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Mare Tempestatum (AaML; PG-13)


Obsessive Shipper
The Storm Brews​

The sea lapped the shore tentatively. Its waves made no sound. The wind was still. All was silent, as if the earth were waiting, watching, for something unknown. A castle loomed on the horizon, large and dark in the faint morning light. It was rectangular in shape, made almost entirely of gray stone, with four spires reaching toward heaven. A wall surrounded it on three sides, the fourth guarded by sea’s natural barrier. A cold mist hung over the castle. A woman moved through it. She walked slowly through the garden, uncaring of her surroundings. This was Catherine, queen over all of Kanto, and lady of the castle. She was tall and slender, and moved with the grace of a dancer. She wore a simple brown frock, dress unfitting for a queen, but her beauty shone through her shabby clothes. Long dark hair framed her pale face. Her expression was pensive, but she did not cry. Catherine was much too dignified for that. Besides, it would be much too unladylike. Ladies did not cry, no matter how heavy their burden. And her burden was heavy, for today was her thirty-fifth birthday, and she had not yet borne a son to her husband. Her doctors were beginning to fear that she was barren, and the her husband had no legitimate heir. King Ashton’s only child was Philip, the illegitimate son of a courtesan, the result of an affair that was a disgrace to his father’s name. Catherine remembered his birth well. Her attendants had been livid over the wrong done to her. Catherine herself, however, was surprisingly calm about the matter. She loved her husband dearly, but he was thirty years her senior, more of a father figure than a lover. Besides, it had been a short affair, borne out of passion, not love. Ashton had been deeply sorry, and Catherine had forgiven him at once. Unfortunately, the rest of Kanto was not so understanding. It was not that the people faulted their king on his misdeed. Quite the contrary, they relished in it. Commoners were always fond of a scandal. But this was an unwanted fame. It wouldn’t have been so terrible if Ashton had other children. But if Catherine could produce no heir, then it would be Philip who succeeded to the throne. An illegitimate king would be a taint on the family and an embarrassment to the kingdom. Catherine was saddened that she could not restore honor to her beloved husband. Ashton did not blame her, she knew, but she wanted to repay his kindness. He had always been so good to her.

She thought of the day she had first arrived in Kanto. How frightened she had been! Catherine had been only sixteen, a child, when she was forced to leave behind her family’s castle in Johto. The journey was long and the sea vast, and Catherine sensed that she was very far from her native land. Everything she had ever known was a world away. Her familiar home no longer existed for her. She could never return her room, or her father’s library, or the summer rose garden covered in buds. She would never see her mother, or her father, or her younger sister, Elizabeth again. Catherine had never been so afraid or so felt so alone. She had nothing to comfort her but her memories of home, and these only made her miss it more. The only friend she had was her nurse, Anna. Everyone in Kanto was foreign, even the man who would soon become her husband. Catherine worried over him more than anything else. This was the man with whom she would spend the rest of her days, whom she was supposed to love and obey above all others. But what if she couldn’t? What if he were ugly or cruel? Catherine feared a marriage of strangers. She spent her wedding day with a knot in her stomach and a lump in her throat. But her fears were soon put to rest. Ashton had been kind and understanding beyond her expectations. He did not rush her, but gave her all the time she needed to adapt to her new life. He let her be alone whenever she wanted. Catherine was sure that he would have slept on the floor of their marriage chamber had she asked, if only to make her more comfortable. Ashton showered his bride with gifts and soft words. He even changed some of his own customs to suit those of her old home. Everything was done to ensure her happiness. Ashton was so gentle and so devoted to Catherine that she began to forget her worries. She came to love him, for he had made her very happy indeed.

Catherine, in return, wanted to bring happiness to her husband, and this was why she longed to be a mother. At least, this was what she told herself. But it was not the true reason for her wish. She of course would have been glad to give a child to Ashton, but it was not so important as she pretended. Her husband’s dishonor was not the cause of her unhappiness. The heart of her desire lay deeper. Her yearning was the one that burns in all women: she wanted a love that was complete and unconditional, the kind of love only be experienced by a mother for her child. When Philip was born, Catherine had watched his mother with sad eyes. She saw herself caring for a little one of her own: feeding him, cleaning him, singing him to sleep. Catherine hoped that it would someday become more than a dream. But with each passing year, her hopes faded a little more. All that was left of them was grief. Catherine would never truly be happy if she remained childless. Without a knowing that love, she would always feel empty. Nothing else could complete her.

Catherine was reflecting on these things when she heard a small cry. It was a soft cry, a whimper. She moved toward the sound, pushing away dry stalks and crunching over brittle plants as she walked. The sound was growing louder as she neared its source; Catherine followed it until she arrived at the azalea bushes. Oddly, they were flowering, despite the cold winter air. She carefully pulled back their branches, and found a wonderful sight. There, crouching to the earth, was a small girl of about a year. She had red, flame colored, and eyes as blue as the sea. She was quite lovely, despite her dirty face and ragged clothing. Catherine thought that she had never seen such an enchanting child.

“Hello there,” she cooed, extending her hand to the girl, “what’s your name?”
The frightened child backed away from Catherine’s extended hand and curled herself into a ball.
Catherine drew back.
“It’s all right. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Slowly, the child looked up. She was afraid, but her curiosity was starting to take hold.
“It’s all right.” Catherine repeated. “You can come out.”
The girl rose and took a hesitant step, and then another, until finally she met Catherine in the open garden air. Catherine gently patted her head.
“You see? Nothing to fear.” She said quietly. “But where did you come from? Is your mother nearby?”
Then Catherine scooped the girl into her arms and strode toward the edge of the garden.
“Hello?” She called. “Is anyone there?”

But there was no answer. Catherine could not imagine how a small child could have gotten to such a remote place on her own. The girl must have been an orphan. Catherine could not leave her to fend for herself. She knew immediately that she must raise this child. Strangely, she did not find it a burden, but welcomed the idea. She felt sure that the gods had answered her prayers. All of a sudden, Catherine’s pain was eased. This girl was the answer to her troubles. This was the child for whom she had longed. A gift from the sea. She would not help Ashton, but that mattered little to Catherine now. She had found her own joy at last. It hadn’t come in the way she had imagined, but she would love this girl as her own..

Carrying the girl, she turned and walked inside the castle door, her steps hasty with resolve. She walked down the stone hallway until she came to the kitchen. It was cluttered, with pots and pans strewn all over the counters, but it was full of wonderful fragrances and warmth. Several cooks hurried around the room as they prepared the afternoon meal. Catherine strode toward a rather large woman who was busy cutting vegetables.

“Anna!” She called.
The woman turned around and quickly met Catherine.
“Lady Catherine, where have you been?” Anna fretted.
“I was only out for a stroll in the garden.”
“You should have told me, I could have escorted you!”
“I’m not a child anymore, Anna.” Catherine laughed. “I am able to take care of myself.”
“But look at what you’re wearing, you’ll catch your death of a cold going out dressed like that.”
Catherine smiled affectionately at her old nurse. Anna had raised her since infancy. Catherine was grown now, and Anna a rotund old woman, but she held fast to her motherly tendencies.
“I’ll be more careful next time.” Catherine conceded.
“And where did you get that misbegotten child?”
“I found her in the garden.” Catherine said, stroking the girl’s hair. “She must have been abandoned. I saw no one else.”
“But what do you plan to do with her, my lady?”
“I am going to keep her here and raise her as my own.”
“Oh, his majesty will never allow it!” Exclaimed Anna.
Catherine simply smiled. She knew her husband all too well. She would have her way. The matter was already decided.
“We will see about that.” She said slyly. “I am going to seek an audience with the king. I will need to dress properly.”

Anna shook her head as she led the way down the hall and up the stairs to Catherine’s room. Once there, she helped her lady change out of her simple frock and into the dress she had chosen. It was Catherine’s favorite, and she knew it would please her husband. It was hunter green and swept gracefully to the floor. A low neckline showed off her bust, and long sleeves revealed her shoulders. Catherine stood in front of her large wall mirror and inspected herself. She then sat at her dresser, oak and carved with intricate designs, and pulled a gold necklace set with large emeralds from its drawer. She put it on and, standing, looked into the dresser mirror.

“There, how do I look?” Asked Catherine.

“You look splendid, my lady.”

Catherine smiled with satisfaction as she gazed into her reflection in the mirror one last time. Then she turned to the child. She was dirty and scrawny, and certainly not fit to be presented before a king. Catherine lifted her from her seat on the canopy bed and set her on the dresser stool.

“Anna, bring me some water and a cloth, please.” Requested Catherine.

Anna left the room for a moment and returned with a porcelain basin filled with water and a wet rag, and helped Catherine bathe the girl’s dirty face. The child protested and squirmed, but she could not escape Catherine’s grasp. When the bath was through, Catherine brushed the girl’s fine but bedraggled red hair. This was even worse than the bath, and the girl cried out in pain, but Catherine ignored her and finished the task. The child was still scrawny, and her clothes were in tatters, but she looked at least a little more presentable than she had when she arrived.

