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Pokemon: The Megic of a Melody (E10+)


The magic of Pokemon
Pokemon: The Magic of a Melody (E10+)

Pokemon: The Magic of a Melody

[BGM: Overture: The Legend of the Rainbow Symphony]

Long ago, the world of Pokemon was not the world you see today--it was a wild world with deep forests, high mountains, and vast oceans. Pokemon roamed freely with fantastic creatures, and even more amazing--humans could harness the power of the elements created by the gods.

Of course, not just anyone could harness magic, as the power of the elements had come to be known, but those with the talent and the desire to learn could easily find a mage to teach them within the many academies scattered across the land.

But that was not the only way to harness magic--some of the many minstrels across the land sang so passionately about fantastic Pokemon, great battles, and larger than life heroes that even their songs became spells--creating Song Magic. However, those minstrels that could harness Song Magic were few and far between. One such minstrel managed to defeat a demon uprising by collecting the powers of all eight elements into a magical necklace, then unleashing the ultimate Song Magic--Rainbow Symphony.

Many years have passed since then, but there are rumblings from the underworld once more...and a young mage will unknowingly guide the next bearer of Rainbow Symphony on his quest ...

Episode 1: The Legend of the Symphony

BGM: [Welcome to Asimiro Lodge ]

A black haired boy carefully cut into a lump of porcelain, the thunking and scraping of his tools echoing across the hills and the ivy covered stone walls that encircled the East Garden. He often liked to come to the garden in the morning before his teaching duties began, be this to read, play music, chat or tell stories with his fellow mages, or carve saefleitas, like today--it allowed him a few moments of peace and quiet before the apprentices awoke, where he would then be occupied with teaching spells, creating potions, and telling tales until the sun set. It helped that he had his own mentor alongside him to help--although he was no longer an apprentice, she could still offer him advice on the best way to explain incantations, whether mint was the best herb for a spell of protection, or just talk about life in general.

He brushed the white porcelain dust from his blue and gray tunic into a tiny heap in the grass, then examined the vaguely bird shaped lump for just the right spot to put the air hole as the breeze carried away the dust through one of the many stone arches that made up the hallway, then slipped on the gloves that were the same blue as his tunic and boots and picked up a drill to begin drilling the air hole in one of the wing-like sections of the lump, using his own saefleita, which hung proudly around his neck, as a reference. Once that was done, he would drill six fingerholes, three on each side of the "bird"'s stomach, and polish it before it went in the bag of other saefleitas he carried--then it would be given to an apprentice, where he or she would use it to summon a familiar.

[BGM: Milina and Ash's theme]

"Ash?" a female voice called, causing him to drop the drill in the grass. He whirled around to see a brown haired girl clad in the black, red, and gold tunic of a high mage standing in the stone arch at the entrance to the garden. "How are those saefleitas for the new class coming along?"

"I'm almost finished with the last one, Milina." Ash replied before retrieving the drill. "How many are in this new group?" he asked as he began drilling the air hole in the unfinished saefleita.

Milina inspected the black bag of finished saefleitas lying in the grass. "You've made too many, Ash--I'm only expecting twenty apprentices in Class Lume this year."

"I could give the extras to those that need them." Ash offered as he fished out the ten extra saefleitas that rattled in the bag before setting it on his belt nearby his sword.

"You always were very generous, Ash--and you're one of the better saefleita makers here at the lodge." Milina smiled as she took the extra saefleitas. "Have you considered making and selling saefleitas full time? Yours always seem to sell at the Magical Bazaar every year..."

"I'm not sure if I could handle making hundreds of saefleitas a day." Ash confessed. "I really only make them for fun and to give to apprentices...but besides teaching, I want to see the world alongside a knight, another mage, or a minstrel, even!"

"Then you know what you have to do--make a potion and offer it to a prospective companion as a sign of your loyalty and see if he or she offers to have you serve in return." Milina replied. "That's how I met Lady Fleur."

Ash stifled a giggle--while he had not asked Milina just WHAT it was she did when she was with Lady Fleur, he imagined it involved magically cleaning poofy dresses, commanding the kitchen to clean itself, or some other menial task.

Fortunately, Milina had not heard his giggle. "Well then...I will see you this evening--good luck with the class." With that, she disappeared down the hallway and into the lodge. Ash waved goodbye, retrieved his drill, and resumed work on the last saefleita, ever aware of the voices of children he could hear coming from the lodge.


[BGM: Aspiring Mages]

Ash rounded the corner into the lodge's east wing and counted down three doors on the right until he found one marked with a star--the sign that the classroom was used for teaching apprentices. The room didn't look very much different than he remembered--there were four long tables overlooking a blackboard and a shorter table, with storage holds close by the chair at the left side of the table to put items. He quickly stashed his bag of saefleitas in the bottom left storage hold and surveyed the bookshelves that circled the room--as this was a brand new addition to the east wing, the books on them were in pristine condition--a far cry from the ratty old spellbooks he had studied as an apprentice. Some apprentices were already seated at the table at the front, whispering excitedly about what their first year would bring as their dull red robes fluttered in the breeze coming in from a window by the door.

Once all twenty apprentices were present, he addressed the group. "Good morning, everyone--I am Ash of the Seuta Class, third year of the Seventh Raikou." Excited whispers filled the air--any apprentice in the Seuta Class was said to go on to do great things, and many a minstrel told of the deeds they had done. "It's a pleasure to see all of you, and I wish you all the best in your magical training." He paused to retrieve the bag of saefleitas. "Over the course of this year, I hope to get you off on the right foot in your training, where you can cast some basic offensive and defensive spells, mix potions, and care for a familiar."

"What's a familiar?" a girl in the right corner asked as she strung up her dull blonde hair into a ponytail.

"A familiar is a Pokemon companion that aids a mage in some way." Ash explained. "Some battle alongside their masters, some heal and protect them, and still others take care of daily tasks for them--what your familiar will do for you depends on what makes the familiar happy. That's where this comes in..." Oohs and ahs filled the air as Ash took off his own saefleita for the apprentices to see. "This is a saefleita, or 'bird's flute'--you can use it to call a familiar to you, like this...." With that, he played a simple four note melody that reverbrated through the room, particulary on the high third note.

[BGM: Saefleita Call-Pikachu]

"Pikachu!" a yellow mouse called as it struggled to climb in the window from a bush. Giggles wafted through the air as it tried several times to climb inside, but kept slipping on the windowpane.

Ash quickly put on his saefleita and helped the struggling Pikachu onto his shoulder, to some applause. "Anyway, this is my familiar...he will often scout ahead and battle alongside me when we travel." he explained as he reached for the bag of saefleitas. "As a gift to welcome you to your first year of magical studies, I want to give you a saefleita of your own." He stiffled a giggle as the crowd of twenty apprentices stormed up to the head of the class, took a saefleita, and eagerly began figuring out the notes, making various squeaks and squawks fill the air.

Once sure every apprentice had a saefleita, Ash lifted a hand for silence, quieting the noise. "If you have called a familiar already, you'll notice that some of the aura around it has dimmed." Some gasps came up from the crowd at this. "This is because calling a familiar takes a little of your own magic power--how much depends on what you want to summon." He nodded in approval at a boy that had called a Spearow. "In addition, remember what you played to summon your familiar--your familiar will only come to you if you play that song." He proceeded to play a little flourish on his own saefleita to wake up a auburn haired girl that was dozing off, making everyone laugh as those with familiars copied down their summon songs in their spellbooks.

"Is it possible to summon a Legendary with these?" a navy haired boy asked as he toyed with his saefleita.

"Yes--but it takes a lot of power." Ash replied. "That's why you should only summon them in an emergency." With that, he ran to help a girl tame the Growlithe she had summoned, which was playfully pulling the spellbooks from the shelves as the other apprentices howled with laughter.


The sky outside the potion lab was beginning to darken as Ash arrived, only pausing to set his lantern on the stand by the entryway before strolling over to one of the many large tables that were littered with bottles, boxes, and bags of all kinds. After putting what materials were already on the table back on the shelf above it, he eased one of the heavy recipe books from the shelf and set it on the table. "Let's see here...turning fire blue, teleportation, protection from dragons...here we go! The Misty Potion of Vigor." He next grabbed an empty flask from the shelf before reading the recipe first. "Cerulean tea as a base..." he mused before grabbing a flask of blue liquid from the shelf and pouring some into his empty flask. "Rosy ink to boost the strength of the healing components..." he mused as he reached for a bottle of reddish liquid and poured it inside, turning the cerulean tea to an omnious purple mixture.

"What brings you to the potion lab this late, Ash?" a voice asked.

[BGM: Milina and Ash's theme]

Ash looked up to see Milina in the doorway. "I was thinking about what you said about making a potion to find a prospective companion this morning, and decided it was worth a try--I've already informed my group about my departure in the morning."

"Must you leave so soon?" Milina asked as she walked over to where Ash was working. "You have every right to leave on an adventure when you see fit, but it would make your group feel better if you spent one last night with them before your departure."

"You're right..." Ash reached for a cork to close his flask and began shaking it to mix the first two ingredients of his potion. "They may wonder why I am leaving them after just one day together."

"Pika." Pikachu agreed as he joined Milina by the table.

"Just explain to them that sometimes, a mage will seek out a companion to serve in addition to their duties here at the lodge. Not every mage does, but the Archmage encourages every mage to do this at some point." Milina continued.

"Just out of curiosity, how many times did it take you to find Lady Fleur?" Ash wondered as he studied his recipe.

Milina thought for a moment. "It took three journeys before I found Fleur--just remember that as you travel, you may not find a companion the first time. That doesn't mean you should give up if you fail, though--some mages get lucky and find a companion the first time. If that happens with you, cherish your companion for all time." With that, she departed, leaving Ash and Pikachu alone in the dim firelight.

Once the cerulean tea and rosy ink were mixed thoroughly, Ash uncorked it and dropped some glowing seeds into the purple liquid, making them burst open with a pop and a flash of light. "Grian seeds for healthy skin." he explained to Pikachu, who was fascinated by the pale yellow mist wafting from the flask. "Normally, they release liquid when they burst open, but when exposed to liquid themselves, their liquid becomes mist." He next shook some dull brown powder into the flask, turning the liquid a lighter shade of blue. "Powdered birch root, to protect against evil spirits and the Song Magic spell Amethyst Eye..."

"Pi pikachu pi?" Pikachu asked.

"Some evil spirits of the siren variety tend to sing to bring about their dark magic." Ash replied. "Amethyst Eye is especially dangerous--for then the spirit can possess you while you sleep. Song Mages can do this right back at the spirit, but for the rest of us, we have birch root." He next added some mint leaves, turning the liquid a pale green. "Mint for general healing purposes..." Some small white flowers turned the liquid yellow. "Meadowsweet for pain relief..." Some drops of a glowing clear liquid turned the mist in the flask pale blue. "Anima's tears for healing of deep wounds, and finally..." He carefully stirred in a shining silver dust, boosting the mist inside the flask and making a sweet minty aroma fill the air. "Wish dust for renewal of strength." After replacing the cork on the flask, putting it inside a bag, and tidying his work area, he motioned for Pikachu to follow him as he took his torch and started down the hall out to the stone walkway that connected the south and east wings. The garden was close by, so he figured that would be the perfect spot to relax on his last night in the lodge for a while.

He noticed that his group was waiting for him when he arrived in the garden. "Why are you leaving us in the morning, Sir Ash?" a boy asked. The boy's familiar, a Yohteri, eagerly danced around Ash's feet, piqued in what was inside the bag around Ash's shoulder.

"Well, many mages, in addition to teaching and adventuring, often serve someone." Ash replied as he made himself comfortable under a tree and invited the apprentices to gather around. "What they may do depends on their companion's needs--some escort nobility, others help with daily tasks, and still others tend to their companion's mind and body, to name only a few possibilities."

"Well, what kind of person would you want to serve?" a red haired girl asked.

"I haven't really gave much thought to that, but I figure it might be fun to serve a minstrel--assist with tricks or stories, protect his props, write new material...." Ash mused.

"Is it really true that there are minstrels that can sing magic like songs?" a pink haired girl wondered.

"Yes--although they are very few in number." Ash replied. "In fact..." He reached for his saefleita. "I don't normally do this, but our lodge's guardian, Lugia, once helped to aid such a minstrel in saving the world."

[BGM: Summon Cycle-Lugia]

With that, he began playing the summon cycle for Lugia: the sad sounding Earth melody, which segued into the mystic sounding Fire melody. The wind began picking up strength and speed as Ash played the joyful sounding Wind section, culminating in a bright flash of silver light as he concluded the prayerful Water section to complete the cycle. The apprentices gasped and looked up at the starry sky as a large white dragon-like bird emerged from the light with a cry.

"Hail and well met, Silver Guardian." Ash began as he bowed before the dragon bird Pokemon hovering above him.

"And to you likewise, Ash of Asimiro...how may I be of service this evening?" Lugia replied.

"Please, tell my apprentices the tale of the ultimate Song Magic and the necklace that held the colors of the gods." Ash replied.

"It is a long story, but I will attempt to tell it in a reasonable amount of time." Lugia replied.

[BGM: The Rainbow Symphony]

"Long ago, the demon lord Kione looked down upon the world that Our Lady Anima had made--why couldn't he have such a beautiful world to rule? He searched for something--anything at all--that he could use to destroy the Holy Realm and create a world he could rule filled with despair and grief. Eventually, his spies told him that the best thing to do was to destroy Anima herself, and to do that, he had to slay her Guardians--us--before he could do battle with her personally."

"So what did you do?" the navy haired boy asked.

"Our leader, the Great Arceus, feared for all of us when he heard the rumors of Kione's plot, and asked Anima and the other gods what we could do to save ourselves. " Lugia continued. "Anima told us not to worry, for the songs of those that could sing magic would save us and the universe--when they created the world, the gods each formed a little of their power into a bead, and hid these beads all across the world. But what Anima did not know was that Kione was infiltrating these places and filling them with monsters to deter those minstrels that would find these beads--he knew very well that if all eight were brought together in the hands of a Song Mage, they would create the ultimate Song Magic spell--Rainbow Symphony. Many minstrels tried to gather the beads, and many minstrels and adventurers died making the dangerous journey. We all feared that we too would fall by Kione's hand."

"And then?" the auburn haired girl asked as her Taillow fluttered by her side.

"Just as all hope seemed lost, a minstrel whose name is only known to Lady Anima finally managed to assemble all eight beads in a necklace, and unleashed the spell Rainbow Symphony atop Voima Hill, the one place in the north lands that is not affected by its harsh cold. Lugia replied. "The song was strong enough to banish Kione to the underworld, and when it concluded, his necklace shattered, scattering the beads to eight new locations should Kione try again to storm the Holy Realm. This necklace, the Necklace of the Mystical Rainbow, should only be assembled in a time of great need, and by a minstrel with the ability to sing magic."

Everyone applauded. "Thank you, Sir Lugia!" the apprentices chorused.

"My thanks as well." Ash added.

"You're most welcome." and Lugia soared off into the sky. Ash waved goodbye and relaxed under the tree, contemplating what would happen on his adventure.


[BGM: Setting Out]

After bidding Milina and his apprentices goodbye, Ash set out early the next morning with Pikachu for Hopea, a town on the northern edge of the Luse Forest. They made good time across the Raduga Plains from Masuliro to the town of Hijau, but the sun was setting by the time the two of them arrived in the forest and made camp by a stream.

Once sure that the pile of sticks he had gathered was the right size, Ash began focusing a ball of red energy in his hands. "Out of the ground, raze all greenery with flame! Fire!" The red energy ball went flying at the sticks, starting a campfire.

"Pika!" Pikachu romped up to the flickering flames and began warming his paws.

"You want to help with dinner?" Ash asked. Pikachu nodded as his master slid some Pidgey meat onto a spit over the fire. "Go see if you can find some Berries to go with this meat."

[Cut BGM]

"Chu!" With that, Pikachu darted off into the brush, leaving Ash to doze beside his campfire, periodically turning the meat or looking to see if his familiar had returned.

Some rustling in the grass woke him from his nap twenty minutes later. "Pikachu?" he stammered as he got up from the grass to see what was rustling in a nearby bush. "Is that you?"

[BGM: Fight to Survive!]

"SCYTHER!!!" a large muscular mantis cried as it sprung from the bush, knocking Ash backwards. He scrambled to his feet and drew his sword seconds before the Scyther could raid his camp and snatch the roasting meat. The Scyther bared its claws and tried to scratch Ash's face, but impacted the sword's blade with a CLANG! It tried again and again to get to the frightened mage wielding the beautiful blade with angel wings inlaid with rubies forming the guard, but was blacked every time by the sword.

Ash gritted his teeth as he deflected the Scyther's claws again and again--he hadn't counted on being ambushed by a hostile Pokemon. He finally stabbed at the Scyther's stomach seconds before the Scyther could slash his face, making his attacker rear back in pain.

With the Scyther wounded, Ash decided to try focusing some lightning energy through the emerald in the pommel of his weapon in hopes it would drive the Scyther away. "Swirling bolts, gather and strike with power! Thunder!" The Scyther was not prepared for the thunderbolts that came streaking from Ash's blade, and howled in pain as it fell to the ground.

"Good riddance..." Ash grumbled as he sheathed his weapon and started down a path by the stream. Suddenly, he heard a keening scream as he was thrown to the ground--the Scyther had apparently recovered from his spell! He cried again and again as the Scyther's claws tore his cloak and into his clothing, making dark red stains form on his back and legs. An attempt to roll over and get up only resulted in more large gashes on his chest.

Finally, the Scyther flew off into the brush, chittering happily over its revenge it had gotten over the mage that lay bloodied and beaten on the path.

[Cut BGM]

Just then, Pikachu appeared in the distance. "Pikapi!" he gasped when he saw his master bleeding on the ground. "Pika pika?" he asked as he set his berries aside, hurried back to his master's bag, and tried bandaging Ash's wounds with pieces of a blanket.

"Scyther....attacked....me...." Ash groaned in pain. "Go...get...help...."

"Pika! Pika chu, Pikapi!" Pikachu assured his master. Ash moaned again and collapsed into the dirt, the last thing he saw being Pikachu darting off into the grass in a mad dash attempt to find someone that could save his life....

To Be Continued....
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The magic of Pokemon
Episode 2: A Minstrel's Quest

[BGM: Safe at Home]

A furry sensation against his arm spurred Ash to groan a little. He wasn't in the forest anymore, and the Scyther that attacked him was nowhere to be found. But where was he? Was the soft harp playing a calm melody a sign he had ascended to the Holy Realm? I couldn't have died back there... he thought as he felt his shoulder and heaved a sigh of relief at the warm touch. Then why am I hearing a harp?

His eyes flickered open, allowing him to see the large pale yellow cat circling the bed he lay on and the harpist that was performing by the entrance to the room-judging from his age, he appeared about eighteen to twenty years old, his earthen hair and tan skin the perfect complement to the dull red and gold tunic and white leggings he wore. A dull red cloak identical to the tunic's color hung on a hook by the door. Ash recognized the cloak's clasp--a Taillow spreading its wings signified that the cloak's owner was a minstrel.

When the hypnotic melody concluded, the small silver tiara the cat was wearing glowed. "The mage has awoken, master." she began. "I was able to heal the wounds on his arms and hands, but the ones on his body are too deep for my simple magic to heal."

[BGM: Wisdom of the Heart] (begin at :23)

Ash couldn't believe his ears--Pokemon speaking the language of humans only existed among archmages and those they favored. He sat up and prepared to ask the minstrel how his Persian could speak, but a sharp pain in his chest forced him to lie back down again.

"Peace, Master Mage--you're safe now." the Persian replied. "I found you in the woods and carried you to my master's house, where you now lie."

"Th-thank you...." Ash stammered, his mind swimming with questions and his chest throbbing with pain. "Although, might I know your name, lady Persian?"

"My name is Kissa." the Persian replied. "I speak because of the Archmage's Tiara given to my master from the archmage of the northern lodge of Miranai as thanks for performing for the archmage's 30th year of service."

"Kissa found you bleeding and beaten in the forest and brought you here." the minstrel replied before lifting his hands to the harp strings again. "Healing water, immerse this hurting and weary soul...Cleansing Pool." With that, he started playing a soft and gentle melody, creating a warm and wet feeling around Ash. Although he knew full well that he was actually lying in a bed, Ash was shocked that as long as the minstrel played his harp, it looked very much like he was in a puddle of water--yet neither the bed he was on, the linens on it, nor the floor showed signs of being wet!

"Suprised?" the minstrel smiled as Ash examined the wounds on his chest--they had shrunk significantly and were not causing him quite as much pain as before.

"Yeah...was that...Song Magic?" Ash gasped.

"You speak the truth." Kissa replied. "My master discovered he had the talent when he was just an apprentice--every song he sang caused plants to grow, dying embers to reignite, and dry springs to fill with water once more, among other things."

The minstrel set his instrument on a shelf as he studied Ash's healing wounds. "Your wounds are deep, and I may have to play Cleansing Pool a few times before they heal completely...you were fortunate to have Kissa find you, or you would've died out there."

"Oh, but it was not mere chance I found him there--his Pikachu guided me to him." Kissa assured the minstrel. Pikachu romped in the room, elated that his master was alive.

[BGM: The Mysterious Singer]

"I owe you my life, Sir Minstrel..." Ash began as he cuddled Pikachu.

"Sir Brock of Hopea, trained in the Amhran Order of Minstrels." the minstrel replied. "Now that I have told you my name, might you tell me yours?"

"I am Ash of Asimiro Lodge--I was on my way to Hopea when that Scyther attacked." Ash said. "Although I must ask how you know Song Magic--or why so few minstrels can wield it."

"The first question I cannot answer so easily--you would have to ask a High Minstrel how it works." Brock replied before sitting down in a chair beside the bed. "Your second question has an easier answer--the reason why Song Magic is so rare is because it is a very difficult art to learn even if you have innate talent. Most minstrels often don't teach anyone for that reason alone."

