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Pokemon: Covering Ground

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by FlamingRuby, Jan 26, 2019.

  1. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    This is an all new story of mine that takes place in my remixed anime universe in between SM and wherever Gen 8 will be, so there are slight spoilers for the stories in the Anime Remix Project.


    Prologue: Let's Talk About the Upcoming Contest Season...


    A brown haired girl looked over the camera tripod that faced her bed. Once sure the camera was able to capture her in a full shot, she climbed off the bed to make sure the tripod would not be bumped or jostled while she was filming.

    "Getting ready to film, Nikki?" a dark brown haired man smiled as he peeked in the room.

    "Yeah--the same 'Let's Talk About It' post I've made the last two times I've attempted a contest journey." the girl told her father as she carefully nudged the tripod a little closer to the bed. "Only I'll also add my hopes for actually making it to the Grand Festival this time. It comforted me to know that Grand Coordinator Dawn was once in my shoes."

    "Well, even great coordinators all had to start somewhere." Nikki's father smiled. "If you ever want to know about the three Divine Coordinators, Brock was lucky enough to travel with May, Dawn, and Serena."

    Nikki grinned. "I'm sure he has plenty of true tales to tell about them."

    "Well, I won't keep you--I've let the Pokemon out to play in the yard, so they won't bother you while you film." Nikki's father assured Nikki as he turned to leave. "Pancakes will be ready as soon as you finish."

    "Thanks, Dad." Nikki smiled.

    After getting up to close the bedroom door, she returned to the camera and turned it on. Luckily, it would not start filming until she pressed RECORD on its remote. Once she was recording, it would be saved to her PC for editing, and then posting the finished vlog entry to MyTube.

    Luckily, Nikki had built up a supportive fanbase over the four years she had maintained her vlog, Covering Ground. She was very well aware of online safety, and that she could come to her father for help if something got out of hand.

    But for the moment, she was focused on her current entry--talking about her impending contest journey.

    "Okay, rolling in three...two...one..." she smiled as she pressed RECORD on the camera remote, allowing her to see herself on the bed, aqua plaid pajamas and all.

    "Hi everyone, this is Nikki." she said to the camera--her standard greeting for all her vlog entries. "Tomorrow I'm going to attempt journeying around Kanto again, and after I came really close to the Grand Festival last year, I feel that maybe this time, third time will be the charm."

    She paused the recording long enough to dash over to the PC sitting near her bookshelf. As she reviewed her introduction in the video editor, she couldn't resist smiling at the small fox creature, the purple twin tailed cat creature, and the small yellow mouse creature romping in the yard. Rena, Zelda, Lexi...here's hoping we'll make it to the Grand Festival this time! she thought as she added in her intro card and the accompanying music.

    Once satisfied with her intro, she returned to the bed to record the main part of her entry. "For those of you new to the vlog, I make a living as a coordinator, who competes in Pokemon Contests. Luckily, Pewter City has not just the Gym, but a Contest Hall too. But you really have Grand Coordinator May from Houen to thank for popularizing contests here in Kanto--they were mainly a niche for a long time, then when May decided to compete here, contest popularity skyrocketed. I've also learned a lot from Brock, our Gym Leader and resident renaissance man. He's traveled with the three Divine Coordinators--May Alder, who I mentioned before, Dawn Solberg of Shinou, and Serena Lacroix of Kalos. So he knows a thing or two about Contests..."
     
  2. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    Episode 1: Let's Try to Control Our Excitement!


    "Hi, you guys!" Nikki smiled as she knelt down to meet the Fennekin, the Espeon, and the Pikachu that bounded through the Pokemon door. "Any news from Mom at all?" she asked as her father came in with the mail.

    "We talked a little last night, after you went to bed." Nikki's father replied. "Your mom's been busy in the run up to Lumiose Fashion Week--she says that Divine Coordinator Serena will even be there to help promote the Contest brands."

    "Really?" Nikki gasped. I've always wanted to meet the Divine Coordinators--and Ash! What would I call that entry?

    Nikki's father nodded. "She told me to tell you that one of the brands you follow, Prism Stardust, will be represented in Lumiose. The other that she knows for sure is Notte Royal."

    "Nice." Nikki smiled back. "Will you ask Mom to get Serena's autograph for me?" she asked as she opened one of the kitchen cabinets.