“I think that’s the best we can do.” Sighed Anna.

“Then we are ready.” Catherine announced. “Wish me luck.”


Catherine threw open the huge doors of the throne room. It was a grand sight; no matter how many times she entered, it always impressed her. The room was large and open. It stretched for yards and yards in all directions. The white marble floor was spotless, and covered down the middle with a long, narrow red carpet. The ceiling arched high above, supported by Romanesque columns lining the walls, and painted with scenes of gods and goddesses. There were beautiful windows that almost met the ceiling standing beside the columns, glittering in the sunlight. They looked over the sea, now shining in the sun. At the far end of the room, seated in his throne, was the King, Ashton Reginald Kanto VI. He was an imposing figure, and strongly built. He had chestnut brown hair and a thin beard, and brown eyes. He wore robes of purple, the color of royalty, and a crown of pure gold. Catherine waited for him to nod his approval and then stepped forward with determination.

“What brings you here, my dear queen?” The king asked.
His booming voice commanded authority and fear, but Catherine was not intimidated at all.
“I have a request to make of you, my king.”
“What is it, my dear?” His voice softened.
“This morning while I was in the garden, I found this girl. She is an orphan, and I wish to raise her here.”
King Ashton gazed at the child thoughtfully, as if noticing her for the first time. She seemed to somehow understand the gravity of the situation, sat passively with her fist in her mouth. The only sound in the court was the waves pounding against the shore outside. After a long moment, the king spoke.
“But look, she is so thin, and so dirty, she is obviously a peasant. If you want to save her, give her to one of the servants to look after, but she does not belong with you, who are of noble blood.”
Catherine was infuriated by her husband’s callousness, but she could not show her anger here. She spoke slowly and courteously.
“What difference does it make? I am not suggesting that she someday take the throne. She is small, and if I raise her, she will learn to behave like nobility. It will not matter whence she came.”
“But it is not your duty to raise the child of a peasant. You should not have to trouble yourself.”
“Duty has nothing to do with it, I want to raise her. I have no child of my own. Would you deny me the chance to have this girl, as well?”
“But, my queen . . . ”

King Ashton looked at the thin child Catherine held tight in her arms. She looked so out of place in the magnificent palace, but perhaps, with time, she would grow to become a lovely young lady. Then the king looked into Catherine’s eyes, and in them he saw the passion he loved so much. He had known from the beginning that he couldn’t win. His advisors often warned him against indulging Catherine, but he loved her so much. He couldn’t deny her anything her heart truly desired.
“If it is what you truly want,” King Ashton said, “then I will let you keep the child.” And then, to preserve his authority, “But be sure that she does not become a nuisance.”
Catherine smiled. he had won, as she had known she would. At last, she was a mother.

Catherine named the girl Misty, for the mist whence she had come. Now that she was being properly cared for, Misty lost her scrawny appearance and grew into a strong, healthy child. Catherine spent every day taking care of her and playing with her. She fed and cleaned her, and had wonderful clothes of satins and silks tailored for her. Misty looked less like a pauper and more like a princess every day. She loved her adopted mother and forgot that her life had ever been any different. But Catherine could not forget. It was on the day she found Misty that Catherine first saw it. When she was changing Misty out of her rags and into a new dress, she noticed a leather thong encircling the child’s neck and hanging beneath her top. Catherine uncovered it, and saw hanging from it a brilliant stone, translucent, and almost seeming to glow from within. It swirled with all the colors of the sea: dark blue and pale green and the white of the foam. She knew that it must have been given to Misty by her mother- her real mother. It was such a small thing, but it separated Misty from Catherine, a constant reminder of her foreign origin. Catherine was tempted to snatch the necklace away, but she couldn’t bring herself to steal Misty’s one connection to her past. Even if she had taken the pendant from the girl, she couldn’t sever Misty’s ties to her mother. Catherine felt distant from the girl, for no matter how well she played her part, she would never be Misty’s true mother. Catherine had thought that it would not matter. She had been sure that she would love Misty as her own. And she did. But the more she loved her daughter, the more painful it was. She was an outsider, a stranger who had no ties to Misty except that she had been the one to find her. It was a lonely, sad feeling. Catherine tried to conceal these emotions from Misty, but there were times when they got the better of her. Sometimes she would be playing with Misty, and everything would seem right. Misty would smile at her so happily, and Catherine could almost forget that she wasn’t her real mother. Then that accursed thing would slip from under the girl’s clothes and shatter the illusion. It seemed to mock her. Misty sensed her mother’s withdrawal, but she was too young to understand its reasons. It confused and hurt her when Catherine turned away, and she would cry. Catherine hated to cause the little girl pain, and so she learned to ignore her emotions. The tension between her and her child all but disappeared, and Misty was happy. But Catherine was still haunted by doubt. So it went for many months.

Things might have continued this way forever if not for what happened next. It started subtly. Catherine became sick to her stomach often, sometimes even vomiting. At first, she thought it a passing illness, but the nausea persisted. Catherine felt seasick as she had on the rocking ship that had brought her to Kanto. Still, she ignored it. But then something happened, or rather, did not happen, that she could not ignore. Now there could be no doubt.


Catherine strolled down the beach holding Misty by the hand. The sun was sinking under a calm sea. Gentle waves splashed her feet with foam as they caressed the shore, then carried her footprints back out to the depths. She walked into the wind, her disheveled hair streaming behind her. Gulls circled above or dived into the sea to catch their supper. The scene was perfect, but Catherine didn’t notice it. She had more important things to think about. A soft smile touched her lips, for the most wonderful thing in the world had happened- she had become with child. As soon as it was certain, a midwife was called, and she determined that Catherine would bear a son. Finally, she would give an heir to her husband. Never again would she see the disappointment in his eyes when, once again, she had failed to conceive. That was only a memory, now Catherine knew only joy. And pleasing her king wasn’t even foremost in her mind. More than that, Catherine was overjoyed that she was going to have a child of her own flesh and blood. She didn’t love Misty any less. Now that she was going to bear a child of her own, she found that her foster daughter’s past no longer concerned her. Catherine was at last able to love Misty wholeheartedly, without any thought to her lineage. She would not love this new child any more or any less. As the child inside her grew, so did Catherine’s anticipation. She became more excited every day, and shared her excitement with Misty. She spoke of the new baby to her daughter often, and let her feel the now restless child in her belly. Misty didn’t understand what was happening, but she loved seeing her mother so jubilant. It was a happy time for everyone in the kingdom of Kanto. The people held their breaths as the time drew near for their new prince to be born.

And after much anxious waiting, that day came. Catherine laid in her silk sheets, attended by those dearest to her: Anna, King Ashton, and even Misty was allowed to stay. The midwife immediately set about mixing various concoctions to help ease the birth, and administered them to Catherine.

“Not much longer now.” She said, inspecting the mother once more.

There was an air of excitement and joy in the room, but Misty, seeing her mother in such pain, was afraid. She hid behind Anna, clinging to her skirts. Finally, when Catherine was almost exhausted from pushing and straining, she delivered her baby son. Misty stared at the child with large eyes. He was such an ugly, red little thing, and his crying was so irritating. Yet when her mother took him in her arms, she looked at him as if he were the most beautiful child in the world. How could she love him after he had caused her so much anguish? Misty wondered this as she watched Catherine smile at the boy. Soon however, she was ushered out of the room and left in Anna’s care, leaving only King Ashton with his wife. Misty would never see her mother again.

The fever came on fast, and Catherine, already weakened from her labor, was unable to endure it. She was gone within only a few days; the once joyous event had turned to tragedy. Catherine had been such a caring and vibrant person, loved by all who knew her. She had brought her loved ones so much joy, now equaled by heartache. King Ashton suffered worst of all. He was devastated at losing his beloved Catherine, and became cold and withdrawn in his pain. He could not bear to even look at the son who had caused her death. Anna grieved, but in silence. She had no time for tears. She poured all of her emotion into caring for the new child, trying to forget her sorrow. And Misty, though she did not understand death, wondered where her mother had gone and missed her terribly. A dark cloud hung over the castle, and all its inhabitants fell into depression.

Outside, the sea hurled huge, dark waves against the shore. The sky turned an ominous gray and blew fierce winds from the north. This storm tossed ships at sea about like toys, dragging many a sailor to doom beneath the waves. It roared on for many days and nights. When at last it lifted, the sea had risen all the way to the castle grounds. Although the destruction was great, everyone sighed in relief and thanked the gods that it was over. However, they rejoiced too soon, for it was only a reprieve. The storm was the first of many that would batter the coast in the years to come.
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Beautifully written. Your language is so smooth, it almost flows with a will of its own, and I can't wait to see what becomes of the plot. May I be updated by PM?

Pikachu Fan Number Nine

Don't Mess wit Texas
Good job on this story, can I have a PM update too?


