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  1. #16
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Journeys of the Red Star (Book 1: The Journey of Fire)

    @Elite Four Lugion; @Tophat Dragoneye;

    Tale 5: The Tale of the Siege of Plants (part 2)

    <b>When our previous tale ended...</b>

    <i>The elder hung his head. "As much as I would wish to help you, you would have better luck asking the order of monks at Chamizu. Dealing with Kotsumori has drained our resources."

    "I see." Ash replied.

    "However, I can tell you that the Honogin Players have been traveling in this area." the elder continued, his mood noticeably happier. "If you can drive Kotsumori away, I will tell you where they will next be performing."

    "It's a deal!" Ash jumped up from his chair. I just smiled--he and Brock, the lead actor of the troupe, had been close friends for a long time. If Ash knew he was in the area, he would go to any lengths to see his friend perform.

    So the next morning, the teion played its first signal boto in a long time--and the crowd roared as the rhythmic notes pierced the morning air. Yet Ash stood nearby the platform and gazed off into the woods, awaiting when--or if--Kotsumori or one of his monsters would appear.

    As the last two notes faded away into the rising sun, some rustling got Ash's attention--and he drew his blade when he saw he was staring down not just any Ariados, but a Ariados ruler--a tsuchigumo!</i>

    "Be careful, Ash!" I called as Ash approached the tsuchigumo. "Tsuchigumos can poison you if you're not careful!"

    Ash nodded before calling into the woods. "Kotsumori! These people mean no harm to the forest, and take great pains to protect it! So why do you attack them?"

    "Because they defile it by killing the trees for wood and the Pokemon for food!" came a high pitched raspy voice. "If they do not seek another place for their town, I will send forth my army of trees to attack them!"

    "Bloodshed is not the answer." Ash assured Kotsumori. "You would be defiling the forest yourself with the blood of innocents."

    Silence filled the air for a moment before Kotsumori spoke again. "Very well then, young warrior--if you and your friends can defeat the creature you see before you, I will trust your claim and leave this place."

    Ash nodded, unfazed by the growling tsuchigumo. "Deal."

    "If you need our help, play the Song of Six Points." Dawn smiled. "May Arceus protect you."

    Ash wasted no time in running up to the tsuchigumo and delivering a crescent shaped slice to its body. The one slash became two, then two became three. We then heard his cry of "Crescent Sword Dance!" in the swirling tornado of blades.

    The tsuchigumo countered by spraying a noxious green goo all over Ash. The sickening smell made his eyes water and drained his strength, making it incredibly difficult for him to get up. But Dawn was quick to cast a healing spell, clearing away the noxious goo in a flash of light.

    Ash then ran and cut one of his opponent's legs, only to be startled by the tsuchigumo lunging to bite him. It was a long struggle, but almost comical as Ash twisted and writhed around the dusty path. Despite its best efforts to hang on, Ash managed to throw off the tsuchigumo from his arm, making it land against a rock with a sickening thud. Thankfully, his sword arm was not the one bitten.

    He examined his wound through the torn sleeve of his robe for a moment as the tsuchigumo circled him, growling all the while. After concluding that it was not serious, he sheathed his blade and reached for Utahime. "Fire of a thousand suns, burn and set my heart aglow...ignite my courage in this song, so all the world my name might know! Resonating Heat Wave!"

    With that, he played a calm, yet inspiring song, catching the tsuchigumo off guard as it was engulfed in bright orange flames. Angered at being burned, the tsuchigumo spewed thick purple venom at Ash, but it only splattered the dusty path leading into the woods as Ash leapt on top of a rock, Utahime still in his hand.

    The Song of the Six Points resonated through the misty morning air, prompting me to grab my bow. "Ash needs our help--let's go!" I told Dawn as I readied an arrow.

    "What would you like me to do?" Dawn asked as she watched my arrow graze the tsuchigumo's head.

    "Support the two of us with your healing magic, and use offensive spells when you can." I replied as Ash slashed at another of the tsuchigumo's legs.

    Dawn nodded and closed her eyes. "Guiding light from Arceus' land, become a holy sword in my hand! Celestial Blade!"

    The tsuchigumo darted away from the rain of shining blades that flew from Dawn's hands, but fell to the ground as each explosion of light made the earth shake. It noticed my aiming another shot, and leapt at my arm, causing me to drop my arrow as I yelped in pain.

