View Full Version : The Legend of Taki (rated E10+)

11th April 2012, 10:58 PM
Episode 1: Taki's Choice (part 1)

"Ash?" a brown haired woman asks as she puts away some clean laundry in the dresser.

"Hm?" a black haired boy sighs as he wakes up from a nap with a yawn.

"The annual drama's premiere is going to start in a few minutes...are you going to watch or not?"

The boy is up in a heartbeat. "I wouldn't miss Pokemon Channel's new drama for the world!" He nudges a sleeping yellow mouse creature awake. "Come on, Pikachu--it's almost time for the new drama to start!"

"Pika!" Pikachu hops off the bed and eagerly follows Ash down the stairs, where a brown haired boy is on the couch. As he gets the popcorn, chips, and other treats in order, he is briefing a black haired girl on what to expect from the yearly production.

"...if they don't do an adaptation of something like the hero of Lugia, Mt. Coronet, or the brothers of Unova; nine times out of ten the drama will take place in a fictional region named Ransei." the boy explains.

"Pini pini hapi?" a pink humanoid Pokemon interuppts.

"Happini wants to know what to do if the show gets scary, Brock." the girl translates as Ash flies onto the couch next to her, with Delia arriving some moments later.

Brock just smiles as Pikachu begins dividing up treats. "If it gets too scary for you, you can hide your eyes--I'll tell you when to look again."

Coming up next on Pokemon Channel, a world premiere series event--a young girl embarks on a perilous quest to defeat a ruthless warlord and restore the rightful empress of Ransei to the throne--stay tuned for 'The Legend of Taki' the announcer reports over a "Coming Up Next" eyecatch.

"There's the obligatory setting in Ransei..." the girl sighs.

"Well, not every drama is set in Ransei, Dawn--some of them were 52 episode adaptations of lore from our world." Delia explains. "Last year, they did the hero of Lugia..."

"...Which I had the honor to retrace his steps in my own adventure!" Ash smiles before digging into the popcorn.

"You'll have to ask Ash to tell you that story sometime." Brock whispers to Dawn.

"I will." Dawn replies before focusing her attention on the TV screen.

Onscreen, a majestic orchestral theme plays over a starlit sky as the words "World Premiere" are written in the "stars". When the logo is complete, the words "shine" over the last triumphant stinger.

"Here we go!" Ash watches intently as the bumper fades out.

"A long time ago, the kingdom of Ransei was a peaceful and prosperous land." a male voice narrates as a map of the fictional region of Ransei fades in. "Then, one of the empress' top generals, Nobunaga, deposed her, forcing her to go into hiding." As the narrator is speaking, we see a black haired man in ornate black, gold and purple plate shoving a black haired woman in an ornately colored kimono-like outfit to the ground. When we see the woman again, she is wrapped in a blue cloak and fleeing on a Ponyta as hundreds of armored warriors pursue her on Rapidashes.

"There's no way a Ponyta could outrun a few hundred Rapidashes..." Dawn notes.

"They can, and they will if they're strong enough." Ash replies.

"Overnight, Ransei was split into 17 rival kingdoms, each with their own leader that in turn reported to Nobunaga." the narrator continues as the map of Ransei splits into 17 pieces. "If any questioned Nobunaga's rule, their village would be destroyed at the hand of Zekurom, the Black Thunder." The camera then zooms into one section of the map, where a screaming crowd rushes to flee a giant black fox dragon. "Many tried to rebel against Nobunaga's harsh rule," the narrator intones as a man rushes to try and attack the majestic Pokemon. Zekurom looks up from leveling a house, spots his attacker, and fires a Thunderbolt in the man's direction. "but all attempts at rebellion have failed." The clang of the unlucky man's sword landing in the ground next to his body punctuates the narrator's point.

"Well, if Nobanoogie has that demonic Pokemon--" Dawn starts.

"Nobunaga." Brock gently corrects her.

Dawn tries her point again. "Well, if Nobunaga..." She pauses and looks over at Brock, who nods to assure her she has pronounced the name correctly. "If Nobunaga has that demonic Pokemon, it's no wonder all attempts at rebellion have failed!"

"Zekurom just squishes them like Venonats." Ash agrees. "That is, if Nobunaga doesn't kill them first."

The omnious scene zooms back out to the map of Ransei and zooms into a tinier section of the map, where a girl about eight or nine years old wearing some pink kimono-like armor walks down a road with an Eevee at her side. "Now, a young girl from the tiny kingdom of Aurora attempts the perilous journey to Aiiro City, where Nobunaga rules with an iron fist." the narrator explains as the girl sits down to rest. "Can she unite the 17 kingdoms and restore the rightful empress to the throne? This is her story..." At this the girl looks up at the sky and the title appears in Japanese-esque letters over an orchestral swell.

"Okay, so an evil general kicked the rightful queen out of the castle and decided to rule the kingdom himself." Brock recaps what the group has just seen to the Pokemon as the opening credits roll. "If anyone said they didn't like him as ruler, he would send Zekurom to destroy their cities."

"Hap pini pini pi!" Happini is appalled at this.

"Yeah, it isn't very nice." Brock replies. "So what Taki wants to do is defeat the evil general and get the rightful ruler back in the palace, so everyone can be happy again."

"Pika?" Pikachu swallows hard--pink armor and cute looks won't do much against a fox dragon.

"I'm sure Taki will find a way, Pikachu--don't worry." Delia assures Pikachu as the episode title card appears.

"Chapter 1: Taki's Choice." Ash reads the title card to the Pokemon.

Dawn is unimpressed at the episode's title. "What choice is there to make? Nobunaga's destroying the region town by town, and she decides to stop him!"

"Maybe it's not so easy as that...." Delia cautions as the scene of a peaceful Asian-esque village appears on the screen.

The camera pans over the simple wooden houses with thatched roofs, the fields and rice paddies, the the various people on the road for a moment, until we stop at one particular house, where we see the girl from earlier picking Berries from a Oran tree.

"Taki!" a woman's voice calls in the distance, getting the girl's attention.

"Your lunch is ready!" Brock fills in what he thinks the woman will say in an amazingly accurate impersonation of her voice. The Pokemon laugh at this.

The girl sets down her basket and runs to embrace a woman in a simple purple robe. "My little girl.. you're growing up so fast!" she smiles. "Ten years--soon you will be ready to choose a trade." she notes.

A man in a dull blue robe enters the scene some moments later, with a decorated box in his arms. "Happy birthday, Taki--I've made you something very special for the occasion." he smiles as he offers the box to Taki.

Taki eagerly opens the box and gently lifts out the small wooden flute inside. "It's beautiful!" she gasps as the camera zooms in on the flute's ivy decorations. "Thank you!" she smiles as she hugs her father.

"I hope that when you play this flute, you will remember our happiness as a family." the man replies. "Pokemon will flock to you as a moyo, because they want some of that happiness."

Taki gives her father a little bow. "I promise I will make lots of Pokemon happy with this flute, and make both of you happy too!" With that, she dashes down the path towards a grassy plain.

"Hey, Mom..." Ash nudges Delia.

"Yes, Ash?" Delia asks.

"You are taping this, right?" Ash asks.

"I set the DVR to tape the drama this morning, so if we miss a week, you won't be lost." Delia replies.

And, if Taki plays some really pretty song, I can learn to play it myself! Ash thinks as he cradles Pikachu in his arms.

Taki dashes towards the plain and settles beneath a tree on a hill overlooking the town, looking up at the clouds passing above her.

"That one looks like a Pikachu." Ash's attempt at impersonating Taki's voice breaks the peaceful silence, making everyone laugh.

"Good one, Ash!" Dawn giggles as she brushes a tear of laughter from her eye.

After a few seconds, Taki spots an Eevee in the grass. "Eevee, hear now the song in my heart." she muses before playing a playful melody, making her flute glow pink as the sparkling energy flows into the Eevee's heart. The Eevee is mesmerized by the hypnotic melody, and dances as Taki's flute and the percussion in the background continue to play.

"Dude, look at the dancing hearts and stars..." Brock comments in character as a teenage boy as the Eevee weaves and dances through a swirling rainbow background of hearts, stars, Beautiflies, and kanji.

"Talk about a real trip..." Dawn agrees.

Ash, meanwhile, is more interested in Taki's flute. "Memo to self--find out where I can get one of those!"

"Acid trip not included." Brock cautions as the song ends, and the Eevee romps into Taki's arms.

"I did it! I did it!" Taki trumphantly cries as she hugs her new Eevee. After thinking for a moment for a name she announces "I'll call you..."

"Mineko!" Ash suggests.

"Machiko!" Dawn calls.

"Miyako!" Brock suggests.

The name Taki chooses, however, is different. "Niru!"

"Vee!" the Eevee cries happily. Taki hugs her new friend, then starts back towards town as the scene fades out for a commercial.

13th April 2012, 7:51 PM
Episode 1b: Taki's Choice (part 2)

Brock stretches before getting up from the couch. "Break time..." he assures Happini before disappearing into the kitchen.

"What do you think so far?" Ash asks Dawn.

"It started with a bang, that's for sure..." Dawn muses. "We have a power hungry general, a wrongly deposed ruler that is kind and just, and a likeable main character."

"That's good." Ash notes as he too gets up from the couch. "In the past, they had main characters that got on my nerves, or never really had a reason for the audience to root for them..."

"Don't remind me about 'Sakura Samurai'." Delia shudders.

"Take 'Sakura Samurai', for example." Ash continues. "Great story, again set in Ransei, wonderful supporting characters, and beautiful music. But what killed the drama for me was how whiny and selfish the main character was."

"Out of an hour long episode, 45 minutes of that would be the main character whining or complaining." Delia agrees.

