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Pokemon: The Megic of a Melody (E10+)


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 16: The Missing Light

[BGM: Out of the Ground, Raze all Greenery in Flame!]

"Come on!" Ash led the charge against the mammoth tree-like monster. "Out of the ground, raze all greenery in flame!--"

"Wait!" Janine called, but sighed as Ash's fireball went flying at the oshidotane. "Monsters like this absorb magic to get stronger."

"NOW you tell me..." Ash gasped as the oshidotane grew slightly larger in response to his attack.

"That also means that I cannot use any offensive jutsu, nor can Karakashu-san sing an offensive spell song." Janine continued.

"But how are we supposed to attack this thing if we can't cast any spells?" Ash asked as he dove out of the way of the oshidotane's fists of grass that leveled a few stalls in the process.

"You HAVE a weapon, Ash! Use that!" Dawn suggested over the whistling of hundreds of shurikens and her arrows.

Ash drew his blade and slashed at the oshidotane's massive stomach, making it shrink a little. I see--it treats any sort of magic like sunlight, growing larger and stronger in the process! he thought as he rolled out of the way of his opponent's fists again. But, even with hundreds of people, it would take hours to cut this monster down to size!

Janine, meanwhile, deftly jumped over the platform and began focusing some green energy in her hands. "Chi Magiiro no jutsu! Earthen Wall!" With that, she slammed her own fist into the ground, creating a large rock wall dotted with vines and flowers between the oshidotane, the crowd, and the rest of the village.

"Janine...would a spellsong inflicting a condition work on this beast at all?" Brock wondered.

"No...it would only turn the condition back on the caster." Janine replied. "You CAN enchant a weapon, since it cannot sense magic when it is hidden in something."

"Play Fire Blade!" Ash suggested as he jumped out of the way of the oshidotane's fist.

"Actually, you guys seem to be doing fine just cutting it down." Brock assured him as the oshidotane continued to shrink. "So I see no reason to play."

"Ha!" Janine heaved a knife at the now relatively small monster, finally slaying it after a long battle.

[Cut BGM]

Ash sheathed his blade. "Hopefully another one won't appear."

"It's all the more reason why we must find the one Megami Anima has chosen." Keiji replied as Brock and Janine faced each other on the miraculously unscathed platform.

"Ready?" Brock replied to Janine.

Janine just gave a confident nod. "Play your best spellsong."

"Okay...Black sea of evil, cover this light! Dark Water!" Brock commanded, summoning the familiar inky black wave from his harp strings.

Janine just gritted her teeth. "Hi Magiiro no jutsu! Dancing Fire Blade!"

The crowd cheered as a flaming sword emerged from the red energy in Janine's hands, neutralizing the Dark Water to harmless steam.

"Very clever..." Ash mused as the fire sword sliced through the inky water, creating steam all the while.

"Pi pika!" Pikachu agreed as Janine stepped down from the platform.

"We've found the chosen!" Keiji announced, making even more cheers go up from the crowd.

Just then, a messenger ran through the steam, tears streaming down his face. "Hokage! Our Hikari has been taken!" The joy in the crowd turned to gasps.

[BGM: Contemplating Answers]

"How could that be?" Ash demanded.

"The oshidotane couldn't have possibly been able to fit inside the shrine of the Hikari..." Keiji began.

"Then maybe the grass monster was a decoy!" Ash announced.

"Ash is right...." Dawn agreed. "While we were all busy fighting the...grass monster..."

"Oshidotane--the king seed." Keiji gently corrected Dawn.

"Okay...while we were all busy with the o-seedo-tain..." Dawn continued, making some laughter drift through the crowd at her terrible pronounciation. "That only served as cover for another smaller being to enter the shrine."

"And I know just what that was!" Janine announced, interrupting Dawn. "Look there, by the shrine!" she asked, gesturing to a trail of odd tracks leading to the shrine.

"Those look the same as the ones you saw by the waterfall, Janine-san." a chunin commented.

"Some days ago, I was training by Suman Falls, which is not far from the village." Janine explained. "As I meditated in the water, I saw a small beast emerge from the woods--what sort of beast, I wasn't able to see--and enter the caves that serve as a secret way into the shrine."

"Furthermore, I checked the shrine of Hikari no Shizen moments ago, and those same tracks are there, leading back into the caves." a black haired man in black ninja garb with purple trim began as he approached the group.

[BGM: The Ninja Legend-Koga's theme]

"Master Koga..." some in the crowd gasped.

"The descendant of Dokusentoki..." some other young ninja agreed.

"What my daughter Janine has told you thus far is true, but I have more information for you if you decide to pursue the thief that took Hikari no Shizen." Koga continued as he embraced Janine.

"We'll need all the info we can get." Ash replied.

"What more do you know?" Dawn asked.

"For an outsider to even enter the shrine, they must brave the caves of the waterfall, and prove themselves worthy to the blue dragon Furuda, the guardian of the caves." Koga explained. "But, the thief has likely left the shrine and returned to the caves, so to travel there would be futile."

"As one of the guardians of the Five Hikaris, Furuda lives for all time--he can be slain again and again, and never die." Janine explained.

"Will you help us retrieve our treasure, great color singer?" Koga asked Brock.

"Please, Karakashu-san?" some children begged.

"You have my word that we will do all we can to save the Hikari." Brock replied, to the crowd's cheers.

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 17: Roni's Challenge

[BGM: Contemplating Answers]

"Where are the waterfalls, anyway?" Ash asked Janine as the group tromped through one of the rare forested areas around the village.

"Patience!" Janine knows these areas, so trust her skill." Kissa assured him. Ash just sighed--they'd been tromping through one of the Kaiji Realm's rare forests for the better part of an hour, and he didn't see a stream or waterfalls anywhere.

"Don't foreget Kissa knows where the river is too." Dawn added, snickering about the morning's fish incident.

"I found it completely by accident..." Kissa confessed. "When I'm in a new place and there's a river, lake or stream, I have to try some of the local fish--and this was some of the best fish I've had in some time."

"I'm sure the Earth Kami would be happy to hear that, Kissa-san. "Janine smiled. "I'm also impressed you were able to find the river without help."

"So you've found the chunin?" a male voice began.

[BGM: In the Presence of Gods]

"Raissel!" Ash smiled as a green light flew before him, revealing a miniature version of the earth god.

"Great Earth Kami!" Janine bowed before Raissel. "I am the one chosen by your queen..."

"And confirmed by Brock's song." Dawn added.

"Janine knows this already, but I felt I would tell you also about the training area here." Raissel began as he led the group into a large clearing, where a large waterfall spilled into a rushing river. "Inside these caves are many traps and puzzles, one of which is another way into the shrine housing the Hikari of the earth village."

"The Hikari is gone, and Janine is helping us get it back." Ash explained.