"Forgive for intruding in your discussion, but what were you doing out in the woods so late at night, Master Ash?" Kissa asked as she trotted up close to the bed. Pikachu decided to hop off the bed and hurry off into the house's foyer, where he returned carrying the bag containing Ash's saefleita, sword, and potion.

[BGM: Dreaming of Adventure]

"Many mages, in addition to teaching apprentices, also serve a companion, as a reminder of our founder's devotion to serving others." Ash explained.

"Although the founder of Asimiro Lodge is now known only to Lady Anima, his passion for serving others spurred other lodges to command their mages seek out companions, a practice continued today." Brock interjected before beckoning Ash to continue.

"So even though I have only been a full mage for a short time, I made myself a Misty Potion of Vigor and set out for Hopea in hopes I would find someone to serve there. But since I've met you two and actually seeing Song Magic with my own eyes, I've decided that maybe I don't need to search any farther for a companion." Ash mused before inviting Pikachu into his arms. "That, and I really want to learn Song Magic."

Brock thought for a moment. "If you need someone to serve, I could teach you Song Magic in return for your service..."

"I accept your offer." Ash smiled as Pikachu gave Kissa the potion. "Please accept this Misty Potion of Vigor as a sign of my loyalty to you."

"Consider your gift accepted." Brock replied as he went to set the potion on a shelf in the kitchen before returning. "But before we begin any service at all, let's have your wounds heal first."

[Cut BGM]

A sudden spasm of pain caused Ash to moan a little, but he was soon calmed by the soothing melody of Brock's harp wafting around him. Kissa resumed her patrol around the bed as her master performed, allowing both Ash and Pikachu to doze.


A few days later...

[BGM: Safe at Home]

Kissa watched as Brock examined Ash's wounds--after several days of rest and many performances of Cleansing Pool, the bloody gashes that once dotted the mage's body were either pink outlines or healed completely. "He appears to be fully recovered, master..."

"I know, but if he needs more time to heal, leave him be." Brock cautioned. "Anima knows when it is time for a full recovery."

"But I'm ready to get up now..." Ash yawned as he groggily sat up in the bed. He heaved a sigh of relief that there was no longer any pain in his chest, just some stiffness in his legs. "I want to set out on an adventure, travel across the land, learn Song Magic...."

"I don't know about the first two things, but we can start with the third after you get up and eat." Kissa replied, stiffling a giggle as Ash stepped behind a screen to dress. Ash sighed--he had been cooped up in bed, and now Kissa was seemingly laughing at his eagerness to get out of bed? He wasn't sure if that was the real reason for Kissa's giggles, but for the moment, he assumed she meant well and found his enthusiasm charming.

[BGM: Carried on Heartstrings]

"You're here..." Brock smiled as he offered Ash a place at the table overlooking the window with a view of the forest and Hopea, with its stone houses and grey tile roofs, in the distance. Ash made himself comfortable at the place his new friend offered him, and smiled as a plate piled high with fresh bread, some meat, and a dizzying array of Berries was set before him--this was way better than the stale bread and hard cheese he often had to eat at the lodge! Of course, his becoming a teacher not long after he had become a full mage meant he got slightly better food, but that didn't matter now. Just the fact that Brock had clearly made the food with just as much love and care as his family or the bakers in towns showed how much he cared for his guests.

"Tell me...how does a mage hone their skills?" Brock asked as he bit into a piece of bread, every so often offering a piece of ham for Kissa.

"Likewise, how does a minstrel train?" Ash replied. "I'll tell you about my time at the lodge if you tell me about the minstrel's hall."

"Well, minstrels begin training at ten years old, like most any profession, and become a full fledged minstrel at age fifteen or sixteen." Brock replied. Ash thought for a moment--assuming Brock had fledged at that time, that would mean he had been a minstrel for about three to five years, judging from his age. "Although if they have the talent for Song Magic, they may stay longer, depending on when the talent is discovered."

"Mages fledge after three or four years, and many stay at the lodge to teach new apprentices..." Ash started as he got up from the table and retrieved his sword. "When we fledge, we receive a weapon to commemorate the occassion--I received mine six months ago." He procceeded to show Brock a few fighting moves to illustrate his point.

"Strong enough to wield a sword, are you?" he heard Brock say before another sword met his blade with a CLANG! "Most mages I see wield staves or bows...."

"The apprentice can choose what sort of weapon they want to receive when they fledge." Ash explained as he disengaged. "and I chose a sword because I admired the many heroes in tales minstrels like you told."

"Oh, master, must we spar where there are many precious items about?" Kissa sighed--she had not expected a swordfight to almost break out in the kitchen.

Brock blushed. "You're right, Kissa..." He waited for Ash to sheathe his weapon, then offered his blade for Ash. "This is the Mystical Sword of Colors--most blades we minstrels receive have eight gems in the guard in rememberance of the first wielder of Rainbow Symphony." Ash nodded as he admired the butterfly shaped guard of Brock's weapon, each section of its wings inlaid with a gem. "But now is not the time to spar..." he continued as he too sheathed his weapon and began clearing the table. "I have a gift for you too, in return for the gift you gave me."

[BGM: Basics of Song Magic]

"What is it?" Ash wondered as he watched his friend place a small gold flute in his hands. Unlike his saefleita, which was sideblown, this flute appeared to be endblown, judging from the small mouthpiece.

"That is a Dreamer's Flute--an instrument specifically designed for using Song Magic." Brock replied.

"But why do I need another flute? I have my saefleita..." Ash protested as he fished his saefleita from his bag and played the four note melody to call Pikachu to his side.

"The bird's flute is all well and good for calling familiars, but didn't the archmage or high mage tell you why every summon song was so short?" Brock asked, taking his harp and motioning for Ash to follow him outside.

"So that if a mage had many familiars, they could remember and keep track of them all." Ash replied as he followed Brock and Kissa out to a clearing not far from the house.

"Song Magic is not meant for short bursts of magic like the bird's flute--to get the full effect of a spell, you need to play for as long as you can, like a lucid dream." Brock explained. "The Dreamer's Flute can play more than six or seven notes at a time, which will help you tremendously with casting Song Magic." After pausing to tune his harp, he continued. "Flutes aren't the only instrument you can use--harps, fiddles, horns, anything that is capable of making continuous sound is a viable way to cast Song Magic."

"Even drums?" Ash challenged.

"Even drums, if you keep a steady beat going." Brock assured Ash before readying his harp to play. "Now, draw your blade and watch what happens here." Ash complied with the request and watched as Brock commanded "Flames of passion, give this blade an anger that burns! Fire Blade!"

As Brock began to play, Ash gasped in awe as his blade began to turn red, then burst into flames--and his weapon didn't even melt! "How...is this happening?"

"For as long as I played, I willed for your blade to gain the power of fire--that's the other part of using Song Magic." Brock explained.

"So I have to want the desired spell to happen? Easy!" Ash smiled before taking his new flute and playing a stream of random notes in hopes his blade would ignite again. Pikachu laughed as Ash's song grew more desprate and out of tune, his face scruncing up with determination all the while.

"Just wanting the spell to happen and playing something won't do a thing." Brock cautioned, stopping Ash's song. "You have to name the desired spell first."

"So that stuff about flames of passion wasn't just for show..." Ash noted.

"Now..." Brock paused to set his instrument aside and draw his own blade. "Can you enchant my blade with fire like I did yours? Let's see if you have the talent to sing magic!"

Ash took a deep breath and stammered "Flames o-of passion, give this b-blade a fire that burns! Fire Blade!" With that, he started to play the tune 'The Silver Sword', making Brock's sword begin to glow red--until he stumbled over a wrong note, making the glow fade.

Brock grimaced. "It's a start--you may have a little talent in you after all."

"I apologize for interrupting the Song Magic lesson, but the Midday Hour grows near, and the children of Hopea await you." Kissa interjected.

"Very well." Brock replied as he sheathed his blade, gathered his supplies, and followed Kissa down the forest path, Ash not far behind.


[BGM: A New Day in Town]

The sun was already high overhead as Ash and Brock arrived in Hopea that afternoon. "So, what sorts of stories do you tell?" Ash asked as he followed Brock to the town square.

"It depends on my audience--if it is a mixture of children and adults, they are tales of heroic deeds or magical Pokemon." Brock replied as he accepted his harp from Kissa. "If it is mainly children, like it is today, they will mainly be tales of how things came to be and tales of virtue."

"What do you want me to do?" Ash asked, toying with the Dreamer's Flute.

"Depending on the tale and your acting ability, you may play a role--otherwise, assist with props, and play the Flute at the appropriate time." Brock replied before beginning a calm melody. Come one, and come all, for I have stories to be told, of adventure, and magic, and treasure worth more than gold. Ash nodded and found an outcropping by the fountain as a variety of children and some adults gathered around Brock's feet.

"Sir Brock, who is your new friend?" a woman asked.

"This is Ash, a mage from the lodge at Masuliro--my new companion." Brock replied. "He will be assisting with performances."

One girl saw Pikachu peeking from Ash's cloak. "Sir Brock, why do Pikachus have stripes on their backs?" she asked.

"It is because of Sorin's boasting to an Ursaring--perhaps you would like to hear the tale?" Brock asked the crowd. Ash's eyes lit up--aside from tales of heroes, tales of the crafty Pikachu Sorin were his favorite stories when he was younger. He would always laugh at Sorin's over the top tricks, and revel in how Mightyenas, Raikous, and the occassional Ursaring got their just desserts by the paw of a tiny Pikachu. But this was a Sorin tale he had not heard before, so he crossed his legs and listened as Brock began a quiet melody.

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

"Long ago, the Pokemon of the world lived in peace and spoke the language of humans." Brock began. "Sorin was a confident and brave Pikachu, and always had something to say on even the most trivial of matters. Yet the Pokemon listened anyway, because in those days, everyone listened to everyone. The problem was, Sorin did not know when to stop talking." He played a brisk yet steady melody, as if mimicing someone talking. "When anyone passed his burrow, he would run up to them and talk for hours. Shinkijika, for example, would smile, nod, and continue on her way, but Sorin would be right behind her, eager to talk even more."

The crowd laughed at this before Brock's melody turned quiet again. "One day, Ursaring happened to pass by Sorin's burrow. Sorin saw him and called. He then switched to a high pitched male voice. "Good day, Ursaring! Won't you walk with me?" Even Ash couldn't help laughing at how very similar Brock's "Sorin" voice sounded to a Pikachu cry.

As himself, Brock continued. "Now, Ursaring was a proud Pokemon, and fancied himself as the strongest among them, so he had little patience for smaller creatures. So he said to Sorin..." he next switched to a deep, gruff voice. "No thank you, Sorin--I have more important matters to attend to today."

"Why do you think so highly of yourself?" he asked as Sorin.

"Uh...I'm big...I'm strong, and I can do anything!" he replied as Ursaring.

"ANYTHING???" he challenged as Sorin.

"Anything." he replied as Ursaring. Ash joined the crowd in applauding Brock's ability to singlehandedly carry a complete conversation between two personas.

Brock waited for the applause to die down before continuing as himself "Sorin began to laugh, and Ursaring was angry that someone had the nerve to laugh at him." The children giggled as Brock mimiced someone laughing on the harp before demanding as Ursaring "Why do you laugh at ME????"

"I know one thing you can't do!" he proclaimed as Sorin. "You can't stop Ho'oh's journey across the sky!" The crowd gasped at this, but Ash was chuckling at how Ursaring would likely react.

"You could've heard a pin drop all through the forest at Sorin's challenge." Brock continued as himself. "The birds stopped singing, and Shinkijika, who had been passing by at that moment, stopped to hear Ursaring's answer. The Ekans, the Squirtles, the Bunearies, and the Rattatas all stopped what they were doing--every Pokemon waited to hear what Ursaring's answer would be." He lets that hang for a moment.

After a few tense seconds, Ash worked up the courage to ask "So, what did Ursaring say?"

"He thought for a moment before replying..." Brock pauses to switch to his Ursaring persona. "I have not tried that, but I'm sure I could if I wanted to."

"Oh no, you can't!" he mocks as Sorin.

"Yes, I can!" he counters as Ursaring. "Tomorrow, I will stop Ho'oh's journey to the west!" Some "oh"s waft through the crowd at this before Brock began a panicked sounding melody. "The forest erupted into a panic, and many Pokemon stayed up all night in fear of what would happen in the morning. But Sorin slept peacefully that night, confident Ursaring could not stop Ho'oh." His song calmed down as he continued. "Naturally, Anima commanded Ho'oh to begin her daily flight the next morning, and try as Ursaring might, Ho'oh paid no mind to his commands."

"Now, see? Ho'oh ignored you, you're not that powerful!" he taunted as Sorin. As himself, he continued over his panicked melody "This was the last straw for Ursaring, and he ran after Sorin, swiping him all the while with his great claws." Gasps go up from the crowd--even Ash had a lump in his throat in fear that Sorin didn't survive. "Sorin made it back to his burrow alive, but he had scars on his back where Ursaring had scratched him. In time, these claw marks turned brown and healed no further. Since then, Pikachus bear these stripes as a reminder of Sorin's folly." Applause filled the air at the story's conclusion.

"See why my master is so respected?" Kissa smiled before running to collect the coins the crowd threw on the ground.

"I do..." Ash smiled--maybe he had made the right choice of a companion! He wondered what Milina would say if he told her about Brock and Kissa....

To Be Continued....


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 3: Adventure's Calling

[BGM: Memories of Home]

"Dear Milina..." Ash dictated to an enchanted quill, making it write the words on a piece of parchment. "I have made it to Hopea...nah..." At this, the quill shook some fairy dust on the rejected fragment, making it disappear. "I almost made it to Hopea in one piece...nah.....I would not have...maybe not..."

"What's that?" Brock asked as he walked in the room just as the quill made fragment after fragment disappear.

"I'm trying to write a letter to my mentor back at the lodge." Ash explained as the quill hovered back to the left margin under his greeting. "Problem is, I'm not sure how to explain my attack and your rescuing me."

"Just assure your mentor that you are safe for now, then talk about the attack and how we rescued you." Brock suggested.

"I think I will..." Ash replied before addressing the quill again. "I am well--I would not have made it to Hopea in one piece had I not been rescued by the minstrel that serves the town, Sir Brock of the Amhran Hall. While I was on my way through the forest, I was attacked by a Scyther, and despite my best efforts to drive it away, it wounded me and left me for dead. Pikachu met Sir Brock's Pokemon companion, a Persian named Kissa, and she brought me to her master's house. When I came to, I learned that Sir Brock is one of the very few minstrels that can sing magic, and was more than happy to teach me in return for my service..." He continued dictating to the quill for several minutes, making sure to include his thoughts on his new companion and the performance they had just returned from.

"I'm not sure I have seen quills that write on their own before..." Brock noted as the quill finished writing and the parchment rose up before Ash for him to look it over.

"Most mages receive a living quill when they visit the library for the first time." Ash explained as the completed letter was warped away to its destination and the quill stretched out on the table in a Persian-like fashion. "They develop their own personalities depending on what their owner writes." At this, the quill perked up. "Say hi to my friends Brock and Kissa, Vardi." Ash cooed. The quill complied by writing "Hello!" in sparkly letters in the air before settling back in its inkwell.

"Pleased to meet your acquaintance, Vardi." Brock smiled as he petted the quill, which intertwined around his thumb for a moment in a loving gesture. Kissa purred in agreement as the quill stroked her fur for a moment.

"I think she likes you two." Ash smiled as Vardi returned to the inkwell.

"It must be quite entertaining with living objects all over the lodge." Brock chuckled as he pictured dancing dishes, more living quills, clothing that washed itself, and walking books.

"Not every object in the mage's lodge is alive per se, but we can command clothes to hang up, dishes to wash themselves, and books to turn to a certain page." Ash explained. As for having actual personalities, our familiars and quills are the only living items we as apprentices can handle--I'm sure the high mages and archmages have even more, but I was never allowed into a high mage's or an archmage's chamber."

"Even though I have met an archmage, we didn't go into the archmage's chamber when I performed at Mirenai lodge--the Archmage's Tiara was presented to me in the common room." Brock explained. "So I know no more about enchanted objects than you do."

"So what exactly do apprentice minstrels do?" Ash wondered. He pictured a group music lesson where every apprentice had to learn the harp, like it or not.

[BGM: Carried on Heartstrings]

"Well..." Brock was unsure--it had been a long time since he had been asked that question. "I can assure you it's not what you picture it being--there are no group harp lessons or learning tales by rote. There's also no auditions--being there means you have at least some form of performance talent, and this is what you study first. In my case, I started with honing my skill on the lute."

"Can you still play the lute at all?" Ash asked--so far, he had only seen his companion play the harp. "Or any other instrument?"

"I can still play the lute somewhat, and am proficient on whistles like the Dreamer's Flute, in addition to my harp." Brock replied. "In fact, I was practicing on my first harp when I met Kissa."

"Really?" Ash was interested. "Were you practicing for a recital or something?"

"Not so much a recital as a performance exam--every so often, our teacher would ask us to perform certain pieces for a grade." Brock mused. "While the name of what I was practicing that day escapes me, I felt that I knew it well enough to earn top honors. Just as I prepared to run through it one last time, I heard a tiny cry coming from the green. I thought it was my imagination at first, but every time I tried to begin my piece, I kept hearing it--a tiny, frightened mew."

"So what did you do?" Ash was interested in the story now.

"I set my harp aside, threw on my cloak, and hurried through the rain to the green, where I found a young Meowth huddled in a bush, shivering from the wind and rain. Once I had gotten it inside and asked the healer to examine it, I returned to the foyer to resume practicing." Brock continued. "Yet my mind was on that poor little Meowth, and I couldn't concentrate at all."

"Did the high minstrel let you keep it?" Ash was piqued.

"Yes--the healer had found that the Meowth was healthy, and so I asked the high minstrel if I could keep it. She accepted my offer--and Kissa and I have been together ever since." Brock concluded.

[BGM: The Mysterious Singer]

Just then, Ash saw Kissa's tiara glow again. "I hear them..." she began.

"Hear who?" Ash asked--there was no one else in the house except for the three of them.

"The Beads of the Elements..." Kissa replied. "When darkness falls upon the land, they will sing for someone to rescue them."

Ash thought back to a few days before--was it possible that the Scyther attack that nearly killed him was a sign of something far more sinister? Nah, that can't be--there'd have to be attacks right and left if Kione was really on the move...

"So again the dark king roams the land, bringing terror and despair in his wake..." Brock mused. "Including Pokemon going wild."

"So are we leaving on an adventure?" Ash asked as he watched Brock carry down some clothing, food, and medicine.

"I am, but someone has to watch the house while Kissa and I are away." Brock replied. "So I want you to housesit while we're gone."

"But that's not fair!" Ash pleaded. "Companions are supposed to stick together through thick and thin! Besides, I have no idea how long you will be away, and I would be very lonely."

"The search for the Beads is for minstrels alone..." Brock countered.

"So? Many minstrels had companions on their journey, and I want to return the favor for your rescuing me, even though we have only been together a short time!" Ash pleaded.

"Let Ash make his case for going on the journey with us--he may have a perfectly good reason for wanting to go." Kissa interjected, dissapating the arguement.

"Okay...I'll hear you out--why is it that you want to travel with me on such a dangerous quest?" Brock asked, his voice calm yet stern. "Tell me the truth."

[BGM: A Tale from the Heart]

Ash swallowed the lump that formed in his throat, then began. "Long ago, nearby a village whose name is lost to us, the fairies that guarded the village came out from their hiding places to gather dew long before the people of the village awoke, led by their queen, Papillion.

Suddenly, they heard a great roar that shook the earth and saw a red plume of flame coming from the forest. When they went to get a closer look, they saw what the noise was--the great Dragonite that had brought terror on the village for several months.

The fairies had heard the villager's rumors about the Dragonite, but had never seen him. Now, he was rearing up on his scaly orange legs, daring a knight that stood before him to challenge him.

A great battle broke out, and the fairies cheered their hardest for the knight...." Ash spared no detail in describing the battle between the knight and Dragonite, how the knight finally slew the huge Pokemon with his last bit of strength, and the fairies' decision to revive the one that had saved the village.

Silence filled the air at the story's conclusion before Brock spoke again. "A well told tale, but what does that have to do with my not allowing you to go on the quest for the Beads of the Elements?"

"My point is, rather than being in the background like the fairies while you go out to save the world, I want to help you!" Ash pleaded. "Long have I dreamed of going on a quest with someone, and searching for the Beads of the Elements is a perfectly good quest. Furthermore, no one can save the world alone."

"He has a point..." Kissa agreed. "My magic is limited, and Ash can likely do more than I can to help...."

"Oh, all right...." Brock sighed. "You can come along on this adventure."

[Cut BGM]

"YEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!" Ash cheered before a thought occurred to him. "Although...where are we supposed to find the Beads?"

"We can probably visit the master of Amhran Hall--she would probably know where the Beads have been singing." Brock replied. "So rest well--my home hall is a long way from here."

Ash hurried to gather his gear before returning to his room. He could hardly sleep--he was still excited about embarking on a real quest!

To Be Continued


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 4: The Song of the Elements

[BGM: Stories These Halls Could Tell]

"So this is Amhran Hall..." Ash mused as he looked up at the large building past the steel gate. He followed Brock across the green and inside the majestic temple-like building with large windows and vine-like spires atop curved archways. The nature theme continued on the inside of the hall, with leaf and flower inlays filling the walls and furnishings, and even the wood floors. Normally, there would be music of all kinds filling the air, but it was mostly quiet, save for an apprentice practicing a piece to be graded or a group of apprentices in simple dull blue tunics and leggings swapping stories. Ash reached out and touched an inlay of a Pikachu in the wall as Brock led the way into a large open domed room with hallways in all four directions. A fountain of Articuno flying stood in the center of a multicolored compass design in the center of the room.