Beginning Trainer
Koodos!! That was great! Remineded me of... What was that book... Oh yes Heir Apparent, simmilar time peroid and simmalar expert writing skills... Cant spell sorry!
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Obsessive Shipper
Chapter 1
Child of the Mists​

After Catherine’s death, the seas became rough and wild, and lives were thrown into disorder. Misty came to occupy a peculiar place in the society of the castle. She was neither princess nor servant, and none were quite sure how she should be treated. Some were surprised that she was allowed to stay at all, but King Ashton didn’t expel her. So Misty remained, given into Anna’s care to be raised alongside the prince, Ashton. This was the beginning of many troubles. Anna, a kind woman, loved both children, but she doted on the young prince. Try as she might, she couldn’t hide her preference. Sometimes Misty wanted to be held, but Anna was too busy feeding Ash to notice her, and sometimes Misty’s cries went ignored while Anna lulled Ash to sleep. This left Misty confused and angry. She had no concept of bloodlines or wealth; to her, she and Ash seemed no different. Why should he receive the better treatment? Bitter jealously was planted in her heart. In her youth, Misty could not contain the violent emotion, and she would often strike Ash when Anna had turned away. But she was also to young to consider the consequence, and when Anna heard Ash’s cries, Misty would be punished with a stinging slap to the face. She would be forced into obedience, and there would be peace. For a time. But even as she rubbed her sore cheek, Misty would seethe with anger at Ash for exposing her deed, and her desire for revenge would flare. Soon the struggle would begin anew. It made miserable all whom it trapped: Misty, caught inside a circle of jealousy and anger; Ash, weary of the abuse; and Anna, frustrated by the problem which she could clearly see but felt powerless to end. The spiral was of their own making, yet no one would move to end it. As tide followed tide in and out an endless ring, so the vicious cycle turned as the years rolled after.

Misty grew, but time changed little. One day, however, stood apart in Misty’s mind. It was her seventh birthday. Things had started off cheerfully enough. Anna had baked a chocolate cake, Misty’s favorite, and for once, Misty was the center of attention. She could not have imagined a more perfect day. But after the festivities ended, Anna had taken her aside and told her an awful story. It was of an orphan and the queen who adopted her, and the tragedy that befell them. Worst of all, it was true. Misty was shocked. As Anna spoke, she felt the blood rush from her head and the floor fall from beneath her. Her body tingled. In a panic, she had fled the castle and run through the garden and down the sloping landscape, and had at last thrown herself onto a sandy dune, sobbing. This was her place, the place she always visited when she was sad or needed to think. But then, she had not been able to think at all. Her mind was numb with shock. The reeds had blown in a cold breeze that day. Ominous thunderclouds filled the horizon. Thunder rumbled far away and blended with the sound of the choppy waves breaking on the shore. It had taken many days for the truth to become real. But eventually shock gave way to grief, and grief to acceptance, and Misty began to better understand her life. She now knew the reason that she and Ash were treated so differently. He was a prince, and she an orphan with no family or history or riches. She couldn’t blame him for her situation. Nor for his mother’s death, though she now knew the secret. Fortune and circumstance had determined their fates, nothing more. But this knowledge did nothing to change Misty’s feelings toward Ash. She now realized that he wasn’t the cause of her adversity, but she had found new reasons to dislike him. Ash had grown into a haughty, proud child, and Misty hated the way he boasted and whined. He trusted all the flattery that his position gained him and would repeat it to anyone who would listen. Misty couldn’t stand this arrogance. She had grown too old to hit Ash, but she found new weapons in words and sharp wit. He was always quick to take the bait, and they were forever arguing back and forth. Rare was the occasion when they were not at odds. They might tolerate each other as playmates if boredom became unbearable, but then with a fragile, awkward harmony. Misty considered Ash no friend of hers.

She didn’t have any friends for that matter. Ash was the only other child she knew. Still, she did not consider herself lonely. Misty spent her days fantasizing about a better life, and these fantasies were more than enough company. Nothing that real life had to offer could compare. How could it? Limited reality could never rival these grand fantasies. In her dreams, Misty had everything she had ever desired: fine clothes and glittering jewelry, dazzling parties and delicious food; things at once familiar and foreign. Her modest room with its stone walls and sparse furnishings became a suite befitting a princess. She danced on the beach to the song of gulls, a lady at a fancy ball. The life that she could only watch others live was hers. Misty reveled in these false luxuries. But, wonderful as they were, they were only silly fancies, a child’s amusement. There was a dream much dearer to her heart. More than anything else, Misty wished for a loving mother. A mother who was kind and never scolded her, who gave her the best of everything. A mother who was warm and beautiful, with a gentle voice. A mother who was always there whenever Misty needed her. And though she was merely a shadow, her love was a refuge in trying times, a shelter from the hardship that surrounded Misty. She found great joy in the illusion. She didn’t think there could be anything wrong with such a beautiful dream.

But not everyone agreed, as she soon found out. One day, when Misty sat on her bed, lost in a daydream, her thoughts were interrupted by a heavy sigh.

“What are you thinking about?”

She turned to find Anna staring at her, a concerned look on her face.

“Nothing.” She said.

“Nothing? Come now, you must be thinking about something.”

Misty shook her head. She couldn’t tell Anna such private things.

“It’s a beautiful day. Why don’t you go outside and play in the garden?”

“No, I don’t want to.”

“Well, what would you like to do?”

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

“Misty, I must say I’m worried about you. How can you just sit there doing nothing? It’s not natural for a girl your age to be so withdrawn. You should be outside playing.”

Anna’s persistence was quickly becoming annoying.

“But this is what I want to do.”

“Nonsense! It’s not healthy. You can’t be happy like that. We must do something to bring you out.”


“-I know! Ash is about to begin schooling, why don’t you accompany him? It will do you good to be with the other children, and you’ll enjoy the work.”

Misty’s temper was ignited.

“I told you, I don’t want to!”

“Don’t show such disrespect to your elders!” Anna chastised. “You will do as I say! Now, I shall have to gain permission from King Ashton, but he usually leaves decisions concerning you children to me, so it shouldn’t be a problem . . .”

Misty glared at Anna as she walked away, still talking to herself. Who was she to judge whether she was happy? But there was nothing she could do. Anna gained permission from the king, and that was that.


A cold sea churned up waves of green. Today was Misty’s first day of school. She tied up her hair and wore her nicest dress of pale blue linen. But she didn’t care about her appearance today. Misty felt nervous, even a bit sick. She didn’t want to attend school. Anna was so excited for her, but Misty knew she wouldn’t like it. She would have no time for daydreams, and worse, would spend every day with Ash. There could be nothing good about it. But she was powerless to fight Anna’s authority. So begrudgingly, Misty walked down the cold stone hallway, tailing Anna and Ash at a distance.

“Misty!” Anna called. “What’s the matter? Pick up your feet!”

Misty hurried to obey Anna, and caught up to her and Ash just as they turned a corner. She found herself in a small room, no larger than a closet. It was bare as well, furnished with only a wooden table and four chairs. Here there sat a man. He had a thick white beard that covered his chin and was gray and wrinkled with age, but his blue eyes sparkled with youth. He looked up from his book as his new pupils entered and rose to greet them.

“Hello,” he said quietly, “my name is Mordecai, and I am your new tutor.”

“My name’s Ash!” Ash called excitedly.

Misty stepped forward a little, not wanting to be scolded again.

“And I’m Misty.”

“I am very pleased to meet you. Tell me, how old are the two of you?”

“I’m five!” Yelled Ash, waving four fingers in front of his face.

Misty, not wanting to be outdone, interrupted.

“That’s nothing, I’m already seven!”

Mordecai laughed a good-natured laugh at the two.

“I’m afraid I’ve got you both beat.” He said. “I’m sixty-two.”

Misty giggled. At least her tutor was kind. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad as she had thought.

“Well, I suppose I’d better be off now.” Anna sighed. “Be good. And have fun.”

Ash and Misty nodded to her as she left, but their attention was still focused on Mordecai as they wondered what plans he had for the day.

Ash, being five and curious, immediately set about exploring the tiny room. He grabbed a tablet from the table.

“What’s this?” He asked.

Mordecai gently took it from him and set it back in its place.

“This is what you’ll be using to practice your writing, but we can’t get started just yet. I am waiting for my last student to arrive.”

“I’m sorry I’m late. Breakfast was served late, and . . .”

Mordecai turned.

“Ah, Philip, you’re here. Just in time.”

He gestured toward Ash and Misty.

“I would like you to meet Ash and Misty. They will be joining our lessons starting today. Children, this is Philip. I have been tutoring him for several years already.”

Misty studied the scowling boy standing before her. He stood a head taller than she, and was one or two years older. His clothes of fine blue silk touted his noble birth. Something about him seemed vaguely familiar, though Misty knew that she had never met him. She had seen him once or twice before, in the castle, but only from a distance. She hadn’t noticed anything remarkable about him those times. And Philip did not acknowledge Misty at all. He gave her not so much as a glance, but glowered at Ash. His gaze was full of contemp. He looked at Ash as though he were some dirty animal. Misty was puzzled. She wasn’t overly fond of Ash herself, but he wasn’t ugly or disfigured. And he had not yet spoken a single word. Why should Philip give him such a hateful look? But Ash was oblivious to Philip’s hostility. Everyone was a friend to him, he knew no enemies.