    "I can't promise anything, but it never hurts to ask." Nikki's father replied.

    He turned his attention to the mail. "Electric bill...cable bill...you may have won 10 billion credits..."

    "Anything for me in all that?" Nikki asked as she set down three full bowls of Pokechow before her Pokemon and filled a bowl with Twinkles.

    A letter in elegant silver stationary got his attention. "Letter for you, Nikki--an invitation to the Pewter Conference. Rumor is Brock is going to be a guest judge this year."

    Nikki almost dropped the box of Twinkles in surprise. "Honest? Our own Gym Leader and resident renaissance man, adding Contest judge to his already impressive resume?"

    "You bet!" Nikki's father smiled. "So if you're leaving on a Contest adventure, there's no better place to get your first win than right here at home."

    "As soon as I finish breakfast and get dressed, I'll head out right away!" Nikki replied as she dug into her waiting cereal.

    [Nikki must be excited today if she didn't even want to put the milk on her cereal.] the Pikachu mused as she watched her master eat from one corner of the kitchen.

    The ruby on the Espeon's forehead glowed, allowing her to read and analyze her master's thoughts. Nikki is excited about Brock judging a contest--which usually means he may work his storytelling art before the contest.

    She surprised Nikki by levitating the milk over her cereal bowl. You forgot the milk in your excitement--that's what makes Twinkles...well, twinkle.

    "Oh, thanks, Zelda." Nikki giggled as the milk poured onto her cereal, making the drab beige star pieces glitter with colorful sprinkles.

    "You may consider shopping for a new costume or three too." Nikki's father added as he set down a large catalogue on the table. "Finish your breakfast, and you can look through this year's Costume Catalogue in book form or online."

    "Okay!" Nikki replied.

    ---------

    After emerging from her closet in a green shirt, black pants, and a deeper green vest, Nikki told her PokeNav "Call Karina."

    She tossed her pajamas in the laundry hamper as the PokeNav flashed DIALING... before an image of a reddish brown haired girl with a plant-like humanoid Pokemon appeared on the screen. "Hello?"

    "Hi, Karina--it's Nikki." Nikki began. "I'm sure you've heard the news Brock is guest judging the Pewter City Conference, right?"

    "I did--the press release said he was going to do an extra special storytelling show to inspire us coordinators the day before." Karina replied. "Which means we need to decide on our costumes now."

    "I'm using the costume I got in the mail from Starlight Harmony a few days ago--Sapphire Quetzal." Nikki replied. 'You know, the Articuno inspired one?"

    "Yeah..." Karina replied. "I'm using Pearl Rose for mine--it would go with Relia perfectly."

    "Then again, Blossom Beat's always been your preferred brand." Nikki smiled. "It suits a lovely Pokemon like Roselia well."

    [Why, thank you.] the plant Pokemon smiled.

    "I'm sure you'll do well this time too." Karina smiled. "Even the Divine Coordinators all had to start somewhere..."

    "Just the fact I came really close to the Grand Festival last year moved me up from Rookie to Promising Coordinator." Nikki remembered. "That's got to count for something."

    "It does." Karina replied. "Remember that like trainers, we're not out to see who has the most ribbons--the Divine Coordinators are that good because they are very skilled with their appeals, and know how to appeal well. They know how to work with their team to win, and how to bounce back if they lose."

    Nikki nodded. "May Alder, of Houen...Dawn Solberg, of Shinou...Serena Lacroix, of Kalos. They all had their fair share of triumph and troubles on their way to the top."

    "Maybe Brock's special show will feature some true tales about the Divine Coordinators." Karina mused. "But since he's been on vacation in Alola, he may also share some tales from there."

    "Every time he features a tale from Alola on 'Live from the Fireside', he's always in an Alolan shirt with palm trim." Nikki smiled as she invited the mouse creature to join her on the bed. "It might be fun to see if there's a Contest scene there--or start one!"

    "Here's some motivation for you..." Karina suggested. "If you make it to the Grand Festival this year, treat yourself to an Alolan vacation--you, your dad, and maybe your mom when she returns from Kalos.

    A thought occurred to her. "Do you miss your mom at all?"

    Nikki nodded. "Yes...I do miss her a lot. But this is why we have Vocachat--so I can talk to her even when she's halfway around the world.