"Her knowledge should help you, for these will not be like the puzzles you saw in the Whitespell Catacombs." Raissel cautioned. "Furthermore, you also need to prove yourselves to the dragon that guards the Hikari..."

"Forgive my interupption, but what sorts of puzzles can I expect to see?" Ash asked, a note of fear in his voice.

"While I feel it would be best for you to see them with your own eyes, I will tell you that they are harder than a game of Mystic's Eyes." Raissel replied. "I and the other gods have faith that you will have the wits to figure them out and bring whoever took the Hikari to justice." With that, he disappeared into the sky in a flash of green.

[Cut BGM]

There was a brief silence before Kissa asked "Well, now what?"

"So, we need to hunt down the thief in the caves..." Ash mused before showing the group some drawings. "We work our way through the caves..." he mused, gesturing to his stick figure scene of the group in a cave. "solving any puzzles they may throw at us..." he continued as he referrred to the stick figure drawing of the group flipping and spinning various objects. "convince Furuda that there's danger in his abode and we need to get rid of it..." Dawn stifled a giggle at the stick figure Ash negotiating with a stick figure dragon. "Have Brock play fiddle while I d-WHAT???"

Everyone laughed at Ash's reaction to the next drawing in the sequence: a scene of a slightly better drawing of Brock playing fiddle while a better drawing of Ash danced for the unseen dragon. "How'd this get in here?"

[BGM: The Mystical Waves (Kaimana's theme)]

At this, a blue feline-like creature with a mermaid-like tail emerged from the pond behind Janine, giggling with pride. "Kaimana-san, you know better than to play tricks on guests!" Janine scolded. "I am helping this mage and his friends on his journey--this is no time to ruin our plans!"

"Vapori..." the creature sadly sighed.

"I know you only wanted to play, but now isn't the time." Janine assured the creature before addressing Ash. "Forgive my pet, Kokenin-san--she enjoys playing tricks on others to get their attention...

"Ash, please..." Ash replied as he crumpled up the picture, revealing the correct picture of the stick figure group following a trail of tracks.

"How is it that an earth ninja receives a water Pokemon?" Dawn wondered.

"Father gave me Kaimana as a gift from a friend in Mizutoshi--I raised her from an Eevee to a lovely Vaporeon." Janine replied. "Despite her playful tendencies, she makes a fine scout and partner in battle; and a budding artist as well."

"So she was the one that drew the picture of Ash dancing?" Brock asked. Janine nodded. "She paints well, for a Pokemon."

"Thank you--she often paints pictures of what she desires rather than cry for attention." Janine replied before hugging the Vaporeon.

"I don't see any harm in an inspirational two-step before we go inside the caves..." Brock smiled as he unearthed the fiddle case from his bag.

"And I'm not that great a dancer, but I'll try." Ash agreed as he waited for Brock to tune.

[BGM: Ash's Forest Waltz]

When Brock was ready, he played a few bars of "Song for Marista" in rememberance of the woman that had spurred him to learn the way of the minstrel before segueing into an elegant waltz. While there were a few mistakes in the tune and Ash's steps were a bit jerky, Kaimana just nodded her head in time to the music, bemused in the mage that swayed and swirled about the forest clearing in time to the fiddle's song.

Some applause startled Ash, sending him falling to the forest floor. "Well done, dancing mage, but is that enough to prove you worthy of a goddess' bead?"

"Roni..." Brock growled as he put the fiddle away.

[BGM: What Are You Doing Here, Roni?]

"What do you want?" Ash wondered as he regained his bearings.

"I don't know how running around with shadow warriors will help find the Beads, but if you don't hit just the right notes, I'll be off with them." Roni replied as she strolled into the clearing.

"You take that back..." Janine cautioned, appalled at being called a "shadow warrior"

"What do you mean, hitting just the right notes?" Dawn asked, confused by Roni's challenge.

"Are you saying you want to challenge me for Anima's Diamond?" Brock retorted as he reached for his blade.

"Oh, no, Brock, I don't want to physically fight you...I'd rather have a duel of song." Roni assured her rival. "Win, and you can keep Anima's Diamond. Lose, and it's mine."

To Be Continued...


New Member
Wow, this is a great story! I honestly think that it couldn't get better! I'm on Chapter 3 and I'm hooked. Keep it up.


I am a noob. Do not pay attention to me.​


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 18: A Battle in Song

[BGM: Ash Explains the Rules]

"Okay...here are the rules for this contest..." Ash began as he addressed Brock and Roni. "Each of you are to perform one fast song and one slow song of your choice--the best crowd reaction after both songs wins."

"Not much of a crowd..." Dawn sighed--aside from her, Ash and Janine, the Pokemon were the only others present.

"In the event of a tie after both rounds, each of you are to try casting a Song Magic spell--the one that manages to cast successfully, wins." Ash continued. "Any questions?"

"Not really." Roni replied.

[Cut BGM]

"No questions here." Brock replied as he finished tuning his harp. "I volunteer to begin with a crowd favorite--the first episode of 'The Ballad of the Beast Riders'.

"Good luck, Karakashu-san!" Janine called in encouragement as Brock began a brisk melody.

Dark times fell on Yoso in a war so long ago... Brock began. Many fell in battle; land, sea and sky heard many a woe. But three young lads joined in the fight, to bring back Anima's light...

Fare thee well, Beast Rider! Dawn joined in at the end of the verse.

These three young lads dreamed one night that they were by the Beasts' side, three more like them, many years before, had been called to ride... Brock started the second verse. But rumblings of darkness were afoot, and they knew not their destiny...

Remember your call, Beast Rider! Dawn led the response. This continued for some time--Brock singing, verse by verse, the story of the Beast Riders' battle against demons bent on destroying the Legendaries, with the small audience joining in with the response at the right time:

Some demons came to Oliva Port, and there they made their seige. The mage's guard tried to douse the flames, but this only fanned their rage. By the time the chaos died, the Light Guardian was taken and the people cried...

Deliver us, O Beast Rider!

The three young lads were sound asleep and lost in a holy dream. Anima came to them that night and told them of the scheme. That darkness was on the move again, and the port had fallen fast; they quickly woke and fled that night, fearing it was their last...

We ride again, Beast Rider!

The lads soon came to the tower of gold, and pleaded to come in. The guardians there sensed a holy light, yet reluctantly sent them in. They came unto the Beast's great lair and could hardly contain their wonder, at the Water Puma, the Fire Lion, and the great Legend of Thunder..

How beautiful, Beast Rider!

Entei was the most surprised that the lads were all so young, yet one lad tried to mount Raikou, and to the floor was nearly flung. Raikou challenged him to fight to wield his wonderful power. Thus began an epic battle that lasted more than an hour...

I challenge you, Beast Rider!

The Legend and the lad did clash, with blade, claw and Pokemon, and for every blow that Raikou struck, the lad countered with his own. Finally Raikou told the lad that victory he had won, and allowed him to climb aboard, a new Beast Rider born...