    My right arm throbbed with the tsuchigumo's venom, but I managed to retrieve my arrow and fire it at another of the tsuchigumo's legs, making blood drip onto the ground.

    "Demon Piercing Blade!" Ash called as he cut a star design on the tsuchigumo's skin. It wasn't enough to kill the mighty spider monster, but the technique managed to slow it down considerably.

    "Dawn, try a water spell." I suggested as I bound up the wound on my arm. "Maybe if you freeze the tsuchigumo in place, our attacks may have a chance to critically wound it!"

    "It's worth a shot." Dawn replied before charging a blue ball of light. "Great Lord, if it be your will, grant me the fury of winter's chill! Subzero Chilling Wind!"

    The swirling snow and icicles were the last straw for the tsuchigumo--it skittered through the icicles that surrounded it and bit down hard on Dawn's foot. Try as she might to charge some healing magic, the venom proved too much as she moaned with pain.

    "Here..." The town elder offered me a white strip of fabric flecked with green. "Tie this around your friend's foot--it will help with the poison."

    "Thanks!" I paused to fire another shot at the tsuchigumo's legs, then tied the herb-flecked ribbon around Dawn's wounded foot. It eased the pain enough for her to cast a healing spell, making her foot good as new.

    A "oof" got my attention as the tsuchigumo charged at Ash, sending him flying into a tree. But I managed to shoot at another leg, and Dawn fired a ball of light, which stunned the tsuchigumo.

    The tsuchigumo being stunned was enough for Ash to get up and hack at one of the unwounded right legs. But he didn't expect the tsuchigumo to bite him in the leg, poisoning him again. Dawn was quick to heal him, though, and his blade combined with my bow to strike hard.

    Dawn noticed that our attacks and fatigue was taking its toll on its opponent--it wasn't moving as swift as it had before. "Now's our chance! Hit it, and hit hard!"

    I focused all my rage into my next arrow, making it burst into flames. "Three Burning Arrow!" The townsfolk gasped in awe as I appeared to unleash not one, but three flaming arrows into the tsuchigumo's three remaining unwounded legs.

    Ash did likewise, channeling his energy into his blade until it sparkled like thousands of stars. "Glittering Sword of Stars!" The final blow was so strong, and so bright, the crowd saw a few sparks fly onto the ground. But when the light faded away, cheers went up when we saw the tsuchigumo was slain.

    "Words cannot express my gratitude for your saving our town." the elder smiled as Dawn healed the rest of our wounds. "As I promised, I will tell you where the Honogin Players are performing next--they will premiere 'The Legend of Yochi, the Song Mystic' in Kasura tomorrow. Kasura is a half day's journey to the east of here, so you should arrive by morning if you left tonight."

    We left Oriman later that evening after resting and sharing dinner with the townsfolk. But Ash had a smile on his face as he led the way into the moonlight--just what role was Brock going to play in Yochi's story?

    <b>To Be Continued...</b>
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  2. #17
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Journeys of the Red Star (Book 1: The Journey of Fire)

    @Elite Four Lugion; @Tophat Dragoneye;

    Tale 6: The Tale of a Friend's Debut (part 1)

    "Kiyama? Is the play we're going to see based on an actual legend?" Ash asked as the path to Kasura turned upward.

    I nodded. "The story goes that Yochi was once very afraid of battle, but one day, she met a minstrel that could sing magic. She was inspired, and performed for him in return. What neither of them knew was that in the royal palace, a prince was dying, poisoned by a treacherous lord. That is all I will tell of it for now--you'll see the rest of the story for yourself very soon."

    The familiar flowing chords of a harp got our attention--and compelled Pikachu to dart off in search of who was playing the beautiful melody.

    It turned out Brock was the one playing the harp. Pikachu was sitting at his feet, dreamily watching as the ethereal chords swirled into a triumphant war march. It was like we could see the raging battle in our minds--the rumble of Rapidash hooves, the war cries as the armies charged to battle, the clangs of swords and whistle of arrows, and the screams of the dying as they fell to a rival's weapon.

    Then, the fierce battle gave way to a sad, but hopeful melody that represented the battle's aftermath, complete with a few harmonic chords to represent shooting stars. True, Brock was not a <i>yushin</i>--but he could definitely become one if he ever tired of the stage.

    Ash led the applause when the last chord faded away. "Bravo!"

    "That sounded very nice!" Dawn agreed.