"What I want to know..." Brock interjects as he returns with a roast beef sandwich and chips. "is what in the world a 'moyo' really is..."

"From what I gather, it sounds like a trainer who catches Pokemon not from battling them, but by playing music..." Ash explains.

"Ash's right--remember what Taki said before she played that song?" Dawn asks.

"Hear now the song in my heart." Brock replies.

"The song conveys their emotions, which in turn link with the Pokemon's heart, I guess." Ash adds.

"I'm sure they'll explain how it works sometime." Delia assures everyone. Brock just smiles and offers Happini a bite of his sandwich as the TV announces We now return to 'The Legend of Taki'...

Fireworks fill the air and an Asian-esque melody plays as the town turns out to wish Taki a happy birthday. While most of the guests are mingling or dancing, some present Taki with gifts--various kimonos, Pokemon figurines, and Berries of all kinds.

Just then, the band stops playing as a woman clad in a blue and gold robe with white trim approaches Taki. "Brothers and sisters of Arceus, a moyo has reached her tenth year." she announces, gesturing to Taki.

"If you're gonna ask her to catch a Pokemon, she has one already." Brock comments, as if the woman on the TV screen can hear him.

"Have you found a suitable Pokemon for the song in your heart?" the oracle asks.

"Yes, Oracle." Taki replies before offering Niru. "This is Niru."

The oracle examines the Eevee for a moment. "The Eevee...although humble in appearance, it holds immense power, which can manifest in many different ways."

"Translation: it evolves into seven different forms." Ash deadpans.

"What power transforms the Eevee depends on the strength of the link between hearts." the oracle continues. Likewise, Taki, an immense power lies inside of you--how it changes you will depend on the strength of your heart's link with Arceus."

"What is this power?" Taki asks.

"That, I do not know, but Arceus has great plans for you as a moyo." the oracle replies. "Now...what is your wish for this year?"

"I wish that the rightful empress were on the throne in Aiiro City again!" Taki proclaims over a triumphant flute and bell melody. "And all of Ransei was united!" Cheers go up from the crowd as more of the orchestra joins in the festive song. But the music shifts to a minor key as the scene fades out to show a magnificent palace somewhere in Ransei.

"Meanwhile, in Aiiro City..." Brock notes the scene change as the camera cuts to a scene of a man in a regal suit of black mail with royal blue and purple trim bowing before Nobunaga. "Your Majesty, all the kingdoms' taxes are paid in full and accounted for." he reports.

"Excellent." Nobunaga smiles. "Have you heard from the spies about the whereabouts of the empress, Saizo?"

"Of the spies I have sent out, only Kai has returned." Saizo sighs. "He found nothing in Ignis."

"Even after I offered a thousand gold pieces for any information?" Nobunaga gasps.

"Uh oh..." Dawn swallows hard at what Nobunaga's reaction to the bad news will be.

"No one has been willing to come foward with any information about the Empress, milord." Saizo confesses.

Nobunaga thinks for a moment. "If a gift isn't enough to make people talk, maybe threatening them will." He sighs. "Send word to every town that if no one is willing to come forward with information on the hiding Empress, taxes on grain and rice will increase twofold."

"Yes, milord!" With that, Saizo rushes out as a girl in a green and blue dancer's robe enters the throne room.

Nobunaga's mood brightens when he sees the girl. "Ah, Hatsume-chan....i was about to send for you..."

"Figures he treats his subjects like dirt, but his lackeys, musicians, and dancing girls like kings and queens." Ash grumbles.

"A dance for you, milord?" Hatsume asks as she displays two royal blue fans to a flute and shamisen flourish.

"Yes please!" Ash fills in what he thinks Nobunaga will say.

"Hatsume, I command you to do the twist!" Brock jeers in character as Nobunaga. The Pokemon boo in agreement.

The dance the real Nobunaga requests is much different. "I would like to see the Dance of Swords."

"Very well." With that, the orchestra joins in a festive melody as Hatsume hops, jumps, and spins through an array of swords positioned on the floor.

Ash, however, recognizes the song that the orchestra is playing--and that a prominent instrument is missing from the soundtrack. "Wait a minute...where's the bansi?"

"You know that song?" Dawn is impressed.

"When we all went to Ecruteak one year, an instrument maker was there, showing off wooden flutes, harps, some kind of mouth organ, and other instruments of all sorts." Delia explains. "Ash saw a beautifully made bansi, and pleaded with both Taran and I to have one."

"Pika pika?" Pikachu interuppts. Happini, meanwhile, is watching Hatsume on the screen, her eyes widening with every spin and jump as the music speeds up.

"In the ancient orchestra, there were two kinds of flutes." Brock explains. "One was the bansi, which was mainly used in the theater and as a solo instrument. You'll often hear it playing all these really fast trills and runs..."

"After Taran and I relented, Ash played his new bansi pretty much every day, and got very good really quickly." Delia smiles at the memory. "He still plays it a lot, enough that he gave it a name--Mizo."

Brock nudges Ash as Hatsume's final triumphant pose fades to a commercial. "Where is Mizo, anyway?"

"I think she's still in her case in my room..." With that, Ash dashes upstairs...

To Be Continued...

17th April 2012, 9:13 PM
Episode 1c: Taki's Choice (part 3)

Brock mutes the TV as Ash returns with what appears to be a small yet long case. After unzipping the case, he carefully takes a slender wooden flute from inside.

"How do you blow into one of those?" Dawn wonders. The instrument does not have a hole in the side, but any mouthpiece is not obvious.

"This sharp end at the top is actually the mouthpiece." Ash explains, pointing out a sharp end for a performer to blow through.

"Oh, I see--it's played like a Pokeflute or recorder." Dawn smiles.

"The only difference is the size of the mouthpiece--since you have a lot of air going through*a small space, that creates a high pitched sound." Brock adds. "That's what gives the bansi its trademark sound."

"In lieu of adding the missing part back into 'Dance of the Swords', I could show you one little piece in my repetoire..." Ash offers.

"Play anything you want!" Dawn's eyes sparkle with excitement at hearing the exotic flute.

"Okay...here's a number that translates to 'Birds Singing in the Great Cheri Tree'--see how many bird Pokemon calls you recognize!" With that, Ash begins to play a playful tongued melody punctuated by a perfect mimic of a Starly's alert call. Dawn laughs as Ash answers with another perfect mimic of a Taillow's warning cry before resuming the playful melody, punctuated by trills and rapidfire runs up and down the scale.

"Pidgey mating call...Pidove song...Swablu song...Pidgey warning cry..." Brock identifies the different Pokemon calls that swirl throughout the blazing fast cascade of notes. "Taillow warning cry again...Starly song..."

Ash caps his performance with a spot on mimic of a Braviary's screech before playing one last downward run down the scale to end the song.

"Bravo!" Dawn leads the applause. Ash just takes a bow for his audience and puts Mizo away just as the TV announces We now return to 'The Legend of Taki'...

A few days later, Taki and Niru emerge from a forest onto a meadow overlooking the town. "I think you'll like my friend, Niru--she's a moyo like me too."

"Vee?" Niru is interested.

"Yeah--only she tamed a Jigglypuff first." Taki continues. "She likes to come out here a lot."

A downward harp glissando and a female voice singing something in the distance gets Niru's attention. "Vee ee?" he asks.

"That's her--her name's Oichi." Taki replies as they walk out onto the flower speckled meadow, where a red haired girl in a pink and blue outfit is lying on the grass. A Jigglypuff is close by, admiring a Beautifly as it listens to its mistress sing and play a half-circle shaped harp.

"Yaha o ma non Aurora nun..." the girl sings, playing a soft chord for effect. "Sun chirun gura shindun, na wyurun nyo sin kun...Nain mi chirun sinka noka, nan gan ha na kai...A tsun oyan she niou nun, an iekata Ransei..."

"Interesting song, Oichi..." Taki notes.

Oichi is startled by Taki's appearance, making her stumble over a wrong note. When she looks to see who is present, she giggles when she realizes it was just her friend. "Oh, Taki, it was only you...my deepest apologies for not attending your birthday festivities. Father bade me come with him to the Aiiro City to perform before Nobunaga, and we only just returned yesterday...."

"You played for Nobunaga?" Taki gasps.

"Yes, in 'commemoration' of his first year on his ill gotten throne!" Oichi grumbles. "Fortunately, he can't hear my songs calling for his demise all the way out here."

"Puff!" The Jigglypuff inflates a little in agreement.

"Even Vina hates Nobunaga--she refused to sing for him, and it was only when he threatened to kill her that she sang, putting him to sleep." Oichi continues. Vina shudders at the memory as Oichi retrieves her harp. "That song I was singing when you came--it's about a great hero who overthrows Nobunaga and unites Ransei."

"You can call it 'The Ballad of the Hero of Ransei'!" Taki suggests.

"I like that!" Oichi smiles.

"Ee?" Niru bats at Oichi's harp, making a few erzatz notes fill the air.

"Oichi, this is Niru." Taki stammers as she shepherds Niru back by her side. "I tamed him with the flute my father made for my birthday."

"Nice to meet you, Niru." Oichi smiles. "Here's a song to commemorate our meeting." With that, she begins a lullaby-like melody.

"I thought a moyo could only have one Pokemon at a time..." Dawn muses. "So why is Oichi trying to claim Niru as her own?"

"She's not--she didn't even say 'hear now the song in my heart'" Brock explains. "It's the same as me writing and singing songs about people I know." Dawn nods to show she understands before studying the screen again.

"Sutse, Niru, pama she mun ii, an nin ii ara mi nun." Oichi sings. Niru just squeaks in approval as the last chord dies. "Thank you--a short and sweet song for a sweet Pokemon." she smiles as she pets Niru.

