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Thread: The Tale of the Red Mage's Journey

  1. #1
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    Default The Tale of the Red Mage's Journey

    In celebration of "Pokemon"'s 20th anniversary and "The Legend of Zelda"'s 30th anniversary this year, I present to you a fantastic Pokemon adventure set in a Zelda-like world.

    (rated E10+ for fantasy violence and frightening images)

    Prologue: The Eight-color Blade

    It is a story long told in the world of Mikawa...long ago, the Legendary Pokemon forged a beautiful sword blessed with the powers of the elements to protect the world from evil. Because this sword glowed in eight colors, it became known to the races of Mikawa as the Eight-color Blade.

    For a time, the Eight-color Blade remained in the realm of mortals, and was sought by many great heroes. Those worthy enough to wield the blade were few in number--being a holy weapon, the Eight-color Blade did not look at outward appearances, but instead judged the heart of the potential wielder--and woe to those who dared to use it for their own glory!

    After far too many wars both large and small were fought over this holy blade, The Great Lord Arceus, chief of the Legendaries, and the one that created the world and all in it, returned the blade to the heavens, only appearing to worthy wielders to grant them the use of it.

    The Legendaries agreed that not just anyone skilled with a sword could wield the Eight-color Blade, but what if evil struck, and its holy powers were needed? Arceus decided to drain the sword of its elemental powers, and hide the gems used to grant them in well guarded labyrinths to deter the unworthy. The blade itself, while still powerful, was hidden in what is known today as Glasa Forest.

    Most legends say that in hours of great need, only a great hero can draw the blade from its pedestal--and the one that does must then go on a great journey to unlock its full potential, and awaken the god Pokemon Arceus.

    Of course, this did not deter would be wielders from attempting to draw the sword--most of them could not budge the blade at all, but those that could draw the blade either were lost wandering the labyrinths (where they have been presumed dead) or could not handle the long and perilous quest wielders of the sword had to undertake.

    And so the Eight-color Blade remained in its pedestal, and Mikawa's peoples were at peace--peace many hoped would last forever.

    But as is often the case in this world, that was not to be.

    Not long ago, a wizard named Lysandre has released the destruction bird Yveltal from her prison deep underground, unleashing an evil magic not seen in a thousand years--many Pokemon have gone wild, and monsters roam the land, bringing terror and despair in their wake.

    Like many others before them, many would be heroes made the journey to Glasa Forest to attempt to draw the sword, but one by one, they failed, as the Eight-color Blade can only be drawn by one whose heart was courageous, true, and unselfish.

    My tale for you all is about one such hero that drew the sword, endured the long quest, and defeated Lysandre once and for all.

    How do I know this tale is true, you ask? I was there alongside the wielder as he traveled, lending the magic of song to his cause.

    So hear now the tale of the red mage Ash--who I am proud to call my friend--and how he awakened the Eight-color Blade...

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    Episode 1: The Minstrel's Wisdom

    (Brock's tale)

    A black haired boy watched as his companion, a blonde haired ranger, aimed her final shot of the morning at an unsuspecting Pidgey perched in a tree. While the residents of Vitiva would enjoy the small bird Pokemon's meat, the boy would use the feathers to decorate talismans and charms to sell to the town alchemist, who would in turn sell them to the public.

    After a few tense seconds, the arrow went flying, and the Pidgey fell to the ground, scattering the other Pidgeys in the tree. "Nice shot, Serena." the mage smiled over the Pidgey's warning cries as he ran to retrieve their quarry.

    The ranger was awed at the size of the Pidgey. "Never seen one with that much meat before...combined with the Bunearies and other Pidgeys we shot earlier today, we have enough meat for at least two weeks!"

    A thought occurred to her. "Does the alchemist know how to make hunting charms, Ash?"

    "It depends on what you mean by hunting charms...if you mean charms to assist a hunter's accuracy and speed, then yes, he knows how to make those." Ash replied as he deposited the lifeless Pidgey into a bag. "If we mean charms to attract game, then no."

    He smiled. "But then again, you've trained to hunt and track quarry, so I don't see why you would need a hunting charm." Serena just giggled in agreement as she followed her friend back to town, where the residents of Vitiva were just beginning to wake up.

    ---------

    After dropping off their haul of meat in the smokehouse to be prepared and preserved, Ash and Serena met back in the town square to share a quick breakfast of some pastries, Berries, and cheese. "Miss us, bud?" Ash grinned to the small electric mouse that clambered on his shoulder, eager to sample the Oran, Pecha, and Cheri Berries in its master's bundle of food.

    "I'd say he did--Pikachu was still asleep when we left." Serena replied before biting into a cream-filled pastry.

    The notes of a lute and an older male voice singing in an mystical language snapped Serena to attention. "Sir Brock's here!"

    A grin formed on Ash's face as he noticed the brown haired young man in the magnificent purple, red, and gold costume of a high minstrel approaching the town square. "I was wondering if he'd ever come this week--people were saying something horrible had happened in Argenta..."

    "If there were something like a flood or a rock slide in Argenta, Brock would use his magic to quickly let us know if he was all right." Serena assured Ash, her eyes sparkling with excitement over what sorts of songs and stories their minstrel friend had to tell this week.

    "Thank Arceus you could make it to us this week...." Ash got up and hugged Brock as a crowd of children hurried to the square. "We were worried something had happened to you!"

    "Peace, Sir Ash--I merely took a longer route to get here, since the alternative was getting lost in Glasa Forest." Brock replied.

    "Some people think there's an evil wizard afoot that caused the Eight Color Blade's pedestal to appear, but who knows?" Serena reported as more and more people arrived to watch Brock's performance. "The uproar got so bad, Sage Oak decided to look into the matter to calm the townsfolk."

    "If there is an evil wizard afoot, usually the fey and the elves are the first to know." Brock reminded Serena.

    With that, he switched to his preferred instrument--a circle shaped silver harp with sapphire and emerald inlays--and began weaving an epic adventure for the crowd. "Those who seek the injury of another will often injure themselves; and one who spreads the traps of treachery and deception often fall into them themselves."

    "A wise lesson." Ash grinned, anticipating what this story would be about.

    "Hear now the tale of Jeran and Epona, and how they outwitted an old king, causing him to fall into his own trap." Brock began, quieting the excited chatter.

    With that, he began "Across the wide ocean, on the further side of the mountains, beyond thick forests, in a village that faced the sky, there once lived an old peasant who had three sons. The eldest, whose name is not important to us, was the wisest young man in the village; the second, whose name is also unimportant, was of average wits; and the youngest, who was named Jeran, cared to do nothing more than lie in the corner by the stove and sleep. So the whole neighborhood called him stupid and a fool."

    "Oh, but sometimes the stupid know more than we think!" Serena grinned as whispers of anger wafted through the crowd--"Jeran and Epona", and its many other versions, was one of hers' and Ash's favorites to hear.

    The harp calmed the crowd's anger. "Now, one morning when the man went to his fields, he found that someone had stolen some of the hay during the night." Brock continued. "So that evening he sent his eldest son to capture the thief. The eldest son took his axe and pitchfork, and went to the field."

    He played a few flowing chords to mimic a winter wind. "On this night, there was a bitter wind and heavy snow, and he said to himself, 'Why should I freeze myself stiff to save a little worthless fodder?' So, finding a warm corner, he lay down, wrapped himself in his thick fur coat and went to sleep. In the morning he saw that some of the hay had been stolen, and told his father he had chased the thief all over the field, but could not catch him, nearly freezing to death in the process. His father praised him for his efforts, and the next night sent his second son. So the middle son went to the field, but he fared no better than his big brother."

    So what was taking the hay, milord?" the alchemist asked.

    "The next evening the man told Jeran to try and capture the thief, although he had his doubts over how a fool could succeed where wise men had failed." Brock explained over a tense melody. "Jeran put a crust of bread under his coat and went off to the field. He did not lie down as his brothers had done, but scoured the entire field, and when Lugia took flight in his silver glory he sat down under a bush, counted the stars in the sky and ate his midnight snack...."

    ---------

    "...But the beautiful Princess Marla turned away from him and said..." Brock then switched to a pitch perfect mimic of a young girl. "Your Majesty, you are wrinkled and gray, and have seen sixty summers before now, while I am only sixteen. Should I marry you, the kings and queens of all the kingdoms of the world would laugh, saying that a grandfather had taken his grandchild as his bride."