    An idea occurred to her. "Say...both of my previous journeys I went on my own. Would you want to go with me this time.

    "Why not?" Karina grinned. "Like Brock always says, a journey is always better with friends! That, and we could get some entertaining vlog entries out of the trip."

    Nikki smiled. "It's decided! We're going on a Contest journey together!"

    To Be Continued...
     
  3. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    Episode 2: Let's See Brock Perform Live!


    "How do I look?" Nikki asked as she came downstairs in a sparkling blue, silver, and white outfit with light blue trim and sapphires.

    "You look beautiful, sweetheart." Nikki's father replied as Nikki modeled the sparkling costume. "But you'll always be beautiful to me, no matter what you physically look like."

    Nikki just giggled. "Being a coordinator and vlogger has its perks--I got this from Starlight Harmony to review. It's part of their upcoming Prophecy collection."

    "I see." Nikki's father smiled. "If that is the 'ice' of 'fire, ice and lightning', I can't wait to see what the other three coords look like."

    Then, a thought occurred to him. "Did they already unveil the Lugia coord in the collection?"

    "Not yet--the complete collection is twelve coords--three each for the three birds and Lugia." Nikki explained. "What I'm wearing is the first Articuno coord--Sapphire Quetzal."

    She shepherded the Fennekin by her side. "Come on, Rena--it's time to go."

    "Good luck, Nikki..." Nikki's father gave her one last hug. "Win or lose, you'll always be my superstar."

    ---------

    "Hi everyone, this is Nikki." Nikki addressed her PokeNav camera. "Rena and I are on our way to the Contest Hall now. Even though the Contest is not technically till tomorrow, Brock has promised a private storytelling show to inspire us coordinators."

    As she rounded the corner, she made a grand gesture to some of the shops nearby an elegant building in the distance. "If a coordinator needs a costume in a pinch, some of the brands have a shop nearby the Contest Hall itself, and all the brands have an outlet inside the Hall."

    She zoomed in on one of the shops that stood across the street from her. "This one is Spring Clover, an Exotic and Rugged brand that draws on Celtic motifs. Not surprisingly, on the few times Brock did compete in a contest, he wore Spring Clover stuff."

    Rena yipping snapped her to attention. "We're getting close to the Contest Hall, so I have to turn the camera off here--recording in the main hall is not allowed. I'll have another entry about the Contest proper and how I did next time."

    With that, she turned off VideoNav. Good thing video is saved to the cloud--I can edit my footage in the Pokemon Center tech lounge or the Hall's computer lab later.

    A familiar voice called "Nikki!" as she arrived.

    "Karina!" Nikki hurried to meet her friend, who now wore a beautiful sparkling magenta costume with rose trim and deep pink pearls. "You look great!"

    "As do you." Karina replied. "Brock's still getting ready, so if you haven't checked in, you have time to do that. I already have my ID number, so I'm gonna go relax in the lounge until we can go in the main hall."

    "Once I check in, I have vlog footage to edit." Nikki replied as she started towards the front desk. "It shouldn't take long."

    She dug out her trainer card and the Contest invitation. "Nikki Alexander, to compete in the Pewter Conference, please."

    "All right..." The attendant swiped Nikki's trainer card, then gave Nikki a ribbon with an ID number on it. "Your ID number for the contest is P-72333343." she explained as she gave back Nikki's trainer card. "Feel free to use any facilities here while you wait for the main hall doors to open. Remember that recording video or taking pictures inside the main hall is not allowed without permission."

    "I understand." Nikki replied. "Thank you!"

    "Good luck in the Contest!" the attendant smiled back as Nikki started off towards the computer lab.

    ---------

    Nikki smiled as she and Karina stepped into the glittering neon lights of the main hall. "No matter how many times I come in here, it's always exciting."

    "Did you get your vlog posted?" Karina asked as she led Nikki over to two empty seats near the front of the auditorium.

    "Yeah--posted it minutes before they let us in." Nikki replied as she led Rena to one of the empty seats. "You're gonna love this--any time Brock performs is an event not to be missed."

    "I figure that if he's won some Lore Stages and Fantasy Stages, he has to be good at spinning a yarn or two." Karina smiled. "But this is the first time I've seen him do it live."