Just then, a commotion down below gets the group's attention. "Something's happening!" Taki leads the way to the eastern edge of the hill, where she, Oichi, and their Pokemon look down on the town square. A large crowd has gathered to watch a guard post a notice of higher taxes on the town notice board.

"By order of Emperor Nobunaga, taxes on grain and rice are now twofold unless someone comes foward with information regarding the Empress!" another guard announces. The crowd howls in protest.

"Now how will we feed our children?" a woman cries.

"This has gone far enough!" Taki's father yells over the uproar of the crowd. "Citizens of Jyumou, Nobunaga is nothing but trouble! He has ransacked our cities, driven many to starvation, and shed many innocents' blood in his quest for power!"

"Silence!" one guard pleads, but the roar of the crowd makes his request go unheeded.

"Remember when Ransei was one country?" Taki's mother agrees. "When the Empress kept prices reasonable and listened to her people, not squabbling warlords?" The crowd roars again.

"Today, we will have no more!" Taki's father agrees. "No more taxes! No more unnecessary fighting! And most of all, no more innocent lives lost!" Cries of "Down with Nobunaga!" fill the air as the crowd rushes the guards and tears the tax notice from the noticeboard.

Taki swallows hard. "Th-that was very brave of my mother and father, but it won't be long before..." Tears well up in her eyes. "Before..." Her sadness and fear render her unable to finish the sentence as she breaks down in tears.

"Pini pi?" Happini asks.

"If the crowd was able to overpower the guards like that, then it won't be long before Nobunaga hears about it and takes Taki's mom and dad away, at best." Brock explains.

"Hap pini pini pi!" Happini is appalled and saddened that Taki has to lose the people she loves most. She is startled and hides her eyes as more guards storm Taki's house that night.

"Taki! This way!" the oracle calls in all the confusion. Taki dashes outside and into the oracle's arms, where she watches in horror as her mom and dad are dragged away into the night.

"Okay, you can look now." Brock assures Happini as he takes her in his arms and wipes away her tears.

Oracle, why? Why did Nobunaga take Mother and Father away?" Taki sobs.

"After what happened this afternoon, Nobunaga saw them a threat." the oracle explains. "I know not whether they will live or if they will die, but you can put a stop to this, Taki."

"But how?" Taki asks as she returns to her ransacked house and retrieves a few clothes, her flute, and a small sword from what remains of her room. "How can a young moyo and an Eevee fight against an entire army?"

"Travel to the other kingdoms, ask them to join you in overthrowing Nobunaga, and find the rightful Empress." the oracle replies. "It will not be an easy journey, filled with many trials..."

"Oracle, wait!" Oichi, Vina and her family run by Taki's side. "If Taki is the one to stop Nobunaga, I'm coming too!"

"Taki has done so much to help us when we needed something..." Oichi's father agrees over a hopeful melody. "Now, we feel it is our turn to help her."

The oracle smiles. "Very well, Oichi...you may travel with Taki on her journey." She addresses Taki again. "Your first destination is Ignis, to the east--may Arceus go with you."

The narrator speaks again as the entire town gathers to see Taki and Oichi off the next morning. "And so, Taki left on her quest to bring Nobunaga to justice, and hopefully free her parents. Neither she nor her friend knew of the many adventures that were to come." The words "TO BE CONTINUED..." appear over the scene of Taki, Oichi, and their Pokemon walking off into the rising sun.

"What did you think?" Delia asks as the closing credits roll.

"I can't wait to see what happens to Taki on her journey." Dawn muses. "I would do the same if my mom and dad were dragged off to who knows where."

"How long is this drama supposed to last? 52 episodes?" Ash wonders as he consults the TV listings for another show.

"According to Drama Watch, this is going to be a lengthy drama." Brock cautions.

"As in more than 52 episodes?" Delia is puzzled. "That's a new one..."

"While not entirely unheard of, some dramas like this take more than a year to finish." Brock explains. "The record goes to 'Noble Heart', a Ransei drama that took ten years to finish. Taki could possibly break that record if what I'm hearing is true."

"Hey, 'Trivia Maze' is on!" Ash calls. The last thing the group hears before the channel changes is the announcement of the next episode's title: "Next Chapter: Taki's Capture!"

To Be Continued...

19th April 2012, 7:32 PM
Episode 2a: Taki's Capture (part 1)

"What do you think this episode will be about?" Dawn asked as she lead the way downstairs.

"Taki gets captured by some monster or creature, and Oichi, the Pokemon, a Legendary, or some combination thereof will save her." Brock explains. "Ransei has a bewildering array of beings of the dark to choose from, so the real question is not what the episode will be about. What we should be asking is what Taki's gonna get snatched by."

"Yeah--the second episode of a Ransei drama is usually the heroes being captured by one monster or another." Ash adds as he carries in a few bags of chips. "If it's not that, it's the heroes being asked to kill a monster, which may also result in a capture." He let that hang as he made sure all his chips, cakes, and other snacks and drinks were accounted for.

He finally settles on the couch as the map of Ransei appeared on the screen. "A long time ago, the kingdom of Ransei was a peaceful and prosperous land." the narrator begins. "Then, one of the empress' top generals, Nobunaga, deposed her, forcing her to go into hiding." As the narrator is speaking, we see a black haired man in ornate black, gold and purple plate shoving a black haired woman in an ornately colored kimono-like outfit to the ground. When we see the woman again, she is wrapped in a blue cloak and fleeing on a Ponyta as hundreds of armored warriors pursue her on Rapidashes.

"Overnight, Ransei was split into 17 rival kingdoms, each with their own leader that in turn reported to Nobunaga." the narrator continues as the map of Ransei splits into 17 pieces. "If any questioned Nobunaga's rule, their village would be destroyed at the hand of Zekurom, the Black Thunder." The camera then zooms into one section of the map, where a screaming crowd rushes to flee a giant black fox dragon. "Many tried to rebel against Nobunaga's harsh rule," the narrator intones as a man rushes to try and attack the majestic Pokemon. Zekurom looks up from leveling a house, spots his attacker, and fires a Thunderbolt in the man's direction. "but all attempts at rebellion have failed." The clang of the unlucky man's sword landing in the ground next to his body punctuates the narrator's point.

The omnious scene zooms back out to the map of Ransei and zooms into a tinier section of the map, where Taki walks down a road with an Eevee at her side. This time, Oichi and her Jigglypuff are with her. "Now, a young girl from the tiny kingdom of Aurora attempts the perilous journey to Aiiro City, where Nobunaga rules with an iron fist." the narrator explains as Taki sits down to rest. "Can she unite the 17 kingdoms and restore the rightful empress to the throne? This is her story..." At this, Taki and Oichi look up at the sky and the title appears in Japanese-esque letters over an orchestral swell.

"This is it, guys..." Brock reminds the Pokemon to settle down as the opening credits roll.

"Pika pika pi pikachu?" Pikachu asks as he takes his seat.

"Of course I'll tell you when it's safe to look again." Brock assures Pikachu before focusing on the screen.

"Chapter 2: Taki's Capture!" Ash reads the title card before opening a snack cake.

The scene fades in to Taki and Oichi on a road not far from their hometown. "Do you know where Ignis is, Oichi?" Taki asks as she tries oh-so-hard not to laugh at Niru and Vina racing each other down the road.

"Well..." Oichi pauses to dig a map of Ransei from her bag. "If we follow this road, we will have to brave the Haunted Pass, and then climb Great Raikou Mountain to cross into Ignis."

"The Haunted Pass?" Taki swallows hard. "Mother always told me stories of demons that ambush travelers there--that's how it got the name."

"DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!!!!!!" Brock adds his own dramatic stinger for effect, never mind that the background music is calm and peaceful. The Pokemon, meanwhile, find Brock's impromptu stinger hilarious, and laugh until Ash motions for them to calm down.

"Don't worry, Taki--it is said that music tames the savage beast, after all." Oichi assures Taki before taking her harp and playing a calm melody along with the background music. Jasa jiroh heh na sah...jasa jiroh heh na sah... she sings.

"We'll be coming round the mountain when we come!" Ash sings along, never mind that Oichi's song is a completely different tune. "We'll be coming round the mountain when we come! We'll be coming round the mountain, we'll be coming round the mountain, we'll be coming round the mountain when we come!

"We'll be off to save the region when we come!" Brock joins in as the scene fades to a map of Ransei, with the group's route symbolized as a red dotted line.

"We'll be off to save the region when we come!" everyone else chimes in. "We'll be off to save the region, we'll be off to save the region...."

"We'll be off to save...the region..." The music shifting to a minor key interrupts the sing along. Oichi has put her instrument away, but she is still singing as she and Taki enter a forest filled with scraggly trees.

"Pika..." Pikachu comments as Taki glances around at the trees in fear.

"Yeah--minor key means trouble." Ash agrees.

"Here it is, the Haunted Pass." Oichi notes.

"I-I hope you have a weapon, Oichi..." Taki stammers. An otherworldy screech makes her jump, but when she whirls around to face the intruder, nothing is there. "I have a sword..."

"...and I have a bow." Oichi assures her friend. "Passing through here is foolish, if not deadly, without one."

Some wolf-like shadows run through the brush in an attempt to catch the group, their eyes making a spooky emerald glow in the forest. The girls don't even notice the creatures are there, but Taki grows more and more nervous with every step.

"Didja ever get the feeling you were being watched?" Ash deadpans. Nervous giggles fill the air.

A growl startles Taki, but as she draws her sword and prepares to fight the intruder, she is suddenly knocked to the ground by a humanoid wolf-demon! She throws the demon off and darts away as more wolf-demons emerge from the shadows!

"Are those werewolves?" Delia asks as Taki grapples with the wolf-demons.