    "Thank you--it's one of the songs I have to play as Kashu--the <i>yushin</i> in the play." Brock replied as he set his harp aside and removed the silver fingerpicks from his right hand. "I believe it's called 'Battle on Falan Plains'..."

    "That is one name for it, but the tune is also a version of 'Moltres' Flight in Summer' and is known in the west lands as 'Entei Racing Across the Plain'" I explained.

    "Is it hard to learn the complex songs in plays, as opposed to playing for fun?" Ash asked as he ran to embrace his friend.

    "It can be, but it depends on the tune I have to learn." Brock replied as a light breeze ruffled his brown hair and the red ribbon on his tunic that signified he was primarily a <i>sodai</i> actor. "If any <i>yushin</i> are in the area, they will teach me the tune, its history, and any other names it's known by."

    "Pika pi?" Pikachu asked.

    "Play some more?" Brock asked. He thought for a moment, then reached for the fingerpicks on the rock by his harp. "All right, I'll play for a little bit longer--when the teion plays its next osomiya, I have to go back to get ready for the show."

    Pikachu nodded as Brock slipped on the fingerpicks, then picked up the harp to play again. "Here's one I've been working on--'Dance to Welcome a Yushin'"

    With that, he began a prayer like melody that quickened into a festive song--I was in awe at how nimbly his fingers danced across the strings--if there were any wrong notes at all, I couldn't hear them.

    It helped that he had a beautiful harp as well. it was shaped much like a bow, with jewel-studded stars and ivy inlays winding around the column. A tiny Beautifly was perched at the column's top, as if inviting all who heard the harp to come and listen.

    Brock managed to squeeze in three more tunes before the teion sounded. "It's time." he began as he put the harp and the fingerpicks away. "The show's going to start in an hour."

    "We'll see you in the audience, then!" Ash replied. He waved goodbye as he led the way down the hill into town.

    <i>Later that night...</i>

    "And now, please welcome the Honogin Players to the Forest Glen Theater!" a navy haired girl announced. We applauded as she departed offstage and the orchestra began the overture.

    "A long time ago, there lived a mystic named Yochi." the narrator began. "While she lived among the woods by the capital city, she longed to be a great hero like <i>yushin</i> sang about."

    The curtains came up on a girl clad in a green and silver mystic's robe. "I am Yochi, a guardian of the forest." she began. "I protect the plants and Pokemon here,
    and make sure they are safe
    With magic given me from Shaymin's hand
    I create miracles from the land.
    Yet deep down, my heart's burning desire
    Is to be called a hero, as yushin say.
    But when I hear word of a tale of woe,
    My heart races in fear."

    The three teions played hayareya for a moment before Yochi continued. "But today I have nothing to fear. The birds are singing..." A flute played a soft trill to illustrate this. "The wind rustles the trees' branches, and all is at peace."

    The lights went down, save for the narrator in his spotlight. "But what Yochi didn't know was that in the royal palace, an evil plot was afoot as Prince Shinzo approached the age of marriage..."

    The lights came up on a royal throne room, where a boy in an ornate teal, black, and gold tunic and white leggings listened as a man in a royal blue, gold, purple, and white robe spoke to him. "My son, the year is fast approaching,
    When you will choose a princess as a bride,
    But with what sort of maid do you desire
    to spend a long and happy life?"

    "Father, the choice is clear to me..." the prince replied. "My future queen will be as strong and brave as she is beautiful."

    "Why do you say that?" the king asked, puzzled.

    "It's true that a prince's bride is to love him and give him an heir." the prince explained. "But can she not give me counsel to make wise decisions,
    Or even make such decisions by her choice?
    Can she not aid me in defending our land,
    When evil lurks at Kinmura's door?"

    "Of course she can--although I don't know where you would find a princess skilled in a blade or a bow." the king mused. "I promise you that I will find a maid brave enough to suit your hand."

    The orchestra played a tense stinger, and the teions began the urgent hayamiya as a spotlight appeared on a man in a black, red, purple, and white robe. "So the prince is almost of age to wed, and seeks a brave maid to protect him..." he sneered over the teions. "But no maid like that he will receive.
    He knows not of the coup that I am plotting
    That will take his life.
    Yet he is only the beginning,
    Once he has died,
    His parents will too
    By the cunning poison trap I plan to set
    Then I will have all of Kinmura
    Call me their king!"

    Boos filled the air as the lights went down. "Why that sneaky double crossing Ekans..." Ash muttered, appalled at the treacherous lord's plot.