“Hello,” he was saying as he stepped nearer to Philip, “I’m . . .”

But Philip simply brushed past him as though he had not heard him at all. Ash drew back with a confused expression, and watched Philip take his seat. He was about to speak again when Mordecai ordered the children be seated, dissolving the awkward situation.

Mordecai then lifted a book from the table and handed it to Philip.

“Read the next twenty lines in book three.” He told him.

Now he turned to Ash and Misty, giving them each a wax tablet and a stylus.

“For our first lesson,” he said “we are going to begin learning to write.”

Ash shifted his attention to Mordecai, and, for now at least, the confrontation was forgotten.

Mordecai picked up his own tablet and scratched a few marks into it.

Then, showing the writing to Ash and Misty, he said “This is the letter ‘A’. It makes a sound like ‘ah’, or ‘ay’ or ‘a’. Your name begins with ‘A’, Ash.”

Ash smiled at the recognition, and Misty rolled her eyes.

“Now, I want both of you to write your own ‘A’s.”

Misty didn’t quite understand how lines on a tablet could make sound, but she did as she was told and carefully scratched them out on her tablet. She smiled at her work; it was a pretty letter, almost as good as Mordecai’s.

“I’m done first!” Ash cried suddenly, making her jump.

“Let me see.” Mordecai said.

He looked at the scrawling on Ash’s tablet and suppressed a laugh.

“That’s a good start, but try to be more careful. It’s not a race. How are you doing, Misty?”
Misty, frowning, reluctantly held up her work. If Ash’s was poor, then surely hers would garner no praise.
“Excellent. Ash, look how straight Misty draws her lines. You would do well to imitate her style.”

Misty froze. She didn’t see Ash stick his tongue out at her, nor did she hear Philip’s disgusted sigh. Such unexpected praise had stunned her. It was nothing more than a passing comment to Mordecai, but Misty didn’t think she had ever heard such beautiful words. No one had ever, ever compared her favorably to Ash. He seemed to do nothing wrong. But now, at last, she had found something that didn’t depend on status or wealth. Finally, here was a chance to prove her worth. Misty knew that she could exceed Ash in this if she only tried. She promised herself that she would not fail.


So every day Misty went to school, and every night, she studied her lessons. In the beginning, it was tedious. Nothing but simple letters and numbers, easy to understand once she had grasped the basics. But soon Mordecai moved on to other subjects, history and mythology. She savored every story of brave generals and jealous gods, enthralled by their adventures. There was the earth goddess, Maia, mother of the human race and nourisher of all living things, and her brother Pelagia who ruled over the sea. Then there was Kantius, for whom Kanto was named, the king who had led his people such a great distance to found his beautiful country. These noble people were unlike anyone Misty had met in her own life. They were so real, so exciting, and Misty admired their beauty and passion.

School was no longer a chore, and Misty excelled in everything she was taught. Mordecai was delighted to see such enthusiasm in his young student, and encouraged her every effort. He often let her stay after the day’s lesson to hear more tales, and loaned her picture books of her favorite legends. He always had a word of commendation for her hard work. It was refreshing for Mordecai to teach a student who was so interested in his lessons. Philip worked hard, but he was a vain child who seemed to study only to feed his own egotism. And Ash was steadily falling behind. Unlike Misty, he gave no care for his work and paid almost no attention in class. Misty took great satisfaction in surpassing him. She made it a point to gloat whenever she could, which was quite often. This caused more arguments between them, which only added fuel to Misty’s fire.

On this particular day, they were fighting over yet another of Ash’s wrong answers. Misty, benevolent as she was, had not hesitated to correct him. “Why does Misty always do better than me?” Ash was whimpering. “Because I’m smarter than you!” “Are not! Anna says that I’m gonna be king someday, so-”

“That doesn’t mean anything! You’re only-”
“Enough!” Mordecai thundered.

Ash and Misty immediately snapped to attention. “Ash, Misty performs better than you because she studies and takes interest in her work. You would do just as well as she if you would only take your lessons more seriously.”

“And you,” he said, silencing Misty’s s******ing, “you could stand to be a little more humble. Remember, ‘Pride goeth before a fall.’”
“But I-”
“No buts. It’s going to get you into trouble someday if you’re not careful.”

Misty cringed as Ash had his turn to laugh. Even Philip, always absorbed in his studies, looked up to smirk.

“This isn’t fair!” She thought. “Ash is the prideful one, not me! I wouldn’t have to show off if he would quit bragging all the time!”

She held her tongue for fear of rebuke, but inside, her spirit raged like the ocean of an approaching hurricane. Misty was accustomed to such slights, but this was different. She had been humiliated, here, the one place where she had respect, betrayed by her trusted mentor. Worse, any defense she might give would only bring more reprimands. It wasn’t the least bit fair. But Misty determined that she would redeem herself. She would find a way. She would prove her worth to Mordecai, Ash, and anyone else who dared question her. She needed only to wait until the opportunity presented itself. And she did not have to wait long. Soon after, Mordecai announced that King Ashton would be visiting to check on the children’s progress later that month. Misty recognized her chance at once. She eagerly anticipated the king’s visit. She studied as she had never studied before and crammed every detail she could into her small head. It was hard, but she kept her eyes on the goal. The prize would be worth the difficult work. At last, the awaited day came. Misty sat up in her seat, confident that she would give a grand performance for the king. She watched him as she waited. He stood in the back of the room and carried himself with somber dignity. Even if he had been wearing rags, anyone would have recognized him as one of royal blood. Suddenly, he noticed Misty’s gaze and turned her eyes toward her. But Misty would not be intimidated. She met the king’s gaze strait on. Today, even he would wonder at her knowledge.

Now Mordecai was beginning, so Misty put her thoughts away for the time being.

“Hello children, I hope you have prepared well.” He addressed them.

“Today we will show his majesty King Ashton what we have learnt so far. Your highness, I am sure you will be most pleased by your sons’ progress. Let’s begin, shall we? Ashton gets the first question. Ashton, what is the name of the king of the gods?”

“Easy,” Misty thought, but Ash stumbled a bit.

“ . . . Is it . . . Caelus?”

“Correct. Well done. Now Philip. Philip, what is the name of the hero who defeated Johto’s army at the battle of Viridian?”

“Kantius III, of course.”

Misty’s turn was next. This was the moment for which she had prepared. She patiently awaited her question.

“Ash, another question for you.”


Misty suddenly realized that she had been skipped. Surely it was only a mistake.


“What is three plus six?”

“Um . . .”

Misty was incensed. After she had worked so intently, would she now be denied her moment of glory? Her anger grew as she watched Ash clumsily counting his fingers. Finally, she could bide it no longer. Her chair clattered to the floor as she leapt from it.

“Nine, you idiot! The answer’s nine! Don’t you know anything?!”


And then she was sprawled on the floor, and her head was throbbing and spinning, and a thundering voice was yelling “You insolent little wench! Who do you think you are to speak to my son like that?!”

And a smaller voice was crying “Stop! Don’t hit her!”

And then someone was at her side and helping her to her feet, and when the king next raised his hand to strike Misty, the blow fell upon his own son instead.

All was silent.

Ash stood glaring at his bewildered father while Misty looked on in a daze. No one dared speak.

After what seemed an interminable moment, King Ashton broke the oppressive silence.

“Ashton, why do you defend that wretch of a child when she has insulted you so?”

“She’s not a wrench! She’s my friend!” There was sharp defiance in his voice.

King Ashton gazed upon his child’s fierce countenance and was visibly shaken. Those eyes were strikingly familiar. He spoke again, this time not to Ash but to Misty.

“Heed me, girl. I have no fondness of you. You are here only because my dear Catherine once loved you. But check yourself, or I promise you, your life will become most difficult.”

With these words, he turned and departed from the room, leaving Mordecai to tend the injured children.

Misty sank to the floor.

“Misty, are you all right?!” Ash demanded, grabbing her wrist and her attention.

“I’m fine!” She replied curtly, jerking her wrist from his grasp. “Leave me alone!”

Her heart was a turbulence of emotions. She was mortified, angry, dispirited- but there was another feeling. What was it? Joy, Misty decided- joy borne of kindness. And confusion. Ash had thrown her totally off guard. He had always been her opponent, her rival. Never would she have imagined that he would protect her. What was she to think of him now? She hadn’t a clue of how to react. Grief and happiness mixed, and the whirl of conflicting emotions flooded her heart. She felt a tremendous energy coursing through her body, yet she was overwhelmed. Misty was loathe to show weakness, but she couldn’t hold back her tears no longer. She turned her face away in shame.

“Idiot. You should’ve known better.” Philip mocked.

But no one gave any attention to him now.

“Why did he hit her?!” Ash exclaimed, now turning his attention to Mordecai.

Mordecai sighed heavily.

