5th January 2013, 9:07 PM
Tale 20: The Tale of Planning a Journey
Before we left the temple, we decided to plan our route to Mt. Baiyin. Going through Haradori Pass wasn't a must, but very helpful if you were going straight there. But we couldn't go straight there--not with the lives of ten apprentices in the balance. Ash decided to kill two Pidgeys with one stone--find the fastest way to the mountain that at the same time led us to the cultists' hideout, wherever it was.
"Okay..." he began as he unrolled a map of the area onto the table we were seated at by the library entrance. "We are right here at Chamizu." He pointed out the city of Chamizu near the right edge. "and Mt. Baiyin is all the way over here..." He pointed out a mountain sitting on the map's northern edge. "The question is, what is the fastest way to get there that would also lead us to the ten captives?"
Dawn looked over at me. "Why not let Kiyama try mapping a route first? She is a skilled tactician, after all."
"Preferably a route where we don't have to go through the pass." Ash whispered as I overlaid some paper over the map so my drawing a route would not leave any marks.
After marking our start and end points with dots on the paper, I began describing my route. "If we leave here and follow the hills, we'll come to the town of Tamora." I explained as I marked the town on my route. "After that, though, it's mainly mountains and wilds, with plenty of ruins and caves to explore."
"You sure we need to go through that many ruins and caves?" Dawn asked when she saw all the ruins, caves, and dungeons marking my westward route. "We'd hardly have any strength to save the captives, much less climb Mt. Baiyin."
"I know, but one of them could be holding the captives." I protested.
"Kiyama may be onto something..." Ash assured Dawn as he set the paper with my traced route on the table with the map as a reference, grabbed a brush of his own, and traced over my route in red until he got to where I had marked Tamora. "We don't want to go too far up into the mountains, but what if we explored the Shrine of Enchanted Storms, turned south into the Forest of Prayers, and brave the Maze of Twisted Runes before following the wildlands west to the mountain?"
Dawn thought about Ash's route for a moment before she took a brush and traced up to where I had marked Tamora in blue. "While a maze makes perfect sense for the Black Circle Cult to hide their captives, what if they are hidden somewhere in the wilds Ash mentioned?" she explained as her route generally followed a westerly path from Tamora. "True, we would have to go through the Valley of Wandering Spirits and brave the Shadowed Citadel, but at least we wouldn't have to brave any of the monsters of the mountains."
"You know...it may be easier if we traveled to Tamora first before we decide on our ultimate route." I suggested. "That way we could take any rumors into account in our planning."
"Great idea!" Ash smiled as he got up from the table. "Since Tamora is the last form of civilization before the wildlands, many travelers headed to Mt Baiyin gather there."
Little did we know that our route to the mountain was going to be longer than any of us imagined...
Last edited by FlamingRuby; 6th January 2013 at 1:13 AM.
19th January 2013, 7:18 PM
Tale 21: The Tale of Tamora's Illness
The moment we arrived in Tamora, I knew something was wrong.
Instead of townsfolk waving hello and maybe the teion sounding to announce my arrival, the town miko and elders met us at the front gate and began feeling around our bodies and casting the spell Cleansing Light for any form of illness.
Ash let the elders know of his discomfort in no uncertain terms. "What's the meaning of this? We're fine, do we look sick to you? Oh, I see, maybe we're carrying contraband!"
"Peace, lad--we mean no harm or discomfort to you or your friends." the head elder assured us. "It's just that with many of the townsfolk either sickened or dying from the kurohi, we are checking everyone--resident and outsider--for the symptoms of the disease when they enter."
Ash blushed at this. "I see....forgive me of my outburst from before. It was just so sudden, and I have not felt ill recently."
"I know of the kurohi--a powerful curse only elite shamans in service to the dark dragon can cast." Dawn interjected. "Symptoms include fatigue, a very high fever, sore spots, and intense pain all throughout the body. The pain is what leads some to call it "black fire"
"There are some healing herbs and spells that will ease this pain, but more often than not, the patient dies before they can be cured." the miko sighed as she led us to the temple. "That's why we have quarantined everyone inside their houses until we have the black fire under control."
"Do you know how or why this black fire outbreak occured?" I asked as we arrived in the temple's main prayer hall.
The miko bid the elders goodbye, then lit the four candles on the altar. "I'm not sure how the outbreak occurred, but I think I know the why after studying the rituals of shamans."
She paused to say a quick prayer for the suffering, then continued. "Yofune is one of the harshest beings for a shaman to serve, and only the strongest and most capable end up serving him."
"What else can you tell us about the black fire?" Ash interrupted.
"It is a unique disease that can only be magically induced, and even then, on a single target." the miko replied. "Once infected, the patient can then infect many others--usually the best way to end an outbreak is to kill the one initially infected. But that's what the elders and I don't understand--the people of Tamora make an honest living in the mountain mines, and Arceus has said not one of us has angered him, so who could have dabbled in the dark arts enough to be infected with the black fire?"
"Maybe it is a shaman who made the caves their home?" I suggested.
"What do you mean?" The miko was confused.