    Ash and Serena laughed the loudest as the crowd pictured the ridiculous scene. "It is true that flowers do not bloom in winter and that I am no longer young." Brock explained in character as the king. "But I am nevertheless a great king."

    "I will wed no one who has gray hairs and lacks teeth in his head." he replied as Princess Marla. "If you will somehow grow young again, then will I gladly wed you."

    "How can a man grow young again?" he asked as the king.

    "There is a way, milord." he smiled as Princess Marla. "Order three great cauldrons to be placed in thy courtyard. Fill the first with cold water, the second with boiling water, and the third with boiling milk. He who bathes one minute in the boiling milk, two in the boiling water, and three in the cold water, becomes young and so handsome that no minstrel can describe them. Do this and I will become your queen, but not before."

    "No matter how many times Brock mimics a girl, it amazes me." Ash grinned.

    "He's likely has had plenty of practice to mimic us both." Serena replied before turning her attention to the high minstrel.

    "The king immediately had the three cauldrons prepared." Brock continued as himself. "The jealous nobles however, came to him and asked Jeran to take the trial before him, just to be sure the princess' claim was true. So the king summoned Jeran, and bade him prepare for the trial. When Jeran heard the king's command he said to himself, 'So I am to be killed like a sacrificial Mareep or Combusken...'" and trudged to the stables and told Epona..."

    "You have found the Emboar with the Golden Bristles, the mare Starfire, and the beautiful Princess Marla; but now these are all as nothing and my life is as worthless as an old boot!" he sighed in frustration, using a mimic of Ash for Jeran.

    "Cry not, young master." he assured an imagined person, using a mimic of Serena for Epona. "Listen closely. When you go to the courtyard, before you take off your clothes to bathe, ask he king to bring me to you, under the presumption you are bidding me farewell for the last time. He will agree and when I am brought there, lay your hands on me and sing the words 'Leishu shun ji, lei si'. Once the spell takes effect, immediately jump in the caldron of boiling milk, then into the boiling water, and finally into the cold water."

    As himself, Brock went on "It was not long before the guards came to bring Jeran to the courtyard. All the advisors and ministers were there to watch, while the king looked on from a balcony. Two of the cauldrons were boiling hot, and servants fed the great fires beneath them with mountains of wood. Jeran bowed low before the king and prepared for the trial." He proceeded to do this before Sage Oak, making the sage stifle a chuckle that he had been tapped to play a role in the epic adventure.

    "Your Majesty! I have but one favor to ask." he requested as Jeran. "I want Epona brought here, so that I may embrace her one last time!"

    As himself, he continued "The king was in a good mood, believing he was about regain his youth, and he consented, and no sooner was Epona brought out, did Jeran lay his hands on her, singing the words Leishu shun ji, lei si...

    Oohs and ahhs went up as a protective aura appeared around Brock for a moment, never mind the aura was only for show. "Without waiting a moment Jeran threw off his clothes, and jumped into the cauldrons, one after the other. While he had been good- ooking before, he emerged from the last cauldron so handsome that his beauty could neither be described with a pen nor told in a tale."

    "WOW!!!" Serena gasped, starry eyed as she imagined what Jeran may have looked like.

    When the king saw this, he could wait no longer." Brock continued. "He hurried down from the balcony and without waiting to undress, jumped into the boiling milk."

    Laughter went up over the harp's glissando representing the king's jump. "But as he did not know the spell of protection, he was burned alive!" Brock smirked.

    "Not to mention his heart was impure, as well." Sage Oak grinned.

    "Princess Marla came to the balcony and spoke to the people, saying..." Brock then switched to his "Princess Marla" voice. "Your king chose me to be his queen. If you wish, I will rule this kingdom, but it will be only as the wife of him who brought me from my homeland!"

    Over a festive melody, Brock went on as himself "The people, well pleased, shouted 'Long live King Jeran!'.

    Cheers went up over the harp. "So Jeran led the lovely Princess Marla to the shrine, and there before Arceus they were married that very day." Brock smiled. "The bells rang, the trumpets sounded, and fireworks lit up the sky. People from far and near sat at ornate tables, drank from golden goblets, and celebrated for at least nine months. But Jeran, with his queen, ruled the kingdom wisely and well, and grew never too wise to take counsel from Epona."

    The square applauded as Brock took a bow. "That story never gets old!" Serena raved as she flicked a gold coin in the harp case.

    "What if we went on an adventure like that, and met Epona ourselves--if she even exists." Ash mused with a dreamy sigh.

    "If what I have found in my research on Glasa Forest is any indication, you may be going on that adventure sooner than you think." Sage Oak cautioned, making both Ash and Serena freeze in terror--what had the sage discovered?

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    Episode 2: The Dark Wizard's Plot


    Ash hurried as fast as he could through the streets of Vitiva, past the crowds of people and shops as he kept Serena in view. I wonder what it was Sage Oak found that has him so worried? he thought. Or what he meant when he said we would be searching for Epona sooner than we thought?

    As he emerged from the marketplace and onto the stone pathway that led to the sage's library and a residential district, he balked when he saw Brock with Serena by the library entrance. "Brock? What are you doing here?"

    "If my hunch about why the sage has called you here is correct, you may have need of my song on that adventure he told you about." Brock replied before the three friends made their way inside the large stone building with the book-like emblem of the scholar's guild over the entryway.

    The rows of shelves containing books on almost every topic felt strangely comforting to Ash. Many times, when he and Serena were younger, Sage Oak would let them peruse the shelves for both pleasure and schoolwork. When the sage had hired an apprentice scholar named Tracey, he and Serena gave their all to make him feel at home. In return, he would show them his drawings of Pokemon, fairies, elves, and monsters. Some of them, such as anatomy diagrams, recipe illustrations, schematics of long lost relics, and maps; were for reference and study, but others he drew for artistic reasons, leading Serena to often joke that if he ever tired of studying, he could always become an artist.

    As he arrived in the main study, he found Tracey in the process of sketching a detailed map of Glasa Forest, complete with fairy groves, elven cities, and the pedestal where the legendary Eight-color Blade was said to lie.

    "Forgive me for interrupting your drawing, Sir Tracey but will you inform your master we wish to see him?" Ash asked as he approached the young black haired scholar.

    Tracey added one last line to the detail of a tree, then looked up from his map. "Master said he was expecting you--I will inform him you are here immediately."

    With that, he set aside his sketchbook, and hurried off down the hall to Sage Oak's quarters, while Ash, Serena, and Brock settled in around an empty table.

    Sage Oak arrived some time later with some books and maps, with Tracey not far behind him. "All right...we all know the story of the forging of the Eight-color Blade, and what one must do if one is able to wield it?"

    "Of course--I have told the tale many times." Brock replied.

    "What I have found concerns an old foe Brock has crossed paths with before." Sage Oak explained. "Brock, if you could use your seeing song to show Ash and Serena what he looks like, please."

    "All right...Seilei colfin ar kadram tro... Brock sang, conjuring an image of a young man in an ornate wizard's robe before Ash and Serena.

    "Hair kinda looks like a Pyroar's mane..." Serena mused as she studied the image, particularly the man's fiery red hair that flared in all directions.

    "Does Pyroar-man have a name?" Ash was equally weirded out by the man's appearance.

    "His name is Lysandre." Sage Oak explained. "A fallen wizard obsessed with beauty and beautiful things, but his heart is anything but."

    "A year ago, Lysandre summoned me to retrieve the legendary Celestial Harp of Rainbows in return for some mystical items." Brock explained. But as I was on my way to the cave where the harp was hidden, Meloetta appeared to me, and warned me that Lysandre wanted to use the harp to raise up an army of undead and ghost Pokemon, and destroy the world. Instead, she directed me to gather four other adventurers, assemble the eight jewel shards hidden in eight well guarded elemental labyrinths, and then use the powered up harp to defeat Lysandre before he could carry out his evil plot. Naturally I was shaken by this news, and immediately returned to Argenta to ask any and all adventurers to help me on an adventure of a lifetime. It was a long and dangerous quest, parts of which I have told for an audience, but in the end we defeated him."

    "Were those elemental labyrinths the same ones the wielder of the Eight-color Blade must brave?" Ash asked.

