambush in the camp!" (part 2)
"Wendy, what's the matter?" Brock asked as Wendy dashed into her tent, running right past him.
"Mad Ursaring--and all I was doing was finding Berries for our lunch!" Wendy wheezed. "Find some way to scare it off, and fast!"
[I've got this!] Tenku called just as a large bear Pokemon tore into the clearing, intent on harming the terrified girl in the tent. She leapt off the tree she was perched on and dove towards the Ursaring, ramming its leg with Aerial Ace. The Ursaring bit down hard on Tenku's foot, dragging her down to the ground and leaving a small red trail of blood.
[Tenku!] Hinata gasped.
[I've been bit by worse Pokemon than Ursarings before, even though this is a painful bite...] Tenku groaned as Brock hurried to assess Tenku's injury.
"Hinata, try and hold off the Ursaring long enough for me to clean and dress Tenku's wound, okay?" Brock instructed Hinata as the Ursaring glanced around the camp, as if searching for another challenger to take down. "Protect the Eevees and Emi at all costs!"
[Got it!] Hinata replied before charging at the Ursaring and unleashing a Flame Wheel at it. The Ursaring growled in pain, and lunged at Hinata, but its claws merely grazed the tiny Vulpix's fur.
"Hinata, try Flamethrower!" Brock called as he quickly, yet carefully bandaged Tenku's wound.
[HAH!!!!] Hinata unleashed a stream of white hot fire, making the Ursaring howl in pain.
"Did you burn it?" Wendy asked from the tent.
Hinata was about to answer, but the Ursaring's claws caught her off guard! She scrambled to get away, but she too received a bloody scratch on one leg.
Brock sighed as Hinata limped back to him in pain--with two Pokemon wounded, they needed to find a Pokemon Center, and fast.
[Let me fight!] Terra offered. [I'll show this bully who's boss!]
Brock sighed. "I appreciate your courage, Terra..." he began as he begin cleaning Hinata's wound. "but what if you were hurt too? Emi and the Eevees can't fight..."
"And I don't really want to use Mizuchi, because I'm afraid she'll attack Brock instead...." Wendy added from the tent.
[Isn't that the whole reason you made your bow?] Tenku reminded him. [In case we couldn't battle?]
That's right--I forgot about my bow! Brock smiled. He carefully made his way to the tent with a few arrows in his hands, ever aware of the growling Ursaring several feet away. "Got any Repels?" he whispered to Wendy.
"Yeah--normal, Super and Max." Wendy whispered back. "Why?"
"Maybe if I sprayed a little on my arrows, and shot them close to the Ursaring, it wouldn't harm the Ursaring, but scare it off." Brock explained. "So could you spray a little on these arrows?"
"Sure..." After a few tense moments, Wendy's hand emerged from the tent with a Repel bottle and lightly sprayed the three arrows in Brock's hands. "There...that should do it."
[Good luck, Daddy!] Emi called as she watched Brock aim an arrow at the snarling Ursaring. After a few tense seconds, the arrow went flying, with the Repel making a small green cloud appear at the Ursaring's feet when it landed in the ground with a thunk.
The Ursaring, meanwhile, sniffed the air and started to turn to leave, more out of fear than the smell of the Repel laced arrow. The second Repel tinged arrow landed a few inches away from the first, making the Ursaring crash back through the brush to the safety of the forest as the smell of the Repel grew stronger.
Wendy peeked from the tent and grinned at the fleeing Ursaring. "It worked! It's running away!"
[That was a pretty cool idea, putting Repel on your arrows!] Satomi smiled.
"I didn't want to needlessly hurt the Ursaring--that would've made it madder." Brock explained. "So putting Repel on my arrows and firing them into the ground was the first thing I thought of that wouldn't hurt it."
Wendy emerged from the tent some minutes later. "You've got some brave Pokemon." she smiled. "And you're not that bad an archer, either."
"Thanks..." Brock sheepishly grinned, flattered by the compliment as the Pokemon laughed...
Episode 9: "A fragile friendship! Mizuchi to the rescue!" (part 1)
Despite the harrowing encounter with an Ursaring, Brock and Wendy managed to enjoy a quick lunch and rest from the searing heat. When the two of them returned to the road some hours later, Wendy had a thoughtful look on her face. <i>Mizuchi's met tall people before...so why did she spray Brock when we first met?</i>
"Something wrong?" Brock's voice snapped her from her bemused trance.
"I dunno if you'd consider this wrong, but...I'm curious as to why Mizuchi sprayed you when we first met." Wendy explained.
"Your mom and dad may have been onto something when they said it wasn't me, but one of my Pokemon." Brock suggested as he walked onto a plain not far from a turn in the path. "This okay for a campsite?"
"Perfect." Wendy smiled. "There's even a small forest close by that could be a Berry grove--many common Berries grow in the forest." With that, she set to work pitching her tent.
"Once we get our tents set up, why don't we find out who it is Mizuchi's scared of?" Brock offered as he too pitched his tent.
"Great idea--once we know what's bothering Mizuchi, we can do a controlled introduction either out here, or once we get to a Pokemon Center..." Wendy paused to reach for a guidebook of Minami that was open to a map. "which according to the current Minami guide, is the outpost by Lake Crystone, which we will reach tomorrow."
[Great!] Hinata smiled. [Maybe then I can get this scratch treated...]
[And my wing...] Tenku agreed--it had been hard to fly with a wounded wing.
"Where there's a lake, there's most likely a town." Brock agreed.
"Once we pass Lake Crystone and a couple of days hiking through the forests and fields of the farms close by, we'll reach Crystone Town." Wendy went on as she reached for Mizuchi's Poke Ball. "Okay, if you'll recall any of your team that is out, I'll let Mizuchi out."
"Okay then...Hinata, return." Brock commanded the Poke Ball, making the Vulpix disappear inside with a flash of light.
"Come on out, Mizuchi!" Wendy heaved the Poke Ball skyward, making the Vaporeon materialize at Wendy's feet.
The Vaporeon yawned, then glanced around the camp. [Where are we?]
"We're on Route 49, not far from Lake Crystone." Wendy replied.
[Then, then--are we gonna go gem mining?] the Vaporeon gasped.
"Gem mining?" Brock was intrigued.
"Lake Crystone is fed by a river that runs through Mt. Taka, which brings a lot of jewels and minerals." Wendy explained. "Most of them wash up in the shallows, so many people come from all over to try their hand at gem mining."
Brock smiled as he admired Mizuchi. She can be pretty nice...looks very healthy as well...
After a few tense moments of staring at each other, Mizuchi finally worked up the courage to approach Brock and sniff him. "Hi, Mizuchi..." Brock smiled at her. "I'm not gonna hurt you..."
He was right when he said he was a breeder--I smell lots of Pokemon on him... Mizuchi thought as she tensely sniffed Brock. The most prominent Pokemon being Pikachu, Happini, and Vulpix.
She shyly asked [Why am I smelling Pikachu on you? You don't have a Pikachu with you...]
"Remember Ash, who I was telling your master about before?" Brock explained. "His first and closest Pokemon is a Pikachu--who liked me a lot as well."
[I see...] A contented smile formed on Mizuchi's face. [Where is he now? I've heard many stories about his many adventures...]
"All the way over in Unova--we keep in touch with letters, phone calls, e-mails, and Pokebook chats." Brock replied. "In the meantime, I can tell you about the times with him I remember most as we travel."
Wendy smiled as she watched Brock and Mizuchi converse. "Okay, so we definitely know it's not you she's afraid of..."
Mizuchi, meanwhile, found Emi sleeping in her travel bundle. [Aw, who's this?]
"This is Emi, my Happini." Brock whispered. "She's napping right now, so try and keep it down."
[Sweet dreams, Emi.] Mizuchi whispered before trotting back to Wendy's side.
Brock retrieved Hinata's Poke Ball. "Come on out, Hinata!"
Mizuchi nervously sniffed the injured Vulpix. [What happened to your leg?] she asked, pointing out Hinata's injury.
[I was trying to defend our temporary camp from an Ursaring earlier today.] Hinata replied. [I tried to scare it away, and it scratched me.]
[That was very brave of you...] Mizuchi smiled. [I would do the same for you.]
"Okay, so she's fine around me, Emi, and Hinata..." Brock mused as Hinata and Muzuchi chatted. "So that means Mizuchi was probably scared of Terra..."
At this, Mizuchi's fur puffed up. "Oh, Mizuchi, I won't make you see the Sandshrew now." Wendy assured the skittish Vaporeon.
[Good--I haven't forgotten the Sandslash incident...] Mizuchi shuddered at the memory.
"Sandslash incident?" Brock was confused.
[Let's just say I angered a neighbor's Sandslash with a playful spritz, he chased me all over town, and leave it that.] Mizuchi replied.
"By the time we got both Pokemon under control, a good swath of town was damaged--homes and businesses alike." Wendy went on. "Luckily, we only had to agree to keep Mizuchi away from that Sandslash--if it happened again, we would be fined or worse."
[Ever since then, Mizuchi's been skittish around even Sanshrews.] Tenku added as Wendy recalled Mizuchi.
"Maybe after dinner, we can do a controlled introduction between Mizuchi and Terra." Wendy suggested.
"Good idea." Brock agreed as he began measuring pita dough. "Although, I wonder what exactly happened during the Sandslash incident..."
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 10: "A fragile friendship! Mizuchi to the rescue!" (part 2)
Brock thought long and hard about how to get Mizuchi to at the very least, tolerate Terra. I know she had a harrowing encounter with a Sandslash--whatever that entailed. Her fear of Sandshrews is completely understandable--even I am a bit skittish around Pokemon I've had bad experiences with...
"What'cha thinking about so hard?" Wendy's voice snapped him back to reality.
"I'm thinking of ways we can have Mizuchi at the very least tolerate Terra." Brock explained. "I'm also wondering how we can do a controlled introduction when we're outside...."
"Silly--what sense do mammalian Pokemon use to get to know each other primarily?" Wendy smiled.
The lightbulb went off in Brock's head. Of course--mammalian Pokemon like Sandshrew and Vaporeon primarily use their sense of smell to get to know each other!
"Say..." he suggested as he rummaged in his bag for Terra's scratching post. "Why don't we start by having Mizuchi learn Terra's scent first?"
"Yeah--then have her associate that scent with pleasant things." Wendy went on. "If we can get her to learn the scent of a Sandshrew, step two will be to show her a doll or a picture of a Sandshrew."
"Some of the toys I packed for Emi are Pokemon dolls that double as puppets." Brock offered. "And one of the ones I packed is a Sandshrew."
"Great idea--if you perform it just like a real Sandshrew, Mizuchi may think it is real--and you can show her it's just a puppet if she does the threatening hiss." Wendy assured him. "Eevees and their evolutions have two different types of hiss--a soft hiss when annoyed or afraid, and a louder one if mad or threatened. If we hear Mizuchi do the loud one as you perform the puppet, that's when you show her that it's just a puppet."
"Then if she tolerates the puppet, then we can introduce Terra from a safe distance." Brock added as he set Terra's scratching post in the grass.
"Okay Mizuchi..." Wendy led Mizuchi over to the scratching post. "This is one toy Sandshrews and Meowths play with."
Mizuchi warily circled the scratching post, sniffing it all the while. Interesting..I can smell the familiar earthy scent of a Sandshrew on here, but it's very faint, so whoever owns this scratching post hasn't used it in a few days.
After watching Mizuchi sniff the scratching post for a few tense minutes, Brock discretely retreated to a large rock by the forest's edge. "This is gonna serve as my puppeteer's wall, okay?" he called to Wendy.
"Okay." Wendy replied. "Remember--have the doll act realistically."
Brock nodded, slipped his hand inside a hidden hole beneath the Sandshrew doll's tail, and proceeded to have the Sandshrew perform some natural behaviors--lie on its back, "walk" on the rock, watch for predators, chase after something, curl into a ball to doze...
Mizuchi, meanwhile, noticed the "Sandshrew" and tensely approached the rock. [H-hi...] she stammered, snapping the puppet to attention. [Y-you're not going to hurt me?] Brock made the Sandshrew doll shake its head no in reply, then "sniff" the Vaporeon. [You must be a brave little Sandshrew if you're sniffing me...] Mizuchi giggled. [Most Sandshrews I know try to attack me, because I'm a Water type.]
[It's working!] Tenku smiled as Mizuchi continued her conversation with the puppet.
[And she doesn't have a clue it's really a doll.] Satomi agreed.
Brock's doing great with his little show... Wendy smiled as she arranged some sticks into a campfire pattern. It's decided--after dinner, we do a controlled introduction with Terra.
"Come on out, Terra!" Brock heaved the Poke Ball containing his own Sandshrew skyward, making Terra materialize on the grass. Wendy and Mizuchi stood a few yards away, watching how both Pokemon would react to each other.
Inspired, Terra unearthed a Pecha Berry from Brock's bag, and tensely walked over to the Vaporeon that was watching it warily. When Mizuchi didn't hiss at her, she took another step forward.
The two Pokemon eventually met each other in the middle of the plain, their masters watching just in case threatening behavior was displayed by either Pokemon. [T-this is for you...] Terra stammered as she offered Mizuchi the Berry. [I only want to be your friend...]
[You're not going to hurt me?] Mizuchi asked, her fur puffing up in fear.
[Nuh-uh--I would never hurt a friend on purpose.] Terra assured the jittery Vaporeon. [Not even after I evolve, whenever that may be. So if a mean old Ursaring were to crash through here and try to hurt you, or a Beedrill swarm was chasing you, I'd do anything in my power to protect you!]
[Honest?] Mizuchi was skeptical.
Terra nodded, and offered the Berry again. [This Berry is a sign of my promise that I would never hurt you on purpose.]
[Well...] Mizuchi was silent for a moment, weighing the pros and cons of the Sandshrew's offer.
Finally, she decided the pros were worth the cons. [Okay--friends.] she sighed, and started nibbling at the Berry.
Brock and Wendy grinned at each other--was this really friendship, or merely a sign of tolerance? Whatever it was, it was better than the threatening spray Brock had received a few days before.
Mizuchi, meanwhile, smiled as she savored the Pecha Berry's sweet taste. [This is very good...]
[There's more of them in the forest--I can get you more, if you want.] Terra offered, pointing out some Pecha bushes in the forest.
[Please do!] Mizuchi replied.
"Just come right back here, and don't go too far into the forest." Brock called after Terra as she disappeared into the forest...
Terra made good time through the forest underbrush, and before long, arrived in the grove where the Pecha Berries--and a few other Berries--grew. ]I have to hurry--the sun's about to set, and Brock's probably gonna start the sing-along around the campfire without me if I take too long... she thought as she quickly picked as many Berries as she could carry.
She did not, however, see the Beedrill hive nearby a Berry on a high branch--in her struggle to reach it, her claws left a small gash on the hive--angering the Beedrills inside!
[AUUUGGHHH!!!] Terra yelped when she heard the low buzzing behind her. She gathered what Berries she could and raced as fast as she could back to the camp, ever aware of the buzzing Beedrill swarm behind her.