"What do you think?" Brock asked as he sat down one one of the benches surrounding the fountain.

"It's beautiful!" Ash replied as he admired the sunshine streaming through some stained glass windows nearby the domed ceiling, projecting scenes of Treeckos in the brush, Ninetales arguing with an Entei, a crowd of Pokemon dancing, and many other scenes from tales he had heard minstrels tell on the tile floor.

"This is Harmony Square--the center location of the hall." Brock explained. "Apprentices often like to gather here, especially when it rains. Some often practice their storytelling and dancing here."

"And there are plenty of sunny spots for me to relax in." Kissa agreed as she sprawled out onto the floor and dozed off, the sun projecting the stained glass image of a Taillow flying on her fur.

"Have the apprentices met a mage before?" Ash wondered as a group of apprentices crossed from the northern hallway to the east hallway, curiously eying him all the while.

"Mages have visited before, usually to help those with Song Magic hone their power." Brock explained. Ash nodded as he studied the various instruments hanging on one wall--having a mage to help control the fireballs and icebolts an apprentice played made perfect sense. "We have had a few that were quite the storyteller themselves--you do know a good story or two, right?"

"Well..." Ash took a few deep breaths to quell the Beautiflies in his stomach before continuing. "I know a few, but I'm not that good." He feared Brock was about to put him on the spot to perform--or worse, leave him to perform alone.

"Remember when I told you that depending on your acting ability, you might be playing a role in a tale? This is one of those occassions." Brock explained. "In addition to seeing the Lady Arina, I often return here to share new stories with the apprentices."

"He has grown quite close to many of them, but there is one that he looks foward to seeing every visit." Kissa added as she swiped at a passing Venonat with a paw.

"Her name is Ayra, and while she is no prodigy in the hall, she's got enthusiasm for learning or just playing tunes." Brock explained. "One of the very few I will get the lute out for."

"And one of the very few times I refuse to listen." Kissa muttered as she eyed the Venonat that was now crawling on the floor in front of her.

"Are you saying my lute playing's bad?" Brock snapped, appalled at the Persian's remark.

"No--you're likely out of practice." Kissa assured her embarrassed master before resuming her Venonat hunt. "Besides, I prefer to hear you play the harp or cadena..."

"He's here!" a female voice called in the distance. Ash whirled around and saw a girl about ten years old racing down the north hall to meet the two of them, her thick yellow brown curls bouncing in rhythm to the thuds of her shoes.

"Hi, Ayra..." Brock smiled as the girl set down an instrument case and gave him a hug. "Is Her Ladyship here at the moment?"

"Lady Arina is away in the Room of Lore right now." Ayra replied as she opened her case and took the fiddle inside. "She's wondering if it's time for someone to put the Necklace together based on the wild Pokemon attacks we've been having--maybe you're the someone the Beads are calling?"

"Kissa has heard the Beads singing, so I wouldn't be surprised if I were worthy to undertake the quest." Brock replied as Ayra began tuning her instrument.

"Are the instruments on the walls for playing?" Ash wondered as he fished the Dreamer's Flute from his bag.

"Of course--Lady Arina says they are welcome for anyone to play if they have the skill for it, Sir Mage." Ayra replied as she offered Brock a slightly curved box shaped instrument with many strings and a short ebony fingerboard. "In addition to harp and lute, Sir Brock is a master at the cadena."

"It's mainly used to provide a backing drone for melody instruments, but it can play melodies on its own if you have one finger free to play the melody in addition to a finger to play the chords." Brock explained as he slipped some small sleeves over three of his fingers.

"If you're only going to play a drone, you only wear three of the sleeves, so you have two fingers free--one to help hold it and one to finger the notes." Ayra added. "I don't play it too often because it's so heavy."

"Can't you lie it on something and strum it that way?" Ash asked--he had seen minstrels with zithers before, and figured the cadena could be played in a similar manner.

"It's possible, but some surfaces resonate better than others." Kissa replied as the Venonat she had been stalking flew away. "We've found that wood sounds the best, especially an old wood."

[Cut BGM]

"Okay..." Brock waited for Ayra to finish tuning from one of the stone benches surrounding the fountain, the cadena cradled in his arms. "Let's see if I remember how to do this..." After finding the D minor position towards the center of the fingerboard, an idea came to him. He removed one of the protective sleeves and began a moderately paced jig-like melody, making a soft lute-like sound resonate through the room.

Ash instantly recognized the tune's introduction. "I know that song! That's 'The Luck of Fiani!'" After tapping his foot a few times to count himself off, he began singing along. "I once was in a prison cold, some games of chance my crime, I thought to tell those that were there of this misfortune of mine...

How I tried winning gold and lasses, only to be put in chains, and that my one hope of escape was the Lady of the Rains... Ayra joined in, her fiddle doubling Ash's voice an octave above. Pikachu sat close by, nodding his head along with the daring tale of how the hero Fiani offered to help the gambler go free in exchange for playing against her in a dice game, and how the gambler wins despite Fiani getting a good roll that was difficult to beat.

"Bravo!" Kissa smiled over Pikachu's applause when the song concluded.

[BGM: Stories These Halls Could Tell]

"You're not that bad a singer, Ash; if I say so myself." Brock noted as he and Ayra put the instruments back in order.

"It's not minstrel worthy, but it's okay." Kissa commented. "And oddly pleasent to listen to."

"Do you have any new stories to tell me?" Ayra asked, changing the subject.

"Why yes, I do...and Ash will be helping me tell this tale." Brock replied, motioning for Ash to stand by the east side of the fountain.

[BGM: I Sing of Confidence]

"Oh, Brock, still at it with your hokey stories of magic instruments and talking Pokemon?" a girl with deep red hair smirked as she entered the square. "Every minstrel knows that tales of heroes are in this year!"

"Brock can tell any sort of story he wants, Roni!" Ayra snapped. "Besides, you're not the boss of the hall!"

"I'd tell about any hero for you, my dear Roni..." Brock dreamily smiled, enamored in Roni's flowing hair that complimented her dull green tunic and leggings.

"Hello..." Ash waved a hand in front of Brock's face, but all his friend could focus on was the mischievous gleam in Roni's eyes. Finally, he reached for the Dreamer's Flute and blew the loudest and highest note he could muster, snapping Brock from his trance.

Some gentle laughter filled the air as a black haired woman in a rainbow colored robe-like outfit entered the room. "Oh, come now, Roni, looks aren't everything when performing..."

"Lady Arina!" Ayra gasped.

Roni stormed out of the room and down the south hallway. "I don't know why you wish to speak with Lady Arina, but if it's about the Beads of the Elements, know this--I will be the one to find the beads and unleash Rainbow Symphony! Just you wait!" With that, she disappeared down the hallway, muttering all the while.

[Cut BGM]

"Who was that?" Ash wondered, unnerved by Roni's behavior.

"Roni and Brock have never gotten along--she would use her wiles to force him to do her bidding." Arina explained. "She doesn't understand that performance is not about impressing anyone--what matters is that you share our world's songs, stories, and culture with all your heart."

"She even uses her knowledge of Song Magic to impress people--if it works." Brock added.

"Now, what tale were you going to tell me before Roni butted in?" Ayra asked, changing the subject. "I'm sure Lady Arina would want to hear it too."

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

"Oh, yes--my tale." Brock motioned for Ash to get back into position. "One winter, it turned so cold, there was nothing for even the Pokemon to eat." Ash snapped to attention--this was how the story "Ninetales and the Well" began! "This included the lovely Ninetales..." he added as he retrieved his harp and began mimicing tiptoing. "She desprately searched the land for some sort of food. One day, she came to a village, and saw many Torchics milling about on the square." Inspired, Ash mimiced a Torchic's peep with the Dreamer's Flute, making Ayra giggle. "Ninetales quickly caught three and ate two of them right away." Ash delibrately overblows a high note to mimic a dying Torchic.

"The rivers were all froze over, so Ninetales came to the well in the center of the town square." Brock continued. "She looked down into the water below and saw seemingly another Ninetales staring back at her--not knowing this was her own reflection. She yelled and screamed and taunted to the other Ninetales, and the other Ninetales yelled and screamed and taunted right back. " Arina chuckled at Ash pantomiming screaming and yelling and taunting. "Just then, Ninetales saw the bucket at the surface, and thought..." He switches to a female voice. "I'll just come down there to speak with this lass." As himself, he continues. "So Ninetales climbed into the bucket and lowered herself down into the cold and dark well." Ash pantomimes pulling on a rope to illustrate this. "The bucket stopped just below the water's surface, and Ninetales had a dillema: How would she get out of the well as easily as she got in?" Ash shivers to illustrate Brock's point, as if he really is Ninetales in the well.

"Just then, Ninetales' rival, Mightyena, happened to pass that way, and like many other Pokemon, he was hungry." Brock narrates as Ash trudges past a nearby plant pot in time to the harp's tiptoing rhythm, now in character as Mightyena. "He too looked down into the well, and thought his reflection was another Mightyena. He screamed..."

"I'm the leader of the pack around here!" Ash yells in character.

"But the other Mightyena yelled the same thing back to him." Brock narrates. "He looked again and saw Ninetales in the well. Figuring Ninetales was plotting something with the other Mightyena, he called..."

"If I get my paws on you, you'll be sorry!" Ash fills in the dialogue.

"The other Mightyena yelled back the same thing." Brock narrates. "Ninetales heard her rival's screams up above and grinned--she had an idea for a prank. She called up to Mightyena... he switches to his "Ninetales" persona. "Now, Mightyena, don't panic--it's just your rival Ninetales down here...you may not know this, but I'm actually a spirit."

"Really?" Ash gasps as Mightyena. "I always saw you as my rival, but how long have you been dead?"

"Not too long, I was surprised too." Brock replies as Ninetales. The two of them play off of each other, making Ayra, Arina, Kissa, and a growing crowd of other apprentices laugh:

"By the way Mightyena, I hope you will forgive me for all those pranks I played on you in life..."

"Well...okay, you are forgiven."

"Oh joy! Oh great and glorious joy!"

"How can you be joyful when you have died?"

"I feel so sorry for all the creatures up here on the Mortal Realm...down here, there are fields filled with Mareeps, Torchics, and any other Pokemon you could want!"

"I thought the Holy Realm was up, not down...."

"Goes to show just how little we mortals know...if only you could join me in the holy fields down here!"

"I wish I could be down there..."

"After all that you've done to me?" You're quite the forgiving one, but Lady Anima won't let just anyone in--are you truly sorry for everything?"

"I'm so very sorry, Ninetales..."

"Then kneel and confess to Lady Anima all the naughty things you've done!"

"Abba ika noona Lady Anima furom zabinu baka baka...." The crowd roared with laughter at Ash's gibberish prayer.

"Can you see the fields and hear the spirits of light singing? All you have to do is climb in that bucket there."

The crowd applauds the interplay before Brock continues. "So Mightyena squeezed into the other bucket, but he was so heavy, he went plunging down into the well, bringing Ninetales up in the process."

"AUGGGGGHHHHH!!!" Ash screams as Mightyena, making the crowd laugh again.

"As if being stuck in the well wasn't bad enough for Mightyena...." Brock intones. "By this time, one of the townsfolk came to draw water from the well--she saw Mightyena in the bucket and screamed, calling for help all the while. Mightyena tried to run away, but was beaten and battered by the townsfolk." Ash runs out to the easter point of the compass design, feigning being injured all the while. "As for Ninetales, she was preparing the third Torchic she had caught for her family, and she recounted to them how she had outsmarted her rival yet again, proving that she was the smartest in the world...so ends the tale of 'Ninetales and the Well'."

"Bravo!" Kissa led the applause as Brock acknowledges Ash, who takes a bow.

"That was quite a show, you two..." Arina smiles as Ayra and the other apprentices depart. "Meet me in my chambers now, and we will discuss your letter. Brock nodded, and followed Arina down the north hallway.


[BGM: The Rainbow Symphony]

"Now..." Arina began as she settled behind her desk facing the boys and Kissa. "Brock, you know well that when it is time for the Beads of the Elements to be found, monsters appear, Pokemon go wild, and the Beads themselves sing for someone to find them..."

"That, and their song cannot be heard by mortal ears, unless you have an item that can hear it." Brock added as he admired the books of lore lining the shelves of Arina's chamber. Ash had pilfered some parchment pieces from Arina's desk and was watching Vardi sketch a portrait of Kissa lying beside Brock's chair.

"The tiara that grants Kissa the ability to speak the language of humans also allows her to hear things mortal ears cannot hear." Arina explained. "That includes even the Beads."

"So THAT's how she could sense them before..." Ash gasped.

"So far, the only reports of monsters I have received are from the north lands, where Voima Hill lies." Arina began. "However, I have heard of Pokemon going wild all across the world, including Hopea and the surrounding areas."

"That's how I met my companion, Ash." Brock explained. Ash waved as Vardi returned to his pack. "Kissa found him battered and beaten from a Scyther's claws, so we nursed him back to health."

"You've always had a heart for caring for the sick and wounded." Arina smiled before turning serious again. "When you sent word of your visit, you said that Kissa had heard the Beads--is this true?"

"She heard them singing last night, and we came hoping you would lead us to where they are hidden." Brock replied.

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

"Are you sure you wish to undertake the quest?" Arina asked, concerned. "It will be a long journey filled with danger, across high mountains, deep forests, and dark caves..."

"If it means the world can be peaceful again, I will take the chance." Brock replied. "Every minstrel hopes to unleash Rainbow Symphony at some point in their life, and I feel it's my turn."

"I'm coming too!" Ash jumped up from his chair. "I've sworn to serve Brock and tend to his and Kissa's every need, and I will follow them to the ends of the world!"

"Very well...your first stop is the temple at Whitespell, where you will receive the thread to hold the Beads." Arina replied before embracing Brock one last time. "Good luck from all of us, and may Anima light your way..." With that, the group left the chamber and returned to the north end of Harmony Square and the hallway leading outside.

"Bye, Brock! Good luck on your adventure!" Ayra called as the group left the hall grounds. She climbed on a rock and waved goodbye until Brock, Ash, and Kissa were just specks against the horizon...

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 5: The Light of Whitespell

[BGM: Setting Out]

The group left Amhran Hall early the next morning with hopes of arriving at Whitespell by sunset. Ash led the way onto the plains, with Pikachu following him. Brock and Kissa walked alongside him, so Pikachu wouldn't be lost in the tall grass that waved in the light breeze.

For a while, Pikachu couldn't decide where to keep watch--he would walk on the ground for a moment only to find that he couldn't see anything in the grass. Climbing on his master's shoulder meant that he would feel the brunt of the wind and shiver from being so cold. Riding on Kissa's back meant that he would get hot from the sun, so he would dart back in the grass again in an effort to keep cool, beginning the cycle anew.

"For the Lady's sake, either walk or choose a place to ride!" Pikachu's indecisiveness was grating on Kissa's nerves.

Ash retrieved a small pouch just small enough for a Pikachu to fit. "Would you rather ride in here? It should keep you safe from the sun and wind."

Just then, Pikachu spotted a small blue flash in the grass. "Pika?" he wondered as he hopped off Kissa's back and raced into the grass.

"What is it?" Kissa asked as she followed Pikachu into the grass.

"Pika pi!" Pikachu smiled as he proudly displayed two vaguely square shaped deep blue chrysalises in his paws.

"Sapphire jewel bugs in the process of metamorphosis--a chrysalis can go for a nice sum depending on what variety of jewel bug." Brock noted.

"The skins from a ruby jewel bug can be ground into a powder to protect against sunburn, and jewel bug skins make a nice substitute for a gem in a pinch." Ash added. "But the rarest of all the colors of jewel bug is the diamond jewel bug--just the skins from one can fetch a price of 50,000 pieces of gold at the cheapest."

"Typically, they're more afraid of you than you are of them, but do not take kindly to someone taking their eggs, larvae, or chrysalises." Brock cautioned as he heard the familiar whining buzz of an approaching swarm of jewel bugs in the distance.

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

'Piiiiiiiiikaaaaaaaa!!!!" Pikachu screamed as he jumped to avoid the ice pellets the jewel bugs were shooting at him and balance the two chrysalises in his paws at the same time.

"Put those down and run for it!" Kissa called. Pikachu complied and ran back to Ash's side as Kissa scratched one bug, leaving a deep gash in its gemstone-like skin.

Ash drew his blade and slashed several bugs flying at him. Just as he could slash a wave, more would land and begin firing ice pellets at him, making him shiver with the combined cold and pain of hundreds of pellets landing on him at once.

"Chu!!!!!" Pikachu unleashed a Thunderbolt into the grass, but even this wasn't enough to dispel the swarm--more jewelbugs were arriving faster than the group could kill them off!

Inspired, Ash charged a ball of red energy in his hands "Out of the ground, raze all greenery in flame! Fire!" The ball of flames went flying through the grass, scorching many jewel bugs on the way, but not affecting the surrounding grass.

He thought he heard Brock's voice over the buzz of the swarm and the pit-pit-pit of ice pellets on his skin and clothing, but it wasn't until he heard a harp in the distance and saw his blade, Kissa's claws, and Pikachu's tail glowing red.

"Thanks, Master!" Kissa called to Brock over the noise. The squeal of dying jewel bugs and the crackling of flames filled the air as Ash and the Pokemon cut through the swarm, melting much of the frozen grass and setting many jewel bugs on fire.

[Cut BGM]

After a while, the remainder of the swarm retreated into the sky. "Good riddance..." Ash sighed as he sheathed his weapon.

"Next time, I hope we fight something not quite so messy..." Brock sighed as he looked out on the expanse of dead jewel bugs that dotted the grass.

"Who said that self defense was a clean job?" Ash countered as the skins of the jewel bugs crunched beneath his feet. "Scorched jewel bugs are useless for anything."

"You're right....let's move along before more jewelbugs come." With that, Brock motioned for the group to follow him, being careful to avoid jewel bug skins where he could.


After the encounter with the sapphire jewelbug swarm, the group found themselves winding down another path in Hara Forest. Ash was particularly tired--for all he knew, they would emerge at the foot of Mt. Arian to the north--and he knew that Mt. Arian was too far north from Whitespell.

He mustered a weak smile when he saw the shining yellow light of the circular beacon at the top of the temple's tower, but his relief became frustration when he heard thunder roll and rain began pelting the ground. "Oh, great..."

"We're getting close..." Brock assured him. "Protect the instruments at all costs!" he cautioned as he ran on ahead. Ash nodded and tossed a blanket over the cases containing Brock's harp and cadena and the drawstring sleeve protecting the Dreamer's Flute as he hurried through the rapidly dampening brush to rejoin Brock and the Pokemon at the gatehouse. Once sure the group was all together again, he knocked at the front door.

"Who's there?" a boy's voice called.

"Friends seek shelter in Anima's grace." Brock replied--the sign that to a cleric meant that the traveling party wished to rest at the temple. As if on command, the gate lowered, allowing the group access to the temple and the surrounding buildings.

[BGM: Seeking Information]

"Brock of Hopea...welcome to the sanctuary of Whitespell." the high cleric, a woman with dull green hair, smiled as Brock led Ash and the Pokemon inside the temple's main room. "What leads you to the temple on this dreadful night for traveling?"

"Sadly, it is not to share tales and rumors, Ethani..." Brock replied. "Not this time..."

"I understand--the Beads of the Elements have called you to find them--although that doesn't explain why I keep hearing a lost girl singing "Love, oh love" in the catacombs." Ethani replied as she accepted a drink from an apprentice. "For some reason, the singing has attracted monsters as well--we have managed to drive most of them away."

"Haven't you sent someone into the catacombs to find out the source of the singing?" Ash wondered.

"Well, no volunteer has come foward, and apprentices are not allowed into the catacombs alone." Ethani replied. "But the hour grows late, and you must be tired from your journey, so we will discuss the matter further in the morning." She paused to grab a piece of glowing gold thread from an overhang nearby an altar rail. "This is the thread that binds the Beads of the Elements to you, allowing you to use Rainbow Symphony when all eight are together--guard it with your life."

"I will, with Anima's help." Brock replied as an apprentice in a white robe with gold trim arrived to escort the group to the guest's quarters.


Ash laid awake in his bed, watching the trees sway in the wind. The pounding of the rain on the roof was driving him crazy, and no amount of covering his ears was helping as he watched the rain fall, the temple beacon casting a yellowish glow on the raindrops and puddles in its range.

"You can't sleep either?" Brock asked as he watched Kissa curl up on a rug by his bed to sleep.

"Not at all." Ash sighed, enviously eying Pikachu, who was sleeping inside a small drawer on the nightstand by his bed. "I can sleep through a light rain, but this is too much!"

"If you want, I can try to silence the raindrops with Silent Song..." Brock offered as he climbed out of bed and walked over to the storage chest nearby the closet.

"I believe that's meant to seal magical ability, not silence sound." Ash interjected as Brock sat down on his bed, now carrying his harp. "But, any sort of lullaby would be nice..." Brock nodded and began a slow and quiet melody.

[BGM: Lullaby For a Rainy Night]

Ash took a moment to admire his friend's harp as the lullaby filled the air. The instrument looked similar to a large bow, with the column, neck, soundboard, and soundbox combining to resemble a sort of bird. He wanted to say it resembled a Swellow, a Pidgeot, or even Lugia, but there were no defining details to signal what sort of bird it was.

"Does your instrument resemble any sort of bird Pokemon?" he finally asked, snapping Brock from his performance.

"Not any specific one--just a general bird." Brock replied. "The craftsman that made the Harp of Divine Elements for me liked to incorporate birds or parts of birds into his work." He gestured to the head of the "bird" that made the top of the column, which had a sapphire for its "eye". "The column is the bird's body, and the neck, soundboard, and soundbox are its wings." Ash took a moment to admire the harp's feather-like inlay work studded with gems and smiled--whoever the craftsman was, he had to have put a lot of work into a beautiful instrument.