    The excited chatter began to quiet as the stage lights flashed a five minute warning. "It's starting!" Nikki gasped as the other coordinators finished their conversations and quieted their Pokemon.

    The evening star is shining bright... a familiar voice sang.
    So make a wish and hold on tight...
    There's magic in the air tonight...


    The lights on the stage revealed Brock in a familiar black, green, and orange outfit, playing the song on a well loved black acoustic guitar. And anything can happen... he sang over an expectant C chord.

    With that, he started his first planned tale of the night. "Long ago, there was an old man who had three sons. The two elder sons looked after the farm, and they liked dressing up in fancy clothes and fantasizing about being rich. But the youngest, whose name was Jack, liked to go off into the forest to collect mushrooms. When he was home, he spent most of his time sitting by the great kitchen stove..."

    To Be Continued...
     
  4. FlamingRuby

    FlamingRuby The magic of Pokemon

    Interlude: Let's See Brock Touch the Hearts of Millions!


    "In a certain far-away kingdom, there lived a king that was well loved and well liked among his people." Brock began his next tale of the night. "He had three sons--the eldest was named Dimitri, the second was named Aleron, and the youngest was named Brian." he explained over a relaxed melody from the guitar.

    Then he paused, as if he remembered something. "Now, the king had a walled garden, so rich and beautiful that in nowhere in the world was there a more splendid one. Many rare trees grew in it whose Berries were precious jewels, and the rarest of all was an Leppa tree whose Leppa Berries were of pure crystal, and this the king loved best of all."

    "Wow!" Karina gasped, impressed.

    "One day he saw that one of the crystal Leppa Berries was missing." Brock's voice quieted the amazed chatter. "He placed guards at all the gates of the garden; but in spite of this, one more crystal Leppa Berry was gone every morning. Eventually he posted guards all around the garden to keep watch, and the guard reported to him that every night there came flying into the garden a bird that shone like Ho'oh, whose feathers were a fiery red and gold and its eyes like crystal, which perched on the Leppa tree, picked a crystal Leppa Berry, and flew away."

    After setting his guitar aside, Brock got up and walked around his chair, talking all the while. "The king, recognizing that the thief was the Herald of Fire, Moltres, was greatly angered, and calling to him his two eldest sons, said..."

    "My dear children, I have thought long and hard about which of you will inherit my kingdom and reign after me. Whoever can catch the flaming bird Moltres, and brings her to me alive, I will give half the kingdom, and he will rule after me when I have joined Arceus in heaven." he explained to an imagined person as the king.

    Karina was even more amazed at this, but Nikki just smiled--Brock was world famous for his mimicry as well as many other talents.

    As himself, Brock continued "The two sons, upon hearing this command, rejoiced, and both of them vowed to bring their father Moltres alive. Prince Dimitri and Prince Aleron then flipped a coin to see who would go first, and the coin's favor fell to the eldest, Prince Dimitri."

    The lights on the stage dimmed to mimic nighttime. "That evening he went into the garden to keep watch." Brock continued as he returned to his chair and waiting guitar. "He sat down under the Leppa tree and watched carefully for the first part of the night, but when midnight came, he fell asleep."

    Giggles rippled through the Contest Hall as Brock played a few bars of Brahms' Lullaby to represent Prince Dimitri falling asleep. "In the morning, the king summoned him and said..."

    "Well, my son, did you see Moltres?" he asked as the king.

    "No, father; I did not see her." he sighed in a younger version of himself for Prince Dimitri.

    As himself, Brock continued "The king, however, went to the garden and counted the Leppa Berries, and saw that yet another had been stolen."

    He played a quiet interlude, then continued "The next evening Prince Aleron went into the garden to keep watch. He too fell asleep at midnight, and the next morning when his father summoned him, he, like his brother, answered..."

    "I watched all night, but Moltres did not enter your garden." he explained in a mimic of a proud boy for Prince Aleron.

    He intoned as himself "But when the king counted them, he saw that another crystal Leppa Berry was missing."

    Nervous giggles went up at this. "On the third evening his youngest son, Brian, asked permission to keep watch in the garden, but his father initially refused." Brock explained.

    "How can you succeed where your brothers failed?" he asked as the king.

    He assured the crowd of antsy coordinators as himself "But Brian continued to plead until the king relented."