In her rush to get away, Terra tripped on a rock overlooking a stream, falling into the water and sending most of her Berries flying over to the other bank! [Help me!] she called as she splashed about--being a Ground type, she had no idea how to swim across and retrieve her Berries, much less swim in rushing water!
The Beedrills presumed the Sandshew flailing about in the stream a lost cause, and started heading back to their hive. [I didn't mean to damage your hive, honest!] Terra called after them as she gripped the edge of the riverbank in an attempt to resist the rushing water.
Minutes dragged by like hours, until Terra heard a splash that almost caused her to let go of the bank. [You can let go of the bank.] a familiar voice assured her a few moments later. [I'll take you across.]
Terra gasped when she saw who was ferrying her across the stream--Mizuchi! [Mizuchi? D-did you just...save my life?]
[How could I not save you? Friends help each other when one is in trouble, no matter what.] Mizuchi smiled. [I may be skittish around Sandshrews, but it'd be heartless just to leave you there alone--Arceus knows how Brock would react if he lost you.]
[T-thank you...] Terra stammered as Mizuchi let her off on the other side and gathered up her remaining Berries.
[Anytime.] Mizuchi replied. [Come on, let's get back to camp!]
TO BE CONTINUED....
Episode 11: "Lake Crystone's hidden treasure! The rumors of Team Elegy!"
"Almost there, guys..." Wendy smiled as Tenku weakly fluttered behind her. Brock was next, with Hinata limping by his side. Mizuchi and the Eevees brought up the rear.
[Good...I don't know if I can walk any more...] Hinata groaned.
"Don't worry, the rangers in charge of Lake Crystone have a form of Pokemon Center at the lake outpost to care for some injuries." Wendy assured Hinata. It's often called 'Lake Crystone's hidden treasure' because in addition to an impromptu Pokemon Center, there's amenities for the humans as well--perfect if you can't or don't want to continue to Crystone Town proper."
"How far away are we from Crystone Town?" Brock was curious.
"After the lake itself, it's about another day on foot." Wendy replied as she studied her map. "We should be getting to the lake right about..." She looked up from the map and saw the lake surface in the distance. "..now..."
[YAAAAAAAAAAAYYY!!!] the Eevees cheered as they veered off the dusty path and down the hill towards the lake, where various fishermen, swimmers, campers, and boaters were gathered.
Brock and Wendy, meanwhile, made their way down a smaller path and inside the large log cabin that served as the ranger outpost. Surprisingly, it was fairly empty, save for a few rangers tending to injured Pokemon, some other travelers, and a tour group about to depart on an excursion around the lake and the surrounding forest.
After leaving Hinata in a ranger's care, Brock spotted a phone by the entryway into the dining area. "Why don't we update Professor Willow on our progress before we get lunch?"
"Great idea!" Wendy suggested as she left Tenku with a second ranger, then joined Brock by the phone as he dialed Prof. Willow's number.
Brock drummed a finger on the phone's side as he watched the screen flash "DIALING". He thought about dozing as he waited, but Prof. Willow's voice snapped him back to reality. "Hello?"
"Hello, professor--we have arrived at the ranger's outpost by Lake Crystone." Brock began before silently urging Wendy to join him. "We're letting our Pokemon rest, and getting some lunch ourselves."
"We also hope to do a little gem mining while we're here." Wendy added.
Prof. Willow smiled. "It's possible to spend a week at Lake Crystone and still not do everything there is to do there. In addition to gem mining, there's hiking, fishing, bike trails, Ponyta rides, basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts, an archery range..."
"Really?" Brock gasped.
"Perfect for you to practice your shooting." Wendy smiled.
"Brock knows how to handle a bow?" Professor Willow was intrigued.
"While we were traveling, I found a yew branch that was perfect for making a bow." Brock explained as he showed the professor his bow. "I'm still not too bad a shot, even though it's been a while since I last had a lesson...."
"He used it to scare an Ursaring away!" Wendy added. "While I was picking Berries to go with our lunch a few days ago, an Ursaring thought I was stealing its food and chased me!"
"Tenku and Hinata tried to battle it, and both got bad wounds to show for it." Brock continued. "Wendy didn't want to use Mizuchi, and I was afraid to send Terra into battle, so I sprayed some Repel on some of my arrows and shot them in the ground--that scared it away."
"That's very clever idea to deter a Pokemon." Willow smiled. "When you get to Crystone Town proper, its famous market should be underway--you'll find lots of farm fresh food there, and all kinds of arts and crafts--including swords, bows, and arrows."
"Cool!" Wendy gasped. "I used to come there a lot when I was younger--wonder what's changed since the last time I was there."
[Speaking of food, I'm hungry...] Mizuchi whispered.
Wendy lovingly petted the Vaporeon, then told Prof. Willow "We're gonna feed our other Pokemon, then get lunch ourselves before we explore the lake."
"We'll call again when we get to Crystone Town proper." Brock added.
"Stay safe, and good luck on your travels." Professor Willow replied before the call ended.
After being reunited with Hinata and Tenku, Brock and Wendy wasted no time in getting lunch from the massive buffet in the dining area.
[Can we sit here and look out at the lake?] Raku asked, waving from a table by a window as Brock and Wendy returned with their plates piled high with a bewildering variety of food.
"Okay." Wendy replied, petting Raku as she settled at the table.
Lunch was quiet for a moment, but watching Raku nibble at the occasional Berry on a small plate reminded Wendy that Brock had not told her the rest of his adventure in Stone Town.
"So, did Mikey ever tell his brothers he liked his Eevee as it was?" she asked as Brock finished a Pinap Berry slice.
Brock thought for a moment as to where he was in the story, then continued "However, we didn't know that the festivities had also attracted two rookie agents of Team Rocket--Kanto's evil team. Just as Mikey was about to announce he didn't want Eevee to evolve, the two agents--a boy named James, and a girl named Jessie-- landed on the lawn in their Meowth balloon."
"Oh my!" Wendy gasped, picturing the chaos that likely ensued.
[What did they do?] Satomi worries.
"First and foremost, they were so hungry, they started eating while they recited their version of the Team Rocket motto." Brock replies. "Every pair and group of agents has their own unique spin on the motto when they say it, and even then, they will tailor it to suit the occasion."
"Interesting..." Wendy mused.
"In the case of Jessie and James, their version usually went like this..." Brock then proceeds to mimic Jessie's voice. "To protect the world from devastation..."
"and unite all peoples within our nation." he replies as James.
"To denounce the evils of truth and love...." he continues as Jessie, much to Raku's delight.
"and extend our reach to the stars above." he replies as James. Wendy stifles a giggle at how accurate Brock's mimics of their voices are as he continues switching between the two Rockets:
"Team Rocket! Blast off at the speed of light!
"Surrender now, or prepare to fight!"
By now, the Eevees are howling with laughter. "And then their Meowth--who had the ability to speak human--would pipe in with..." Brock then switches to Meowth's voice. "Meowth! Dat's right!"
[Team Elegy wouldn't do anything like that!] Satomi giggles.
"Anyway, their Weezing spread a smoke screen, which bought them time to take pretty much all the evolutionary stones and Pokemon while everyone was sniffling and sneezing." Brock continues as himself. "When the smoke cleared, Ash saw the Meowth balloon getting away, and sent his Pidgeotto to pop it. However, it turned out the balloon was actually a decoy--Pidgeotto discovered there was no one in it!"
"So where were the Team Rocket goons?" Wendy wonders, afraid for the Pokemon.
"They had stolen a truck in all the confusion and escaped by way of a back road." Brock replies. "They had a good number of Pokemon with them too, including Misty's Horsea, my Vulpix, Ash's Pikachu, and all the Eevees. However, Misty's Horsea made a trail of ink on the road as TR fled, and Pidgeotto happened to spot it."
[And then?] Tenku begged, excited.
"We followed the ink trail to a hidden grotto where the two Team Rocket agents had made camp." Brock replies. "After not being able to agree on a form to evolve Mikey's Eevee into, they decided to use all the stones at once! But before they could try to get the world's first Vaporjoltflareon," Wendy and her Pokemon giggle at the name of Brock's presumed multievolution. "Ash told his Squirtle to use Water Gun to blast the stones away. After we freed most of the Pokemon, we found out the agents still had Mikey's Eevee, and the other three Eevee brothers used their Eeveelutions to battle. "
[Did they win?] Satomi asks.
"However, the Team Rocket agents fought just as hard, and after a long battle, actually defeated all three of them!" Brock replies. "Mikey's Eevee escaped from its cage in all the ruckus, and was reunited with Mikey. After Ash's Pikachu shocked the agents for the three billionth time, Eevee combined his power with Pikachu and sent the two agents flying to Arceus-knows-where."
He concludes. "After the battle and things had calmed down a bit, Mikey told his brothers that he wanted to keep his Eevee as it was. His brothers had seen how well Eevee had beaten the Team Rocket agents, and agreed that Mikey should be able to choose not to evolve his Eevee. They respected his decision to keep Eevee, and modified the party to celebrate Mikey and Eevee's first battle victory."
"Aw..." Wendy smiled at the tale's ending.
"Even today, those two agents are still chasing Ash, bent on getting his Pikachu." Brock added. "Why they want him, I don't know."
"If this were Team Elegy, they would've given up on your friend's Pikachu a long time ago." Wendy muses. "Are all the Team Rocket agents bumbling goofballs like that?"
"Actually, no--Team Rocket as a whole is actually pretty dangerous." Brock replied. "They've taken over Kanto's major corporation, Silph, in hopes the company president would hand over the technology for the never fail Master Ball--one plot of theirs we foiled..."
"I'd be afraid if Team Elegy took over Teru Co. in Hireka City." Wendy mused. "Despite being high in the mountains, it is renowned throughout Minami as a leader in science and technology--and a sister corporation to Silph."
"When that didn't work, they tried creating a super Pokemon from the DNA of the Pokemon Mew--and named the result Mewtwo." Brock continued. "The terror Mewtwo wrought is a story on its own--it took Ash sacrificing himself to stop the craziness."
"Wait--how come you say Ash is still living if he died?" Wendy asks, confused.
Brock smiles. "Pikachu's tears and the tears of all the other captured Pokemon brought Ash back to life."
[I see...maybe Arceus saw all of them crying and revived your friend.] Raku mused.
"As if that mess wasn't enough--then they tried to take over the main radio tower in Johto after laying low for a while." Brock went on. "We foiled that plot too, with help from some friends of ours in Johto--Ethan and Lyra."
"Whoa..." Wendy is amazed at how much terror Team Rocket has caused. "But I bet Team Elegy could even top the Mewtwo incident..."
"How so?" Brock swallows hard.
"You remember the legend of Giratina and Meloetta?" Wendy asks. Brock nods. "What Team Elegy wants to do is release Giratina and tear the world apart."
Brock balks at this--even Team Galactic sounded like child's play compared to what Wendy described. "How are they going to do this if Giratina is sealed?"
"Easy--channel the negative energy and sadness of the guardians of the gems of song, which weakens and eventually breaks the seals holding Giratina." Wendy explains.
"Who are these guardians?" Brock is intrigued.
"That's one part of the legend I've never figured out..." Wendy sighed as she cleared her place. "The most common theory is the Gym Leaders, but no one knows for sure."
"Then, if by some miracle the legend is true...." Brock swallows hard as he shakes in fear--he doesn't want to see the world torn apart!
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 12: "Arrival in Crystone Town! The master storyteller's freshly picked tales!" (part 1)
Brock looked around in awe at all the fields around him as he and Wendy continued down the path to Crystone Town. They had left Lake Crystone that morning after an eventful day exploring the lake and all it had to offer.
He had particularly enjoyed being able to practice his aim at the archery range. I can safely say I can hit a moving target... he thought before turning his attention back to the fields and farmhouses around him. "It's beautiful out here..."
"I'm glad you think so--a lot of the stuff at the Crystone Market comes from these very farms and workshops." Wendy replied. "Many of the farmers and artisans will put out samples for you to try before you buy."
Ash would probably love playing a handmade whistle... Brock thought. I'm sure they sound as good as they look....
Just then, Hinata spotted the rooftops of houses and colorful awnings in the distance. [There it is!] With that, she took off down the road.
"Hey, wait for us!" Brock and Wendy were not far behind.
It did not take long to find the Crystone Town Pokemon Center--it was nestled in a quiet corner of town, away from the bustling market that stood in the nearby town square.
Wendy, meanwhile, was relieved to enter a Pokemon Center. "Let's rest our teams before we check out the market--I'm sure they're tired after romping around the lake all d-" She looked beside her to discover Brock had disappeared.
She spotted him eying Nurse Joy a few feet away, a dreamy look on his face. "Oh, Joy! You are a beautiful pink rose brightening up my heart's garden!" Judging from the look on Nurse Joy's face, she wasn't sure what to make of this lovelorn traveler's rambling.
A splash of water interrupted his eloquent profession of love. [That's quite enough!] Mizuchi scolded as Nurse Joy and Wendy giggled at Brock's dripping wet face.
"I think Mizuchi doesn't want you going gaga for pretty girls." Wendy assured him as she led Brock away from the counter and gave him a towel.
I gathered as much... Brock silently grumbled as he dried off.
The phone made him forget about Nurse Joy. That's right, I need to check in with Prof. Willow... After settling before the phone, he dialed Prof. Willow's number.
"Hello?" Prof. Willow asked as her image blipped on the phone screen.
"Hello again...we made it to Crystone after we spent a day at the lake." Brock began. "After we're done caring for our Pokemon, we're gonna explore the Crystone Market."
"That should be fun--don't be afraid to show off your storytelling prowess if you find the open stage." Prof. Willow smiled. "The open stage is a place where anyone, regardless of origin or skill, can share their talents with market visitors."
"I do have a few tales in mind if we find it." Brock smiled. "I plan to lead off with a tale from Pewter that explains a springtime tradition of ours, then an adventure tale about a miko's apprentice who was saved by three magic spells, then a tale about a prince's faithful Pokemon..."
Willow smiled. "You should tell those for me sometime--they all sound pretty exciting."
"I've had a lot of practice telling at home, and those three are just a few that audiences ask for again and again." Brock replied. "I am honored, and excited, to be sharing them here in Minami."
Prof. Willow just grinned. "I hope the people of Crystone enjoy them as much as you love to tell them."
The group departed the Pokemon Center and made their way over to the town square, where various booths and stages lined the crowded sidewalks.
[Wow...] Emi gasped at the sheer array of booths, as well as the dull roar of crowds of people, the merchant's calls, the occasional melody of a band or performer, laughter, and the ringing of coins.
[Look at all this stuff!] Hinata agreed as she admired a handmade Pikachu doll on display in a toy booth.
"Fresh Berries, straight from the bush and the vine to your table!" a woman called.
"Hats and parasols here!" came another call a few booths down.
"Would the lady like a necklace?" a man smiled as he showed Wendy a handmade sapphire necklace. "Every jewel came from the lake."
"It's beautiful..." Wendy smiled and gave the man a nod before continuing down the sidewalk.
