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Thread: The Traveler's Tales: A Minstrel's Journey

  1. #1
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    Default The Traveler's Tales: A Minstrel's Journey

    A sidestory to "Pokemon: Magic of a Melody", this is mainly to help flesh out the world of Yoso and provide character development.

    Rated E10+ for fantasy violence.

    The Traveler's Tales: A Minstrel's Journey



    Episode 0: The Journey Begins

    The thump of an instrument case being set on the floor startled me from my sleep. "Master, what are you doing up at this hour?" I sleepily yawned as I watched my companion--a young man about sixteen years old--carrying various items to the small foyer that led to the entrance of our room. It wasn't like him to suddenly be packing for an adventure like this, and certainly not at a time when most of the other residents of Amhran Hall were fast asleep.

    He brought down a bow and a half full quiver of arrows before explaining "Remember that map of Yoso that I showed you the other night?

    "The one that belonged to Marista?" I asked. "With many of the cities and towns marked with a star?"

    "Apparently she marked them that way because she learned new material in that place." Master replied as he combed out his dull brown hair so he looked a little more presentable. "We're going on a similar journey--to honor her memory, see many of the places she did, learn and share new material, and make a name for ourselves."

    "You can't be serious!" I protested. "Such a trip would take months--or possibly years!"

    "Calm down, Kissa..." Master assured me as he lightly petted my creamy yellow fur. "We're only staying in every town long enough to share something we know, and learn something new in return. That may take a day, or it could take a week or a month; but once we've accomplished that trade, we will move on." With that, he stepped behind a changing screen to get dressed.

    "But what if we are not welcomed with open arms?" I challenged--a Persian that spoke was bound to raise suspicion somewhere.

    "Then we will not bother with our trade of songs and stories, and move on." Master replied as he rustled and thumped behind the screen. He emerged some seconds later in his typical costume: a dull red and gold tunic, white leggings, his favorite boots, and a dull red cloak with a silver clasp shaped like a singing Taillow. "However, if someone there requests a favor of us, I will take exception and stay there anyway. In fact, if anyone in a town asks us a favor, we will help them in return."

    I was still unimpressed at the pile of items in the foyer. "You're not taking all of that, I hope..."

    "I am not." Master assured me before gathering up a tent and camping gear and setting it on my back. "Camping gear in case we have to take shelter on the road..." He then set a sword in a black sheath decorated with leaf designs on his right leg. "The Mystical Sword of Colors, to defend myself should we run into trouble..." Next came the bow with jeweled inlays and the now filled quiver. "The Bow of Runesong, for hunting and a second weapon should my sword or spells fail." Finally, he slipped a small instrument case inside his cloak and set a larger one on my back. "Of course, we can't forget the Harp of Divine Elements and the Goddess' Whistle" he smiled as he showed me the tiny silver flute with the vaguely star shaped rune representing Anima, Goddess of Light nearby the mouthpiece before returning it to its case. "That's everything...we're off!"

    With that, we strolled from our room, through Harmony Square, and out onto the path leading towards the north, just as the sky began lightening with the dawn.

    I had no idea that this was just the beginning of a journey that would take us to the farthest corners of Yoso and back again.

    But I looked up and saw the smile on Master's face--he was ready for whatever challenges and hardships we would encounter on our way, and he would meet them all with his trusty Persian--me!--by his side.

    To Be Continued...

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    Sorry, for the short review, but I have to use my phone at the moment.

    I was kind of suprised that this went without a review for a while, but I guess that happens.

    I liked it, but there was one major factor that held it back. There just was to judge it by. I understand this is a prologue of sorts, but there just wasn't enough that happened to judge anything by. I didn't see any actual problems, but I can't see what you do well as there wasn't much to go by. That aside, there was also a lack of description, but that would mostly be a result of length. I also realize this is a side story, so it doesn't require as much detail or explanation as a normal story, but there was still very explanation as to what anything was, which is normally a problem.

    Beyod that, I didn't actually see any problems, but there wasn't much to go by.
    The Flash Drive of Champions: Backgrounds

    There are many reasons to journey in the Pokemon World. It turns out that banishment, Bond Villains, unbeatable rivals and being forced to attend one dance too many are among them.

    File 2.5 is up. Gela literally puts on a show for the world to see while elsewhen her world is shattered beyond repair.

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    Believe me, I'll get a LOT more explanation, description, and the like done in Episode 1. But, as I was planning out the next episode of Magic of a Melody one day, I realized that the world I created for that (Yoso) needed fleshing out, so Brock and Kissa were the best candidates for this sort of journey. Mind you, some of what you see here will turn up as character development in the main story.

    I also got some ideas from the anime "Kino's Journey" (Brock's challenge of only spending as long as it takes to share some material and learn material in return, not stopping in unfriendly places unless someone asks for their help, and doing good deeds for others)

    So in short, Episode 1 should hopefully resolve your concerns, and we'll get some action going.

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    Episode 1: The Town of Donathal


    We did not have to go far to reach our first town--Donathal was just eastward of the hall, and was only a hour's journey. It wasn't long before the wooden walls of the town came into view, with guards posted at the sturdy iron gates with an emblem of a running Arcanine painted on them that were embedded in the middle of each side of the wall.

    "What brings you and your pet here this fine morning?" the guard at the south gate asked as we approached.

    "I am merely a teller of tales and singer of songs, and wish to share my talents with the people." Master replied.

    "Very well..." the guard replied, and motioned for the lookouts in the gatehouse to open the gate. "Be sure and keep yourselves out of trouble." he cautioned as the iron gate opened with a creak, allowing us access.

    "You have my word." Master smiled as we strolled onto the cobblestone streets, only to balk at the sheer array at the amount of paths availiable to take. In addition to three routes leading north, there was one heading west, two more going east, and two paths each going northwest and northeast. It was a vexing dillema: which one of all these paths led to the town square?

    "Which path should we take, Kissa?" Master asked me.

    "If you be looking to perform in the inn, Sir Minstrel, take the western path." a woman suggested before disappearing down the second path leading north.

    "Actually, let's take the first north path." I suggested before bounding down the path, passing a large building with a sign of a Pikachu sillhouette headbutting a Treecko slillhouette--the sign of a Pokemon arena. Fortunately, a duel was not to be held that day, or I would've been mired in the many hunters and trappers that would've been there placing their bets on which Pokemon would emerge victorious. While I could hold my own in battle, I wanted nothing to do with being entered in a duel. Many times, they were often rigged to whatever Pokemon the mayor favored, bilking many paying customers from their hard earned gold.

    I was still musing about the arena when we emerged in the square some minutes later. It was relatively quiet, with the occassional hunter off to deliver his pelts or a housewife hurrying to the marketplace amongst the myriad of flowers and trees that surrounded a fountain of Anima, Goddess of Light. I took a moment to breathe in the scent of the Cheri and Oran trees that wreathed the square--spring was definitely in the air!

    A familiar bird song snapped me to attention--a Taillow was perched in a tree in front of the fountain, singing a joyful song to the sun. I started to approach, but soon felt a hand on my back--Master's. "No, Kissa...look there." I looked again and noticed a yellow ribbon around the Taillow's neck. "If you caught that Taillow, I'm sure its owner would be very sad." he scolded. I sighed and made myself comfortable in a grassy patch by the fountain, watching the townsfolk come and go and listening to the Taillow sing its praises to the sky.

    Inspired, Master took his harp and began tuning up, prompting the Taillow to fly down from the tree and land on the left arm of the Anima fountain. It kept a wary eye on me, but for the most part, observed Master carefully and quickly tuning, as if wondering what song he was going to perform when he was ready.

    Once tuned, Master began playing a melody reminiscent of flowing water, complete with playful runs up and down the scale with an ocassional chord to punctuate it. The Taillow just sang right along, oblivious to those stopping to listen to the song or drop a coin or two in the harp case.

    "Oh, there you are!" came a young girl's voice. The Taillow gave a contented peep, then fluttered to the shoulder of a young girl running to meet it. "I was looking all over for you, silly birdie." she giggled as the Taillow decided to try and make a nest in her reddish brown hair.

    "Is the Taillow your pet, miss?" Master asked.

    "Yes--her name's Sirena, Sir Minstrel." the girl replied as she coaxed the Taillow to her shoulder again. "My name's Aylen, by the way." she added as she set down the basket of bread she carried on her arm and brushed a few crumbs from the orchid dress she wore. "My mom and dad run the bakery in town."

    "A pleasure to meet you both, Lady Aylen and Lady Sirena." Master smiled before running a finger over a few strings. "I am Sir Brock of the Amhran Hall, and this is my pet, Kissa."

    Aylen knelt down to pet me for a moment. "I may not have any milk for you, but maybe you'd like some bread?"

    "Oh, no thank you..." I yawned--I had had a filling meal of fish just before we had arrived, so I was not hungry.

    Master chuckled at Aylen's shocked face. "Surprised that Kissa can speak the words of humans? That's because the Archmage's Tiara atop her head grants her that power--that and the ability to carry heavy loads and cast some simple spells."

    "You must've made a powerful mage very happy with your songs and stories to get such a treasure." Aylen replied. "No surprise, since Sirena always sings when a minstrel is in town." The Taillow peeped in agreement. "She must enjoy your harp, judging from how she sang earlier."

    "If she heard the harp of the Goddess, I can only imagine how she would sing." Master smiled as he began playing the song of Marista Laire--a song he played to honor her memory and signal to an audience that it was time to hear a tale. Sirena gave a bemused chirp, but Aylen motioned for her to quiet down. "It is said that long ago, when the gods finished creating the world, they decided which of them would rule as their leader. Each of the gods and goddesses made their case to the others, but when all was said and done, it was decided that Anima would rule the heavens by day, and her lover Dorcha would watch over the world by night."

    "For without light, there is no darkness, and without darkness, no light." Aylen repeated the last line of the Prayer of the Circle, which told a concise version of the myth of Anima and Dorcha. "But why is it that the priests say darkness is bad, if there is a god that rules darkness?"

    "Dorcha is the good side of darkness, that created the night and shadows so the world could rest." I explained. "The bad side of darkness is the Lord of the Underworld, Kione, who causes the pain and suffering of this world." Aylen nodded to show she understood as Master played a soft interlude.

    "But among all the wondrous items the gods owned, none was like Anima's harp--the Harp of the Holy Evoker." Master continued. "It was made of pure gold, with precious stones and ivy inlaywork, and when Anima played it, amazing things happened--the seasons changed, the sick were healed, and the dead lived again, to name a few of the powers it held. If the world was in danger, Anima had to merely play a single chord to rally all in the heavens and all on the earth that could fight to battle. Once that battle ended, She would play a calming song that healed wounds, comforted those that had lost someone in the fighting, and inspired those still living."

    "Wow..." Aylen gasped, impressed.

    "The Dark Lord Kione was jealous of Anima and the Harp, and constantly thought of ways to take it for himself." Master continued. "So one day, while Anima was away tending to matters in the heavens, some demons broke into Her house, stole the Harp, and hurried as fast as they could to a large cave somewhere on the eastern edge of the world. Their reasoning was that while all the gods were preoccupied with finding the Harp, they would destroy the gods with their own music. Confident that the gods would not think to look on the eastern edge, they sealed the cave entrance and feasted and celebrated their successful heist."

    "They forgot that Lady Anima sees everything!" Aylen giggled.

    "Suddenly, the demons heard the crack of their seal being broken, and gasped when they saw Anima at the entrance to the cave." Master continued. "Anima then comanded..."

    "Come to me, instrument that evokes dawn, and sing a song of light." I interjected in an older female voice--the way I imagined Anima to sound.

    "The Harp heard Anima's command and flew into Her hands." Master continued before playing a soft, yet sad melody of his own. "She then began playing a quiet melody that evoked sadness, making all the demons burst into tears. Those that tried to comfort their friends soon burst into tears themselves--all the demons cried so hard and for so long, they had no strength to even stand."

    "And then?" Aylen asked.

    "When the last note died, the demons took up their weapons and charged at Anima, but she began playing another melody, this one a rousing jig." Master continued, changing his tune to "The Beautifly". "This time, the demons began giggling and dancing in pure happiness, making their weapons clatter to the floor and their wine spilled. But the demons did not care, they laughed and danced until the last note faded away."

    Sirena decided to sing along with the harp once again, making a crowd gather around the fountain, interested in the tune and the Taillow singing. No matter what they had been doing--the trappers in their leather work clothes hauling pelts to be delivered, housewives on their way to market, and even the children playing games in the square--all dropped what they were doing to listen to Master's performance.

    "And then what happened, milord?" a man spoke up as Master concluded "The Beautifly".

    "Once they had calmed down, the demons huddled together, eager to find out how to get rid of the Goddess of Light." Master continued, acknowledging the newly formed crowd. "While they were all talking, Anima played a gentle melody that evoked nostalgia, putting all of them to sleep." He played a brief lullaby to illustrate this. "She returned to the heavens once sure that all the demons were asleep, and the gods congratulated Her for being so clever. But no demon ever tried to steal the Harp again."

    "That's because She put it somewhere where demons couldn't find it after that!" Aylen mused, making the crowd laugh as they dispersed, some dropping coins in the harp case as they departed. "I have a tale for you too, if you're looking for new material..."

    "We would be honored if you told it for us." I smiled.

    "That is why we're traveling across the land, to share the stories and songs we know, and learning new material in return." Master explained to Aylen. "So please, tell your tale."

    Aylen cleared her throat, then began "Long ago, nearby a village whose name is lost to us, the fairies that guarded the village came out from their hiding places to gather dew long before the people of the village awoke, led by their queen, Papillion. Suddenly, they heard a great roar that shook the earth and saw a red plume of flame coming from the forest. When they went to get a closer look, they saw what the noise was--the great Dragonite that had brought terror on the village for several months."

    "Mm-hm..." Master motioned for Aylen to continue.

    "The fairies had heard the villager's rumors about the Dragonite, but had never seen him. Now, he was rearing up on his scaly orange legs, daring a knight that stood before him to challenge him." Aylen continued before grabbing a stick lying by her foot. "A great battle broke out, and the fairies cheered their hardest for the knight." She pantomimed fighting something to illustrate this. "But as the sun rose, the fairies saw that the knight was gravely wounded--his face had been burned, and his armor ran red with his blood." At this, she feigned falling to the ground wounded. "The fairies gasped in fear as the Dragonite reared up to deliver the fatal blow, but with the last of his strength, the knight plunged his sword into the Dragonite's heart, killing it." She grabbed the stick and pantomimed stabbing something with it.

    "You'd make a fine minstrel with how well you act." Master smiled. "Then what happened?"

    "Papillion flew to the knight's body and saw he was breathing still, although his breaths were very weak." Aylen continued. "So she ordered the other fairies to bring him some water of life from the Dream Spring, which only the gods, fairies, and spirits know about. As each fairy made their delivery, they hung their ivory glass to dry on a blade of grass and kept watch as little by little, the knight was revived. When they saw that the knight's wounds had gone away, the fairies heard the villagers waking up, and hurried away, leaving their glasses behind. Those glasses became lilies, and every spring, they bloom in memory of the brave knight and the fairies that saved him."

    Master applauded at the tale's conclusion. "Bravo! That was a fine performance."

    "My pleasure, Lord Minstrel." Aylen smiled. She waved goodbye as we gathered our things and started off towards the marketplace to gather supplies for the next leg of our journey.

    I will always remember her smile and Sirena singing as Master played his harp. Even now, every time he plays, I swear I can hear that little Taillow's song on the wind.

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    Well, I'm not very good at single chapter reviews, but I'll try to do something. There was much, much more detail than the prologue, which was a good thing. However, I never really got a grasp of what differentiated the town from any other, but I guess that's ok. Beyond that, you wrote Kissa's perspective very well, which was nice. Other than that, it will be interesting to see how a number of self-contained episodes work together into a single storyline. Just wanted to let you know I'm still reading.
    The Flash Drive of Champions: Backgrounds

    There are many reasons to journey in the Pokemon World. It turns out that banishment, Bond Villains, unbeatable rivals and being forced to attend one dance too many are among them.

    File 2.5 is up. Gela literally puts on a show for the world to see while elsewhen her world is shattered beyond repair.

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    I will work on describing the towns more, that's for sure--but I don't think I did too badly for a first try.

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    Episode 2: An Encounter on the Road to Whitespell

    We left Donathal the next morning in high spirits--despite there not being any sign of civilization past there until you reached Whitespell, a temple of Anima close to the pass leading through Mt. Arian. The innkeeper was more than happy to let Master perform, and he had eagerly earned dinner for himself, fish for me, and a room for both of us singing songs and spinning tales.

    But now we were on our way through the forest leading to Whitespell, and besides the trees, the Taillows and Pidgeys in the trees, and the other forest Pokemon romping about, we were the only living beings on the road.

    It wasn't long before it started to get hot, and the camping gear and Master's harp case began feeling like a large boulder was on my back.

    Even Master felt the heat as he collapsed into the grass. "Perhaps we should stop and wait for it to cool down." he sighed as he wiped his brow and make himself comfortable against a tree. After resting his weary feet for a moment or two, he took the tent from my back and began pitching a makeshift camp.

    After pitching the tent and making sure the cooking pot and spit were accounted for, Master asked. "Can I count on you to catch a fish so we can have a quick lunch?"

    "You have my word." I smiled, and dashed off northward into the grass towards the sound of flowing water. Master went off to the west, in search of wood for the fire and wild Berries to accompany our meal.

    We both returned some time later with a grand feast--Master with a bewildering array of Berries and me with five large Goldeens. Master then started the campfire, and we both prepared and enjoyed a hearty lunch.