    "They are--in order, The Leaf, which is hidden within Glasa Forest, The Moon, hidden within Mt. Luna, The Drop, which is inside the Unknown Cavern outside of Serulin, The Storm, nearby the port of Arania, the Tower of the Wing in Lavan; which is also just called The Wing, The Crystal, inside Seafoam Cave, The Fire, hidden on Canela Island, and The Light, hidden on a secret path not far from the Aiiro City." Tracey replied.

    "After lying low and nursing his wounds for a while, Lysandre has surfaced again." Sage Oak continued. "He has released the destruction bird Yveltal from her prison deep underground, unleashing an evil magic not seen in a thousand years--many Pokemon have gone wild, and monsters roam the land, bringing terror and despair in their wake."

    "That explains why there's been an uptick in wild Pokemon attacks..." Serena mused.

    "And probably why the elves and fey have been on edge as of late." Tracey agreed.

    "Many have already made the journey to Glasa Forest to attempt to draw the sword, but one by one, they have failed, as the Eight Colored Blade can only be drawn by one whose heart is courageous, true, and unselfish." Sage Oak went on, smiling as Brock nodded in agreement.

    "I would gladly journey to the forest and try to draw the blade--especially if this Lysandre fiend wants to abuse that too!" Ash announced, much to Serena's surprise. "And even if I am not worthy to draw the blade, I will find some way to defeat him, or die trying."

    Serena let out a soft sigh--once Ash had his mind set on something, he wouldn't take no for an answer. "I will come with him, if only to be sure he comes home from the quest in one piece instead of in a funeral urn."

    Sage Oak just chuckled at Ash's vow. "It will be a long journey, filled with perils and dangers--are you sure you both can handle that?"

    "How can they know if they don't try?" Brock asked. "If going on this quest is what Ash wishes to do, woe be the one that tries to stop him."

    "Besides, you have faced Lysandre before--your song and your experience would be helpful to us both." Serena replied as she got up from the table...

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    Episode 3: The Mage's Promise

    Ash sighed as he sat on his bed that evening, reflecting on what Sage Oak, Brock, and Tracey had told him and Serena earlier in the day. Is this Lysandre fellow as dangerous as he is claimed to be? Has Yveltal really been unleashed?

    "Is everything okay, Ash?" The voice of his mother snapped Ash back to reality. "You didn't want to eat much at dinner, and normally you're downing food by the plate faster than I can serve it!"

    "Besides, it's not like you to refuse your mom's prize winning Oran cream pie." his father agreed as he joined Ash's mother in the room. "Whatever's bothering you, you can tell us--may Arceus judge us if we find ourselves judging you."

    Ash swallowed the lump in his throat, then mustered the courage to tell his parents the horrifying news he had learned. "Serena and I finally learned the truth behind the uptick in wild Pokemon attacks--and why the attacks could be the first stages of something far more sinister."

    He spared no details and minced no words about what Sage Oak, Brock, and Tracey had told him about Lysandre, how Brock had once crossed paths with him, his obsession with beauty, how he had released Yveltal, and how Yveltal's release was causing monsters to appear and Pokemon to go wild.

    "...and so that's why I believe I have to go to Glasa Forest and try to draw the Eight-color Blade." Ash concluded some time later. "If Lysandre is as powerful as he is claimed to be, shouldn't we find something equally powerful to fight back against him?"

    "You have to remember, Ash, that the Eight-color Blade is not meant for just anyone to wield." Ash's father explained. "There is a reason Arceus keeps it hidden from mortals..."

    "The Eight-color Blade can only be drawn by one whose heart is courageous, true, and unselfish." Ash repeated along with his father.

    Ash's mother smiled. "That being said, your father and I believe you could very well draw the Eight-color Blade and conquer the quest its wielders must take. But if battling this fallen wizard is what you truly wish to do, we won't try to stop you...all we ask is that you know thy enemy and know him well."

    "I know." Ash replied.

    "Furthermore, you do not have to undertake this grand adventure by yourself." Ash's father went on. "You have Serena, and you have Brock, but also do not forget to help others in need along the way."

    "And if the worst happens, or you need a place to rest and regroup, you can always come home." Ash's mother assured him.

    Ash heaved a sigh of relief. "Thank you...both of you. I feared you would laugh my concerns away and say I was 'not old enough' for such a grand undertaking..."

    "Oh, but you are more than ready!" Ash father smiled. "I have taught you in the way of the blade..."

    "...and I have helped you learn the way of magic." Ash's mother agreed.

    "No matter what happens on your quest, Ash...know your family has your back." Ash's father assured Ash as he ran to embrace him.

    ---------

    "Well? What did they say?" Serena asked as she met Ash on the square. While the rest of the town was asleep for the night, the only sounds were the trickle of the fountain and the occasional hoot of a Noctowl passing by.

    "They were understandably concerned, and told me to understand who I am up against before charging into the fray." Ash replied. "But you know that I would not dare take on a wizard, especially one that deals in evil magic, without first forming a strategy."

    "Having Brock with us will be a big help, since he likely knows all of Lysandre's wiles." Serena added. "But my parents felt they same way as yours--they too were concerned, but also know that we can't just stand by and do nothing."

    She smiled. "If it turns out you can in fact wield the Eight-color Blade, I would be honored to lend my bow to your cause."

    [Wait!] a yellow mouse creature squeaked as it led a small fox creature with large ears into the square.

    [You can't go on a big adventure without us!] the fox creature protested.

    Serena just giggled. "I never said I'd leave you behind, Kitsune...you and Tintri are welcome to come along if you want." she assured the fox creature as she lightly stroked its pale yellow fur.

    "Yeah...if my magic fails, I have your Thunderbolt!" Ash grinned as he petted the Pikachu perched on his shoulder.

    A harp playing a quiet melody snapped Ash and Serena to attention. "So? How did it go?" Brock asked as he joined Ash and Serena by the fountain, harp in hand.

    "Our parents are rightly concerned about our facing a fallen wizard." Ash explained. "But they also believe we are skilled enough to rise to the challenge, whether you are with us or not."

    Brock slowly nodded. "For the moment, I will accompany you to the forest and see if Ash is worthy of the Eight-color Blade, at the very least."

    "If Ash is worthy of wielding the blade, we will return to Vitiva to receive the quest from Sage Oak before meeting you in either Argenta or the forest." Serena offered.

    "If it comes to pass that I am not worthy to wield the Eight-color Blade, we will come with you to Argenta and plan our next move together." Ash added.

    "That is a fair proposal." Brock replied, still playing his relaxing melody all the while. "No matter what happens, I will still come with you on your journey and lend my song to your cause. If you can't wield the Eight-color Blade, we'll find someone who does."

    "It's decided!" Ash announced, snapping Brock from his song. "We leave on our journey tomorrow morning!"

    To Be Continued...

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    Episode 4: The Sapphire Ponyta

    The townsfolk of Vitiva turned out to see off Ash, Serena, and Brock the next morning. While the majority of the town supported the red mage and the ranger, there were still some rumors that going on such a dangerous quest wasn't such a good idea:

    "Are you sure Ash knows what he's doing?"

    "He'll come back in a funeral urn if he's not careful..."

    "If you ask me, he's going off to find the Diamond of Wishes...isn't the Eight-color Blade just a legend?"

    Ash, however, was undeterred by the naysayers' whispering. They can write us off all they want, but I don't know if they know how much danger Mikawa is in...and even if we die trying, we'll at least delay an age of sorrow for a little while.

    Just then, Sage Oak's arrival in the square quieted the chatter, and the mayor addressed the crowd. "People of Vitiva...a grave threat lies upon us, but two of our own--Sir Ash of the Red Order, and Ranger Serena Lacroix--have agreed to answer the call of the hero, and seek out the legendary sword that lies within the forest." Cheers went up at this.

    "Thank you..." Ash stammered before addressing the crowd. "It is true that we are embarking on a dangerous quest--but I never would have agreed to do this if I had not known the risks involved."

    "But the threat the sage has discovered is grave enough that we decided to undertake this journey--it was not an easy decision for either of us." Serena added.

    "Furthermore, even if we do fail or give our lives, we will at least delay the oncoming shadow for a little while." Brock concluded, echoing Ash's sentiments.