“Because she insulted you, his son, and so insulted him as well. As king, he won’t tolerate rebellion from those weaker than himself. ”

“But that’s not fair!”

“You’re right, it isn’t, but that is how things are.” He paused.

“Your father never used to be so cruel. When your mother was alive, he was very kind. I remember it well. But after Catherine died, he became bitter and intolerant. He has suffered very much . . . but that is no excuse for his behavior.”

Mordecai spoke to Misty with admonishing, but gentle words.

“I am sorry if I was harsh with you earlier, Misty,” he said, “but understand, I only meant to protect you. I was afraid that something like this might happen. You are a good student, but you are also prideful. Boasting will get you nowhere.”

“But what else can I do?” Misty burst in desperation. “No one ever notices me!”

Mordecai looked down at her sympathetically and patted her head.

“Work hard and be modest. You can find a place here. It will never be easy for you, but you have people who love you. You can find happiness in this life.”

But Misty was incredulous, and she turned her anger on her beloved teacher.

“What do you know about it?!”

Mordecai, however, was unfazed by her bitter response.

“More than you might think.” He answered.

Anna soon arrived to collect the children, and after much fuss and fabrication had been made over their bruises, they left school for the day and followed her back down the hall.

“Hurry, hurry!” Anna called back to the dawdling little ones. “I’m late with my chores, and I don’t want to fall further behind!”

Ash and Misty ignored her command, but Anna was already far ahead of them, too distracted by thoughts of delayed work to notice. They walked slowly together, in silence, until at last Ash spoke.



Misty stopped and turned toward Ash, waiting for him to speak, but he said nothing,only stared at his feet uncertainly.

“Well, what is it?” She asked impatiently.

Ash raised his eyes and faced her.

“I’m sorry. He hit you because of me.”

For the second time today, Misty was surprised by Ash’s words.

All she could think to say was “It wasn’t your fault.”

“I know, but . . . Misty?”


“Do you . . . hate me?”

Misty searched his expression for any hint of insincerity, but she found none. It puzzled her- why was he asking such questions? She had never known him to care for her before.

But Misty took pity on him, so she smiled and answered “No.”

And, much to her own amazement, it was true.

Ever after, Misty would remember this day as bitter-sweet. She had been humiliated, but through it she had realized how much she was loved. Every charitable act, things she had taken for granted before, called to mind Mordecai’s words, and it was finally obvious to Misty. Though they were few, those close to her cared about her very much: Mordecai, Anna, and least expected of all, Ash. Despite their bickering, he had defended her without hesitation. Misty’s heart softened toward him, and gradually, little by little, a friendship formed between them. They pridefully feigned antipathy toward each other, as if nothing had happened, but some intangible quality had changed. Though they still argued, there was no more cruelty in it. Neither would admit it, but an unusual friendship had blossomed between them. After that day, the tempests that had tormented the people of Kanto began to subside. There was an occasional storm, and the ocean was still rough, but its violent anger seemed quelled for now. Peacefully turning tides marked the days as the years passed.
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Cap D. Blue

Wow. Ash and Misty fighting, King Aston attacking Misty, and more. Stuff only a writer like you could pull off.

I can say that this is one of the best fics that I've read. :D Keep at it! I shall wait as long as possible for the next installment. ^^


Well-Known Member
nice. Theres finally a good pokeshipping fic here but i like that language even more. Were does Mordecai come from, its so familiar. and can i be on the PM list? The writing is very poetic and beautifull in a way.


Obsessive Shipper
Dr. Melee: Oh, I'm so glad you reviewed! I dunno, I was afraid it'd be too predictable . . . but I'm glad you thought it wasn't. Thanks, that's a huge compliment, I know you've read a lot of them.

qwerqwer: It's good to have a new reader! I'm glad you liked it. Oh, come now, there are other good ones here. But it has been a little slow lately. I'm really glad that you liked the language, I worked really hard on it. The first place I heard the name Mordecai is the Biblical story of Ester, he was her uncle. But I've heard it in books and games and stuff too. Sure, no problem.

Nathan Madien

Me on a Good Day
I thought what you have written so far is very detailed and is quite enjoyable. :)

The only thing I would recommend is restructing your paragraphs a bit to achieve a better flow. There were times when you could've condensed the length of the story down by fitting lines into a paragraph form, for example.
As you have asked, I read your story. Now, for my comment on it: :)

Putting Ash and Misty into Medievil times is a nice idea. The plot you have put in is very nice. I have only known few to actually do something like this.

You've kept true to Pokeshipping with the bickering and the pure love/hate that all Pokeshippers love. :D

Of course, knowing royality laws, it's going to be difficult for Misty to end up with Ash. I know it to be a law that royality can marry ONLY royality. Which is a law I HIGHLY frown upon. :(

I'm just loving this!

Keep up the good work. :)

Make sure to PM me when the next chapter is up. ^_^

Well, see ya later. ^_^


Obsessive Shipper
Nathan Madien: Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I worked very hard on the detail. The only thing I'm worried that I'm not descibing enough is the castle . . . oh well, I'll do something about that later. Hm, I'm not quite sure what you mean. I did double space between my paragraphs, but maybe it's not noticible enough. I don't think doing TAB to begin a new paragraph works on these forums. But wouldn't making the spaces between paragraphs bigger make it longer rather than shorter? Anyway, thanks again for reviewing!

pokeplayer984:Thank you, I really appreciate it! I'm glad you like the medieval setting. I was a bit worried that it would be cliched, but I guess not. And I'm glad you thought I was good on the bickering. I was worried it was too little and too forced. Right. And I plan to use that later on. I'm so glad you like it! Thanks, I'll try my best. Fine, I will. Thanks again!


Kamen Rider IXA
Dang....the story is awesome so far.....its wonderul to see Ash and Misty in an Midevial atmosphere....very sweet! ^_^ And the storys pretty nice so far....i'd love to see more of it soon! ^_^

Nathan Madien

Me on a Good Day
Hakajin said:
Nathan Madien: Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I worked very hard on the detail. The only thing I'm worried that I'm not descibing enough is the castle . . . oh well, I'll do something about that later. Hm, I'm not quite sure what you mean. I did double space between my paragraphs, but maybe it's not noticible enough. I don't think doing TAB to begin a new paragraph works on these forums. But wouldn't making the spaces between paragraphs bigger make it longer rather than shorter? Anyway, thanks again for reviewing!

Don't worry about it, then. Just write as you see fit. It's just that I always have my paragraphs set up with seven-to-nine sentences each followed by a space. As long as you do work as describing the castle a bit more, you'll have a fine piece of work. :) If you still have some doubt, why don't you ask Ama for help? She is a terrific writer and I think she would be willing to give advice.


Obsessive Shipper
Moogleborg: Thanks! I'm glad you liked the medieval atmosphere, I was a little worried that it was a bit overdone. And I'm glad you liked the story too. It might be awhile before I get the next chapter posted because I spend so long perfecting it, but I'll let you know when it's ready.

Nathan Madien: Oh, well I usually only start a new paragraph when I'm changing the scene or topic. About the castle, well, it's been hard so far because well, it's a castle. Just stone and . . . more stone. I got an opportunity to be more descriptive in Catherine's room, but the others have been for the lower class people, so there really hasn't been too much to say. It'll probably be better when I get further on in the story.

Nathan Madien

Me on a Good Day
Hakajin said:
Nathan Madien: Oh, well I usually only start a new paragraph when I'm changing the scene or topic. About the castle, well, it's been hard so far because well, it's a castle. Just stone and . . . more stone. I got an opportunity to be more descriptive in Catherine's room, but the others have been for the lower class people, so there really hasn't been too much to say. It'll probably be better when I get further on in the story.

If you're having trouble describing the castle, why not visit http://www.castles.nl/eurcastle.html? It has information on a ton of European castles, which might be of some use to you.


Obsessive Shipper
Nathan Madien: Thanks for the link, it's a great site! There are lots of lovely pics on it. But the thing is, it's not that I don't know what the castle should look like, it's that a lot of it is kinda non-descript, especially places like Misty's room and the school room. It'll be better when I get to the fancy, royal looking rooms. I already did one of those with Catherine, and I think another with the throne room. If I do get stuck on making it accurate though, I have a beautiful Usborne book on castles, inside and out, with lots of explanation and detailed pics. I can still use your site for inspiration though, to decide what kind of castle I want, or if I want a combination of my favorites or whatever.
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Obsessive Shipper
Chapter 2
Prince of Tides​

The noon tide was coming in. The grassy knoll where Ash sat wasn’t far from the sea, and he watched as summer sunlight danced across the ripples. He loved the sea. It was beautiful and mysterious, and best of all, unpredictable. The sea was untamed, and none could control it. It was its own master, free to do as it pleased. Ash watched until the scene became too dazzling to look upon, then closed his eyes and let the warmth of a gentle breeze lull him to sleep. If there were ever a perfect day for a nap, it was surely today. But his rest was cut short. Just as he was drifting off, a voice from over the hill jarred him awake. Ash opened one eye and watched as Misty approached.