    Suddenly I heard footsteps approaching our camp in the distance. "Who's there?" Master called, reaching for his bow and readying an arrow to fire at the potential intruder.

    "Peace, Sir Minstrel--I only wanted to know if you could share your feast with a guest." a young male voice assured us. I looked up to see a yellow haired boy about Master's age approaching with some pieces of wood and a carving knife.

    Master sheepishly put his weapon away. "My apologies, lad...I thought you were a wild Pokemon or a bandit." he confessed as he invited the boy to sit by the campfire.

    "Kayu, please." the boy assured us as I brought him some of our leftover Berries. "I carve instruments to sell in Mavi, and was on my way home when I found your camp."

    "Sir Brock of Amhran Hall." Brock smiled. "and my pet, Kissa."

    "A pleasure to meet you, Sir Kayu." I smiled.

    Kayu smiled as he admired my tiara. "Pleased an archmage with your skill with music and story, didn't you?" he mused as he petted me. "If only I were not a mere apprentice--then I'd be happy to sell my instruments to all who wanted to play them." With that, he picked up an almost finished fiddle and began stringing it. "So what brings you this way, teller of tales?"

    "We're currently on our way to Whitespell Temple to share our skills with the clerics there." Master replied. "But we'd be happy to share a story or a song for you, if you desire."

    Suddenly, Kayu spotted the star-like flower design on the harp case--the marking that all of Marista's apprentices bore. "You were trained under the great Marista Laire?" Master nodded. "Such a shame she died as she did..."

    "I know..." Master agreed, brushing away a tear that formed in his eyes. "But had she not given herself, it would have been me eaten by the Mightyena that killed her."

    "You must miss her very much." Kayu noted as he finished stringing the fiddle and started to tune it.

    "Oh yes..." Master replied. "That is part of the reason why I'm traveling--to see the world as she did long ago. Eventually, I want to embark on the quest she never got to go on."

    "Your time to unleash Rainbow Symphony will come soon enough, Sir Brock." Kayu assured Master before offering him the finished fiddle. "Perhaps you would like to try this fiddle out, in her memory?"

    Master was unsure. "I'm not very good at the fiddle yet, but I'll try." After accepting the fiddle from Kayu, he began playing a wistful melody to the trees. Despite some missed notes and forgetting how the B section of the tune went, it was a fairly nice rendition for someone who had only played for nine months.

    "Well?" I asked. "Does your masterpiece sound like you thought it would?"

    "Yes--the first fiddle I made where it actually sounded decent!" Kayu smiled. "For the longest time, I struggled with making fiddles--harps and wind instruments were easy, and lutes were a cinch, but I could never get a fiddle to sound right. Praise Anima for sending me a skilled hand to play it!"

    "The pleasure's all ours." Master replied as I brought the fiddle to Kayu. "You have real talent, and I would be honored to play any instrument you made."

    "As thanks for playing so well, I want to share a tale in return." Kayu continued as we began breaking camp. "That is, if you're looking for new material..."

    "By all means, please do." Master smiled as he finished setting the camp supplies on my back and making sure everything was in order.

    We set out onto the road and walked for a moment, then Kayu began as we turned onto the main road. "Once Saidas, the goddess of ice, took Articuno and flew down to the earth. When she arrived, she saw many bugs looking up at her and her mount in awe, so she said to them 'Greetings--I am Saidas, the weaver of frost.'. The bugs were awed and humbled that a goddess would come to visit them, and eagerly told Saidas all about how they admired her work. Saidas, in return, told them many tales of life in the heavens and all it had to offer."

    "Interesting..." Master was bemused in the odd setup of the tale--normally it was Anima or Dorcha that visited mortals or Pokemon on earth--and even if they visited Pokemon, it was the furred or feathered variety, not the creepy crawly kind.

    "Naturally, many of the bugs wished to go to the heavens, but they also knew that the gods didn't let just anyone in--and that they would likely be punished if they were discovered." Kayu continued. "But one little Caterpie named Yukanna longed to see the heavens, so on the day Saidas was to return, she hid in Articuno's long flowing blue tail. Of course, Saidas was surprised when she found Yukanna, but she grabbed some gold thread, hung it over the edge of a cloud, and beckoned for Yukanna to climb down. Yukanna did so, seconds before the holy guards found her and led her before the Lady of Light, Anima; and the Lord of Darkness, Dorcha."

    "And then?" I asked, swallowing hard at Saidas' fate--although Dorcha was the guardian of the night, he was a wise and just judge, and many tales had him or Anima deciding a dispute. So how would he judge one of his own?

    "Saidas told the other gods that Yukanna had only wished to see the heavens, and nothing more, in hopes she would sway Dorcha's decision." Kayu continued as we neared the fork leading to Whitespell and Arian Pass. "Dorcha thought for a long time, and reluctantly told Saidas that she was to weave frost for two weeks and a day in the northern caves as pennance for bringing a stowaway into the heavens. Although Saidas was just as saddened as Dorcha was, she agreeed to carry out her task, and flew off for the caves aboard Articuno. When she arrived, she set up her magical loom and began spinning--but the thread left for her in the caves was very brittle, and the frost made from that was so then, it melted away within an hour."

    "What about Yukanna?" I asked. "Did she do anything to help?"

    "Just as Saidas was about to give up, Yukanna came and tearfully apologized for getting her punished." Kayu replied. "She wanted to help Saidas in any way possible to make up for what she had done. So Saidas asked if she could bring thread." Master nodded and motioned for Kayu to hurry and finish as the fork came into view. "Yukanna went and rallied all the bugs, and the bugs all brought their finest thread for Saidas to work with, which in turn made for the finest frost anyone in the heavens or on earth had ever seen. Dorcha was touched at Saidas' hard work, and forgave her on the 15th day. Anima also rewarded her as well, and made her the guardian of the evening star. So during the months it is not cold, Saidas also lights the way for Dorcha and Lugia in the form of the evening star."

    "Very fascinating." Master smiled as he applauded. "It isn't often that I hear tales about the other gods..."

    "I learned it from my master back home in Mavi--his stories help me focus on my work." Kayu replies before turning down the path to Arian Pass. "And now we part...may Anima be with the both of you on your journey." he smiled.

    "Fare thee well to you, as well!" Master called as we waved goodbye and continued down the path to Whitespell.

    "You know, I have a feeling Kayu will become a fine instrument maker in his own right." I smiled as the temple came into view.

    "That, and if he tires of making instruments, he can always come to the hall and learn to play them!" Master smiled with a twinkle in his eye.

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    Episode 3: The Temple of Whitespell

    The sun was just about ready to sink below the trees when we arrived at Whitespell--and after our encounter with Kayu, I was more than ready to stop and rest after walking through the forest path for four hours.

    Seeing the small yellow beacon at the top of the small tower adorning the magnificent dome of the main temple flicker to life was a welcome sight after being on the road. It was a small assurance that safety and comfort were just up ahead.
    Master hurried on ahead to the gatehouse and knocked at the door. A hesitant female voice from the other side asked "Who's there?" as I caught up to him some seconds later.

    "Friends seek shelter in Anima's grace." Master assured the young cleric. That was the signal meaning that those requesting access were travelers seeking shelter. Of course, if Master was making this journey by himself, the signal would be "A friend seeks shelter in Anima's grace."

    The large stone door lowered with a creak some seconds later, granting us access inside. It was fairly quiet as we walked along the stone paths to the main temple--not surprising, since the clerics and the apprentice clerics usually had evening prayers at this hour.

    I took a moment to look around as we waited to speak with the high cleric about lodging for the night. The barracks holding weapons and other means to defend the temple were off by the entrance, with the target range close by. A library and study quarters were off to the left of us, and the cleric's quarters and an event hall were off to the right. Normally, any celebrations were held in the event hall, but hosting an event in the apprentices' quarters was not unheard of. More buildings housing apprentices and guests alike dotted the main complex, with the temple sitting in the center of it all. Since it was the hour of evening prayers, the temple was crammed with apprentices and clerics of all ages giving their thanks to Anima.

    Some knelt at the altar, others used prayer rugs, and some just stood where they were, heads bowed. But their purpose was the same: thanking Anima for the day, telling Her their joys and concerns, wishing Her well until the next day, and even a few prayers to Dorcha for protection during the night or wisdom to make a difficult decision.

    As each of the clerics finished their prayers and departed, we made our way inside the temple, where the high cleric was finishing with an offering of incense to Dorcha. You could usually tell high clerics apart from normal ones--they had a band of gold on the trim of their robes, in addition to the green, royal blue, and purple trim.

    Her evening offering complete, the high cleric met us as she let down her dull green hair for the night. "Good evening, Sir Minstrel...what brings you to this holy place tonight?" she asked.

    As Master explained the purpose of our journey, I opted to lie down and study the statues of the Holy Couple and the flickering incense burner before the statue of Dorcha. I had seen paintings of the Lord of the Night and his beloved, the Lady of Light before. Anima was often depicted as a brown haired lady in a yellow and blue gown with ivy print decor, and Dorcha as a young man with long silver hair wearing a silver shirt, a long purple tunic that resembled a cloak, and a belt with a large silver pearl set in the middle. Whoever had made the statues had paid attention to detail--you could even see the folds in the Dorcha statue's braided hair and the ivy trim in the Anima statue's clothing.

    "These are fine statues of Our Lord and Our Lady." I smiled before I started back to Master's side.

    "I'm honored you think so--they were gifts when I ascended to lead Whitespell three years ago." the high cleric replied. "I am also honored to see a Pokemon blessed with the words of humans."

    "Thank the Archmage of the Northern Lodge of Miranai for that." Master replied. "He won't soon forget his thirtieth year of service."

    "I have heard much of your skill, Sir Brock--perhaps you could sing for me, or play a tune or two?" the high cleric asked, ever aware of the sounds of footsteps approaching the hall. "In return, you're welcome to share the tale I'm planning to tell for our evening mediation tonight."

    "I have just the tune." With that, Master took his harp and began a light and playful melody as a crowd of apprentice clerics dashed into the room and made themselves comfortable before the altar steps, paying no mind to the minstrel performing a song in praise to Anima in the center of the room. The acoustics were wonderful--it almost sounded like there were many harps present in the room, all playing the same tune. Once 'Morning Dance' was complete, Master played the song of Marista Laire as the high cleric settled in.

    "Good evening everyone..." the high cleric smiled.

    "Good evening, Lady Ethani..." the apprentices replied.

    "Tonight, I come to you with a simple piece of advice--the gods are everywhere in the world, watching over and tending to their creation." Ethani began. "Sometimes they will even come down to the earth to test our faith--and when we affirm to them our faithfulness, they grant us great rewards in return."

    "But will we know when they are here?" a male apprentice asked.

    "Sometimes yes, and sometimes no." Ethani replied before beginning her tale. "Once Anima came down to the earth and diguised Herself as a poor traveler, hoping to test the generosity of those She met. She first came to the house of a wealthy landowner, and when the woman of the house came to the door, asked if She could stay the night. The landowner's wife sent Her away, unaware that the traveler she had sent away was the Lady of Light. Anima continued along until She came to a small house where a poor widow lived. When the widow came to the door, she welcomed Anima, made a small meal for Her, and gave Her a bed for the night. The next morning, Anima thanked Her host for her kindness and generosity, and blessed her, saying 'The first thing you do today, you will do all day.'"

    "I see some comic potential coming up..." I noted.

    "You're right--I could change the widow's occupation..." Master mused as he kept listening to Ethani's sermon.

    "After waving goodbye to her guest, the widow set to work weaving, and began measuring cloth. She soon found that her bolt of cloth went on for much longer than ten yards!" Ethani continued. "She continued to measure the cloth, until it filled her little house and spilled out onto the path, the fields, and the meadows." Laughter filled the air at this, but Master's was especially loud--he was probably mentally replacing cloth with a messier equivalent, such as bread dough or water. "Eventually the landowner's wife saw the cloth coming down the road and asked the widow how it had gotten that long. The widow told her neighbor about her encounter with Anima, and the landowner's wife vowed that if the mysterious traveler came again, she would welcome her and ask for her own blessing. The widow, meanwhile, earned enough from her massive cloth to not worry about money or food for the rest of her days."

    "But what about the landowner's wife?" a female apprentice asked.

    "Anima decided to come to the earth again several weeks later, and asked for shelter in the same place." Ethani began. "The landowner's wife welcomed her, made her a grand feast, and gave her a comfortable bed for the night. Anima then gave the landowner's wife the same blessing as thanks: 'The first thing you do today, you will do all day'. The landowner's wife bid Anima goodbye, and went to draw water from the well for tea. But, much to her surprise, the water rushed out, flooded the house, and even spilled out onto the road. The landowner's wife cried for help, but as she had never helped others, no one helped her in return. By the time the sun set, she was floating inside the wall of water she had created."

    "And for all we know, she's probably still floating there." Master interjected, making everyone laugh.

    "Do you understand now why you must be watchful when you help someone?" Ethani asked the apprentices.

    "Yeah--the person you're helping could be one of the gods!" a female apprentice replied as the group turned to leave. We took our leave ourselves not long after--we had a long way to go to reach Mavi.

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    Episode 4: The Town of Cilinas


    We left Whitespell early the next morning so we could make it through Mt. Arian before sunset--being caught in a cave full of Zubats was not the most appealing way to spend an evening. Fortunately, the paths through the mountain were clear, and the only Zubats we encountered were hanging over us, fast asleep.

    It was close to noon when we emerged into the sunshine on Cerulean Road, which leads to Mavi. Master took a moment to study his map of the region. "Now...we are right here..." he noted. "and Mavi is right here." He pointed out a larger town several inches away. "Although they look only a few inches apart, it actually takes us two days to get there."

    "Are there any towns in between here and Mavi?" I wondered as I watched some Butterfrees flit about in a nearby field of flowers.

    "Yes--the closest one is the town of Cilinas." Master replied. "We should be arriving there in another hour or two."

    "Good..." I yawned as I got up from my vantage point in the grass. "I'm getting hungry."

    "It isn't much, but have a little bread." Master smiled as he tossed me a piece of one of the bread loaves Ethani had given us before we left. "We'll have fish once we get to town, okay?" I nodded in between bites--the bread was a little crusty from having been in Master's bag for so long, but still very chewy and buttery. Sure, I didn't have bread very often, but it does nicely when you're nowhere near a hunting ground or fishing spot, as we were.

    We did find a river some time later--one that led into Cilinas. Even more amazing was how the river divided up the city into quarters--a far cry from Donathal's labyrinth of streets. The archway leading into town, the guardhouse, some old palaces and temples and residential areas made up the eastern quarter, where we were. In the western quarter, there were more ancient buildings and vibrant gardens surrounding the outskirts of entertainment district. North would take us to the goverment buildings and the mansion of the mayor. Going south would bring us to the shopping and entertainment districts. Master knew I was hungry, so we headed south and into the bustling crowds of people all wandering among the different stalls or haggling over their chosen item.

    "Which way to the closest tavern, or inn?" Master asked a man in line at a fruit stand.

    "Tavern's closed for repairs from that big storm that came through a few days ago." he replied. "The inn's open though, but if you need a drink to prime your voice, Sir Minstrel, you're out of luck." Master nodded and thanked the man before leading the way back into the crowds.

    "Fortunately, you're not the drinking type." I smiled before wincing at an obviously old street sign caked with years of grime on it. "It's funny--the rest of this city is spotless, and yet the street signs are still dirty." The one we were looking at only had "ise" visible in the muck, so whether it meant "promise", "surmise" "demise" or any other word was anyone's guess.

    We decided to leave the dirty signs to the cleaners and strolled into the town square. Unlike the crowded market, it was relatively quiet, save for a few children playing nearby the inn and a young girl probably no older than Master etching a design of a flying Taillow onto a small tablet with a piece of colored rock.

    "That's beautiful..." Master commented as the Taillow's wing began taking shape.

    "I'm glad you think so, Sir Minstrel." the girl smiled as she tied back her navy blue hair. "I've been working on it since this morning, when Father gave me a new slab of stone to draw on. He carves stone by trade, and he will often have pieces of stone left over that are large enough to fit in a small frame, so he gives those to me, and I draw a picture on them." She set aside her drawing and opened her bag, revealing more of the tablets with completed pictures on them. "I've been trying to sell these for a little extra money, but they never seem to sell."

    "I would pay any price for artwork like this..." Master gasped, impressed at a drawing of a Stantler grazing by the river. "You have real talent."

    "Have you thought about why your drawings do not sell?" I asked before I realized we had not properly indroduced ourselves. "Oh where are my manners? I was so wrapped up in our conversation that we never introduced ourselves!"

    "Sir Brock of the Amhran Hall, at your service." Master replied. "And my pet, Kissa."

    "You must be a fine performer to have your Pokemon speak the language of humans." the girl replied. "My name's Kime--my family lives not far from the marketplace."

    "Maybe that's why your drawings don't sell--you have too much competition from the merchants in the marketplace." Master suggested. "That is, of course, under the assumption that is where you try to sell them."

    "It is--in a quiet corner away from the bustle." Kime replied as she continued to work on the Taillow drawing.

    "If you're too far out of the way, customers cannot find you." Master continued. "So location is key."

    "Either my location is bad, or I come out too late to do any business, in between duties at home and making more drawings." Kime mused. "This colored gypsum I'm using to make these drawings comes direct from Mt. Arian, so when the miners bring more stone in from the mountain, I carve off pieces of gypsum in as many colors as I can. This way, I always have the colors I need to use."

    Master then decided to retrieve his harp. "Would you like some music to work by, or perhaps some inspiration?" He asked as Kime colored in the Taillow's wing.