Just then, Emi's eyes widened when she saw one particular booth with a dizzying array of homemade candies and baked goods. [Candy! And cookies!]
The girl at the booth grinned as Emi dragged Brock over. "Every treat you see here was handmade in our test kitchen with all natural ingredients. If you like, you can take a taffy bag or a mini brownie as a sample." She gestured to an array of small bags filled with taffy and some wrapped brownies by a "FREE SAMPLES" sign.
[Please?] Emi begged.
A smile formed on Brock's face--she'd been doing very well behaving on the trip, so a sweet treat was probably in order. "Taffy or brownie?" he asked Emi.
Emi thought for a moment over which sample she wanted, then grabbed a taffy bag. [This one!]
"Don't eat them all at once." Brock reminded her as the group continued on their way.
After passing by a clothing booth, an art booth, and a stage where a small band was performing, Brock noticed a large empty stage in the center of the square marked "OPEN STAGE--ALL TALENTS WELCOME!"
[Here's your chance...] Tenku smiled.
"Go get'em, Brock!" Wendy called as Brock made his way over to the stage.
Brock gave Wendy a nod of thanks, stepped on the stage, took a deep breaths to ease the Beautiflies in his stomach, then started telling the first tale that came to his mind. "There was once a young man who enjoyed getting gifts, but never gave anything he owned to those in need."
He adds as an aside "This was probably why he never found a wife."
Some gentle laughter goes up from Wendy and the Pokemon as Brock continues "One day, a girl came to his house, and asked if she could stay for the night. The man invited her in, but when morning came, she did not leave, but cleaned the house and provided for him. He also didn't find it odd that she never ate--she made food for him, but never ate any herself."
Piqued murmurs went up from some passersby as Brock went on "The other townsfolk were convinced the girl wasn't human, but the man didn't believe them at first. The townsfolk told him to look in the storehouse--and when he did, he found it was empty, despite it being full seconds earlier."
Some louder laughter goes up as Brock balks in feigned surprise, as if he is the man discovering the empty storehouse. "The next day, he told the girl he was going into town, but this was only a ruse to find out what was really happening." Brock goes on. "He hid in the attic, where he saw his wife making rice balls and fish. Then, she undid her hair, which concealed a mouth in the back of her head!"
Gasps and screams from some children go up as more and more people come to listen to Brock's tale. "The man was terrified, and ran away as quick as he could." Brock continues. "He looked back and saw the girl's true form, an orge, chasing him. Despite his best efforts to escape, he was captured and dragged into the mountains, presumably to be the orge's next meal.
"Oh no!" a girl gasps as she holds her balloon close.
"Luckily, the man managed to wriggle free of the ogre's grip, and grabbed onto a tree branch." Brock assures the girl, but the smug look on his face tells the crowd the man is not out of the woods yet. "but the ogre transformed into an Arbok and chased the man again!"
The crowd is on the edge of their seats to know what happened next. "The man arrived in a field, where he found a statue of Arceus." Brock continues. "Arceus appeared to him, and told him to stay put. The man did as he was told, and hid behind the statue."
After pausing for a few beats, he continues "After a few agonizing minutes had gone by, the man saw all the flowers blooming around the statue and got an idea. He heaved some Cheri blossoms at the Arbok, defeating it." Cheers go up as Brock pantomimes throwing something."
He concludes "Arceus instructed him to scatter Cheri blossoms at the front door to his house so the ogre would not return. To this day, that is why people in my hometown of Pewter City decorate their front doors with Cheri blossoms on the first day of spring."
Enthusiastic cheers go up at the story's end, so Brock immediately jumps into his second planned tale. "In a certain land, the leaves were changing colors, and in a certain village, the children were out picking the newly ripe Berries that grew in the mountains. The miko's apprentice at the temple--we'll call her Riko, which means 'child of truth' wanted to go and pick Berries too. The miko told her no, for a mafu--a monster that had the body of a Raikou and the head of a young lady--had been spotted on the mountain. After Riko pleaded and pleaded for about an hour, the miko finally relented and allowed her apprentice to climb the mountain, giving her three enchanted jewels to protect her. She told Riko not to invoke their power unless it was an emergency."
Interested murmurs fill the air as Brock continues. "Riko stayed out until nightfall gathering Berries. Just as the moon rose over the mountain grove, a Zubat suddenly startled Riko. But just as she eluded the Zubat, she ran into the mafu!"
Gasps go up from the children in the crowd. "Riko was taken to the mafu's lair, and she frantically pondered a way to escape as she watched the mafu boil water in preparation to eat her." Brock intones. "Then, a crazy idea occurred to her--she first told the mafu that she had to go to the bathroom."
Laughter erupts at this--it isn't often character in a tale asks to do this. Brock waits for the laughter to quiet, then continues "The mafu bought Riko's ruse, and untied her. Riko then ran past the bathroom and into a shed. Once sure she was not being followed, she tied the last rope that held her on the wall, and invoked the first jewel, a ruby, with the incantation..." Brock then sings Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... before continuing "The ruby released a small ball of light, which would answer in her voice. Once sure her ruse was in place, she fled into the night."
"And then?" Wendy urges Brock to continue.
"Meanwhile, the mafu was growing impatient and she asked if Riko was done yet." Brock continues. "But the ruby light answered in Riko's voice she wasn't done yet. The mafu would wait a while and then ask again, but the ruby light would say she wasn't done. Finally, the mafu went to check, and discovered that Riko was gone!"
Nervous giggles fill the air at this. "Riko ran as fast as she could, but the mafu was not far behind." Brock intones, silencing the laughter. "She next invoked the second jewel, an emerald, with the incantation..." Brock sings again Karuto, iichiida shou...
Some applause goes up at the sung "spell". "The spell conjured a large sand dune." Brock replies, making a form in the air to give his audience an idea of the sand dune's size. "That bought Riko a little time as the mafu waded through the sand, but the mafu was soon right behind her again. Riko invoked the third jewel, a sapphire, with the incantation..." Brock proceeds to sing Rou iitsa ron selga viichii... before continuing "conjuring a huge river. This bought her enough time to get to the temple. Just before the mafu could catch up to her, the miko took her inside, and drove the mafu away with a fire spell--also invoked by..." He sings Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... again.
Everyone heaves a sigh of relief as Brock concludes "They say Riko studied her holy spells even harder after that, inspired by her mistress' bravery."
Wendy's applause is the loudest. They love him! I wonder what he will tell next?
Brock acknowledges his applause, then continues with his next tale. "In a far away land, there were three princes, who had a stepsister. One day, they all set out hunting together. While they were traveling through a deep forest, they discovered a great Mightyena with three babies. Just as they were going to shoot..." Brock pantomimes aiming a bow. "the mama Mightyena pleaded for them not to shoot her, and she would give each of them one of her cubs in return. So the princes went on their way, and a little Poochyena followed each of them."
"Aw"s fill the air at this. Then they found a mama Entei with three cubs." Brock continues. "She too begged them not to shoot her, and she would give each of them a cub. This went on for a while, with the princes meeting a Ninetales, a Lopunny, a Pignite, and an Ursaring, till each prince had a full team of young Pokemon trotting along behind him."
He waits for a beat, then continues "As the sun set, they came to a clearing in the forest, where three trees grew at each path of a three way fork in the road. The eldest prince--we'll call him Takuya--took an arrow," Brock pantomimes aiming a bow again. "and shot it into the trunk of one of the trees. Turning to his brothers, he said..."
"Let each of us mark one of these trees before we travel on different paths." he fills in Prince Takuya's dialogue using a slightly high pitched version of himself. "If any one of us returns to this place, he must walk around the other trees. If he sees the mark in the tree has turned black, he will know that that brother is dead or has suffered misfortune, but if the mark glows, he will know that his brother has found fortune."
"So the other princes did as Prince Takuya had said, and when the three trees were marked by their arrows they turned to their stepsister and asked her with which of them she wanted to stay with." Brock continues as himself. Then the brothers went their separate ways, followed by their Pokemon. The stepsister--we'll call her Aina--went with Prince Takuya, as that was the one she was closest with."
"What sorts of adventures did they get into?" a woman asks.
After they had gone a little ways down the road they came into a forest, and in one of the deepest glades they suddenly found themselves near a castle in which there lived a gang of bandits." Brock replies. "Prince Takuya walked up to the door and knocked..." He knocks on the stage floor for effect. "No sooner had the door opened did Prince Takuya's Pokemon charge in and kill the bandits before the bandits could kill them."
He quickly interjects "Now, one of the bandits was only badly wounded, but he lay very still as if dead like the others."
Wendy swallows hard as Brock continues "The next morning, Prince Takuya went out hunting. Before leaving he told Aina that she might go into any room in the house except into the cave where the dead bandits were. But his instructions went in one ear and out the other--after looking through all the other rooms, she went down to the cellar and opened the door. As soon as she looked in the bandit who had played dead sat up and said to her..."
"Don't be afraid. Do what I tell you, and I will be your friend." he fills in the bandit's dialogue in character as James. "If you marry me you will be much happier with me than with your brother. But you must first go into the kitchen and look in the cupboard. There you will find three bottles. In one of them there is a healing balm which you must put on my chin to heal the wound; then if I drink the potion in the second bottle it will make me well, and the third bottle's potion will make me stronger than I was before. When your brother returns from the forest with his Pokemon, you must go to him and say, 'Brother, you are very strong. If I were to fasten your thumbs behind your back with a stout silk cord, could you wrench yourself free?' And when you see that he cannot do it, call me."
Some applause goes up at Brock's performance. "When Prince Takuya returned, Aina did as the bandit had told her, and fastened her brother's thumbs behind his back. But with one wrench he set himself free, and said to her..." he continues as himself.
"Sister, that cord is not strong enough for me." he retorts as Prince Takuya.
"The next day, he returned to the forest with his Pokemon." he goes on as himself. "and the bandit told her to bind his thumbs with a stronger cord. But again Prince Takuya freed himself, though not so easily as the first time, and he said to Aina..."
"Even that cord is not strong enough." he replies as Prince Takuya.
"On the third day, on his return from the forest he agreed to have his strength tested one more time." he continues as himself. "So Aina took a very strong cord of silk, which she had prepared by the bandit's advice, and this time, though Prince Takuya pulled and tugged with all his might, he could not break the cord. So he called to her and said...
"Sister, this time the cord is so strong I cannot break it. Come and unfasten it for me." he pleads as Prince Takuya.
"But instead of coming, Aina called to the bandit, who rushed into the room brandishing a dagger!" he announces as himself, making the crowd gasp. But Prince Takuya said..."
"Wait for a moment." he instructs as Prince Takuya. "I would like before I die to sound three calls on my signaling whistle..." This gives Brock time to dig a silver whistle from a pocket as he continues as Prince Takuya "One in this room, one on the stairs, and one in the courtyard."
"So the bandit consented, and the prince blew the whistle." Brock proceeds to play the Zelda whistle theme for effect, making laughter go up as many in the crowd recognize the familiar melody. "At the first note, the Vulpix, which was asleep in the cage in the courtyard, awoke, and knew that her master needed help. So she woke the Poochyena by stroking his eyes with her tails. Then they woke the Entei, who heaved against the door of the cage with all his might, so that it fell in a gazillion pieces on the ground, freeing them all. They rushed through the court to their master's aid--the Vulpix gnawed the cord that bound Prince Takuya's thumbs behind his back, and the Entei flung himself on the bandit, killing him."
Some applause goes up as Brock continues "Prince Takuya set a huge bowl before Aina, and instructed her not to come out of the house until the bowl had been filled with her tears of remorse."
After waiting for a beat, Brock continues. "He called his Pokemon together, and set out on his travels. For a while, Prince Takuya's travels were uneventful until he came to an inn in another land. Everyone in the inn seemed sad, so when he asked them what was wrong, they replied that the princess of the land--we'll call her Remina--was to be given as a sacrifice to a dreadful Hydreigon."
"Why should she die?" he declares as Prince Takuya. "I will save her myself!"
"So he set out to the plain where the Hydreigon was to meet Princess Remina." he goes on as himself. "As he waited with his Pokemon, a great procession came along, accompanying Princess Remina. When the the procession reached the plain, all the people left her, and returned sadly to their houses. But Prince Takuya remained, and after a few tense moments, he saw movement in the water a long way off. As it came nearer, he knew what it was--the Hydreigon!"
Everyone is on the edge of their seats as Brock continues. "Then Prince Takuya told his Pokemon to attack, and as the Hydreigon approached the shore, the Vulpix drew her tails through the water and blinded the Hydreigon by scattering the water in his eyes. The Teddiursa and the Entei threw up more water with their paws, so that the Hydreigon was both blinded and confused. Then Prince Takuya rushed forward with his sword, and slew the Hydreigon!"
Cheers go up as Brock concludes "When the king learned what had happened, he was amazed that someone managed to slay the Hydreigon, and offered Prince Takuya Princess Remina's hand in marriage as a reward. It wasn't long before Prince Takuya was married to Princess Remina and rewarded with half the kingdom to boot."
He looks out at the enthralled crowd. "As for what happened to Prince Takuya's brothers, that is another story for another day!"
WOW!!! Wendy grins as she applauds. Brock was right when he said he was a great storyteller! Her eyes shine in anticipation of Brock's next tale...
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 13: "Arrival in Crystone Town! The master storyteller's freshly picked tales!" (part 2)
Meanwhile, in the forest nearby Crystone Town...
A procession of boys and girls in navy blue outfits make their way through the brush leading to Crystone Town. "Let's go over the plan again..." the boy leading the group begins as he cuts through some vines with a small sword. "Our objective is to locate and destroy the Gems of Song so Meloetta can't be summoned."
"But didn't Meloetta seal them in eight well guarded and hidden locations?" a girl asks.
"I know that, but the boss wants to be absolutely sure that they are not hidden as trinkets to be bought and sold." the leader replies. "Legendaries have done this before."
"The boss thinks of everything..." another boy sighs, tired from the long walk.
"Not that that's a bad thing." his partner smiles as the line of roughly fifty boys and girls continues on their way....
Back in Crystone Town....
"In a certain village lived three brothers and their mom." Brock begins after making sure a target is in place. "One day, the mother came down with a terrible disease, and no healer within miles knew how to cure her."
Concerned murmurs race through the crowd. "But one healer told the boys that the only way to cure their mom was to find a mystical Aspear Berry that grew in the mountains." Brock assures his audience. "However, all those that had attempted the quest before had failed."
Wendy is about to say something, but Brock quickly silences the murmurs as he continues "The eldest boy--we'll call him Hajime--volunteered to go first, and set out early the next morning. At first, Hajime's journey was uneventful, but as he was traveling through the mountains, Celebi appeared to him, and asked..." In a breathy male voice he asks "Where are you going, young lad?"
"My mother is very sick, and I am searching for a legendary Aspear Berry said to cure her." he replies as an older boy.
"The place you speak of is the Shining Grove, but you mustn't go there!" he cautions as Celebi. "A fearsome Gyarados lurks within the water around the tree you seek."
"But I have to save my mom!" he pleads as Hajime.