"Did you receive this harp when you fledged to a full minstrel?" Ash wondered.

"Yes--all I had to do was tell the craftsman my specifications." Brock replied before preparing to play again. "While I was still an apprentice and learning to play, I used a very simple instrument with minimal decoration." With that, he resumed his song.

"What is a typical day for a minstrel's apprentice like?" Ash was interested now--this was better than any tale for a bedtime story.

"After we rose, washed up, and had breakfast in the meal hall, we went our seperate ways to the different study rooms--what we studied each day and in what order differed." Brock began. "You could have a small group lesson in an instrument one day, followed by a lore lesson, then a lesson in composing...." He then realized that Ash had fallen asleep, so he quickly returned the harp to its case and dozed off.

The next morning...

[BGM: Welcome to Whitespell]

"Yes?" Ash sleepily yawned as Kissa walked into the room, shielding some of the sun from his eyes.

"Sh--the apprentices are having morning prayers." Kissa shushed as she watched Ash get dressed and wash up. "The high cleric has agreed to let us go through the catacombs, so we must meet her outside by the target range to meet the cleric that will guide us."

"Coming!" Ash gathered his gear and motioned for Pikachu to follow him as he followed Kissa down the stairs and around a corner to the temple's main hall, then down a stone pathway to a clearing dotted with simple striped targets. Brock was already present with Ethani on the steps overlooking the target range.

"Your guide is one of the three masters and mistresses that train the apprentices in using a bow." Ethani explained. Ash could see a black haired cleric approaching from the barracks off to the west, carrying quivers filled with arrows of all shapes and sizes, protective gear, and spare bows. Judging from the green, deep blue, and purple trim on her white robe, she was one of the many clerics tending to Whitespell, with the arrow design on one sleeve symbolizing that she was one of the bowmistresses. If some gold trim were added, she would have been a high cleric like Ethani. He watched two more clerics in similar attire arrive and begin preparing the targets for the morning practice.

The black haired cleric, meanwhile, began rigging a few targets to some trees as she softly sang As I walked through the wood one morning, as the sun shone down through the trees; I asked my cheerbringing companion what beast we would bring to its knees...

"Interesting song..." Ash noted.

"It's a song popular in the town of Mavi and the surrounding villages of Mt. Arian called 'Diamonds in the Wood'" Ethani explained. "It's about how a great hunter and his jester companion talk about finding treature in a forest, and they find a diamond there--perhaps your minstrel companion knows it?"

"Unfortunately, that's one song I don't know..." Brock confessed as he accepted his harp from Kissa. "However, I DO know a different song from Ash's hometown of Masuliro that is often set to the same tune--'The Prayer for Justice'."

"The one where something terrible happens in a town--exactly what varies from minstrel to minstrel--the people plead with the priest to find out who committed the crime, and after many nights in prayer to Lady Anima, She guides him to the perpetrator?" Ash wondered--he had heard the song before, but under a different tune.

"That's the one." Brock assured him, adding a little flourish to prove his point.

[BGM: All is Well, I'm Here (Dawn's theme)]

"Forgive my intrusion on your conversation, but I'm surprised you know 'Diamonds in the Wood', Sir Minstrel." a female voice interjected. "Not many minstrels that stop here know that song."

Brock looked up and saw the black haired cleric looking back at him with a shy smile. "Unfortunately, I will have to be added to that number, Lady..."

"Lady Dawn of Hikari's Enclave, Bowmistress of Anima, at your service." the black haired girl replied. "Her Grace Ethani asked me to take you through the catacombs."

"Sir Brock of Hopea, and his companion, Ash of Asimiro Lodge." Ethani added, allowing the boys a chance to offer a handshake to Dawn.

"Pleased to meet both of you." Dawn replied.

[BGM: Whitespell Under Fire!]

Just then, a male cleric bust into the clearing. "Lady Ethani! There's a couerl trying to storm the temple! We've held it back with a Wall spell, but I don't know how long it will hold!"

"I'll go!" Dawn volunteered as she grabbed her bow from the pile of bows and followed the cleric down the path to the temple green, where a large feline creature with snake-like appendages from its head hungrily eyed the crowd of apprentices from behind a glowing blue wall.

"By Anima..." Ash gasped as he and Brock arrived and saw the beast held back by the Wall--Kissa looked tiny compared to the huge cat.

"Lady Dawn, how are we supposed to fight the demon cat?" a male apprentice asked as tears of fear welled up in his eyes. "No weapon would be able to pierce the Wall we made."

"I know a way we can attack it!" Ash announced. Once sure he had the crowd's attention, he continued. "My companion is one of the very few minstrels that can sing magic as easily as a song--so the spell likely would pass through the wall!'

"Sooner or later, the Wall will dispel--so we need to prepare and be ready to fight when it does." Dawn agreed before turning to Brock. "Sir Minstrel, please perform a spell that will buy us time."

"Sure..." With that, Brock climbed on top of a rock facing the temple gate and readied his harp to play. "Spirits of slumber, send this creature to the world of dreams! Dreamer's Dust!"

Ash swallowed hard as he watched the harp's lullaby create sparkling gold dust that fell onto the couerl, making it lie down as it drifted to sleep--was putting it to sleep going to be enough to subdue it?

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 6: The Reluctant Ally

[BGM: Prepare for Battle...]

"Wow..." Ash gasped as he led some apprentices into a large room filled with books and maps. While most of the young clerics sat on the floor, some opted to sit at the table in the center of the room.

"This is the Room of Planning." Dawn explained. "On the occassions we do have to take up a weapon for Her cause, all the weaponmasters and mistresses come here first to plan the offensive."

"So you're not totally opposed to fighting..." Ash mused as a cleric with an image of a sword on the sleeve of his robe walked by.

"No...even Anima knows She must defend Her people and Her light...the problem is when people fight for selfish reasons." Dawn replied. "Even so, we are charged with protecting Whitespell, and we will not let a demon cat destroy it!"

"I don't recall couerls being that strong..." Ash noted. "I can however, help with planning a strategy." He let that hang as Ethani approached a podium overlooking the table to address the crowd, prompting them to stand.

"Brothers and Sisters of Whitespell, a grave situation is upon us--a creature of the dark threatens to harm us, only held back by a magical wall." Ethani began. "We have both an edge and a disadvantage in the fight--while we do not know how to destroy a demon cat, we do have a mage well versed in magical creatures..." Ash waved hello. "and a minstrel who can sing spells as easily as a song." Excited whispers filled the air as Brock gave an acknowledging nod and motioned for Kissa to return to his side. "May the Lady of Light grant them the wisdom and words necessary for us to win this battle." With that, the apprentices sat down as a cleric offered Ash a large book titled "The Fantastic Creatures of Yoso."

Ash thumbed through the book for a moment, savoring the memories he had of looking at the pictures of the Legendary Pokemon, unicorns, griffons, and various were-Pokemon before focusing on the creature he had to find. Let's see here...dragons, Moltres, Lugia, garudas, chimeras, imps, lamias...here it is! After turning the book so those at the table could see the page about the couerl, he addressed the crowd. "The couerl, or the demon cat as it is popularly known, is one of the very few feline creatures to have a breath attack similar to dragons. The major difference between the two is what the breath does."

"We know a dragon's breath is magic..." an apprentice spoke up as she shooed Pikachu away from the Berries at the center of the table.

"Unlike a dragon, a couerl's breath focuses more on unpleasent effects, including instantly killing whatever it touches." Ash continued. "Fortunately, our couerl does not appear to be a Queen--that's the one that can kill instantly with its breath."

"It's not even big enough to be a Queen demon cat..." a boy apprentice noted as he fearfully glanced outside at the dozing couerl behind the Wall spell.

"And thank Lady Anima that it's not a anail!" a girl apprentice agreed. Nervous giggles wafted through the crowd at the horror stories of the dragon-like monster notorious for a breath toxic enough to do everything short of killing a person that the other clerics and minstrels had told them.

"If I may, Ash..." Brock made his way through the crowd and looked out at the dozing couerl, harp in hand. "Seer of the Cosmos, grant me wisdom hidden from the world! Galaxy Eye!" The crowd watched as an image of a galaxy formed in the room from the harp strings, creating an outline of the couerl outside in the swirling stars.

"What do you see, Sir Brock?" Ethani asked as everyone listened to the elegant yet playful melody creating the "galaxy" Brock was studying as he played.

"I can tell that this couerl is a young adult that has just left its mother's den, so the only thing its breath can do at this time is paralyze a target." Brock explained. "Even so, we must be on guard--poisoning the beast won't do a thing, but any sort of fire or water attack should be enough to defeat it." With that, he ended his song, making the "galaxy" and the outline inside disappear in a flash of light.

"I say we dump water all over it!" an apprentice interjected, making excited whispers fill the air.

"But how are we going to get the buckets over the demon cat's head?" another began. "That beast is huge!"

"Why use buckets when I could just as easily play the spell Dark Water?" Brock suggested to a group of clerics. Conversation buzzed through the room as the groups of clerics planned the attack:

"What's that do?"

"Is it like an anail's breath?"

"Not exactly--it's more like a wave of water that causes unplesant effects..."

"I still say we dump water on it!"

"Didn't the minstrel say we could also use fire?"

"Yeah! Can't we ignite our arrows?"

"Or freeze them?"

"There's an idea!"

"But how do we do that?"

"Easy! I'll just cast a spell and have you guys fire through it to enchant the arrows."

"But how do we work the minstrel into this?"

"While Sir Ash and I help the other Bowmasters and the Spearmasters to wear the demon cat down, Sir Brock could climb on the rocky outcropping overlooking the gate and play Dark Water or some other debuff song on my signal."

"Lady Dawn, you're a genius!"

"You sure he can climb that high?

"Relax, we learn how to tumble and backflips, so of course I can climb up high cliffs such as that outcropping."

"Let's go show that demon cat that we're stronger!"

"YEEEEEEEAAAAHHHHH!!!!" Ash, Dawn, and Brock led the charge out of the room and down the path to the front gate, where the Wall spell containing the dozing couerl was starting to flicker.


"Okay...." Ash motioned for the crowd to circle around him. "Here's the plan...When the Wall spell wears off and the courl wakes, it will likely be very angry--that's why we need to strike early and hard before it decides to attack us."

"Bow trainees, be ready to fire as soon as Sir Ash casts his first spell." Dawn reminded her group of apprentices.

"That goes for you too, spear trainees." a Spearmaster agreed.

"What should the signal be for me to get in position on the outcropping?" Brock asked as he tensely watched the wall's flickering grow faster and faster and the stirring couerl.

"The code is 'Dancing Swablu'" Dawn replied.

Ethani carefully stepped through the crowd and faced them, her back against the rapidly flickering wall. "Before you head into battle, let me first protect you in the Lady's unending light..." With that, she formed a shining wave of white light. "Enduring light, shield from roaring magic! Lux!" At this, white auras began forming on every member of the crowd, Ash, Brock, Pikachu, and Kissa included.

"Lux...never heard of that spell..." Ash mused as he watched the white glow surround him.

"It's a spell only high clerics can cast--it combines the buffs for physical and magical defense and revival with a little HP if you fall." Dawn explained. "I've only seen Lady Ethani cast it one other time besides now, so she only saves it for emergencies." With that, she readied an arrow just as the Wall disappeared in a flash of blue.

[Cut BGM]

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

Ash began charging a red ball of energy and aimed it skyward in the path of the many arrows and spears waiting to be fired and thrown. "Out of the ground, raze all greenery in flame!" A roar nearby signaled that the couerl had awakened and was preparing to pounce on the large crowd. "Fire!" The red energy ball flew into the sky, creating a wave of flame and igniting hundreds of arrows and spears that went flying at the couerl, knocking it backwards. Ash drew his blade and raced through the stream of arrows and spears to join the Blademasters and their groups in slashing at the huge cat, desperately trying to get at its chest as flaming arrows and spears rained on the couerl from above.

"Flames of passion, give these blades an anger that burns! Fire Blade!" Brock called before retreating to the path leading to the outcropping, playing a calm melody all the while that made all of the swords glow red with fire energy.

"Thanks!" Ash called before delivering a slash to the couerl's leg. The couerl retaliated by blowing a pale yellow mist at the crowd of clerics and the mage surrounding it. Ash rolled out of the way, but some of the clerics were not so lucky, and were quickly carried away to Ethani's safe room nearby the main temple to have their paralysis removed.

"Is it immune to arrows and spears?" Dawn worried as the couerl hurled some of the arrows and spears embedded in its skin back at the crowd, causing many groups to scatter with the weaponmasters carrying the wounded to safety. Then an idea came to her--what if, for some crazy reason, the couerl itself was somehow buffed, and therefore immune to the crowd's attack? Buffed by who, she didn't know, and she didn't know any spell that would confirm her theory, but she decided to charge a reddish purple light. "Illusions and lies of darkness, begone! Dispel!"

Ash gasped as he saw a greenish flash around the couerl. "What in the..."

"The reason why the couerl has not been affected by our spells and attacks is because it was somehow buffed." Dawn replied as more of the weapons masters raced by carrying wounded or paralyzed apprentices. "How and by who I don't know, but maybe now we have an edge!" She whistled and yelled over the noise "Dancing Swablu!". Brock nodded, wrapped his harp in his cloak, and started climbing up the rocky tower overlooking the gate.

Hurry, Brock... Ash worried as he jumped out of the way of the couerl's claws and slashed at one of its legs, making a deep gash form. Enraged, the couerl spotted Brock emerging at the outcropping and lunged at him, pinning him to the rock under a paw.

"Pika!" Pikachu gasped.

"Oh, Anima, not now!" Kissa cried as she watched her master helplessly struggle beneath the couerl's paw, his harp's neck and column cracked and out of reach.

Ash's heart pounded as he ran towards the outcropping--he had to save Brock, and quickly, from becoming the couerl's next meal. Please, Lady of Light, spare my friend! he frantically prayed as he began climbing up the rocks leading to where Brock was being held.

"Don't!" Dawn called after him, stopping him in his tracks. "If you tried to climb up there, you might get pinned to the rock yourself!"

"I have to save my companion somehow, even if it means giving my own life!" Ash shot back as he prepared to continue climbing. Dawn sighed, knowing the mage would resist any plea to come down, and followed Ash up to the outcropping, just in case he too was pinned to the rocks.

[BGM: I Sing of Confidence (Roni's theme)]

The couerl lifted another paw, and prepared to deliver a lethal blow to Brock's chest when suddenly, a female voice called "Water of mystery, hide us from the darkness' world! Illusion Mist!" Then, the sound of panpipes playing a mysterious breathy song pierced the air, hiding Brock from the couerl's claws in a veil of pale blue mist.

"Who's there?" Dawn called over the song as she reached for her bow and readied one of her few remaining arrows.

"Peace, Lady of the Goddess--I only came to save my friend." a familiar voice replied. It wasn't until he saw some familiar deep red hair and a dull green tunic through the mist that he recognized the voice--Roni!

"What are you doing here?" Brock gasped as he finally wriggled free from the couerl's paw and raced to assess the damage of his instrument.

"I came hoping to learn where the Beads of the Elements were from the high cleric here, and saw you held down by a demon cat, about to become its lunch!" Roni explained. "Likewise, what brought you here?"

"I was helping the clerics drive away this monster when it pinned me down." Brock replied. "Had you not arrived, I very well could have been couerl food!"

"See, Roni and Brock both trained in the same minstrel's hall, and Roni is also one of the few that can sing magic." Ash told Dawn as Brock and Roni continued to talk inside the mist. "They did not get along very well, and still view each other as rivals--while Brock is nice about it when he is around her, Roni relies on her charms and looks to manipulate others to get her way, and will not hesitate to distract potential rivals to get what she wants."

"Say..." Dawn interuppted, getting Brock and Roni's attention. "Since both of you can sing magic, is it possible to combine two instruments or voices performing the same spell to make it stronger?"

"Why do you ask?" Ash was interested.

"Yes, that is possible--but only the one casting the spell names it and starts the song." Brock replied as he drew his blade and laid it on a crude wooden aiming platform, making sure to aim it at the couerl. "Any others can join in at any time--and the more instruments or voices performing, the better."

"You don't have to have the ability to sing magic to join, but the one that starts it has to." Roni cautioned. "And if you're planning to unleash your super secret emergency spell, you have a tiny little problem--how exactly do you play a broken harp?" She gestured to Brock's shattered instrument to prove her point.

"Here..." Dawn charged a blue ball of energy in her hands. "Life's refreshing breeze, blow in energy! Cure!" The blue energy enveloped the broken harp for a few moments, rendering it good as new when the light faded away.

"My deepest thanks, Lady Dawn--this harp is special to me." Brock smiled, running a finger across the newly repaired strings.

[Cut BGM]

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

"Well, not the oddest way I've seen Cure used, but that's one way to fix a harp." Roni turned her attention to the couerl batting away swordsmen and scores of wounded apprentices being carried away as the last of the mist faded away, "Next question is how to scare off this demon cat once and for all...."

"I'm angry enough to want to use my emergency spell--and this definitely counts as an emergency!" Brock muttered as he approached where his sword was aimed at the couerl's neck. "Plus, I want you to play with me, even though we are sworn rivals." he told Roni. "As thanks for saving me."

"I was only doing what I had to, but I'll play." Roni reluctantly sighed as she retrieved her pipes. "You start it..."

[Cut BGM]

"Lights of the Holy Realm, rend through my enemy like the goddess' sword! Anima no Espada!" Brock commanded, making both his harp and Roni's pipes glow in many colors for a moment. Roni began the mysterious song she had played before again, with Brock providing a droning countermelody as backup.

[BGM: Anima no Espada]

"Amazing!" Dawn gasped as the light from both instruments began to energize Brock's weapon.

"What's the spell doing?" Ash asked as the sword glowed brighter and brighter with rainbow energy.

"Both instruments are charging your friend's blade with rainbow light, which will destroy the couerl in a beam of many colors." Dawn replied. Ash gasped as a large shining beam went flying at the couerl, its dying screech drowned out by the explosion of light.

[BGM: Unleash the Colors of a Melody (heroes' victory)]

"We did it!" an apprentice cheered. The crowd roared as Brock retrieved his weapon and led the others down onto the main path.

"Oh, master, you're all right!" Kissa giggled as Brock ran to hug her, joyful tears in her eyes.

"Pika!" Pikachu threw himself into Ash's arms, elated.

"I owe Roni my thanks..." Brock assured Kissa. "She actually saved my life!"

"We all owe you our deepest gratitude for saving Whitepell." Ethani interjected. "Anima smiles upon our victory today." More cheers came from the crowd in agreement. Roni nodded in approval and walked out into the forest.

"Didn't she say she was going to ask about the Beads here?" Kissa asked as she watched Roni walk off into the sunset.

"Maybe she thought of a better place to ask around, I guess..." Ash mused--maybe there was more to Roni than he thought.

"We'll go on that theory, then." Brock smiled. "In the meantime, let us celebrate our victory and prepare for our expedition into the catacombs." Ash nodded in agreement--maybe his friend would compose a song to mark their victory!

To Be Continued....


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude 1: On This Magic Night

[BGM: Welcome to Whitespell]

The common room of the apprentice's quarters was abuzz with excitement as Dawn, Ethani, Ash, and many of the apprentices turned out to watch Brock perform. The crowd formed a rough circle around the center of the common room, with Ash seated at a table near the left wall, fingering the Dreamer's Flute as Ethani and Dawn arrived and made themselves at home. Brock's other instruments lay nearby, with the cadena close by Ash's arm and a number of flutes and whistles in a heap in the center of the table. Pikachu romped up to the cadena and gingerly plucked a string, but Ash shooed him away before Brock arrived to tune it.

"Welcome, all." Ethani began. "Our holy sanctuary is safe again, thanks to all your brave efforts." Cheers filled the air. "In commemoration of our victory, Sir Brock of Hopea has agreed to perform for us this evening, including a song of praise to Anima in thanks to Her guidance in the battle this afternoon." Applause went up as Brock entered the "circle", harp in hand.

After a moment to collect his bearings, Brock set down his harp and plucked a single D note on the cadena, humming the note back before singing A couerl once went on the prowl, some souls of pure heart to slay...she saw a temple in the wood, and thought, "Oh fabulous day! There's men and ladies of light inside, so when I've had my fill, I'll gather their bones in a neat pile, and take their souls to the hill!" Well, the lads and lasses of the light, they heard the couerl call, and pooled their holy powers into a sparkling wall. "You'll not set foot on holy ground and defile this special place!" The cries of warning filled the air as behind the wall she paced... Ash smiled as Brock told, in song, the story of the battle that had taken place hours before--the frantic planning session, his leading the charge into battle, the couerl attacking back and paralyzing many, a minstrel about to attack being pinned down on the outcropping overlooking the temple gate, and Roni coming to the rescue, culminating in the casting of Anima no Espada.

"His voice sounds much like his harp..." Dawn smiled, enraptured in Brock's strong and melodic tenor. "If only I could sing with no accompaniment at all..."

"It takes practice, Dawn..." Ethani whispered back before leading the applause at the song's conclusion.

Brock acknowledged his applause, then retreated to the table, where he sat down before the cadena. "And now, here's a tune that I like to call 'Kissa's Reel'" he began as he slipped on two of the protective sleeves and began strumming a brisk melody in D major, prompting some in the crowd to run out to the floor and dance as everyone else clapped along.

Inspired, Ash joined in on the Dreamer's Flute with the tune "The Rainbow Flower", followed by "The Maid of Whitespell". He took a shy bow when Brock acknowledged him at the set's conclusion. I've only been practicing those for three weeks now... he thought as Brock reached for his harp and got up from the table, playing a quiet melody that signaled he was going to spin a tale next.

"Does anyone have a tale they would like to hear?" Brock asked the crowd. "I felt that on this night, this night of celebration, I should tell the stories you would enjoy the most."

"Tell the one about the scholars that caught a thief!" a female apprentice near Dawn's chair begged.