    "Yes please!" Kime smiled as she set out a few more of the tablets with finished drawings. "Play well and I'll teach you one of my picture tales."
    Master finished tuning before speaking again. "Very well...is there any song in particular you want to hear?"

    "I have one, but I can never remember the name." Kime confessed. "It is the fourth dance that the scholar Arran documented in his Compendium of Dancing Tunes."

    "Arran #4 is a tune called 'The Mountain Rover'" Master explained. "It is also known to be played slow under a number of other names, but I'm going to play it as I learned it." With that, he started a march like melody punctuated by playful chords.

    Kime just smiled and continued drawing as Master played, as if the harp was coaxing the Taillow she was drawing to take flight off the stone tablet and into the sky. Some passersby walked by to admire the drawings or to leave us a coin or two in the harp case, but aside from that, the square was quiet.

    She finished the Taillow drawing as the last notes of "The Mountain Rover" drifted away into the sky. "There--another picture done." she smiled as she set the completed drawing with the other tablets. "Your song was just what I needed to finish it." she smiled as she pressed a coin into Master's hand and dug a blank tablet from her bag. "As I promised, a picture tale--so named because I draw a picture as I'm telling a story."

    "Art is not my strong suit, so I probably won't be drawing when I tell it..." Master confessed.

    "It's all right--you can draw a musical picture instead." Kime assured Master as she dug some white rock from a small box holding various pieces of colored rock. "Now...this picture tale is called 'How the Beautifly Got Her Colors'." She began drawing a white outline of a Beautifly as she began. "It is said that when the world was new, Beautifly flew about with plain white wings. Yet, she longed to be noticed, and dreamed of having wings with many colors." She began filling in outlines for the details of the Beautifliy's wings next. "She flitted among flowers asking them how they got their colors, but the flowers said nothing. Beautifly's jealousy of the colors around her grew and grew until she could barely fly."

    "And then?" Master asked.

    "Before I continue, might I ask Kissa to lie down?" Kime asked.

    "All right..." I replied as I sprawled onto the small gray cobblestones that made up the square, waiting to see what would appear next on the stone tablet before me.

    "Meanwhile, Persian was walking along through the forest...." Kime continued as she drew an outline of a Persian looking at the Beautifly outline. "It was the heat of the day, and she was very thirsty." Before continuing with the Persian outline, she drew a river in the background. "Her thirst was so overwhelming she did not know she had accidentally crushed a Rattata's nest, killing three babies." I couldn't help but feel sorry for the baby Rattatas as the Persian outline continued to form, never mind that Persians and Rattatas are archenemies. "The mother Rattata was heartbroken, and despite Persian's pleas for forgiveness, she kicked some mud into Persian's face, blinding her." With the outline of the Persian done, she began filling in details. "Beautifly came passing that way, and after hearing Persian's plea for help, she agreed to help on the condition that Persian tell her how the world got its color. Persian replied that every color came from the earth." The Persian done, she next added in some more trees and flowers in the background. "Beautifly was about to protest, but as she worked at brushing away the hard and caked mud from Persian's eyes, she realized that Persian was right--the earth was black, brown, red, and yellow, the grass a rich green and the sky a clear blue. The world was not something to be envied, but loved."

    "A wise lesson, indeed." Master commented as the background took shape.

    "Persian screamed joyfully when Beautifly brushed the last of the mud from her eyes." Kime continued as she gathered some more colored rocks. "Her joy was so great, the Legendaries came down to investigate because the noise was even disturbing the gods in the heavens. Persian told them what Beautifly had done, and the Legendaries agreed that Beautifly's kindness would not go unrewarded. So they took a new pair of wings and began coloring it with many colors." She began coloring the Beautifly outline as she listed the colors. "Ho'oh started with some gold from the sun, Lugia added in silver from the moon, Raikou added in yellow from the lightning, Moltres gave some red from her sacred flames, and Suicune added in some icy blue. Celebi added in some green from the earth, and Jirachi held it together with some star studded black from the night sky." She then showed us the completed picture of a Persian looking at a Beautifly in a forest. "Beautifly was stunned by her new wings, and promised the Legendaries she would wear them with pride. Since then, the Beautifly soars on colored wings as a reminder of the beauty around us."

    Master applauded at the story's conclusion. "A tale worthy of telling, picture or not."

    "As thanks for your company, I want you to have this drawing to remember us by." Kime replied as she gave Master the finished drawing.

    "You have my word that you will not be forgotten--I will frame this and hang it somewhere prominent. This way, whenever we look at it, we will not forget when we passed this way and met you." Master assured Kime as he hugged her.

    Master has made good on his promise, but I will not tell you where he hung Kime's framed drawing just yet--I have many more tales from our journey to tell you.

  10. #10
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    Episode 5: The City of Mavi


    I woke up the next day to some odd humming and purring noises. But just before I could scratch what I thought was intruder in our campsite, I realized the noises were just Master warming up his voice for another day of performing. Once he had finished humming and purring, he sang his way across several musical scales in his range. Next, he sang a simple melody as he broke camp--the line of "So sound the call, I'm on my way, to find the Crystal of the Sky" tipped me off that he was singing "The Sky Rogue", a fairly simple song about a rogue in search of a crystal that gets help from Rayquaza. It isn't Master's best song, but it is mildly enjoyable, so I don't mind him singing it every morning.

    "Goodness, you're in a good mood today..." I noticed as Master led the way down the path leading to Mavi.

    "Mavi's one of my favorite places to visit." Master explained as the blue-tinged stone buildings of the middle circle came into view. "There's its massive marketplace, it's lovely fountains..."

    "..and a certain barkeep you always have to sing for every time we stop there." I added with a smug grin.

    Master balked, surprised that I had called him out on the real reason we were coming to Mavi. "Well, Clerine's one of the nicer barkeeps in this region, and with her gentle demeanor, I'm surprised the entire legion of Aura Knights hasn't stopped by the Fire and Moon at least once."

    "That, and the Fire and Moon is one of the very few taverns I feel safe in." I reluctantly agreed. I didn't really like going into taverns that much--there were always drunken patrons that made trouble in spite of themselves (the drinks usually have something to do with it). Others would try to sing along with Master and be horrendously off key, and a fight was pretty much guaranteed to break out at least once before the night was over. But if it meant food and lodging for a night, I didn't complain--being out in the cold was much worse.

    I was snapped from my brooding by the familiar crystal door embedded into the front wall of Mavi--the mages there had made an ingenious way to keep intruders out. "Shall I strike the crystal for you?"

    "Please do." Master replied.

    I clamly strolled up to the large blue crystal and swiped at it hard with my claws, making a ringing low G note pierce the air as it glowed. Master hummed the note back easily, making the stone doors rumble open, allowing us inside the outer circle of the city. A crowd was gathered around a group of dancers performing by a fountain. Judging from how similar the dancers' costumes were to depictions of Anima and Dorcha, they appeared to be telling, in movement, the myth of how the Holy Couple created the sun and moon. At this point in the performance, they were approaching the part where Dorcha's pearl (the moon) awakened Anima from a cursed sleep, and her dance causes another pearl to be created--the sun. We found a seat on an outcropping and watched as the dancers began forming a circle around the glowing silver ball representing Dorcha's pearl, and with a triumphant flourish from a flute, the dancer playing Anima appeared in a flash of light.

    "She's good..." Master commented as the dancer playing Anima jumped and twirled around the square, playing a tambourine as she danced. The other dancers playing light spirits circled around her and intermingled with the dancers playing dark spirits as Anima and Dorcha reunited in the center of the circle to conclude the dance.

    "Bravo!" I called as the dancers all took a bow and the crowd began to leave.

    "I wonder if they perform here often..." Master mused as we worked our way around the outer circle and into the next circle--part of the market district and location of the Fire and Moon.

    We wandered through the many stalls selling Tauros skins and Ponyta tack before coming to a large blue tinged building bedecked with a little ivy. A sign depicting a small flame against the background of a full moon hung over the entryway, signalling to passersby that this was the Fire and Moon.

    The tavern was surprisingly empty for it being midday, bar a few Aura Knights playing a dice game at one table, some merchants swapping stories over drinks, and a white haired girl about seven years old in a black robe with blue trim enjoying some cheese rolls with nuts and berries.

    Master waved to get the attention of a sandy haired girl behind the counter. "Oi, Clerine!"

    The girl turned to see who had called and smiled. "Oh, hi, Sir Brock...what brings you here today?" she asked before delivering some ale to an Aura Knight in red armor at the counter.

    As Master filled Clerine in on our journey so far and what had transpired since our last visit, I decided to visit the girl. Judging from the sparse blue trim on her robes, she was merely an apprentice in Mavi's lodge.

    I meowed as she bit into a Cheri Berry, causing her to glance at me. "Hello there, Miss Persian...is your master going to perform for everyone today?"

    "Yes, as soon as he finishes sweet-talking the barkeep." I replied, making the young mage laugh.

    "My name's Soriel, of the eastern lodge of Mavi." the girl replied, unfazed by my ability to speak. "My teacher has a speaking Persian too, but he usually doesn't have much to say to us apprentices. Around the other mages and my teacher, he's quite outgoing--or so I've heard."

    "I am Kissa." I replied. "A pleasure to meet you...do you come here often?"

    "Yes--this place has the best cheese rolls in the world, and is way better than the Grumpig slop I would otherwise get at the lodge." Soriel replied as she finished another roll. "That, and the aura knights are pretty well behaved."

    A harp playing an improvisation around the C major scale snapped me from my conversation--Master was preparing to perform! "Well, I hope you enjoy what my master has planned for today's performance." Soriel nodded and resumed eating her lunch as I returned to a table by the counter, where Master was limbering his fingers to perform.

    "Don't forget your minor scales." I whispered. Master nodded and began a second improvisation in A minor as a few more aura knights entered and made themselves at home by the counter.

    Once the last note died, Clerine called to the crowd "Knights and mages of Mavi! Today a wandering minstrel from Amhran Hall has arrived here to brighten the day with tales and songs, so pull up a chair and listen to what this fine lad has to tell!" Some applause filled the air at this.

    Master acknowledged his applause. "Thank you, kind sirs and ladies...I would like to begin with an exciting tale of a hero saving his beloved from a high tower...hear now 'In the Cards'."

    With that, he plucked a D note in the middle register, humming it back before beginning A hero 'cross the land did race, to a tower, yonder tower; where inside his beloved lies with a fiend awaiting to give chase! This princess was taken by the fiend to the tower, yonder tower; and told she'll marry him that night unless her lover, clothed in light, can triumph over his evil schemes and allow the gods to intervene...

    The crowd listened to the rousing tale of the hero outsmarting an evil magician and his cards of despair intently. As each verse went on, some began to clap, and by the time Master got to the last few verses, many were stomping their feet and clanking their mugs on the tables as well.

    After the applause died down, Master retrieved his harp and began a tense melody. "Now, I wish to sing a tale of a young rogue brave enough to do battle with the Lord of Nightmares..."

    "If you need someone to accompany you, Sir Minstrel..." Soriel interrupted as she hesitantly eased an instrument case close to her and took a lute inside. "I would be honored to play with you while you sing."

    "With pleasure, miss." Master replied as he waited for Soriel to tune her instrument.

    "Do you know 'Outsmarting the Nightmare Lord', lady mage?" an aura knight in green armor asked. "At least, I think that's the tune the minstrel is going to play..."

    "Of course, sir knight--it's popular at my lodge." Soriel assured the knight as she finished tuning.

    When he saw that Soriel was ready, Master snapped a few times to count her off before beginning a soft and tense melody to complement Soriel's rhythmic drone. Some people say that on this isle the Lord of Nightmares dwells, atop a forboding mountain so high, no man can tell. But atop that forboding mountain lies a jewel so unique, no other can compare... Bemused smiles met Master at first as he continued the song telling how a young yet rash thief outwits Darkrai with many comical results on the way, but with each botched plan, the laughter grew louder and stronger until many of the knights were in tears.

    "And now, I'll tell you of a day where every Pokemon danced." Master announced as he set his harp aside and took his whistle, giving Soriel a grateful nod as she slipped a small silver coin in the harp case. "One day, Sorin's uncle gave his nephew a fine bow hewn from a juniper tree and a whistle made of silver." Now normally, Sorin would receive a fiddle in this tale, but many minstrels changed the instrument to whatever they could play or wanted to play, and Master was no exception. "He said to Sorin..." He then switched to a deeper voice. "This bow will not miss, and the whistle will always sound sweet so long as you use them wisely."

    As himself, he continued. "Sorin eagerly set out into the world, and came upon Liepard stalking a Sawsbuck. Sorin offered to help, and proceeded to kill a Sawsbuck clean thrugh the heart. Liepard was amazed by the bow, and pleaded with Sorin to sell it to him, but time and again Sorin refused. They argued for hours, until Ninetales passed that way, interested in the arguement. After hearing Sorin's and Liepard's side of the story, Ninetales suggested that they both travel to see the council of Pokemon, headed by King Entei. Sorin agreed to Ninetales' proposal, and he and Liepard went out to the grove where the council met. They got there just as the council was settling in to hear disputes. King Entei stood in the center, with Donphan and Zebstrika on his left, and Girafarig and Mightyena on his right."

    "And then?" Clerine looked up from cleaning a glass to listen.

    "State your case." Master replied in a powerful voice for King Entei. "King Entei told Sorin." he resumed as himself. "Sorin tearfully pleaded his case to the council--the bow was a gift from his uncle, and Liepard was trying to take it. Liepard claimed that the bow was his, and Sorin tried to steal it. The council debated for a few moments, and Zebstrika finally said..."

    "Sorin, we find that you were the one that stole the bow." I interjected in character as Zebstrika. "As punishment, you are to turn it over to Liepard and pay 5000 Berries as restitution."

    "Sorin requested one thing before turning the bow over to Liepard--to play the silver whistle." Master replied. "Girafarig granted permission, and Sorin began playing a reel--the other Pokemon found the tune catchy, and danced to the song, which sounded something like this." Clerine led the clapping as Master played "The Silver Sword"

    An aura knight in red led the applause before Master continued "Sorin played on, and all the Pokemon danced right along with him, until they all groaned with exhaustion." He then played a set of polkas. When that set ended, the story did as well. "King Entei pleaded with Sorin to stop, and Sorin replied he would only stop if Liepard told the truth.

    Fearful at the prospect of dancing even more, Liepard confessed that the bow was Sorin's all along, and paid the 500 Berry fine for lying to the council. Since then, no Pokemon has ever forgotten the day that the Pokemon danced." The crowd applauded at this.

    "Let's hear your lovely pet sing a tune!" an aura knight in yellow drunkenly replied. His companions roared in laughter at the supposed yowling of mine that was soon to come.

    "You'd be surprised at what Kissa can do, sir knight." Master smiled before picking up his harp and motioning to Soriel to join him again.

    I whispered my choice of song to Soriel, and she gave me a brief introduction before I began singing "Pikachu Went Out to Ride":

    Pikachu went out to ride, gitty-alon, gitty alon,
    Pikachu went out to ride, gitty alon and I.
    Pikachu went out to ride, sword and buckle by his side; mecax, mekary, Ducklett-a-dil, gitty alon and I.

    Emolga will marry me, gitty alon, gitty alon,
    Emolga will marry me, gitty alon and I.
    Emolga will marry me, ask my Pikachu, said she, mecax, mekary, Ducklett-a-dil, gitty alon and I.

    Pikachu, will you marry Emolga, gitty alon, gitty alon?
    Pikachu, will you marry Emolga, gitty alon and I?
    Pikachu, will you marry Emolga?
    Why yes, kind lad, by half my house, mecax, mekary, Ducklett-a-dil, gitty alon and I....


    After an interlude from Soriel, she and Master joined in with me. Emolga, where will the wedding be, gitty alon, gitty alon?
    Emolga, where will the wedding be, gitty alon and I?
    Emolga, where will the wedding be?
    'Ask my Pikachu' says she, mecax, mekary, Ducklett-a-dil, gitty alon and I.


    Master than played a solo himself before I sang the final verse. Pikachu, where will the wedding be, gitty alon, gitty alon?
    Pikachu, where will the wedding be, gitty alon and I?
    Pikachu, where will the wedding be?
    At the top of a Cheri tree, mecax, mekary, Ducklett-a-dil, gitty alon and I.


    "By Anima..." the yellow aura knight gasped as the crowd roared with applause. "Your pet speaks the words of men!"

    "Like I said, Sir Knight--you'd be amazed at what Kissa can do." Master replied before winking at me.

    The yellow knight remained very quiet as Master played "Mountain Thyme" and stayed quiet the rest of the afternoon. All in all, Master put on a grand show, and played and told stories into the night. I'll never forget the look on the knight's face when I sang--I giggle just picturing it!
    Last edited by FlamingRuby; 29th April 2011 at 4:35 PM.

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    Episode 6: An Adventure in Mavi


    After a long day performing at the Fire and Moon, we made our way to the inn for the night. Master still had enough energy for a few more tales and tunes, and easily earned us dinner and a room for the night.

    We were just about to settle down for the night when I heard a voice ask "A moment, Sir Minstrel?"

    Master turned to see a boy in a dull brown tunic walking to meet us in the hallway. "What might you need at this hour of the night, lad?" he asked, inviting the boy into our room.

    "My name's Reith--the innkeeper's son." the boy began. "I came wanting to know if you'd come with me on an adventure..."

    "What sort of adventure?" I asked.

    "You know well that Mavi is a port town, and as such, trades with cities all over the world." Reith explained. "Well, not everyone that sails into Mavi is a friendly face..."

    "I know...pirates have often attacked this town before." Master replied.