“Ash, there you are!” She said when she saw him. “I’ve looked all over for you.”
He closed his eye again as she sat down next to him.
“Sorry.” He said. “But how was I supposed to know? After all, it’s not like you to skip school, Misty.”
I’m not skipping, you idiot!” Misty retaliated, obviously annoyed. “You are! School’s already over for today! You missed a lot, you know.”
“Not this again.” Ash thought.
He already knew what was coming next, and he didn’t want to hear it. He hated this argument. But Misty would continue whether he objected or not, so he decided that he might as well defend himself.
“I don’t care.” He said. “It’s just a lot of boring stuff about things that happened a long time ago. Why should all that matter to me?”
This was his usual response, the one he gave no matter how many times it failed. He waited for Misty to counter.
“‘All that ‘boring stuff’ is supposed to help you become a good king someday.”
Ah, there it was, just as he had anticipated.
“You sound like Mordecai.” Ash said, sitting up. “He always says that, but he never explains what it means. How exactly is that stuff supposed to help me?”
“You have to ask? You really are slow.”
He rolled his eyes in reply.
“Just answer the question.”
“It’s supposed to help you learn things like military strategy, so that you can defend your country, and rule it wisely.”
“A king doesn’t have to worry about that stuff, his generals take care of it for him.” Ash explained.
Why would no one admit this?
“A king is supposed to guide his generals, Ash, not the other way around!” Misty said forcefully. “And who do you think selects them in the first place?! How will you judge which of your men are fit to lead if you can’t even lead yourself?! And there’s more to Mordecai’s lessons that just that!”
Ash could see that Misty was quickly becoming frustrated, so he conceded. He disliked losing an argument, but he liked her temper even less.

“Fine,” he said as he lay back down, “why don’t you tell me what we studied today. It’s much more interesting when you tell it anyway.”
“Don’t think flattery is going to get you out of trouble, Ash.” Misty said curtly. “But I’ll review for you as best I can, for your own good. Let’s see, we studied another creation myth. This one was about how the shore was formed. Where the shore is now, there used to be a great chasm, until . . . ”

Ash’s mind drifted as she droned. Being a prince was awfully boring, especially considering how wonderful it sounded. He thought back to when he was small, when he had first understood what Anna meant when she told him that he was going to be king. Then, he had known nothing about princely obligations, and it had seemed an exciting future. He would rule with power and make life-altering decisions. He would be known and loved by all his subjects, and have servants to carry out his every whim. His would be a country of strength and wealth. These were the dreams he built with childish hopes. Ash had looked up in awe at the king sitting upon the high throne, a figure of absolute authority and respect. He was so brilliant that even his own golden crown couldn’t outshine him. Ash had greatly admired him, and tried to imagine the day when he himself would become a glorious king. And then a thing happened that put a crack in his naive ideals.

The king, whom he had thought so great and just, in a fit of rage hurt someone much weaker than himself. Ash was horrified that his beloved father would do such a thing. It was almost inconceivable to his young mind. He could barely think for shock. But then he did something he had never imagined he could- he defied his father. He had sprung from his seat before he even knew what was happening, too angry to be afraid. And it was so easy. His great father had bent to the will of a child. For the first time, he was made to see him as the human he was, rather than the godlike being he had seemed before. Ash slowly lost fear of him. The respect he had held for him as a child was replaced with disdain. Time and experience were the only things that could truly erode his childish beliefs, the incident was what made Ash begin to question them. Afterward, he began noticing faults in his father that he had never seen before. He was a cold man, and his spirit held no compassion. There was little he seemed to care for. Ash never saw him, unless he was summoned to court, or was being assessed in his school work. And though these hours were few, he always dreaded them. It seemed to him that he was nothing more than a trophy to his father, an actor to perform. Ash buckled under the weight of his judgement. No matter how hard he studied or practiced, he would always blunder. Then his father would shake his head in disappointment, making him feel stupid and inept. But Ashton would accept nothing less than perfection. His son’s failure was his shame, and he was a proud man. Image was everything. He tolerated no insult, no matter how trivial. He was stern and austere, never smiling. His very presence exuded severity, and the lines traced in his forehead shew his harsh nature. These were the things that Ash hated most about his father.

But though he could not respect the man himself, he did respect him as a leader. Ashton had the loyalty and love of his people. They feared him, and none dared disobey his will. He worked tirelessly to ensure that his kingdom was safe, that its citizens had food and shelter. ll of Kanto prospered under his rule. Ash now recognized this for the great accomplishment it was. The more he learnt about his future duties, the more he realized that being king was no easy task. It took great skill to lead. Subjects were not slaves, and they would turn on a ruler if he weren’t judicious. Though Ash was not eager to admit it, Misty spoke truthfully- he needed much more studying if he ever hoped to be as good a king as his father.

But was this really what he wanted? Ash was beginning to have his doubts. He still looked forward to the fame and fortune of leadership, but he had long since realized that they came with a price. There was much work to be done, very tedious work. He was tired of endless lessons and silly ceremonies. It might have been bearable if there were any purpose in it, but it was meaningless to Ash. He felt no calling to lead and found no fulfillment in his work. There were things much more important to him. His dreams lay not in politics and geography, but in foreign lands and new discoveries. Dignitaries from neighboring kingdoms often visited the palace, and they brought with them many strange and wonderful things: perfumes and silks from Johto, exotic flowers from Hoenn, and brilliant jewels from Orre. Ash treasured these things and dreamt of the exotic lands whence they had come. He wanted to travel, to see the world beyond the castle gates. The horizon was inviting. Sometimes he tried to imagine what it would be like to leave everything behind and answer its call. He could stow away on a ship, become a traveler, start a new life. It was an alluring idea. But of course, it was only a dream. He could never do such a thing. It was impossible for one who would one day become king. Ash knew that it was best to forget such silly fancies before they took hold of his heart. It was useless to long for things he could never have. Much more than useless, the longing could consume him with misery, as it had many before him. Yet even with this knowledge, the thoughts continued to tantalize him. Ash had of course tried to put them out of mind, but to no avail. His daydreams always returned, stronger and more vivid than before. He only hoped that they would fade as he grew older. Yes, when he became king, he would have much more important business to attend to. He would have no time for such foolishness, and would be forced to forget his childish imaginings. But . . . a part of Ash did not want to forget. This part of him told that him these daydreams were important, not just the wanderings of an idle mind. It told him to listen to the persistent voice inside of him. But as he was thinking on this, he noticed the sudden absence of another persistent voice.

“Huh?” He said, still in somewhat of a daze.
“Ash, you haven’t been listening at all!” Misty raged. “Have you even heard one word I’ve said?”
“Um . . . shore! There was definitely something about a shore!”
Ash was rewarded for this reply with a sharp slap to the face.
“Ow, you don’t have to hit me!” He complained while rubbing his tender cheek.
He had regained his sitting position.
“I wouldn’t have to if you would only pay attention!”
“But it’s so boring!” His voice came out thin and whiny.
“Oh really? But I thought you said that it was so interesting when I told it.”
“No, I said it was more interesting. That’s not saying a lot.”
Ash expected Misty to argue her point further, but she did not. Instead, she jerked her face away from him and stood to leave. He quickly moved to follow her.
“Hey, where are you going?” He called to her back.
“Home. I have better things to do than waste my breath telling stories that no one listens to.”
“Aw, come on, Misty. I’m sorry, all right? Why are you so mad? It’s not your problem if I fail my lessons.”

At this, Misty stopped and turned. Ash thought he saw a trace of sadness mixed with the anger in her eyes.
“Don’t you even care?!” She yelled. She stomped toward him in until their faces were mere inches apart. Behind her, the placid sea was becoming rough and foamy.
“I don’t even know what people I belong to!” She cried. “I would give anything to know who they are, where I come from! Yet you, you have the privilege of knowing your history in detail, and you waste it! Don’t you know how important it is?!”
Ash stood with his mouth agape, stupefied. He suddenly felt very guilty.
“Misty . . . I’m sorry. Tell it again, I promise I’ll listen this time.”
But Misty was already walking away.
“Just forget it, Ash.”
“Please.” He begged.
“No. I don’t want to tell it if you don’t want to listen. It’s meaningless.”
Ash was irritated Misty’s insistence upon anger. She could be so stubborn.
“Hey, I said I’m sorry, but I can’t take it back! And how am I supposed to make myself care when I don’t?!”
Misty sighed, stopping. The sea slowly quieted with her.
“I suppose you’re right.” She said. “I take it too seriously. I suppose you only care about something when you can’t have it yourself. Silly, right?”
She laughed, but sadly. Ash saw through her careless act. Now, he wished that she had stayed angry.
“No, it’s not silly.” He said. “It is important. I just . . . take it for granted. Tell it again. I want to hear it, I do.”
Misty laughed again, this time sincerely.
“Oh, all right. If you’re really going to listen.”