"I too have studied shamans and their dark arts, and it is not uncommon for them to seek out clearings, alcoves, and caves to practice hexes and curses." Dawn explained. "It's possible that a young shaman in service to Yofune made their home in the mines, offended Yofune in some way, and in his rage, he infected this shaman with the black fire."
My eyes lit up--Dawn could be on to something! "The shaman's infection then spread to the Pokemon of the mines, who in turn infected the humans that came into the mines, who then infected the rest of the town."
"A very plausible chain of events, yushin." the miko smiled. "But with everyone quarantined, no one has dared venture into the mines to find out if this is indeed the case."
"Do you know a spell that can protect against infection with black fire?" Ash asked. "We may be outsiders, but we wish to end your suffering once and for all."
"Yes...I do know such a spell, but now would not be a good time to venture into the mines--certainly not after you have traveled all this way." the miko replied.
"If you will grant us food, supplies, and a night's lodging, we will investigate in the morning." I offered.
"I accept your offer." the miko smiled. "May Arceus protect you from the black fire!"
TO BE CONTINUED...
9th February 2013, 3:16 PM
Tale 22: The Tale of Cleansing the Mines (part 1)
After being blessed by Tamora's miko against the black fire, we descended into the mines the next morning, with one of the miners that knew how to fight, Yakan, going with us as our guide.
"Here is the foyer that serves as our meeting quarters." he began as we landed in a large open room. The room looked more like a room in a tavern than a cave--there were tables, chairs, and beds everywhere, with a slab of rock serving as a bar, complete with an array of glasses and drink ingredients.
"Altar to Arceus is over here..." Yakan went on, showing us a simple altar carved from a white rock at the south end of the large room. "Many of my crew always pray here before going deeper into the mines." He then gestured to an ornate silver mirror studded in sapphires hanging on an eastern wall. "This is the Oracle's Mirror--you can ask the Gardevoir said to watch over this mine a simple question about what lurks in the mine, or what is plentiful here."
"Most Gardevoirs and Gallades that watch over mines replenish what is lost, so mountain veins rarely run dry." Dawn noted.
Ash, meanwhile, wasted no time in asking the mirror a question. "Lady of the mine, please bless the meek with the wisdom and knowledge that they seek..."
An image of a Gardevoir formed in the mirror a few moments later. "Answers you have sought, and answers you will find...tell me ze burning questions zat may be on your mind." she began, her voice assuring and quiet.
"Lady of the mine, I am told that the black fire runs rampant here...do you know anything about who could have initially infected the mine?" Ash asked. "The people in town believe that a shaman in the black dragon's service contracted the disease after failing to please him."
"Ze townsfolk are somewhat correct, but it was not ze shaman that was infected." the Gardevoir replied. "Ze young shaman was actually killed instantly by a monster zat ze black dragon intentionally infected with ze curse. It is zis monster you must slay in order to cleanse ze mines and ze town."
Dawn gave the Gardevoir in the mirror a little bow. "Thank you for your response--where can we find the fiend?"
"Ze monster lurks on the seventh level of ze mine--but even zough you are protected from ze black fire, be wary of ze many other monsters and traps zat lurk here." the Gardevoir warned before disappearing into the mist.
"Magic Guiding Lantern." Ash playing Utahime echoed into the mines, the song making a small horde of zombies rush to flee the spots of light that the spell formed, killing them. Once all the zombies had died, the spots of light concentrated into large ball that lit up a small throne sitting atop a ruined dais.
"You do not want to run into zombies here--particularly with the black fire afoot." Yakan cautioned as we made our way northward. "They'll literally suck all the life out of you."
"Point duly noted." I stammered--luckily, Ash had Utahime and Yukanmune, and Dawn had her own holy spells, so it would have to take a very strong zombie for us to be concerned.
A long sloping corridor was what worried me even more. "You know what sort of trap awaits us if you find a long sloping corridor like this?"
Yakan nodded as he heard a low rumble in the distance. "Boulder trap!"
We dove into an alcove in the western wall, just as a large boulder rumbled by us....
TO BE CONTINUED...
23rd February 2013, 5:04 PM
Tale 23: The Tale of Cleansing the Mines (part 2)
We waited in the alcove for a few more minutes after the boulder had rumbled past, just to be sure more where not headed our way. Once sure our path to the next level of the mines was clear, Ash led the way downstairs.
But when we tried opening the door that led out of the room we arrived in, it wouldn't budge, no matter how hard we shoved and pulled at it. "That door's a bit sticky, so a good push should budge it." Yakan interjected.
"We've been giving it a good push, and so far it won't budge, even with two or three of us combining our strength." Dawn protested.
I noticed Ash had a thoughtful look on his face. "What are you contemplating so hard?"
He said nothing, but took Utahime and commanded "Blue Sonic Wave!"
We were confused at first as he played a soft hypnotic melody that resonated through the cave. But then Dawn noticed the blue waves of energy flying at the stuck door. "I see...Although Blue Sonic Wave is meant to be a non-elemental spell to stun monsters, the waves' force may also be able to push the stuck door open."
"Note that Ash is playing softly." I explained to Yakan. "The strength of Blue Sonic Wave depends on the volume of the sound playing it. We don't want to break down the door--just unstick it."