    "Ma has always told me stories of pirates hiding their treasure in the sewers below the city, and I want to see if that is true." Reith continued. "I have tried time and time again to explore the sewers by way of the passageway in the cellar, but every time I try to go down there, Ma always finds me and shoos me out, saying it's too dangerous."

    "So why do you want us to go with you and delibrately disobey your mother?" Master sternly asked. "Not only will you get in trouble, I could get in trouble myself!" Getting arrested for trespassing would likely delay our journey for possibly weeks or months, or at worst, years.

    "My thinking is if we go under cover of night, Ma won't know we're gone." Reith assured us. "Besides, I have a map to the area of the sewers where the treasure is supposedly hidden." He then showed us a parchment depicting the map of Mavi's intricate sewer system, with an X marked in the lower left corner and the entrance from the inn at the right side.

    "Suppose we get to where X marks the spot and there is no treasure there--what will you do then?" I challenged as we quietly made our way down the hall and into the cellar.

    "Then that will be enough for me, and I won't go down in there again." Reith replied as he began shoving some boxes out of the way. Master sighed and began moving more boxes and jars--Reith had apparently been planning this for some time, and if his mind was set on exploring the sewers, there was no way to stop him.

    "Be known that I am skilled with a blade, a bow, and magic, so if we do run into trouble, we can protect you." Master assured Reith when we found a hole in one cabinet large enough for a human to squeeze through some moments later.

    "And I have my claws." I added as I led the way through the dark hole and down into a narrow hallway. A ladder was waiting at the end, which we climbed down into the sewers.

    The sickening smell of waste greeted my nose as we arrived in the massive stone passageways. "The sooner we get out of here, the better..."

    "Agreed." Master sighed. The smell wasn't his concern so much as the deceptively straightfoward pathways. We came to a four way intersection lined with green water not long after our arrival, so Master took some pale blue thread from his bag and laid it down on the ground. "This Thread of Guidance will show us the way out when we are ready to depart." he told Reith. "Furthermore, we must stay together, no matter how appealing splitting up may sound."

    "Yes, Sir Minstrel." Reith assured us as he led us down the left pathway. "In return for guiding me on this adventure, I suppose I can tell you one of Ma's stories..."

    "Please do." I groaned--the smell of the green water in the waterways surrounding us made it hard to focus.

    Reith thought for a moment before beginning. "Once upon a time, there lived a king and a queen who were just as happy as the people they ruled. But each year in the springtime was the time when kings went off to war in that land--either to conquer a foreign territory or defend an existing land in the realm."

    "Interesting..." I mused. It had been some time since I had heard a war story.

    "When spring came that year, the king learned of a land in the south where the people were oppessed under a harsh ruler, so he took it upon himself that he would be the one to set them free." Reith continued as we wound through the passageways. "So after calling together the whole army and bidding his queen and daughter goodbye, he set out to the southern land. After a long journey, the army started off making great progress to the southern king's capital, defeating any army that stood in the way. But the capital city was surrounded by high mountains, and to make matters worse, the southern king was waiting for the northern king's army in an ambush."

    "Why that rogue..." Master grumbled as we carefully climbed up a frail looking rope to another passageway.

    "The northern king and his army fought off the ambush as best as they could, but in the end, much of the army had either been killed or fled, and the northern king was captured." Reith paused to check his map before continuing. "For three years he remained in prison, and forced to plow the southern king's fields like Tauros." I wrinkled my nose at this, more out of disgust for the smell around us than the southern king's cruelty.

    "The northern kingdom pleaded with the southern kingdom to release their king during those three years, but every request went unheeded." Reith motioned for Master to follow him down a stairwell to a lower pathway. I opted to jump across instead, rejoining them at the foot of the stairs as Reith continued. "Finally, the southern king made a deal with the northern kingdom: he would only release the northern king if all the north's land was given to him."

    Reith didn't tell us any more of the tale untill we were safely across a narrow walkway in the next room. "Back in the northern kingdom, the queen received the letter and read it, bursting into tears at the south's offer--giving all their land to the south would effectively be putting them under the southern king's rule. The princess heard her mother crying, and thought long and hard about how to free her father without turning over her kingdom's land. She knew very well if her mother went, she too would likely be captured and forced to become part of the southern king's harem. So one night, while her mother slept, she put up her hair in a boy's hair style, put on some boy's clothing took her favorite lute, and set out for the southern land."

    "So what did she do?" I asked as a Magikarp carcass floated by me in a nearby waterway.

    "The princess traveled far across the southern lands, until she came to the capital city." Reith replied. "Once there, she explained to the royal guard that she was a wandering bard, and requested permission to perform in the city. The guards granted her request, and with that, she set up shop in the town square, singing for many hours."

    Inspired, Master decided to sing a little. "I come from my own country far, into this foreign land...of all I own I take alone, my sweet lute in my hand. Oh, who will thank me for my song, reward my simple lay? Like lover's sighs it still shall rise to greet thee day by day. I sing of blooming flowers, made sweet by sun and rain; of all the bliss of love's first kiss, and parting's cruel pain. Of the sad captive's longing within his prison wall, of hearts that sigh when none are nigh to answer to their call. My song begs for your pity, and gifts from out your store, and as I play my gentle lay I linger near your door. If you hear my singing within your palace, sire, give, I pray, this happy day, to me my heart's desire..."

    "That was pretty good!" Reith giggled. I mustered a smile myself--the large stone tunnels we were walking through had excellent acoustics.

    "I just felt that that point needed a song." Master assured Reith as we climbed up another ladder. "Then what happened?"

    "The southern king heard the beautiful song and commanded what he thought was a bard to appear before him." Reith replied. "The princess agreed, on the condition that when she left, he was to give her what she asked for in her songs. She remained there for three days, playing her lute and singing about her missing father." I looked over at Master to see if he would sing again, but he appeared to be lost in thought, so Reith continued. "The southern king, however, found the performances so beautiful, he never wanted to eat, drink, or oppress anyone. When three days had passed, the princess told the southern king she had been called to some other land. As thanks for her song, the southern king agreed to set one of his prisoners free. The two of them went to the dungeon, where all of the prisoners were brought out.The princess found her father easily among the prisoners, and once he was in her custody, they set out for home.

    News of the king's rescue by a bard spread like wildfire through the northern kingdom, and upon their return, both were given a hero's welcome. Once her father was back in the palace, the princess changed from her disguise to her normal clothing."

    "But did the queen know about the princess' plan at all?" I asked.

    "The queen, however, did not know her daughter had gone and returned, and was in a panic." Reith replied. "In an effort to calm his beloved, the king called his ministers together and asked each of them where they had last seen the princess. With her father occupied, the princess took her lute and sang another song, one more beautiful than the last one."

    "I sing the captive's longing within his prison wall, Of hearts that sigh when none are nigh to answer to their call." Master sang again. "My song begs for your pity, and gifts from out your store, and as I play my gentle lay, I linger near your door. And if you hear my singing within your palace, sire, oh! give, I pray, this happy day, to me my heart's desire."

    "The king heard the song, thinking it was the bard that had saved him, but when he got to his daughter's chamber, he learned the truth: his own daughter was the one that had saved him!" Reith picked up where Master left off as we neared a large open room. "The king and queen were overjoyed and pleased with their daughter's bravery, and threw a great feast in her honor--and her story was told throughout the land for years to come."

    "Very well told, Sir Reith." I mused.

    "This should be the place where the treasure lies." Reith mused before leading us into the almost cave-like room. The water here was cleaner and smelled nicer than the maze we had come through, so we spent an hour or two climbing among the rocks searching for treasure.

    In the end, there turned out to be no treasure, and Reith's mother never found out about our excursion into the sewers. But I prayed to Anima as we departed Mavi the next morning that if we went on another adventure, that it be in someplace nicer smelling!

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    Episode 7: The Town of Erikol


    The next major landmark of our adventure was Sindura, so we decided to follow the Mavi Coast for a while and then turn south. Our first stop was the town of Erikol, a port town not far from Mavi. It wasn't a large town, by any means, but the hefty wooden walls surrounding it looked well enough to hold up against anything (assuming the mages of Mavi had enchanted it).

    The walls also smelled faintly of sea salt as we strolled into town--no surprise since everything was built around the wharf, similar to Mavi's concentric circles.

    After taking a moment to watch ships arrive in the wharf and admire the mermaid fountain in the town square, we started down the smooth stone path past some fishermen unloading some Magikarp in the eastern section of the marketplace.

    "Good day to ya, Sir Minstrel!" one of them called from his post by a stall.

    "And to you likewise." Master smiled back as he noted the mermaid statue, plus another one of a jumping Goldeen.

    I was hungrily admiring the Magikarp the fishermen were unloading all the while, and contemplated snatching one until Master pulled me away. "If you want to take one of those, I hope you have the gold to pay for it." he warned.

    "Aw, have a heart, Sir Minstrel!" another fisherman protested. "Ye have a fine pet there, so she's moren' welcome to have a free fish as welcome present." I wasn't sure if he was really happy to see me or if this was an excuse to get Master to part with my tiara, but for the moment, I decided to trust him. Next was convincing Master.

    My teary eyed wistful face and pitiful mew worked its charm on Master yet again, and he was 10 gold pieces lighter and I was one Magikarp richer. It works every time I want a fish, but don't want to go to the trouble of catching one myself.
    But I digress.

    We arrived in the inn some minutes later, just in time for the innkeeper to announce "And now, ladies and gentlemen, children and Pokemon; all the way from Ayaton in the west, please welcome the lovely Mariel to our fine inn!" Applause filled the air as a black haired girl with slightly tanned skin strolled into the center of the room. I took a moment to admire the small pale blue and silver dress she wore, which was flecked in sapphires and had a knotwork pattern on the collar and on the sash around her waist. Some pale blue slippers on her feet and a sapphire and aquamarine circlet on her head completed the look.

    Mariel looked around the room for a moment, as if searching for someone. "Is there anyone here skilled with an instrument? I cannot dance without any music..."

    "I would be honored to play my harp for you, Lady Mariel..." Master interjected after a brief silence. "Just name the tune, and I will play."

    "Play what you wish, Sir Minstrel--I have no preference." Mariel smiled before striking a playful pose in the center of the floor.

    Master nodded and began a rhythmic jig that I recognized as "The Blooming Cheri". Mariel followed along with the bouncy and playful tune, hopping, twirling, and kicking about the floor in time to the harp's stately rhythm. Some in the audience were nodding their heads to the tune, entranced by the circles and loops Mariel created as she danced about the floor. Her feet barely made a sound at all, save for a particularly strong jump or step.

    When Master segued into "Light of the Close of Day", Mariel's steps got more complex and her jumps grew higher and longer--sometimes almost flying into the crowd! But every jump, every twirl, every kick, and every spin were executed with a master's precision, and the smile on her face as she twirled and jumped about made it clear that she clearly loved to dance.

    She finally struck a triumphant pose as Master played a final high G chord to conclude the set, making the room burst into applause. Master took a bow when Mariel acknowledged him, then she did likewise as the crowd raved.

    "A fine dance, miss!"

    "Praise Anima that a minstrel was here!"

    "A wonderful set!"

    "Poetry in motion, that's for sure!"

    "Thank you all." Mariel replied to the crowd before taking another bow.

    "Thank the minstrel, miss--Sir..." the innkeeper started before realizing he had not asked Master to introduce himself. After Master discretely introduced himself, he finished the sentence. "Sir Brock of Amhran Hall."

    We found Mariel sitting by a window a short time later. "That was wonderful, Lady Mariel--where did you learn to dance so well?" Master asked as he sat down across from her at the table.

    "I've trained ever since I was just a lass, Sir Brock." Mariel replied before noticing Marista's marking on the harp case. "It is an honor to have had one trained under the great Marista Laire play for me."

    "So what do you do when you're not performing?" I asked Mariel.

    "I enjoy hearing tales that the people tell as they travel--and as thanks for playing for me, I will share one with you that I learned in Chairo." Mariel replied. "It is called 'The Wondering Boy'"

    A waitress brought Master a drink as Mariel began "A long time ago, there was a group of children that lived in Chairo. These children were close friends, so they played together almost every day. But one child, a lad named Akio, was very curious about the world--even in the midst of a snowball war, he would look at the sky and wonder where the clouds came from."

    "Mm-hm..." Master nodded as he sipped the Mata Daisy before him.

    "Naturally, the other children teased him, but Akio didn't mind--he would find another place to explore and satisfy his curiosity." Mariel continued. "Not far from Chairo was the seat of the Nishi League, and Sir Ethan had a problem--a giant elm tree blocked his view of the mountains, but every time someone attempted to trim it, the branch would grow back stronger than before. Not only that, but the closest well was deep in a valley, and many servant complained about the long trel there and back. Many times, the water froze before it could make it back to the League."

    "But what does that have to do with the children?" I asked.

    "Patience, Lady Persian, I am getting to that." Mariel assured us. "So Ethan sent out a proclaimation--whoever could solve both problems would receive a bag of gold and piece of land. That brings us back to the children--one day as they were playing, Akio heard the sound of an ax cutting wood, and wondered who was doing the cutting. His friends teased him, but Akio followed the noise. He came to a clearing some time later, but whoever was cutting wood had long since left, leaving his ax behind. So Aiko took the ax and reported to the others that he had found who had been cutting wood. The next day, the children came to a stream, and as they all took a drink of the clean and clear water, Akio wondered where the stream began. While the other children went off to play, Akio followed the stream until he came to a large rock, with a nut lying against it. Akio took the nut and returned, where he told the others the stream began at a rock with water flowing from it."

    "But did the children help Sir Ethan at all?" Now Master was curious.

    "Well, one day, the children decided to help Sir Ethan." Mariel continued. While the other children were awed at the girth of the elm tree, Akio was already wondering how to cut it down. The other children tried and tried, but the tree kept growing back, stronger than before.

    Akio took his ax and began cutting with almost god-like speed, and before long, the tree was cut. Then, he set the nut on top of the stump. Suddenly, water spilled forth from the nut, making the royal servants hail Akio as a hero. Sir Ethan rewarded Akio handsomely, but Akio was already wondering about what other wonders there were in the world--but no one ever teased him again." Mariel concluded.

    "Very nice!" Master applauded before taking his harp and beginning a hopeful melody. All alone within these walls I sit each night, watching and waiting for the day I see the light... Mariel smiled as she listened to "Kyuki's Song"--she savored the tale of Kyuki singing to a slave very much like the crowd had enjoyed her dance.

    I hope we can see Mariel perform again--and maybe learn another tale from her!

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    Episode 8: Lona's Favor


    When Marista met her valiant end, Master vowed at the funeral that he would learn the fiddle in her memory. He made very good on that vow by teaching himself on one of Marista's instruments. (that made my mewing sound beautiful in comparison at the time) Years went by, and when he fledged, he could play fairly well--but he had no fiddle to call his own.

    That all changed when we arrived in the town of Selin.

    No sooner had we walked through the gate and into town, the instrument maker saw Marista's emblem on the harp case and hurried out to meet us. "Never would I dream that some of Marista's apprentices are still alive!" he gasped. "I thought every one of them had perished with her!"

    "If it were not for her brave sacrifice, I and some other apprentices would not be standing here." Master replied as he fought back tears. "I miss her so very much."

    "We all do, lad." the instrument maker replied. "May Our Lord and Our Lady watch over her soul." He then presented a case to Master. "I was saving this fiddle for her to play when our new temple to Anima was completed, but would you accept and play this fine instrument in her stead?"

    Master nodded, set the case on the ground, took the fiddle inside, and started to tune it. I took a moment to admire the ivy inlay work and the sapphires ringing the f holes. "It is very nice, good sir. How much do you want for it?" I asked as I offered him a few gold pieces.

    "I don't want money for it, Lady Persian." the instrument maker assured me as he shoved the gold pieces back in my direction. "Just a promise that whenever you play it, you'll remember Marista and the great happiness she brought to Yoso."

    "You have my word, by Our Lord and Our Lady." Master replied as he finished tuning and ran through a brief improvisation around the G major scale. "Is the ceremony today?" he asked when the last note died.

    "Indeed, Sir Minstrel." the instrument maker replied.

    A grin formed on Master's face--the same grin I knew when he had inspiration for a new song or a new story. "Is it too late to prepare something?"

    "The ceremony's not til this afternoon, so you have plenty of time to practice, if you have a song for the occassion." That was all Master needed to hear, and we set off towards the town square with our new instrument in tow.

    There was a great crowd when we arrived at the new temple that afternoon. It didn't look too much different from Whitespell, save for a star motif in the marble decor and a teal beacon at its top spire. The prayers of promise were said, the priests were blessed, the mayor spoke, and then it was Master's turn to play his new fiddle.

    After making sure he was in tune, he began a festive melody. If I were a wanderer, I know what I would do,
    I would turn from my wanderings and work on the building too.
    We're working on a building for Our Lady, Shining Lady,
    A holy building, for the Lady of Light.

    If I were a dashing rogue, I know what I would do.
    I'd turn from my thieving ways and work on the building too.
    We're working on a building for Our Lady, Shining Lady,
    A holy building, for the Lady of Light...


    After a solo, he kept listing what saints and sinners alike would give up or contribute to build the proverbial temple--a gambler, a mage, a carpenter, a cleric, and of course, a minstrel all got verses. There may have been more, but I dozed off around the sailor verse.

    When Master finished his performance, the new high cleric casted Holy as a show of her authority as priest of Anima, declaring the temple officially open

    We spent the day exploring town and eventually came to the local tavern, the Goddess' Wing. Master reprised his song from earlier and told the tale we learned back in Donathal--the fiddle went over very well with the audience.

    A ranger with reddish brown hair approached us when our show ended. "A word, Sir Minstrel?"

    "What is it?" Master asked.