O victorious Beast Rider!

The other lads, they too did fight, and earned the other Beasts' trust in turn, but then they remembered their studies, and all they had to learn. Their teacher did not believe them as up to the study they rode, as he thought the Beasts were legend, locked away in some abode...

They're wild and free, Beast Rider!

Suicune was offended as the scholar mocked and jeered--how could he say those things to him, this scholar so revered? The water Beast and rider felt the scholar needed to be put in his place, and with a mighty gust of wind, the two of them gave chase!

More than a legend, Beast Rider!

After a little flourish, Brock began the final verse. After a sprint around the plain, the scholar believed the tale; he was nearly exhausted, his face so ghostly pale. He bid the riders blessings as they rode off on their quest, he knew as well as they did they were in for a far greater test...

Believe in them, Beast Rider! Dawn led the last response before leading the applause.

Roni was not impressed. "That's it? I thought there were more verses than that..."

"There are, but we'd be here for a long time if I sang every verse." Brock replied.

"If I remember, there are hundreds of verses to that song, with more being added as we learn more information about the Riders." Ash agreed. "So it was a good thing you only performed the first episode. " He motioned to Roni. "You may begin when you're ready."

Roni hummed a note to assure she was in tune, then began. He was on the run for something not done, but many demanded his life. The chamberlain had been found dead, but no one knew who caused the strife. Since he was there inside the chamber when the guard arrived, a jealous lady blamed him in a story quite contrived...

"'The Earth God's Horn'...a great choice for Roni's range." Dawn commented as Roni's soft yet warm soprano told the tale of a prince accused of murder that he did not commit, and how he exposed the jealous lady as the true culprit thanks to an eccentric mage and Raissel's enchanted horn.

Even Ash couldn't resist Roni's stirring rendition of the song. "This round goes to Roni. Now, for the slow round..."

Roni hummed another note, then began. I saw it on my window, glittering in the sun, Where did it come from, I wonder? This tiny gold coin on the sill, its beauty second to none?

Dawn winced as Roni struggled to hit the many low notes in "The Coin in the Wood". "That one's better suited for an alto voice like mine."

"You sing too, Chiryoshi-hime?" Janine was impressed.

"Yes--I sang all the time as I did chores or prepared the training grounds." Dawn replied. "I'm not minstrel worthy by any means, but if it were Roni and me singing that song, I would win."

Brock slowly nodded in agreement as Roni concluded--if what he had heard her singing back at Whitespell was any indication, Dawn wasn't too bad a singer. He took his harp and began another soft melody. Why do you cry, little maid on the shore? Are your tears in lament to a bygone day of yore? Or have you lost someone dear to you, never to return? Whatever it is, I'll help you find for what it is you yearn.

'Wings of Knowledge'...Janine mused. "Karakashu-san sang that one at last year's chunin exam...it put all the village to sleep."

Ash smiled sleepily at the quiet song--he remembered his mother singing the song about a Yanma helping a little girl find two items when he was a baby--and Brock's was a beautiful rendition, to say the least.

When the song ended, Ash began. "With this round going to Brock, both of you are now tied at one apiece--cast me a spell using Song Magic, and we'll see who is worthy of keeping Anima's Diamond."

"You're on!" Roni dashed over to the cave entrance and readied her pipes to play. "Nature's fury, strike down darkness with green earth--GAH!!!"

"Zubats!" Dawn gasped at the swarm of small blue bat creatures diving at Roni.

"While they cannot see, they are very sensitive to sound..." Ash began as Roni tried again and again to swat the Zubats away.

"That's why we must be very quiet when we train in the caves--I know first hand how painful their bites and claws can be." Janine agreed as she showed Ash and Dawn a small puncture wound on her left arm.

Brock, meanwhile, saw a Zubat diving to claw Roni in the neck. "Stone of light, shine and protect these souls from danger! Diamond Shell!"

[BGM: Carried on Heartstrings]

"That's a new spell..." Dawn gasped as she watched the harp create a shining white barrier around them that appeared to be made from diamonds.

Roni was just as surprised at the Zubats trying to attack the shining barrier, only to be rebuffed with a burst of light. "You...actually saved me?"

"Consider it returning the favor for your rescuing me at Whitespell." Brock smiled as he played. "You may be my rival, but it pains me to see anyone in danger and not help them."

"So at any rate, we're even now." Roni replied as the Zubats fluttered back inside the cave. "That, and you've proven yourself worthy of Anima's Diamond--you can keep it." With that, Roni gathered up her supplies and started down the forest path.

"Roni seemed a bit nicer after you saved her..." Dawn noted as the group entered the cave. "Maybe you're teaching her--through your kindness--that being arrogant goes nowhere?"

"Could be, and I have long desired for the two of us to get along." Brock replied. "Whether she's coming around or not, I leave in the gods' hands...for now, we have a Hikari to save!"

To Be Continued...
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The magic of Pokemon
Episode 19: Guardian of the Magic

[BGM: The Waterfall's Secrets]

"Wow..." Dawn gasped at the expanse of the waterfall cave. in addition to moss growing on the walls, ceilings, and the floor; there were also many glowing crystals embedded in the rock formations, adding an ethereal beauty to the rivers and streams that flowed throughout the cave.

"Va pori eon pori." Kaimana explained, gesturing to a glowing blue crystal.

"Kaimana-san says that the crystals here serve as light in the cave and that they harbor pure chi--what we call magical energy." Janine explained. "We harvest a few each year to give to mages that visit and keep the ecosystem in here balanced."

"I see--if the crystals grow too much, their light would kill many creatures here and blind anyone that were to enter." Dawn mused.

"Yes--it would even blind the great Furuda." Janine replied. "His abode is not far from here." With that, she sprinted off around a corner.

"Hey, wait!" Ash called as he lead the others around the bend and through a twisting path riddled with stalagmites, trying to keep up with Janine all the while, but despite all his efforts to keep up, he arrived in an alcove seconds later, heaving with fatigue. Janine was nearby, looking out over a large lake. "How do you manage to run so fast?"

"Daily training, Ash-san." Janine replied. "Ever since I was small, we were told to run every day. Those that could not run a given distance every day were urged by their masters to train harder until they could--and then the given distance would increase."

"No wonder you rival a Deerling in speed." Brock gasped, impressed.

"Much less me." Kissa agreed.

"I mean, minstrels learn how to run and feats of agility, but not many can run that fast." Brock added.

"They don't make you run until you can barely stand?" Ash was concerned now.

"Oh, no, no, no--while my senseis, or teachers, pushed me and the other genin hard, they understood our limits." Janine assured Ash before setting a fish in the water. "Great Furuda, I come before you with terrible news..."