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

"Very well..." With that, Brock played a quiet flourish on his harp before beginning "A long time ago in a land far away from here, it was the custom for children who wished to study to travel across the land, learning anything and everything they could. Many set out on this journey, studying with mages, clerics, astrologers, poets, and minstrels, to name a few professions, and they all grew to be fine men and women. The only problem was, no one wished to hire them, and so they were very poor."

"Was the king worried?" a young female apprentice asked.

"Oh, he was very worried about the many poor students that wandered the land." Brock replied. "He did not know why anyone would choose to be poor, and was deeply concerned about what all those students would do. So one day, he called his advisors together and made a bold accusation: the many wandering students were actually thieves." Gasps go up from the crowd at this.

"How could he do such a thing?" Ethani asked. "The students only wished for knowledge, not material things!"

"The advisors felt the same way as you, Lady Ethani, and tried time and time again to assure the king that the students only wanted knowledge." Brock continues. "But the king would have none of it, and issued a proclamation throughout the land: anyone who had evidence of thievery was to be arrested."

"But the students are innocent!" a Spearmaster protested.

"How would they catch a potential thief?" a Blademaster wondered.

"The advisors asked the same question, and the king told them of his strategy." Brock replied, playing a tense riff. "He commanded the guards to scatter gems all over the palace grounds, then invite the students to the palace. Anyone who even picked up a gem would be arrested." Murmurs wafted through the crowd at this. "The guards did as they were told and sent word to all the students in the land that the king wished to see them and honor them. But not all the students were enthused by a visit to the palace--some of them were suspicious, as the king had always been wary of young scholars like them. After some discussion, they concluded that there was a plot involved, and that they would find a way to outwit him."

"So what did they do?" a male apprentice asked.

"The students gathered in the palace courtyard early the next morning, where the king welcomed them and invited them to mingle in the royal garden." Brock continues. "They mingled all day, ever aware of the glittering rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, pearls, and other gems all around them, but no one stopped to pick them up, for they also saw the guards keeping watch everywhere they looked.

When the sun was setting and the students had left, the king asked how many students had picked up a gem. The guards said that they saw no one pick any gems up, but when the king looked out on the palace grounds, there were no gems to be found." He punctuates this with an upward glissando.

"Wait...if no one picked a gem up, then how could they all be gone?" Dawn asked, confused.

"The king demanded an answer to your question, Lady Dawn, and the guards pleaded many times that they had done as they were told." Brock replies. "The captain of the guard proposed that the king invite the students back to the palace in hopes of finding the thief. So word was sent that the king was holding a great feast in the student's honor, and all the students in the land were to attend. The students came in full force, and ate and drank while mingling with one another. But this time, the king had sent spies into the crowd in hopes of hearing someone boasting of wealth--if they did hear such boasting, they would mark that person with a black star on their hands--the mark of a thief."

"So did he ever catch anyone?" Ash was interested in the story now. Pikachu swallowed hard, worried for the students.

Brock smiled as he played another interlude--it was time for the big twist in his tale. "The evening wore on and it seemed like no one would ever find a thief in the crowd of students. So when a spy overheard a girl talking about how she had picked up gems by coating her sandals in wax, he made the black star mark on her hand as she set down her drink.

The king offered the students a bed for the night, so they wouldn't have to travel home in the dark. The next morning, as the students departed, the king looked to see which of the many students had the black star on their hand. "But to his surprise, he saw that every student present, man and woman, had the black star! The king was furious, and arrested the spy for lying to him, for it would be impossible to prove who the thief was if they were all marked. The king's proclamation was rescinded soon after, but only the students knew the truth--they had all drawn the mark on themselves to confuse the king, for if everyone was marked there would be no proof that any among them were thieves. They were hailed as heroes for showing the king's folly, and many found work because of their cleverness...and that ends the tale of 'To Catch a Thief'." Everyone applauded.

"I would like to hear a tale about the Lady...." Ethani requested.

Brock thought for a moment, then began. "Once, the Great Goddess Anima decided to visit the Mortal Realm, as She often does when She wishes to test our faith...."

Ash listened, enthralled, as Brock wove tales about how Anima rewarded the humble, why it rained when Lotads called, how a Wartortle outsmarted Sorin and his makeshift trap, and a day when the Pokemon danced, adding in a few tunes on the Dreamer's Flute when prompted.

The songs and stories continued late into the night, and for just one night, Ash forgot about his impending expedition into the catacombs....

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 7: A Lament and a Dream

[BGM: Prepare for Battle

"You're here...good." Dawn smiled as Ash arrived in the temple's main hall the next morning. "The catacombs of Whitespell were initially used to entomb those that had died in service to Anima, but when a statue of Anima was placed down there to discourage grave robbers, many clerics began coming there to have a quiet place for evening prayers or to discuss private matters. But every time there is danger afoot in the world, all kinds of unsightly creatures--many from the underworld--take up residence there."

"So what sorts of monsters can we expect to see?" Brock wondered as he threw on his cloak to shelter him from the brisk wind coming from a hallway.

"And, where is the singing coming from?" Ash agreed--he had a nagging suspicion that the singing was not what the clerics believed it to be.

"Lady Ethani believes it is coming from the room with the goddess' statue, and that something fierce is guarding it, judging from the growling and ghastly yowls we hear every time we hear the singing." Dawn replied. "If you need time to prepare, I'll wait here."

Ash set his bag on the floor and studied its contents. In addition to potions of life and magic, there was a dizzying array of berries to cure all sorts of ailments--Pecha to cure Poison, Aspear to cure freezing, Chesto for sleep, and Cheri for Paralysis, to name a few. What Berries couldn't cure, Dawn could handle with her holy magic, he figured as he set his sword by his side.

"I'm only taking the harp with me." Brock told Dawn as he carefully tuned his instrument. "The cadena, the fiddle, and my flutes are in our room, yes?"

"They are--Kissa said she'd help Pikachu take care of them." Ash replied, slightly surprised that the fiddle was also on the list of instruments that Brock could play. Maybe he taught himself for Ayra's sake. he thought as he silently reminded himself to ask Brock to play it for him sometime.

He pictured Brock standing in the town square of....any town, playing a blazing fast reel as a crowd of people danced--some alone, and some with partners. Those that weren't dancing were clapping along or tapping their feet in appriciation.

A clink of a pendant being hung around his neck snapped him from his daydream. "These Dreamlight Pendants are to keep your soul safe, allowing me to revive you should you fall to the creatures in the catacombs." Dawn began.

Ash examined the large round opal hanging around his neck as he followed his friends down a hallway and down a frail looking stairwell that led to a large door with ancient runes on it. Can this thing really keep me alive?

[BGM: Song for Marista]

The notes of a harp got his attention-- Brock was standing before a statue of Anima, playing the song he usually played before he told a story. "Is that song special to you--besides signaling the start of tale weaving?" he asked.

Brock's expression turned somber. "Yes...I play it in memory of my mentor Marista, who perished by Kione's hand hours before she was to depart on her quest for Rainbow Symphony." He brushed away a tear before continuing to play the song. "She would play this on her fiddle to signal that our lessons were beginning, and we needed to settle down."

"But why choose to play it when you tell stories?" Dawn was interested now. "Why not at the beginning of every performance?"

"She specialized in storytelling, and taught me many of the tales I tell." Brock explained before addressing Ash. "Remember our first day together, when I told 'Why Pikachu has Brown Stripes on His Back'? That was one of the very first tales I learned, thanks to her."

"Interesting...she sounds like she was a nice person." Ash mused. "I would have liked to have met her when she was alive."

"Despite her tendency to be scatterbrained at times, she was never without a smile, and seemingly knew the right words to comfort you when things were not going well." Brock continued. "In fact, I remember the time when I was struggling to learn 'The Little Gold Flute'--my most popular story..."

[BGM: Remember When?]

"Your sister suffers...no...your sister's suffering way out there....um...." a younger Brock, now clad in the dull blue tunic of a minstrel's apprentice, recites as he paces the floor in Harmony Square. He stops for a moment, trying to remember what comes next in the verse, but no words come. "ERRRRGGHHH!!! Why can't I remember this part?" he rants to no one in particular. "I can tell it just fine up to this part, but I always forget it! I really want to tell it for the hokage of Mizutoshi when the ninjas arrive tonight!"

"Is everything okay, Brock?" an older female voice asks, snapping young Brock from his anger.

Young Brock looks up to see an auburn haired girl in a blue and green striped outfit and black leggings approaching him and smiles. "Marista...just who I needed to see! I really want to perform for the ninjas of Mizutoshi, so I asked Lady Arina for suggestions for what sort of tales they like. She suggested I try and learn 'The Little Reed Pipe', which I have adapted as 'The Little Gold Flute'. However, every time I get to the Murkrow's appearance, I blank out!" He sighs in frustration as he sits on the floor and covers his face with his hands.

"Calm yourself, Brock...remember what I told you about first approaching a story?" Marista asks as she dries the tears welling up in young Brock's eyes.

"You should learn it as a whole, not in pieces?" young Brock hesitantly answers.

"Yes, and what else?" Marista prompts Brock for more information.

"Don't try to memorize anything except the first and last line?" young Brock asks, a nervous note in his voice.

Surprisingly, Marista doesn't yell. "Can you show me that you've learned your first and last line?"

"Sure!" Young Brock gets up and begins "A long time ago, in a place far away from here, there lived a mother and her daughter."

"And your last line?" Marista assks.

"Yet Aozora kept the little flute with him, just in case he needed its song again." young Brock replies.

Marista nods in approval. "Very good! As for the rest of the story, you only need to remember the very basic storyline..."

Young Brock thinks for a moment. "Maybe I have been going at it the wrong way by memorizing the whole thing...will you come with me to the Room of Lore?"

"I'd be glad to..." Marista smiles as young Brock leads the way down the north hallway....

[Cut BGM]

"So did you ever get to tell that story to the hokage of the water village?" Dawn asks.

"I did, and Marista was there in the audience to encourage me--her being there gave me enough confidence to speak well before the hokage and Arina." Brock concluded. "She was due to leave on her quest a few days after the visit from the water village, but a few nights before she was to leave, Mightyenas possessed by Kione attacked the hall and set it ablaze." He plays the song again, showing Marista leading a group of apprentices from the burning hall.

[BGM: How Could this Happen? (sad theme)]

"And she gave her life so you could live?" Ash asked as he watched the terrifying scene of Marista comforting the scared apprentices and young Brock as the fire raged on.

"Yes--but it was not the flames that took her...a Mightyena attacked and killed her." Brock replies.

Tears welled up in Ash's eyes as an eerily familiar scene played out through Brock's song--a Mightyena pounces on Marista and a great struggle ensues. This looks just like my encounter with the Scyther! He brushes away a tear as he watches young Brock cry over Marista's bloodied and lifeless body. That could have very well been Pikachu crying over me... "Is that why you saved me? So you wouldn't lose another potential friend?"

"Yes, and no...I saved you because I have always believed in helping those that need it. Although I did not show it to you at the time, I was deeply saddened at how similar your encounter was to Marista's death, and how your family would react if you had died." Brock replied as he concluded his song. "At her funeral, I promised myself to do two things--to learn the fiddle and the songs she often played in her memory; and that should the opportunity for me to unleash Rainbow Symphony present itself, I would undertake the quest in Marista's stead as thanks for her being a friend to me."

"A very noble goal indeed." Dawn smiled. "I believe she is buried in the catacombs, so you are welcome to pay your respects if you find her tomb."

"I will--I've wanted to lay her ring on her tomb for some time now." Brock replied as he toyed with a ring with a pear shaped emerald inside. "It was the only thing unharmed on her body, and it was given to me at the funeral. But I could never bring myself to wear it because of the memories it evoked, so I figured that the best thing to do would be to lay it on her tomb."

[BGM: In the Catacombs]

"So you have a reason for this quest..." Ash mused as Dawn led the way down the west hallway and opened a large door inscribed with runes. "As I have said before, I have long dreamed of going on a quest like the heroes you tell about..."

"You realize that going on a quest like this is not all fun and games like you probably think it is..." Brock cautioned as the group wound down a long stairway. "You will encounter monsters, and traps, and puzzles you have never seen before."

Ash swallowed hard as he continued down the stairs. Monsters, I can handle, but traps and puzzles? By Anima, what have I gotten myself into?

To Be Continued...
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Review of Chapter 1

Right well I'm firstly going to comment on story and plot, which I must say is exceptionally original and unique! I love it so kudos to you there! One thing I must also mention is I love the added variation and differences from the 'canon' Pokemon where the ideas seem different and Pokemon and Humans interact differently and the true sense of magic and wielding the elements is utilised here. I am also largely impressed by the standard at which this is set, planned and detailed obviously so I look forward to the progression of it all.

The writing is also nicely and neatly crafted, not over using description and not over using speech whilst on the antithesis not under using either. You've got the right balance and clever technique to just keep me intrigued and wanting to read on. I must also note that the writing adds something to it, something unique and interesting that I don't normally see so I'd like to see where it goes and hopefully place my finger on what it is.

The cliffhnager at the end was also utilised well, did not see that coming. But now one niggly point is that in some sentences, some verb use is incorrect or the tense is incorrect. So instead of saying gave you might say give, so just a few confusion issues there, but I only noted 1 or 2 so it's not much of a big deal, but just keep an eye out in the future.

Overall well done



The magic of Pokemon
Episode 8: Into the Catacombs

[BGM: In the Catacombs]

"We're not going to be lost forever in winding passageways, are we?" Ash stammered as he and the others continued down the stairwell.

"Oh no--the catacombs are surprisingly straightfoward if you know what you are looking for." Dawn assured him. "As for the puzzles..."

"There's not going to be any that are impossible, are there?" Ash interuppted. He imagined himself struggling to figure out just the right answer to a question, only to have every possible answer be incorrect.

"Every puzzle has an answer, but not all of them may be the obvious ones." Dawn replied as the group arrived in a small room. After producing a key from her robe and unlocking the door, she continued. "Our path to the statue's chamber may appear to be random, but there is order in the chaos." With that, she led the way into the room held up by simple earthen columns. Ash reached out to touch a vine growing on a wall, but Brock silently urged him not to as they made their way down a hallway and into a room cluttered with broken furniture and a structure in the right corner that resembled a Pokemon pen.

"Wonder what this was once used for?" Ash mused as he studied a ratty tapestry on one wall. "Much less how we're going to advance farther in if the only way out was the way we came?"

"This used to be an underground stable before it became the catacombs." Dawn explained before she heard a crack by the pen. "LOOK OUT!!!"

"YIPE!!!" Ash jumped back as the network of twigs he had been standing on clattered into a small bowl-shaped pit.

"First rule of dungeon crawling, Ash--things aren't always what they seem." Brock cautioned as Ash carefully weaved his way around the pit and back to where Dawn was waiting.

"I knew that..." Ash wheezed, his heart still racing from his near fall.

"Then did you know about the secret way out of here hidden from human eyes?" Brock asked.

"There's another way out?" Ash gasped as he looked around the room--barring the door they had entered from, he did not see a door or any form of entryway. "Where?"

"Observe." With that, Brock readied his harp to play. "Spirits of light, show me things hidden to the Mortal Realm! Wandering Eye!"

[BGM: Carried on Heartstrings]

Even Dawn was surprised by the sudden appearance of a door in the right wall. "Well! I didn't know that door was there!" she smiled as the last note faded away.

"See? The gods have hidden things all across the world, and only the most persistent and keen eyed can find them." Brock assured Ash before following Dawn out of the secret door.

"But I thought there was no way out!" Ash protested. "I thought we'd run into an impossible puzzle, or worse, a monster! I thought..."

"It's all well and good to have thoughts, but it's better to stop thinking and actually do something!" Brock snapped back.

"Both of you, please!" Dawn pleaded as she seperated the boys. "We won't find anything about the catacombs while you bicker like children!"

"Futhermore, take everything you think you know about adventuring and let it go." Brock added, his voice noticably calmer. "Not everything I have told in an adventure tale has to happen to you to count as an adventure--much less happen exactly as it did in a story."

"Okay..." Ash sighed as he trudged behind Brock.

[Cut BGM]

"Brock's right--every adventurer's story is different--the question for you is how you will write yours." Dawn agreed. Ash nodded to show he understood as the group entered another room filled with columns, with a tombstone in between some of them.

"Well, what is your story then?" Ash asked as he watched Brock examine every tombstone in hopes of finding Marista's. "Do you dream of guiding a great hero?"

[BGM: All is Well, I'm Here]

"Not so much that as finding my mother." Dawn replied. "She disappeared when the merchant's caravan she was traveling with was ambushed by thieves. Since my father could barely make enough building things to support himself and me, I asked if I could study with the clerics at Whitespell...since then, Ethani's been like a second mother to me."

"I see..." Ash replied.

"During my training, I learned I had the gift of seeing visions from Anima, so one night, when I had such a vision, I asked Her if my mom was alive. She told me that she was, and the light of a musical rainbow would guide me to her--so I interpret that to mean that someone searching for Rainbow Symphony will lead me to her." Dawn continued, showing Ash a star cut sapphire pendant. "This is the only possession of hers I have, and I keep it with me to remind myself of my promise to find her."

[Cut BGM]

"Speaking of finding things, I wonder if Brock found Marista's tomb..." Ash wondered.

"I looked--it's not in this hall of rememberance." Brock sighed.

"Then let's move on." Dawn motioned for the boys to follow her down a hallway.

[BGM: In the Catacombs]

Ash darted inside the next room when some letters and a star etched in the wall by one of the three doors leading outside got his attention. "The Lady's light will show you the way?"

"What does that mean?" Even Brock was confused.

"Wandering Eye won't help you solve the Doors of Promise." Dawn cautioned. "Only one way is the correct way foward, and the other two will bring us back here--play Wandering Eye, and the correct doors will shuffle."

"Then if we take the right door, part of the star will be glowing?" Ash suggested.

"A plausible theory, but let's think deeper." Brock countered.

"But I don't want to think, I want to get through here!" Ash protested.

"Patience, Ash..." Dawn began. "Remember when Brock said that things aren't always what they seem to be, and I told you that not every puzzle has an obvious solution?"

"Your idea is perfectly acceptable and plausible, but there's also the possibility of that message having another meaning." Brock added. "We're not going anywhere until we know the way out--so think of what else that message means."

Ash slumped to the ground and sighed, the message by the door replaying in his mind again and again. The Lady's light will show you the way....the Lady's Light will show you the way...oh, Anima, I wish Kissa were here!

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 9: Visions of a Memory

[BGM: In the Catacombs]

The Lady's light will show you the way... Ash had been pondering the riddle before the three doors for some time now. I still think it means that if we go through the right door, part of the star will light up...but how do we know it's the right door?

He sighed as he listened to the thuds of Dawn's shoes meld with the rhythmic jig Brock was playing on his harp to pass the time. The star has to be part of it somehow...

Then it dawned on him--what if the riddle had something to do with the doors instead of the star marking?

He got up, walked over to the doors, and bent down to examine the tiny gap between the door and the entrance. "I think I've got it!!!!"

"Got what?" Dawn asked.

"The riddle..." Ash motioned for Dawn to join him by the doors. "The first and third door have no light, so we'd just be looping back forever--the correct way likely has a torch inside, creating the light you see in the crack!"

"Very good, Ash..." Brock smiled as he put his instrument away. "Now you know what I mean when I said that things aren't always what they seem."

"And what I meant when I said that not every puzzle has an obvious answer." Dawn agreed as she led the way through the lit door.

After winding through the maze of doors, the group came upon an ornate fountain depicting a long haired girl in a flower and vine print dress that appeared to pour out water. A small sliver of sunlight from above made the sun shaped jewel in a circlet adorning the girl's head sparkle, projecting several tiny suns on the catacomb's earthen walls.

"Our Lady Anima..." Brock gasped as he knelt before the fountain in awe.

"There are fountains and statues of Anima here to reward those that survive the catacomb's many traps." Dawn explained as she drew some water from the fountain. "The water is free for all to drink." With that, she offered the bottle to Ash, who happily gulped the contents down.

"So how exactly can you see visions of Anima?" Ash asked as he wiped his mouth. "Do you have to ask Anima to appear or does it happen with no warning?"

"It depends--sometimes, She appears when I have not called to Her, and sometimes, I have to ask." Dawn replied. "Was there something you wanted to ask Her?"

[BGM: It Is I, Anima]

"Not at the moment, I was just curious!" Ash assured Dawn, but gasped when he felt a soft breeze rippling his cloak, never mind that he was inside a building. "What's happening?" he gasped, but found himself kneeling in awe as the breeze began to take the shape of the girl in the fountain!

"My lady..." Dawn gasped at the long brown haired girl before her. "Why do you appear to us now, when we are already searching for that which defiles the catacombs?"

"I came to tell you about something deeply toubling in Sindura, to the south." Anima replied, her voice calm and melodic. "One of Kione's minions is there, claiming to be one of my children...he has swayed many to his side by a lie." Another wind gust gently rippled Anima's pale blue dress for a moment. "When you have reclaimed the catacombs from the darkness, I want you to travel there and guide the people of Sindura back to the light--Kione must not gain a foothold in this realm! If that happens, my children, you may not have a chance at unleashing the song of many colors."

"Where you lead, my Lady, so shall we follow." Ash replied, his voice trembling a little.

"But how do we show the people that this prophet is a lie?" Brock wondered. "I do not possess a cleric's skill..."

"Ah, but you do have a wandering eye, Sir Brock...use that to drive out the darkness." With that, Anima faded away in a rush of wind. A wry smile appeared around Brock's face as he took his harp and began playing a brief hymn of thanks for the vision.

[Cut BGM]

"I think he knows what Anima meant by Her last words to us before Her return to the heavens." Dawn smiled.

[BGM: In the Catacombs]

"Is Marista's tomb protected by--"Ash started as a growl got his attention in the next room. He whirled around and saw a giant purple mouse creature staring back at him, blocking passage into another hall of rememberance. "I guess that answers my question..."