"Very well, if you must find this Aspear, I will give you a hint." he assures the audience as Celebi. "If the wind warns you not to approach the Aspear tree as it rustles through the reeds, the Gyarados is awake, and you must turn back. If the wind says it is safe, you can approach the tree, for the Gyarados is sleeping."
Applause goes up at Brock's skillful interplay. "When Hajime got to the Shining Grove, the wind warned him not to approach many times."
"Don't go, the Gyarados is waiting!" Wendy fills in the wind's voice. "Don't go, the Gyarados is waiting!"
"Finally, Hajime grew impatient, and approached the tree despite the wind's warning not to." Brock intones. "Sure enough, the Gyarados appeared to him with great roar, and as Hajime had no weapon, he was quickly eaten."
The audience is silent, stunned by the turn of events. "The middle brother--we'll call him Tetsuya--left the next morning, and the same thing happened." Brock continues. "He met Celebi, explained his quest, was told the secret to obtaining the Aspear Berry, ignored the wind's warning, and was eaten by a Gyarados."
"Did the youngest brother have better luck?" a woman asks.
"Finally, the youngest brother--we'll call him Yuji--set out, met Celebi, explained his quest, and was told the secret to obtaining the Aspear Berry." Brock goes on before switching to his Celebi voice again. "I sense the flame of determination inside you to save your brothers and heal your mother. So take this magical bow, in case you too meet the Gyarados as your brothers did." He shows the crowd his own bow for effect.
As himself, he goes on "When Yuji got to the Shining Grove, he waited for some time as the wind cautioned..."
"Don't go, the Gyarados is waiting!" Wendy fills in the dialogue. "Don't go, the Gyarados is waiting!"
"Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Yuji heard the wind say..." Brock narrates.
"You can go, the Gyarados is sleeping." Wendy replies. "You can go, the Gyarados is sleeping."
"So Yuji carefully made his way through the grass and safely picked one of the legendary Aspear Berries." Brock explains as he walks up and pantomimes picking an Aspear Berry from an imagined tree near where Wendy is standing. "But just when Yuji was about to leave, the Gyarados appeared from the water with a great roar, intent on eating him too!"
"And then?" A boy swallows hard, fearful for Yuji.
"Yuji was not afraid, and easily killed the Gyarados with one arrow from his magical bow, freeing his brothers, who were miraculously unharmed, in the process." Brock narrates, before taking an arrow and firing it at the target, where it lands in the red zone close to the bullseye.
"Nice shot!" Wendy is impressed at how well Brock's aim and skill with a bow has improved as the crowd applauds his shot.
"The mother ate the Aspear Berry and was healed." Brock concludes as he sets his bow and quiver aside. "and she was always grateful to her boys for their bravery."
He takes a bow as everyone applauds and the stage is cleared. [I didn't know Brock was going to actually shoot an arrow live on stage!] Raku gasps.
Onstage, Brock cradles his harp in one hand as he begins "Once upon a time, in a fair away land, there lived a king and queen. They had a son--I'll call him Alex--who dreamed of being a great hero like the minstrels sang about." He adds a soft chord on the harp for effect. "When Alex was old enough to choose a bride, he asked his father the king where the most beautiful princess in the world lived."
[Yay!] Emi is excited at the mention of a princess.
"So the king took Alex into the royal gallery, where the portraits of many beautiful princesses from all over the world hung." Brock continues.
"I bet Alex had a tough decision to make..." a boy muses.
"Alex looked at all the portraits very carefully...." The crowd giggles as Brock examines a tree by the stage, as if he is Alex examining a portrait. "He finally saw the portrait of the princess of Azulona--I'll call her Mina--and fell deeply in love with her. So with his mother and father's blessings, he left on a great journey to ask for Princess Mina's hand in marriage."
"And then?" Wendy is piqued.
"As Alex traveled on his way, he saw a shining palace on a hill. When he went inside, there was not a person or Pokemon in sight." Brock continues. "But there was a room with some food and a bed, so Alex rested there for the night. "In the morning, he found the palace garden, bursting with exotic flowers he had never seen before. He eventually wandered into the royal stables, where he saw a shining Rapidash."
"Did he try to ride it?" a man asks.
"He rode it, and no sooner had he told it giddy up, did it go speeding across the plains and hills!" Brock replies.
He plays a series of long glissandi to represent the Rapidash running. "They went through forests, plains, mountains and rivers...and by the time the Rapidash showed the first sign of being tired, Alex was soaked."
Some children snicker as they picture the drenched prince. "Suddenly, the Rapidash spoke to Alex." In character as a girl, Brock continues "It has been many years since I last bore a great hero...I see you are strong, wise, and brave, and so I will serve you.' Alex made camp for the night, as he and his mount were very tired."
[But what happened when Alex got there?] Emi asks--she's never heard this story before.
"What happened when Alex got to Azulona?" Brock smiles. "He told the king of Azulona that he wanted to take Princess Mina's hand in marriage. The king of Azulona replied that in return for Princess Mina, he would defend Azulona from an enemy army."
[Oh no!] Satomi gasps at this.
"Alex agreed, and the king held a grand feast to celebrate the engagement of Princess Mina." Brock continues. "The enemy armies approached Azulona the next morning, but Alex defeated them and captured the enemy king singlehandedly!"
'Wow!" Wendy is impressed.
"With Azulona safe again, preparations were made for the wedding, but Princess Mina brought up an important point--with no minstrels due to arrive for some weeks, how would there be any music at the wedding?" Brock continues. "She told him of the dark immortal Tochisha, and the celestial harp he owned that was said to play itself."
He adds a soft chord at the mention of the titular instrument. "So Alex set out for the darklands, and came to a cottage where a great mage lived. He asked Alex what he was doing there, and when Alex told the mage of his quest for the Celestial Harp, he told him..."
The crowd listens as Brock fills in the mage's dialogue in a deeper version of himself as he plays the Ballad of the Goddess. "When you travel to the darklands, arrive at noon. Nearby Tochisha's palace is a great garden, and in that garden, a captured princess walks. She will be glad to see you and help you on your quest, as it has been six years she has been held as Tochisha's slave. Ask for her aid, and she will guide you to the Celestial Harp."
This is getting good...then what happened? Wendy wonders.
"Alex thanked the mage for his aid, and went on his way." Brock replies. "When he got to Tochisha's domain at noon, he heard the Celestial Harp playing a relaxing melody..."
He takes that opportunity to play his version of "Arran's Lullaby" for effect. "Alex then remembered his quest, and entered the royal garden, where he saw the captured princess--who I'll call Chloe." he explains as the last note of "Arran's Lullaby" echoes into the blue sky. "Princess Chloe was understandably scared of Alex at first, but when Alex told her of his quest, she trusted him. She told him to wait in the garden, went into the throne room, and began flattering Tochisha." In character as Chloe, he asks "My lord, is it true you will never die?"
"It is true." he replies in character as Tochisha over an ominous chord.
"Then where is your soul?" he asks as Chloe. "Is it here?"
"It is under the broom by the door." he replies as Tochisha.
"So Chloe tossed the broom in the fireplace, but Tochisha still lived." Brock continues as himself. "Princess Chloe pressed Tochisha further on the location of his soul, and when he finally relented, he told her..."
He fills in Tochisha's dialogue. "In a certain field stands three trees. Under the largest tree lives a Wurmple--and when it dies, I will die too."
"So Princess Chloe told Alex what she had learned, and Alex went out to the field with three trees and found the Wurmple, but when he killed it, Tochisha still lived." he continues as himself. "By now, Alex suspected Tochisha was hiding something, and told Chloe to really press him on where his soul was. Chloe spent several hours pressing Tochisha on his soul's location, but when he finally relented, he told her..."
As Tochisa, he continues "On a certain island grows a certain tree. Beneath the tree is a treasure chest--if you open it, you will find a basket inside. Attempt to take this basket and a Buneary will appear--when you kill it, a Pidove will appear. Follow it to its nest and take the egg inside, and inside that egg is my soul."
The crowd listens intently, eager to learn what happens next. "Alex set out for the island, where he found the tree..." Brock takes a deep breath and begins rattling off the list. "and he found the chest beneath it. He opened it and found a basket inside, but when he tried to take it, a Buneary jumped out. Alex killed it with a well placed arrow, and Pidove flew from the Buneary's body into the sky. Alex followed it to its next, took the egg inside, and smashed it on the ground--killing Tochisha."
The crowd applauds and he plays a triumphant chord. "Alex took the Celestial Harp, and took Princess Chloe home." Brock continues. "He then returned to Azulona and his beloved Princess Mina, where they were married the next day. All the wedding guests were amazed at how beautiful the Celestial Harp sounded, and it played many airs and dances for everyone to enjoy."
He plays a festive jig for effect as he concludes. "Alex returned to his homeland to a hero's welcome, where he lived happily ever after with Princess Mina."
[I love harps--they sound so beautiful.] Mizuchi smiled as the crowd roars.
"In a far away land, there lived a king and queen that ruled over a vast kingdom." Brock begins as he sets the harp aside. "They also had a son they loved very much--we'll call him Kiran. Kiran was well loved and well liked across the kingdom--he was a fine hunter, sailor, singer, and storyteller, among other things."
Sounds a bit like you.... Wendy smiles.
Brock just continues "One year, just before Kiran came of age, the queen died from a terrible disease. The whole kingdom mourned for her, but it wasn't long before the king married again. But Kiran never forgot his mother, and cherished the memories of her."
After pausing for a beat, he goes on "Now, Kiran particularly enjoyed hunting, usually alongside a Ninetales he had befriended--we'll call her Kitsune. So one morning, he was searching for Kitsune in the forest, when he saw a great gold Pidgeot fly past him."
"Whoa!" Wendy balks when she pictures what the shiny Pidgeot might have looked like in comparison to Tenku.
"Try as Kiran might to hit the majestic Pokemon, his arrows merely grazed its feathers." Brock pantomimes shooting a bow to illustrate this. "As it was getting late, Kiran took the feather and set out for home. When he got home, his stepmother desired the golden Pidgeot for herself, and banished Kiran from the castle until he found it." He next takes his guitar and starts a relaxed melody. "Kiran traveled for many hours with not so much as a sign of the gold Pidgeot. Finally, he made camp in a forest as the sun set, and drifted to sleep."
"Did he find Kitsune?" Wendy asks.
Brock plays a soft harmonic chord to represent Kitsune appearing. "As Kiran slept, Kitsune met him in the forest." In his best mimic of Ash's Riolu character Erin, he intones over a mystical melody "I hear ye are on a journey, milord; so I bring ye a meager meal te get ye true te night."
As himself, he interjects "Kiran told Kitsune about his quest over the small meal of Buneary meat and Berries. Kitsune told him... As Kitsune again, he replies "Te Pidgeot ye seek belongs te a terrifying giant in te mauntains. I will show you te his house, and you are te present yeself as a servant. Treat his Pokemon well, and ye will earn his troost. One dey, he will leave on a journey himself--wait until he is out of sight, ten trow a cloak over te gold Pidgeot. Boot if even one of her gold featers touches anyting in te giant's cave, terrible tings will happen."
Wendy applauds at Brock's spot on mimic as he continues. "The next morning, Kitsune led Kiran to the giant's cave, and everything happened as Kitsune said--Kiran took such good care of the giant's Pokemon, that he earned the right to handle and groom the gold Pidgeot."
Awed murmurs fill the air. "One day, the giant told Kiran he was leaving to see a friend that lived in a neighboring mountain." Brock continues. "Kiran waited until the giant was out of his sight, threw a cloak over the Pidgeot, and started for the cave entrance." Tense giggles fill the air as Brock plays a "sneaking" riff. "But he accidentally brushed a feather against the entryway--and the Pidgeot made so much noise, the giant came rushing back in seconds."
Raku gasps over Brock's tense chord. "Kiran was afraid at first, but the giant said..." In a deeper version of himself, he intones "If you want my golden Pidgeot, bring to me the Sword of Magic Auras the forest wisps guard, and I will consider."
He sets the guitar aside as he continues. "Kitsune met Kiran on the forest path, and told him..." As Kitsune, he suggests "Te forest wisps are everywhere in te wood, but teir queen lives in a wood across the sea. I will transform inte a ship te take ye tere. Ye are te present yeself as a swordsmith--treat teir bledes well, and tey will troost you with te Sword of Magic Auras. Boot if te sheath touches even wan ting in te palace, terrible tings will happen."
"With that, they arrived on the coast, and Kitsune transformed herself into a ship." Brock then sings as Kitsune Rou iitsa ron selga vichii... He continues as himself "Kiran sailed to the island wood, and everything happened as Kitsune said--he did so well polishing the various blades, that the wisp queen let him handle the Sword of Magic Auras. As he was taking it out of the palace, he tripped over a vine, making the sword fall to the floor."
"Oh no!" a girl yelps.
"Luckily, the wisp queen was feeling merciful." Brock assures his audience before assuming a younger version of his "Kitsune" voice. "If ye want te Sword of Magic Auras, you must first trede us te shining Ponyta of the king of Fuyan."
As himself, he continues. "Kitsune met Kiran on the coast, and told him..." As Kitsune, he intones "Fuyan is fahr awey from here, so I will again transform into a ship te teke ye tere. Ye are te present yeself as a stable boy--treat te Ponytas and te Rapidashes well, and His Majesty will troost ye wit te shining Ponyta. Boot if even wan hair touches te stable..."
"Terrible things will happen." the crowd repeats along with Brock.
Brock just grins. "Have you guys heard this one before?" he asks.
Laughter just meets his playful question as he continues "Kitsune transformed herself into a ship again..." He pauses to sing as Kitsune Rou iitsa ron selga vichii... before continuing as himself. "When Kiran got to Fuyan, everything happened as Kitsune said--he took such good care of the Ponytas and Rapidashes, that the king finally trusted him with the shiny Ponyta. But as he was leading it out of the stables, he brushed against the entryway by mistake. The Ponyta made so much noise, that the king came rushing to the stables to see what was wrong."
He then assures his audience "Luckily, the king was feeling merciful..." In an older version of himself, he intones "If you desire my shining Ponyta, bring to me the princess of Atalan."
[Yay!] Emi cheers.
"You're going to cheer for every princess, aren't you?" Wendy coos. Emi nods.
"Kitsune met him on the road out of the capital city, and said to him..." As Kitsune, Brock intones "Someting must nut want ye te return te your homeland for so much misfartune te befall ye. Boot I will help ye all te same--I will transform myself inte a ship to take ye to Atalan, and run agraund on te coast. Ye are te tell te king of Atalan that ye ship has wrecked and ye are the sole survivor. Also tell him tat te king of Fuyan has offered help in exchange for te princess."
He continues as himself. "Kitsune transformed into a ship again..." He again sings as Kitsune Rou iitsa ron selga vichii... "and set off for Atalan. When she had run aground on the coast, Kiran told the court of Atalan the most heartwrenching rendition of the story Kitsune had told him to tell. The princess of Atalan--we'll call her Talia--couldn't bear to see anyone in need, and so agreed to help Kiran in return for becoming the wife of the king of Fuyan. But Princess Talia saw how kind and brave Kiran was, and loved him more than the king of Fuyan."