At first, the room was quiet, but suddenly, the fish disappeared beneath the surface of the water and the ground began to rumble as a snake-like blue dragon with what appeared to be a mane of teal fur on its head burst through the water, splattering everyone. "Janine of the Kimura clan...what brings you here to me?" the dragon asked in a booming, yet gentle voice.

"Miyakawa came under attack by an oshidotane, and although my friends, the other ninjas, and I all tried to drive it away, the Hikari no Shizen was taken." Janine explained as tears welled up in her eyes.

"Do not cry so, Janine--the thief that stole the Hikari did not and will not leave this cave." Furuda assured Janine. "It is still here--I can still sense it."

"Can you grant us permission to venture deeper into the caves to find it?" Ash asked.

"Now why would you, an outsider, want the Hikari?" Furuda demanded, the forcefulness of his voice knocking Ash backwards.

Ash was about to muster a reply to the blue dragon when Janine spoke up. "The mage is a friend of mine, as is the cleric and Karakashu-san."

"So they are friends?" Furuda replied. "Perhaps the disappearance of the Hikari is tied to another, but still vexing problem--I keep hearing an odd singing in the cave, yet I know not the voice..."

"What does it sing?" Dawn asked.

"Listen..." Furuda closed his eyes for a moment and began glowing with a blue aura, making a lower pitched female voice sing Simple as can be... in everyone's heads for a moment.

"Is that..." Dawn gasped as Furuda's aura faded away.

"It cannot be Meroetta's voice--this voice is too low to be her." Furuda mused. "But if it's not her, then what is it?"

"Meroetta?" Ash was confused.

"The Guardian of Song, and the Pokemon that created Song Magic." Brock explained. "Any minstrel that knows Song Magic and those taught by them to use it can all trace their usage of the talent back to her--that's what Arina and Marista both told me."

"Meroetta does not choose who can wield spellsongs and who cannot by chance alone--she examines how brightly the song in your heart glows with the many colors of emotion, and blesses the hearts that shine the brightest with spellsong." Furuda explained as a nearby wall began rumbling open.

"So THAT's how it works..." Ash mused.

"Granted, I know minstrels can sing magic, and those taught by them can as well, but what about those that just love to sing? Can they learn to wield it?" Dawn asked.

Furuda sighed. "That you would have to ask Lady Meroetta--she will prove key to your finding the Hikari and restoring it to its proper place."

"Wait!" Ash asked as Furuda prepared to dive. "How will we know where Meroetta is?"

"Listen for a voice on the wind--you will know her voice when you hear it." Furuda replied. "My prayers and blessings go with you as you search for the Hikari." With that, he dove beneath the lake with another splash.

Ash raced to the stairwell that led deeper into the cave. "Come on! Let's go look for the Hikari and Meroetta!" He was about to lead the way down the stairs when suddenly, he heard a vaguely female sounding high pitched voice sing what sounded like "Oh" in the distance. "What was that?"

"Meroetta?" Dawn wondered.

"Maybe--Meroetta only communicates through song, so if you want to 'speak' to her, you'll need to sing yourself or have an instrument handy." Brock cautioned.

Ash's eyes lit up. "Pikachu, my saefleita, quickly!"

"I appriciate the enthusiasm, but why so excited about a mythical Pokemon?" Janine asked.

"My thinking is, if that voice WAS Meroetta, she will answer back when I play my own instrument." Ash explained as he accepted his saefleita from Pikachu and hung it around his neck. He then played a two part melody for Earth, with a lower pitched response for the Fire melody. After repeating the two part melody a second time for the Wind melody, his response to complete the cycle with Water was slightly higher pitched.

[BGM: Summon Cycle-Meroetta]

"Fascinating..." Janine mused.

"Mages use what's known as a saefleita to summon a companion." Dawn explained over the song. "But to summon a Legendary, you have to play a four part song that matches up to the four primal elements of earth, fire, wind, and water, in that order."

Another "oh..." echoed from below. "I'd say Meroetta has heard you, Ash." Kissa mused as she lead the group down the stairs. "The hard part is finding her once we reach the bottom..."

To Be Continued...
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The magic of Pokemon
A preview of Episode 20:

Meanwhile, in another part of the cave...

"You sure this is the place, Asiel?" a girl in a ragged maroon blouse and skirt asked as she brushed her pale blond hair from her face. For the most part, she and her brother could have been just another pair of adventurers, barring the tiny dragon-like wings on their backs.

"Course, Takis--it's not every day that the Great Lord sends two demonlings out to possess a minstrel's party for their first possession." the girl's brother replied as he quickly hovered out of the way of a stalagtite, being careful not to disturb the Zubats that snoozed nearby. "You've heard the stories of what happens to those that get caught up in magic songs, right?"

"Sometimes I have to wonder what the Great Kione is thinking sometimes...." Takis sighed. "But it's the party I'm worried about--Melis' defeat at their hand was the talk of the Dark Realm for weeks."

"We would be stuck back in the Dark Realm listening to Miss Topas talk about proper possession techniques over and over and over if His Greatness hadn't stepped in." Asiel cautioned as he landed behind a rock, brushing debris from a slightly ragged marroon tunic. "And what better way to impress the class than possessing a human?"

"You did great with the small Pokemon, and leveling an entire village with a Mightyena wowed the class...." Takis mused as she fluttered by her older brother's side.

"Let's not forget how you aced your small Pokemon final with the Rattata swarm..." Asiel smiled. "Humans are a bit harder than Pokemon though--they have many competing influences around their spirits. That, and there's the risk of the spirit fighting back."

"Stupid priest, kicking me out of that little girl when I almost made it inside her soul." Takis grumbled, annoyed that her first human possession had come up short.

"Well, unfortunately, we have a cleric in this party too, so the key is to not get her attention." Asiel cautioned as he spotted Ash and the others in the distance. "Here they come."


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 20: The Pint Sized Problems

Meanwhile, in another part of the cave...

[BGM: Little Lights of Darkness (Asiel's and Takis' theme)]

"You sure this is the place, Asiel?" a girl in a ragged maroon blouse and skirt asked as she brushed her pale blond hair from her face. For the most part, she and her brother could have been just another pair of adventurers, barring the tiny dragon-like wings on their backs.

"Course, Takis--it's not every day that the Great Lord sends two demonlings out to capture the song spirit that lives here; or possess a minstrel's party for their first possession." the girl's brother replied as he quickly hovered out of the way of a stalagtite, being careful not to disturb the Zubats that snoozed nearby. "You've heard the stories of what happens to those that get caught up in magic songs, right?"

"Sometimes I have to wonder what the Great Kione is thinking sometimes...." Takis sighed. "But it's the party I'm worried about--Melis' defeat at their hand was the talk of the Dark Realm for weeks."

"We would be stuck back in the Dark Realm listening to Miss Topas talk about proper possession techniques over and over and over if His Greatness hadn't stepped in." Asiel cautioned as he landed behind a rock, brushing debris from a slightly ragged marroon tunic. "And what better way to impress the class than possessing a human?"