    "Be safe, Ash..." Ash hurried to embrace his mother one last time.

    "If you ever need repairs on your weapons, I'll be happy to help." Ash's father agreed as he gave Ash a basket full of food and medicine.

    "Serena...remember to be on your guard, and don't hesitate to do a good deed for someone." Serena's mother smiled as Serena embraced her.

    "I promise, Mom." Serena replied.

    Brock started towards the town's main gate. "Shall we?"

    "A moment, Sir Minstrel..." Sage Oak stepped forward with a map of the region, which Tracey had lovingly drawn a few days before. "In case you ever lose your way on your travels."

    "Thank you..." Brock smiled as he accepted the map. "In return, I'll have an epic tale to tell you all!"

    Cheers filed the air as the three friends waved goodbye to their families and friends, then disappeared down the dusty road.

    ---------

    "Some adventure this is..." Serena sighed as the group made their way through the grass. "We've been walking for several hours and nothing interesting has happened."

    "Patience...not every adventure must be filled with feats of skill and derring-do to be interesting." Brock assured Serena as he studied his new map. "Besides, we'll be reaching the city of Meralda before long, and Glasa Forest lies beyond that."

    He smiled. "Besides, where do most adventurers find a quest to go on?"

    "The tavern!" Serena replied. "Maybe we could find clues in the rumors going around..."

    "Or it would take a heroic effort just to find treasure within the rogues and the troublemakers." Ash muttered. "The last time I was in a tavern, the minstrel that had stopped there sounded like an angry Meowth, and I very nearly got caught up in a fight. Luckily, my master knew trouble was brewing, and we paid our bill and left before the brawl started."

    "Thank Arceus for clear drinks, that get their kick from things besides wine and spirits." Serena grinned.

    "Oh, no, no, no; Meralda's tavern is not like that at all!" Brock assured his companions. "The Sapphire Ponyta is located in the adventurers' district, which is itself known for its resident sea angel, who makes her home in a nearby lake, but often swims into town via the river."

    "You've seen a sea angel?" Serena gasped, starry eyed as she pictured beautiful Swanna-like maidens in her mind.

    "What do sea angels look like?" Ash was intrigued. "I've heard Sage Oak talk about them a lot, but have never seen one."

    "Well, they're technically called Aerimora." Brock began as the rooftops of Meralda came into view. "They resemble a female human in feathery down-like clothing, with silver, white, royal blue, or cyan hair. But their most striking feature are ornate angel-like wings, which enable them to 'fly' underwater--this is why they are commonly called 'sea angels', or 'Swanna maidens'."

    "I see..." Ash mused as the three friends made their way into Meralda.

    He did his best to not lose Brock in the crowded stone streets as the city's residents came and went from the various districts, before arriving in a district filled with beautiful gardens, and the river that divided the city into four parts. Berry trees of all kinds lined the roads, but their destination stood out from the many stone-walled buildings by a sign depicting a familiar shining Ponyta hanging above the doorway. Epona... Ash smiled to himself as he stepped back to admire the building.

    From the outside, it looked rustic, welcoming and beautiful. Large stones and carved pillars made up most of the building's outer structure. Although Serena struggled to see through the high windows, the hustling and bustling from within could be felt outside.

    "Come on." Brock's voice snapped Ash back to reality as he and Serena made their way inside.

    As they entered the tavern through the old, wooden door, Ash sensed the excitement and a sense of home. "Wow...this is beautiful...." he smiled as he admired the regalia of the elven clans and paintings on the walls.

    The bartender, an elven lady, looked up from serving a merchant a drink. "Oh, alatulya, Sir Brock...it has been some time since you've come here."

    "Good to see you again, Aloden." Brock smiled. "I come bringing two of my closest friends from Vitiva...Ash..." Ash shyly waved at the dull blonde haired elf. "...and Serena." Serena just gave the elf a little bow.

    "Blessings upon our meeting." Aloden replied. "Please, make yourself at home."

    Ash took a moment to glance around the tavern. Rounded, wooden beams supported the upper floor and the decorative lights attached to them. The walls were decorated with paintings of forest and town scenes, as well as regalia of the elven clans. "These are beautiful..."

    "The elves are very proud of their heritage, and clan regalia is often displayed in homes and public spaces." Serena explained.

    She asked Aloden "Which one of these is your clan?"

    "The Artisan's Clan is this one right here..." Aloden explained, pointing out a green banner with a gold symbol that resembled both a star and musical clef hanging prominently on the back wall. "Artisans are keepers of the arts and fine craftmanship--and that includes fine food and drink."

    "You should taste her mintcakes." Brock whispered as the three friends found a table by a window.

    The tavern was not too terribly busy, but Ash figured business would pick up as the afternoon progressed. "Let's see...travelers seem to be the primary clientele here."

    "I'm not surprised--with the Aiiro City to the west and the Keeper of the Earth Emblem here, Meralda's one of the crossroads of this area." Serena replied as a barmaid brought her and Ash a menu.

    Ash set the menu aside and continued to look around. Several long tables were occupied by what seemed to be entire families, all enjoying the food, drinks and company of each other. The other, smaller tables were also occupied by people who are indulging in great food and drinks. While some made a valiant effort to strike up a conversation, others could barely speak a word between eating what had to be delicious food. Even most of the stools at the bar were occupied, though nobody seemed to mind more company.

    "Mom told me about this place once..." Serena mused as she listened to the twangs of Brock tuning his lute. "Supposedly it's famous for something, but I can't remember what for."

    Ash smiled as Brock started the introduction to "Pikachu Went Out to Ride"., to cheers from the crowd. "Judging from the crowd's excitement for Brock, it must be famous for all the minstrels that pass through here."

    "We'll go with that, then..." Serena grinned before she joined in on the song's last 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?
    Up at the top of a Cheri tree, mecax, mekary, Ducklett-a-dil, gitty alon and I...


    With that, Brock broke off for a long solo, prompting Ash and Serena to clap along as many of the tavern patrons rushed out to the floor to dance...
    Last edited by FlamingRuby; 25th April 2016 at 3:41 AM.

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    Episode 5: The Chosen Hero

    After a relaxing evening in the Sapphire Ponyta, the group made their way into Glasa Forest. While the morning sun streamed down onto the forest path, the birds of the forest sang their praises to the sun as the ranger, the mage, and the minstrel made their way down the mossy path that led to the glade where the Eight-color Blade was enshrined.

    "Let's see..." Serena mused as the group neared a hollow log in another clearing. "If we make our way through this log, we'll reach the Hero's Glen, where the Eight-color Blade waits for a hero to wield it."

    "Sealing the glen with a log is good idea--most of those that try for the sword shudder at the thought of ruining their clothes." Ash grinned, stifling a giggle at a memory of a tale Brock had told the previous night.

    "Remember that the Eight-color Blade judges the heart rather than appearances." Brock reminded him before getting down on all fours and crawling through the log, Ash followed him, and Serena brought up the rear.

    When the trio emerged in the glen, Ash gasped in awe at the white marble pedestal in the center of the glen, where an elegant sword that glowed in the colors of the eight elements that made up the world stood waiting to be drawn. By Arceus...it is every bit as beautiful as I imagined it to be!

    "It looks just like how you describe it in 'The Eight-color Blade and the Gold Basin'!" Serena gasped, amazed at the blade's beauty. "But as I am better at the bow than the sword, I would likely not be able to draw it."

    "This is where Arceus brings it after the task a hero has been called to use it for is completed, just like in the tale." Brock explained.

    Ash was about to approach the pedestal to draw the sword when he heard a female voice and a lute singing in the distance. I'll stand watch before the sword,
    I'll stand watch before the bow
    So long as I am living,
    The Guardian Lamp will glow.


    It was not long before the singer, a auburn haired elven minstrel in a green, yellow, and red costume emerged into the glen, playing her lute all the while. I keep watch for a hero
    That will wield the eight-colored blade
    And deliver us from the darkness
    For which we have so long prayed...


    I'll stand watch before the sword, Brock joined in, harmonizing with the elf's bright soprano.
    I'll stand watch before the bow
    So long as I am living,
    The Guardian Lamp will glow.


    Just then, the elf noticed who had been singing with her. "Oh, suilad, Sir Brock--I did not expect to see you here!"