"Giant Rattatas are child's play--you can engage in close quarters, but its better to use a ranged attack, just in case the giant Rattata is protected from melee combat." Dawn replied before firing an arrow in the Rattata's stomach.

"Do you need me to help at all?" Brock asked.

"Not at the moment, but thanks!" Ash replied as he formed a ball of blue energy in his hands. "Drifting breeze, come down with fury! Blizzard!"

"That's a clever idea to get rid of giant Ratattas..." Dawn mused as the giant Ratatta quickly succumbed to the swirling ice and snow surrounding it.

"Before we got a new wing for apprentices to study at the lodge, my mentor told me that was the fastest way to take down giant Ratattas." Ash explained. "They would roam the halls at least once a week, and we were all called in to drive it off."

"Judging from what you have told me about Milina, she sounds like a nice person." Brock smiled before dashing over to one particular tomb in the hall that read "LAIRE" After wiping away some dust obscuring the first name on the tombstone, he smiled--this was Marista's tomb.

Ash walked over to the tomb in the corner, where Brock was silently whispering a prayer of rememberance about his mentor, and knelt down before the tomb in respect. Although he had never known Marista Laire in life, he felt compelled to support the one she had mentored in his quest for the ultimate Song Magic--a quest she never got the chance to go on.

Some tense minutes passed before Brock spoke again. "Ash, the ring..."

"Here..." Ash handed the ring to Brock and watched as Brock gently laid it among the flowers that had apparently just been laid on the tomb.

"You will live on in my heart, Marista, and I will keep my promise to unleash Rainbow Symphony for your sake." Brock mused before finally getting up. "My task here is completed, and I am ready to move on."

"Let's go..." With that, Dawn lead the way out of the hall and down another curving hallway.

"Do the catacombs have any treasure?" Ash wondered as he studied the many torches lining the hallway.

"We keep a few items here, but only one can be used by other travelers--the Codex of Runes." Dawn explained. "If anyone skilled in magic reads it, they will learn a new spell or two."

"Even Song Magic?" Brock was piqued. "I remember Marista saying she learned a spell from reading the Codex once..."

"Even those that sing magic can learn a new spell song--Dawn started before a low moan got her attention. "Oh no...not zombies..."

Ash looked around him and saw what looked like sickly gray-green humanoid creatures that were not quite living, and not quite dead lumbering them from both directions. "What do we do now?" he asked, trying his hardest not to scream at the approaching zombies. If he did, that would spur them to attack. Zombies are more likely to attack when they know the living are afraid. he reminded himself.

"If we don't do something, we'll be trapped!" Brock shuddered in agreement--zombies were coming from both directions of the hall, leaving the group with nowhere to run...

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 10: The Clever Codex

[BGM: In the Catacombs]

Ash swallowed hard as he watched the zombies approach from both ends of the hallway. "I have a bad feeling about this...."

"You're the one that wanted to come along on the quest...." Brock sighed. "I do have an idea as to how we can get rid of these zombies..."

"How?" Dawn was piqued. "There's no way we'd be able to plow through them all in one direction, much less two!"

"We know they fear holy magic, but on the islands to the south, the peoples there believe fire also deters creatures of the night." Brock explained. "So they light huge fires at night that they don't put out until morning."

"SAY..." Ash interjected. He faced the oncoming horde of zombies in the left hallway and charged a ball of red energy in his hands. "Out of the ground, raze all greenery in flame!"

"Bright light, shine down on bloody impurity!" Dawn called as she aimed a ball of blue white energy at the horde in the right hallway.



The zombies gasped as the horde on the left were engulfed in flames, and the shrieks of those consumed in light filled the right hallway. When both spells disappated, there was not a zombie to be found.

Brock smiled. "If Kissa were with us, she would say well done for coming up with a clever solution."

"At any rate, the left hall is a dead end, and the right hallway is where we need to travel next--into the Faithful Maze, which comes out very close to where we've heard the growling and singing. " Dawn explained as the group started down the right hallway.

"Why is it called that?" Ash wondered as the group entered a large room with a pedestal lying in a corner.

"It is so named because you only see the correct route for a few seconds when you break the lock on the door leading in." Dawn replied, gesturing to a large door with four indentations in its center.

Ash, meanwhile, was piqued in the ornate looking book lying on the pedestal. After thumbing through the pages for a moment, a smile began forming on his face as he fished out the Dreamer's Flute. "Spheres of power, take form in many colors! Mysterious Orb!" With that, he began playing the tune "The Dark Haired Lady", making some red, purple and light blue orbs of various sizes appear and fly about the room, burning, shocking or freezing anything they impacted.

"What was THAT?" Brock gasped as he got up and studied the many frozen or charred points of impact peppering the walls.

"And where did you--" Dawn noticed before spotting the book, which was miraculously unscathed. "Oh, you found the Codex!" She darted over to the pedestal and began eagerly reading a few pages before allowing Brock a chance to read.

[BGM: Carried on Heartstrings]

Brock, on the other hand, took his time reading the pages and the many incantations and descriptions written on them. I can't believe it...I can't believe I'm reading from the famed Codex. He brushed away a tear forming in one eye as he continued reading. Marista...you read from it too. Why did you have to die before you could use what you learned from this special tome? He stepped away from the Codex as another tear landed on the magical pages, revealing a sequence of colors for a moment before drying up.

"Is everything okay?" Dawn asked as Brock took a few deep breaths to calm himself and dry what tears had formed in his eyes.

"Yeah...Marista died not long after reading the Codex in preparation for her quest." Brock replied. "It was strange, reading the same passages she did...."

"Then maybe the same passages hold some new spells for you." Dawn replied. "Every time the Codex is read, what spells the reader learns are different, even if two mages read the exact same page."

"What I really want to learn--" Brock started before choking up again. "is the same--powers---she did..." This was as far as he got before breaking down in tears.

[BGM: All is Well, I'm Here]

Dawn ran over to Brock's side, put a hand around his shoulder, and began whispering words that Ash didn't recognize, calming Brock down a little. Once sure that he was calm again, she asked. "Are you okay now?"

"I think so..." Brock replied as he sniffled a little.

"It's okay to cry over one you have lost--Anima understands your grief." Dawn replied.

"I know, but Marista would've wanted me to be strong in bad times." Brock explained. "So I tried not to show it very often in public."

"If you ask me, bottling up your sadness and anger only makes it worse!" Ash began as he began experimenting with putting some balls in the door's indentations. "While I can't speak from experience, Dawn's right. It always hurts to lose someone you love, and it's okay to cry about it." He grimaced when he saw four red lines above the indentations, so he removed the balls and tried four different colors. "You could write a letter thanking her for the positive influence on your life..."

"Or compose a song in her memory?" Dawn suggested.

[BGM: In the Catacombs]

A smile crept back on Brock's face. "I like those ideas, but for now, it appears you need a little help...the door's lock is just a simple game of Mystic Eyes--the red lines above the balls mean that color ball is incorrect. Blue means that color is correct, but in the wrong place, and green means it is correct and in the right place."

"Oh, now I know what to do!" Ash laughed as he began rearranging the balls--his last attempt of red-blue-yellow-green had revealed that the blue and yellow balls were correct, but in the wrong place.

"Marista would always play Mystic Eyes with me in hopes I would learn to think critically." Brock began as he watched Ash slowly work out the lock's code. "I think the best way to honor her memory is to guide and mentor Ash, just as she did me."

"And there we go!" Ash announced as his code of blue-orange-purple-yellow made the door creak open to reveal a dizzying array of twisting passageways, some of which looped around each other and even went upside down!

"By Anima...Marista never said anything about this!" Brock gasped.

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: Lost in a Maze

[BGM: In the Catacombs]

Ash swallowed hard at the twisting and turning corridors before him--the Faithful Maze certainly lived up to its name. "It certainly would take an act of faith to get through here." he mused as he tensely took a step inside the room that appeared to go on forever.

"What do you see?" Brock asked as he too stepped inside the entrance corridor. Dawn followed after him before the door closed behind them.

"I've seen the brief flash of the correct path, but all I managed to remember is we take a left at the first fork." Ash replied before motioning for his friends to follow him down the path.

Dawn sighed when she saw that there were three routes to take after following Ash's direction. "Now where do we go from here?"

"Would Wandering Eye be any help?" Brock wondered as he pondered digging out his harp.

"No--that would only scramble up the maze--the idea is making it out with no outside help to guide you; in essence, by faith." Dawn replied.

"But a few seconds isn't going to be enough to map this place out!" Ash complained. "Unless you have the memory of all the gods and their guardians combined..."

"Well, there is such a Pokemon like that...Alakazam." Brock started.

"But where would we find them?" Ash demanded.

Brock sighed in defeat. "They are only in the possession of archmages, and I'm not sure one would be brave enough to come down here to us."

Ash sighed. Milina, I wish you were here...

"Since we have three choices, and only one is the right way, let's find the correct route the way a scholar would do it--deduction." Dawn suggested. "We'll each take a route through the maze, and see where each leads."

"Mm-hm." Ash nodded.

"Our destination is the Hall of Reflection--the room before the statue of Anima." Dawn continued. "You do know a teleportation song?"

"I do--the Song Magic spell Time Hole." Brock replied. "All I would have to is specify where I wanted to go in the incantation and who to take with me before playing the song. However, it takes more strength the more people you bring with you."

"This doesn't include you?" Ash asked. Brock nodded. "So what is the incantation to Time Hole?"

"Beacon of Anima, guide me to...wherever you need to go." Brock replied. "'Or, Beacon of Anima, guide us' if you have more than one person with you."

Dawn charged a ball of blue-white energy in her hands. "To make our exploring a little less tedious, I'm going to use one of the powers I learned from the Codex." With that, she called "Time's current, place us in your whirlpool...Haste!"

BGM: Haste to the End of this Part!]

Suddenly, Ash felt a blue aura surround him, followed by a sudden burst of speed! This power...I feel like everything's going very fast! He watched as his friends raced past him in a magical blur. But if Dawn sped us up, this will definitely make finding the correct route a little less tedious!

With that, he dashed off down the right route, the twisting and turning passages a mere blur around him. He could feel himself traveling in all directions, even going upside down, but at the same time, he was going too fast to see anything!

He thought he could see his friends racing around him in the same network of twists, turns, loops, and dips, but they were mere blurs to his line of sight! Wherever we end up, I can at least say I harnessed a dragon's speed--if only for a few moments.

[Cut BGM]

Before long, he emerged in a small room just as the Haste magic wore off, breathing heavily all the while. "What a ride!" he wheezed, still giddy from his supersonic exploration.

"I'll say..." Brock heaved.

"It turns out...that all three routes...ended up...in the same place..." Dawn gasped before collapsing on the floor. "But...let us rest before we enter...the hall..."

Brock winced as he heard a vaguely feline yowl pierce the air behind the door. "Good idea--whatever's in the next room doesn't sound friendly at all!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Here's a preview of Episode 11 for you:

"We did it!" Ash smiled. "Our first Bead of the Elements!"

"I'm sure you had quite an adventure in the catacombs..." Kissa smiled.

"Oh, we did--and I learned why your master is on this quest." Ash replied. He was about to say more when he saw a white ball light and a red ball of light fly down before him. "Huh?"

"Anima?" Dawn gasped as the white light formed into a smaller version of Anima.

"Well done on finding my bead." Anima began. "Before I meet you in Sindura, I thought I would tell you about the Firebird's Prayer, with some help from Deami, my fellow goddess that rules over flames." At this, the red light formed into a smaller version of a girl with orange-yellow flame-like hair clad in a long red coat that concealed a burnt yellow tunic and dull brown pants to match.

"Your minstrel friend likely knows the tale of which I speak." Deami smiled, her warm and gentle voice reverberating through Ash's head. "Long ago, I created the firebird Moltres so that the Mortal Realm would have fire to keep warm. Kione grew jealous of my beautiful firebird, and cursed it so that it would die in a hundred years." Tears welled up in Deami's eyes for a moment when she mentioned the painful memory.

"Naturally, Deami was devastated that one of her favorite creations had been cursed, so to ease her tears, I weakened the curse so that instead of dying forever in a hundred years, a new firebird would arise when the old one died, and retain all the memories of the old one." Anima continued. "The beings of the Mortal Realm began to see Moltres as the sign of rebirth, so Deami taught Moltres healing magic, only to be used when the mortals called on her with a sincere request."

"Your mentor Marista Laire rescued Moltres from a hunter's trap once, and in return, I asked Moltres to teach her the prayer to call on her power, which she then taught you." Deami concluded. "I hope you will remember Marista each time you perform it."

"I will, Lady Deami." Brock replied as the red light faded away.


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 11: The Firebird and the Diamond

"Okay..." Ash mused as he opened the door into the next room. "Let's see what's guarding the voice singing in here..."

Just as the group entered the room, Dawn gasped as she heard a female voice sing Love, oh love... in the distance, prompting a sickly gray feline like creature to yowl as if in pain. "What IS that?" she gasped as she readied an arrow, shaking all the while.

"Judging from the appearance, it appears to be a Delcatty corrupted by the Dark Realm...a Werecatty, as it were." Ash replied as he studied the gray cat with large white tufts of fur that paced the floor, its eyes casting an eerie red glow on the dim room. He drew his blade. "That said, it does not belong here!" With that, he ran at the Werecatty in an attempt to slash at it, but the Werecatty countered by lunging at him, sending him flying to the ground. His sword landed nearby with a clang some seconds later.

"Oh, Ash!" Dawn cried as she helped him up. "Are you okay?"

Ash moaned in pain from the gash on his right arm, but soon felt a warm feeling around him as Brock sang Fire, gleam and glow...let your power shine...Make the clock reverse, bring back what once was mine...

"How...how did you do that?" he gasped as he studied his newly healed arm.

"It was an old prayer Marista used to heal things--it was the last thing she taught me before she died." Brock explained as he blocked the Werecatty's claws with his own blade. "Also, were-creatures have an aversion to silver, in addition to fire and light magic."

"So, what's your idea for a strategy?" Dawn asked as she gingerly readied an arrow.

"I'm no tactician, but I do have an idea..." Brock began. "My blade has silver in it--this makes it easier to channel magic through it. So allow me to deal with the Werecatty directly, while you and Ash support me from behind."

"Well..." Dawn was unsure--she had never seen Brock actually fight with a weapon.

"What should I do?" Ash asked as he retrieved his weapon, ever aware of the Werecatty circling them.

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

"Provide magical support to allow me a chance to get close." Brock replied as he approached the Werecatty, making it snarl a warning to the minstrel that dared to challenge it.

"Precious light, be our armor to protect us! Protect!" Dawn called as Brock rolled out of the way of the Werecatty's claws, then charged at the cursed feline, confident that the orange glow surrounding him was enough to protect him.

Ash gasped when he saw the Werecatty preparing to breathe a pulsing ball of purple energy at Brock--the spell of protection Dawn had cast wouldn't hold up against a magical attack! He sheathed his weapon and fumbled for the sleeve containing the Dreamer's Flute. "Light of heaven, guard us from the unending darkness! Holy Mirror!" As he started to play the tune "New Day Dawning", the Werecatty's spell was deflected back into its chest, making the Werecatty howl in pain from its own spell.

"Another power from the Codex?" Dawn asked as she fired another arrow into one of the Werecatty's legs to paralyze it even further.

"Probably." Ash replied.

"I must thank you for the help!" Brock called back as he jumped out of the way of the Werecatty, then performed a rolling jump onto its back, delivering a deep wound as he leapfrogged over his opponent. The Werecatty whirled around, but received another blow to its chest.

"Out of the ground, raze all greenery in flame! Fire!" Ash commanded, sending a fireball into another leg wound Brock had left.

"Bright light, shine down on bloody impurity! Holy!" Dawn was next, her spell enveloping the Werecatty in a bright light, sending it falling to the floor, paralyzed. "We have it weakened!" she yelled over the Werecatty's scream. "Now's your chance!"

Finally, the Werecatty resisted the paralysis from the Holy spell enough to try and mortally wound the human fighting it, but Brock struck first, delivering the final blow to its chest.

[Cut BGM]

Ash hurried to Brock's side, where Brock was heaving in exhaustion. "Well done--you're not too bad a fighter!" he noted as Dawn arrived to begin healing the various scratches that decorated Brock's arms and exposed legs.

"I adapted...what I learned...in acrobatics...for battle." Brock wheezed before weakly standing up. "Agilty decides...the advantage...."

"You proved yourself handily of being a fighter." Dawn assured him before making sure that the healing magic was taking effect. "Now, let's go see what was singing in the statue room."

The next room was very plain--an ornate circle design adorned the floor, with a statue of Anima facing the entryway. Ash noticed something shining in the statue's arms, and ran to take a look at the tiny white stone the statue was holding. Is this...?

Love, oh love... sang the stone as it hovered into Ash's hands. He gasped--this was one of the Beads of the Elements!

"Guys! The singing was no lost girl, but a Bead of the Elements!" he called, hurrying back to allow his companions to take a look at the shining stone.

"What???" Dawn gasped. "Really???"

A joyful smile crept across Brock's face as he watched the Bead pulse in Ash's hands. "Who would've thought that a Bead of the Elements would be here?" he chuckled as the Bead sang <i>Love, oh love...</i> again.

"The gods' ways are filled with mysteries that we can't even fathom..." Dawn replied. "Either way, let us report back to Ethani."

"I am SO ready to get out of here and see Pikachu!" Ash agreed as he pocketed the bead.

Brock retrieved his harp, tuned it, and prepared to play. "Beacon of Anima, guide us to Whitespell Sanctuary! Time Hole!" With that, the three of them disappeared in a wave of green-blue light and a harp's melody.


[BGM: Welcome to Whitespell]

"You've returned?" Ethani gasped as the group materialized in the temple Sanctuary some seconds later. "So what was it that was singing?"

"The singing was no lost girl..." Dawn replied as she offered the bead for Ethani to examine. "It was one of the eight Beads, crying out to be rescued from a Werecatty."

"And rescue it we did! Brock proved to have as much skill in fighting as he does in music and magic!" Ash interjected as he embraced Pikachu.

"I always knew you were a master of the blade...." Kissa purred as she arrived in the room and nuzzled Brock.

Tears welled up in Ethani's eyes. "Words cannot express how much I thank you for cleansing the catacombs, nor can I express the surprise at the notion that the gods would hide a Bead in this very temple."

"Although it is fitting that Anima hide her Diamond in one of Her sanctuaries." Dawn smiled as the Bead materialized on the necklace thread and she accepted her belongings from a Bowmaster.

"I'm sure that by finding her Bead, Anima has reaffirmed to you why you travel together." Ethani continued. "You to avenge Marista Laire..." she explained to Brock. "You to find your mother and bring her home..." she explained to Dawn. "And you to learn what being a hero really means." she explained to Ash. "In return, you have taken the first step on a journey that will transform you forever in faith that the gods will be there to guide you every step of the way."

"Whatever happens, we'll stick together!" Ash replied. Brock and Dawn nodded in agreement.

"Then go, Heroes of the Holy Colors...encounter the other gods and win back their beads from the darkness--all of Yoso awaits the performance of the great Rainbow Symphony." Ethani mused before giving Dawn one last hug.

"Bye, Ethani!" Ash waved goodbye to Ethani and the crowd of apprentices as the three of them walked into the sunset.


"We did it!" Ash smiled as the group departed the temple. "Our first Bead of the Elements!"

"I'm sure you had quite an adventure in the catacombs..." Kissa smiled.

"Oh, we did--and I learned why your master is on this quest." Ash replied. He was about to say more when he saw a white ball light and a red ball of light fly down before him. "Huh?"

[BGM: In the Presence of Gods]

"Anima?" Dawn gasped as the white light formed into a smaller version of Anima.

"Well done on finding my bead." Anima began. "Before I meet you in Sindura, I thought I would tell you about the Firebird's Prayer, with some help from Deami, my fellow goddess that rules over flames." At this, the red light formed into a smaller version of a girl with orange-yellow flame-like hair clad in a long red coat that concealed a burnt yellow tunic and dull brown pants to match.

"Your minstrel friend likely knows the tale of which I speak." Deami smiled, her warm and gentle voice reverberating through Ash's head. "Long ago, I created the firebird Moltres so that the Mortal Realm would have fire to keep warm. Kione grew jealous of my beautiful firebird, and cursed it so that it would die in a hundred years." Tears welled up in Deami's eyes for a moment when she mentioned the painful memory.

"Naturally, Deami was devastated that one of her favorite creations had been cursed, so to ease her tears, I weakened the curse so that instead of dying forever in a hundred years, a new firebird would arise when the old one died, and retain all the memories of the old one." Anima continued. "The beings of the Mortal Realm began to see Moltres as the sign of rebirth, so Deami taught Moltres healing magic, only to be used when the mortals called on her with a sincere request."

"Your mentor Marista Laire rescued Moltres from a hunter's trap once, and in return, I asked Moltres to teach her the prayer to call on her power, which she then taught you." Deami concluded. "I hope you will remember Marista each time you perform it."

"I will, Lady Deami." Brock replied as the red light faded away.

"Anima..." Ash asked. "How will we know you when we get to Sindura?"

"You will know me by what I wear--until then, farewell." Anima replied before the white light also faded away.

[Cut BGM]

"Sindura?" Kissa asked. "What business do we have there?"

"The people there are being deceived--and we have to stop it!" Ash explained before running down the forest path.

"Wait for us!" Brock and Dawn were not far behind.

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 12: A False Light

[BGM: The Cries of Oppression]

"So, how did Anima say she would appear to us, again?" Kissa wondered as the group walked along the road to Sindura. It had been several days since her master had found the first Bead of the Elements in the catacombs of Whitespell, and she had learned much about the adventure and their new companion on the way.

"She said we would know Her by Her clothing." Dawn assured Kissa as they strolled into town. Normally, Sindura would be bustling with activity on market day, but the stalls in the marketplace were still empty and there was not a ship to be seen in the harbor.