"You did great with the small Pokemon, and leveling an entire village with a Mightyena wowed the class...." Takis mused as she fluttered by her older brother's side.

"Let's not forget how you aced your small Pokemon final with the Rattata swarm..." Asiel smiled. "Humans are a bit harder than Pokemon though--they have many competing influences around their spirits. That, and there's the risk of the spirit fighting back."

"Stupid priest, kicking me out of that little girl when I almost made it inside her soul." Takis grumbled, annoyed that her first human possession had come up short.

"Well, unfortunately, we have a cleric in this party too, so the key is to not get her attention." Asiel cautioned as he spotted Ash and the others in the distance. "Here they come."

[Cut BGM]

Back with the party...

[BGM: The Waterfall's Secrets]

"Oh my..." Ash gasped as he glanced around the large open room.

"Meroetta prefers wide open spaces, so if we're going to find her in a cave, this would be the sort of room to look." Brock explained as Ash walked around the room admiring the layers of ledges and odd rock formations.

Kissa froze as the sound of wingbeats fluttered in the distance. "Be on guard--I sense demons are here..."

"Huh?" Dawn glanced around the room, but saw that nothing was present except for them, a few Zubats hanging overhead, and a few sprouts intertwining around some stalagmites. "I don't see any demons..."

"Maybe this ring I found embedded in a rock would reveal them to you?" Ash offered, showing Dawn a gold ring with a roughly shield shaped ruby inside, ringed by diamonds.

Dawn smiled. "Well! Of all the places to find a Scared Ring..."

"I have heard tales of rings with shield shaped gems..." Janine mused as she led the group across a ledge. "It is said that the wearer is granted a simple <i>hikari</i> jutsu when it is worn..."

"A simple light spell, huh?" Ash replied as he slipped the ring on his right ring finger. "Let's try this!" He aimed the ring at some rocks behind him. "Guiding light, shed magic power from above! Shine!" At this, a beam of red light went flying at the rocks, revealing Asiel and Takis looking down at the party from above.

[Cut BGM]

Dawn gasped. "Kissa was right..."

"Clerics aren't the only ones that can sense those of the Dark Realm...Pokemon and other creatures can too." Brock explained as he drew his own blade. "Get ready to fight, everyone!"

"Geez, I said not to get the cleric's attention!" Asiel complained as he flew before the group, a little wobbly due to the Shine spell.

"It was the mage that gave our position away!" Takis protested, gesturing to Ash as she landed by her brother's side.

"What were you plotting here, demon?" Ash demanded, his blade inching closer to Asiel's neck.

"Easy on the neck, human...we were told to either A. capture the Song Guardian or B. possess one of you--and with all the power inside of you, you make a great target." Asiel stammered.

Ash was about to ask Asiel who the Song Guardian was when a high pitched Oh... got his attention. "Huh?"

"Meroetta..." Brock gasped as a tiny fairy-like creature appeared on a flower shaped rock in the center of the room, brushing its long green music staff-like hair with a twig.

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

"He's distracted! Now's your chance to possess the mage!" Takis called before firing some darts from her claws in Meroetta's direction. Ash ran to block the attack, buying Ashiel time to roll backwards out of Ash's sword range and take flight himself.

"He's getting away!" Janine called as she narrowly missed Takis with a shuriken.

"Janine, Dawn--try to take the demons down from the air!" Ash suggested as he blocked more of Takis' darts with his blade.

"We'll protect Meroetta!" Brock added as he rolled out of the way of a dive attack from Asiel.

"Got it!" Janine called before heaving two shurikens at Takis and Asiel. Takis was able to evade the shuriken meant for her, but an arrow from Dawn sent her tumbling to the ground.

"Takis!!!" Asiel cried as his sister weakly crawled behind the rocks, clearly in pain. He gritted his teeth as he saw Meroetta was unprotected from the eastern side. "You're going to pay for hurting my sister!" he screamed before making a beeline for Meroetta's flower platform.

"NO!!!" Ash shot back as he threw himself before the platform, allowing Asiel to fly inside his body, creating an explosion of dark energy...

[Cut BGM]

Inside Ash's body...

Now where is the mage's soul? Asiel wondered as he skimmed over Ash's bloodstream in hopes one of the veins would lead to Ash's heart. A bright light in the distance revealed that he was close, so he wove through a few more arteries and veins before approaching a dull red pulsing mass. Yes! This is his heart, all right! The soul can't be too far away!

[BGM: Dreaming of Adventure (Ash's theme)]

"Hold!" a white ghostly being that looked exactly like Ash demanded as Asiel approached. "You're not allowed in here!"

"You're the one that threw yourself in my path, so naturally I'm gonna possess you!" Asiel retorted. "Now, let me through!"

"Not if I have anything to say about it!" the Ash spirit replied as several more copies of it appeared and surrounded Asiel, their swords drawn...

[End BGM]

Back in the cave...

"Ash..." Janine gasped as she watched Ash's body, now wreathed in purple flames, writhe on the ground in pain. "Why did you do this?"

Dawn whispered some words into her palm, surrounding her hand in a white-blue glow. "I'm going to lay a hand on him to calm him down before I attempt to cast the demon out."

"He's fighting the demon--I can tell." Kissa mused as Dawn gently laid her glowing hand on Ash's back, making him cry out in pain.

"I'm trying to help you!" Hold still!" Dawn assured Ash, narrowly avoiding being kicked as she made her way around to the other side of Ash's body, her hand on his back all the while.

"Do you know any spellsongs of healing, Karakashu-san?" Janine asked.

"I do--maybe this one will help cast the demon out." Brock began before commanding "Voice of the goddess, come and sing a song of light! Anima no Uta!" With that, he began playing his harp and singing in a language no one seemed to recognize at first.

[BGM: Anima no Uta] (set to this tune)

"The holy tongue!" Dawn gasped as she saw her glowing hand glow brighter.

"Anima no Uta, or Anima's Song, allows the caster to sing in the holy tongue for a short time, usually to heal great wounds or cast out demons." Kissa explained to Janine. "It is said that even the smallest demonling fears hearing the language of the gods." She watched as her master continued to sing in the odd language for a few minutes, calming Ash's writhing body and engulfing it and Dawn's hand in rainbow light. Asiel came flying out of Ash's body some seconds later, landing with a crash behind the rocks.

[End BGM]

"It worked!" Janine smiled as Ash eased himself to his feet.

"My head..." Ash groaned as he glanced around the cave. He could see Takis tending to Asiel behind a rock, despite being wounded herself. Judging from the burns and scratches on him, whatever Brock had cast to force him out had to have been very strong, he thought.

"How did you learn that spellsong, anyway?" Janine wondered as Meroetta flew around her, grateful that Ash had allowed himself to be nearly possessed for her sake.