"Not exactly--demons like these appear in some Shinou tales, and typically hang around in mountains as well as forests." Brock explains. "They are vulnerable to anything sharp." An arrow killing a wolf-demon illustrates his point.

Ash, meanwhile, as more interested in giving the others a play by play of the battle. "Oichi's killed two so far, but it's three against one!" he notes as Taki deals with three wolf-demons. "What's this? The Pokemon have joined the battle!" Delia stifles a giggle as her son's enthusiastic commentary as Niru rams a demon into a tree. Vina Doubleslaps another before throwing her hapless target into a pack of six wolf-demons.

"There's no end to these guys!" Brock comments in character as Fox.

Dawn laughs at Brock's amazing impression. "That pretty much sums up my sentiments too." she giggles as Taki kills another demon. Her bemused face turns to shock as a wolf-demon trips Taki, making her fall! A second wolf-demon binds her arms and legs, and the pack of demons starts back into the woods.

"Aw man, not now!" Ash pleads. Oichi's panicked scream of "TAKIIIIIIIIIII!!!! is the last thing he hears before the scene fades out to commercial.

24th April 2012, 7:06 PM
Episode 2b: Taki's Capture (part 2)

"Pini?" Happini asks as a commercial for a toy comes on the TV screen. "Hap pini pini pi Hapi?"

"Are the monsters going to eat Taki?" Brock is surprised at the question. "Of course not--Oichi is Taki's friend, and friends help each other when one is in trouble."

"Yeah, Oichi will find a way to save her friend." Dawn agrees.

"Either that, or Taki will find a way to escape." Ash suggests. "Or a Legendary will save her." He chomps into some chips as the TV announces We now return to 'The Legend of Taki'

The scene comes up on Taki--her legs and arms bound in ropes--as she stares at the ground. "You captured too?"

Taki looks over to find a boy slightly older than her next to her, only his arms are free, and his legs are bound. "Why are only your legs bound?" she asks as she works to free her arms.

"The demons caught me trying to escape, and here I am in this cave." the boy replies. "They typically eat their prisoners, and they were going to have me for dinner next, but I think they've changed their minds..."

Piqued, Taki scoots over to a crack in the wall, where she can overhear a few wolf-demons talking.

"Why do you not want to eat the boy? Human meat is so tasty!"

"If we're going to attack his village, we need him alive! Besides, I prefer female human meat..."

"Isn't the girl reserved for the king?"

"She is, she is, don't worry..."

Taki freezes in fear--if she ends up dinner to a pack of wolf-demons, Ransei will never be united, and Nobunaga will remain as ruler!

"How'd you get in here?" The boy's question snaps her back to reality.

"Oh, I was caught in an ambush--you?" Ash comments in character as Taki. Pikachu giggles at Ash's spot on impression.

Taki suddenly spots her sword lying by the boy's feet. "Hey..."

"What is it?" the boy asks, forgetting about his question.

"Got any chips?" Brock answers as Taki. Ash just hands the bag of chips to Brock, allowing him to have a share. The Pokemon giggle at this.

"That's one way to get attention." Dawn smiles, amused in Brock's impression.

"If I didn't say something, Ash would eat them all." Brock explains before turning back to the TV screen.

My sword...can you reach it?" Taki asks.

The boy grabs the sword's hilt and Taki's bag and gives them to her. "Here are your things. Are you going to cut us loose?"

"Before I do, I want to tell my Eevee I'm okay." Taki replies over the noise of demonic chatter. before finding her flute from her bag. "Niru, listen to the song in my heart."
With that, she plays a sad melody that echoes into the woods.

"I'm surprised the demons didn't hear Taki!" Dawn gasps in amazement.

"They were chattering a lot, and judging from the size of the crowd of demons, they were making enough noise to drown out anything Taki and her friend were doing." Delia explains.

"Including Taki playing her flute?" Ash asks as he quickly copies down the notes to Taki's song onto musical staff paper.

"Including Taki playing her flute." Delia replies as the scene changes to Oichi and the Pokemon frantically searching for any trace of Taki.

"Taki!" Oichi desperately screams. "Taki, where are you?"

"Jiggly!" Vina calls into some brush.

"Veevee!" Niru calls. He is about to give up, when he hears a familiar flute in the distance. "Veevee!"

"What is it, Niru?" Oichi asks.

"Veevee, ee vee ee!" Niru points in the direction of the cave.

"Taki's in there?" Oichi thinks a moment. "If that cave is really a wolf demon's den, we'd need more help than just the three of us..." She sighs and takes her harp. "But we can at least assure Taki we heard her message." With that, she plays a calm melody. Taki, te ful , un te rise li ul un..."

A swirl of leaves gets Oichi's attention, and Celebi appears. "I have heard your pleas to save your friend, so I am going to help you."

"Thank Arceus--He sent Celebi to help us save Taki!" Oichi cries as she hugs Vina. "How are we going to save Taki?" she asks Celebi.

"Listen, and I will tell you what to do." Celebi motions for Oichi, Niru, and Vina to gather around him, where they begin discussing their plan.

Back in the cave, Taki cuts the ropes binding the boy's legs. "Do you have any belongings with you?" she asks.

"Just my hunting dagger." the boy replies. Taki nods, finds a small knife on the floor, and gives it to the boy. "You're a moyo, aren't you?"

Taki nods. "Niru is my Eevee--we were on our way to Bokuso with my friend when the demons ambushed us and caught me. We tried to fight them off, but Niru and I were seperated. Since our hearts are bonded, I can speak to him through my flute. The more you play for your Pokemon, the stronger the link."

The boy smiles. "I hope your friend heard your song too...but I'll do what I can to help both of us escape!

"And if we do die in the struggle, we'll have gone out fighting!" Taki agrees as she prepares for the battle.

To Be Continued...

26th April 2012, 5:56 PM
A/N: I found some English place names for Pokemon Conquest, so I'll be adding those in previous episodes.

Episode 2c: Taki's Capture (part 3)

Ash thinks for a moment as a soap commercial comes on the TV. If Taki and her fellow captive are going to be fighting at the same time as Oichi and the Pokemon, wouldn't that lead to unecessary bloodshed? Or worse, someone is killed in the struggle?

"Everything okay?" Delia's voice snaps him from his thoughtful trance and she brings him his dinner for the evening.

"What are you thinking about so hard?" Brock is just as curious.

"Remember what we saw before we went to commercial?" Ash asks. "Taki and the boy are planning to overrun their captors and escape. At the same time, Oichi and the Pokemon, guided by Celebi, are coming to save them. My main concern is what will happen when the two parties meet."

"If you're worried about either Taki or the boy accidentally dying at Oichi's hand, that probably won't happen." Dawn assures Ash. "Oichi's likely trained at the bow hard enough to know who is a friend and who is a foe."

"That, and she has Celebi on her side, and Celebi would never intentionally hurt anyone that was a friend." Delia adds. "I imagine the two groups meet up and combine their power--two people won't take down a whole pack of wolf-demons on their own." She lets that hang as the TV announces We now return to 'The Legend of Taki'.

"All right, let's review the plan." Celebi begins as he leads Oichi and the Pokemon through some brush. "When we enter the demon's den, I will enhance your Jigglypuff's song so that it puts all of them to sleep. Your job will be to find your friend and any other captives with her."

"Understood." Oichi assures Celebi. "Ready to sing, Vina?" she asks her Jigglypuff.

"Puff!" Vina smiles.

"Just don't draw all over the demons, okay?" Brock adds in Oichi's voice, making Ash snicker at the memory.

Celebi leads the way into the cave, where she spots Taki and the boy looking into a large and open room, where a crowd of wolf demons is dancing around an unlit pyre. A girl in a red kimono-like outfit is tied to the pyre, but the demons are so engrossed in their dance, they don't know about her fruitless struggle to get free.

"Taki!" Oichi whispers, waving to get her friend's attention.

Taki looks to see who called her name in the corridors. Her determined expression turns to joy when she sees Oichi, Celebi and the Pokemon. "You came!" she laughs as she hugs Oichi. She then addresses the boy. "This is my friend, Oichi."

"Nice to meet you." the boy smiles. "You gonna help us take down these demons?"

"Actually, we won't need to do any fighting at all--I have a better idea." Celebi assures the boy as he lays his hands on Vina, making her gain a green aura.

"Okay, Vina....sing!" Oichi begs.

Jigglypuff, jiggly... comes the familiar hypnotic melody, which now has taken the form of a green sparkling wave. Jigglypuff jiggly. The captured girl watches in amazement from her pyre as the demons around her, at the table of dark fruits to the left of the pyre, guarding her, the demon king, and his servants, all fall asleep.

"Amazing--Celebi strengthened Vina's song!" Taki gasps.

"and it didn't affect that girl either!" the boy agrees.

"Now, see? There was no fight after all." Delia tells Ash.

"I'm a little disappointed..." Ash muses. "All that setup, and no fight?"

"Don't look at me--I'm not one of the writers." Brock assures his friend. "Although if this were me writing the drama, I would've included some form of a fight."

"Like taking out the demon guards and freeing the girl?" Dawn asks.

"That's one way to go about it, plus you could just take out the demon king." Brock continues. "The gang could escape while the demons were busy finding out who killed their leader or one of their number."

Something dawns on Ash. "Then again, Celebi probably wanted to avoid bloodshed; so fighting wasn't a good idea." He entertains the thought as he studies the TV screen.

The girl gasps as Taki unties her. "Who...who are you? Are you a friend of Kenta's?" she asks, gesturing to the boy.

"She was held with me, Nara." Kenta explains as the group hurries out of the cave. "We were going to attack the demons, but then her friend arrived with Celebi."

The group runs through the brush for a moment, but then a howl is heard in the distance. "Oh no..." Taki groans.