    The lights dimmed to represent night again. "So Brian took his place in the garden, and sat down to watch under the miracle tree." Brock narrated. "He watched for an hour, then two hours, and then three hours. When midnight came, sleep almost overcame him, but he had positioned his sword to poke him just hard enough to wake him beforehand."

    Just then, a red-gold light at stage right spurred excited whispers in the room. "That's a pretty clever way to symbolize Moltres." Nikki mused.

    "At midnight, the garden glowed with the light of many fires, and Moltres came flying on her fiery wings to land on the lowest branch of the Leppa Berry tree." Brock narrated. Brian quietly approached, and as she was about pick a crystal Leppa Berry, he managed to grab her tail. Moltres, being much stronger than a human, tore herself loose and flew away, leaving in his hand a single long feather. Brian wrapped this in a handkerchief, lay down, and went to sleep."

    The lights brightened to mimic morning. "In the morning the king summoned him and said..." Brock narrated.

    "Well, my son, did you see Moltres?" he asks as the king.

    As himself, Brock continued "Brian unrolled the handkerchief, and the feather shone so much, it turned the dark throne room to day. The king could not get enough of it--when it was brought into a darkened room it gleamed as if a million lights had been lit. He put it into his royal treasury as one of his many treasures, and posted many guards in the garden hoping to capture Moltres, but she came no more. The king, greatly desiring Moltres, sent for his two eldest sons, and said..."

    "You, my sons, failed even to see the thief of my Leppa Berries, but your brother Brian, has at least brought me one of her feathers. Go forth, with my blessing, and ride in search of her, and the one who brings her to me alive will receive half of my kingdom." he told an imagined person as the king.

    He continued as himself over an adventurous interlude "Dimitri and Aleron, jealous of their younger brother Brian, rejoiced that their father did not bid him to go, and mounting their swift horses, rode away in search of Moltres. They rode for three days--exactly how far, I don't know--but eventually they came to a plain where the road split into three paths. A great stone stood at the fork, with this message carved on it..."

    He then played a tense D minor chord. "Who rides forward will know both hunger and cold. Who rides to the right will live, though his steed will die. Who rides to the left will die, though his steed will live."

    As himself, he continued over a quiet interlude "They were unsure what to do, since none of the three roads bode well, and turning into a forest, made camp, where they rested."

    Karina was shocked at this. "So they're not going to adventure at all?"

    "But Brian's different from them--and that will pay off in the end." Nikki replied before turning her attention back to the stage.

    "When days had passed and they did not return, Brian asked his father to give him his blessing and permission to search for Moltres." Brock continued. "The king refused to let him go at first..."

    "My dear son, I fear the Mightyenas will devour you. You are still young, and not used to a long journey. If I die and you too are gone, who will remain to keep order in my kingdom? Rebellion may arise and there will be none to quell it, or an enemy may cross our borders and there will be none to command our troops. So please, do not leave me!" he pleaded as the king.

    As himself, Brock then assured the crowd "In spite of all this, however, Brian would not stop pleading, and eventually his father relented. He got his father's blessing, chose a fine Ponyta, and rode away to Arceus knew where."

    Nikki couldn't resist clapping along to the song that symbolized Brain traveling. "Three days he rode, till he came to the plain with the fork." Brock went on. "He read the words carved on the great stone that stood there. He thought, "I shouldn't take the left road, for on that road I will die. Nor should I take the middle road of hunger and cold. I will take the right-hand road, where I will keep my life, even though my poor Ponyta will perish." So he rode to the right.

    He sighed--good people and Pokemon dying were some of his least favorite parts to tell. "He rode for one day, then two days, and then three days, enough that the poor Ponyta died of exhaustion."

    [Poor Ponyta...] Rena commented over the sniffling crowd.

    "On the morning of the fourth day, as he walked through a forest, he saw a Lucario fainting from hunger." Brock narrated over a mysterious motif. "Remembering his fallen Ponyta, he gave the Lucario some of its meat, so it too would not perish."

    "You are a brave lad, Brian, and my heart aches for you." he told an imagined person in an older female voice with a slight lilt for the Lucario "I may have eaten your Ponyta out of survival, but as you did a good deed for me, now I will do something good for you in return. Climb on my back, and tell me where you wish to go."