Odd--usually it's the boy having second thoughts in this kind of story... Wendy muses.
"When they arrived in Fuyan, Kitsune transformed into Princess Talia..." Brock then sings a different song as Kitsune. Imultao, ame no ga bakeno...
As himself, he continues "The king of Fuyan fell madly in love with 'Talia', and eagerly gave Kiran the shining Ponyta. As Kiran led the shining Ponyta back to where the real Talia waited, the king of Fuyan was about to crown Kitsune when she revealed herself, and gave him a Fire Fang he never forgot!"
Laughter fills the air as the crowd pictures the chaotic scene. "They then made their way back to the island woods, where Kitsune transformed into a shiny Ponyta." Brock then sings as Kitsune Karuto, iichiida shou...
[And then?] Hinata asks as she wipes away a tear of laughter.
Brock continues "The wisp queen was thrilled to see the 'Ponyta', and eagerly gave Kiran the Sword of Magic Auras. But when the wisps tried to ride Kitsune, it was a ride they never forgot!"
More laughter fills the air. "They then made their way to the giant's cave in the mountains, where Kitsune transformed herself into the sword." Brock then sings as Kitsune Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul...
Cheers go up at the gibberish song. "The giant was pleased to see the 'sword', and gave Kiran the golden Pidgeot." Brock continues. "But when he tried to wield it, Kitsune burnt him so badly that it took a long time to recover."
The crowd can hardly contain their laughter at this. "It was only when Kiran arrived home did he discover Kitsune's warning was true--and that his stepmother was about to cast a dark spell on him." Brock continues.
[Did he fight back?] Tenku panics, afraid for Kiran and his party.
"But the Sword of Magic Auras protected him and the Pokemon, and after a long battle, Kiran emerged victorious!" Brock assures Tenku and the crowd.
Tenku heaves a sigh of relief as he concludes "Kiran and Talia were soon married, and they were revered throughout the kingdom. Kitsune received a special place on Kiran's court, for it was her cunning and magic power that guided him on many more adventures."
He smiles at his enthralled audience. "But that is another story for another day!"
Wendy's grin is the largest as she applauds. Keep it up, Brock--you're doing great!
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 14: "Eyes in the shadows! Brock vs. Team Elegy!"
"...Yusha and the Beasts returned to a hero's welcome." Brock concludes his final story over a triumphant song from the harp. "That is why today, you can see statues of the Beasts commemorating this hero, the Beasts, and their adventures all over the world."
The crowd roars as Brock takes a bow, then turns to leave. [That was amazing!] Mizuchi gasps as Brock gathers his gear and steps off the stage. [You really are as skilled as you say you are!]
Her rave review was cut short by a female voice crying "Stop, thief!"
Brock snapped to attention at the cry. Someone's in trouble--I have to help!
He motioned for Wendy to follow him to a jewelry booth with a dull yellow awning, where Officer Jenny and a number of other officers were milling about, dusting for fingerprints and collecting evidence. "What happened here, Officer?" Wendy asked.
"The booth owner says that a gang of boys and girls ransacked her booth and stole many of her stock, claiming they were 'Meloetta's jewels', and needed to be destroyed." Officer Jenny explained. "The odd part is, we have not seen anyone wearing an outfit like what the owner described."
"Is there any way we can help?" Brock asked, ever aware of the wary glance Mizuchi was giving him as a warning to not go nuts over Officer Jenny as well.
"Well..." Officer Jenny thought for a moment. "If you see anyone wearing a full navy blue outfit with a silver stripe on the pants, please let us know." After making sure all the evidence was accounted for, she and the squadron departed.
Wendy hurried up to the teal haired girl in charge of the booth, who was softly sobbing over her ransacked cabinets, boxes, and display cases. "What can you tell us about what happened?"
The girl wiped a few tears from her eyes in an attempt to compose herself, then began. "I was setting out some new stock when that gang of hoodlums attacked. I tried to tell them to not take anything, but they said they were taking my stock because it was "Meloetta's jewels"--whatever that means--and they were going to destroy all those rings and necklaces I worked so hard to make!"
Team Elegy! Brock gasped. "We'll do whatever we can to find those troublemakers that stole your work and get your jewelry back, okay?" he assured the girl.
"Thank you." The girl mustered a weak smile through her tears as Brock and Wendy disappeared into the crowds.
Wendy thought for a moment. "Those guys that stole the girl's jewels--they had to be Team Elegy goons. But, how come we haven't seen a trace of them anywhere?"
Just then, some laughter startled the two of them as more Team Elegy grunts began emerging from the trees, the grass, empty booths, and storage buildings. "We were hiding all along, Miss Sherlock." a boy in a slightly more elaborate navy blue and silver outfit sneered as the crowd of grunts surrounded Brock and Wendy. "We got what we came for, so there's no need for you two to interfere."
"Oh yeah?" Brock countered as he retrieved his bow and aimed an arrow at a Beedrill hive hanging over the Team Elegy leader's head.
"You want to fight, then?" the leader sneered. "Okay--if you two can defeat all of us in a massed Pokemon battle, we'll give back what we stole and be on our way."
"Deal." Brock replied as he returned the arrow he was going to shoot to the quiver and put his bow away.
"Tenku, Mizuchi, get ready." Wendy instructed as the Team Elegy grunts all released their Pokemon, creating a crowd of about 20 Whismurs.
"Terra, help Wendy's Pokemon." Brock instructed.
[Got it!] Terra flexed her claws and hurried by Wendy's side.
"My team and Terra will take out the mooks." Wendy explained. "You look a lot more skilled in battle than I am, so I'll leave the leader to you."
"That the way you wanna do it?" the leader smirked. "You summon your Pokemon, and I'll unleash mine to get this started."
"Showtime, Hinata!" Brock heaved the Poke Ball containing Hinata skyward, forming the Vulpix on the pavement.
"Kricketune, let's go!" the leader called as he too heaved a Poke Ball skyward.
Ah-la-la-la-la-la-ua! sang a large red cricket Pokemon as it brandished its knife-like arms before Hinata.
[Your war cry doesn't scare me!] Hinata retorted. She ran at the Kricketune and fired an Ember at it, singing its body.
"Kricketune, sing the warsong of Team Elegy!" the Team Elegy leader commanded.
Brock watched in horror as the Kricketune began singing a hypnotic melody, making Hinata's eyes begin to droop. Kricketunes can hit hard with a Slash, X Scissor, or even the dreaded Fury Cutter....granted, Hinata has a type advantage, but she is only a first stage Pokemon, facing an evolved Pokemon
The glint of his whistle got his attention as Hinata fell to the ground with a plop, asleep. This never fails to wake her up!
With that, he blasted the loudest and highest A note he could muster, making Hinata wake up with a jump! [mm-what?] she yawned, still groggy from the Sing attack.
"Try and burn the Kricketune--maybe with its power and speed down, we can level the field a bit." Brock suggested as he watched Tenku bring down a Whismur. He heard Wendy say something in the chaos of battle, but when he saw Mizuchi fire a blue white beam at another Whismur and freeze it, he smiled before focusing on his own battle.
Hinata, meanwhile, conjured a ring of blue-white fire and sent it flying at the Kricketune. The Kricketune howled in pain at being burned. It charged at Hinata, but before Hinata could dodge, she was slashed with both of the Kricketune's arms, creating an X shaped gash.
"Hinata!" Brock grabbed a Super Potion from his bag and sprayed it on Hinata's wound.
[Thank you--I'll finish this now!] With that, Hinata unleashed a Flame Burst, sending the Kricketune falling to the ground. Its final weak cry alerted the grunts that were still battling Wendy that their leader had fallen.
The Team Elegy leader sighed as he studied his fainted Kricketune. "You may have won today, squinty-eyes, but know that this is only the beginning...we will not rest until the Gems of Song are destroyed, and this world is torn apart!"
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 15: "The eight Gems of Song!"
"...ruby necklace, and a few diamond rings." Brock mused as he and Wendy finished taking inventory of the jewelry Team Elegy had stolen. "That all of it?"
"I think so." Wendy replied. "After you took down the leader's Kricketune, they just turned tail and ran, dropping all this jewelry."
As Brock continued gathering up the many necklaces, he noticed Mizuchi perched upon a stool. "How'd you know I liked Officer Jenny too?"
[You were giving her that same dreamy look you gave Nurse Joy before.] Mizuchi explained. [And no proper gentleman gives a lady a look like that.]
Wait, Mizuchi sees me a proper gentleman? Brock was confused at the Vaporeon's observation for a moment. Considering my clothes, I probably look like one...
Then again, it goes back to Dad saying not to go nuts for girls... He winced at the thought of being sprayed every time he went gaga for a girl.
The jeweler giggled at the pained look on Brock's face. "I don't blame you for that look, carrying all that has to be pretty heavy." she assured Brock as she took the pile of jewelry from his hands. "Since you two were so brave to defeat those hooligans and get my jewelry back, I'll give you anything you want."
"Anything we want, huh?" Brock thought for a moment, piqued in the girl's offer. Free jewelry sounded very attractive, considering the many rings and necklaces he and Wendy had just returned. So did a meal at one of the many restaurants in town.
But something else weighed on his mind. What does this girl know about the legend of Giratina and Meloetta, if anything?
He sighed and told the girl "All I ask is some information about the story of how Meloetta sealed Giratina with eight powerful spellsongs."
"Oh?" The girl was interested. "What do you not understand about the story?"
"Specifically, I'm curious about the eight gems Meloetta sealed her spellsongs into." Brock continued. "Do they have names or titles, or something?"
The girl smiled. "You know that the eight Gems of Song were sealed in places well guarded by all manner of monsters and traps?"
"and that should someone make it to where a Gem is held, Meloetta will grant them the gift of singing magic." Brock added."
"The Gems correspond to the badges of Minami." the girl explained. "In order, they are the Fire Ruby, the Night Onyx, the Dragon Opal, the Storm Topaz, the Wise Garnet, the Steel Diamond, the Icy Sapphire, and the Gaia Emerald."
"Then, then--does that mean the Gym Leaders are the guardians of these gems?" Wendy asked.
"Not guardians per se, but the descendants of guardians from long ago." the girl replied. "That means that the negative energy of the Gym Leaders' emotions can weaken and break Giratina's seals. If all eight are broken, the world will be torn apart in Giratina's fury, unless someone who has been chosen by Meloetta and learned the spellsongs inside the gems can sing the spellsongs again. That's what my grandma told me when I was little."
Brock smiled. Of course--now it makes sense! "Of course, no one has ever ventured inside one of these places and returned alive--yet."
"That's right." the girl smiled. "If you want to see one of the places where one of the gems supposedly lies, the Tower of Runes stands on Route 50, just outside Honoru City."
"We were on our way to see that next." Brock grinned as he and Wendy turned to leave. "Thanks for the information."
"You're welcome--have a safe journey!" the girl called as she waved goodbye.
As Brock hurried to keep up with Wendy in the crowds, the thought never occurred to him that the story of Giratina and Meloetta, considered to be one of the most well known folktales in Minami, was in fact true--and he and Wendy had a role to play in it!
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 16: "A choice is made! The PokeTheater challenge begins!"
Brock found Wendy some moments later staring at a poster on a lamppost. "What's this?"
"It's a PokeTheater actor registration poster." Wendy explained, allowing Brock to look at the poster depicting a boy portraying a fantasy hero and a girl portraying a superspy:
Do you have a passion for acting? Want to share your talent with the public?
The PokeTheater Challenge is accepting entrants this week!
Try your luck performing on some of Minami's biggest stages--you may be lucky enough to go all the way to the Minami League!
"Are you going to take the challenge?" Brock asked as Wendy copied down the contact information and instructions on the poster.
"Of course, I'm not being pulled a hundred different directions wrangling baby Pokemon." Wendy replied. "My family has always been big fans of the theater..."
"What was the first play you remember seeing?" Brock asked as he observed a long line snaking through the western part of town and leading up to a small theater.
"Wow...it had something to do with King Arthur and Queen Guinevere wanting to give each other the perfect gift to celebrate their first anniversary." Wendy replied. "They told the Knights of the Round Table to track down the perfect gift. They agreed to find some color changing Leppa Berries..."
[I remember that play!] Tenku chirped as the group joined the line. [I was just a Pidgey then, and you held me in your hands so I could see the stage. Merlin's costume was so beautiful, even rivaling the King and Queen!]
"On top of that, there was an unnamed Pokemon terrorizing the Dark Forest--but the roaring and sounds made it seem a Charizard was the Pokemon in question." Wendy went on. "To this day, I still wonder what Pokemon it was."
[I remember those knight wannabes poor Lancelot had to train!] Mizuchi giggles at a memory. [Oh, they were so funny!]
"So did the King and the Queen get their color changing Berries?" Brock was intrigued.
"Yeah, after dealing with the witch that guarded said Berries--a friendly hunter led them to a secret way into the witch's Berry grove." Wendy went on. "Said witch was in cahoots with a greedy baron, and it turned out the beast Pokemon was really people in a costume..."
[The looks on the knights' faces when they found this out was priceless...] Mizuchi whispers to Emi, who giggles.
"The only reason they did that was so the baron would be talked about more, not the Knights." Wendy continues. "Turned out the so called witch was putting on an act at the baron's behest too."
"Moral of the story--respect is earned, and never demanded." Brock smiles.
"You mentioned before you've been in plays yourself..." Wendy mused. "What characters have you portrayed besides minstrel Flynn Devine?"
"Well, my most famous one is Señor Alegria, a fun-loving mariachi performing that loves a good yarn almost as much as he loves to sing and dance." Brock explained.
[Come on now, la-la-la, it is so wonderful!] Terra sang as she teetered across the sidewalk, trying to mimic Brock dancing as Señor Alegria. [La-la-la, la la la, hear a word's beautiful sound!
La-la-la, and it is, la-la-la,
And it is...
My lovely one...]
Hinata, meanwhile, was singing the familiar tune of the <i>jarabe pateño</i> as she danced around Wendy's feet, lost in a memory of Brock doing the same dance as Señor Alegria. "No wonder he's your best known character, even the Pokemon remember him!" Wendy giggled, enamored at Hinata's shaky attempt at the dance.
"Anyway..." Brock shepherded Hinata and Terra back to him. "My other characters that I portray regularly include the Gekijou variant of Flynn Devine, a minstrel-like storyteller named Kashu, Ace Chandler, my melodrama host and occasional hero..."
"I've always wanted to play the heroine in a melodrama!" Wendy gasps. "Or take part in a Gekijou play!"
"You may get your chance to do both if you take the challenge." Brock smiled, as Wendy approached the counter to register for the PokeTheater Challenge....
Wendy smiled as she studied the sparkling silver box that would hold her rose buttons for the PokeTheater challenge. <i>I can't believe it--I'm actually taking the PokeTheater Challenge!</i>
"Everything okay?" Brock's voice snapped her back to reality. "You haven't said a word since we left town..."