"Anima no Uta I learned on a previous visit to Whitespell..." Brock wheezed, still exhausted from casting the spell. "I was told never to use it except in an emergency."

"Ash almost being possessed definitely counted as an emergency, but what are we going to do about these demonlings before they decide to attack us again?" Kissa wondered.

Meroetta flew over to Dawn and formed a small ball of light in her hands. "Huh?" Dawn gasped before motioning to Brock again. "Ask Meroetta what she wants from me." Brock nodded and played a few bars of "Lady of Yoso" to Meroetta.

Oh... Meroetta replied to Dawn.

"She says she wants to give you the power to sing magic, since you enjoy singing." Brock replied.

"Tell her I accept her offer and promise to use Song Magic responsibly." Dawn replied.

"I'll do it!" Ash volunteered before fishing out the Dreamer's Flute and playing "The Silver Sword". Meroetta just giggled at the "reply" and sent the ball of light flying in Dawn's direction before splitting into muiple copies of herself.

Elsewhere, with the demonlings...

"...and there we are." Takis smiled as she bandaged her brother's last wound.

"That mage's spirit is very strong!" Asiel complained as he weakly stood up. "I didn't expect it to fight back that hard!"

"You yourself said there's a risk of a human spirit fighting back." Takis replied. "Now, let's get that song spirit!"

Asiel gasped when he saw Dawn surrounded by what looked like hundreds of copies of Meroetta on a raised rock that overlooked the cave floor--some of them red and purple with their music staff-like hair pinned up, and a few of them identical to the real Meroetta--except they glowed with a sea green aura. "Great--NOW how are we supposed to find the real one?" he groaned a bit too loudly.

"You're not going to!" Dawn countered, catching both demonlings offguard.

"And how do you suppose you're going to do that? " Takis countered as she flew out from behind the rock.

Dawn closed her eyes. "Guard us all in lights of many colors! Dance of Light!"

There was an awkward silence as nothing appeared to happen at first. "Oo-hoo-hoo, we're so scared, Lady of Light." Asiel taunted.

[BGM: Dawn's Heartsong] (set to this tune)

Dawn just smiled before singing Feel my strength! Feel my hope! Wonderful, powerful music!, making a bright flash of rainbow light fill the cave.

"Hoo!" the crowd of Meroettas cried, making auras form around the rest of the group.

"Are you ready?" Dawn asked the crowd of Meroettas over the driving melody that seemed to come from nowhere.

"Yay!" the Meroetta crowd cheered.

"Here we go! 1, 2, 3!" Dawn counted off the red and purple Meroettas, which began dancing to the song.

Magical song of the heart! the green and teal Meroettas sang as Ash, Brock, Kissa, and Janine rushed to engage the demonlings. Fu Fu Fu, Fu Fu Fu...Magical song of the heart!

Do re mi fa, my sweet song is rising to the clouds! Dawn sang as Janine hurled a shuriken at Takis. This confident tone rings out, filled with hope! At this, Ash lunged at Asiel, knocking him backwards. Beautiful colors all around, hop! step! jump! Takis gritted her teeth and shot three darts in Brock's direction, which he dodged with a literal hop, step, and jump. Feel power within you, giving you energy!

"Oh, I feel power in me, all right..." Ash mused as he aimed the Sacred Ring at Asiel, who was about to scratch Kissa. "Guiding light, shed magic power from above! Shine!" Asiel howled in pain as the flash of white light enulfed him.

"Thanks!" Kissa smiled. "One down, and one to go." she mused as Takis tried to evade shurikens, light blasts from the Sacred Ring, and small rainbow crystals being conjured from a harp, which could barely be heard over Dawn's enthusiastic performance.

We're playing melodies that are so strong, I just cannot watch! Dawn sang, rendering Takis' claws useless against the rainbow auras that glowed around the rest of the group. Dancing to this rhythm! Looking ahead to the future! A challenge? Go ahead!

"Take it on home, Dawn!" Kissa called in enouragement as she scratched Takis' left wing as she flew low to attack Ash, making her struggle to stay aloft.

It resonates, a cheerful sound, within every one of our merry hearts! Dawn and the Meroetta crowd continued. I only dream that tomorrow is filled with wonderful, powerful music! Everybody rise up and sing a magic song of the heart!

Magic, song of the heart! the Meroetta crowd concluded, engulfing Takis in a wave of green light.

[End BGM]

"Bravo!" Janine applauded as the Meroetta crowd disappeared, leaving only the original Meroetta behind.

"Thanks...although I feel like I've ran a mile and back again." Dawn wheezed as she ran to rejoin the group.

"That's completely normal when you first keep Song Magic going a long time." Brock replied as he led the way over to an opening in the northern wall that led further down in the cave. "You'll get better as you use it more."

Ash turned to look back at Meroetta. "Thanks for everything!" he called.

Oh? Meroetta replied, her song a little more wistful then before.

"She wants us to promise we will find what it is we're looking for." Brock replied before playing a prayerful melody in reply.

[BGM: Duet of Promise]

After he played the tune through once, Ash joined in with the Dreamer's Flute, as if telling Meroetta "We will definitely find what we seek, and much more--don't you worry!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 21: Hikari Reclaimed

[BGM: Secrets of the Waterfall]

"Dawn?" Ash asked at the group arrived in a long skinny corridor that lead to an open space.

"What is it?" Dawn was more concerned by the odd yellow glow in the alcove at the end of the passageway.

"What did it feel like when Meroetta awakened Song Magic in you?"

"It's hard to explain...I just felt surrounded in this warm glow and then felt like I had to sing...but I want to know where the music I sang to came from."

"Meroetta is the Guardian of Song, so she can create whatever music she wants, including music we have never heard before." Kissa mused. "Likewise Ash, I want to know what compelled you to risk demonic possession back there."

"I did it because Meroetta was in danger." Ash explained. "I wanted to protect her and those that sing magic."

"You did a brave thing." Brock smiled. "I'm very proud of you." His face turned business-like again when he heard a whinny-like noise in the distance. "And I think I know what took the Hikari no Shizen." He pointed out a small deep brown horse-like creature that was intertwined around a familar katana hilt.

"THAT little thing?" Ash was surprised at the size of the small sinewy creature in relation to what it had stolen. "It could've gotten squished underneath the Hikari's weight!"

"You'd be surprised at what cappals can carry, Ash." Brock cautioned. "For now, we need to get it off the Hikari. Once it is on the ground, we need to find a way to have the Hikari brought somewhere safe."

"Hah!" Janine heaved a shuriken at the cappal, sending it falling to the floor with a plop. Kaimana then bounded over the dazed cappal and grabbed the sheathed katana before swimming off in an easterly direction down a small river.

"The gods are watching, have faith! Fight Song!" Dawn called before singing a calming melody in the holy tongue that created a red aura around the group.