Ash laughed with her. Misty was such a strange girl. She was unlike anyone he had ever seen. Most of the people he knew had dark hair and eyes, but Misty’s hair was brilliant red, her eyes a watery blue. And her appearance was the most ordinary thing about her. Misty was so temperamental; her mood seemed to change with the sea. She could go from good-tempered to angry in mere seconds. Ash was constantly bickering with her. There were times when he wondered why he even considered her his friend. No one was so rude to him as Misty. Few dared to even correct him. Even Anna, the only mother he had ever known, refused to admit his faults. But Misty certainly had no qualms about being honest. And in some ways, Ash appreciated it. Misty was not one for empty praises. Her compliments were rare and precious, and Ash valued every one. There was no pretending with her. Misty was simply herself, regardless of what others thought. Likewise, Ash did not need to be someone else for her. She accepted him just as he was. When he was with her, he was no longer Prince Ashton, but just . . . Ash.

“Hey, Ash!” Misty snapped. “Are you still listening?”
“Yes, of course.”
Ash scolded himself for having ignored her again. He hadn’t meant to break his promise. But Misty seemed not to notice. He had at least kept his eyes on her, if not his attention. She continued, and this time, he focused on her story.

“A great battle was waged over who would claim the void, sea or land, and many people died. The gods knew that something must be done to end the fighting. Caelus, the god of the sky, decided that the land must be shared. But no one could think of how this could be done. Finally, Pelagia, the god of the sea, came up with the idea that he and Maia, goddess of the earth, should join together. Maia was Caelus’ wife, but Caelus understood that he must make a sacrifice to save the earth. So it was done, and Maia later gave birth to the shore.”
“Wait, how can anyone give birth to a mass of land?” Ash asked.
These stories always confused him.
“It’s a legend, Ash. Things like that happen in legends.”
“But it’s dumb!”
“It is not! It’s beautiful!”
“But it doesn’t make any sense!”
“Maybe not to you.”
“You’re crazy if you think that story made any sense at all.”
“What?!” Misty yelled. “Say that again, I dare you!”
“Perfect, now she’s mad again.” Ash thought, but he wouldn’t quit an argument once begun. And he had to admit, it was fun to goad her.
“You didn’t hear me? Well, I guess I’ll have to say it slowly so you’ll understand. You’re-crazy.”
“Hm.” Misty huffed, straitening up. “I shouldn’t have expected a clout like you to understand.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?!”
“You’ll have to figure that out for yourself. I’m crazy, remember?”
“Oh, come on!” Ash retorted. “You know I wasn’t serious!”
“Idiot. You shouldn’t say something you don’t mean.”
“Do you mean everything you say?”
Misty smirked haughtily and stuck her nose in the air.
“Of course!” She said.
Ash gave an exaggerated sigh, but he laughed inwardly. Misty’s attitude, though irritating, could be endearing. But of course, he would never tell her so.

“That’s not really fair, Misty, you can’t hold His Highness to your standard.”
Ash jumped at the sound of a hearty chuckle.
“True, true.” Misty replied, obviously not startled as Ash had been. “But what are you doing here, Daniel?”
He turned to find Daniel, the new grounds-keeper, looking down at the two of them. Daniel was already tall, but from where he stood on the crest of the hill, he seemed a giant. His body was tan and muscle-bound from days spent working in the sun, and the wind blew rust-colored hair in his face. Fortunately, his demeanor was not nearly as intimidating as his appearance.
“Only taking a break.” He said. “I hope I’m not intruding on anything.”
“Of course not!” Misty chirped. “I was just surprised that you were able to find your way. You are new here.”
Daniel chortled loudly again.
“Oh, that was easy. All I had to do was follow the sound of incessant arguing.”
Misty blushed, seeming embarrassed at having been caught engaging in such unladylike behavior.
“Er, so, are you getting used to life here?” She asked, trying to change the topic.
Daniel sat on the grass and crossed his legs before speaking.
“Yes, I think I’m adjusting, but it’s not been easy. Life here is a lot different than in my homeland.”

Ash sat up straighter, his interest sparked by the mention of a far-off land.
“What was your home like, Daniel?” He asked excitedly.
“Ash!” Misty exclaimed. “Daniel might not want to be reminded of home right now!”
“I don’t mind.” Said Daniel. “I truly loved my home, and it makes me happy that someone is interested in it. Let’s see, where should I begin? Oh yes, I suppose I ought to tell you where I lived. My village lay on the largest of the South Sea Islands, very far from here. It was much warmer there. Most of the people were fishermen or shipbuilders, and we traded with the mainland for other supplies. Our homes were simple- our lives were simple, but we were happy. You should’ve seen the marketplace on Saturdays, loud, busy, exciting.” Daniel paused and sighed nostalgically, a distant gleam in his eyes.

But, as when a cloud passes in front of the sun on a summer’s day, his expression suddenly darkened. Ash sensed that the story, like the teller, was about to become grave. But Daniel did not continue. It was as though he were remembering something too painful to tell. Ash saw this and hesitated for a moment, but finally curiosity overcame modesty.
“What happened?” He asked cautiously.
Daniel was still silent, and at first, Ash thought that he had not heard him. He was about to ask again, when abruptly, Daniel began.
“We were . . . discovered, by a Kantonese campaign. Our tribal elder knew that he couldn’t stand against the Kantonese army, so he ceded our land to His Highness.”
“Daniel . . . I’m so sorry . . .” Ash said somberly.
His own country’s selfishness sickened him.
“You need needn’t be. It wasn’t your doing.”
He knew this, and yet . . .
“But aren’t you angry?”
Daniel paused a moment.
“Yes, sometimes.” He said. “I try to forgive, but it isn’t easy. Kings and generals only care about land. It’s a game to them. They don’t consider the people involved. And we were lucky. Those tribes who resisted were all but destroyed.”
“Things’ll be different when I’m king.” Ash proclaimed. “I’ll make sure there isn’t any war.”
He was somewhat offended when Daniel laughed.
“I’m serious!”
“I don’t doubt it,” Daniel said, trying to suppress a final chuckle, “but it’s not that simple. War can’t be completely avoided.”
“Why not?”
“There will always be conflict. You must choose your battles carefully, but sometimes war is necessary.”
“No it’s not! I don’t believe that!” Ash insisted.
Daniel did not get angry as he would have expected, but sighed and smiled kindly.
“You’re so young, Your Highness,” He said. “I suppose I shouldn’t ask you to understand. But when you have something that you want to protect, you will.”

Ash crossed his arms and furrowed his brows defiantly. Daniel was wrong. Just because there had never been peace before didn’t mean it was impossible. Surely there was some way, and he would find it, no matter how elusive it proved.

“Well, I had best get back to work.” Daniel said, interrupting Ash’s thoughts. “His Majesty wouldn’t be pleased to find a sluggard amongst his workers.”
“That’s all right, Daniel,” said Misty, “it’s time for Ash’s swordplay lessons anyway. Isn’t it, Ash?”
Ash groaned a protest, and she laughed.
“It’s not that bad.” She said.
“Easy for you to say,” Ash said as he stood, brushing the grass from his blue tunic, “all you have to do is watch.”
“Lucky for me, huh?”
“You have no idea.”

Swordplay was most definitely not his favorite activity. It was, like so many other things, silly and pointless, and painful besides, and he wasn’t exceedingly gifted in the art. But his instructor demanded perfection. In his day, Sir William of Viridian had been the fiercest, most dedicated knight in service to the king, and he expected the same determination from his students. This was unfortunate for Ash, who, needless to say, couldn’t have cared less about his lessons. But Sir William seemed to think that, by yelling, he could make him care, so Ash was constantly being bombarded with criticisms.

“You’re late!” He barked upon Ash’s arrival.
“I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.” Ash quickly replied.
He hoped there was enough confidence in his voice to conceal his nervousness. Inwardly, though he was loathe to admit it, he shrank at his teacher’s reprimand. Ash scolded himself for a coward.
“I’m going to be king,” he thought, “I can’t let my own sword instructor scare me.”
But he couldn’t help feeling small. For though Sir William’s hair was white with age, he was tall and muscular, his posture strait and his manner intimidating. Ash pitied the men who had fallen before him on the battlefield.

“Ashton!” Sir William yelled, startling Ash. “Stop dreaming and pay attention! Take your sword and start practicing your slash with Philip!”
Misty giggled from her place on the stone floor. Ash glared at her, and she offered a muffled “Good luck,” through her hands. She was bad at hiding her laughter, but he chose to ignore her for now. He took his sword from Sir William and faced Philip.

Philip was older and taller than Ash, and stronger as well. His expression, if it could be called that, was stoic, and his brown hair trim and neat.
“Take your positions!” Commanded Sir William.
Ash raised his sword in front of him so that it crossed Philip’s at an angle. Their muscles tensed as they awaited the signal.

In an instant, the silence was broken by the click-clacking of wood against wood. Ash slashed at Philip but missed and sliced air, and Philip came back with a more successful cut that clapped against Ash’s sword. Now Ash was pushing Philip back, and now Philip Ash. Back and forth they went, the clatter echoing through the vacuous stone corridor all the while. Ash parried blow with blow, and smiled as he realized that he was keeping up with Philip. In another moment, he had the upper hand. He was doing unusually well today, and he was quite pleased with himself. Perhaps he could even win! But before he could even complete the thought, Philip’s sword hit its mark, and came down upon Ash’s head with a sickening crack.