"They must've woken up from Celebi's spell!" Kenta gasps. Sure enough, a mob of wolf demons is running in their direction!

"There's your fight, Ash..." Delia smiles as Oichi makes the first shot. Nara then slaps another with a large fan, while Kenta kills a third with his dagger.

"Besides, would they REALLY have been able to escape without a fight, never mind Celebi's spell?" Brock asks as Celebi heals a gash on Taki's leg. Taki then proceeds to stab a wolf demon in the chest, making it knock over two more as it dies. Oichi shoots another, buying Niru time to ram into a wolf demon trying to grab Nara.

"They sure fooled me!" Ash chuckles.

"Dramas often like lulling you into a false sense of security like that." Brock cautions as Celebi sends a swirl of glowing leaves at more demons, allowing Kenta to behead one and Oichi to kill two more. "So things may not be all they seem."

Nara slaps two wolf demons surrounding her, then throws a third off her back. Taki, meanwhile, cuts a branch from a tree as she flees the wolf-demons pursuing her, blocking the wolf-demons path to get to her. The wolf demon king spots Taki running to meet the others and barks an order to the remaining demons.

"Try and slay the king!" Kenta suggests. "Maybe with their leader fallen, they will retreat!"

Oichi nods and readies an arrow as the pack of wolf demons and their king approach.

The group watches as Oichi readies her shot in slow motion. She fires in slow motion a few seconds later.

"Obligatory dramatic slow motion." Brock explains to Dawn as the arrow flies in slow motion towards its intended target.

When time speeds up again, the other wolf demons gasp as they hear their king's dying scream. They begin running away soon after.

"You did it, Oichi!" Taki cries as the wolf demons retreat.

Kenta and Nara put away their weapons as the group returns to the main road. "We know not where you travel, friends, but may Arceus guide you on your journey." Kenta begins as he hugs Taki.

Celebi nods. "I will fly on ahead to Great Raikou Mountain and have someone there to guide you." he assures Taki before disappearing in a swirl of leaves.

"Thank you, Celebi!" Oichi calls as Celebi disappears. "and thank you both." she adds before hugging Nara.

"Veevee!" Niru is elated to see Taki.

"With help from some new friends and Celebi, Taki and her companions managed to escape the demons of the Haunted Pass and continue on to Great Raikou Mountain." the narrator begins over Taki and Niru's joyful embrace. "But Taki also understood that Ignis lay just beyond the mountain, and there, her first encounter with one of Nobunaga's men." A sillhouette of an armored man appears over the scene of Taki and her friends walking into the sunset.

"So, who's in charge of Ignis?" Dawn asks as the closing credits roll.

"This guy..." Brock shows the group a picture of a man in a beige, red, brown and orange set of armor and a gold helmet. "His name is Hideyoshi, and he mainly likes the Chimchar line." An image of Hideyoshi with a Chmchar on his shoulder from the preview proves his point.

"That picture matches the sillhouette at the end perfectly!" Dawn gasps.

"Another common thing dramas will do is hint at important characters in sillhouette before they are formally introduced." Brock explains before allowing Dawn a closer look at the picture.

"I can't wait to see how Taki deals with Hideyoshi!" Ash smiles as the TV announces Next Chapter: Taki's Arrival!

To Be Continued....

1st May 2012, 7:15 PM
Episode 3: Taki's Arrival (part 1)

"Okay..." Brock begins as he settles on the couch with Happini. "We know that this week, Taki meets one of Nobunaga's generals, Hideyoshi, for the first time."

"I wonder what he'll do once he finds out Taki is in the area..." Ash wonders as he arrives with chips, cookies, and other treats.

"If he likes fire types...." Dawn starts.

"And the Chimchar line..." Brock reminds her.

"Maybe he could turn a wild Infernape loose and burn down the village she's hiding in?" Dawn suggests. "Infernapes have been known to burn entire towns down if they're angry enough..."

Happini tugs on Brock's shirt sleeve. "Pini? Ha pini Hapi pini pini?"

"What about Taki's mama and daddy? I'm sure they're still alive." Brock assures Happini as a "Coming Up Next" bumper fades out on the TV.

The map of Ransei is next to appear. A long time ago, the kingdom of Ransei was a peaceful and prosperous land." the narrator begins. "Then, one of the empress' top generals, Nobunaga, deposed her, forcing her to go into hiding." As the narrator is speaking, we see a black haired man in ornate black, gold and purple plate shoving a black haired woman in an ornately colored kimono-like outfit to the ground. When we see the woman again, she is wrapped in a blue cloak and fleeing on a Ponyta as hundreds of armored warriors pursue her on Rapidashes.

"Overnight, Ransei was split into 17 rival kingdoms, each with their own leader that in turn reported to Nobunaga." the narrator continues as the map of Ransei splits into 17 pieces. "If any questioned Nobunaga's rule, their village would be destroyed at the hand of Zekurom, the Black Thunder." The camera then zooms into one section of the map, where a screaming crowd rushes to flee a giant black fox dragon. "Many tried to rebel against Nobunaga's harsh rule," the narrator intones as a man rushes to try and attack the majestic Pokemon. Zekurom looks up from leveling a house, spots his attacker, and fires a Thunderbolt in the man's direction. "but all attempts at rebellion have failed." The clang of the unlucky man's sword landing in the ground next to his body punctuates the narrator's point.

The omnious scene zooms back out to the map of Ransei and zooms into a tinier section of the map, where Taki walks down a road with an Eevee at her side. Oichi and her Jigglypuff are beside her. "Now, a young girl from the tiny kingdom of Aurora attempts the perilous journey to Aiiro City, where Nobunaga rules with an iron fist." the narrator explains as Taki sits down to rest. "Can she unite the 17 kingdoms and restore the rightful empress to the throne? This is her story..." At this, Taki and Oichi look up at the sky and the title appears in Japanese-esque letters over an orchestral swell.

Happini takes advantage of the opening credits rolling to ask another question. "Pi Hapi pini pi pini, pi pini?"

"Probably in the dungeon in Aiiro City, if Nobunaga didn't kill them already." Brock replies. "They did say they didn't like Nobunaga ruling, after all."

"And Nobunaga doesn't like it when people say they don't like him ruling." Delia adds before turning her attention back to the TV, where the opening credits are finishing.

Ash reading the episode title card gets Happini's attention. "Chapter 3: Taki's Arrival!"

Inside a dungeon somewhere in Nobunaga's palace, Taki's parents glumly study what little view they have of Aiiro City through the small barred window. "I don't understand..." Taki's father sighs. "All I wanted was to peacefully protest the taxes Nobunaga planned to impose on us. Because of the actions of many, he punishes a few."

"I hope to Arceus Taki is all right..." Taki's mother agrees as she brushes away a tear.

"See?" Brock assures Happini. "Taki's mama and daddy are okay." Happini heaves a sigh of relief.

I'm sure she's okay..." Taki's father assures his crying wife. "I have trained her in the way of the blade, and she has the oracle and Oichi to look after her. Maybe she is on her way here to save us and the hundreds of others that Nobunaga has wrongly imprisoned."

"But how? Aurora is a long way from here." Taki's mother sobs.

"We have a brave daughter...I'm sure she will find a way here." Taki's father replies before embracing Taki's mother.

Meanwhile, in the throne room, Saizo bows before Nobunaga. "We've found the ringleaders of the attempted revolt...shall we take them to the gallows?"

"No..." Nobunaga replies. "I know that they have a little girl they cherish very much. Maybe if we killed her in their place, they would be willing to talk about where the Empress is."

"That's a wonderful idea!" Saizo smiles. "I have received word from Kai that a little girl matching the guard's description of her is headed for Ignis..."

"Inform Hideyoshi and his men to keep watch for her, and detain her immediately when she arrives." Nobunaga orders.

"Yes, milord!" With that, Saizo whispers something to a messenger, who copies down Nobunaga's order on a scroll.

Happini gasps as the scene fades to Taki and Oichi on the pass to Great Raikou Mountain. "Pi pini ha pini Hapi?" she worries.

"Well, if Taki dies, we won't have a story left." Brock explains.

"And if Taki doesn't die, her mom and dad won't die either." Ash agrees. "They're using the threat of her dying to try and get her mom and dad to tell them where the rightful queen is."

On screen, Taki and Oichi are on their way through the pass when a growl gets Taki's attention. She is about to draw her sword to attack the approaching Raikou, but is relieved as the Raikou attacks a guard instead.

"It's true...Celebi did tell the Raikous here we were coming!" Oichi gasps in amazement.

"Of course--Legendaries mean what they say, and say what they mean."" Ash assures the TV.

"We know of your quest from Celebi, little ones." the Raikou explains as a female Raikou and her cubs begin eating the meat on the fallen guard's corpse. "But Nobunaga is aware of your journey as well, and will stop at nothing until both of you have died. The warlord in charge of Ignis posted these guards here in hopes to end your journey before it even begins."

"What can you tell me about him?" Taki asks as another male Raikou invites her to climb on its back. Vina, meanwhile, is having a conversation with a Raikou cub. Niru is nearby, playing "chase" with another cub around a tree.

"He has a fondess for fire, and so has many fire Pokemon." the Raikou explains. "One of them, a Chimchar named Kaji, is his closest companion."

"But how are we going to do battle with a warlord when all we have is an Eevee and a Jigglypuff?" Oichi asks as she climbs on her own Raikou.

"If you sing the song in your heart, more Pokemon and humans will want to rally to your cause." Taki's Raikou replies as the Pokemon bid their new playmates farewell. "Let us go now, before more guards arrive."

With that, the two Raikous dash off down the mountain path. Many more Raikous line the paths, keeping a watchful eye out for Hideyoshi or his troops.