    "It's good to see you again, Lady Fira." Brock replied before embracing his fellow minstrel. "These are Sir Ash and Lady Serena, of Vitiva." he explained, gesturing to Ash and Serena.

    He then introduced his elven friend to Ash and Serena "This is Fira Dawnsinger, the chief minstrel of the elven city of Thaveluna."

    "Blessings upon our meeting, both of you." Fira smiled. "Sir Brock has helped us immensely in documenting the lore of this area and elsewhere--this explains why he has good connections with the elves and the fey."

    "You've met fairies, Brock?" Serena gasped, excited.

    "Yes--typically, if you treat them well, they will bless you in return." Brock explained. "But research is not why we have come to this sacred space--worrying rumors in the realm of humans say that a wizard has released Yveltal."

    "You speak true." Fira replied, strumming an E minor chord on her instrument. "It is said that Darkrai created Yveltal out of sheer jealousy for the world Arceus created, and would have destroyed it if He did not seal her. The fact that someone has released her is alarming--the oracle said that last night, Arceus appeared to her in a dream, saying a hero in red will wield the Eight-color Blade this time."

    "Can you tell us a little about Lysandre, Lady Fira?" Ash asked. "Brock tells us he has faced him before..."

    "It was no easy task to defeat him the first time--Lysandre may be obsessed with outward appearances, but on the inside, his heart is as black as the magic he commands." Fira replied over the soft lament she was playing. "He is a sly and cunning man that prefers not to engage you directly--he has an army of creatures to do his bidding across the world. But once those armies are defeated, only then will he engage you, and with terrifying spells. Even now, he is biding his time in his castle on the roughlands that border Kanduin and Kalski, waiting for a worthy hero to engage him."

    She made a gesture to the pedestal. "But let us end our talk, and see if you are worthy of wielding the Eight-color Blade, Ash."

    Ash nodded, approached the pedestal, carefully gripped the sword's hilt...and easily pulled out the sword, to Serena's, Brock's and Fira's awe!

    "I can't believe it...my own friend, a wielder of the Eight-color Blade?" Serena gasped.

    "Praise be to Arceus...the hero in red was right here among us!" Fira cried, strumming a joyful chord for effect.

    An ornate sheath appeared on Ash's right leg, which the sword settled into. "Prophesied or not, if Arceus has deemed me worthy of wielding the Eight-color Blade, I will see the quest every wielder before me has embarked on to the end, and accept all the risks and perils it entails."

    "Let's get back to Vitiva then." Brock replied as Serena led the way back to the log. "The townsfolk and Sage Oak deserve to know this joyful news!"

    TO BE CONTINUED...
    Last edited by FlamingRuby; 8th May 2016 at 11:37 PM.

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    Episode 6: The Wizard's Ambition


    After departing Glasa Forest with the Eight-color Blade, Brock pulled Ash and Serena aside as the three of them made their way out of Meralda and back on the path to Vitiva. "We will part ways here for now--I must return to Argenta to buy supplies for our journey, and you two should return to Vitiva and receive your quest from the sage. We'll meet back at the forest entryway, near the glade."

    "Got it!" Ash replied.

    "But what if we run into trouble in the forest?" Serena asked.

    "If you do run into wild Pokemon, or trolls, or any fierce creature, I'll know, and come as quickly as I can to help." Brock assured his companions as they approached the path to Vitiva. "If you're going to run into anything hostile in the forest, it's most likely goblins or kobolds--the trolls usually only attack knights and seasoned heroes. That being said, they will attack a new adventurer if you happen to bother them."

    "Don't bother the trolls--got it!" Serena replied.

    She motioned for Ash to follow her. "See you soon!" she called to Brock as she waved goodbye to her minstrel friend

    "Be safe, both of you." Brock replied as he embraced Ash, then watched Ash run o catch up with Serena before starting back towards Meralda, playing his lute all the while.

    ---------

    Deep within the mountains of Kanduin, a majestic fortress towered over the mountain peaks, allowing the wizard that lived there a view into three different regions of Mikawa--the highlands of Kanduin to the west, the mountains of Kalski to the north, and the rocky cliffs of Sondo to the east.

    The red haired wizard Lysandre smirked as he watched the image of Brock playing his lute in his crystal ball. "Why hello there, my old friend...it will be nice to see you again, and allow me to have my revenge for your treachery..."

    Footsteps snapped Lysandre from his musings as a black haired boy in ornate black armor raced into the room. "Milord, the Eight-color Blade has been pulled!"

    "Really, Alain?" Lysandre asked. "Has Bryony seen who it is that pulled the holy blade?"

    "No, not yet....all she knows is that it was a red mage." Alain replied.

    Lysandre thought for a moment. "The red mage--one of the more powerful mages in the land because of their ability to harness both the magic of the elements and holy magic. If not trained well, they are a jack of all trades, yet a master of none. If trained well, they are an unstoppable force."

    "Bryony also said that a ranger traveled with the red mage." Alain went on. "If you wish, Azura and I can locate their current whereabouts and intercept them before they cause any trouble."

    "No need--they'll run into Yveltal sooner or later." Lysandre grinned. "But if it makes you feel any better, I will inform the troll chiefs of Glasa Forest to be on the lookout for them--preferably before the high minstrel of Argenta can get to them."

    "Brains against brawn...this should be interesting." Alain grinned before departing down the spiraling staircase to the stable where his faithful Charizard Azura was kept.

    ---------

    Sage Oak smiled when he saw the scabbard containing the Eight-color Blade at Ash's side. "By the Legendaries...I always knew you had the potential to wield the Eight-color Blade."

    "Thanks..." Ash replied. "Have you or Tracey found anything else about Lysandre or his minions?"

    "He has a great number of minions, but his inner circle is comprised of six powerful attendants." Sage Oak explained. "Aliana, a great sorceress that is never apart from her Mightyena, Lupin; Bryony, a fallen cleric that keeps a pet Liepard, Celosia, a highly skilled assassin whose daggers are fashioned from Drapion stingers..."

    Serena swallowed hard. "Definitely don't want to encounter an assassin, much less one that wields Drapion stinger daggers."

    "Then there's Mable, a fallen wizard with a Houndoom...." Sage Oak went on. "Xerosic, an alchemist with a penchant for potions that create unpleasant effects, and Alain, a paladin Lysandre corrupted and forced to serve as a scout, alongside his faithful Charizard."

    "Is there a way we can free Alain from the evil he is being forced to serve?" Ash was intrigued.

    "There may be--but as we don't know what sort of evil magic was used on him, we don't know how the spell on him can be broken." Tracey replied. "Master and I are both researching the possibility, but if you find a lead on your quest, we would both be eternally grateful."

    Serena smiled. "We promise we will do what we can to save Alain and the world!"

    "Then you'd best be getting some rest if you plan to leave tomorrow." Sage Oak replied. Ash and Serena nodded, then departed the library, just as the sun sank beneath the trees...

    TO BE CONTINUED...

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    Episode 7: The Rescue in the Forest

    Ash and Serena departed from Vitiva with the well wishes of their friends and family early the next morning, and before long had found their way back to Glasa Forest. "Here we are...our meeting place." Ash smiled as he and Serena arrived in the clearing where they had agreed to meet Brock.

    "Brock knows some of the fey that live here, right?" Serena asked. "Did you remember to pack your magic whistle?"

    "Course I did...one thing the whistle can do is locate people or things by echoes." Ash replied before taking a silver whistle with a green mouthpiece from one pocket.

    After whispering a few mystical words, he played a four note phrase that echoed into the forest. A three note reply reached him moments later as the ground started shaking. "I found something, but I don't think fey can make the ground shake..."

    Serena looked behind her and gasped as a band of large humanoid monsters crashed through the brush. "Trolls!"

    "This way!" Ash quickly pocketed his magic whistle and motioned for Serena to follow him. They clambored over rocks and logs, leaped over streams, and hopped over tree rooms in a desperate bid to outrun the trolls and reach Argenta, which meant Brock and safety.

    Ash's heart pounded as he sprinted through the forest. Our quest can't end before it even starts! Brock...wherever you are...we need your help!

    He thought he saw a flash of a fairy aura as he rolled to avoid a rock a troll threw at him, but before long, both he and Serena were cornered in a dead end clearing. After making sure Serena was none the worse for wear, the two of them hurried by a large tree, leaving the trolls to surround them!