Ash regained consciousness to find himself lying on the flat on the floor. His senses were slowly coming back to him, and he could feel cold stone against his skin. He groaned as the pain in his head returned as well. In another second, the black spots before his eyes began to dissipate, and he saw Misty and Sir William staring down at him.
“Are you all right, Ash?” Misty asked while helping him to sit up.
“I think so.” He answered, rubbing his head.
Ash caught sight of Philip standing on the opposite side of the room, watching with his usual blank face.
“Apologize to Ashton!” Sir William ordered.
But Philip acted as though he had not heard.
“It’s all right, really.” Ash said, forcing a laugh.
He didn’t really think it was all right, but he didn’t want to aggravate an already tense situation.
“And you,” Sir William turned to him now, “you were careless. You could have easily dodged! Never let your guard down like that!”
“Yes sir.”
Ash knew well whose side his instructor had taken. Sir William had chided Philip, but it was a half-hearted reproach. He was the sort of person who didn’t believe in fair play.
“Swordplay is not a game,” he was often heard to say, “there are no rules. All that matters is winning, and you must take every opportunity given you.”
Ash knew that this was true, however cruel it was. In battle, the winner was the one who survived. Believing in things like fairness would only lead to an early grave.
“But we’re not going into battle.” Ash argued to himself. “It’s all ceremony.”He had already decided that he would eliminate war in Kanto. And even in wartime, the king never saw the battlefield. Swordplay was only taught for the sake of tradition, and Ash found it a waste of time. His heart simply wasn’t in it. Not like Philip.

Philip was the very opposite of Ash, and took his sword lessons quite seriously. Too seriously. Ash was covered in bruises from their practice matches. He was not a little grateful that they used only wooden swords, for he was sure that Philip would have no second thoughts about cutting him to bits. In fact, he thought that Philip might actually enjoy killing him. For reasons unknown to Ash, Philip seemed to hate him. He had always been hostile, from the very moment they met in Mordecai’s classroom so long ago. Ash wondered why. He’d never done anything to Philip. At least, not that he could remember. He thought about this as Anna tended his injury, trying to recall anything from the past that might have angered Philip. But there was nothing, Philip’s anger was completely unreasonable. Ash couldn’t stand him. He was sick of being humiliated. Just once, he wanted to beat Philip and wipe that superior look off his face. The fact that it was impossible infuriated him even more. But Philip was bigger, stronger, and a better fighter. Ash knew he could never beat him. And he had to admit, he was a little afraid of him. This too, added to his anger.
“Ow!” He cried, his thoughts suddenly interrupted
“Oh, I’m sorry, Ashton,” Anna fussed, “But we have to take care of it or it’ll get worse.”
“I know, but it still hurts.”
Ash was glad that Misty was currently at the library. It was embarrassing when Anna fussed over him like this in front of her.
“I would beat that Philip good if I had the chance!” She was ranting. “He’s horrible, him and that mother of his!”
“It’s all right, Anna,” Ash said, weary of her overprotectiveness, “I’m not really angry.”
“Well I am! And you should be. He has no right to treat you like that. It’s cruel, and it’s disloyal! You’re his own country’s prince! And his brother besides!”
The word sounded so out of place that it took a moment to enter his consciousness. When it did, it hit him with the same force as Philip’s sword.
“Brother?!” He exclaimed.
“Yes . . . has no one told you?”
“Oh, Ashton, I’m so sorry. I was sure you knew. Philip-”
“But I don’t understand . . . how is that possible?!”
“Settle down, settle down.” Anna shushed. “Give me a moment to explain.”
Ash squirmed in his seat, waiting as patiently as he could. His mind was moving so fast he couldn’t keep up. The news had come as quite a shock, and he was bursting with questions.
“Philip is your half-brother, Ashton.” Anna began. “Or so his mother claims. I don’t believe it. After all, how could that brat be related-”
“But if Philip’s my brother . . . why doesn’t he live with us? Why don’t I ever see him with my father?”
“Philip . . . has always been hostile toward you, Ashton. It’s his decision to keep his distance.”
Even the answer brought new questions.
“But why? Why does he hate me so much?”
“Probably because he thinks you stole his birthright from him.” Anna answered patiently. “Had you not been born, he would have been your father’s heir.”
“But . . . why isn’t Philip heir? He’s older than me, isn’t he?”
“Philip is your father’s illegitimate son, Ash. His mother is a courtesan, but you are the child of the queen. It is only right that you succeed your father.”
Ash took a moment to let this set in.
That’s why he hates me?” he asked breathlessly. “But that’s so stupid!”
“I know, Ashton.”
“He can have it if he wants it that bad!”
“Ashton! You must never say things like that!” Anna yelled, snapping Ash from his fervor. “It is your birthright and you should be proud!”

A sigh was the only answer he gave. Anna’s unflagging loyalty was somehow vexing. It was patronizing and embarrassing, and . . . There was something else too, but Ash couldn’t quite say what.

But he couldn’t think about that now. He was still dazed from the unexpected information. It felt so unreal. He needed to get away from Anna, needed to think. So as soon as he could, Ash escaped her watchful gaze and slipped down to the shore. It was quiet here, serene. There were no distractions, and he could take his time sorting his thoughts. He sat on the boundary between shore and sea, where the receding tide still touched his bare feet. The hypnotic pulse of waves calmed him and cleared his head as he sifted through his feelings. But it was difficult to make sense of something so senseless. Ash didn’t care about being king. The job was long, tiring work, and meant nothing to him. Philip was the better choice by far. He was devoted to his studies and yearned to rule. But ability and will, things that ought to have been most decisive, were given no weight at all. A king was foolishly selected by lineage alone. Ash was grieved by his brother’s hatred. Philip’s anger didn’t seem so unreasonable anymore. It was still unfair, and Ash was still angry at him. But somehow, he also felt guilty that his own existence brought his brother so much unhappiness. He was surprised to find that he loved him in spite of everything. Ash would have gladly given him the crown if it would mend their kinship. But tradition forbade it. The solution was so simple, yet so frustratingly out of reach. Hot tears formed in Ash’s eyes. What mad world was this, where brother was turned against brother? The bond that should have been unbreakable was destroyed by so frivolous a thing. Ash was growing to hate the destiny given him more with each passing day. In this moment, he decided once and for all that did not want to be king.

“Ash!” Misty called.
He turned from his thoughts to face her as she walked down the beach, her red hair blowing behind her in an evening breeze.
“I thought I might find you here.” She said as she sat beside him.
“Oh, hi.” Ash answered lackadaisically.
He wondered how long he had been sitting there. It felt like a few minutes, but it was probably several hours, he realized from the position of the sun.
“Are you all right? You don’t look well.”
Ash did not answer. Silently, he was deliberating whether to tell her. He didn’t feel like talking to her or anyone else right now, especially about Philip. Still, she was bound to find out sooner or later. It was probably better to say it strait out and avoid the conversation that would surely lead to it.

“Ash? What is it?”
He quickly decided and said it all at once, before he could lose his nerve.
“Philip’s my brother.”
There was a moment of uneasy quiet.
“Oh.” Misty whispered finally.
She did not seem surprised at all.
“You’re not surprised?”
“I . . . already knew.”
Ash felt a chill run down his spine at her words.
“What?! How?” He cried.
“Well, I didn’t know,” Misty confessed, “but I had guessed as much. You and Philip have the same face, and he’s so hateful toward you . . . it just sort of . . . fell together.”
“How long have you known?” He asked, stunned. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Misty glanced at him apologetically.
“I’m sorry, Ash. I thought you knew too.”

Ash didn’t know what to say. How had she known when he hadn’t? Was it really that obvious? But the more he thought about it, the simpler it seemed. Misty was right, Philip’s face was similar to his own. And his envy, so mysterious in the past, seemed painfully clear now.
“How could I have not seen it?” Ash agonized, covering his face with his hands. “My own brother . . .”
There was silence for a moment. Then Misty spoke.
“Ash, you shouldn’t blame yourself for not knowing.” she said quietly
“Sometimes . . . sometimes the closer you are to someone, the harder it is to see the truth.”
Ash wondered how she could read his mind like that.

He expected Misty to say more, to ask questions or try to console him, but she just stared out to sea. Ash looked away from her, down to the waves swishing around his feet. The tears he had been holding back were silently rolling down his cheeks. They splashed into the sea, and more beside them. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up into Misty’s sympathetic face and smiled weakly. No one knew him better than Misty. She understood his sorrow without any words. It was times such as these that reminded him how glad he was of her friendship. The two sat in silence for a long time, until the sun was just a sliver of gold above the blue sea. They left only when it had grown too dark to see. But even as they departed, tranquil waves carried Ash’s tears toward the horizon, tiny drops in a vast ocean.
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