Yakan just chuckled. "Pretty creative way to open a door, if you ask me." The door finally opening with a sickening creak punctuated his point.
We made our way eastward into a room filled with crystals on the walls. But Dawn noticed a chilling message lit by some blue crystals on the northern wall. "Save yourself, kill the others?"
"What could that mean?" I wondered.
"There are a number of possible meanings..." Dawn explained as she shooed some Spinaraks away. "It could be our foe taunting us, it could be the young shaman's last message before the black fire claimed her, it could have even been a warning from a miner. But who wrote this message and why, I don't know."
Yakan studied the crudely carved message for a moment. "Doesn't look like the writing of anybody I know...let's just keep going for now."
Ash agreed. "Yeah, we'll find out who wrote it soon enough."
After turning south and passing through another empty room, we came out in a long and winding passageway. "Here's the long and twisting passage we like to call the Rock Maze." Yakan explained as we wound our way down the many corridors. "If you're not careful, you can be stuck down here for days."
"That's very reassuring." I sighed.
Luckily, we made it through the Rock Maze without any problem. But dawn was most excited to see a well in the southern corner of the room that led down to the next level. "Is the water in that well safe to drink?"
"Sure is--one of our favorite spots to get a drink on our way back to the surface." Yakan replied. "Go on, take as much as you like."
I wasted no time in refilling my water bottle, and Ash did the same. But when I tasted the water, it was ice cold, sweet and refreshing, as fresh water should be. We all needed a drink to combat dry throats from the dust in the mines; and it would likely get dustier the further down we went....
16th March 2013, 5:03 PM
Tale 24: The Tale of Cleansing the Mines (part 3)
We descended a long ramp down onto the next floor. Aside from a salty smell in the northwest corner, and a few Rattatas scurrying about, we continued on. The Rattatas had shown no interest in us as we tromped through their room, so we were not going to waste any time fighting them, in an attempt to conserve energy (and arrows, in my case.)
Luckily, we were told this was a small floor, but some of the deeper floors would be bigger. That made my heart race--what if we were lost forever in the mines?
Ash lay a hand on my shoulder. "Whatever it is you are worrying about, we'll face it together."
"Thanks." I smiled as I waved away the Spinarak crawling over my foot. With my friends and our guide, there was nothing in the mines we couldn't face!
Yakan smiled when he noticed a chest in one corner of the next room. "I remember putting a diamond in here the other day!" He worked to disarm the needle trap around the chest for a moment as he explained "Sometimes when we find something particularly rare in the mines, we'll put it in a chest for safekeeping and place a trap around it so monsters can't steal it."
"That's a clever idea." Dawn smiled.
"In my case, I placed a field of poison needles around this one." Yakan continued as he carefully disarmed the triggers for the needles.
We watched for a few moments as Yakan worked, then opened the chest. "Here it is..." he smiled as he proudly showed us a diamond so large, it barely fit in his hand.
"Wow!" Dawn gasped. "I didn't know diamonds got this big!"
"I didn't either, till I dug it out of the cave wall one day." Yakan replied as he set the diamond back in the chest and set a new trap around it. "Once we clear the mines, I'm sending it to the scholar's guild, but for now, it's staying in the chest."
"Fair by me." Ash smiled as he led the way into the next room.
A statue of Arceus and various holy runes on the walls made Dawn gasp in awe. "This must be a safe place of some kind, right?"
"Exactly--if one of us runs into a particularly fearsome beast down here, we run as fast as we can here--the runes and the Arceus statue deter our pursuer from coming in here." Yakan replied. "Saved our skins on many an occasion--but I can't say the same for our last safe room--we forgot to ask the miko to bless it..."
Various headless statues scattered across the next room confirmed to Ash what had probably happened to the old safe room. He noticed a message on the west wall, but all he could make out on the dusty wall was "died here". "Who exactly died here?" he asked as he cleared away more dust in hopes of finding a name.
"A miner from long ago that met his fate in this room." Yakan explained. "His name is only known to Arceus now, as his name has faded from the wall."
Dawn whispered a quick prayer to the fallen miner before we continued. In the next room, I gasped at what stood in the northwest corner of the room. "One of the demonic idols we saw in the forge!"
"Great Heavenly Dawn!" With that, Ash started playing a festive melody on Yukanmune, each string sending a streak of light at the idol as it sounded its note. The constant barrage of light was enough to shatter the idol when the song ended, leaving thousands of obsidian shards on the floor.
"That's one way to get rid of a demon idol." Yakan chuckled before directing us to a pile of torches in another corner. "Might want to grab a torch or two, it'll get dark the farther down we go into the mines."
After gathering as many torches as we could carry, we hurried into the next room. I suddenly heard Dawn say "Over here!" and hurried over to the west wall, where Dawn was excitedly pointing out a crudely drawn vampire face. "I think I know what our opponent on the seventh floor is!"
"I wouldn't take a random drawing as fact." Ash cautioned as we made our way down to the fourth floor. "For all I know, our foe could be a completely different beast!"
TO BE CONTINUED....