    "Take me to Moltres, who stole my father's crystal Leppa Berries." he requested in a mimic of Ash as Prince Brian.

    "Did he just mimic the hero of Kalos, Ash?" Karina gasped.

    Nikki nodded. "Yes, that was Ash's voice, all right--but to be fair, Ash, Misty, and Brock are very close, so it makes sense that Brock can mimic those he knows well.

    "With that, the Lucario sped away, running faster than any mortal Rapidash." Brock narrated, playing a "running" motif as the lights dim to simulate nighttime. "At midnight, he stopped at a stone wall."

    "Climb over this wall. On the other side is a garden, and in the garden is an iron railing, and behind the railing three cages are hung, one of gold, one of silver, and one of crystal." he explained in character as the Lucario  "In the gold cage is a Murkrow, in the silver one is a Fletchling, and in the crystal cage is Moltres. Open the door of the crystal cage, carefully take out Moltres, and put her in your bag. But whatever you do, do not take the crystal cage; If you do, great misfortune will follow."

    "Brian climbed the wall, entered the iron railing, and found the three cages as the Lucario had said. Brock narrated as himself. "He took out Moltres and carefully placed her in his bag. However, one of the bag's straps caught on the crystal cage, making a clear ringing that resounded through the garden." He plays a harmonic D note for effect. "This woke the guards, and they captured Brian. In the morning they brought him before their king, the King of Fire."

    "Who are you, and where do you come from?" he asked in a regal voice for the King of Fire. "Whose son are you, and what is your name?"

    "I am Prince Brian of the hill kingdom. he replied in character. "Your Moltres entered my father's garden by night and stole many crystal Leppa Berries from his favorite tree. My father the king sent me to find and bring him the thief."

    "How will I know that you speak the truth?" he asked as the King of Fire again. "Had you asked me first, I would have given you Moltres with all the honor due her. But instead you act as a thief without honor. However, I am a just king, and I will forgive you if you will do me a favor. Across twenty lands lies the Kingdom of the Mist. If you will ride to him and win for me from him the Legendary shining steed Epona, which his father promised me, I will give Moltres to you, and forget this ever happened."

    As himself, Brock continued over a sad melody. "Brian left the Kingdom of Fire in tears. He found the Lucario and told him everything."

    He assured the audience as the Lucario "Cry not, Brian. How was I to know an accident would occur? But as you have confessed the wrong you have done and wish to set things right again, climb on my back, and tell me where you wish to go."

    "Take me across twenty countries to the Kingdom of the Mist, where the Legendary steed Epona is." he requested in character as Prince Brian.

    "I can only imagine how much practice it took for Brock to learn all these voices..." Karina smiled over the new interlude.

    "This is why we love him." I explained. "No matter what he does, he dedicates himself to it, until he can do it well."

    "And so the Lucario ran, fifty times faster than a mortal Rapidash." Brock narrated as he plays the "running" motif again. "Whether it was a long way or a short way, I don't know, but around midnight they came to the palace of the King of the Mist, and stopped beside the royal stables, which were all built of marble."

    "The stablemen are all fast asleep, and you may take Epona." he explained as the Lucario. "Be careful not to touch the golden bridle that hangs beside her. If you do, something terrible will happen."

    As himself, Brock continued "Brian opened the door of the stables and there he saw Epona, whose shining fire and blue flames lit the entire stable. But as he was leading her out his lead rope accidentally brushed against the bridle, and it too rang with a single clear note."

    He played another harmonic D note. "This noise, of course, startled Epona..."

    The audience roared with laughter as a sound effect of a Ponyta whinny played over the speakers. "The racket awakened the guards, who captured Brian." Brock continued once the laughter died down. "In the morning they led him before the King of the Mist."

    "You are too good a young man to be a Ponyta thief." he began, using a gentler voice for the King of the Mist. "Tell me where you come from, who is your father, and what is your name."

    "I come from the kingdom on the hill." he explained as Prince Brian. "I am that king's son, and my name is Brian. The King of Fire gave me the task of bringing him Epona, which your father promised him and which is his by right."