They do not, however, see a young boy in ninja garb hiding in some tall grass, watching as the two Raikous race by. "We found them, Kyodo." he notes. "Go inform Master Hideyoshi that they are headed for Kinsaka." The boy's Scraggy nods, and darts into the grass over a tense riff.

To Be Continued....

3rd May 2012, 7:10 PM
Episode 3: Taki's Arrival (part 2)

Happini gasps as a commercial for macaroni and cheese comes on the TV. "Pini ha pi pi?" she asks.

"Yes, that was one of Nobunaga's spies." Brock replies. "But a Raikou can easily outrun a Scraggy."

"You'd think the Empress has spies of her own keeping tabs on Nobunaga." Dawn muses.

"That would be cool!" Ash cries. "Maybe he--or she--could help Taki and Oichi on their adventure?"

"Hap pini pini ha..." Happini muses as the TV announces We now return to "The Legend of Taki"

The Scraggy runs into a grassy field some hours later, where a Chimchar is waiting. As the two Pokemon converse, an orchid haired girl clid in a dull red and fuschia outfit watches from the roadside aboard a Liepard. "I'd know that Scraggy anywhere, Kuro." she muses to the majestic purple leopard. "It's the pet of one of Nobunaga's spies."

Kuro gives a bemused whine, curious to know more. "Aiiro City's been on the hunt for the daughter of the ones that tried to start a revolt in Jyumou." the girl explains. "He has probably already told Hideyoshi to arrest her on sight. Our mission is to find this girl and protect her from Nobunaga."

"Wait--who's this girl?" Dawn asks as the girl and her Liepard sprint down the road.

"Remember how you said that the Empress had spies of her own?" Ash asks. "This girl could be one of them."

"One of them, in disguise." Brock adds. "The bad guys, you can tell a mile away they're a spy. The good guys, on the other hand, do their part to keep their spy identities a secret."

"You there! State your business in Kinsaka!" a guard demands, making the girl's Liepard screech to a halt.

"I come in peace, good sir. I'm merely a humble shijin--a teller of tales and singer of songs." the girl explains.

"The how do you explain your pet?" The guard isn't so sure.

"Kuro was a gift from Nobunaga, as thanks for pleasing him with a ballad telling of his greatness." the girl lies.

The guard thankfully buys the girl's lie. "If you've pleased the great Nobunaga, then you may pass here." he smiles. The girl nods and rides off. The guard doesn't know that there is a marking of a blooming lotus hidden under the girl's left arm guard--the marking of the Empress!

Back with Taki and Oichi, their Raikous let them off on the roadside leading to the town. "Thank you, Sir Raikou." Taki replies.

"You're most welcome--may Arceus bless you with a safe journey." the Raikou replies before he and the other Raikou bound off down the road, leaving Taki, Oichi, and their Pokemon alone.

"Kinsaka's just this way." Oichi assures her friend. They walk right past the guards and into the bustling town. At first, Taki is awed by the majestic buildings in the city, but then her attention turns to the people crowded around her and gawking at her sword.

"Ohmigod, is that mithril?" Dawn comments in character as a teenaged girl, bemused at the crowd's fascination at Taki's weapon.

"Someone's come to deliver us!" a man calls.

"She has a sword, surely she can slay the great Charizard on Luna Mountain, like the shijin say!" a woman agrees.

"K-k-kill a Charizard?" Taki is unsure about the comments. "I don't know if my powers are strong enough to tame a Charizard, much less kill one..."

"Meanwhile, in Hideyoshi's chamber..." Brock sets the scene as the Chimchar from earlier scampers into a majestic mansion somewhere in Ignis and enthusiastically chatters to the man from the episode preview, who is studying the dispatch from Nobunaga.

"What is it, Kaji?" Hideyoshi asks as he sets the scroll aside. He listens as his Chimchar chatters some more, supplementing his squeaks and squawks with an elaborate pantomime.

"Okay, there a man--no, a girl..." Ash tries to make sense of the Chimchar's frantic gestures. "Heading this way...she has a sword....don't kill her...Nobunaga wants her alive..."

The girl wanted by Nobunaga is in Kinsaka?" Hideyoshi guesses. The Chimchar nods yes. "Where in Kinsaka is she?" The Chimchar makes an "I-don't-know" gesture, making the group laugh. "Maybe I could lure her out with the Charizard that lives on the mountain..." he sneers. The Chimchar climbs on his shoulder and snickers deviously in agreement.

Meanwhile, the orchid haired girl arrives in Kinsaka aboard Kuro. "Arceus bless you, Lady Chiyome!" a man calls as Kuro bounds through the crowd towards the town square.

Taki and Oichi watch as Kuro races by. "Wow..." Taki is awed by the Liepard.

"That girl must be a shijin!" Oichi declares.

"How do you know?" Taki asks, confused.

"She had a leather case on her back..." Oichi explains. "Whether it holds a tikin, a fukiashi, or a bansi, I don't know."

"Pini? Hapinipi?" Happini is unsure what the first two instruments Oichi mentions are, but the memory of Ash's bansi is fresh in her mind.

As the TV displays a long panorama of Kinsaka, Brock reaches for a few sheets of paper. "The tikin and fukiashi are two more instruments from the ancient Gekijou orchestra." he explains before drawing a tikin first. "Imagine a fiddle with a round bottom, a sound hole like a guitar, and just three strings." he explains as he draws the exotic instrument. "Instead of putting it under your chin, you balance it on your knee."

"Happini pini pini?" Happini asks.

"You could call it an itty bitty cello." Brock smiles, pleased at Happini's analogy. "The fukiashi, meanwhile, is similar to a harmonica in that you blow into it to make sound." he explains as he begins drawing the fukiashi's distinctive metal pipes. "The difference? The reeds are inside all these metal pipes. So you blow in here..." Brock pauses for a moment to compare his drawing to a picture of a real fukiashi, then makes the mouthpiece on his drawing slightly larger. "and cover the holes on the metal pipes to get notes." Happini nods as she admires the finished fukiashi drawing.

"It's getting interesting again, so wind up the educational part!" Ash warns as the panorama of Kinsaka fades to Chiyome in the town square. Taki and Oichi are also present, interested in what the shijin will tell.

Chiyome, meanwhile, takes the leather case from Kuro's back and carefully lifts the tikin and its reed bow from inside. Once she has tuned the well loved instrument, she begins a festive melody in an effort to attract listeners.

Happini, meanwhile, is mesmerized at the tikin's mellow, voice-like sound. Ash, on the other hand, watches in amazement as Chiyome's fingers fly across the tikin's three strings.

Once her song is complete, Chiyome acknowledges her applause. Taki then calls out from the crowd "Do you know the tale of the shining Ponyta, Lady Shijin?"

"Indeed I do, miss." Chiyome replies as she sets the tikin and bow on a slab of rock. "There was once a man who lived in the wood with his only daughter--let us call her Hikari, for she brought her father much light and joy--and a Ponyta whose mane shone blue like a sapphire...."

"Obligatory flashback-back-back...." Ash tries to mimic an echoy voice as the scene of Chiyome telling the story swirls into a scene of a forest, where a man in a deep blue robe is loading some wood onto a Ponyta's back. Unlike most Ponytas, this Ponyta has a blue aura around it from its cream fur and shining blue mane.

"Hikari had a treasure of her own, a comb that belonged to her mother." Chiyome narrates as a girl in a purple floral print robe joins the man outside, combing her hair with a sakura blossom comb. "Hikari was of age to be married, but her father didn't want just anyone to marry her."

"Hikari...whoever guesses your name will be your husband." the man tells the girl. "Each one will have three tries."

Hikari nods. "The one I love will guess my name in one try." she confidently declares as she hugs her father.

"Awwwww...." Ash comments on the touching scene.

"Many a man came to the house, but not one could guess Hikari's name." Chiyome narrates as a man guesses "Sakura?", only to be sent away.

"Miyako?" another man guesses before he too is sent away.

"Rena?" guesses a third man. He too is sent away.

"Word spread throughout Ransei, and before long, a boy named Takuya, who Hikari secretly loved, heard of the challenge." Chiyome narrates as a black haired boy in a dull green swordsman's tunic walks through the woods. "He whispered Hikari's name again and again so he would not forget it."

"Hikari...Hikari...Hikari..." the boy repeats in time with his walking.

The tikin appears in the music with a tense flourish as the scene shows a Haunter watching Takuya. "What Takuya didn't know was that a Haunter was hiding in the forest, and heard his beloved's name."

The scene suddenly snaps back to the present as a Charizard's roar is heard in the distance. Most of the crowd scatters, only barely escaping the stream of fire from the giant orange dragon's mouth. Several houses, however, are not so lucky.

"Couldn't the Charizard have waited for the shijin to finish before it attacked?" Oichi wonders as the crowd flees.

"Forget manners, we need to get out of here!" Taki calls. But before she and Oichi can flee themselves, they hear a ring of weapons being drawn--Chiyome now holds a dagger in each hand, silently staring down the Charizard and daring it to attack her!

To Be Continued...

8th May 2012, 6:23 PM
Episode 3c: Taki's Arrival (part 3)

Dawn is stunned by the turn of events. "No way! Chiyome is an assassin, not a minstrel?""

"I wouldn't call her an assassin--remember the blooming lotus hidden on her sleeve we saw earlier?" Brock asks as Chiyome delivers two slashes to the Charizard. Happini hides her eyes in fear, but Brock just pets her gently to reassure her that the battle raging onscreen is not real.

Ash thinks back to the drama's opening sequence--in the scene where Nobunaga shoves the empress to the floor, there is a similar looking lotus blossom on a banner in the throne room. "Say...suppose Chiyome is a spy for the empress, sent to help Taki and Oichi?"