    "First of all, my name is Lona, of the Selin Order of Rangers." the woman began as she brushed some bread crumbs from her dull green tunic. "Some nights ago, I was patrolling the woods around town when something spooked my guardian Mightyena, Tala. She ran away into the woods and has not returned in three days. I only pray that she is all right."

    "I would be happy to help find her." Master replied as we packed our instruments. "Is there anything that sets her apart from the other Mightyenas of the woods?"

    "Her fur is more of a grey than most Mightyenas." Lona replied as we walked out of the tavern and onto the two way path between the rest of town and the woods. "And she adores birds."

    We entered the woods and commenced our search. Master whistled for her a few times, which evolved into mimicing bird calls. I thought the bird calls were a great idea--if Tala was in the area, she would think Master's whistling was a bird and she would come bounding out of the bush to investigate.

    Sadly, Tala did not appear after Master mimiced every songbird he knew how to mimic. Lona helped by mimicing a Mightyena howl and leaving Buneary and Stantler meat along the path.

    Our trek took us deep into the woods--so much so that we couldn't even see the moon in the darkness. We called, left food, and mimiced Pokemon for as long as we could, but Tala did not appear.

    We hit a breakthrough just as we were about to turn back and declare Tala a lost cause--the threads of an Ariados web. But this was no ordinary Ariados--it was a type of demon Ariados known as a dornea. This one had conveniently decided to have Tala for dinner.

    Lona fired an arrow to break Tala free before the dornea could wrap her up to eat her. Naturally, the dornea was angry, and spat silk at Lona! Lona rolled out of the way, buying her time to reunite with Tala and Master time to play the spell Flame Storm, which incinerated both the web and its owner.

    Tala was especially happy to be free, and eagerly licked Master on the cheek many times in thanks. Lona took us to meet the high ranger, who rewarded us with a wolf's charm and some gold. But that's not what I remember most--although we didn't complete our material trade (Lona was too focused on finding Tala to tell us any tales), I will never forget Master laughing as Tala joyfully licked him again and again, grateful for being rescued.

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    Episode 9: The Village of Chandar


    From Erikol and Selin we turned inland--it was a long way to Sindura, but fortunately, there were said to be villages and towns dotting the forest. That meant plenty of opportunities to stop and perform.

    We had been walking for some time in the forest when we came upon a vast stone wall at the end of one path of a fork--a sign that a town was present. Since it sat on the route between Mavi and Sindura, that meant that traders from both cities would come to sell their wares. We could also sell our wares of song and story.

    While there were no doors leading into town, there were guardhouses on each side of the entryways, where teams of three guards apiece gazed out into the forest. Those on the midday watch were just taking their posts as we approached, but the captain gave Master a welcoming nod as we strolled into town. "Welcome to Chandar, tale-teller." was all he said to us before fixing his gaze on the forest paths

    Unlike past towns we had visited, Chandar was very practically laid out--the inn and the market were right by the entrance--so you could rest and do your shopping quickly. The houses of the village council were off to the east, with the council house close by. Many gardens of every shape and size were scattered throughout, with the biggest one off to the west. At the north end stood a majestic building decorated in whimsical designs of scenes from tales carved into the stone and marble--a theater. Some wagons, also decorated in whimsical designs, were parked close by, presumably for the traveling productions to use.

    "A lovely building..." I mused as we walked closer to the theater, where a number of actors and theater personell were loading one of the wagons with sets and props.

    "Indeed--and one of the few I know that have designs like this." Master agreed--usually you would only see carvings in the material in the larger cities.

    Just then, a young girl with deep blue hair glumly seated on an outcropping and studying a script got his attention. "What seems to be the trouble, lass?" he asked as he approached.

    The girl sighed and made a place for Master to sit down. "We're due to set out on a touring performance of 'Akane and the Raikou of the Ruins' in two days, and I have no clue how to play Akane, Sir Minstrel. Do I emphasize her confidence, or her courage?" She chuckled a little. "Oh, listen to me rambling on! My name's Vaedia, of the Oakheart Players--this is our home theater."

    "Sir Brock of Amhran..." Master replied. "and my pet, Kissa." he added, gesturing to me.

    Vaedia saw my tiara and flashed me a wry smile. "Pleased an archmage...it's not too often we see crowned Pokemon out here--usually they belong to wealthy merchants, mages, or lords, but I've seen a few that belong to minstrels." Then an idea crossed her mind. "If you can inspire me with an episode from 'The Travels of Akane', I'll tell you a story I heard from a trader not long ago."

    "Deal!" Master replied as he took his harp and began to tune. "Is there any particular episode you wish to hear?"

    "Just any episode will do." Vaedia replied. She set down her script and listened as the harp played a lively introduction, one she recognized as the introduction to "Claiming the Raikou". The other theater personell heard the rhythmic melody and Master's voice playfully telling the tale of Akane and Lerrawin escaping some ruins with a Raikou's head, and dropped what they were doing to listen, many of them tapping their feet or nodding their heads to the tune.

    When the last chord died away, Vaedia had a big smile on her face as she applauded. "That was perfect! Now I have a way to play Akane well!"

    "My pleasure." Master smiled as he caught some gold pieces flying in his direction.

    "Now, as I promised, my tale." Vaedia began. "There was once a woodcutter who lived in a land far from here. Although he did not have much money, he had far better treasures: joy, kindness, and humilty. He would wander through the woods by his house collecting dead branches, and would sell them in the market."

    "Now why would someone buy a dead tree branch?" I mused.

    "A scholar might want to study it?" Master suggested. That seemed like a feasible reason, so I continued listening.

    "One day, the woodcutter chanced upon a boy looking up at a great pine tree, and was immediately asked to cut it down." Vaedia continued. "The woodcutter refused--he told the boy that the gods worked through trees as they did people. The boy just mocked him and called him soft-hearted before running away. This saddened the woodcutter--the trees were the domain of Raissel, and he shuddered to know what He would do to the boy if he caught him damaging the trees."

    "And then?" Master was piqued.

    "Some days later, as the woodcutter walked through the woods, he heard Raissel speak to him on the wind." Vaedia continued. "'There she stands, sticky with sap, someone tore off her limbs with a snap. She has been wounded, and now she cries. I beg you to help her before she dies.' Just then, the woodcutter saw a great pine tree with many of its branches gone, and sap spilled out onto the ground. He immediately set to work bandaging the tree's wounds.

    Just then, the boy's father passed that way, carrying many of the tree's limbs. He mocked the woodcutter even more, saying he had better things to do than caring for trees. But the woodcutter worked on until the tree was bandaged up and healing.

    Suddenly, gold coins began raining from the tree's branches, as if Raissel was thanking him for saving the tree. The woodcutter's wife was stunned when she heard what happened, and told everyone she knew about the tree that rained gold. The boy's father heard about it, and eagerly hurried away.

    When he got to where the pine tree stood, Raissel spoke to him on the wind. 'Ye that dared to hurt her so, see that she is whole and know. Sticky, sticky is her blood, touch her and ignite a flood.' Thinking that meant a flood of coins, the boy's father snapped a branch. However, he was showered in sap instead!"

    "Oh, I bet he was stuck there for hours!" I laughed.

    "He was stuck there until nightfall, as it took his own son and seven others to get him out." Vaedia concluded. "They never harmed another tree again after that."

    "I can see why!" Master smiled as he got up to depart. "It's best not to anger a god."

    I was still laughing at the mental image of the man in a puddle of gooey sap long after we left Chandar the next day. Vaedia saw us off, and I wished her well for her performance.

    Hopefully, we will see her perform one day.
    Last edited by FlamingRuby; 27th June 2011 at 2:45 AM.

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    Episode 10: An Encounter on the Road to Sundol



    We emerged from the forest onto a dusty road, where many farms dotted the hills surrounding the city of Sundol. Master had hoped to get there before sunset, but the heavens opened up just as the sun sank below the horizon. He contemplated just making camp and waiting out the storm, but I was in no mood to sleep in a wet tent. After spotting a farmhouse in the distance, he motioned for me to follow and knocked at the door.

    The lady of the house met us on the stoop. "Come on inside, teller of tales." she smiled. "You shouldn't be out in this horrible weather." After hanging Master's cloak to dry above the fireplace, she went to tend to a Combusken roasting over a stove.

    "Thank you kindly, good lady." Master replied before settling into a chair by the fireplace and checking that the instruments were all right.

    The farmer arrived not long after. "So much for planting the Cornn today, love." he sighed. "We spent all day plowing...."

    About then, a girl about eight years old came inside with some freshly made bread and gasped when she saw us. "Mama, why didn't you tell me a minstrel was staying with us?"

    "It breaks your daddy's heart to see someone wandering out in the rain and cold, sweetie." the farmer assured her. "So I told your mama to invite him in."

    "It may not be an inn, but it's better than trying to make camp out there." I mused as a hand brought me some milk.

    "No matter, we can still perform for our hosts as thanks for their hospitality." Master assured me before addressing the girl. "Might I know your name, miss?"

    "My name's Kelera Tairu." the girl smiled. "And yours?"

    "Sir Brock of Amhran." Master replied before running a hand over my fur. "and my companion Kissa."

    "Hello." I smiled.

    "Nice to meet you both." Kelera replied. "I hope you enjoy your evening with us."

    "We were going to perform in Sundol, but the rain rolled in." I explained.

    "You were going to perform in town?" Kelera asked before sulkng. "Every time Daddy gets to go into town, I have to stay here and do chores..." Then her frown became a smile. "Maybe...Anima sent you two here to give me a little taste of what it is like in town?"

    "She works in mysterious ways." I replied as I followed Master to the dining room.

    After a wonderful meal with Kelera's family (during which Master told Kelera why I could speak and some of what we had seen so far on our journey), one of the hands suggested Master sing a song. He was more than happy to oblige with a stirring rendition of "The Dragon Whip. Kelena just listened, wide eyed, as Master wove the tale of how a farmer found an enchanted whip and used it to slay a Garchomp, fulfilling a prophecy that a man of the earth would slay a great beast.

    Master used the final triumphant chord of "The Dragon Whip" to segue into Marista's Song. "Everyone knows that Sorin is quite the trickster..."

    "YAAAAAAYYYY!!!" Kelera cried at the familiar beginning--clearly Sorin tales were her favorites.

    "But one day, Sorin went to the heavens and bragged to Anima..." Master than assumed a high pitched male voice. "They say you can work miracles, but I can work miracles too!"

    "But what kind of miracles can you work?" I challenged as Anima.

    "Just give me an ear of Cornn, and I will turn it into a hundred men!" Master retorted as Sorin. Laughter went up from the crowd at this. As himself, he went on. "Anima, as had the other gods, had grown weary of Sorin's boasting, and so She gave him an ear of Cornn, giving him one week to produce the hundred men."

    After playing an interlude, he continued. "The villagers all howled with laughter at Sorin--they knew as well as you do that it is impossible to produce a hundred men from an ear of Cornn. But Sorin was undeterred, and set out on a grand journey. On the first night, he showed the innkeeper his ear of Cornn and told him..." As Sorin again, he began "I'm planning to offer this ear of Cornn to Our Lady Anima--make sure it is not touched." As himself, he continued. "But that night, he scattered the Cornn kernels to the Combuskens, and in the morning, told the innkeeper that the Cornn had been stolen. "The innkeeper, not knowing it was really Sorin that had done the deed, gave him his best Combusken, telling Sorin to ask Anima for forgiveness on his behalf..."

    Farmer Tairu laughed the loudest as Sorin would somehow discard each item given to him and get something else in return--he recived a small flock of Mareeps in compensation for the Combusken, a corpse for the Mareeps (which he claimed was a child of Anima), and a hundred men for the corpse.

    "...But not even Anima knew She had been had--She admitted that Sorin was a miracle worker in his own right." Master concluded. "So ends the tale of 'Sorin and the Cornn Stalk'"

    "Bravo!" a hand cried.

    "Praise Our Lady for your fine skill!" Ms. Tairu agreed.

    We went to bed not long after that, but Kelera found our room soon after. "Are you looking for new material at all, Sir Minstrel?" she whispered.

    "Yes--any new tales and songs will do." Master whispered back.

    "As thanks for performing for us, I wanted to teach you a tale Daddy told me after one of his trips to town." Kelera replied as she pulled up a chair close to our bed. "It's called 'The Gifts of the Fae'".

    "We're listening..." I whispered.

    "Once a tailor and a smith were traveling, seeking their fortunes in a new town." Kelera began, keeping her voice low so her parents wouldn't discover that she was still awake. "Suddenly, they heard the sounds of a festive reel in the distance, and hurried towards the sound. The tailor began dreaming about the woman of his dreams and how he would want to have such a reel played at his wedding. The smith, meanwhile, dreamed of a way to sell such wonderful music--as he valued gold more than anything."

    "Mm-hmm..." Master sleepily nodded.

    "Finally, they saw a group of fairies dancing around a patch of flowers at the top of a hill, with their queen, Papillion, in the center of the circle. It turned out Papillion was directing the band that was playing the reel, and all the other fairies were dancing to the unseen band..."

    I would have listened to more of the tale, but I fell asleep to Kelera's sweet and soft voice telling how the tailor was rewarded by Papillion for sharing the gold she had given him, and how the smith was punished for wasting his gold. Master lasted a bit longer than I did, but before long, he was asleep too.

    After bidding Kelera and her family farewell the next morning, we departed for Sundol. Even more amazingly, Master still managed to remember Kelera's tale from start to finish, despite falling asleep in the middle of it!

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    Episode 11: An Adventure in Arrosfar


    Our travels next brought us to Arrosfar, the first point on the southern road to Sindura. While we started out making good time, a large storm rolled in not long after our arrival, sending us to the closest open door. Fortunately, that door belonged to the local tavern, the White Raikou.

    The place was nice and roomy, and a good crowd was present. Surprisingly enough, it was relatively quiet as we made our way to the bar, except for the occasional drunken laughter and calls of "Hey, Yuka, another round!" The barkeep, a softspoken young lady with long black hair tied in a neat braid, would then deliver the requested beer, wine, or ale before returning to some waiting cocktails and clear mind drinks. Some other patrons were talking quietly or playing cards, including a group of mages playing Tamer's Quest at the top left corner table.

    We made ourselves comfortable at the bar, and Master glanced at the slightly scribbled on placard describing the clear mind drinks. After not finding his beloved Mata Daisy anywhere, he then noticed the house special--a clear mind drink named Sparkling Belue.
    Yuka noticed us as she delivered a beer stein to a merchant at the other end of the bar. "I haven't seen you around before...what brings you to Arrosfar in such dreadful weather, singer of lore?"

    "I am on my way to Sindura to perform there." Master explained before pointing out the Sparkling Belue. "May I try some of this?"

    "Of course--one of my best brews!" Yuka replied as she began mixing the drink's ingredients. "Came up with it after having a bumper crop of Belue Berries one year--patrons loved it, and it quickly became the house special."

    "I see..." Master mused as the glass containing a fizzing dark blue liquid and a Cheri Berry on top of the shining white foam arrived before him. He took a sip and smiled as a waitress brought some milk for me. "Nice balance of sweet and tart flavor..." He then got out his harp and started tuning up. "You would not object to some tunes and tales, would you?" he asked as he set ten gold pieces on the counter--part of it for his drink, and the other part for the tip.

    "Not at all--it's been some time since a minstrel passed this way." Yuka replied. "You may begin when you're ready."

    The dull roar in the tavern quieted as Master got up from his chair and played Marista's Song as he made his way to the center of the room. "In a land far from here, there lived a wealthy merchant and his wife. They owned much in material wealth, but they longed to have one of the greatest treasures of life--a child." Murmurs filled the air at this. "They would travel into town and observe the townsfolk working for their day's wages--but they would envy them because they all had children. One day, the merchant went out to the house of one of the poorest folk, and offered him a day's wages in return for his youngest child, a golden haired daughter happily playing with her brothers and sisters."

    "Tat's no way to get a child of ye own!" the town smith howled in protest in between bites of some roast Tauros.

    "That's kidnapping!" a housewife agreed as she accepted a Cheri Daisy from a waitress.

    "And bribery too!" one of the mages added.

    Master's harp quieted the protests with a forboding melody. "The peasent pleaded..." He then assumed a younger male voice. "Do not take my dear Alina--she is worth more to me than any gold or jewels!" As himself, he continued "But the merchant would have none of it, and threatened to make the peasant's life so miserable, he would be crying to the gods for mercy!" Gasps went up from the crowd.

    "If this monster were real, we would arrest him immediately!" a guardsmen commented. "Threatening the poor has no place anywhere in Yoso."

    "So what did the peasent do?" an auburn haired cleric asked.

    "He simply slammed the door in the merchant's face--he did not want anything to do with anyone that threatened his family." Master replied, making some laughter waft through the air at the downward glissando that represented the slamming door. "But the merchant and his wife went out and spread all kinds of terrible--yet false--rumors about the peasant. Before long, no one wished to give the peasant any work, and the scholars refused to teach the children."

    "Surely this menace left him alone..." the cleric mused as she made a sign of Anima in the air, as if protecting the peasant.

    "As if that wasn't enough..." Master continued. "The merchant returned a week later, and threatened to poison the well if Alina wasn't turned over to him." Gasps filled the air, a few women screamed in fear, and some of the mages began charging some of their best spells, as if searching for this rogue of a merchant. "The peasant had no choice but to turn Alina over to his oppressor. The merchant and his wife showered Alina with gifts, but the toys, books, and clothes didn't make Alina happy--she longed for her family, and no number of fancy clothes, toys, and Pokemon could change that."

    "Alina already had far better treasures, and the merchant took those away from her." the cleric agreed, to some rousing cheers.