    "This is it..." Serena gasped as the trolls lumbered closer and closer to the tree they were huddled by. "Ash...if this is the end, you will always be my friend."

    "Mine too, Serena." Ash agreed, hugging his friend for what he believed was the last time.

    Just as one troll prepared to strike the frightened mage and ranger with its large spiked mace, a harp chord and a flash of light sent the massive weapon flying into some bushes.

    The trolls gasped, amazed that their leader could be so easily disarmed. "Brock!" Serena cried, just as she spotted Brock staring down the troll chief, an angry look on his face as he prepared to play another chord.

    "How dare you steal our quarry?" one troll demanded. "Magician and bow-wielder intrude on troll land!"

    "They are my friends, and no friend of mine will die at the hands of monsters like you!" Brock shot back, angering the trolls even more.

    He motioned to Ash and Serena. "You two go find a place to hide...it's gonna get ugly here in a minute."

    "Got it!" Ash wasted no time in leading Serena into the brush around the tree.

    Leishu shun ji, lei si... Brock sang, making a glowing shield form around him. He then started the melody of a common war song--the melody was common, but the words, and the anger fueled courage behind them, were his own:

    Struggling ones, listen to me, and hear this song of fury...
    Heroes that hear my voice and come, they will stand strong, like a rock!
    My voice echoes through the ages, hero's hearts all diamonds true,
    Evil cries sinking far beneath the earth, they will never be heard within this land!

    This beloved world of mine, I will not rest until the battle is won!
    I hope I live to see the wonderful day,
    When the light of Arceus appears!


    Ash watched in awe as the magical energy flowing from Brock's harp and his voice rained onto the trolls. "Wow!"

    "He must be very powerful to sing an entire verse without being exhausted!" Serena agreed as she watched Brock weave around the troll's attacks with all the grace and poise of a professional dancer, singing all the while.

    "Either he has high standing among the fey, or a magical gift." Ash mused as Brock began the next verse of his song, complete with a high Ab that created a huge blast of light:

    The fire of my heart, burning bright with my wishes,
    The rolling plains will tremble as I ride to the fight!
    I hold the reins, and urge on my steed!

    The light, it will vanquish the darkness!
    My resolve keeps me going as the wind goes on before!
    I promise this--heaven will know my name!


    After weaving around clubs, maces, knives, and whips for a moment, still playing all the while, he started the second verse of his song:

    Heart of the dark, listen to me, and return to the ash you came!
    As you stand at Arceus' feet, he surrounds you with His love!
    One day every tribe and nation, with resolve and pure hearts of steel,
    Will bow down and declare Arceus king, and the world will become like paradise!

    Though I may feel overwhelmed with all the chaos that's surrounding my fate,
    I will gather the courage to find my way,
    Casting off all my doubts and fears!

    The fire in my heart, began from one little spark,
    I will show no mercy as I draw back my bow!
    The arrow flies, your voices are gone!

    No mercy comes from me! As your voices go silent,
    This I know for certain--there will come a better time!
    An era filled, with unending light!

    I banish them all, the evil feelings within
    And lead the charge to battle as we take to the field!
    I draw my blade--my hour has come!

    The light, it will vanquish the darkness!
    My resolve keeps me going as the wind goes on before!
    I promise this--heaven will know my name!


    "Whatever spell he's casting, it's working! They're running away!" Serena cried as the trolls fled in terror as Brock concluded his song, many of them covering their ears to tune out Brock's clarion tenor.

    Once sure the trolls were gone, Ash hurried over to Brock's side, where he saw his friend heaving with exhaustion from performing the long spellsong. "Just what WAS that spellsong you sang?"

    "It's...one of my more...powerful songs." Brock wheezed. "It's called...the Song of Anger."

    Serena joined Ash at Brock's side some moments later as she charged a simple healing spell. "Healing Balm..."

    Brock's heavy breathing quieted and slowed down to normal as the Healing Balm took effect. "Thanks, Serena..."

    "You're welcome--consider it our thanks for saving our skins back there." Serena replied.

    "Although this wasn't the way I'd planned to meet with you guys, I'm still gonna keep my promise and come with you on your quest." Brock assured them as he gingerly stood up.

    "You think the trolls attacking us was a sign Lysandre knows what we're doing?" Ash wondered.

    "It may and it may not--our primary objective is to locate The Leaf." Brock replied.

    "The elves should know something!" Serena cried. "If my memory serves, the city of Anva isn't far from here..."

    "We'll kill two Fletchlings with one stone--Brock can rest, and we can get information about The Leaf." Ash grinned as he hurried to follow his friend with Brock gingerly jogging behind him...

    TO BE CONTINUED...

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    Interlude: The Tale of Inspiration

    The group of three departed the clearing, hopeful they would find a place, human or elven, where Brock could rest. "Serena...I know you said the elven city of Anva is close by, but what about the city that Fira is from? Thaveluna?" Ash asked.

    Serena was about to answer when a signpost with ivy swirling around it got her attention. "If we keep following this road north, we'll reach Argenta..."

    "That's...too...far..." Brock wheezed.

    "Anva lies to the east, and Thaveluna to the west..." Serena mused. "Of our three options, Thaveluna is the closest."

    "Come on, Brock...let's get you somewhere where you can rest." Ash assured his wheezing friend.

    ---------

    "Merendam, Sir Ash and Lady Serena." Fira smiled as Ash and Serena met her on the square of Thaveluna. "It is a pleasure to see you again."

    "We came because Brock tired himself singing a long spellsong to save us from some trolls, and to get some information on the labyrinth of the forest, The Leaf." Serena explained.

    "I see..." Fira explained. "For your first concern, your friend should be well by evening, especially if he really did sing as long of a spell as you claim." Fira explained. "The longer a spellsong, the more strength it takes to sing. This is why a great number of them are only a few words long."

    "That explains why Brock was so tired afterwards..." Ash smiled as he made himself comfortable beneath a tree, where he could admire the ornate stone buildings that surrounded the square, many of them with balconys and walkways connecting them.

    "Conversely, a short spellsong is not always weak--the same spellsong can have thousands upon millions of possible effects depending on the caster's mood and the situation at hand." Fira went on. "Now...for your second concern. The Leaf, or as it is called in the elven language, <i>Lascanta</i>, was initially a proving grounds for ancient elven mages. When Arceus hid one of the Great Elemental Jewels inside, the labyrinth itself became a holy entity, given life by the jewel it holds--the Terra Emerald. Though it has long since fallen out of disuse, it still holds many traps and puzzles inside to deter the unworthy."

    "I see..." Serena mused as she joined Ash in admiring the beautiful elven city.

    "The first challenge is even finding the labyrinth." Fira cautioned. "The best way to find it is aid the denizens of the wood, though it will also appear to one who has done a great deed, such as the three brothers; Fire, Ice, and Lightning."

    "I know that story! Ice and Lightning get clobbered by something, usually a rogue dwarf, but it is Fire that saves three princesses!" Ash grinned.

    Fira smiled. "Maybe once Sir Brock is well, he may be willing to tell us that tale--I have not heard it before."

    ---------

    The whole city turned out later that evening to see Brock perform as thanks for his care. "Once upon a time something happened. If it hadn't happened, it wouldn't be told." he began with a nod to Fira, who sat with Ash and Serena around the ceremonial bonfire.

    He started a relaxed melody. "In a certain realm there once lived a king who had three daughters so beautiful they could not be described by mortal words--we will call them Princess Siena, Princess Linna, and Princess Kimana, in order from oldest to youngest."

    "Fitting names..." an elven guard smiled as he ushered some children to join the circle around the fire.

    "The king treasured them as the diamond of his eye, and had underground chambers built where they were kept like Fletchlings in gilded cages in hopes that the wild winds would not blow on them or the bright sun burn them." Brock went on, to concerned murmurs from the elves. "One day the three princesses read in their books about the wonders of the wild world, and when the king came to pay them a visit, they began pleading with tears in their eyes to let them out of their chambers. The king tried to talk them out of it, but they would not listen to him, and the more often he told them to think better of it. the more they pestered him and the louder they begged him to do as they wished. It could not be helped, and the king eventually relented."

    "So what did they see out in the wild world?" Fira asked.