"There's an idea..." Delia muses as Chiyome jumps out of the way of a Fire Blast.

Taki and Oichi watch in awe as Chiyome fights the Charizard. "Amazing! No shijin can fight like that?"

"What if she's one of the warlord's cronies?" Oichi worries.

"Relax, if she were a warlord's retainer, she wouldn't be protecting us." Taki assures her friend.

"Trying to bring ruin on the very land you're supposed to protect?" Chiyome asks as she attacks again. "Know this..." She jumps out of the way of the Charizard's claw before continuing. "Your master will soon fall before a great hero, and the seventeen kingdoms will become one again!" The Charizard roars and charges at Chiyome, but Chiyome braces herself. Seconds before the Charizard attacks, she jumps into the sky and calls "Rising Braviary!" before throwing her two daggers at the Charizard, making two deep wounds in the dragon Pokemon's tough skin before embedding themselves in the cobblestones in the town square.

After retrieving the daggers, Chiyome next shoves the Charizard away and steps back, throwing the knife at one of the orange dragon's majestic wings. "Arbok's Fang!" The Charizard howls in pain and tries to fly away, but its wounded wing hampers its speed.

Oichi runs up to Chiyome. "Who are you, really? You are a skilled warrior!"

Chiyome looks around for a moment. Once satistfied that none of Hideyoshi's men nor any of Nobunaga's spies are watching, she shows Taki and Oichi the lotus blossom on her sleeve. "I am the loyal servant of Akina, Empress of Ransei."

"So you're one of the Empress' spies?" Taki asks.

Chiyome nods before retrieving her tikin and her bag. "My cover as a shijin allows me to freely move throughout the kingdoms and gather intelligence without Nobunaga and his goons having any clue."

Taki gives Chiyome a little bow. "You have my deepest gratitude for saving me and the town."

"And mine as well." Oichi agrees.

"Where is Her Grace now?" Taki asks. "Nobunaga has unjustly captured my parents, and now his men are after me too."

"Although I am sworn to secrecy about where she is now, know that she is not in one location, but has a network of safe places scattered throughout the kingdoms." Chiyome explains before noticing the townsfolk. "All is well--the Charizard is gone for good."

The crowd roars at this, and dancing erupts in the streets.

"You were right, Ash!" Delia is impressed. "Chiyome was a spy for the Empress!"

"Okay, you can look now." Brock assures Happini. Happini uncovers her eyes and smiles at all the dancing on the screen. Pikachu bounds up next to her and offers her a Pecha Berry.

"Next question--how is Hideyoshi going to react when he finds his Charizard wounded?" Dawn muses as the scene fades to a cave somewhere in Ignis.

"Your Highness...this is the girl Nobunaga wants to kill so badly." Chiyome begins as she brings Taki before the woman from the opening. "With your permission, I would like to go with her and her friends on her quest to defeat Nobunaga."

"My heartiest welcome to you, brave one." Akina smiles. "Might I know your name?"

"My name is Taki, Your Grace, and this is my friend Oichi." Taki replies as she bows before Akina. Oichi smiles before she too bows.

"It turns out Hideyoshi was using the holy Charizard of Luna Mountain to bring terror on the border towns, and flush Taki out of hiding. If she or her friend dies, it will be impossible to return to Aiiro City." Chiyome cautions.

Akina nods to show she understands before addressing Taki. "Nobunaga wishes you dead in hopes your parents will tell him where I am hiding. He will stop at nothing to achieve this. Having Chiyome by your side will be a great help for you, as she knows much of battle."

"Where is Hideyoshi now?" Taki asks.

Akina, however, is more interested in Taki's flute. "Such fine craftsmanship...who made this for you, little one?"

"My father--it was a birthday gift for me." Taki replies as tears well up in her eyes.

"Cue the sappy "I-miss-my-parents" flashback..." Ash sighs as Akina places an arm around Taki.

"Your tears are justified, Taki." Akina begins. "But there may be a peaceful way to spare the generals that follow Nobunaga..."

"How, Your Majesty?" Taki asks as she wipes the tears away. "My power as a moyo is not very strong yet..."

"But just as you allow Pokemon to hear the song in your heart, human hearts are just as open to a moyo's song." Akina explains. "The generals Nobunaga placed in charge of the kingdoms only did so because they are believing Nobunaga's lies about wealth and power, not by their own choice."

"That means they need to hear the song in your heart to realize the error in their ways, and fight on your side." Chiyome adds. "Deep down, Hideyoshi and the others wish for Lady Akina's return, but Nobunaga's lies blind their vision, and so they follow him on pain of death." She pauses to unroll a map of Ignis. "Hideyoshi's palace lies in the town of Doruhono, in the center of the kingdom. From here, travel to the Phoenix Shrine, then continue going northeast until you cross Mt. Akegata, then head northward."

"A great sword master trains on Mt. Akegata, so he should help hone your fighting skills." Akina adds.

"It's decided!" Oichi cries. "We leave for the Phoenix Shrine tomorrow, and ask Moltres for protection on our quest."

Akina smiles. "Come, Chiyome--have you a new song for me?"

"Yes, my lady." Chiyome nods, retrives her tikin, and begins a hypnotic melody. Taki joins in on her flute and Oichi on her harp, making the song become the ending theme.

Ash stretches as the credits roll. "So now we've seen the Empress..."

"Thank goodness she's okay..." Delia smiles. "Some dramas don't reveal the central figure until the very end."

"I wonder, could Taki and the others be walking into a trap?" Dawn worries as she checks the TV listings for another show.

"What maks you say that?" Brock asks.

"I mean, that Charizard was wounded, so Hideyoshi's going to learn about it, find out where Taki and the others are headed, and trap them in the shrine." Dawn explains.

"Learn about it and find out where they're going, yes." Brock notes as he studies the scene of Taki and Oichi exploring a temple in the preview. "Trap them in the shrine, no."

The next episode's title proves his point: Next Chapter: Taki and the Mystery of the Phoenix!

To Be Continued...

10th May 2012, 9:35 PM
Episode 4a: Taki and the Mystery of the Phoenix (part 1)

"Why do I get the feeling we're about to have a lot of filler?" Ash complains as he brings in his snacks for the week.

"Why do you say that, Ash?" Delia asks, concerned.

"If this is supposed to last 52 episodes, we can't show every last place Taki and her friends visit." Ash explains. "Some of it's going to have to be cut!"

"Then again, it's no hard and fast rule that every drama has to be exactly 52 episodes." Brock reminds him. "Besides, filler fleshes out the world and the characters..."

"That, and this episode is not completely a filler--they were told to go to the Phoenix Shrine by the Empress herself." Delia adds as a "Coming Up Next" bumper fades out, followed by the map of Ransei.

A long time ago, the kingdom of Ransei was a peaceful and prosperous land." the narrator begins. "Then, one of the empress' top generals, Nobunaga, deposed her, forcing her to go into hiding." As the narrator is speaking, we see a black haired man in ornate black, gold and purple plate shoving a black haired woman in an ornately colored kimono-like outfit to the ground. When we see the woman again, she is wrapped in a blue cloak and fleeing on a Ponyta as hundreds of armored warriors pursue her on Rapidashes.

"Overnight, Ransei was split into 17 rival kingdoms, each with their own leader that in turn reported to Nobunaga." the narrator continues as the map of Ransei splits into 17 pieces. "If any questioned Nobunaga's rule, their village would be destroyed at the hand of Zekurom, the Black Thunder." The camera then zooms into one section of the map, where a screaming crowd rushes to flee a giant black fox dragon. "Many tried to rebel against Nobunaga's harsh rule," the narrator intones as a man rushes to try and attack the majestic Pokemon. Zekurom looks up from leveling a house, spots his attacker, and fires a Thunderbolt in the man's direction. "but all attempts at rebellion have failed." The clang of the unlucky man's sword landing in the ground next to his body punctuates the narrator's point.

The omnious scene zooms back out to the map of Ransei and zooms into a tinier section of the map, where Taki walks down a road with an Eevee at her side. Oichi and her Jigglypuff are beside her, and Chiyome rides on her Liepard at Taki's left. "Now, a young girl from the tiny kingdom of Aurora attempts the perilous journey to Aiiro City, where Nobunaga rules with an iron fist." the narrator explains as Taki sits down to rest. "Can she unite the 17 kingdoms and restore the rightful empress to the throne? This is her story..." At this, Taki, Oichi, and Chiyome look up at the sky and the title appears in Japanese-esque letters over an orchestral swell.

"Pika pika pikachu?" Pikachu asks as the opening credits roll.

"I don't know--you don't want to have too many characters in the party, because then it gets harder to develop them all." Brock replies."Granted, some series have pulled it off, but you really have to know what you're doing."

"Besides, three is a suitable number for traveling parties--six if you include Niru, Vina, and Kuro." Dawn tells Pikachu. Pikachu nods in agreement at Dawn's answer, then steals a sponge cake from Ash as the screen displays Taki, Oichi, and Chiyome approaching a majestic temple.

Here we are, everyone." Chiyome explains as she climbs off of Kuro. "The Phoenix Shrine, dedicated to the firebird Moltres."

"It's beautiful!" Taki cries as we see a closer shot of the temple, complete with a red wing-shaped flame symbol on the highest spire.

"Ha pi?" Happini points out the symbol.

"The Wings of Fire, a symbol that has long represented Moltres in legend." Brock replies.

"Welcome travelers." the high priest smiles as the girls enter the shrine. "What brings you to Moltres' roost at this hour of the night?"

"We only wish to rest here before continuing to Hideyoshi's palace." Chiyome replies.

The high priest is shocked at Chiyome's reply. "Surely you do not plan to take on the warlord alone?