"Why is it so quiet?" Brock asked as he walked down the deserted streets, a note of worry in his voice.

Ash was about to answer when he heard a woman's fearful pleas and a man's shouting in the distance. "There's trouble!" He motioned for the others to follow him before taking off down a street.

"Wait for us!" Kissa called as the others hurried to keep up with Ash.

After winding down the streets and past more empty market stalls, the group came to the town square, where a crowd was gathered watching a young woman try to escape from a tall and lanky man. Ash was already present in the crowd, watching the tense scene unfold.

[BGM: Run For It!]

"What's going on?" Brock asked. Ash motioned for his friend to be quiet as the man approached the frightened woman, who was fearfully clutching a box full of small Pokemon sculptures.

"I will not mark up my work without a very good reason!" the woman snapped. "I want everyone in Yoso to enjoy my fine sculptures, and with your tax, no one will be able to afford them!"

"Ah, but you seem to have forgotten that we need to stockpile food for the winter, and the tax is to meet that end...besides, Anima has told me that this year's winter will be harsh, and Her word is law." the man replied.

"How can Anima speak to you? You are not part of a true cleric's order!" another woman in the crowd protested. "The Shironise Order is a fraud, for all I care!"

"Everything is NOT fated to be and unchangeable!" another man agreed. "We have the gift of choosing how we price our goods, what trades we choose to train under, and how we live our lives!"

"Have you all forgotten what we have taught you?" the lanky man yelled. "We know all your fates because Anima revealed them to us...and once you know your fate, it cannot be changed." Roars of protest came from the crowd.

The young woman gritted her teeth in rage. "You dare claim to know these people's fates? I'll show you your fate!" She began charging a crackling purple ball of lightning in her hands. "Heavenly bolts, bring divine justice! Thundara!" The man screamed in pain as giant thunderbolts rained down on him, prompting many in the crowd to shield their eyes. When the spell faded, there was nothing left of the woman's pursuer.

[Cut BGM]

"Whoa..." Ash gasped as the crowd cheered.

"I would expect nothing less from the true Anima." Dawn smiled as the crowd began to disperse.

Brock hurried over to the woman's side and helped her up. "Are you okay?" He was about to say more when he saw the woman's hair lengthen and ivy begin to appear on her pale blue blouse and cream skirt. "Anima..."

[BGM: It is I, Anima]

"It is I...." Anima smiled as she brushed herself off. "As you saw in my assailant, many in Sindura are beginning to believe a lie--the Shironise Order claims that I have revealed the world's fates to them, and that they cannot be changed."

"That's not true! You gave us the gift of choice--and every choice we make influences our lives, for better or worse." Dawn replied. Anima smiled and nodded in approval.

"Whose idea was it to turn Sindura into a town of fatalistic zombies?" Ash growled, appalled at what the man chasing Anima had said before his smiting.

"Come..." Anima replied as she traced her finger into an empty house's wall, creating a door. "I will tell you more here." Kissa led the group inside the house, but once Anima had entered, the door disappeared, making the house appear completely normal to passersby.

[BGM: Making Plans]

"Sindura has always been a prosperous town..." Brock mused as he made himself comfortable at a small wooden table in the center of the room. "With it being a port town, many traders and merchants all across Yoso come to buy and sell their wares."

"But is not immune to hard times." Anima cautioned as the others made themselves comfortable at the table. "Three months ago, the storm season began, and many traders either perished in the storms or were lost at sea. The townsfolk grew worried and fearful as their food supplies dwindled. Kione took advantage of the people's despair and sent the demon Melis in disguise as a cleric of mine."

Just then, everyone heard a young male voice resonate through their heads. "People of Sindura, hear now the words of the Lady Kadara..."

Anima's concerned look slowly grew to one of anger as a female voice began. "Oh, children of Anima, do not worry over what tomorrow brings, for it is all left to fate, and the fates of all the world intertwine in a predetermined path that goes on until the end of time. Be proud to serve the Shironise Order, for it is your fate..."

"No..." Ash challenged the telepathic voice as it continued to speak. "No, no, NO, NO, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"You have it all wrong!" Brock agreed.

"The Shironise Order is false!" Dawn countered.

"The real Anima wouldn't be so indifferent and oppress Her people!" Kissa agreed.

"Simply yelling and screaming at the lies won't do a thing." Anima began when the telepathic message finally faded away. "We have to expose Kadara for who she really is--Melis, the Princess of Lies. Normal beings cannot discern a being's true form, but since you have a singer of magic with a Wandering Eye, we have the advantage." She got up and began tracing a door on the wall again. "Kadara will arrive in the square this evening to speak again to the people and work 'miracles'--but it is merely magic twisted to her ends. The more people that follow her, the stronger Kione's foothold in this world will be."

"Just say the word, and I will play the song that will show them the truth!" Brock smiled as he followed Anima into the street, being careful to shield his eyes from the flash of light that formed as Anima shifted into her human form from earlier.

"Goodness!" Dawn gasped at the size of the crowd surrounding a platform where a girl with pale skin and maroon hair looked out over the crowd.

[BGM: The Dark Takes Form]

"Who's the girl?" Ash wondered as he carefully guided the group through the crowd, being careful not to push nor shove in an attempt to get closer to the simple platform serving as a stage.

"That is Kadara, the form Melis has chosen to take." Anima mused as she watched the girl's black and white robe flutter in the wind.

"Good evening, my people...take comfort in knowing the future is already determined!" Kadara began, to the roars of the crowd. "All of Yozo's history, from the time of creation to its end, is predetermined!"

"So it was mere chance this world came into being?" Kissa gasped, shocked. "I think not!"

"Lies..." Dawn hissed. "The future is not predetermined, and neither is the past!"

"You shape it according to Your perfect will." Brock smiled. "If it's all predetermined, then what is the point of faith?"

"Exactly...I don't reveal the paths of history to everyone because I want My people to trust Me." Anima replied. "If everything is predetermined, there is no reason to have faith in any god..."

"I've had enough of this fatalistic mumbo jumbo!" Ash began to charge a blue ball of energy in his hands. "Drifting breeze, come down with fury! Blizzard!"

"...For example, I know that I will be frozen with ice magic, and bring a Pokemon back to life today." Kadara continued. The crowd gasped as Ash's spell impacted a few seconds later, enclosing Kadara in ice.

"Take that!" Ash laughed, a confident smirk on his face.

"Uh, Ash?" Kissa stammered as the ice cube enclosing Kadara began melting away, to the crowd's cheers.

Ash watched, shocked, as a girl ran to the platform and offered Kadara a lifeless Taillow. Kadara smiled and formed a blue white light in her hands. "Spirits of light, give a new dream to the soul! Arise!" More cheers went up as the Taillow woke up with a peep and flitted back to its master's shoulder.

[BGM: How Could This Happen? (sad theme)]

"I've heard enough..." Kissa grumbled as the group turned to leave. "The world You and the other gods lovingly made, Anima, laughingly explained away by fate...."

"It breaks my heart that Sindura is falling for these lies--and all the more reason we must open their eyes to the truth." Anima sighed as the group walked down to a temple not far from the square. "Take your instrument, Brock--Kadara and her guards will be arriving here soon, intent on destroying you all. Be ready to perform Wandering Eye at my signal."

"Yes, my lady!" Brock fumbled for his harp and frantically began tuning it.

"Ash, Dawn, ready your weapons for battle." Anima added as she threw on a deep red cloak to hide her identity. Dawn obediently nocked an arrow and Ash drew his blade as Kadara and her guards burst into the temple.

[BGM: A Challenge!]

"So you are the one that cast the ice spell..." Kadara smirked. "Why do you not accept that our battle here is fate, and that Anima will triumph over your dark arts?"

"Dark arts?" Ash shot back. "You call explaining away our world as mere chance and calling power given to me by Anima dark arts?"

"I alone hold Anima's power as Her avatar! Do you dare take on a goddess?" Kadara screeched.

"Seems you forgot a tiny detail...." Dawn retorted. "Behold, the true Anima!" At this, Anima threw off the cloak, revealing her true identity. Kadara teleported away, but the guards were too frightened to move.

"Now!" Anima called to Brock as the guards began charging energy in their staves.

"Spirits of light, show me things hidden to the Mortal Realm! Wandering Eye!" As Brock began to play, Ash gasped at what the guards actually were--goblins!

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 13: Return of the Goddess

[BGM: Run For It!]

"Goblins..." Dawn gasped when she saw the guards' true form.

"A common demonic humanoid monster often seen protecting other monsters--including demons." Ash explained as one goblin ran at him with a knife, only to be blocked by Ash's blade.

"You all have bigger Magikarp to fry--your familiar and I will dispatch these two!" Kissa called as she leapt before the goblin that had tried to attack Ash and slashed it in the stomach with her claws. Pikachu followed up with a Thunderbolt on the other goblin, knocking both backwards.

"But..." Ash protested.

"Trust me, Kissa can handle herself just fine in battle." Brock assured Ash. "Right now we should focus on finding Melis and freeing Sindura from her hand."

"Enduring light, shield from roaring magic! Lux!" Anima commanded, making white auras form around Pikachu and Kissa as the group raced rom the room and into a stairwell.

Please...help me... a young female voice pleaded as the group hurried up the stairwell.

"Did you hear something?" Dawn asked as she looked around for who could have issued the plea.

[BGM: A Peaceful Hope]

"Look here..." Anima drew a square shape into the rocks, revealing a crying Gardevoir inside the wall.

"Were you the one that sent out that telepathic message before?" Ash asked.

Yes... the Gardevoir replied in between sobs. Do not harm me, I beg of you!

"It's okay..." Brock assured the Gardevoir. "We are friends, and the true Goddess is here." he added, gesturing to Anima.

The Gardevoir tensely hovered out and allowed Anima to heal the many dried blood spots that dotted its flowing dress-like body. I can sense that you are not with "Kadara", the disguise of Melis--she captured me and forced me to send out those messages in the guise of one of the clerics here. If I refused, I was beaten.

"That explains why the first voice we heard in that message was male..." Dawn mused.

"Gardevoirs and Gallades can tailor their telepathic messages to any gender and age of voice, regardless of their own gender." Brock explained before asking the Gardevoir "What's your name?"

Elama... the Gardevoir hesitantly replied.

"Master!" Kissa called as she bounded up to Brock's side with Pikachu on her back. "We've dispatched the goblins and secured the main prayer room."

"Then all that's left is to find Melis." Anima replied as she healed both Pokemon.

"Elama...can you sense Melis anywhere?" Ash asked.

Elama focused for a moment before replying. Yes...I sense her dark presence on the roof of the building--if you expose her true form, she will not be able to teleport.

"I will stay with Elama while you deal with Melis." Anima assured the group as she gave Elama a reassuring hug. "If you need us, just call."

[cut BGM]

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

"Right!" Ash replied as he led the the charge upstairs to the temple roof, where Kadara was looking out over the city at the crowd that had gathered down below. "The game is up, Melis!" he growled. "You have nowhere to go now!"

"Spirits of light, show me things hidden to the Mortal Realm! Wandering Eye!" Brock called before Kadara could react, enveloping her in a flash of white light and revealing a dull red skinned female humanoid clad in a long black robe, except for two slits in the back to accommodate a pair of large dragon-like wings.

"People of Sindura! See now the princess of darkness that has deceived you!" Dawn called down to the crowd, making screams and gasps drift skyward as they saw what the minstrel's harp had revealed.

"Why did you have to ruin my brilliant plan to welcome the Great Lord Kione to this world?" Melis complained. "Humans are so gullible, and will believe anything they are told!"

"We didn't believe a word of your drabble, so don't call us gullible!" Ash shot back.

"You insolent--" Melis grumbled before firing streaks of purple lightning at the group.

Dawn, Brock, and the Pokemon dove out of the way of Melis' attack, but Ash rolled backwards and began charging a yellow ball of electric energy. "Swirling bolts, gather and strike with power! Thunder!" Both sets of bolts combined in a blue-white explosion that could be seen in the sky all across the city.

"Silent light, shield from evil! Shell!" Dawn commanded, making pale pink auras appear around Ash, herself, the Pokemon and Brock.

"Elama...if you can hear me...broadcast what is going on here to the whole city!" Ash whispered before sidestepping one of Melis' long, dagger-like claws.

Understood Elama's reply resonated in Ash's head as he and Melis grappled with each other, claw against sword.

After struggling for an hour against Ash, Melis spotted some of the angel statues lining the temple roof and began chanting something in the demon tongue.

"Conjuror, seek truth in silence! Silent Song!" Brock commanded, playing a familiar rising and falling melody as the black-purple ball Melis was forming fizzled away to nothing. Melis gritted her teeth and began her incantation again, but nothing happened.

[BGM: The Song of Light]

"Thought you could desecrate this place even further by turning some of the guardians of this place to your side, did you?" Ash smirked. "Not today!"

"Talk and I may consider restoring your magical power." Brock added. Melis ran and lunged at the minstrel, but soon found herself relaxed by the soothing yet spirited notes of the harp. "As long as Anima is here listening to my performance, you cannot harm me nor my friends."

"Besides, we intend to expose your little masquerade right here, and right now." Ash added.

"So what? Humans cannot distinguish magic from divine acts, and will blindly accept it as truth." Melis grumbled.

"I can so distinguish magic and divine acts, and I know your 'miracles' are really magic twisted to your own selfish ends." Dawn replied. "So what did you have to gain from deceiving Sindura?"

"I can get all the gold and gifts I want from them to give to my friend Vorekar." Melis replied. "You humans name him the Master of Greed."

"So you did it for money?" Ash asked.

"No...I wanted humans willing to die for the Great Dark Lord Kione." Melis explained. "I hoped they would find receiving power through dying attractive, so that they would not fear death."

"So you wanted to use Sindura as the starting point to raise an undead army..." Brock deadpanned as he continued to play.

"Yes...yes..." Melis replied with a devious smile. "In a year's time, that army of zombies and other beings of the dark would be invincible! And under Kione's leadership, they would tear this world apart!"

[Cut BGM]

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

"You hear that?" Dawn announced to the crowd. "Melis planned to turn you all undead and use you all to destroy Yoso! Is that what you really want?" A resounding no went up in reply.

Melis balked at this. "How...how could they hear us?"

"Forgive me for eavesdropping, Princess of Lies, but I heard the whole thing." Anima replied as she appeared on the roof with Elama. "And I will not allow what you have planned to pass!"

"Bright light, shine down on bloody impurity! Holy!" Dawn commanded as she hurled a ball of light at Melis. The crowd gasped as Melis' last scream echoed across the city as she was engulfed in light, but when the explosion faded, she was gone.

[Cut BGM]

Ash sheathed his blade as Brock concluded his song. "Behold, the true Anima!" he called down to the crowd, gesturing to Anima as she flew down to the square below, where the crowd was.

[BGM: Go with the Flow]

"My Lady, I am so sorry for believing the Shironise Order's lies..." a man pleaded as he approached Anima.

"Forgive us, Holy Queen, for we all have commited a great sin..." a woman agreed.

"Everyone, please!" Anima giggled as Elama brought out the temple clerics. "Just by confessing that sin, you have been forgiven."

The head cleric ran to Ash as Anima tended to the townsfolk. "Words cannot begin to describe how much I wish to thank you for exposing the Shironise Order." he began. "Much less how you rescued my dear Elama." he added as he hugged Elama.

"We were called to help by the Lady Herself." Ash replied. "And so we did."

"May you receive Her greatest blessings as you go on your way." the head cleric replied. "You are always welcome in Sindura as thanks for the great deed you did here."

"Speaking of which, where do we go from here?" Kissa asked.

Anima looked up from healing a boy for a moment. "There is one more person that will join you in the quest for the Beads..." she replied, revealing a gray-blue haired girl clad in a dark green tunic-like outfit.

"So our next objective is one of the ninja villages?" Dawn asked.

"Specifically, the earth village, Miyakawa." Anima replied before returning to the townsfolk.

"I've never been there..." Ash noted as he motioned for the others to follow him to the city gates.

"I have performed for both the previous hokage and his son, the current hokage." Brock explained. "While generally, the ninjas keep to themselves, they are very appriciative of visitors from the outside world."

"Bye, Anima!" Ash waved goodbye to Anima as the group started down the path leading out of Sindura. "Thank you for everything!"

"You're most welcome, Sir Ash--I and the other gods will be watching over you every step of the way." Anima replied as she too waved goodbye over the roar of the crowd.

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 14: Harp of the Plum Blossom

[BGM: The Meowth's Call]

Thunder rolled and rain splattered on the roof of Ash's tent, providing a sort of rhythm to the song he was practicing. It had been three days since they had left Sindura, and the group was now on the Kaiji Plains after crossing over the famous covered bridge that linked both Raben and Sindura to the realm of the ninjas. Granted, the storm had ruled out their only other option--crossing the great Lake Keshou by boat, which would have delayed their trip by many more days. That was pretty much the only positive of waiting out the storm Ash could think of--Pikachu was napping on his sleeping bag, sleepily listening to him play "The Meowth's Call" on the Dreamer's Flute.

When he had finished, he contemplated playing another song from his meager repetoire, but boredom overruled the desire to play any more. "Is this rain ever going to stop?" he groaned in frustration. "We should be in Miyakawa by now!"

"But you have been traveling many days, young mage...you need the rest." a young male voice replied.

[BGM: In the Presence of Gods]

Ash whirled around to see a young man with pale green hair standing before him. "Who are you?" he asked, reaching for his sword.

"Peace--I am Raissel, lord of the earth and all creatures in it." the man replied as he wrung out a deep green and gold cloak that covered a tunic that was a lighter green and some baggy blue green leggings. "Anima asked me to guide you to my bead, hidden somewhere in the realm of the ninjas."

"You didn't have to send all this rain!" Ash complained as Raissel fastened his cloak with a star shaped crystal clasp and adjusted the green sash with gold trim that served as a belt. Pikachu sleepily woke up and admired the diamond shaped emerald that glinted in the center of the sash.

"Complain to Mirenai, then--she rules the rains, not I." Raissel gently scolded him. "If it doesn't rain, then how else would the plants and creatures I have created get water? That, and you are a half day's walk from Miyakawa--if you push yourself now, you would be exhausted."

Ash nodded--the god of earth had a point. "Anima has shown us that one of the chunin from Miyakawa is joining our quest--can you show us exactly which one She meant?"

"You would have to ask the hokage for her name, all I can show you is what Anima showed you before." With that, Raissel conjured an image of the girl from earlier dueling with a small sword-like weapon. "We will talk more after you have found this chunin--if you need something to pass the time, ask your minstrel companion about this area--or have him play for you." With that, he disappeared in a flash of green light.

{Cut BGM]

"Ash?" Brock peeked into the tent, concerned. "Is everything okay?"

"Raissel, god of the earth, appeared to me...I think his Bead is in this area...." Ash mused as he put away the Dreamer's Flute. "But what can you tell me about this place?"

[BGM: The Mysterious Singer]

"It's a wonder the stringed instruments survived this trip..." Brock muttered as he retuned the harp and cadena for what was seemingly the millionth time. "The Kaiji Realm is home to warriors trained in the mystical arts--or ninjas, as they are popularly called." he explained.

"While generally, they keep to themselves, they relish any visit from the outside world due to the harsh weather conditions of the plains." Kissa added before shaking herself dry. "There are smaller settlements scattered throughout this area, but the main cities are the five villages--Miyakawa being the earth village."

"The others are Mizutoshi, of water, Himachi, of fire, Denkoto, of lightning, and Kazemura, of wind." Brock continued as he finished tuning the cadena and starting on the fiddle. "So named because each village specializes in a different type of jutsu."

"Jutsu?" Ash was confused.

"Their word for magic spells." Brock replied. "Since they don't often visit the outside world, their language and magic is different from ours."

"Ooh, tell Ash and Dawn about the Five Hikaris!" Kissa giggled as Dawn joined them in the tent.

"The Five whats?" Dawn asked.

"Patience, Kissa, I'm getting to them." Brock assured the Persian before addressing Ash and Dawn again. "Each of the five villages has a special weapon that is said to protect the village, which they call a hikari, or light."

"So Five Hikaris means five lights..." Ash mused.

"The Hikari is housed in a shrine adjoining the ruler's--or hokage's--house, and is only wielded in times of great need." Brock concluded.

"You said earlier you performed for the hokage of Mizutoshi when you were younger--have you performed for the hokage of Miyakawa at all?" Ash was interested now. "Or any of the other hokages?"

"One of my personal goals is to perform for each of the hokages at least once." Brock replied. "So far, I have performed for Mizutoshi, Miyakawa twice, and Denkoto--I have yet to visit Himachi or Kazemura."

"What's their music like?" Dawn asked--If Brock had really been all over the world, he would have heard a dizzying array of songs in all sorts of styles.

"Well..." Brock toyed with the fiddle for a moment. "It's both very soothing and calm and blazing fast--you'll hear wood flutes, zithers, the occassional harp, and a three stringed fiddle known as a tikin." After rosining the bow and stroking a few notes, he winced at how out of tune the fiddle still was after being in the damp conditions. After seeing that the harp was the only stringed instrument he had that was in tune, he decided to play that. "I'm going to try and play what was originally meant for zither on harp--this tune's name roughly translates to 'Kazemura Breeze'. With that, he began a flowing melody that sounded vaguely like a lullaby at some times, and a dance at others.

[BGM: Kazemura Breeze]

Dawn was mesmerized by the cascading glissandos and soothing melody. "And to think that they write hundreds of songs using only five notes..."

"Well, the Kaiji harp has two sets of strings, and Master is only performing with one, so it's not as harmonious as I'd like, but still a very nice attempt at foreign music." Kissa commented.

"Kissa's right--the harp the ninjas play has strings on both sides, so they can play multiple parts at once--not to mention make some amazing harmony." Brock replied as he concluded the song. "In fact, when I first visited Denkoto, my host, Lian, asked how I was able to play with just twenty-four strings, and showed me their harp, the kinanda....