    "At ease, young warrior--it is only a story." the woman next to Ash assured him. Ash just sighed and focused his attention on the stage as the <i>sozo</i> put the finishing touches on the forest set.

    Yochi returned a few moments later. "All is peaceful in the wood, as it should be."

    A harp chord in the distance got her attention. "What's this? A harp echoes through the wood...a yushin must be nearby!"

    Excited murmurs went up as the lights blinked over to Brock, now clad in a blue, green and silver pattern often reserved for great yushins. "Greetings, travelers...my name is Kashu." he began. "Across the land I wander, no place to call my home,
    Yet I do not despair, no matter how far I roam
    Song and story is my trade, but I take most delight
    In the wonder of my audience's faces
    As I tell them of legend..."

    He began the prayerful section of the song he was playing before as he continued his monologue. "Though no teion is here to welcome me,
    I wait here, harp in hand
    Hoping that at least a Pokemon
    Longs to hear of a distant land
    Of heroes brave and clever
    As they seek a princess' hand

    Or maybe of wily Tanuki,
    Clever people, gods and kings
    Even the call of battle
    Comes from my harp as it sings...."

    With that, he played the "battle" section of the song--and it was just as thrilling to hear the second time around! The crowd seemed to agree, and roared with applause when the last chord died. Our applause was the loudest, though.

    "Bravo! Well played!" the actress playing Yochi cried as she entered the scene, also applauding the song.

    Brock said nothing, but began the "aftermath" section of the song. When he finished, Yochi asked 'What is a fine yushin like you doing all the away out here?"

    "His Majesty has bade me to perform for the prince's birthday tomorrow." Brock explained as he cradled his harp in his hands. "But I am not sure if I should come, if what I hear in town is true...

    "What have you heard?" Yochi was curious at this.

    "One of the lords at the palace seeks the throne for himself, and is even now plotting to kill the prince." Brock explained. "And who am I to suggest that once the prince is dead, the king and the queen will die as well?"

    "Don't speak of things like that!" Yochi gasped. "The more we talk about them, the more likely they'll come true! What I want to know is how your skill is so great to make wilting flowers bloom and fallen trees live again!"

    A playful smile formed on Brock's face. "Very well then, mystic, if you must know
    How magic power flows from these blessed strings...
    The Guardian of Song, Meloetta, granted this power
    For me to command my harp to do wondrous things."

    "So what did you do to please Meloetta?" Yochi was interested.

    "It was no different from how I played for you," Brock explained.
    "I played, and Meloetta came to listen
    She heard me play old favorites and new tunes for at least an hour,
    And was so pleased, she blessed my music with power."

    Yochi nodded to show she understood. "Is it possible I can harness such power?"

    "It will not be an easy calling...." Brock cautioned,
    "You must practice the holy songs--morning, noon, and night,
    "But in addition to your innate power
    You will learn to harness the other five points,
    Fire, wind, water, darkness, and light!"

    Yochi gave Brock a little bow. "In return for playing another song, I will become your apprentice in the way of song magic, and all the training and trials it entails."

    "Then consider this song a sign of my acceptance." With that, Brock began the tune "Sakura Falling in the Pool", with the lights going down when the last note died....

    <b>To Be Continued...</b>
    My URPG stats: Maya's status

    SuBuWriMo status: 28,103 words in all!

  3. #18
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Journeys of the Red Star (Book 1: The Journey of Fire)

    @Elite Four Lugion; @Tophat Dragoneye;

    Tale 7: The Tale of a Friend's Debut (part 2)

    "Meanwhile, the prince retired to his chamber for the night." the narrator continued as Brock's song faded away. "Nakama, his lady in waiting, was puzzled by the prince's desire in a bride, and decided to question him further, unaware that the prince's life was in grave danger."

    The lights came up on Prince Shinzo's chamber, where the young prince was resting. "Your Majesty, your choice of a queen is odd." Nakama began. "If it pleases you, will you enlighten me on why your future queen must be brave?"

    "It is simple, really..." the prince began. "A good king cannot rule a country on his own--and so the queen must be able to match wits with her beloved. But why is it that every girl I've found knows only of the kitchen?"

    Some giggles went up at this as the bells played a mystical melody. "Oh, but Your Highness, Kinmura prides itself on many brave heroines!" Nakama began. "You know well of Kanade and her skill at the bow,
    Or of Misha, who sang Pokemon into the world
    Little Anzu, whose cleverness rivaled her beauty
    Kaya, the queen of dreams
    and Mari, the maid who protected a queen
    Yushin sing of many more maids than these,
    so surely your bride is among them."