    "A month passed, and Alina grew to know the Pokemon that lived in the forests and plains as brothers and sisters." Master continued. "The Parchirisus ate from her hands, the Mightyenas walked by her side to protect her, and even the trees seemed to bow down when she walked by."

    He then played a light-hearted melody as he continued. "One day, as Alina walked among the wildflowers on the plains, something darted out from the sunflowers--one of the fae." Awed gasps and whispers filled the air as the song continued. "It turned out that Anima had asked the fairies to bring Alina some comfort. The fairy queen, Papillion, invited Alina to dance with the crowd of fairies, and dance she did--she danced until long after the sun had set and Dorcha soared over the starry sky aboard Lugia. For the first time in a month, Alina was happy again."

    "Before long, the merchant noticed that Alina appeared exhausted, and asked what she was doing to get so tired. Alina said nothing, and so when she went out to play that day, he followed her to the fields." Master continued as his joyful melody shifted to a minor key. "He was astounded when he saw Alina dancing with the fairies, and greedily thought of the gold a fairy would fetch at market. Alina, meanwhile, pleaded for the fairies to help when she saw the merchant coming. Just before the merchant could grab Papillion, he found himself reaching into the thorns of a rosebush instead!" Laughter filled the air as Master played a hard chord to mimic a fairy turning into a rosebush. "No matter how many times he tried to grab a fairy, the merchant ended up pricked by rose thorns again and again." More laughter punctuated the hard chords representing transforming fairies. "Alina raced as fast as she could back to her parents' house, and they never had to worry about the merchant and his wife again...so ends the tale of 'The Fairies' Garden'."

    The crowd roared at the tale's conclusion, and gold pieces went raining into the harp case as Master took a bow.

    The cleric got up from the table and approached us. "Well told, Sir Minstrel--perhaps you'd be brave enough to help us out with a little problem..."

    "What must we do?" I asked.

    "Some weeks ago, a storm like this one struck the hill that houses the Crypt of the Warriors, where great warriors from Arrosfar are entombed." the cleric began before smoothing back a wisp of hair. "Anima forgive me for forgetting my manners!" she sheepishly giggled. "My name is Jeniel, of the Feyveil Temple of Anima."

    "Sir Brock of Amhran, and my pet, Kissa." Master replied.

    "A pleasure to meet you." Jeniel replied. "As I was saying, when the lightning struck the hill, the impact was enough to open one of the crypts, releasing the spirit of a cursed warrior. Livestock have turned up dead or severely wounded, buildings have been badly damaged at best, and I fear that if he is not laid to rest soon, the people of Arrosfar will be next."

    "A very serious matter, indeed." Master mused. "You have our word that we will do what we can to help."

    "Come now, minstrel! Sing us a song!" a trader demanded. Master was quick to oblige with a stirring performance of "The Singing Bowman". Jeniel listened as well, oblivious to the clapping and stomping of the other patrons as Master wove the tale, in song, about a minstrel that singlehandedly defeated an army with just a crossbow and spells from the arrow family of Song Magic--the verse about Celestial Arrow got the most reaction.

    We met Jeniel at the hill later that night, after the rain had let up. "In order to lay this spirit to rest, we must bathe it in Anima's light." she explained as we entered the crypt. While there was still a musty smell in the air from the earthen walls and chipped tile floors riddled with cobwebs, it was much better smelling than the sewers of Mavi. "The tomb proper lies at the end of a winding path--so we must find the spirit before it appears in two hour's time." Master nodded to show he understood. "In return for your wonderful performance back at the tavern, I will teach you a tale I often tell apprentices back at the temple."

    "P-p-please do." I stammered as I brushed away a Spinarak that dashed across my right front paw. A tale would likely keep me calm and not worry about an ambush of skeletons, or worse, zombies.

    "In a jungle of a faraway land, there was once a great Persian renowned for her wisdom." Jeniel began as she brushed away some rotted bones with her staff. "She had taught many of the Pokemon there to live by their wits and wiles."

    "Just as Kissa does with me." Master smiled as he carefully stepped over an old root of a dead plant.

    "But the one Pokemon that doubted Persian's wisdom was a little Raikou cub. As he searched for food one day, he got tangled in some roots. As he struggled to get free, he saw Persian gracefully running through the brush. As he watched her strong legs and rippling muscles, it dawned on the Raikou cub that maybe Persian was as wise as the other Pokemon said. The next day, he came to Persian and asked her to teach him."

    "If this were me, I would turn the Raikou cub away." I interjected as I swiped at a Zubat fluttering around my head. "He could potentially use what I taught against me."

    "Persian balked at the Raikou cub's request--and she had the same concern as you, Kissa." Jeniel assured me. "She had him swear to Anima that he would not use her teachings to harm another, not even her. The Raikou cub agreed, and the lessons began."

    Just then, a scream filled the air as a apparition of an armored warrior appeared, just as we entered a large room filled with tombs.

    Surprisingly, Jeniel appeared calm as she called "Wings of Anima, reveal thy glory! Seraph's Feather!" With that, she sang a haunting, yet calm melody, enveloping the spirit in glowing gold feathers. Master joined in on his harp, turning the feathers from gold to many colors. Despite initially fighting the feathers, the spirit calmed down as the performance wore on, until it flew back to its tomb in a glowing orb.

    "Hopefully now this warrior can rest in peace." Master smiled as we started back outside and returned to the inn to rest for the night.

    We never did hear the ending of "The Raikou Cub's Teacher" however, so Master just has the Raikou cub break his promise and be stuck on the ground while Persian climbs a tree.

    Crypts are now on my list of places I'd rather not go for a while--I hate Spinaraks running over my paws!

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    Episode 12: The Town of Caristhum


    Our travels took us down by the river Abyan, which empties into the sea in Sindura. Not surprisingly, the river has a lot of clay built up in its beds and on its banks, so many of the cities and towns in the area are built inside hardened clay walls. One of these towns is Caristhum.

    Since it is close by a river, traders from all over the world come there to trade their wares--be they crafted from wood, fish, metalwork and gems from the river, or anything in between.

    The way to the town square was not clearly marked, and we ended up wandering through the dusty and Rattata infested streets for an hour before we found the bustling town square. I managed to earn the good graces of a few housewives by catching and eating a few Rattatas along the way.

    As we worked our way through the crowds, a voice called to us. "You have wandered through the dusty streets and seek water."

    Master whirled around and noticed a girl clad in a purple robe decorated in the bright patterns of the desert nomads. The blue, gold, and silver shapes projected small circles into the streets and on Master's feet, as if urging him to come closer. "How is it that you knew what we desired, Lady..." he began before remembering the young nomad had not introduced herself.

    "I am Mala of the desert." the girl replied as a wind gust ruffled her auburn hair--a sharp contrast against her tan skin. "I came to trade my fine jewelry to all that desire it--and possibly reveal the path that Our Lady wishes you to take when we part."

    "So you can see the future?" I asked, piqued.

    "Yes--I have had the gift of speaking with the gods since I was very small." Mala replied as she organized the many necklaces, rings, and bracelets on a red blanket with blue and green patterns. "Seeing as you are a great lanto, I will tell your fortune and trade stories with you."

    "Thanks..." Master stammered as Mala focused on a small glass ball filled with swirling magical energy for a moment.

    "Yes...Anima has affirmed to me you are a great lanto--how else would your Persian speak the human language?" Mala mused a few minutes later. "You will encounter many people on your journey across the world, and bring happiness to them by your songs and your tales."

    "Will anything happen in the immediate future?" I asked.

    Mala studied the crystal ball some more. "You will meet someone special when you depart Sindura...who this is, I cannot see."

    "What does lanto mean, anyway?" Master was piqued as he made himself comfortable on a stone bench and retrieved his harp.

    "In the language of the desert, it means 'singer of knowledge'." Mala replied. "Our word for a minstrel."

    "I see..." Master mused before playing Marista's Song, studying Mala's wares all the while. "In a distant land there was a king whose signet ring was magical--it was made of gold interwoven with silver, and topped with many precious stones. No one knew how the king had received it, so the people belived that it was a gift from Anima. Its power was protection--no matter how many would be rebels came at him with sword, spear, arrows and magic, the king would not be harmed so long as he wore the ring."

    "Amazing..." Mala mused, impressed.

    "The only time the ring was removed was when the king bathed." Master continued. "And as soon as he finished bathing, the ring was the first thing he put on again, as a sign he was the rightful ruler of the land." He then played a tense interlude. "One day, he emerged from the royal bath house to discover that the ring of protection was not there. He quickly got dressed, then searched the entire bath house from top to bottom. His anger turned to fear--if he offered rewards for finding it, everyone would know he had lost it. His enemies would find out that Anima's protection had left him, and invade the realm."

    "Oh no! What did he do?" Mala gasped, concerned.

    "He summoned his royal wizard, a man named Moshu." Master replied. "In that land, the strongest mages were known by their many colored robes--and Moshu looked very much like Ho'oh in his majestic robe that sparkled with all the colors of the rainbow."

    "I'm sure he looked very beautiful, indeed." Mala giggled.

    "The king explained to Moshu about the ring of protection, and Moshu went to work, tracing the symbols of the gods into the dusty floor in hopes one of them knew where the ring was." He then played an improvisation in A minor to symbolize Moshu at work. "Not surprisingly, the glyph of Anima glowed, and Moshu said to the king..." He then used a soft yet deep voice. "You need not worry, Your Majesty. Anima hears your cries, and She knows that the thief lurks among your servants. Send for the woodcutters, and I will tell them what Our Lady proposes."

    As himself, he went on. "So the woodcutters were summoned and told what to do. The next day, they brought hundreds of sticks and lay them in the town square before the royal family and Moshu. Moshu charged some earth energy in his hands and commanded...." As Moshu again, he called "Rain down, crystals of light!" He then played a long series of glissandos, symbolizing the tiny prisms being absorbed by the sticks. "Every person picked up a stick and took it with them--and the one whose stick grew longer by the next morning was the thief."

    "So who took the ring?" Mala wondered.

    "In the morning, it was found that a servant had took the ring." Master replied. "Initially, the king ordered the thief fed to the three Beasts of the Tin Tower, but the servant pleaded for the king to spare him as he gave the ring back. Fortunately, the king felt merciful after putting on the Ring of Anima once more, and bade the guilty servant run around the city walls eight times--one time for each of the gods." As an aside, he added. "Needless to say, the crowd found another use for their sticks, which were unaffected by Anima's power." Mala giggled as Master concluded "So the king never worried about his ring of protection again--and that ends the tale of 'The Ring of Anima'."

    Mala applauded. "Very well told, lanto...now I will share with you a tale I learned in this area, entitled 'The Magic Fiddle'." Once Master had put his harp away and gathered up his tips, Mala began."There was once a young girl--I will name her Aisha--who owned little more than a Meowth and a few Oran trees. Aisha grew very lonely living by herself, and took it upon herself to go out into the world to seek her fortune. "So she sold the Oran trees and the land they grew on, and bought herself a fiddle, so she could learn to play the many songs her parents had sang to her when she was younger." Master brushed away a tear, but this was more out of nostalgia than sadness--he remembered his own mother playing a harp, and that was what spurred him to learn. "Aisha practiced every day until the Meowth danced along with the dances, and cried to the beautiful airs and sad laments."

    "So what happened when Aisha went out into the world?" Master asked as he dried his eyes.

    "She went all the way to the royal palace, but the king was not interested in guards, rangers, or mages--much less a minstrel." Mala replied. "He only wished for someone to slay the great Hydreigon that terrorized the land."

    "And then?" I asked.

    "So Aisha was sent away, but Aisha did not depair--she just played a dance she had heard in her homeland, and every Pokemon that heard it danced." Mala continued. "Mareeps, Chimchars, Snivies, Turtwigs, Teeckos--the more Pokemon that heard the magic fiddle, the more that laughed and danced and forgot their cares. Croconaws surfaced to listen, Ekans intertwined among the trees in time with the song, and the birds soared above her in a grand procession. The Hydreigon heard the fiddle too, and he too laughed and danced, to where he did not wish to bother the kingdom any more. The people hailed Aisha a hero, and she became the king's most trusted advisor--if anyone ever threatened the kingdom, all Aisha had to do was play her special fiddle." Mala concluded. "It is said her descendants are minstrels as well, and travel the world spreading the joy of music to everyone."

    We bid Mala goodbye and departed for the inn that evening. Yet as Master used his own fiddle to relate Aisha's adventure to the tavern, I couldn't help but wonder--who was this special someone Mala said we would meet when we left Sindura?

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    Episode 13: The Town of Melekure


    As we continued down the river to Sindura, the rolling plains seemed to add to the ambiance, as if they were green speckled waves guiding the river to the sea. That might have explained why Master had his harp out, playing boat songs and slow airs that evoked the sea. The breeze rippled my fur as we passed through the iron gates of Melekure--one of many "scholar's enclaves" where many artists, teachers, and philosophers gather to further their studies.

    Unlike Caristhum, Melekure's design reinforced quiet study--the cobblestone streets were wide and roomy, allowing a large crowd to pass--nothing like the congested streets in other towns. But the wide and roomy streets were oddly empty, save for a few would be scholars quietly reading in the many gardens dotted around town.

    Master was snapped from his performance by a female voice asking "A moment, Sir Minstrel?" as the local tavern came into view on the right side of the street.

    "What can I do for you, miss?" he smiled at the deep brown haired girl clad in a blue scholar's robe that stood by the tavern entrance.

    "Would you like to join me for a light meal and drinks before you perform?" she offered as she led us inside the Silver Ninetales.

    "I would be honored." Master replied, and followed the scholar to a table by the window at the right side of the room. As far as taverns go, it was unusally quiet. I was a little unnerved at first, but assured myself that if we had walked into a trap, Master would protect me. That, and it was highly unlikely a group of scholars would want to ambush us.

    After signalling a waitress for a Mata Daisy, Master listened as the girl began. "My name is Rinada, of the Scholars of Legend--as the name suggests, we study this world's folklore, history, and culture."

    "Fascinating..." I mused.

    "We are in the process of compiling a compendium of all the known tale types in the world and all their different variants." Rinada explained. "It is no easy task, and many of the guild are out and about gathering different types of tales. I was assigned to write a paper discussing the various magical tale types for the introduction of that section."'

    "What have you found so far?" Master was piqued.

    "Our library had plenty of tales for the more common types, but there are a few I am missing." Rinada continued. "So I thought, why not ask some minstrels to tell some examples of the types I need, such as tales involving magic jewelry or items?"

    "Well, I know 'The Ring of Anima...'" Master offered as a plate of Combusken and vegetables arrived with his drink.

    "I have a variant of that type."

    "'The Crystal Ring?'"

    "That is an interesting tale, but I have that type already..."

    Master thought some more as the barkeep announced him, then got up from his place at the table, playing Marista's Song all the while.

    I continued lapping at the milk when he began. "There was once a father that had three daughters--let us call them Melane, Ayla, and Liora. Liora was the youngest, and for some strange reason, attracted all the suitors. Her sisters grew very jealous, and decided to take some of their father's gold, place it in her bed, and accuse her of stealing."

    Tense murmurs filled the air, but Rinada dutifully copied down everything Master said as he told the tale. "Sure enough, the father discovered some of his gold missing, and when he found it in Liora's bed, he took her by one hand and his sword in the other, and led her towards the forest."

    "Surely he wasn't so rash as to kill an innocent girl?" one scholar asked as he looked up from his notes.

    "Liora pleaded with her father that she was innocent, and fortunately, the father decided to banish Liora instead of killing her, as he felt there was a grain of truth to her claim of innocence." Master continued. "So Liora was sent away with only the clothes on her back and a few loaves of bread to her name."

    "Dorcha would have judged the father harshly for killing an innocent girl..." a cleric commented as he wrote the last few sentences of a planned sermon, listening to Master all the while.

    "Liora wandered all across Yoso for many days, until one day, she stopped to rest under a tree." Master continued over a soft melody. "Just then, a poor traveler clad in rags approached her and asked for some of of Liora's bread. Liora gladly gave her two loaves, telling her sad tale all the while." The cleric smiled and nodded, as if he knew who the traveler really was.

    "It turned out the poor traveler was Anima in disguise." Master confirmed the cleric's suspicion, with a triumphant glissando to herald Anima's appearance. "Anima blessed Liora for her kindness, and gave her a sandalwood wand with a head shaped like a Kadabra's head..."

    "Farther down the road, you'll come to the town of Hakutai. The king there is strong yet kind, and you will find work in his service." I filled in Anima's dialogue. "If you are lost on the road of life and don't know what to do, call upon my beloved Dorcha, saying 'Lord of the Night, with all your wisdom, tell me such and so' and Dorcha will speak to you through the Kadabra's head."

    "Liora thanked Anima, and went on her way, waving farewell as Anima departed for the heavens." Master continued as some in the audience applauded my small role. "Before long, she came to a fork in the road, and was unsure which road to take."

    "Lord of the Night, with all your wisdom, tell me what lies down the right road." I filled in Liora's dialogue.

    Master played a few sweeping glissandos before answering me as Dorcha. "The right road is not safe--that leads to a fearsome Garchomp's cave, and he craves human flesh." We continued like this two more times:

    "Lord of the Night, with all your wisdom, tell me what lies down the left road."
    More glissandos filled the air before Master answered my line as Dorcha again. "The left road is not safe either--it leads to the keep of a mighty giant that dines on human flesh."

    "Lord of the Night, with all your wisdom, tell me what lies down the center road."

    The glissandos made the crowd murmur in delight as Master answered me as Dorcha a third time. "The center road will lead you to Hakutai--tell the king your story, and he will help you out."