    "They saw the bright sun, the trees, the flowers, and took great delight in being free and out in the fresh air." Brock replied. "They ran about and played, marveling at every blade of grass and every flower, when all of a sudden a wild wind caught them up and carried them off to Arceus knew where. Their maids were greatly alarmed, and ran to tell the king about it, and the king immediately sent his many faithful servants to all parts of the realm, promising that he who found some sign of them, any sign at all, would be handsomely rewarded. But though the servants searched far and wide, they came back with nothing to show for it. The king then called together the highest of his courtiers and asked them if there was not one among them who would try to find his daughters. When that didn't work, he had it proclaimed throughout the realm that he was waiting for someone, anyone at all, to offer to find his daughters."

    After playing an interlude to signal a change of scene, he went on "Meanwhile, in a certain village there lived a poor widow who had three sons, all of them strong and fearless. They had been born all in one day: the eldest son in the evening while a storm raged, the middle son at midnight, when the night is coldest, and the youngest son at dawn, when Ho'oh first takes flight over the world in golden flames. Because of this, they were named Lightning, Ice and Fire, respectively. Upon learning of the royal proclamation, they asked their mother's blessing, got ready, and rode off for the royal city."

    He next played a regal melody that invoked a monarch's palace. "They came to the palace, bowed before the king, and said..."

    "May you prosper for many years to come, Your Majesty!" Ash eagerly jumped in the story, bowing on one knee before Brock, as if he was a king. "We have not come here as guests, but as the heroes you seek. Allow us to go to seek the princesses."

    "May Arceus' favor be on all three of you! What are your names?" Brock asked, using a older version of himself to represent the king.

    "We are brothers, and our names are Lightning, Ice and Fire." Ash replied in character as Fire.

    "Is there anything I can do for you before you go?"

    "We want nothing for ourselves, Sire, but do not leave our mother in her old age; help her if she should be in need."

    The elves applauded Brock's and Ash's interplay. "The king did as they asked. He had their mother brought to the palace to live there for as long as she wanted, and gave orders that she partake from the royal table, and be given clothes to wear from his own closets." Brock continued as he started a "traveling" melody. "The three brothers, meanwhile, set out on their way. They rode for a month, then another, and then a third, Until they came to a great and empty plain. Beyond it stretched a deep forest, and they were halfway through it when they spotted a small house. They knocked at the window, but there was no reply; they came inside, and there was no one there. They decided to stay there for a while and rest from their journey."...

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    Episode 8: Friends in Need


    The group departed Thaveluna the next morning in high spirits. "Okay...so The Leaf is an old elven training ground, blessed with life by the Terra Emerald, and part of the challenge is even finding the place..." Ash mused. "The question is--where to begin looking?"

    "Didn't you remember what Fira said?" Serena reminded him. "Helping people we find in the forest as well as the native beings here will point us in the right direction."

    Just then, she spotted a prone humanoid figure on a grassy patch near the path. "Someone's hurt!"

    She hurried over to where a young lady in traveler's clothes was moaning in pain. "Peace...we're here to help you." she assured the lady as Ash and Brock arrived.

    "Thank you, Lady Ranger." the navy haired woman replied as Serena healed the gash on her leg. "My name is Jene--I was traveling to meet a friend in Meralda, and goblins ambushed me. I tried to fight them off, but one of them managed to scratch me before a Pidgeotto frightened them away."

    "You think the way to The Leaf is hidden in a goblin cave?" Ash wondered as Serena cleaned and dressed Jene's wound.

    "Probably not--with it blessed with Arceus' holy magic, goblins would keep well away from it." Brock replied. "Having said that, it's not unheard of for them to claim an abandoned cave with a dungeon inside for themselves, similar to kobolds in the mountains."

    "Oh, I'm sure being ambushed by kobolds would be even worse!" Jene weakly smiled as she unloaded some camp gear from her bag. "I suppose I shouldn't be doing any walking while my wound heals, so I'll find a safe place to camp while the sun is hot."

    She hugged Serena. "Many thanks to you and your friends for helping me in my hour of need. May blessings follow where Arceus leads you."

    "I hope you don't meet any more goblins on your own journey, Jene." Serena replied. She waved farewell as Jene carefully made her way over to a nearby tree to make her camp.

    Ash bristled at the thought of goblins. They and their fellow kin the kobolds may be annoying, and easy pickings to all of us, but any monster's better than a band of trolls.

    "Is everything well?" Brock asked as he made a small jump onto a log that lay over a bubbling stream."

    "After that run in with the trolls you saved us from, goblins and their mountain kin the kobolds would be more preferable to meet." Ash explained.

    "The people of Argenta call kobolds 'fangthieves' because of their Houndour-like appearance, and their tendency to raid villages and towns in the mountains." Brock explained. "Thankfully, they tend to stay well away from Argenta because of the number of people with fighting skill we have."

    "Strength in numbers, I guess." Ash grinned.

    A high pitched moan got his attention as the group rounded the corner through a patch of long grass and large rocks--a signal a cave or grotto was close by. Piqued, Ash fumbled for his magic whistle and played a nearly inaudible trilled note to assure the crying being--whatever it was--that he meant it no harm.

    "Interesting spell..." Brock noted.

    "It's a spell called Silent Trill--it assures any elves or fey that I'm a friend, and won't hurt them." Ash explained.

    At that moment, an auburn haired earth fairy materialized an whorl of leaves before Ash, wiping away tears as she landed on Ash's hand. "Here..." Brock offered the crying fairy a stray flower petal as a hanky.

    "Thank you..." the fairy sobbed as she dried her tears with the petal.

    Inspired, Brock retrieved his harp and started a peaceful melody that evoked a spring breeze to comfort the fairy. As the harp's song echoed through the forest, the earth fairy started to calm down little be little, every so often pausing to dry the last of her tears with the flower petal hanky.

    When the song ended, she spoke. "Thank you, Sir Mage, and Sir Minstrel, for your kind concern. My name is Lori Cedarheart--I look after the crystals that grow in the river cave to the north of here. My tears fall because greenskins ransacked the cave and smashed all the crystals I worked so hard to grow, and now they lie in shards, ruined while the greenskins live it up in my cave with a Darkrai may care attitude.

    "Greenskins?" Ash gently pressed Lori for more information.

    "'Greenskins' is a common nickname for goblins and their larger cousins the orcs among many of the peoples of Mikawa." Brock explained. "In some areas, this nickname also applies to trolls as well."

    Ash shuddered at the memory of his and Serena's encounter from the trolls before composing himself. "Cry no more, Lady Lori--we'll do our best to teach those greenskins a lesson."

    A smile formed through Lori's tears. "You'll drive out the greenskins from the cave? Thank you!"

    "Go ahead, lead us to the cave." Serena requested.

    "Very well--follow me!" With that, Ash led his friends through the brush, trying not to lose the green aura of the earth fairy leading them as she flew...

    TO BE CONTINUED...

  11. #11
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    Episode 9: The Grotto

    "Here it is..." Lori began as the group arrived at the entrance to a small cave not far from a stream. "Good luck!"

    Serena waved goodbye as the earth fairy flitted away, but then Brock pulled her and Ash aside. "Let's try and stay together--no matter how appealing splitting up may sound."

    "Good idea." Serena agreed as she drew a circle of light in the air, which created a solid glowing ring that lit up the dim cave.

    Ash smiled as he recognized the spell Serena had cast. "Angel Ring--a spell that can function as both a tool and a weapon--rangers often learn to use it when carrying a lantern and oil is not feasible or plausible."

    "I'll carry this one for now--but if anyone else wants it, please let me know." Serena reminded the boys as she led the way into the cave.

    The earthen walls of the moist, domed chamber the group arrived in were crawling with worms. "Apparently some other adventurers tried and failed to deal with the greenskins..." Brock noted as he examined some skeletal remains lying in a shallow grave.

    He made a holy sign over the skeletons, than sang Seilei colfin ar kadram tro...

    A map of the cave materialized before him. "Let's see...our goal is to reach a roughly hewn room deep within the cave." he reported. "From our current position, we can go left, we can go down, or we can go right--so which way would you guys like to go?"

    "Left." Ash and Serena replied at nearly the same time."

    "All right, we'll go left." Brock replied at the map generated from his seeing spell disappeared.