    The prince sighed. "That's true, Nakama...but where would I find such a maid?"

    A tense stinger went up, complete with hayamiya, as Kurayami returned to the stage in disguise as a servant. "The hour has come for His Majesty's evening tea, and in it I have placed a deadly poison, to ravage him through and through." he sneered.

    Boos filled the air as Kurayami approached Nakama and offered her the cup with the "poisoned" tea. The teion's hayamiya reached a fever pitch as the prince took the cup from the tray.

    "Don't drink it!" Ash pleaded, never mind this was what happened in the story. His cry of "NOOOOOO!!!!" practically overpowered the other gasps and screams as the prince collapsed to the stage in feigned sickness.

    "Ash, pipe down!" Dawn hissed over Nakama's panicked monologue. "This is how the story is supposed to go."

    "Besides, Yochi would have no quest if Nakama confronted Kurayami now, would she?" I added.

    Ash's tearful glance became a reluctant grimace as the sozo set up the forest setting onstage. <i>Okay, if this is how the story is supposed to go, fine. Kiyama's right--if we confronted Kurayami now, there would be no story left.</i>

    A harp chord snapped him to attention--Brock was about to call on Meloetta to grant Yochi the power of singing magic! <i>I call upon the Guardian of Song
    To listen, and heed these words...</i> he sang as he played.
    <i>There is another here that wishes to draw on your power,
    Enhancing her powers of earth...</i>

    With that, he began singing in the language used for spellsongs--either that, or gibberish that sounded like it. <i>Yozecan, kol an ce miar,
    kee wa yana wahhat crir wa hozas yamb yor
    pen mias aya.
    Wiaks fyelyan yamb kol,
    mias ce griupa
    Poga ree ce yot
    yowr wer mas wa hozas yamb kol!</i>

    His next spellsong I recognized as a real spell. <i>Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul...</i>

    "That's the same spell you sang to defeat the zombie princess!" Dawn gasped.

    "It's actually a pretty versatile spell, and one of the Four Great Spellsongs." Ash whispered. "In addition to conjuring forms of fire and light, it can also summon Legendaries that rule over those points. But that can only be done by powerful yushin, priests, or mikos."

    "That makes Brock's character a pretty powerful yushin." Dawn mused as a puppet of Meloetta appeared in a flash of light.

    "Ye have called, yushin, and I am here." the tiny puppet began. "What is it you desire?"

    "This is Yochi, an earth mystic that desires to learn to sing magic." Brock explained, gesturing to the actress playing Yochi.

    "You know well I don't give the gift of spellsong to just anyone..." the Meloetta puppet cautioned. "But if you believe she has the potential, I will gave her a chance to prove herself."

    "Well, I can play the tikin..." Yochi stammered as a sozo brought her a tikin.

    "All right..." the Meloetta puppet replied. "Let's hear you play 'Blossoms Falling on the Road'"

    Needless to say, the actress playing Yochi proved to be a master of the tikin--together with Brock backing her on harp, it was almost like we could see the titular blossoms swirling around us as the peaceful melody echoed throughout the theater.

    The performance must have touched Ash deeply--it was all he could talk about when we left the theater. He told me later that he hopes that Brock's next performance features a solo like that. If you ask me, he probably has a crush on that actress.

    <b>To Be Continued...</b>
    My URPG stats: Maya's status

    SuBuWriMo status: 28,103 words in all!

  4. #19
    Because I like Tophats Tophat Dragoneye's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Journeys of the Red Star (Book 1: The Journey of Fire)

    I see where the idea of Brock telling tales is coming from :)

    Many thanks to Blue Dragon for the signature

    ONE-shot: Forced into Retirement

  5. #20
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Journeys of the Red Star (Book 1: The Journey of Fire)

    Unfortunately, he is only an NPC this time, but we will see him perform a few more times before this part of the journey ends (usually as a breather at the end of an action episode)
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  6. #21
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Journeys of the Red Star (Book 1: The Journey of Fire)

    @Elite Four Lugion; @Tophat Dragoneye;

    Tale 8: The Tale of the Kodani's Clue

    Our adventure brought us to Tamiya, a large town not far from Chamizu. Ash had heard an intriguing rumor in a roadside tavern on the way--an ancient forge, made by an ancient king long ago, was said to be hidden underground in the Haradori region. The only thing the rumor didn't mention was where to dig.