    Rinada led the applause as Master narrated as himself "So Liora went down the center road to Hakutai, and everything happened just as Dorcha had said--the king was touched by Liora's tale, and gave her work in the palace kitchen, where she helped prepare the elaborate meals the palace dined on every night. But as the days wore on, Liora noticed that the king hardly smiled, and wondered what the matter was. So she took the wand and invoked Dorcha, saying..."

    "Lord of the Night, with all your wisdom, tell me why the king despairs so." I replied as Liora.

    The shower of glissandos was met by cheers this time as Master answered as Dorcha "As I said before, there lives a fearsome Garchomp not far from here. The Garchomp has told the king that he wishes to eat his only son, the prince. If the prince is not eaten tomorrow, all of Hakutai will be eaten instead."

    "But can this Garchomp be slain?" I asked as Liora.

    Master only played a soft flourish before answering as Dorcha. "It sleeps every day at the midday hour-**-go there and I will lend some of my magic to you--and it will never wake again once you cast the spell."

    "This is getting interesting...and then what happened?" Rinada asked.

    "Now, the king had issued a proclamation saying that whoever could slay the Garchomp would be granted one wish." Master continued as himself. "So Liora went out, aimed the wand at the sleeping Garchomp, and commanded..."

    "Dark fire, entrust your power to me!" I called as Liora over a glissando that symbolized the spell being cast.

    "Sure enough, Dorcha's dark flames leapt from the wand and engulfed the Garchomp, killing it." Master continued to some applause. "When asked what her one wish was, Liora requested to marry the prince. Although the king was a bit unsure at first, he eventually agreed, and the preparations for the wedding began. Liora, however, had nothing to wear, so before she slept that night, she prayed to the gods for a bridal gown. Anima heard Liora's request, and gave her a golden gown that sparkled like the sun. The wedding was a grand affair, and for a time, everyone lived happily."

    "However, the tale does not end there..." I cautioned, subduing the applause as Master played a sad melody.

    "Before long, war loomed over Hakutai as a hostile country threatened to invade, and on top of that, the king desired to have Liora for himself." Master continued. Liora saw the king was saddened once again, and asked her wand..."

    "Lord of the Night, with all your wisdom, tell me why the king despairs so." I replied as Liora again.

    Master played the glissandos again and answered as Dorcha "The king desires you for himself, and as soon as the prince departs for the battlefield, he will follow him and kill him."

    "How can I stop him?" I asked as Liora.

    "Go to the giant's castle and take the ring of my beloved he keeps in his room. Once you have the ring, call on Anima's power by saying 'Magia no Anima, turn this into that'" Master replied as Dorcha before narrating as himself. "So Liora went to the giant's castle at noon, and took the ring as he slept. Once she had it and was safely back in the castle, she saw the prince off to battle."

    "And then? And then?" some children begged.

    Liora called upon Dorcha, saying..." Master began before motioning to me.

    "Lord of the Night, with all your wisdom, tell me where the king is." I filled in the dialogue."

    Master played a couple of glissandos before answering as Dorcha. "He is not far behind the prince's forces, and the prince will be dead within the hour." As himself, he continued. "Horrified, Liora took the ring and called...."

    "Magia no Anima, turn the king into a Grumpig!" I called as Liora over a triumphant glissando.

    "No sooner had Liora invoked Anima's power, did the king turn into a Grumpig." Master concluded. "The prince assumed it was an ordinary Grumpig, and had it roasted for a victory feast, as they had won the battle earlier that day. Hakutai emerged victorious in the war, ushering in an era of peace for Yoso...and Liora and her prince lived happily ever after. That ends the tale of 'The Ring that Slew a Dragon'"

    Rinada led the applause. "That's the perfect tale for my paper! In return for your help, would you like to learn a song from this area?"

    "Yes please!" Master smiled as he switched the harp out for his fiddle. "I would even accompany you as you sing."

    With that, he played a spooky melody as Rinada's bright alto sang about a wandering ghost going to any lengths to retrieve a lost treasure. Even now, he does not sing "The Ghostly Ruby" himself--he will ask for someone to sing it while he plays fiddle, in rememberance of Rinada and her hospitality. I've never sang it myself--there's too many low notes that I can't hit.

  19. #19
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    Episode 14: The City of Sindura


    I could see what made Sindura famous long before we arrived--the puffy white sails of the various ships that made port there day in and day out. Port towns are some of my favorite places to visit--where there are ships, there is food, and usually that food will include fish. I'm not picky about fish, either--if it swims in the water, I will happily eat of it.

    Master, however, was not that enthused about buying a fish so early in the morning. "If you really want a fish, Kissa, I will be glad to get you one after we perform today." With that, he motioned for me to follow him down the street towards the town square.

    As we strolled through the marketplace (and I tried oh-so-hard to resist drooling at the plump Berries and the impressive array of Magikarps and Goldeens for sale), something other than the food caught my attention: a ruddy haired boy in the familiar striped shirt and rolled up trousers of a cabin boy. He was seated on a bench by a jewelry stall, counting what gold he had very slowly, as if making sure he had enough for whatever it was his captain had instructed him to buy.

    "Is something troubling you, lad?" Master asked as he took a seat by the boy.

    "Oh no, Sir Minstrel--I was just making sure that I had enough to buy the supplies we need on our next voyage." he assured Master. "Captain Reylos is a generous giver, and expects everyone on the crew to pitch in their fair share, but not all of them want to see their gold used to buy supplies, and so they don't give as much."

    "Ah, Tarten Reylos..." Master smiled. "I know of your captain--a gifted leader and skilled trader with a heart of gold."

    The boy giggled. "That's him, all right! My name's Nicholas--but everyone on the Moltres likes to call me Nicky." he smiled as he let the last of his gold coins clatter back into his bag.

    "Sir Brock of Amhran Hall, and my pet, Kissa." Master smiled.

    Nicholas' eyes widened when he saw my tiara. "You must know millions of stories and songs to have your pet crowned! I would love to have you come aboard with us when we leave for Kaina tomorrow!"

    "Fancy that--I was hoping to seek passage to Kaina to the south, then sail northwest to the plains." Master smiled. "If you'll take me to negotiate with Captain Reylos, I will see if he would be willing to accept my services."

    "Your songs would likely please the sea folk, and keep spirits high--Kaina is three day's journey in favorable seas." Nicholas agreed. "The captain and the crew probably went off to the tavern, if I had to guess."

    It did not take long for Nicholas to purchase the supplies he needed for the journey to Kaina, and before long, we found ourselves in the closest tavern to the main port--The Five Raichus.

    While it was crowded inside, what noise there was came from gossiping sailors, the glasses clattering as the barkeep hung them to dry, or the rattle of dice or chips in a game of chance, with the occassional cheer when someone won big. Granted, it was still early in the morning, so the rougher crowd would probably not arrive until the evening.

    Most of the sailors present were either engrossed in a game or discussing a merchant by the entrance dressed in an elaborate jewel studded outfit, or whatever other rumor struck their fancy. Nicholas, meanwhere, lead us to a large table by a window, where a muscular man about thirty years old was studying a map of Yoso.

    "Cap'n? I've brought the supplies as you asked." Nicholas replied as he lightly tugged at the man's deep blue coat. "I've also found a minstrel willing to offer his skill in story and song to wish the seafolk well and rally the crew."

    The captain said nothing, but smoothed out his dark brown hair, got up from his chair, and looked Master over for a moment. "Which hall do you hail from, minstrel?"

    "Amhran--not far from Mt. Arian." Master replied.

    About then, the captain saw Marista's star marking on the harp case and grinned. "Trained under the great Marista Laire, no less--I've always wanted to hear a teller of tales trained under her watch on my ship." He offered his hand to Master. "Captain Tarten Reylos--a pleasure to meet you, lore singer."

    Master introduced himself to Captain Reylos and explained the purpose of our journeys--the captain was touched by Marista's sacrifice, and how Master kept her memory alive, so much so that he offered Master all the Mata Daisies he wanted and passage to Kaina in return for a tale or two.

    The harp quickly got the crew's attention--one chord of Marista's Song made them drop their cards and dice to listen as Master strolled to the center of the room.

    Once all was quiet, Master began. "Once a king of a faraway land lost his most prized possession--a ring studded in rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, pearls, and other precious stones." Murmurs went up as he continued "He issued a proclamation throughout the land, saying that whoever found the ring would be handsomely rewarded. Everyone in that land searched high and low for the ring, but one morning, a girl--who we will call Aine-- woke up with what she thought was an excellent idea."

    Chuckles of anticipation wafted through the room as Master played an interlude. "Aine's husband was unsure of Aine's plan at first--Aine had came up with crazy schemes before. But Aine assured him this plan would work. Her husband reluctantly agreed to help, and Aine set off for the palace that afternoon.

    Aine introduced herself as an astrologer, and that she would read the stars to find out who took the ring." Master continued. "The king ordered his servants to provide the astrologer with all she needed and instructed them to heed Aine's every request."

    He played a tense interlude before continuing. "Now, the king did not know that three of his own servants had taken the ring--two lads and a lass." He then addressed his audience. "What should we name these three rogues?"

    "Name one Varun!" one sailor suggested.

    "How about Nalin?" another one yelled as a pint of beer arrived for him.

    "And name the lass Yara." Nicholas added as a plate of Berries, bread, and cheese came for him.

    Satisfied with the three names, Master continued his tale. "Varun, Yara, and Nalin were fearful that their plot would be discovered, but they cared for Aine's every need nonetheless. Aine stayed in her room for three days, and although she knew little of books, she was a scholar when it came to human nature. She saw that Varun, Yara, and Nalin trembled when they entered her room, and wondered if there was a reason why they shuddered."

    "And then?" Captain Reylos asked as he looked up from his map.

    "On the fourth day, Aine's husband came to see her." Master continued over a soft melody. "Aine bade him hide under the bed and told him what to do. When Varun came with her breakfast, her husband said 'That's one.'" He froze, as if he was Varun. "Varun froze and almost dropped his tray, he fled so quickly from the room." Laughter filled the air at this. "Then Yara came to make up the beds, but as soon as Aine's husband said 'That's two' she abandoned her linens and fled. Then Nalin came to sweep the room, but when Aine's husband said 'That's three', he dropped his broom and fled himself.

    Later, the three servants came to Aine, and offered her a bag of gold if she would not turn them in to the king--for they know they would be thrown in the royal dungeon at best. Aine told them to feed the ring to one of the royal Combuskens, and she would spare them."

    He played a festive interlude, then continued "In the morning, Aine told the king that she had seen in the stars a Combusken eating the ring. So the king ordered a Combusken slaughtered, and there was the ring, just as Aine said. The king was so happy, he threw a great feast, and made Aine his royal astrologer, where she served for many years...so ends the tale of 'The Girl that Read the Stars'"

    "Bravo!" Captain Reylos led applause. "Nothing less from a pupil of Marista Laire--she smiles on you from heaven and grants you the wisdom and whimsy of many tales!" Master just took a bow for his audience before the crew of the Moltres asked for a song from the sea.

    We went to bed at nine that evening--the same time as the crew. But Nicholas could hardly get any sleep--he had sailed on many voyages with the Moltres, but Kaina was one place he had not been, so his mind was buzzing with what he might see there.

    He came in our room around midnight. "I'm so excited to see Kaina, I can hardly sleep--what do you think I should do?"

    "Tell us what tales you know until you fall asleep?" I suggested.

    "That's an idea!" Nicholas cried, being extra careful not to rouse the other sailors. "I'll tell you one I learned from the captain one day...it is said that long ago when the world was new, Deami and Miran were jealous of one another--Deami would say that the fire and the red earth was the most beautiful thing the gods made, while Miran would claim the sea was the most beautiful. They quarrelled and argued for many days, until finally, Miran created the Sea Guardian Kyorge and Deami created the Land King Groudon. Both Pokemon waged a fierce battle, and the world trembled with the fires, the floods, the earthquakes, the storms, and all sorts of monsters that followed in its wake."

    "Oh goodness..." I gasped. I imagined Deami and Miran as normally peaceful goddesses, but I also knew well their fury was unmatched when angered--but nothing like what Nicholas was describing.

    "Finally, Anima decided enough was enough, and sent the Sky Dragon Rayquaza to bring Groudon and Kyorge to Her in heaven--if Deami and Miran were going to use their creations for evil, she would take them away from them both." Nicholas continued. "Rayquaza enclosed Groudon and Kyorge inside two enchanted orbs, and Anima hid these orbs in two well hidden locations--Groudon beneath the land, and Kyorge under the sea, saying only those that can use their powers for good can free them from the orbs." He paused as he heard someone in the hallway. "Deami and Miran have since been nicer to each other, but the world has never forgotten the great battle they once waged."

    "Is it true the merfolk see Kyorge as a god?" Master asked.

    "The captain says that the orb containing Kyorge landed in a cave beneath the sea, quieting the storms there and saving the merfolk." Nicholas yawned. "That's why they respect Kyorge as a god, and also why have been able to open the orb holding her." He fell asleep not after that, so we did too--we had a long voyage in the morning!
    Last edited by FlamingRuby; 22nd September 2011 at 1:08 AM.

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    Episode 15: An Encounter on the Seas to Kaina


    We rose early the next morning and came aboard the Moltres with the crew. It didn't look too different from most trading ships I had seen--majestic galleons with inlay work winding around it from bow to stern. In the case of the Moltres, the only time the flame inlaywork ended was at the figurine of the ship's namesake that formed the bottom of the bow.

    Nicholas was first to meet us as we came aboard. "You wouldn't mind keeping an eye out for Rattatas in the cargo hold, would you?"

    "Not at all." I replied as I was shown beneath the deck, where boxes filled with almost every item imaginable had been loaded aboard for its journey to Kaina.

    It was a little unnerving getting used to the ship's movement as I patroled the cargo hold, but after pacing around once, there was not a Rattata to be had, so I came on deck to see how Master was doing.

    Fortunately, he had not gotten seasick, and was humming a calm melody as he swabbed his part of the decks. "Captain's orders?" I smiled as I watched him work.

    He nodded. "I don't mind it though--it's no different from Amhran Hall, and it hasn't been the first time I've had to earn my keep on a ship." Then, the ship's movement on the waves and the clunking of the various other sailors doing other chores gave him an idea. Come all ye young sailors, and listen to me. I'll sing you a song of the fish of the sea... he sang.

    Then blow ye winds westerly, westerly blow; we’re bound to the southward, so steady she goes. the other sailors echoed, instantly recognizing the shanty Master was singing.

    Oh, first came the Wailord, the biggest of all. He clumb up aloft and let every sail fall... Master sang again.

    Then blow ye winds westerly, westerly blow; we’re bound to the southward, so steady she goes. came the reply. I lay down on the port side nearby where Master was working and listened as the sea song continued--Master singing a verse about a Pokemon, and the sailors responding with the refrain:

    Next came the Seaking with his spotted back. He hauled aft the sheets and boarded each tack...

    Then blow ye winds westerly, westerly blow; we’re bound to the southward, so steady she goes.

    The Gorebyss came next, with her little snout. She grabbed the wheel, calling "Ready? About!

    Then blow ye winds westerly, westerly blow; we’re bound to the southward, so steady she goes.

    I left them to sing and returned to my post below decks. Before long, guarding the cargo became an exercise in tedium, so I curled up by a box full of fabric and dozed off.

    A crash of thunder woke me from my snooze an hour or so later, and I came bounding on deck to find the ship in pandemonium as the crew did their best to guide the ship through the howling wind and rain.

    Master had been whisked away to the captain's quarters to dry off, so I met him there. "I doubt a singer of songs would be much help in a storm." Captain Reylos explained. "But he's a fine deckswabber of sorts."

    "It's not easy to stay on your feet when the ship is pitching about like this." Master added as he shivered from the cold rain.

    I nuzzled Master again, then followed Captain Reylos out onto the deck, where he ordered "Someone play a prayer to Miran, so that She may send one of her children to guide us through the storm!"

    "Aye sir!" one sailor replied before fumbling for a wooden flute and playing a calm and prayerful melody to the stormy sea.

    At first, nothing seemed to happen when the last note died. But just as I was about to return to the captain's quarters and tend to Master, some movement beneath the water got my and the lookout's attention. "Mermaid off the port bow!" he called. Cheers went up from the crew when they too spotted the glint of fuschia scales in the water.

    "What's going on?" Master asked as he joined me on deck. He gasped when we finally saw the mermaid surface. "One of the merfolk?"

    "It pains Miran to see a sailor or ship in danger, lad." Captain Reylos explained as the dark brown haired mermaid swam on ahead of the ship. "So when one prays to Her through song, she will send one of the merfolk--the children of the sea--to guide them through the storm.."

    Master went back inside to get his harp, and played a soft flourish. The mermaid noticed us and returned by the port side, so we could see her. "Good day, singer of the land--what spurs you to cross the sea?"

    "I am on my way to Kaina to perform there." Master simply replied. "Might I know the name of the sea child that guides us through these rough waters?"

    "I am Melodisa Silvermist of the southern sea." the mermaid replied. "An honor to meet a loresinger of the land."

    "Thank you for guiding us through these waters." Master started before a wind gust nearly sent him tumbling to the deck.

    "In return for your song from before, I will teach you a tale of the sea." Melodisa offered.

    At first, Master wasn't sure what Melodisa meant, but then he remembered the shanty he had been leading earlier. "That's one of the few sea songs I know." he explained. "I've always wondered what tales the merfolk tell..."

    "Then listen as I tell you this tale from the sea." Melodisa smiled. "The landfolk have the Pikachu Sorin as their trickster, and we have a crafty Vaporeon named Umi. Some merfolk believe she is an incarnation of Miran herself."

    "Interesting..." I mused.