"Believe it!" Ash replies, but Dawn shoots him the "I-am-not-in-the-mood-for-your-dumb-commentary-so-be-quiet" look.

"Oh no...I am not the one to challenge Hideyoshi..." Chiyome explains, gesturing to Taki. "This is the one."

"What makes you, a young girl, worthy enough to challenge a seasoned warrior like Hideyoshi?" the high priest asks, still confused.

"I am a moyo, and feel that opening Hideyoshi's heart to Nobunaga's lies would unite Aurora and Ignis." Taki explains. "If I have to fight him first, so be it."

"Your peaceful solution is applauded, but a warlord enjoys fighting, and Hideyoshi is no exception." the high priest explains. "Use your song well, and others will rally by your side to fight against him."

Oichi, meanwhile, notices the high priest is troubled about something. "What's the matter?" Is something wrong?"

"I have received a troubling prophecy as of late..." the high priest replies as he lights some candles on an altar. "In my dreams, I see the shrine consumed in ashes, only to rise anew like Moltres. On top of that, I fear one of my disciples is plotting treachery."

"So a traitorous disciple is the shrine going up in smoke, but what does the part about rising from the ashes mean?" Chiyome thinks a moment.

"Taki and friends save the shrine?" Brock suggests.

"A new shrine is built?" Ash muses before Dawn eyes him again.

"Alas, I am no oracle or prophet, so I cannot interpret the dream completely." Chiyome sighs. "We have traveled far, and need the rest."

"Then come--I will show you to your rooms for the night." the high priest replies as two acolytes in red robes arrive in the room. "You will join us at our table as Moltres' guests for dinner tonight."

"Thank you so much." Taki gives the high priest a little bow before following the acolyte into a long hallway.

"Vee!" Niru smiles before running to catch up with Taki.

As Taki heads down the hallway, she overhears a group of disciples talking. "Okay, let's go over the plan again--once we are all called to the dining hall, plant the fireworks by the column. Set them off when the high priest blesses the meal.

"Right!" another voice replies.

"With the high priest and the other disciples occupied putting out the fire, you take the girls." the first voice continues. "The rest of you, come with me into the treasure vault--we'll make a fortune hawking these off in the marketplace!"

Taki gasps at the conversation--is it possible that she and the others have walked into a trap?

To Be Continued...

15th May 2012, 7:38 PM
Episode 4b: Taki and the Mystery of the Phoenix (part 2)

Dawn gasps as a commercial for makeup comes on the screen. "The high priests' fears are true--does that mean Taki and her friends are caught in a trap?"

"Of course not." Brock assures his friend as he pets Happini. "If anything, they'll do their best to stop the plot."

Ash, meanwhile, gets up from his seat and starts upstairs. "Hey, Ash--the show's not even over yet!" Dawn protests.

A whistle playing a familiar song snaps Delia to attention. "Isn't that what Taki played for Niru back in Episode 2?" she asks as Ash settles back onto the couch, a gold tin whistle with a green mouthpiece in his lap.

"Sounds like it, except for a botched high note." Brock agrees.

"Can't quite get the high G clean." Ash explains before improvising a tonguing exercise featuring the troublesome note.

His practice session is cut short by the announcer. We now return to "The Legend of Taki"

Taki dashes into the room where Oichi and Chiyome are resting. "It's true! Some disciples are plotting against the high priest!"

"Calm down, Taki--what exactly are they plotting to do?" Chiyome asks.

"They're planning to plant fireworks in the dining hall and set the temple ablaze." Taki explains. "Then, while the high priest and the other disciples are busy putting out the fire, they plan to capture us and steal the holy artifacts in the treasure vault."

"Should we warn the high priest?" Oichi asks.

"It probably wouldn't hurt, even though he already suspects a plot." Chiyome replies before noticing Niru batting at a firecracker. "Get away from there!"

"Niru!" Taki pulls Niru away seconds before a stray ember from the fireplace lights the firecracker, making it streak out of a window and into the sky.

"That was close." Brock muses as the firecracker explodes into the shape of a Charmander face.

Be careful what you play with, Niru--some things are dangerous." Taki warns Niru as Oichi brushes some ash from his fur.

"Vee." Niru replies.

"What was that explosion?" the high priest asks as he dashes in the room.

"My Eevee found a stray firecracker and tried to play with it." Taki explains.

The high priest stoops down to Niru's level. "Not everything is a plaything, little one." he cautions. "Fireworks are very dangerous, and not to be played with. You're fortunate only your fur was singed."

"Ee..." Niru sighs.

"Speaking of fireworks, we overheard a few disciples plotting to set off fireworks in the dining room." Chiyome explains.

"Then we will cut their plot down before it has time to go into motion." the high priest declares. "If you can disarm any fireworks you find here, I will allow you to see some of our sacred treasures in the vault."

"We would be honored." Taki replies before picking up another firecracker in a corner. Oichi finds a few more in a hallway, and Kuro delivers several more, which a disciple carries to a storage room.

Dawn thinks a moment as the girls work. "They're picking up any visible fireworks...but what if the treacherous disciples hid a few where they can't see nor get to?"

"Like?" Brock presses Dawn for more information.

"Those flowers on the wall--easy place for smoke bombs and firecrackers." Dawn explains as she points out some flower decor at the tops of the walls.

"Typical shells could be hidden as nuts in a fake fruit basket." Ash adds.

"Not to mention rockets could be concealed in the torch holders." Delia suggests as the scene changes to Chiyome delivering another pile of fireworks to a disciple as the high priest looks on.

"Here it is...every last one." Chiyome informs the high priest.

"Good--come with me to the treasure vault." the high priest smiles.

The scene fades to a large room filled with magical items of every shape and size. "This is the Belt of Sapphire Illusion." the high priest begins as he shows the girls a silk belt studded in many tiny sapphires. "It is said to protect the wearer against water."

"What's this?" Oichi asks as she admires a gold censer.

"That is the Censer of the Conjurer." the high priest explains. "Unlike most censers, which are used to make offerings, this one is said to summon spirits into this world."

"Wow..." Taki gasps in awe.

Chiyome laughs as a book flies around her playfully. "I think the book likes me!"

"Ah, the Animated Tome." the high priest smiles. "A book that behaves as a living creature, its personality is affected by those that read it. But it only lets those it deems worthy read the text on its pages."

"Pleased to meet you." Oichi smiles as she pets the Animated Tome.

"Jiggly!" Vina giggles.

"Beautiful!" Taki admires a vest that sparkles in many colors.

"The Glimmering Vest--said to have been worn by a great hero long ago." the high priest replies. "It protected him from all sorts of magic."

Niru, meanwhile, spots a horn with an ornate design in one corner of the room. Try as he might to make a clear note, all he makes is sad sounding blats.

Everyone laughs at Niru's attempts at making music. "The Horn of the Wondrous Archmage, said to have been used to summon Pokemon to the performer's side."

"I can see why!" Taki laughs as Niru romps through the pile of artifacts with a Vulpix and a Pikachu, presumably summoned by the horn.

"Come now...evening draws nigh, and it is time for the evening meal." the high priest begins.

"Say goodbye to your friends, Niru, it's time for dinner." Taki tells Niru as she follows the high priest upstairs.

"Ee vee!" Niru gives the Pikachu and the Vulpix a little bow, then follows Taki out of the room. As Chiyome and Oichi follow, they don't notice a firecracker fuse hidden in another flower on the wall!

To Be Continued...

22nd May 2012, 5:46 PM
Interlude #1: Pre-empted!

The group is on the edge of their seats to see if Taki and her friends will save the Phoenix Shrine, but they are stunned by KNTO's breaking news jingle. We interrupt this program for special coverage of Champion Lance's address to the Unovan League...

"Aw, man..." Dawn sighs. "Why did they have to interrupt Taki for a news report? Now we won't see how she saves the Phoenix Shrine!"

"Usually when things like this happen, I catch what's left of the episode online the day after." Brock assures Dawn as Ash finds a game show on another channel. "In the meantime, I have spoilers for the next few episodes, if anyone is interested..."

"Spoilers?" Dawn is piqued. "You mean, you've found what's going to happen after Taki and her friends save the Phoenix Shrine?"

"Only the next few episodes' titles and brief synopses have been posted on Drama Watch." Brock explains as he reaches for some papers he has printed earlier. "Episode 5: Taki and the Disciple's Treasure...Episode 6: Taki's Courage....Episode 7: Taki's New Song....any of those sound intriguing enough for you?"

"Episode 5!" Dawn calls.

"Episode 7!" Ash suggests.

Brock reads the synopsis of Episode 5 first. "After saving the Phoenix Shrine from traitorous disciples, Taki and friends meet a young appentice whose special robes went missing in the chaos. The thief turns out to be something from Taki's worst nightmares!"

"Yet another monster...whoo-hoo." Ash sighs, a note of sarcasm in his voice. "What are we fighting this time?"

"The synopses don't tell us, but the forums on Drama Watch have a number of theories." Brock replies. "Some say it's going to be a coeurl, but a screenshot showing some kind of Ursaring-like creature has led some to believe Taki's opponent is a behemoth."

"But we won't find out for sure until next week." Dawn sighs.

Brock then reads Episode 7's synopsis. "Taki meets a moyo on the road, who offers to teach her a new song to attract fire Pokemon. But this moyo may not be all she appears..."

"Let me guess, some kind of evil spirit?" Dawn predicts.

"Or another demon?" Ash suggests before turning his attention to the trivia question on the TV.

"What Lovecraftian monster would bristle at the thought of calamari?" the host asks the three players.

"A mindflayer!" Ash guesses, beating the second contestant by a few seconds. He smiles as his guess is proven right--but little does he know that his answer will be proven right again a few weeks later...