    The rumor was also interesting to us for another reason. "You know, if a cache of ancient weapons is underground just waiting to be discovered, who am I to suggest that Lauki and the Ruby Shrine are down there as well?" Dawn suggested as we strolled through town.

    "Arceus hid the Jeweled Shrines very well, so I wouldn't be surprised." I assured her as we passed by the signalling platform. The pair on duty looked a little uneasy--the <i>jinshuhito</i> was relaxing and watching the townsfolk come and go through the east entrance of the marketplace as he ate a meat bun. The <i>kazehito</i>, a girl about thirteen years old, was keeping a watchful eye on the entryway into town, as if expecting someone or something to appear there.

    "Oi!" Ash called up to the platform, getting the teal haired <i>kazehito's</i> attention. "Why the uneasy watch?"

    "At ease, master warrior. We are under no threat." the <i>kazehito</i> assured him. "The Jade Swellow Winona is due to arrive today, and so I must be prepared to play nakadiya at any time." she explained as she cradled the teion's giant mouthpiece in her arms. "It's boring when you have so long to wait in between osomiyas, so I enjoy announcing visitors."

    She then noticed me standing behind Ash. "Oh! Is your yushin friend going to perform while we wait for Lady Winona?"

    I giggled. "No, not this time--I wouldn't want to steal the spotlight from the <i>kodani</i>." The <i>kazehito</i> nodded and resumed her watch as we made our way into the marketplace.

    <i>Kodani</i>? Ash was confused.

    "You've never seen a <i>kodan</i> show?" Dawn gasped. "Ash, you're in for a treat!"

    "I've seen Winona perform before." I began as I led Ash and Dawn into the inn's courtyard, away from the crowds. "Essentially, a <i>kodane</i>--a singer-storyteller, will use dancing, acting, and singing to tell stories in dialects of the mystic tongue accompanied by an ensemble. Male performers are <i>kodana</i>, and female performers are <i>kodani</i>"

    "They use hundreds of props and wear all these beautiful costumes to tell their stories." Dawn continued. "The one thing all of them use is a <i>tandai</i>, a long ribbon on a stick."

    "The color of the <i>tandai</i> determines what kind of story the kodane is telling." I added. "Red means an epic or adventurous tale, yellow is a children's tale, green is a trickster story, blue is a tragic tale--and that's only a few colors."

    I was about to say more when the teion sounded the attention tone, followed by nakadiya. "She's here!" Dawn cried, motioning for us to follow her into the crowds of people headed for the majestic theater at the north end of town.

    We wasted no time in taking our seats towards the front, and it wasn't long before the ensemble walked onstage--three boys and three girls. I did find it interesting that the player of the great <i>waidan</i>--a tall and large flute-like instrument famous for its low buzz achieved with a horn-like mouthpiece--was a girl.

    Once the ensemble was in place, the lights went down. The harp played an opening chord as a lavender haired maiden in a green robe-like costume--Winona-- appeared in a spotlight. <i>Māk pron sa kuda int mon Kanade gakeahakh mak sār won, Kirameya!</i> she sang in a piercing mezzo-soprano as she produced a red <i>tandai</i> from her costume.

    The drum and bells provided a swift beat for the harp as the young <i>kodani</i> twirled faster and faster, seemingly wrapping herself in the <i>tandai</i>. "Wrapping yourself in the <i>tandai</i> symbolizes the passage from the real world to the world of make believe." I whispered. "She will do it again at the end of her final tale to symbolize the return to the real world."

    Onstage, Winona began her first tale. <i>Ē poch kesha abai, Kanade mukh iri ē tera won.</i> she sang, showing us a simple wooden bow. <i>Wir len sen tera won, sa nandāmakh Mightyena...</i> The flute then played a high piercing note that more or less mimicked a Mightyena's howl, making some people laugh. <i>at Raikou...</i> The <i>waidan</i> then blew a loud note to mimic a Raikou's roar. <i>Wakana int mak suhari, mak chara lara ar chāka, at mukh pronhech kai hāk.</i>

    "Our guardian, brave Kanade!" someone shouted as the harp and tikin signaled a scene change.

    Ash was unnerved. "Don't they know you're not supposed to talk during the show?" he hissed.