"Well, one, it's still sinking in that I'm actually taking the PokeTheater Challenge, something I've wanted to do ever since I was little." Wendy explained, her ecstatic smile still on her face. "But something the lady at the registration table said is bugging me--I've never really auditioned for anything on this level before."
"Being no stranger to the stage myself, an audition at any level is no laughing matter." Brock mused. "I've done too many plays, concerts and storytelling shows to even count--including my most current one; a variety show called 'Live From the Fireside'. Even then, I still get jangled nerves at an audition."
"So enlighten me, sage of showbiz...what is an audition like?" Wendy smiled.
"It really depends on the show, but at the very least, the director will need to see if your talents are the best fit for his--or her--show." Brock explained. "Most of the time, they will make you read a few lines from the show, sing, and maybe dance."
"And in the case of the PokeTheater, maybe even do something even crazier, if the registration people are to be believed." Wendy added.
"Even then, despite whatever it is you decide to do, you may still not make the cut." Brock cautioned. "Can you handle a little heartbreak on the road to stardom?"
Wendy nodded. "I would've never gotten in that line if I didn't believe in my heart I had the courage and talent to take the Challenge, setbacks and all."
She grinned. "Besides, I have the best acting coach and audition partner in the world--you!"
Brock almost fell on the grass as Wendy threw herself in his arms for a joyous hug. "Goodness, we're excited tonight..." he nervously giggled.
"Akari City won't know what hit it when we take the stage there!" Wendy grinned.
"Well, we have a ways to go before we get there, so you have plenty of time to think about what our audition act should be." Brock assured Wendy as the group walked off into the setting sun...
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 17: "Arrival in Honoru City! A debut times two!"
"...Telling jokes?" Wendy suggested as she, Brock, and the Pokemon walked over the massive bridge leading into Honoru City.
[Nah--who knows what the director's sense of humor is like?] Raku replied.
[If you're gonna be an actor, you guys need a dramatic pose!] Satomi interjected. [Every good actor and actress has at least one dramatic pose!]
The lamposts and camera stands lining the bridge gave Wendy an idea. "Got a camera?"
"Yeah..." Brock replied as he fished a silver and black digital camera from his bag. "Why?"
"We're gonna grant Satomi her wish of an actress' and an actor's dramatic pose!" Wendy explained as she dragged Brock by one of the lampposts.
Brock giggled, slightly embarrassed at Wendy's enthusiasm. But he started tinkering with the camera's timer settings anyway--a walking tour wouldn't be complete without at least one goofy picture in the photo album.
After making sure the camera timer was set, he set the camera in the stand. "Okay--the camera's going to go off in ten seconds, so think of a good dramatic pose!" he explained as he got on one knee and held a hand in the air, as if he were an opera singer in the middle of an aria.
[Five...four...three...two...one...] Tenku counted down before the camera flash got her attention.
[Lemme see!] Satomi begged as Brock got up and took the camera from the stand. [I wanna see!]
Brock reviewed the picture of himself comically mimicking an opera singer and Wendy doing a jazz hands pose. "Well! Not a bad shot for one try..." he smiled before allowing the Eevees to see the picture.
A familiar cry overpowered the Eevees laughing. "Emi!"
"That's odd...we had breakfast a short while ago, it's not naptime yet, and she went to the potty before we left..." Wendy muses as she thinks about why the Happini in Brock's arms is crying profusely.
"I know why--it's the cranky cry." Brock smiled as the group continued into the large town square and sat down on one of the benches overlooking the small garden and rocks. "Which means it's time to get out the toy that never fails to stop cranky crying."
"What's that?" Wendy asked as she set Emi on the bench.
"This little guy..." Brock replied, showing Wendy what looked like a Meowth doll. "My best puppet, a Meowth puppet I named Leon."
"Looks like any old Meowth doll to me..." Wendy sighed, silently wishing all the while that Emi would stop crying.
"Or is it?" Brock intones before retreating behind a rock. After slipping his hand inside a hidden hole in the Meowth's back, and positioning it to where Emi, the other Pokemon, and Wendy can see it, but not his hand, he speaks in a perfect mimic of Team Rocket's Meowth "Why did da candy store close at two o'clock?"
[Why?] Mizuchi asks the Meowth puppet.
"Because it was two's day!" Brock replies as Leon.
The Eevees howl with laughter at the corny joke. "What makes music on ya head?" Brock starts another joke.
[Hee hee...what?] Raku asks.
"A head band!" Brock replies as Leon, making the Pokemon laugh even more.
Even Wendy is laughing as Brock emerges from behind the rock, Leon still on his hand. "It worked...Emi's laughing!" she cried, gesturing to Emi laughing through her tears.
"Thank you..." Brock takes a bow for his "audience".
"Got any more of those puppets?" Wendy asks. "We could do a two person show, so I can practice projecting my voice."
Brock rummages through his bag some more, and unearths the Sandshrew puppet from earlier, a Chikorita puppet, and a script. "If we can make a copy of this script--a two person bit called "Jogging", we could possibly do a little show for our teams."
"Cool!" Wendy smiles. "I've always wanted to learn to work a puppet."
An hour or two later...
"Okay...ready?" Brock, now completely in black, asks Wendy as she finishes changing into a black outfit of her own.
"i still don't get why we have to wear these..." Wendy sighs as she joins Brock back behind the rock serving as their stage.
"Remember the Gekijou theater?" Brock explains "Anyone in black--be it a musician, puppeteer, or stagehand, is a shadow, and therefore unseen to the audience."
"Oh..." Wendy smiles before accepting the Chikorita puppet and putting her hand inside a hidden hole near the puppet's head,
"Remember--don't let the audience see your hand." Brock whispers before pressing PLAY on a small radio.
A happy interlude plays for a moment before the Meowth puppet and the Chikorita puppet run on an pose over a drumroll in the music. "Peach!" Wendy announces in a higher pitched version of herself.
"and Leon in..." Brock adds as Leon.
"Jogging!" both announce in character before they hurry off again. The Pokemon applaud as the interlude finishes.
Wendy makes her Chikorita "run" in the scene some seconds later. "What a lovely day for a jog..." she muses, never mind that her puppet has a very noticeable limp as it "runs".
"Sure is..." Brock agrees as Leon.
"But we have to be mindful of the road...." Wendy's Chikorita cautions.
"Whatsamatta with da road?" Brock asks, making Leon shake his head.
"It's all bumpy!" Wendy's Chikorita complains.
"Bumpy? I don't feel any bumps here..." Brock replies as Leon.
"But there's a gazillion of them!" Wendy's Chikorita gasps.
"Look, dis road is straight as a board, and I'm runnin' straight, straight, straight." Brock's Meowth assures Wendy's Chikorita as it "runs" about.
"Then why am I running crooked, crooked, crooked?" Wendy's Chikorita asks, to some giggles from the Pokemon and a growing crowd that is gathering to watch.
"Peach...somethin's wrong with ya feet." Brock's Meowth explains. "Mind if I play docta here for a minute?"
"Please do--don't hold anything back!" Wendy's Chikorita replies.
After "examining" the Chikorita puppet thoroughly, the Meowth puppet announces. "Ah, I see da problem! Ya wearin' two different kinds of shoes!"
The crowd laughs at this. "Oh, how silly of me!" Wendy's Chikorita giggles as it pantomimes taking off one shoe. "Could you run back to my house and get the other shoe's mate?"
"Sure!" With that, Brock's Meowth hurries off as the lights go down.
"Here ya go!" he announces when he returns some moments later.
After the two Pokemon trade the imaginary shoes, they start "running" again. "Dat feel better?" Brock's Meowth asks, which is now running with the same limp as Wendy's Chikorita.
"The road is still bumpy!" Wendy's Chikorita complains.
"Now I know how ya feel!" Brock's Meowth agrees as the two Pokemon limp off to a "wah-wah-wah-wah..." stinger.
The audience laughs and applauds as Brock and Wendy emerge from behind the rock with their puppets and take a bow. That was fun! Wendy grins as she soaks up the cheers and applause. Now to see if I can do it on a real stage!
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 18: "Trouble in Honoru City! The archer of flame, Ardea!" (part 1)
"Remember that huge tower we passed on the way here?" Wendy asked as the group strolled down Honoru City's main street. It was approaching noon, and what restaurants were not already full either had lines or beginning to attract crowds.
"What about it?" Brock asked as he admired the various menu boards that stood on the sidewalk.
"That is the Tower of Runes." Wendy explained. "Maybe if we find the Gym Leader, Ardea, she could tell us more about what's in there--and possibly help you sharpen your own archery skills."
"She uses a bow too?" Brock was intrigued.
"Yeah, and she loves fire Pokemon almost as much as she loves the bow." Wendy explained. "So much so she's been nicknamed 'the archer of flame.'
"So would be trainers start with..." Brock pondered a few possible names for Ardea's badge. Flame Badge, Inferno Badge, Blaze Badge...
"Her badge is the Ember Badge." Wendy replied, pointing out a billboard advertising the Gym that depicted a tiny orange and yellow teardrop-like Badge.
Just then, an older female voice calling "Kitsune!" in the distance snapped her to attention. "That sounded like Ardea..."
"Or someone else looking for a lost Pokemon..." Brock mused as the female voice called "Kitsune, where are you?"
Tenku spotted a dull orange haired girl digging in the bushes around the Gym, which resembled a large log cabin. [That's her! Ardea!]
Wendy motioned for Brock to follow her, and made her way to the Gym plaza, where Ardea was still digging through the brush as a Torchic and a Charmander looked on in fear. "Is there any way we can help?"
Ardea looked up and smiled, relieved someone had heard her. "Of course you two can help--have you seen any Fennekins in the area?"
Wendy was about to answer when she saw Brock had sauntered up to her, the same dreamy look he had with Nurse Joy on his face. "I may not have seen any Fennekins, but I have spotted this firey Cupid, whose flaming arrow has pierced my heart--!"
That was as far as he got before Mizuchi sprayed him. [This is a Gym Leader you're talking to!] she scolded. [Now, behave yourself!]
Ardea just chuckled. "I'm glad you find me beautiful, Romeo, but right now I have more pressing matters to worry about, like finding my Fennekin, Kitsune."
"Oh, Brock just has a thing for pretty girls." Wendy explained as she offered Brock a towel to dry off. "Where did you see Kitsune last?" she asked.
"Well, I fed him this morning, and he was with me while I went out to my private target range in the forest, but when I came back to the Gym, he was gone." Ardea explained, fanning herself with a red wide-brimmed hat that looked similar to a red mage's hat in "Final Fantasy".
"So somewhere between the forest and the Gym was where he disappeared." Brock mused. "Was he acting nervous, or scared?"
"Nope--he was pretty happy." Ardea sighed as she brushed some leaves from her shirt. "It's not like him to just run off..."
"Then he may not have run off on his own choice..." Wendy suggested.
Ardea's eyes narrowed in anger. "If someone took Kitsune, then they picked the wrong person to mess with." she grumbled. "I will go to the ends of the earth to find him!"
"Was Kitsune your first Pokemon?" Wendy asked.
"No...he was hatched from an egg I won in an archery competition, not long before I became the Gym Leader." Ardea explained before gesturing to the Charmander. "Hinote here was my first."
[Hi...] the Charmander shyly smiled. [Are you going to try for a badge?]
"Unfortunately, no...we're going to help your master find your friend." Wendy replied.
The Torchic, meanwhile, noticed Brock's bow peeking from his bag. [Oh! Did you make that yourself?]
Brock nodded. "I'm not too bad a shot, but it's been a while since I've practiced seriously."
"Really, now?" Ardea gasped, now in a better mood. "For someone who hasn't shot in a while, you put a lot of effort into making this." she smiled, admiring Brock's bow.
Then, a thought came to her. "Are you two planning on going in the Tower of Runes that stands outside of town?"
"Yes." both Brock and Wendy replied.
"It's earned its reputation for a good reason--many brave adventurers have gone in there, but so far, no one in recent memory has come out." Ardea cautioned. "Supposedly, one of Meloetta's mystic gems is at the top--so if you're going in there to see if that's true, I have an idea..."
"What?" Wendy asked.
"If you two can help me find Kitsune--hopefully alive--I will give you and your Pokemon some combat training to better survive the monsters and traps in the tower. "Ardea offered.
"Sure!" Wendy replied.
Brock offered a hand to Ardea. "Deal."
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 19: "Trouble in Honoru City! The archer of flame, Ardea!" (part 2)
"I have a bad feeling I know who swiped Ardea's Fennekin..." Wendy grumbled as she and Brock followed Ardea through the brush.
"Well, whoever took Kitsune has some explaining to do when we find them." Ardea agreed. "They may not go down without a fight, either--so I hope you brought your best Pokemon."
"I have Mizuchi, my Vaporeon..." Wendy reported.
"...and I have Hinata, my Vulpix." Brock replied. "Just in case your team needs a little boost." He had left Terra behind to help Tenku look after the babies, but for some reason, a sickening feeling in his stomach was telling him that Hinata would probably not be enough.
[i]What am I thinking? Hinata's very capable in battle--if she can take down a fully evolved Pokemon, she can take on any Pokemon![i] he reminded himself. Memories of Hinata's victory over the Kricketune in Crystone Town danced through his head for a moment. As Ash would say, maybe I have been making a mountain out of a Diglett hole...
"I found some tracks!" Ardea's voice snapped him back to reality.
He hurried over to the edge of a clearing by a stream, where Ardea was examining some Fennekin tracks on the path. "Are they Kitsune's?" he wondered.
"They're Kitsune's, all right..." Ardea replied. "and judging how they are embedded in a human footprint and how the trail is not always consistent, the Poke-napper is probably carrying him...."
"or he is being dragged." Wendy suggested.
"Dragged?" Ardea gasped.
"Look here..." Wendy pointed out what looked like an indentation of a rope, a clump of Fennekin pawprints, and a sweeping indentation that matched a tail on the path. "There's a rope pattern here, and the tracks are all in a big clump, like there was a struggle."
"We have to be close to the perp's location, if Kitsune's tracks are here." Ardea mused, her heart pounding all the while. "When we find the camp, I'm going to free Kitsune before we deal with the perps."
"Good idea--we don't want to hurt him if we have to fight." Brock agreed.
Just then, a yip got everyone's attention. Ardea's first thought was to nock an arrow in her own bow, but her concerned look turned to a joyful smile when a Fennekin emerged from a bush. "There you are!" she smiled. "You scared me there for a moment!"
[Well, you know I would never run off on my own free will.] Kitsune grumbled. [I'd like to give those navy blue guys a real hot foot!]
"You mean, Team Elegy Poke-napped you?" Wendy asked as Brock examined Kitsune for any injuries or trauma."
Kitsune nodded. [Wanted to hold me for ransom in exchange for Master giving them the location of the Fire Ruby.]
"The Fire Ruby?" Brock was confused at first, but then the jewel's name clicked. "You mean, the first Gem of Song?"
"Exactly." Ardea replied. "But I'm not giving them that info..." she growled as a Team Elegy squadron arrived. "I'm giving them a piece of my mind!" With that, she aimed an arrow at the squadron leader.