[BGM: Fight Song]

"You call that a fight song?" Ash balked-he had expected Dawn to sing a rousing battle song, like heroes in stories did. What Dawn was singing sounded more like a prayer than a song meant to give them strength for battle.

Brock calling instructions snapped him back to reality. "Okay! Cappals like to attack physically instead of with spells. Despite their small size, these attacks can really hurt if you're not careful!" The cappal lashed a vine at Janine to illustrate his point.

"Hah!" Ash drew his blade and delivered a slash to the cappal's body.

"Hi Magiiro no jutsu! Flaming Pillar of Strength!" Janine commanded as the cappal lashed a vine at Ash. He circled around it, looking for another place to strike, before scrambling back behind the flaming wall. The vine pursuing him melted into the flames with a hiss.

"That was close..." Kissa mused before charging at the cappal. The cappal met her with a headbutt, sending Kissa flying against the Flaming Pillar.

"Kissa!" Brock raced over to where Kissa was shakily standing up. "Are you okay?"

"Yes...I've survived harder blows to the head before, and you know that." Kissa weakly smiled. "I may not hold up to another blow like that."

"Thank Anima you're okay..." Brock smiled as he quickly readjusted the Archmage Tiara that lay askew on Kissa's head.

"CHU!" Pikachu fired a Thunderbolt at the cappal as it tried to give Ash a similar headbutt.

"Drifting breeze, come down with fury! Blizzard!" Ash commanded as he sent a wave of ice at the cappal, rendering it helpless.

"Now's our chance!" Janine called, hurling a shuriken at the shivering cappal, defeating it just as Dawn finished singing and the Flaming Pillar disappeared.

[End BGM]

"Yes!" Brock cried as a green bead fell down from a nearby ledge. "Raissel's Emerald was here as well..."

Simple as can be... the green bead sang before appearing on the necklace thread next to Anima's Diamond.

"Is Kissa okay?" Dawn ran over to where Kissa lay on the ground and charged a blue white light in her hands.

"Sure she is...she's a tough kitten in more ways than one." Brock assured Dawn. "I'm sorry I wasn't much of a help in battle this time-if I had played, my song would have interfered with yours, since actually singing a spell requires more focus than playing a spell."

"You did fine!" Dawn assured Brock.

"You gave us advice to defeat our foe, and allowed Kaimana to take the Hikari back where it belongs." Janine replied. "That is all the help we needed from you."

"Okay then..." Brock motioned for everyone to circle around him before readying his harp to play. "Beacon of Anima, take us to Miyakawa Shrine! Time Hole!"

Later, at the shrine...

[BGM: Miyakawa's Pride (Janine's theme)]

"Janine...words cannot express how relieved and elated we are that you have retrieved the Hikari for us." Keiji smiled as he, Koga, and a crowd watched the Hikari no Shizen being set inside a pedestal.

"I had help, Hokage-from Karakashu-san and his friends." Janine smiled as she petted Kaimana. "In fact...I want to go with them on their travels."

Gasps went up from the crowd. "You're sure you wish to travel like this?" Koga asked. "It will be a long journey..."

"You remember that Dokusentoki left on his adventures because he felt that he had to avenge his father." Janine replied as she paced the wooden floor of the shrine. "Just as he did, I feel like there is something I have to do-what it is, I don't know yet; but I'm sure I'll figure it out alongside Karakashu-san."

Koga sighed. "If this is what you wish to do, then I won't try to stop you-even when you were small, no amount of convincing could dissuade you once you had made a decision. I will care for Kaimana while you travel." he added as Janine gave Kaimana one last hug.

"Thank you all for everything." Brock replied as Janine rejoined the group.

"Return to us safely, Janine!" a girl called from the crowd.

"May the Kami watch over you on your journey!" Takuya agreed as the newly formed foursome walked down the path out of the village and into the setting sun...

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 22: The Icy Road West

[BGM: New Day in Town]

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

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

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

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

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

[BGM: Calling on the Goddess of Light]

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

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

[BGM: It is I, Anima]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What was that?" Ash wondered.

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

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

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

"You may." Anima replied.

[BGM: Song of the Tracking Cycle]

Ash focused for a moment before calling "Four elements, reveal to me where Janine waits! Tracking Cycle!" With that, he played a playful melody down the scale for the Earth section, followed by a mystical response up the scale for the Fire section. After repeating the playful call again for the Wind section, a quiet response for Water completed the cycle, revealing Janine walking through the market crowd to the town square. "Janine's on her way back..."

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

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

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

Later that day...

[BGM: To the Mountains!]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

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

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

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

"Like?" Ash beckoned Janine to go on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And then?" Ash asked, noticably calmer.

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

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

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

[Cut BGM]

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

"Bravo!" Ash agreed as he applauded.

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

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

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

[BGM: To the Mountains!]

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

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

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

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

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

[BGM: In the Prescence of Gods]

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...
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Well-Known Member
Ash turned the corner in the east wing of the lodge and count down from three doors to the right until it found a marked with a star. Ash gritted his teeth as he diverted the clutches of Scyther and over again - had not counted on being ambushed by a hostile Pokemon. Ash saefleita quickly and helped put the fight Pikachu on his shoulder, with some applause.
Weird! Anyway....

I've been so long since I read anything of this which I must apologise for, I don't unfortunately have much time to read much here anymore along with everything else but I decided to come and read Chapter 2.

Chapter 2

Lovely and beautiful description. I'm amazed at the flowing gentleness of your words. I'm amazed at how wonderful this all is and how the plot and story just blends into your writing. This is definitely a wonderful piece of work and I'm going to try and make more time to read through more chapters. I'm intrigued by Ash's Lessons and also the swift and calmness of Brock. I look forward to reading more.


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: Snowbound Under the Stars

[BGM: Caught in the Cold]

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

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

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

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

[BGM: Summon Cycle--Articuno]

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

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

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

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


[BGM: Relaxing under the Stars]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Were you punished?" Janine was worried now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[BGM: Calling on the Goddess of Light

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

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

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

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

BGM: A Heated Arguement

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Cut BGM}

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 23: An Aura of Ice

[BGM: To The Mountains!]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Cut BGM]

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

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

[BGM: Sakura turns to Ice]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[BGM: A Tale of Wonder]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Akaiko cautioned..." Brock continued.

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

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

[Cut BGM]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"A wonderful idea." Kissa mused.

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
A preview of Episode 24:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 24: The Blue Star

[BGM: Relaxing Under the Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[BGM: A Heated Argument]

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

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

[Cut BGM]

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How were your comrades taken by eisfay?"

[BGM: How Could This Happen?]

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

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

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

"Oh no..." Dawn swallowed hard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 25: The Harmony of Power

[BGM: Memories of Home]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then,


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

Later that morning...