    "One day, Umi arrived by the shore where her friend, a Squirtle named Melia, lived. She called into the cave to let Melia know she had arrived, but no answer came. Umi feared the worst--that someone had kidnapped Melia."

    "Oh no..." Master swallowed hard.

    "Umi rushed outside, and saw long and slithering tracks on the beach." Melodisa continued before weaving around some rocks. Once sure the ship was safely through the shallows, she returned to the port side and continued. "Umi knew well of the horrible Gyarados that lived somewhere beneath the sea--that, she assumed, was who had kidnapped Melia. So she took up her enchanted coral sword and set off to find Melia. She traveled through high mountains and deep valleys, narrow streams and vast plains, calling for her friend all the while."

    "So did she find her friend?" I asked, worried for Melia.

    "At long last, Umi came to the seas where the Gyarados lived." Melodisa replied. "She looked down into the murky waters, where the Gyarados was sleeping, and saw Melia frantically trying to escape his coils. She then looked to the sky and commanded 'Spirits of time, hide the wind from the guiding hand of Anima! Stop!' At this, the wind stopped blowing and all was still. "Then she saw Ho'oh flaying by, and commanded her to burn as hot as she could. Ho'oh complied with Umi's request, and as the water boiled in that place, Umi transformed herself into a blue pearl so she would not by harmed by the searing heat."

    "And then?" Master asked as he braced himself on a mast.

    "At first, the other sea Pokemon were confused as to why the seas were so warm at that point." Melodisa continued. "But Miran assured them that Umi was trying to save a friend, and they need not worry. By then, Melia arrived on the shore, unharmed from the boiling sea. But just as the Gyarados surfaced in pursuit, Umi revealed herself and slashed the Gyarados' heart."

    By this time the storm was dying down, but there was still fog, so Melodisa continued. "In its dying throes, the Gyarados made the water level of the sea rise higher and higher. Umi and Melia ran and warned the people and Pokemon to get to higher ground, but before long, they saw that not even the mountains would protect the people from the raging waters. They created several islands in the water and gathered as many people and Pokemon as they could. The Gyarados gave one final splash as it died, consuming the world with it, but all those on the islands were safe, and on them, life began anew. Ever since then, the merfolk and the islanders remember how Umi saved her friend and the people--that ends the tale of 'Umi and the Flood'"

    "Well told." I replied. "An interesting take on the flood myth, too."

    "I'm glad you liked it, Lady Persian." Melodisa giggled before looking ahead into the fog. "Your destination is close, but it is not safe to continue alone."

    True to her word, Melodisa guided the Moltres through the fog all through the night. I rested easily that night, knowing Miran had blessed us by sending Melodisa--if not for the Prayer to the Sea, Anima knows how much longer our journey would have been.

    To Be Continued...

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    Episode 16: An Adventure in Kaina


    After saying our farewells to Melodisa and the crew of the Moltres, we took a stroll around the city of Kaina. The stone walkways immediately brought back memories of the wharf around Mavi, but Master was not in the mood to buy me fish that morning.
    It was apparently market day when we arrived, judging from the sturdy wooden stalls thatched with island grasses. Unlike the wooden stalls at home on the mainland, the stalls in Kaina were a darker color--and no doubt it was a stronger wood as well. Exotic fruits, jewelry and carvings were on display in every stall, Master particularly liked a Gorebyss necklace made of stone in one stall.

    Before long, we had wandered into the town square and made ourselves at home at the local tavern, the Laughing Taillow. It was unusually loud inside the tavern as we entered, but I guess most of it came from the crowd heckling (or egging on, it was hard to tell) a mage clad in maroon and purple robes that was boasting of all kinds of things--he claimed to have slain a Salamence with his bare hands and ridden a pegasus with a blue flaming mane (or at least those were the only two I could hear clearly) We left him to boast and made ourselves at home at a table by the left wall.

    A waitress brought Master a glass filled with a light orange liquid with dark swirls from another type of Berry, saying it was named the Oran Island--a clear mind drink often served to welcome visitors to the islands. Master took a sip and nodded with approval, then took a moment to tune his harp.

    For some reason, that was enough to quiet the boasting mage and the crowd of hecklers as Master played a quick improvisation in A minor to warm up. They applauded when the last note died.

    I just smiled and lapped at some coconut milk as Master segued into Marista's Song, then began a tale. "Long ago, every mountain, valley, hill and plain was covered in red roses and other flowers. The Beedrills and the Beautiflies would flit about and drink the nectar from the flowers, but the Beedrills would save a little extra to make honey, which they then shared with the Ursarings. It wasn't just the Ursarings that enjoyed the honey made from rose nectar--every other Pokemon did as well." Some "mmm"s wafted through the air as Master played a few bars of "The Beautifly" as an interlude. "But alas, time went on, and the Pokemon took for granted the gifts the gods had granted them...and some became greedy. For example..." he mused as he played a soft interlude. "One day a family of Bunearies came upon a field of roses, and after one taste of the red buds, they gorged themselves on it, and when one patch was empty, they moved on to another. By the time the summer ended, the Bunearies had eaten every last rose. The Stantler caught onto this, and before long, not only were the flowers missing, but so were the leaves and the stems."

    "So what did the Ursarings do?" a man asked.

    "They were none too pleased about getting fewer honeycombs, and asked the Beedrills what was going on." Master replied. "The Beedrlls replied that they had found less nectar, which meant less honey for everyone." After playing a quick interlude, he continued "Autumn soon came, and winter followed, and the Ursarings returned to their caves to hibernate. All winter long, the Pokemon dreamed of the hills bursting with flowers and berries come springtime."

    After playing a long glissando to symbolize the passage of time, he continued. "Springtime finally arrived, and new flowers came with it, but the Bunearies went to work eating them all again. In their anger, the Pokemon cried to the gods to help them, as they did not want to lose their flowers to the greedy Bunearies a second time. Anima heard the Pokemon's cries of anger and how the Bunearies had ravaged the rose fields. So one day, Anima led the Pokemon to Her secret garden, filled with all sorts of flowers and roses. She told the Bunearies to have their fill of roses, whatever was eaten in Anima's garden would grow back again in a matter of hours. The Ursarings protested at first, but Anima just smiled, as if quietly assuring the other Pokemon that She knew what She was doing. No sooner did the Bunearies settle in to eat the holy roses, did they howl in pain from the thorns dotting their faces." Laughter filled the air at this.

    "Anima told the Bunearies that the holy roses had thorns to protect them from the earth's greed, and that the earth's roses would have them as well--and they have had them from now until then, as a reminder to the Pokemon to be content with what they had--that is why the rose has thorns." Master concluded to some applause.

    While most in the crowd dropped a coin in the harp case and left, a teal haired girl approached us. "Wonderful, Sir Minstrel--a voice and skill on the harp like that would be enough to coax the fae from the glen at Starshine Ridge." Just then, she caught herself. "Ah, look at me rambling! My name is Kyari, a linguist scholar by trade."

    "A pleasure to meet you, Lady Kyari." Master replied as he made a place for her at our table. "What can Kissa and I do for you?"

    "My current project is to see if their is a link between the holy tongue and the language of the fae." Kyari explained. "But since no one has heard the fae tongue spoken nor attempted to write it down, I cannot prove or disprove my theory until I hear the fae tongue with my own ears. The closest place to here I know the fae appear is Starlight Ridge--a little hill overlooking town."

    "You have my word we will do our best to help." Master replied.

    We met Kyari outside town that evening and hiked the short distance away to Starlight Ridge. Master decided to sit against a tree, his harp in hand. I laid next to him, and Kyari sat close by on a rock watching and listening for any sign of the fae.

    For a while, all was quiet, until Kyari decided to sing in an attempt to lure out the fae. Far and away, through this world I roam, without a place to call my home. And under Dorcha's silver dome, I must find someone to guide me...

    "Interesting song..." I mused.

    "It's a tune I heard one Rainbow Day, entitled 'The Runaway's Ring'. Kyri explained. "It tells of a runaway who has to bring a ring to a powerful mage before a greedy lord can take it from her."

    "Let's see here..." Master mused as he experimented with the melody on his harp for a moment.

    But no sooner had he struck the strings, did he hear a clear voice akin to a young girl singing Mued am aseie, wos hes fis a zwag, whesol ieeya wuera re fues qia prina. Am yosad Nisieeya's chesad nina, a qoars mem chinaga re caba qa...

    The noise startled me. "What was that?"

    "Could that have been a fae?" "Kyari gasped. "Play it again, please!"

    Master nodded and began the introduction to the tune again, and at the appropriate time a singer would begin, he heard what sounded like a young girl's voice very clearly singing Mued am aseie, wos hes fis a zwag, whesol ieeya wuera re fues qia prina. Am yosad Nisieeya's chesad nina, a qoars mem chinaga re caba qa...

    He looked again and saw a fairy clad in red gathering some dew from a daisy, singing to Master's harp all the while. Kyari was furiously writing down the oddly hypnotic words the whole time, but even so, the fairy never knew we were there the whole time.

    To Be Continued...

  22. #22
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    Episode 17: The Town of Solarosa


    From Kaina, we explored some more of the islands. It was a lovely walk with the palm trees and exotic flowers everywhere, and the songs of the exotic birds seemed to inspire Master--he actually had an entertaining conversation with a leafbird with his whistle (if you can call partly improvised songs a conversation). He would play a little bit, then the leafbird would answer, then play a little more. This went on until it flew away an hour later, allowing us to continue through the brush.

    After wading through the vines and trees, we came upon a village nestled in the forest. The houses were very simple in design--bamboo walls with stone for reinforcement and some thatch for the roof. Some children were running around a statue of a blindfolded boy holding a mirror to the sky, chasing a stone hoop all the while. The adults were either working in rice paddies or Berry fields, and whoever wasn't was weaving something at their looms or cleaning the simple bamboo houses.

    Master made himself comfortable on a rock overlooking the small village and the statue, took his harp, and began playing a calm yet wistful melody to pass the time. A girl stopped running around the statue no sooner had he played a few notes and called to the other children Menyana! The children immediately abandoned chasing the hoop and crowded around Master's feet, mesmerized by his song.

    "Welcome to our humble village of Solarosa, menyana. a boy began. "If you need anything of us, please ask, and we will do our best to help."

    "Thank you..." Master replied, still playing his song. "As thanks for your hospitality, I will tell you a tale from the mainland." He then segued into Marista's Song before beginning "There was once a man who had five sons that looked all alike--and each one had their own unique gift. The eldest, Akira, was very smart, and could outwit even the Lord of the Night with his wisdom. The second son, Haruto, was agile enough to reach things no mortal could reach. The third son, Hagane, had a head as strong as steel. The fourth son, Kenta, had skin as thick as iron. And the youngest, Yuki, could withstand the harshest cold."

    "Wow!" The children were impressed by the gifts.

    "As the five boys grew, they learned to master and appriciate the gifts given to them by Anima." Master continued, quieting the whispers. "The years went by, until one day, the man came down with an illness none of the healers could cure. He called Akira to his bedside and told him that he feared his time to die was close. But Akira assured his father that he knew the cure, and asked his brother Haruto to reach out and take the pearl in the royal palace that was said to have healing power. Once Haruto had the pearl, Akira called his brothers together and instructed them to boil the stone in water. They did this, and when their father drank the water containing the pearl's power, he was healed again, good as new."

    "Thank Anima he was all right!" a boy smiled, relieved the father was going to be okay.

    "But before Haruto could return the pearl to its rightful place in the palace, the king discovered it missing, and ordered his men to find the thief." Master continued over a tense interlude. "It wasn't long before they burst into the man's house and arrested Akira, thinking he had done the deed. Akira was brought to the palace, tried, and sentenced to die. But before the soldiers could take him to the execution plaza, Akira told the king he at least wished to tell his father goodbye."

    "He's not going to die, okay?" I heard a boy comforting his sister, who was shaking in fear as tears streamed down her face.

    "The king let Akira go spend one last night with his family, as per a prisoner's last request." Master continued. "But Akira sent Hagane in his stead to the execution plaza the next morning, and no one was none the wiser, as the five boys looked exactly alike. Try as the executioner might to cut off Hagane's head, he could not." There were some tense giggles as Master played a series of glissandos and hard chords to represent the executioner fruitlessly trying to behead Hagane.

    "So what did the king do?" another girl asked.

    "He figured his usual execution method of beheading was not going to work, and ordered the executioner to intead stab Hagane through the heart with the sharpest sword he had." Master explained. "When asked if he had any last requests, Hagane requested one night with his family, as his brother Akira had done. Hagane sent his brother Kenta in his stead, and try as the executioner might, not even the sharpest sword in the royal barracks could pierce Kenta's skin." Laughter went up from the children as Master played several hard chords representing a sword trying to stab thick skin.

    "And then, milord?" a man asked as he passed through the square, piqued in the story.

    "The king then decided to leave Kenta on the top of a high mountain, in hopes he would die in the cold." Master went on. "Just as his brother had done, Kenta requested one last night with his family, and sent Yuki to the palace in his stead the next morning. Not only did Yuki survive an entire day and night in the mountain's harsh cold, he also found many jewels in the snow. The king was surprised at the jewels, and offered to set Yuki free and forgive his family in return for a share. Yuki accepted, and returned home to a great celebration. That family never forgot their children's gifts from that day on...and that ends the tale of 'The Brothers that Outwitted a King'"

    The children applauded at the tale's end and hurried off as an older woman met us on the square. "Thank you, traveler, for keeping the children entertained for a while. You must know much of the mainland."

    "That I do, Lady..." Master started.

    "Mendora--I am the healer of this village and the keeper of the island's tales." the woman replied. "As thanks for sharing your tales from the mainland, I will tell you a tale from this island--specifically the story behind our statue.

    "I was about to ask about it..." I interjected. "Why does it depict a blindfolded boy?"

    "To answer that question, I must first give you some background." Mendora explained. "It is said that long ago, the dragon Pokemon were stronger than they are today. In some places even today, they are revered as guardians or as incarnations of the gods. In others, they are monsters to be feared."

    "I see..." Master mused--he had told plenty of tales involving dragons, both good and bad.

    "Long ago, it was believed that whenever there was an unexplained death in a town, the dragons were to blame." Mendora went on. "Those that did see them often didn't live to tell the tale, and once they took up residence in a town or a city, they brought terror on all its residents. In those days, a dragon Pokemon's eyes shot a deadly elemental blast, so any that looked upon them died in an instant--this was why no one could kill one of these great beasts. They typically took residence in a cellar or some other dark place--this was because a dragon Pokemon's elemental stare could even kill another dragon Pokemon."

    "Thank Anima the dragons are no longer like this..." Master smiled, relieved as some townsfolk joined us in listening to Mendora's tale.

    "But suppose someone did survive the dragon's stare--then what happened?" I asked.

    "If someone did survive the dragon's stare, they would die by one of the dragon's other attacks, be this its elemental breath, its claws, or the poison spikes along their backs." Mendora replied. "It was no wonder the people often spoke of the dragons--they told of the maids that found one in the attic of their house, and the children attacked as they played. It wasn't known how many had died from a dragon's hand, but everyone knew one thing--there was no known weapon that could defeat a dragon. So when one took up residence in a town, every man, woman and child in that town would hear the cries of 'Beware...beware....'"

    There was a brief silence for a moment as Mendora surveyed the crowd, as if searching for anyone still brave enough to hear how a dragon of old could be defeated. But no one left the area--every eye was riveted on the blue and silver clad woman with slightly graying black hair. Even Master was watching her, calmly plucking out a quiet melody on his harp in anticipation of what happened next.

    Finally, Mendora spoke again. "For some time, our fair town of Solarosa was spared from the dragons, but one day, the tavern's barkeep sent an apprentice to bring up a new barrel of ale from the cellar.When the apprentice did not return after an hour, the barkeep figured he had gotten distracted or into the ale, and sent a second apprentice. When that apprentice did not return, rumors began flying, and before long everyone in Solarosa knew that a dragon had taken up residence in the tavern cellar.

    The next morning, everyone gathered in the town square to discuss the dragon. Yet no one had any idea how to deal with a dragon."

    "Surely someone knew, didn't they, Lady Mendora?" a girl asked.

    "Finally, a boy announced that he would be the one to slay the dragon." Mendora continued. "The people tried to talk him out of it--they said he would never hear the dragon coming, but the boy said he would know. They said that the stare would kill him, but the boy said he would blindfold himself for protection."

    "What was he going to do?" I stammered--either this boy was very brave or a fool to take on a dragon.

    "Just listen." Master assured me.

    "After many pleas and rebuttals, they allowed the boy into the cellar after praying to Anima for protection, blindfolded and carrying a mirror." Mendora made a prayerful gesture, as if representing the people's prayers to Anima. "It didn't take long for him to find the dragon--it roared and blew a stream of red flame at the boy as he approached, but his blindfold and the protection of Anima rendered the flames harmless. The dragon then slunk to the bottom of the stairwell as quiet as could be, but when the boy arrived on the last step of the stairwell, he aimed the mirror in the dragon's face, allowing it to burn in its own flames!" Cheers went up at this. "The people hailed him a hero and erected a statue in his honor--the statue you see here in the square today." Thunderous applause filled the air at this.

    "Well told, Lady Mendora...I would be honored to share this story on the mainland." Master smiled.

    "Please do--it does this healer proud to know the tales of the islands are enjoyed everywhere." Mendora replied.

    We departed Solarosa and the islands later that night. Yet as I watched the moon rise above the sea that night, I was confident Master would be able to do the tale Mendora had told justice--and seeing how it is one of his most requested tales, he definitely has.

    To Be Continued...

  23. #23
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    Sorry for not having an episode in a while--regular updates will resume after the holidays.

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