    "Had you told me you came on the Fire King's behalf in the first place, I would have given you Epona with all due honor, and you would not have needed to take her from me by thievery." he replied as the King of the Mist. "However, Brian, I will forgive you and forget this whole affair if you will do something for me. Ride over thirty lands to the Kingdom of Light, whose princess is known as Marla, the star of the sea, and bring her to me as my bride. I have loved her for a long time with all my heart, and yet cannot win her. Do this and I will forgive you and give you Epona."

    As himself, he narrated over a sad interlude. "Brian left the Mist Palace crying many tears, and told the Lucario all that had happened."

    "Dry your tears--I know you did not intend for this to happen, but it did, and so we must make things right again." he assured the audience as the Lucario. "Now, climb on my back and tell me where you wish to go."

    "Take me across thirty lands to the princess who is named Marla." he requested in character as Prince Brian again.

    [I hope he listens this time...] Rena grumbled over the guitar's interlude.

    "The Lucario began running, a hundred times faster than any Rapidash, and faster than one can tell in a tale, until he came to the Kingdom of Light." Brock continued over his "running" motif. "He stopped at a golden railing surrounding a lovely garden."

    "Go back along the road we came, and wait for me in the open field under the sycamore tree." he instructed as the Lucario.

    "So Brian did as he was told." he narrated as himself.

    The lights dimmed a little to represent evening. "Toward evening, when the sun was low and its rays were no longer hot, the king's daughter, Marla, went into the garden to walk with her ladies." Brock narrated over a quiet interlude. "When she approached, the Lucario met them in the garden and told Marla all manner of wonderful things about the suitor that was his master. After discussing the matter with her ladies, Marla agreed to come with the Lucario. He led her to the open field, to the green oak tree where Brian was waiting, and introduced her to him. Marla had been unnerved, but she found no reason to fear the young man before her."

    "Climb aboard, both of you." he instructed as the Lucario.

    "Brian climbed on the Lucario's back, with Marla holding onto him, and Lucario ran faster than fifty Rapidashes, across thirty countries, back to the Kingdom of the Mist." Brock continued over a traveling motif. "As he kept looking back to be sure Princess Marla was holding onto him securely, Prince Brian began to love her with all his heart, and Princess Marla loved him in return, so that when the Lucario came to the Kingdom of the Mist, Brian began to cry."

    "What's the matter, milord?" he asked as the Lucario.

    "How can I not cry when I myself have begun to love Princess Marla, yet now I must give her up to the King of the Mist for Epona?" he sighed as Prince Brian.

    "I have taken you this far, Brian, and I will not give up on you now." he smiled as the Lucario. "Listen closely. When we approach the palace, I will transform myself into an exact copy of Princess Marla, and you are to lead me to the King of the Mist and receive Epona in return. Once you have Epona, mount her and ride far away. I will catch up with you momentarily."

    "With that, the Lucario cast a spell of transformation..." Brock narrated as himself.

    The room gasped in awe as Brock sang in character Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul...

    [Speaking in character is hard enough, but singing as a character must be harder still!] Karina's Roselia Relia raved.

    "...and transformed into an exact copy of Princess Marla; so alike that not even an archsage's eye could tell them apart." Brock continued. "After instructing the real Marla to wait for him outside the walls, Brian led the Lucario into the palace to the King of the Mist. The king, thinking he had won the treasure he had so long desired as his wife, was very joyful, and gladly gave Brian Epona and his freedom. Once Brian had Epona, he rode outside the walls to the real Princess Marla, had her mount behind him on the saddle and set out across twenty countries back to the Kingdom of Fire."

    After playing a traveling interlude, he went on "It was not long before the Lucario, now in his true form, caught up to them."

    "Climb aboard, Brian, and let Princess Marla ride Epona." he instructed as the Lucario.

    "So Brian mounted the Lucario, and Princess Marla rode on Epona, and they went on together to the Kingdom of Fire." Brock continued as himself over his interlude. "Whether the way was a long one or a short one, I don't know, but eventually they approached the Fire Palace. Then Brian, getting down from the Lucario's back, said..."

    "If you can transform into Princess Marla, could you maybe transform into Epona too? She is a fine steed, and I shudder to know what the King of Fire has in store for her." he explained as Prince Brian.

    "So the Lucario cast another spell of transformation..." he narrated as himself for a moment. before singing Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul... as the Lucario again.