    "Actually, calling things out like that and interacting with the <i>kodane</i> are welcomed and encouraged." Dawn explained as Winona skipped and twirled over to stage right, her <i>tandai</i> creating a mesmerizing trail of patterns behind her.

    <i>Ita nu, ē karendach nashoh arārakh uh sa lon,</i> Winona sang again. She quickly slipped on a mask that looked like a demon's face, prompting the flute to play a note that mimicked a female scream. <i>nashuwech ē cen int chira mān...</i> The tikin played a mournful melody as she removed the mask and picked up a fan to represent a female character, danced over to where the demon mask lay on the stage, and dropped the fan on top of it, symbolizing a sacrifice.

    "How terrible, to end so many lives that way!" Dawn called to the dancing <i>kodani</i>

    <i>An, ur lun karela.</i> Winona sang to Dawn over a harp flourish. <i>Kanade ni sayut, Yukin, lun turatakh wi an sa cen horakh kai no...</i> She brushed the <i>tandai</i> against her face, creating the illusion of tears. <i>at sa shāsakh len Kanade kai nai toshanhech.</i>

    "Do something, Kanade!" Ash called, as if he were Yukin. The crowd agreed, and cries of "Do something!" almost drowned out the harp.

    The moji playing a mystical melody quieted the cries. <i>Kanade lugakh kai din kai tuha sa cen, wir mak won lun pror soch yatēn kai lēt ē nashoh.</i> She showed us the mask again as the ensemble played a tense stinger. <i>Yukin irarakh kai thuhad kai het ē lāvoh, wir Kanade lurakh mak sur ur lēn pror wa ah auni kun. Prai lāvoh mukh ar musshakh sa nashoh--lun ma urejhela? Lun Kinmura nansetakh kai wakosha ē lon int dah?</i>

    "Not so long as Kanade and Yukin are around, it's not!" Ash announced. The ensemble agreed, and played an adventurous melody as Winona set the mask aside and picked up a short <i>bojo</i>--a wooden dowel-like staff used to represent walking sticks, swords, and even spears--in her other hand.

    <i>Sa pran nu, Yukin pan ih ē sērā ugai kon.</i> Winona sang.

    Ash watched, mesmerized, as Winona told "The Quest for Kirameya". Every twirl, every step, every note, every pattern of the <i>tandai</i> as it fluttered through the air--Winona and her ensemble clearly loved their craft, and it showed. Every once in a while, he would call out encouragement to Kanade, but for the most part, he sat quietly and listened.

    When "The Quest for Kirameya" ended, the lights went down for a moment. When they came up again, Winona wore a purple and light blue costume decorated with silver and gold trim. <i>Leas dir ni wechi aoth ni lurar bag tiri!</i> she sang as she produced a white <i>tandai</i> from her costume.

    "A white <i>tandai</i> and the formal eastern dialect of the mystic tongue...this is a historical tale." I smiled.

    "Not just any historical tale--the tale about the hidden forge we are looking for!" Dawn was excited. 'Maybe the <i>kodani</i> will tell us where to dig!"

    <i>O cidh wudi aghe, o neal nudh bochach ir Kinmura.</i> Winona began as she carefully set a tiny crown on top of her short <i>bojo</i>, balancing it on her hand at the same time. <i>Li bochach chunn o chuni lemh amh gerach tis lun cuari.</i>

    "As a king should." someone commented as the flute led the way into a regal interlude.

    <i>Aoti mu, bodint aoth firant sagher we tsun nain ni bag guka.</i> Winona sang over the droning buzz from the <i>waidan</i>, still balancing the crowned bojo with one hand and holding the white <i>tandai</i> with the other. <i>Ni nudh mashusach nel li chain sín o tiri aissharaimh, ke ith firant umas gedi, lun cuari gain mhikan nararan.</i>

    She set aside the crowned <i>bojo</i> as the drum and bells played a rhythm that sounded like a hammer. <i>Ke aisshareann ni Oran braí nel coirr ni chu we Chamizu, ni nudh sagher sírudh ni tiri...</i>

    Ash nudged Dawn at this. "Say...is the Oran tree the <i>kodani</i> sings of still there?"

    "I think so..." Dawn replied.

    That was all Ash needed to hear--he was more than ready to see if Winona's tale of the lost forge, its stash of weapons, and the monsters inside it was actually true!

    <b>To Be Continued...</b>
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  7. #22
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    Tale 9: The Tale of the Underground Forge (part 1)

    It did not take us long to find the underground forge outside Chamizu. It turns out we didn't even have to dig.