"Watch where you aim the pointy things, okay?" the leader stammered, half feigned concern, and half afraid at the arrow aimed at his chest. "Those are dangerous."
"I know, and I've trained for years at using the pointy things." Ardea retorted, still aiming her shot. "But if you dare lay another finger on Kitsune, I'm not afraid to fire this pointy thing!"
"And I won't hesitate to fire a pointy thing, either!" Brock agreed, aiming an arrow of his own at a Beedrill hive hanging on a tree several yards away.
"Okay, so we won't lay another finger on your precious Fennekin." the leader smirked as he unveiled a Poke Ball he had concealed in his pants pocket, prompting Ardea to but her bow away. "We will, however, demonstrate the power of Team Elegy!" With that, he heaved the Poke Ball skyward, revealing a ghostly Pokemon with a ball-like body, a long "tail" and a bell-like appendage on its head as he and the other Team Elegy grunts fled.
"What IS that?" Wendy fumbled for her Pokedex to learn more about the strange Pokemon.
"Chimecho, the wind chime Pokemon." the Pokedex began. "It makes its cries echo inside hollow body. When this Pokemon becomes enraged, its cries result in ultrasonic waves that have the power to knock foes flying."
Ardea noticed Brock still aiming at the Beedrill hive. "Go ahead, take your shot."
"This'll make a great distraction..." Wendy agreed as Brock's arrow whistled towards the hive. Screams and the low buzz of Beedrills in the distance confirmed that his shot was successful. "That was the longest shot you've made so far!"
"Once we deal with Mr. Chimecho here, I'll teach you how make even longer shots." Ardea smiled, impressed at Brock's meager skill.
[Then allow me the honor of battling!] Kitsune begged. [I wanna pay them back for Poke-napping me!]
"Go for it." Ardea smiled.
With that, Kitsune unleashed a circle of flames at the Chimecho, singing its tail. The Chimecho winced at the flames, then unleashed a siren-like scream that rang through the forest.
"It's...using Uproar!" Brock yelled over the noise, which knocked Kitsune backwards.
"Mizuchi, we need your help!" Wendy pleaded as she heaved a Poke Ball, revealing the Vaporeon.
[Take Kitsune! I'll handle this!] Mizuchi screeched over the Uproar as she angrily eyed the screaming Chimecho and fired a rainbow beam that shifted between many colors, making the Chimecho scream even louder.
[Signal Beam...that's pretty clever.] Kitsune smiled.
"Well, Chimecho is a Psychic type..." Ardea assured him as the noise continued.
Meanwhile, the Chimecho had calmed down, and opened its mouth wide in a big yawn. "Hope you know how to play the Pokeflute, or something..." Wendy stammered as Mizuchi's eyes started to droop.
The whistle Ash gave me! Brock grinned. "I can a little, but I've found its little brother to be just as effective." he assured Wendy, showing her a small gold flute with a green mouthpiece as Mizuchi fell to the ground with a plop, asleep from the Chimecho's Yawn.
The Chimecho took a deep breath in preparation to unleash a Hyper Voice, but it was startled by the reel Brock started playing, which jolted Mizuchi awake!
[Thanks for the song!] Mizuchi smiled before firing a pulsing wave of water at the Chimecho, making it faint with a plop.
"You're welcome." Brock replied as he pocketed the whistle. "But what matters is Team Elegy is gone and Kitsune's okay."
[You guys are my heroes!] Kitsune smiled, nuzzling Brock in thanks.
Ardea was just as happy. "The two of you make a great team!" she grinned as she lead the way back to town. "I'm gonna teach you how to make that bond even stronger!"
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 20: "Ardea's white hot training method!" (part 1)
"Here we are!" Ardea smiled as she led Brock and Wendy inside the Gym. "If you're going in the Tower of Runes, you two will need training as much as your Pokemon will." She then addressed Wendy. "Ever wanted to learn to wield a weapon?"
"Yeah--for stage combat." Wendy replied.
"What you may not know is stage combat is based on actual fighting." Ardea explained as she led Wendy over to an open arena, where a brown haired boy was sparring with a sword against a training dummy. "So if you learn how to actually fight, not only will you get a leg up on the dangers of the Tower of Runes and give Brock support, it'll make stage combat that much more realistic."
Just then, the boy noticed Ardea and Wendy. "You're back, Ardea!" he smiled. "Was Kitsune okay?"
"Yeah--Team Elegy lowlifes tried to hold him for ransom in hopes we could spill the beans on the Tower of Runes." Ardea explained as Kitsune romped off to be tended to by another attendant. "Key word here is tried--this young lady's brave Vaporeon helped me save him."
"Nice to meet you--I'm Wendy." Wendy replied as she and the boy shook hands.
"I'm Rory, and I'm in charge of sword training." the boy replied. "Whether you want to learn as a martial art, actually fight with a sword, or learn stage combat, I'm the guy to see."
Ardea then looked at Brock. "As for your training, come with me over here..."
Brock nodded and followed Ardea to a large archery range on the left side of the room. "Okay...you've got your own bow, so mind showing me a few shots?"
"Before I do..." Brock began before retrieving his bow. "Back home, I like telling stories to an audience..."
"Really?" Ardea was intrigued.
"Sometimes, if a bow is involved in whatever tale I am telling, I will actually shoot an arrow live onstage." Brock continued. "So as thanks for letting me and Wendy help save Kitsune, I want to share one of these tales--so you can see my form and style at the same time."
"Okay...fire away." Ardea replied.
Brock thought for a moment as to which of his bow-tales Ardea would like, and could be told quickly. "The Aspear Hunter" was too long, and he didn't have too many arrows left, so "The Purrloin and the Teapot" was out as well.
After ruling out a few more stories, he then began "Once a warrior named Touta was traveling on the road. As he approached a bridge, he spotted a Seviper that had taken up residence on the bridge."
He adds as an aside "In fact, no one could cross the bridge because they were so afraid."
"I see..." Ardea smiled.
"Touta jumped over the Seviper easily, but when he looked behind him, he saw a girl in the Seviper's place." Brock went on, making Ardea giggle over his look of feigned surprise. "The girl explained that she was the guardian of the Gyarados that watched over the lake, and the Seviper was one of her many forms. She told Touta that a great Scolipede had made its home in the nearby mountain, and all the burrowing was driving King Gyarados crazy. Touta agreed to slay the Scolipede."
"So how did he do that?" Ardea wondered.
"Touta was taken to King Gyarados' palace, where King Gyarados told him that the Scolipede would attack again that night." Brock explains as he approaches the guideline to the target in the center lane. "That night, when the Scolipede attacked, Touta saw that it was so large, it could go completely around the mountain seven times."
Awed murmurs go up at this, even from Rory and Wendy. "Try as Touta might to attack, his arrows kept bouncing off the Scolipede's skin." Brock then fires a shot at the center target, where it lands in the yellow zone.
"Then, Touta got an idea, and moistened the tip of an arrow with some water from the lake." Brock pantomimes doing this to his next arrow. "After a quick prayer to Arceus, he fired..." He then fires the "wet" arrow, which lands in the yellow zone close to the bullseye. "...and it hit, killing the Scolipede!"
"Nice shot!" Ardea smiles, more interested in observing Brock's shooting form than the tale he is telling.
"King Gyarados was grateful for Touta saving him and the lake Pokemon, but wondered why Touta moistened the arrow." Brock explains. "Touta replied that water moistened the earth, and a Scolipede is a Pokemon of the earth. King Gyarados was pleased with that answer, and gave Touta some of the enchanted food from his storehouses that never ran out. To this day, the story of how he defeated the Scolipede is told across the seven regions."
Ardea applauds the tale's ending. "Cool tale...but I want to see you take a few more shots."
Brock nods, readies another arrow, and fires. "Okay...lower your bow for a second and let me see your stance..." Ardea instructs. Brock complies and allows Ardea to walk around him. "Your feet are properly spread apart, good...feet are at a 70 degree angle, good..." Ardea then notices Brock is tense. "Relax...archery is supposed to be fun." she assures him.
Brock heaves a sigh of relief and stretches, easing the tension in his shoulders. "Now, let me see how you hold the bow..." He gives Ardea a nod, and nocks an arrow.
Ardea grimaces when she sees how Brock is holding the bow. "I see you're holding the bow with your strong hand--your strong hand should be the one pulling the string."
"Hm..." Brock tries switching hands for his next attempt.
"You have your index and middle fingers under the arrow--good!" Ardea smiles as Brock readies his shot.
After giving Brock some tips on how to aim, she watches him fire his shot, which lands in the white area of the target. "Don't get discouraged if your first few shots miss--this is probably a new feeling for you." she assures him. "But to your credit, you have the stance and nocking the arrow down. It's aiming that you need work on."
"I also wouldn't mind a stronger bow, either..." Brock adds as he gives his bow to Ardea to examine.
"You did very well for attempting to make a bow yourself..." Ardea muses as she examines Brock's handiwork. "And it's yew wood, too--the best bow wood!"
She then gives Brock a practice bow. "Why don't you practice drawing with your weak hand and aiming with this bow while I make the one you made stronger?"
"Sure!" Brock smiles.
"While I'm working on your bow, I want you to practice shooting from four different distances--10 feet, 30 feet, 50 feet, and 70 feet." Ardea continues. "When you can consistently hit the target at one distance, move back to the next distance. Questions?
"Not really..." With that, Brock prepares his first shot...
TO BE CONTINUED....
Episode 21: "Ardea's white hot training method!" (part 2)
"How is everything in here?" Ardea asked as she returned to the training arena.
"Doing great!" Wendy replied before parrying a move from Rory.
"Yeah, Wendy's doing very well." Rory agreed before he blocked Wendy's next attack
[Pull!] Hinata called to Kitsune. Kitsune heaved a target into the air, which Hinata aimed an Ember at, shattering the target in an explosion of flames and clay shards.
"Can I shoot something else yet?" Brock sighed as he fired yet another shot from 70 feet away. "Or better yet, shoot with my own bow?"
"You can take a break now..." Ardea assured Brock before showing him his bow, which now had ivy inlays etched in it. "Okay, I first gave you a stronger string, so your arrows can go farther and faster. Then I tweaked the design a bit, into a recurved bow. This way it's easier to maintain, but requires a little more strength than what you had before."
"It's beautiful...." Brock smiled as he took the newly refurbished bow from Ardea and returned the practice bow he had been shooting with. "The decorations are a nice touch."
"Glad you like it." Ardea smiled before retrieving a tape dispenser. "Where do you put your hand when you're shooting?"
"Right here..." Brock replied, pointing out the place in the center of the bow where he usually held it.
Ardea said nothing, but put a piece of tape on the point Brock showed her and on his hand. "Okay...what I want you to do is take a few shots, making sure the piece of tape on your hand and the piece of tape on your bow match."
Brock nodded, and readied a shot, being careful to remember to match the tape on his hand with the one on his weapon. He tried this a few more times, with Ardea looking on all the while.
After he had taken about six shots, Ardea removed the tape from him and grabbed a deck of playing cards. "Well done...your hand position is very nice for someone that hasn't shot in a while..." she began. "Now...what I want you to do is try and hit the heart in the ace of hearts." She paused to set the card in question into a small horizontal pulley. "Since I saw you're a good shot with a still target, I'm gonna make this drill a bit harder by making the card move."
Brock swallowed hard--he had never tried hitting a moving target before. "A-any suggestions for h-hitting a moving target?"
"Easy--just keep your eyes on the target." Ardea assured him. "You're more often than not going to find moving targets in the Tower of Runes and in the other seven Gem locations, so better learn now than later." With that, she started the pulley, making the card slowly approach the target, travel past it, then approach it again. "When you can hit the heart consistently at a slow speed, I'm gonna speed it up a little." she cautioned.
Brock nodded, and readied his shot as the card approached, but his shot just barely nicked the card. Not to worry, let's just try again...
His next shot managed to make a hole in the left edge of the card.Maybe if I released my shot just before the heart arrives...
He gasped in awe when sure enough, his third shot hit the middle of the heart! "YES!!!"
"Do it again!" Ardea urged.
Brock nodded, and fired another shot into the center of the heart, making sure to time his shot just before the heart came into his line of sight. But after a while, the heart was now riddled with arrow holes. "I think we need a new ace of hearts..."
"Not a problem--I keep tons of boxes of playing cards for this kind of practice." Ardea assured him as she set a new ace of hearts into the pulley. "I've gone through plenty of aces--spades, clubs, and diamonds as well as hearts."
After adjusting the pulley's speed, she continued. "Now, try hitting the heart at a little bit faster pace."
"Got it!" Brock replied before readying another shot....
"Thank you so much for the training." Wendy smiled. "I feel like I could take on anything, whether for real or on stage!"
"Anytime!" Ardea replied. "Consider it returning the favor for saving Kitsune."
"But before you go, I have something for you..." Rory interjected, handing Wendy a blue sword sheath. "This should protect you in the Tower of Runes--I call it the Blessed White Sword!"
Brock smiled as Wendy drew the blue and white blade and tried a few moves with it. She looks like a natural--a beautiful blade for a beautiful and brave companion.
"I just hope that you two are the first ones to return from the Tower of Runes alive." Ardea smiled. "Who knows what amazing things are in there just waiting to be found?"
"Well, when we get out of there, we'll tell you all about it!" Brock replied as he and Wendy departed the Gym and into the setting sun...
TO BE CONTINUED....
Episode 22: "The Tower of Runes! Seeking the song of fire!" (part 1)
"Well, this is it..." Brock mused as he and Wendy approached the Tower of Runes the next morning. "We brave the Tower of Runes and find out what wonders and terrors lie inside."
"In case we don't make it..." Wendy laid a hand on Brock's. "You are one of the best friends I've ever met."
"And to you likewise." Brock replied. With that, he gathered his gear and motioned for the Pokemon to follow him inside.
"Hello?" Wendy called as they entered the first room of the tower. "Anyone here?"
Brock noticed that the walls of the tower were covered in odd runes that faintly glowed every few seconds. "Well, now we know why this place is called the Tower of Runes..."
[But where's Meloetta?] Raku wondered.
[Yeah--if she knows we're trying to find one of her spellsongs, she should at least appear to us, or give us a test of courage--or something!] Satomi stammered, unnerved by the faintly glowing runes.
Just then, an oddly pleasant female voice singing in an alien language resonated through the large room. Cair, in cair, a chár imh gcirlalann,
Emh au bion la ghallran lig cev do slan...
[Who's there?] Tenku squawked, surprised at the voice.
As if in response to Tenku's call, a small sprite-like Pokemon appeared in the room, brushing her green music staff-like hair as she kept singing in the strange language. Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò...
Au gcot gida mibrar ach bruin,
Neag emh au ala lel, au gcot mhagád...
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò...
Hinata shook her head. [If Meloetta wants to tell us something, I don't have a clue what she's saying!] Brock just motioned for Hinata to be quiet as he listened to the song...
Ach ogod bion fe mala do bel,
Be lig la gcen en fen arnin.