    "...and transformed into an exact copy of Epona; so alike even a trained archsage could not tell them apart." he smiled as himself. "After leaving Princess Marla on the green with the real Epona, Brian mounted the disguised Lucario and rode to the palace gate. Once Moltres was in his care, they started off for home, and the Lucario caught up to them some moments later."

    "Climb on my back and let Princess Marla ride Epona." he instructs as the Lucario again.

    "So Brian mounted the Lucario and Princess Marla rode Epona, and eventually they came to the forest where Brian and the Lucario had met." Brock narrated as himself as his "traveling" interlude slowed down.

    "Here we will part for now, but I'm sure we will meet again." he assured us as the Lucario.

    [Aw...] Rena smiled.

    The crowd agreed, and more "Aw"s went up as Brock continued "Brian got down from the Lucario's back, said a tearful farewell to his friend, and the Lucario leaped into a thicket and disappeared. Brian mounted Epona, Marla climbed on behind him, and she held in her hands the golden cage that housed Moltres, and they set off for the royal city. They rode three days, until they came to the plain with the three way fork and the great stone. Being very tired, the party decided to rest for a while. Brian tied Epona to the stone, and lying lovingly side by side on the soft grass, they went to sleep."

    He intoned over an ominous chord "Brian did not, however, expect his jealous brothers to ambush him, throw him into a deep pit, and take his treasures as he slept."

    "WHAAAAAATTTT?" Karina gasped.

    "Trust me, everything will be okay in the end." Nikki assured Karina, aware of the crowd's shocked and angry whispers.

    "The king rejoiced greatly to see them. He gave Prince Dimitri half of his kingdom, and held a festival which lasted a whole month. At the end of the month Prince Aleron was to wed Princess Marla." Brock explained as the chatter quieted

    His song turned hopeful as he assured the crowd "As for Brian, he spent two days in the deep pit, calling fruitlessly for help all the while. On the third day, the Lucario happened to pass that way. He knew immediately that the voice coming from the pit was that of Prince Brian. After levitating Brian onto safe ground and looking him over for any injury, the Lucario told Brian..."

    "Listen closely--your brothers ambushed you as you slept, threw you in that pit to die, and took away with them Princess Marla, Epona, and Moltres." he explains as the Lucario. "Hurry and climb on my back, for your brother Prince Aleron is to wed your beloved Marla today."

    Brock next started another "running" interlude. "Brian hurried aboard, and the Lucario began running, swifter than a hundred Rapidashes, toward the royal palace. Whether the way was long or short, I don't know, but he soon came to the city, and there at the gate the Lucario stopped."

    "We must part for now, but I am forever your ally, and will come to you if you need my help." he assured us as the Lucario.

    Rena swallowed hard as Brock continued "Brian got down, and after bidding the Lucario a tearful farewell, entered the city and went immediately to the palace, where Prince Aleron was even then being wed to Princess Marla. He entered the splendid foyer and came to the banquet hall, and as soon as Princess Marla saw him, she got up from the table and kissed him on the cheek."

    "Aw"s went up as the audience pictured the romantic scene in their minds. "This is my beloved, Brian, who rightfully deserves to wed me, and not this wicked one who sits with me at the table!" he called in a young female voice for Princess Marla.

    "The king was confused, and asked Princess Marla to tell him more." Brock explained as himself. "Princess Marla told him everything--how Brian had won her, Epona and Moltres, and how his two elder brothers had ambushed him as he slept and thrown him in a deep pit to die."

    He started a victorious song as he went on "When he heard the truth, the king flew into a great rage. He ordered that Prince Dimitri and Prince Aleron be thrown into the dungeon, and Brian, that same day, was wed to the lovely Marla. The king proclaimed a great festival, which lasted until there was no one hungry or thirsty in the kingdom. There were games, competitions, and performances of every stripe, and the kingdom rang with the minstrel's songs in honor of Prince Brian and Marla."

    He concluded "When the festivities finally ended, Prince Dimitri was made a servant and Prince Aleron a stable boy, but Brian lived always with his beloved Marla in such harmony and love that neither of them could bear to be without the other even for a week. He went on many more adventures with his friend the Lucario as well, but that is another story for another day!"

    The Contest Hall exploded in applause as Brock took a bow. "Wow!" Karina gasped as she applauded. "Now I know why Brock is revered all over the world!"

    To Be Continued...
     

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