[BGM: Sakura Turns to Ice]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[BGM: The Silver Sword]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Interlude: Warming the Spirit

[BGM: Memories of Home]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[BGM: Light at the Close of Day]

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

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

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

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 26: The Ice of the Wood

[BGM: Welcome to the Woods]

The group departed the inn the next morning in high spirits--Misty led the way, with Brock following behind, then Ash, with the girls and the Pokemon bringing up the rear. Despite the cold and whirling snow around them, Ash was confident that they would find the plumen leaves they needed to heal the mayor's daughter and enter the ice caverns.

"This is it..." Misty began as she led the group up to a large stone door with a red stone in the middle. "The crystal door that leads into the Frosty Forest."

Ash hesitantly approached the door, drew his blade, and struck the crystal hard enough to create a ringing E note that could be heard all the way back in town. No sooner had Brock hum back the note in reply, did the door rumble open, nearly blinding the party with a blast of wind and snow.

[BGM: Wandering in the Cold]

"I thought the snow would have subsided by now!" Dawn gasped as she wiped snow from her eyes.

"Much less it get this bad at this time of day!" Janine paused to wipe snow from her eyes as well.

"When they said the weather here was unpredictable, they weren't kidding!" Ash agreed as the group made their way into the maze of pine and fir trees.

"Unfortuantely, there's nothing I can do about this weather, so we'll just have to deal with it for now." Misty sighed--she had not counted on everyone's complaining.

"I could call upon Saidas again!" Ash volunteered. "She brought us here, so maybe she can guide us through this maze."

"That's an idea, but I wouldn't invoke the gods unless we really needed help." Misty replied as she led the group around a bend.

"You also have a means of creating a map, you know--remember the spell of tracking Anima taught you?" Dawn added as she carefully stepped over a stick and into more snow.

[BGM: Tracking Cycle]

Ash quickly fumbled for the Dreamer's Flute and called into the howling wind "Four elements, reveal to me where the plumen grows! Tracking Cycle! With that, he played a playful melody down the scale for the Earth section, followed by a mystical response up the scale for the Fire section. After repeating the playful call again for the Wind section, a quiet response for Water completed the cycle.

[BGM: Secrets in the Snow]

"Whoa..." Dawn gasped as a large glowing map of the Forest appeared in the sky, with a rainbow ball representing the group's current position and a blue ball marking their destination.

"See? When you put your mind to it, anything is possible." Janine assured him. "Learn to consider your options before charging to battle." Ash nodded to show Janine he understood, then focused on following the shining map's directions to the plumen grove.

It took several hours of winding through the forest's many snowy paths and walls of trees, but just before the sun set, the group arrived at a large wall of newly formed ice. "Oh dear...perhaps the Tracking Cycle was incorrect?" Kissa mused as she and Pikachu contemplated how to pass the blue-white wall before them.

"Easy--it's just ice, so all we have to do is cast a fire spell on it!" Ash assured the others before taking a few steps back and charging a ball of red energy. "Star fire, awake and deliver your judgement! Fira!" The large ball of fire went flying at the ice wall, but when the flaming explosion disappated, the ice wall was amazingly still standing!

"Burning fire, become like water to sear my foe! Fire Mist!" The ensuing calm melody from Brock's harp and the red cloud of hot mist created from the strings did nothing to damage the ice.

"Hi Magiiro no jutsu! Great Fire Tornado!" Janine's firey whirlwind fizzled out upon impact with the ice wall.

"Any more bright ideas?" Misty asked as the boys and Janine tried again and again to make any sort of dent in the ice wall.

"This is no ordinary ice..." Janine concluded. "Apparently someone or something created this ice, and it doesn't appear to be the great Saidas..."

"The Ice Queen wouldn't dream of putting up an ice barrier unless she was protecting something..." Dawn mused.

[BGM: In the Presence of Gods]

"You'd be correct, Bowmistress." Saidas replied as she flew in aboard Articuno. "However, do not be so quick to accuse me of blocking your way to the blue star--this ice is not mine, and I have no reason to seal the plumen grove."

"Well, if you didn't do it, who did?" Ash demanded.

"Something far more sinister than the malady that struck the little one in Chairo--something that makes its lair in the ice caves." Saidas replied. "What this being is, I'm not sure yet, but it wants to see the little one dead and the way to its lair sealed."

"But how do we break the barrier, O Ice Kami?" Janine pleaded. "All our jutsu have done nothing!"

"One spell alone will not be enough, but there is a way to break the ice down." Saidas assured Janine before flying off into the swirling snow aboard Articuno.

[Cut BGM]

There was a moment of silence as the group contemplated their next move. The sun was about to set, and if they didn't think of something now, they would be left to survive whatever lurked within the Frosty Forest at night.

Finally, Dawn spoke up. "Say..."

"What is it?" Kissa asked, piqued.

"Since none of our spells alone have done a thing to the ice barrier...why don't we try casting all of them at once?" Dawn suggested. "Brock could play Fire Mist using the Song of Light..."

"And then Ash join in playing a fire spell himself..." Kissa added.

"..and then Chiryoshi-hime power Kokenin-san's spellsong with her voice!" Janine cried, excited. "It's a great idea, and worth a try, since our time of light grows short."

"Okay..." Brock replied as he readied his harp to play again. "I will start the song Fire Mist using the tune of the Song of Light. When I finish one cycle of the tune, Ash will join me with a spell of his own, with Dawn's voice enhancing whatever Ash decides to play. The combined power of both spells should at least make a dent in the barrier."

"Whenever you're ready." Misty mused.

[BGM: Let Our Songs Combine]

Brock nodded and whispered "Burning fire, become like water to sear my foe! Fire Mist!" before beginning the familiar rising and falling melody of the Song of Light, making a large cloud of red mist engulf the wall.

"Holy fire, rend through the coldness of evil! Crimson Claw!" Ash commanded before joining in with a countermelody on the Dreamer's Flute, with Dawn singing a descant to make the glowing red crystals glow brighter than before as they impacted the icy barrier with a hiss.

"It's working!" Misty joyfully cried as she saw the first drops of melting ice begin forming on the wall a few minutes later.

"Keep playing!" Kissa urged as a melting icicle landed at her feet.

The song continued for about twenty minutes, with the barrier growing smaller and smaller ever so slowly until it disappeared completely, revealing a small grove filled with blue leafed plants.

[Cut BGM]

"The plumen!" Ash eagerly pocketed the Dreamer's Flute and rushed to pick some of the blue leaves from the odd plants.

"Just in time, too..." Misty added as the sun sank below the horizon.

Once enough plumen had been gathered, the group was whisked back to Chairo just before the first stars of night appeared with a call of "Beacon of Anima, take us to Chairo! Time Hole!"

To Be Continued...


The magic of Pokemon
Episode 27: One Last Challenge

[BGM:Sakura Turns to Ice]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[BGM: A Plea for Passage]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[BGM: The Nanab Do-si-Do]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued...
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