[Cut BGM]

"Oh, so that's what it's called--I can never remember its proper name." Kissa sighed, blushing a little. Ash pictured Brock keeping track of 48 strings and smiled--if he was this good with 24 strings, he could only imagine what his performance would sound like on a harp with twice that many.

"She deemed my harp 'Vina', which means 'the little singer'--that and her nickname for me eventually stuck throughout all five of the villages." Brock concluded as he peeked outside. "The sun is finally out, so we can continue."

Finally! Ash smiled as he broke his camp--he was eager to see if all those things Brock had said about the ninjas were true!


[BGM: Miyakawa, Guardian of the Earth]

The sun was sinking below the horizons as the sloping roofs of the village of Miyakawa came into view. "It's beautiful!" Dawn commented as she admired the ribbons on the doorposts that were fluttering in the evening breeze.

Just then, a girl spotted Brock in the distance. "Karakashu-san!" she called. "Karakashu-san's back!" she reported to some other children. The children immediately abandoned their toys and ran to embrace Brock and Kissa.

"Karakashu-san?" Ash asked.

"My title in their language." Brock explained. "It means 'the color singer'"

"Not so hard, please..." Kissa gently reminded some other children who were enthusiastically petting her. "Kissa-chan has traveled a long way to see you."

[BGM: The Exalted Elementals]

"Hold!" a boy wearing a red training tunic announced, "No outsider enters the five villages without passing the Exalted Elementals first!"

"Oh, Takuya, not this Exalted Elementals stuff again...." a girl sighed.

"Ninja of the Red Flame, Himachi!" Takuya announced.

"Ninja of the Green Earth, Miyakawa!" another boy in a green tunic announced

"Ninja of the Pink Wind, Kazemura!" a girl in a dull pink training tunic announced.

"Ninja of the Blue Sea, Mizutoshi!" a girl in a royal blue training tunic announced.

"Ninja of the Yellow Lightning, Denkoto!" a third boy in a dull yellow tunic announced.

"We are the Exalted Elementals, and you will not pass!" the children chorused.

"Now wait a minute!" Dawn protested. "You guys don't even know who we are!"

"That's right, and you must be punished for setting foot on our land!" Takuya retorted before Dawn could complete her sentence. "Hi Majiiro no jutsu! Whirling Fire Ring!" he commanded, sending a burning ring flying at the group.

"Power of darkness, hear my song and embrace the light! Hypnotic Aria!" Brock commanded. As he played a calm melody, he added "You will stay your spell, and inform your parents that we come in peace."

[BGM: Ancient Light, Rise and Revive (Song Magic cast)]

"I will stay my jutsu and inform Mom that you come in peace." Takuya repeated in a monotone as his eyes swirled under the spell of the harp. "Hi Majiro no jutsu, tachisaru." he commanded, making the ring of fire fizzle out as quickly as it appeared.

"Then, you will tell Karakashu-san that you're sorry for mistaking him and his companions for intruders." Brock continued.

"I'm sorry I mistook you and your friends for intruders, Karakashu-san." Takuya repeated. "I will not do it again." With that, Brock ended the song, snapping Takuya from his trance.

[BGM: Miyakawa, Guardian of the Earth]

"Forgive Takuya, Karakashu-san." a woman in a royal blue robe began as she hugged Takuya. "He and his friends like to pretend they are guardians of the villages, when we have the Five Hikaris to do that."

"Don't worry--he won't be bothering travelers for a while." Brock assured the woman.

"Emina." the woman smiled.

"Well then, Emina...is the hokage receiving visitors at the moment?" Brock asked.

"I'm sure he would be delighted to see you perform." Emina smiled before flagging a messenger. "Inform the hokage that Karakashu-san has returned." The messenger nodded and hurried off towards an ornate house on the western end of the village.


"Hokage Keiji, Karakashu-san has arrived and wishes to perform for you." a servant announced as the group approached the receiving hall's oranately decorated door.

"Send him in." came the reply.

The servant gently pushed the door open, allowing the group access to the simple yet elegant room, where a black haired young man was seated on a small golden chair, who Ash assumed was Keiji. While Dawn took a moment to admire the screens on the walls depicting flowers, trees, and the sea; Ash marveled at the hokage's ornate green, gold, and brown robe as Brock stepped foward and bowed before him--there were many designs of leaves, flowers, and trees woven throughout the swirling patterns adorning the layered robe.

[BGM: The Shadow of the Earth (theme of the hokage)]

After a few tense seconds of silence, Keiji spoke. "Welcome back, Karakashu-san...have you perhaps come to entertain all the new chunin? Or maybe sing of one of Dokusentoki's exploits?"

"The chunin exam has already passed?" Brock was surprised. "I wanted so much to come and inspire the candidates...but Megami Anima had other plans for me."

"Indeed She has...I have heard much about how you found Her gem in the catacombs of Whitespell, and how you drove a demon out of Sindura with Her help." Keiji replied. "But what is past is past--you can still sing the praises of all our fine chunin, or weave us a tale or two."

"Before that, though...I want to introduce you to my companions, who will be helping me..." Brock began before gesturing to Ash. "Ash of Masuliro Lodge, my guardian..."

"Welcome, Kokenin-san..." Keiji replied as Ash gave a shy bow.

"Kokenin means 'guardian' in their language." Brock discretely whispered to Ash before addressing Keiji again. "And Dawn of Whitespell, our advisor in things both secular and sacred." Dawn shyly smiled before bowing to Keiji.

"And our welcome to you too, Chiryoshi-hime." Keiji replied.

Dawn stifled a giggle at the title Keiji had bestowed on her. "Forgive me, great hokage, but I am far too poor to be considered a princess..."

"And yet you serve the mighty Megami Anima, Queen of Heaven--isn't that an acceptable reason to be called a princess?" Keiji assured Dawn. Dawn nodded in agreement--the hokage had a point, but her red tinged face signaled that she was still embarrassed of her new title.

"Now that we have finished the introductions, I will weave you a tale." Brock smiled before retrieving his harp. "Listen, and Vina will tell you of a time long past..."

"What tales are popular around your hometown, Kokenin-san?"" Keiji interuppted. "I have not heard a tale from that area in some time...maybe a Buneary tale?"

"Well, Buneary's counterpart in my hometown is the wily Pikachu Sorin." Ash explained.

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

Brock took that opportunity to begin a quiet melody. "One day, Sorin was walking along a jungle path, and saw Chimchar swinging about in the trees. Just watching Chimchar catch something with his flaming tail gave Sorin an idea. Early the next morning, Sorin gathered hundreds of vines and wove them into a trap that worked in a similar fashion. He walked for a while until he saw Wargle's nest on a ledge, but when he threw out the noose to snatch an egg, he brought down the whole nest with him!" He adds a downward glissando for effect, to some giggles from the hokage's servants. "Fortunately, the nest landed upright, so no eggs were harmed." he adds as an aside. "Sorin took one of the eggs and added it to the many treasures stashed in his burrow. "When Wargle saw her nest on the ground and one of the eggs missing, she flew into a panic and screamed..."

"Oh no! Someone stole one of my eggs! We have to catch the thief!" Dawn fills in the dialogue.

"So the Pokemon of the jungle went to ask King Entei about what to do." Brock continues. "After listening to Wargle's tearful plea, he said to the other Pokemon..." He switches to a lower pitched version of himself. "We will leave the nest here, and catch the thief when he returns to steal another egg." As himself, he continues "But Sorin had been listening the whole time--he knew they would be leaving Delcatty to catch the thief. Sorin knew that Delcatty was as strong as she was beautiful, but he wasn't scared. That night, while all the Pokemon slept, Sorin set up his trap on the path to Wargle's nest, being careful to disguise it so others couldn't see it. Once sure his trap was set, Sorin crept to some bushes and rustled them, alerting Delcatty!" Ash rustles some grass for effect. "She leapt to attack, but tripped the noose, leaving her helplessly dangling from two trees." The entire court roared with laughter at the mental picture of a Delcatty hanging upside down.

"And then what happened, Karakashu-san?" Keiji wheezed, wiping away a tear of laughter.

"With Delcatty hanging in his trap and too busy crying for help, Sorin snatched another egg." Brock continued. "When the Pokemon returned that night, they set Delcatty free, but Wargle was shocked to find another egg gone. Delcatty assured King Entei that she had not seen anything suspicious, but King Entei vowed to capture the thief. Primeape volunteered to watch the nest the next night, and Sorin again set his trap and rustled some leaves, When Primeape rushed to attack the intruder, he too was caught in the trap, and Sorin snatched another egg." More laughter filled the palace. "The other Pokemon quickly set Primeape free, and he said to King Entei...

"There's a trickster among us..." Ash fills in the dialogue.

"Leopardash volunteered the next night, saying he could outwit any trickster, but he too was caught in the trap." Brock continued. "One by one, the Pokemon tried to catch the thief taking Wargle's eggs, but they would all be caught in Sorin's trap. Finally, only one egg was left."

"So who finally caught Sorin?" a maid asked.

"Finally, Wartortle volunteered, saying..." Brock continued.

"I will catch the thief." Dawn confiently declares in character.

"But if Delcatty, Primeape, Leopardash, and the others all failed, how will you succeed?" Brock asks as King Entei.

"Just you wait." Dawn replies as Wartortle.

"King Entei decided to trust Wartortle, and put her in charge that night." Brock continues as he plays a brief interlude. "Wartortle decided to climb inside the nest alongside the last egg, where she watched Sorin set his trap and rustle the bushes, eager to see who he would catch. But when no one came, he looked into the nest, where there appeared to be two eggs. He was about to snatch what he thought was a large egg when Wartortle bit him on the leg!" The audience laughs at this. "Sorin pleaded and pleaded for Wartortle to let go, but in all the confusion, Sorin wound up caught in his own trap!" He begins one last interlude as the laughter quiets. "King Entei commanded Sorin to return Wargle's eggs, but as he did, he was already plotting what sort of trick to play next--because that's Sorin for you!"

"Nothing less from Karakashu-san!" a servant smiled as Brock led the bows.

"Well told, Karakashu-san." Keiji smiled.

[BGM: The Shadow of the Earth (theme of the hokage)]

Brock's expression turned business-like. "My true reason for my visit is because of a vision of the great Megami Anima...She has revealed to me that one of the chunin is fated to go with me."

"I could call every one out for you to inspect..." Keiji offered.

"Oh no...that would be too time consuming." Kissa interjected.

"Then how about this...in the morning, I have all the chunin gather in the square to prove themselves to you--the one that passes whatever test you determine is the one the Queen of Heaven has chosen to go with you."

"We accept your proposal." Dawn replied.

A maid then approached the group. "Come...you have likely traveled far, and must be exhausted."

[BGM: Safe at Home]

"We have prepared a room for you--the hokage's guests deserve the very best." another maid agreed as she led them down a hallway and into a room decorated with an ornate green and gold rug and a large bed with a sakura print bedspread. Two sofa-like beds encircled the bed.

Ash was about to jump in the large bed, but a maid gently guided him to one of the sofa-like beds. "No...that bed is for Karakashu-san. You sleep here." He sighed and collapsed into the smaller bed--the least he could do was humor his host, and they had a busy day in the morning...

To Be Continued....
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The magic of Pokemon
Episode 15: The Seed of Promise

[BGM: Remember When?]

Ash laid awake in his small bed and admired the scene of a sunny day that was painted on the ceiling in the hokage's guest room. His companions were still sleeping, so he closed his eyes to doze. So far, this has been an amazing journey...but I miss Milina and how we used to stroll in the market of Masuliro... He imagined the roar of the surf in the distance, the chatter of the crowds jostling to approach the merchant's stalls and see what they had to sell. Milina would always tell me to wait for the crowds to die down... he thought as he pictured the merchant's stalls neatly lined in a row--either overlooking the wharf or lining the streets. Then he imagined the merchants calling for the crowds to see this blade, buy this pendant, or haggle for that tunic. And then there was the bewildering array of items availiable to buy--the glittering jewelry, clothing of every color, shape, and size, the aroma of fish in the air--Wait, how did fish get in my daydream?

[cut BGM]

"Kissa...did you have to bring that Goldeen in here?" he heard Dawn mumble in disgust as she began to stir.

[BGM: Safe at Home]

"Let me guess--Kissa went fishing while we were all asleep and has now brought her catch in here in hopes I will cook it for breakfast?" Brock sleepily asked as he too smelled the pungent aroma of a dead fish.

"Where did you find a place to fish, anyway?" Ash wondered as he climbed from the bed and stretched.

"There's a river not far from the village...sometimes the ninjas train there or go fishing themselves." Kissa replied as she watched her master take the lifeless Goldeen to the kitchen to be prepared. "But why bother with rods and nets when I can just catch them mid jump?"

"Goodness, why does it smell so awful in here?" a maid asked as she brought Ash's now clean clothing to him.

"Kissa-chan decided to go on a midnight fishing trip while we all slept last night." Brock deadpanned as he returned. "Feline creatures do have excellent fishing skills, so at times I don't wish to hunt myself, I can always count on Kissa to catch a fish." Some soft crackling and a more pleasent aroma drifted in the room to punctuate Brock's point.

"Next time, if we're staying in someone's house, leave your catch in the kitchen." Ash sighed before stepping behind a screen to change.

[BGM: Shadow of the Earth]

Once everyone had dressed and eaten breakfast, the group met Keiji in the receiving hall again. "Shall I call out the chunin for you now?"

"Not yet--we are not sure what kind of test we wish to use to find the one chosen by Anima." Brock replied.

"Have them all battle to find the one?" Ash suggested--he had heard that a ninja's fighting skill was legendary.

"We would need thousands of matches if the village has as many candidates as I think they do." Dawn interjected. "So it would be too time consuming...I propose that we test their wits rather than strength."

"And how do you suppose we do that?" Ash muttered.

"Have Brock tell a riddle tale, and the one to figure out the riddle goes with us." Dawn suggested.

"That is a reasonable idea, but the Queen of Heaven has only chosen one, when there are many who could answer a riddle." Keiji cautioned.

"Great Hokage, what do you suggest we do to find the one Anima has chosen?" Brock asked. "I don't have any suitable ideas myself..."

"You do know a spell that inflicts bothersome conditions?" Keiji asked.

"Yes--some that inflict more than one ailment." Brock replied.

"What is the strongest one you know?"

"The strongest condition inducing spell I know at the moment is Dark Water--a shadowy wave that is guaranteed to inflict at least one malady on the traget."

"That's perfect!" Keiji smiled.

"We accept your proposal." Ash replied. "In return, may we use your training arenas to prepare ourselves for the next leg of our journey?"

"Of course, Kokenin-san--anyone with a desire to become stronger may train in our arenas." Keiji replied. "Meet in the plaza at sundown, when the chunin will assemble."
"Hear that? Don't get too involved in training." Dawn cautioned as the group turned to leave.

[cut BGM]

Yes, Mom... Ash sighed as the group departed the house. He could hear the various chimes on the shop's entryways jingling as the three of them walked towards the central plaza, signaling that they were open for business.

Miyakawa, Guardian of the Earth

"Mm..." Dawn sighed happily as she smelled the aroma of cooked meats and fruits coming from a food shop. "I love strolling through a town's market district in the morning..."

"Yeah...the food's freshest then!" Ash agreed, his mouth watering at the sight of several rows of buns and berries in another food shop.

Just as the group arrived in the plaza, Brock felt a light tug on his cloak. "Yes?" he asked when he spotted a young girl clad in the dull green training tunic of a young ninja behind him.

"Please, Karakashu-san, tell me about one of Dokusentoki's adventures." the girl begged.

"I want to hear a story about a great quest!" a boy called as he ran to join the girl. Before long, many more children in similar attire were all crowded around Brock, their pleas shattering the morning calm:

"What about the episode where Dokusentoki battles Rayquaza?"

"Tell a Pokemon tale!"

"Maybe you've heard of the father of our mistress?"

"It's said her father's descended from Dokusentoki himself!"

"I wouldn't be surprised, considering his love for poison and condition inducing jutsu!"

"All right..." a black haired girl in a chunin's tunic interjected as she caught up with the children. "We must let Karakashu-san continue on his way..."

"He's leaving?" a girl gasped.

Brock's heart sank at the chorus of "Aw"s that went up from the children. "Lady Chunin, I will gladly weave them a tale if you too are willing to listen." Hopeful whispers wafted through the crowd. "My companions and I were traveling to the training grounds..."

"As were we." the girl replied.

"But it appears I need the training the most--to train my skill at waving tales." Brock replied as he retrieved his harp and played Marista's Song to focus his thoughts. The girl, meanwhile, quieted the joyful chatter and listened as the song ended.

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

"Karakashu-san, why does Moltres have a burning tail?" a boy asked.

Brock contemplated the boy's question for a few seconds, then began. "Once all the birds of the world came to Megami Anima and asked her to teach them. Anima agreed to teach one of them, but gave the birds this challenge--the apprentice she chose would stand out from all of them. She bade them to return at midnight, when she would choose the lucky apprentice. While the other birds went their seperate ways, there was one little firebird who was not very confident in herself--I will call her Doitan."

"Why was she not very confident?" a girl asked.

"Her feathers did not burn like other firebirds--but Doitan did not despair about it; she figured there was no chance the Queen of Heaven would choose her, so she would just go about her day and not worry about it." Brock replied before playing a brief interlude. "As she went down the road, she found a traveler faint with sweat and exhaustion--for it was the heat of the day. Doitan pitied the poor boy and gave him some of her tail feathers to make a fan. Then, she met a girl despairing over not having anything suitable to wear to a dance. Doitan decided to give some of her own tail feathers to the girl to make a beautiful gown that glittered with the light of a red flame. This continued all day--Doitan would find people in need and help them by giving them a tail feather or two." Giggles go up from the crowd when they picture a firebird with no tail feathers at all.

"But what did the great megami say when she saw Doitan?" a boy asks.

"Was she angry?" Even the chunin is interested in the tale.

"When Anima inspected the birds that night, she found that Doitan stood out from the crowd, and wondered why she had no tail feathers at all." Brock replied over a quiet melody. "Doitan explained that she wanted to help others, and so gave her tail feathers away. Anima was touched at Doitan's generosity, and announced to the other birds and the other gods that Doitan would be her apprentice. As a gift for her generosity, the Fire Maiden Deami took some flames and crafted Doitan a new set of tail feathers, a set that rivaled even Ho'oh's feathers!" Some "oh"s drift through the crowd at this. "Then, Deami called...." He switches to a scarily accurate imitation of Deami. "Hi Magiiro no jutsu! Jet of Dragon Flame!" Cheers drown out the upward glissando Brock performs to represent flames flaring up. "No sooner had Deami cast the jutsu, did Doitan's new feathers ignite in a bright red flame that could be seen all across the sky!"

"I bet that looked beautiful!" Dawn smiles.

"Doitan thanked both goddesses and soared off into the night to the cheers of the other birds, her flaming feathers bringing happiness and joy wherever she went--and that explains why Moltres has a flaming tail." he concludes to some applause.

[cut BGM]

Hours went by as Brock wove one tale after another, but by the time he finally finished his show that evening, he noticed that a large crowd had appeared around a large platform, and motioned for Ash and Dawn to follow him.

[BGM: A Test for the Chosen]

"Chunin of Miyakawa, Karakashu-san comes before you on a great quest." Keiji began as The group joined him on the platform. "Furthermore, Megami Anima has decreed one of you is to join him and his companions--the one that can successfully resist or deflect his strongest condition inducing spellsong."

"Any volunteers?" Brock asked as he looked out over the sea of green tunics.

"I will!" a deep brown haired boy declared as he charged up to the platform and faced Brock. "Sing your worst spell, and I will resist it!"

[BGM: Resisting the Dark Water]

"Okay...Black sea of evil, cover this light! Dark Water!" Brock commanded before playing a hypnotic melody that conjured a large wave of navy blue water. The boy focused for a moment, but his chakra focus wasn't enough to keep him from being drenched as well as blinded and confused.

"Heavenly wind, carry us to the fountain of power! Esuna!" Dawn commanded, healing the boy of the Dark Water's effects.

"So Akira isn't the one..." Keiji sighed.

"Try me!" a teal haired girl asked as she joined Brock and the others on the platform.

"You really want to do this, Suzume?" Keiji asked.

"Yes! I have mastered a water jutsu from a friend in Mizutoshi--I'm sure it can contain the spellsong!" Suzume replied.

"Very well then..." Brock replied before preparing to play again. "Black sea of evil, cover this light! Dark Water!"

"Mizu Magiiro no jutsu! Water Prison!" Suzume commanded, conjuring a large ball of water that for a moment appeared to contain the Dark Water, but after a few tense seconds, the ball burst open, splattering Suzume and confusing her.

"Suzume isn't the one either..." Keiji sighed as Dawn healed Suzume of her confusion.

Ash looked on as one by one, the chunin faced Brock and the Dark Water spell. But no matter what they did, be this a counter jutsu or flat out resisting, they all succumbed to various conditions brought on by the inky water.

After several more hours, Dawn sighed as she healed another chunin. "I'm beginning to think we should try another plan..."

[BGM: Miyakawa's Pride (Janine's theme)]

"Wait!" a familiar voice called from the crowd.

"Janine? You truly want to try?" Keiji gasped as the black haired chunin from earlier approached the platform. "Are you sure?"

"Great Hokage, if she wants to try, let her." Ash assured Keiji.

"Sing your strongest magic, Karakashu-san, and I will overcome it!" Janine challenged as she faced Brock.

[cut BGM]

Brock sighed--that was what most of the other chunin had said. He lifted his hands to the harp strings again, but before he could call the incantation to Dark Water, another voice screamed. "Hokage Keiji! An oshidotane is approaching!"

"Huh?" Ash whirled around and gasped with the crowd at the lumbering vaguely human shaped mass of roots and grass headed for the village...

To Be Continued...
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