    After walking down a long corridor off to the left, the group arrived in a room with rows of cots against the walls, a footlocker next to each one. "We appear to have arrived in a kind of barracks..." Serena noted as she examined a goblin dagger laying on the floor by one of the lockers.

    "Hold! Why humans here in goblin barracks?" a low, raspy voice asked.

    "What I want to know is why you guys took over the cave and made in innocent earth fairy cry by ruining her crystal garden." Ash retorted at the somewhat large goblin in a crude military uniform that had appeared in the doorway of the barracks.

    "Who care if we make fairy cry? Human taking goblin stuff!" the goblin officer retorted. "That wrong!"

    "We were not taking your things--we wanted to know who was here in the cave so we could politely ask them to leave, and then we could restore what our fairy friend had lost." Serena explained as she set the dagger she had been examining down. "See...I put it back, where it belonged."

    The goblin appeared unmollified, until Ash heard a beautiful hypnotic melody filling the air, followed by Brock singing in an ancient language:

    Sonoyo romi ro,
    Kaya shakaru,
    Kiyaba mari maro e,
    Dramaki e,
    Suru haite,
    Graiyami eshi eshi e...

    Ka thaliaka sa
    Akoloha
    Mevi liu madra u,
    Preshtika u,
    Tote saju,
    Kimi va lei lei lu...


    With that he commanded the goblin "You will tell us what you are doing here, and why you ruined the fey's crystal garden."

    "Friaz and friends here by order of Pyroar-man." the goblin explained, its eyes swirling under the effect of the harp's song. "Pyroar-man want regent for powerful spell--what spell do, Friaz not know. Found sparkly things in new room in cave--goblin have no use for sparkly things, so goblin smash them while goblin look for regent in cave."

    "All right...you will leave peacefully, and not bother us anymore." Brock replied.

    "Friaz and friend leave right away...we leave as you say, but other monsters in cave won't be so nice." the goblin warned as Brock finished his song, snapping him from the trance he was under.

    Ash watched as the goblin barked a retreat order in the goblin tongue. "For a moment there, I was afraid we would have to fight them..."

    "Goblins are fairly weak, and not worth the time to battle." Serena explained as the goblins packed up their things and reluctantly started departing the cave. "I'd rather save my arrows for something worth fighting."

    "Just what was that spell you cast?" Ash wondered.

    "It's called Hypnotic Aria--it will put the target in a trance, forcing them to do whatever I ask them to do, whether they like it or not." Brock explained. "As Serena said, goblins are not worth our while to fight, so this was a good time to convince them to leave peacefully."

    Ash nodded to show he understood. "I have a sneaking feeling I know who they meant by 'Pyroar-man'...

    "Lysandre..." Serena agreed. "Not too many people have hair that resembles a Pyroar's mane..."

    "At any rate, the goblins shouldn't bother us any more, but that's not to say there are other monsters here...so stay alert." Brock cautioned as he lead the way further into the cave.

    The rest of the trek was uneventful, until the trio came to a newly hewn room, where thousands of crystals lay scattered around the floor. "This must be Lori's crystal garden." Ash smiled, pleased they had reached their destination without further incident, and at the beauty of what few intact crystals there were.

    "Next question--how to repair broken crystals?" Serena wondered as she tried to piece together a shattered crystal, but found that the pieces didn't even fit.

    Imultaos, ame no hao bakezo... Brock sang, making a bright green flash fill the room, The crystal shards on the floor were instantly repaired, and flew back into five neat rows, just as the garden was before.

    Ash smiled. "Our work here is done...let's go tell Lori her cave and crystal garden is safe."

    "Gather 'round everyone..." Brock motioned for Ash and Serena to get close to him, then sang Karuto, iichiida shou... warping all three of them outside...
    Last edited by FlamingRuby; 5th June 2016 at 11:41 PM.

  12. #12
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    Episode 10: A Key in the Fey

    The group materialized in the grove where they had first met Lori. "The battle is over...the greenskins are gone, and your garden is as it should be." Ash reported to the earth fairy.

    Tears--this time tears of joy--formed in Lori's eyes. "Thank the Legendaries! I thought all those months of work I spent growing those crystals were for naught." she smiled. "In return for your brave and thoughtful deed, I will give you a clue as to where the Leaf is hidden.

    She went on to say "Earth, fire, water, and wind; these their blessings on a princess did send. But before the fifth blessing, there came the night, which was driven away by holy light."

    "Thanks?" Ash wasn't sure what to make of the cryptic poem Lori had recited.

    "Contemplate this, and the way towards the holy sanctuary of earth will appear before you." Lori assured the group. "If you ever need the aid of the fey, we stand ready to help."

    "Thanks, Lori--even if your poem doesn't make sense, we will think on it anyway." Serena assured Lori. She waved goodbye as the green fairy flitted off through the forest underbrush.

    Ash, meanwhile, mulled Lori's clue in his mind. "Earth, fire, water, and wind; these their blessings on a princess did send. But before the fifth blessing, there came the night, which was driven away by holy light."

    Then something occurred to him. "Say...you don't suppose Lori was referring to the tale of Princess Ayaka?"

    "What does a wonder tale have to do with finding the Leaf?" Serena asked, confused.

    "Ash may be onto something..." Brock agreed before quoting the relevant part of the tale in question. "The great fairies of the elements bestowed special gifts on Princess Ayaka-- the great fairy of earth blessed her with bravery and courage that would not waver, like a rock. The great fairy of fire blessed her with the beauty of a dancing flame, the great fairy of water blessed her with the wisdom of a flowing river, and the great fairy of wind blessed her with a voice rivaling even Meloetta."

    "Then before the great fairy of light could give her blessing, the evil darkness fairy Duin came, and cursed the princess..." Serena mused.

    "...which the great light fairy in turn broke." Ash's face brightened, pleased with himself for solving a fey riddle. "But now the question is, if Lori is earth, then what are fire, water, wind, darkness, and light? More fey we must help, or something else entirely?"

    "I wish I could answer your question, but this is something beyond the knowledge of a human minstrel." Brock sighed. "We can, however, ask the aid of the elves..."

    "Come on! To Thaveluna!" Ash lead the charge into the brush, with Serena and Brock not far behind.

    ---------

    "A riddle from the fey..." Fira mused as she paced the floor of Thaveluna's library. "Earth, fire, water, and wind; these their blessings on a princess did send. But before the fifth blessing, there came the night, which was driven away by holy light."

    She smiled. "I will commend you for figuring out that there is a connection to the Princess Ayaka story--that tale is somewhat obscure, so not many minstrels know it. I was lucky enough to learn it from Sir Brock once."

    "But what are the remaining elements, if the fey we helped is earth?" Ash asked, desperately hoping the beautiful elf could answer the question burning in his mind.

    "You must remember that when dealing with fey riddles, there may be more than one way to interpret it." Fira cautioned. "So allow me to propose a different theory--the elements mentioned in the riddle actually refer to elemental spirits."

    "Huh?" Ash was intrigued.

    Memories of his magical training then came back to him. "Gnome is earth, Salamander is fire, Sylph is wind, Undine is water, Shade is darkness, and Wisp is light."

    He thought some more as Fira nodded in approval. "Earth, wind, and water are easy to find in a forest, but where would we find fire?"

    "Ever hear of will-o-wisps?" Brock suggested.

    The lightbulb went off in Ash's head. "Oh, that makes sense!"

    Fira then unrolled an ancient map, which depicted five points on the map with elemental symbols, all leading to the Leaf. "Based on what we have discussed, I believe that in order to find the Leaf, you must find the crests of the elemental spirits.

    Tintri peeked from a pocket in Ash's tunic. [Remind me again what the crests of the spirits look like?]

    "Sure..." Ash paused to grab a blank piece of parchment and drew each symbol in turn. "The leaf inside a crystal represents Gnome...the stylized flame is Salamander...the three wind gusts is Sylph...the stylized wave is Undine...the moon represents Shade, and the star represents Wisp."

    "The spirits' crests are somewhere in the forest--finding one will lead you to the next one, in the order mentioned in the fey riddle." Fira explained. "Once you find Wisp's crest, the Leaf will appear to the worthy seeker."

    "It's decided--we embark on our search for the elemental crests in the morning!" Ash declared as he rolled up the map Fira had unearthed...

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