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò...
Brock suddenly found himself tapping his foot in time to the song, making a slow, yet rhythmic beat echo through the room as Meloetta kept singing...
Neag au ciga chellrar fe biga la gcen,
No gorlol do ghallran ach bobrol líor ben...
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò...
La teandno nean tadh gcont gola,
Malal letha ke gceiv me ogod...
Mizuchi gasped as she heard Wendy join in the song. Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò...
The lightbulb went off in Terra's head. [I get it! Meloetta is testing our hearts--and if they are pure, we'll know her language and sing with her!] She listened intently as Meloetta would sing a verse, then Wendy, Brock, and seemingly hundreds of other voices chimed in on the chorus, Brock doubling Wendy an octave below:
La irian cen la min imh la horn,
Pog ilo no la daus ach la fhinn...
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò...
La irnid loran es diro remmenn
La diro remmenn imh é lirbesn limma...
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò...
La fernin len gcont tengol learlar
Neag a gcot suínda au lein la fhen...
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò...
La silag cen elorona gcoleth
Lelala he delrbid gcot ogar lef...
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò..
La muistech en an lel an fhiod,
Eg gcot heg nach, her gcot eg lain...
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò.
La bilola loran é lelfo lí,
Est chellrar gces'g cin é cain lig'n brí.
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò.
Ach pim, la ostaliv, lios an la aen
Gcot mhega é cheala cain'n brí gcen!
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò.
Kas la ben imh latha éirn resta ferbasar,
La ogod iran gcot na niroladh gelagar!
Hi rì him bò hill ò bha rò hò
Hi rì him bò hìrì ri ri ù
Hi rì him bo hill ò bha rò hò.
With that, Meloetta smiled. "Well done, travelers...you have proven yourself worthy to proceed further into the tower." A door on the other end of the room rumbled open to emphasize Meloetta's point.
"How is it we could sing in your language, despite not knowing it innately?" Brock wondered.
"Your hearts were in tune with mine--and your desire to find my jewels is pure and sincere." Meloetta replied. "And not a moment too soon--the seal of fire has already begun to weaken thanks to Team Elegy's attempt to take the fire guardian's Fennekin."
"Oh--you mean Ardea's sadness over losing Kitsune?" Wendy wondered.
Meloetta nodded. "The guardians in anguish , sadness, anger and fear weakens the seals holding Giratina. "The ruby at the top of this tower is the only thing keeping the seal of fire from breaking. I beg you to prove yourselves worthy of its song by braving the tower's trials."
Brock nodded. "We'll do it!!"
"If it means protecting Minami and the world, I'll do anything!" Wendy agreed.
Meloetta smiled. "Very well, then--I'll be waiting at the tower's highest room." With that, she disappeared in a flash of green light.
"Let's go!" Brock led the way to the door leading the second floor of the tower....
To Be Continued...
Episode 23: "The Tower of Runes! Seeking the song of fire!" (part 2)
"Here we are--the famed Tower of Runes." Brock mused as he and Wendy arrived in the first room of the tower's second floor.
"Nobody here but us Rattatas and...a harp?" Wendy was intrigued by a harp sitting by the door leading to the next room.
Brock, meanwhile, picked up a piece of paper, and examined it. "Wonder what this is...looks like a piece of sheet music..."
[Let me see!] Hinata offered. After studying the piece of sheet music in Brock's hands for a moment, she gasped. [The notes on the staff are the same notes for Brock's "fire" spellsong!]
[Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul....] Emi sang, but the door didn't budge. [It didn't work...]
[No, look...the notes here are the notes Brock usually sings for this song--low re, la, ti, do, re, ti, so, la....] Tenku explained, pointing out each note to Emi as she named them.
A thoughtful look appeared on Brock's face."Maybe If I tried playing those notes on the harp...."
"Worth a try..." Wendy mused. "Maybe this is how all those other would be explorer's died--they had no clue how to solve Meloetta's puzzles, and literally died trying to solve them."
Brock, meanwhile, hurried over to where the harp stood, and very gently plucked the strings that matched the notes on the piece of sheet music, making the door to the next room rumble open. [It worked!] Satomi squeaked.
"Onward!" Wendy led the way into the room.
"And that harp was somehow still in tune..." Brock grinned, pleased with himself for figuring out the puzzle's solution. "After Arceus knows how many years..."
"This is Meloetta's domain, so I'm sure she keeps every instrument in here tuned." Wendy replied. "The next question is how we're going to get out of here with no apparent exit besides where we came from...." Sure enough, aside from a few ragged tapestries from an era long past, and the walls filled with glowing runes, there was no obvious exit.
[Silly, just do what Link does!] Raku giggled. [Hit a switch or something with an arrow and ta da! There's a door!]
"Well, there's a huge difference from video games and the real world, Raku." Wendy explained. "Although I have a feeling some of our knowledge from Zelda and RPGs may help us here...."
"So if I have to hit something to open the door, where's the target?" Brock asked Raku.
[Yes--what is Brock supposed to hit to open the door?] Tenku asked Raku.
[Um...] Raku glanced around the room, desperately looking for something that remotely resembled a switch or a target. [Maybe one of those ancient banners has a switch!]
[Great idea!] Hinata agreed.
Tenku fluttered over to a tapestry hanging by the entryway and carefully lifted the edge with her beak. [No switches there...] She then flew over to another tapestry, where she found a dull red stone behind the ragged tapestry. [Try hitting this red stone!] she called down to Brock.
"Okay..." Brock readied an arrow, then fired. The arrow struck the stone, making a soft A note as the arrow impacted, and making part of the northern wall slide open like a door.
[What I tell ya?] Raku smiled as the group made their way through a dark passageway.
Some giggles and laughter filled the air as the group emerged into the next room. "Aw, Ralts!" Wendy gasped as an array of white humanoid Pokemon gossiped with each other and played games,all under the watchful eye of a Gardevoir.
The Gardevoir heard Wendy's cry and smiled. I commend you and your companion for finding the way into our secret place.
"We come in peace--Meloetta bade us find the Fire Ruby." Brock explained.
I know--we heard the whole song when you arrived. the Gardevoir replied. My name is Ariane--my children and I watch over the tower, and inform Meloetta on a seeker's progress.
"Can you tell us anything about what else to expect in the tower?" Wendy asked.
While I can't specifically name anything that awaits you here, I can tell you that the two of you must use your wits and battle skills as you progress. Ariane replied. As you discovered when you played the harp, not every puzzle will have an obvious solution.
"In other words, what we've used in video games is real here?" Brock wondered.
[i]Not quite--while what you have learned in the virtual worlds may help you on your quest, no part of the Tower or the other seven sanctums is an exact replica of places you may have found in those worlds.[i] Ariane cautioned before two Ralts brought her a ruby ring and a sapphire ring. if you should somehow perish in the sanctums, these rings will revive you in the sanctum's safe room--which is here, in the case of the Tower.
"Thanks!" Wendy smiled as she put on the sapphire ring.
[Oooh....] Emi admired her reflection in the small circular ruby surrounded in leaf and swirl inlays.
When you do earn the right to sing spellsongs, the ring can also be an option to channel the magic, as well. a Ralts added.
Wendy admired the deep blue stone surrounded in a silvery starburst design. "Thank you, again--we promise we will not lose or break these."
TO BE CONTINUED...
Episode 24: "The Tower of Runes! Seeking the song of fire!" (part 3)
"Let's see..." Wendy mused as she studied the hole in the middle of the floor of the next room. "I'm not the best jumper in the world..."
"I doubt basketball jumps would be any help..." Brock agreed. "Not unless we were going up or I had a running start."
[Don't be silly!] Tenku scolded. [This hole is small enough for even a Pidgey to fly across! Watch!]
With that, Tenku took off across the hole, but when Brock heard a THWACK!!!! and a weak [Ow...] as Tenku appeared to hit something solid, then slide into the dusty pit, dazed.
"Funny...how could there be something there halfway across the hole?" Wendy wondered.
Inspired, Brock readied an arrow and fired at the place Tenku had crashed. A <i>tink</i> as the arrow impacted what appeared to be a wall and fell into the dust near where Tenku was struggling to get up confirmed his suspicions. "There's an invisible wall about halfway across...."
[I know that, Captain Obvious, but would you guys hurry up and get down here?] Tenku snapped. [My head hurts!]
[We'll be right there as soon as we find a way to get to you without hitting the wall ourselves.] Hinata called back, then studied the edge of the pit for any sign of a stairway or ladder.
Wendy, meanwhile, handed Raku a Sitrus Berry. "Take this to Tenku--and while you're in the pit, let us know if there's a way to climb under the invisible wall."
[Okay!] Raku replied before taking the Berry, jumping into the pit, and hurrying to Tenku's side. [Here--this is to ease that headache.] he smiled after setting the Berry at Tenku's side.
[Thanks...] Tenku weakly replied, her head still spinning from the hard blow. [I think I see a ladder near where everyone else is standing....]
Sure enough, Raku spotted a dull brown ladder in the dust at each end of the pit. [Guys! There's a ladder at each end!]
Wendy led the way down, and after crawling through the dust, cradled Tenku in her arms. "Are you okay, Tenku?"
"She did take a hard hit..." Brock mused before holding up two fingers. "How many fingers do you see?"
[Two...] Tenku weakly replied.
Brock heaved a sigh of relief. "That's a good sign that her injury isn't serious, but we'll keep an eye on her just in case."
[I've smacked harder things before, but this is the first time I've hit an invisible wall.] Tenku stifled a weak giggle as the group climbed through the pit and into the next room.
[I'm ready to go to the next floor...] Satomi announced as the group entered what appeared to be a kind of performance hall, with a lone guitar-like instrument by a chair where a performer would sit. Sableye statues kept a watchful eye on the tranquil room.
Just then, Hinata spotted a message in the glowing runes on the wall. [A minor key will see you to the next floor...]
[That's easy!] Satomi giggled. [All Brock has to do is play two chords, and the door opens!]
Brock examined the cryptic message for a moment, causing a smile to form on his face. "It's not quite that simple, Satomi--while you're right about my needing to play two chords for the door to open, the clue also tells us exactly which two chords I need to play and open the door."
[Huh?] Raku asked as Brock settled in the performer's chair and checked to see if the guitar-like instrument was in tune.
Wendy examined the clue again. "Of course! A minor and C major!"
Sure enough, the door rumbled open as the two chords in question resonated through the room. [Two floors down, eight to go!] Hinata called as she led the group upstairs....
Episode 25: "The Tower of Runes! Seeking the song of fire!" (part 4)
"Some adventure this is..." Wendy grumbled as the group arrived on the third floor, which opened into a large cavern-like room. "I haven't even had a chance to use my weapon yet...."
Oh but you will. Ariane's voice assured the group. This floor is a dungeon in itself--if you can brave the traps within, and lay your weapons on Meloetta's Glimmering Baton, it will enchant it so you can face any foe, including Ghost Pokemon.
Just then, a roar startled Wendy, prompting her to draw her blade. "I don't want to know what that is..."
[Angry Rhydon!] Hinata gasped as a large gray reptilian Pokemon lumbered in the room, making the ground shudder with every step. But before the Rhydon could attack, Hinata rammed into it with a Quick Attack, but the attack barely made the earthen behemoth move.
[Look out!] Tenku screeched as she watched the Rhydon's foot land where Hinata had been standing minutes before, nearly throwing the entire group to the ground.
"Good thing you ran before that Rhydon stomped..." Brock heaved a nervous sigh of relief.
[I do NOT wanna become a Vulpix-cake...] Hinata replied.
[Aren't you guys forgetting something?] Mizuchi interjected, but her voice was barely audible as the room shook with the Rhydon's roars. [I'm a Water type, so I have an advantage over this big ol' windbag!]
"Well, why don't you try to weaken it?" Wendy called, nearly screaming to be heard over the Rhydon.
Mizuchi nodded, than fired a shining rainbow beam at the Rhydon, making it scream in pain at the cold. [It worked!] she reported when the Rhydon winced in pain from the weakening effects of the Aurora Beam.
"Thanks!" Wendy called before yelling at the Rhydon "You wanna piece of me, big shot? Come and get it!" She then dashed up to the Rhydon and slashed it in the leg, making the room rumble with another roar of pain.
Terra, meanwhile, flung some of the dust on the floor in the Rhydon's face. [Take that, you bully!]
"Take this, too!" Tenku heard the whistle of one of Brock's arrows flying and impacting one of the Rhydon's stubby fingers.
"Great shot!" Wendy smiled at Brock.
[My turn!] Tenku flapped up a large tornado that went flying at the Rhydon, carrying it high into the air.
"Brace yourself...." Brock cautioned, only wincing when the Rhydon landed on the floor with a huge thud some seconds later.
[Heads up, Mr. Rhydon!] Mizuchi called seconds before a large wave crashed on top of the Rhydon.
[Talk about hanging ten...] Raku mused as he, Emi, and Satomi watched the battle raging feet away from them.
[To be fair, splashing him with Surf seemed like a great idea!] Emi noted as the Rhydon tried to get up, which was made even harder by the Surf turning most of the floor into mud.
[Now to confuse this big guy...] Hinata fired a bright teal beam at the Rhydon, making it stumble about the room.
"Let's give it all we've got!" Wendy led the charge and slashed the Rhydon in the other leg.
[See the sword, be the sword...] Terra mused as she danced about the floor, making a red aura shaped like swords appear around the group.
[Thank you, Terra.] Hinata smiled. With that, she unleashed a Flamethrower at the Rhydon, making it fall in some charred mud with a SPLOTCH!
Wendy noticed the Rhydon struggling to get up. Maybe if I jump slashed it.... With that, she ran towards the Rhydon and jumped, delivering a large gash to one arm on the way down.
"Terra...try digging underneath the Rhydon." Brock suggested. Terra nodded, and wasted no time digging a hole in the floor.
[Round and round you go in this trial by fire!] Hinata screeched as she surrounded the Rhydon in a tornado of flames.
"Fire Spin--there's an idea..." Wendy mused.
Suddenly, the Rhydon eased itself into all fours position, then rapidly barreled at the group, making a large gash in the wall as everyone scrambled out of the way. "We forgot that Rhydon knows Rapid Spin...." Brock wheezed as he assessed Hinata and Terra, who had been sent flying by the force of the Rapid Spin.
[Shoot at it before it can attack again!] Satomi screeched.
Brock nodded, readied an arrow, and fired at the Rhydon's horn--the Rhydon's most sensitive location. That bought Hinata time to unleash another Flamethrower, Mizuchi to use some of the mud on the floor in a Muddy Water attack, and Tenku to dive bomb it with Aerial Ace. But it was Terra that delievered the final blow some moments later, when she surfaced beneath the Rhydon and sent it flying in a tower of earth.
[Good riddance...] Mizuchi muttered as the Rhydon landed on the ground some seconds later, swirly eyed.
Wendy just sheathed her blade. "Great fighting, everyone...."
"And you did great yourself." Brock replied as he motioned for the group to follow him. "Rory taught you very well."
TO BE CONTINUED....