    We arrived at the Oran tree that grows on the path to Chamizu armed with shovels and picks. "If the king that built this underground forge didn't want anyone stealing the weapons inside, he had to have put the entrance deep underground." Ash explained as he began digging in a patch of dry dirt by the tree.

    "That's true--and the path to the forge proper is at the end of a winding labyrinth." I added as I dug in a patch of dirt by the tree's roots. "So our first challenge is finding the entrance."

    Try as Ash might, the hole he dug didn't reveal any entrances. Then he tried a dry patch of earth by the road--but nothing turned up there either. The hours wore on and the sun grew hot, but no matter where we dug, we could not find an entrance.

    Around noon, Ash finally gave up on his second hole and made his way over to a rock to rest. But when Pikachu leapt on it, he felt it giving way! Ash helped his companion up, then looked down a surprisingly well preserved iron ladder.

    "Could this be the forge?" Dawn asked as she joined Ash at the edge.

    "Only one way to find out!" Ash motioned for us to follow him down the ladder and into the darkness.

    We emerged some moments later in a dimly lit room decorated with faded tapestries bearing the star-like crest of a dynasty long since gone. "It doesn't look too much different from most sanctuary foyers..." Dawn mused as she admired the crescent moon mosaic that made up the floor. Although a few pieces were faded from age or missing, it looked like it may had been part of a palace foyer.

    Ash, meanwhile, discovered a crude map etched into the easternmost wall, reached for Utahime, and touched the bell end to the map. "Glowing Blue Eye, if your aid I need, remember this place, as I follow your lead." The crude map glowed blue for a moment.

    "Interesting spell...what does it do?" Dawn asked as we started down a corridor.

    "Glowing Blue Eye allows me to conjure a map of a location through Utahime." Ash explained. "As she is an enchanted flute, she remembers the map for as long as I am in that place. If I'm lost, I can play to reveal the map, or return to the entrance."

    "I see--you're asking Arceus to guide you through Utahime." Dawn nodded to show she understood before observing the room we had entered. Unlike the entrance, this room was rather plain, save for a small scale, some small tarnished weights, and three other doors, all locked.

    "But how are we going to progress if all the other doors are locked, and there appear to be no means of obtaining a key?" I asked.

    Dawn closed her eyes in prayer. "Great Lord, please reveal to me that which mere mortals cannot see." With that, she began to glow a faint yellow-white, as most mikos did when they received visions from the heavens.

    "Well?" Ash asked. "What do you see?"

    Dawn's aura faded a few seconds later. "Lord Arceus says that the door to the west will allow us further into the labyrinth. The other two are treasure rooms. All three will unlock if we can solve the challenge of the scale."

    I hurried over to the scale and examined the tarnished weight on the right pan. "I think I know what we should do--figure out which of these weights is the same weight as the one already on the scale to balance it."

    "Well, Kiyama--we'll let you place a weight first." Ash suggested.

    I looked over the row of other weights on the rock with the scale--some were too big, and some were too small, but only one matched the weight already on the scale. After moving aside those that were too large or too small, I told Ash and Dawn "After we eliminate the obviously wrong weights, we have four choices remaining." With that, I selected the second weight and placed it on the scale.

    We all held our breaths as the scale appeared to balance, but then sighed when we saw the scale tip downward a little.

    "My turn." Dawn walked over to the scale, added my weight to the rejected pile, and grabbed the third weight. That one also appeared to balance, but it ultimately made the scale tip slightly upward.

    "Well, Ash..." I began as I added Dawn's weight to the rejected pile. "We have narrowed your choices down to two--either way, we will know which weight balances the scale."

    Ash hesitantly grabbed the first weight and placed it on the scale. He heaved a huge sigh of relief as the scale balanced, making all three doors unlock in a flash of white light.

    As we started towards the north treasure room to claim the coins and jewels inside, I hoped to the Great Lord that we were on the right path to Lauki...

    <b>To Be Continued....</b>
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  8. #23
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Tale 10: The Tale of the Underground Forge (part 2)

    When we emerged into the next room from the west door, I wrinkled my nose at the musty smell. "You'd think someone would've kept this place clean...." I grumbled as I gathered up some fragments of rotted rope.

    Dawn, meanwhile, was examining a message hastily scribbled on the east wall. "Ameru stands here, slain by a basilisk..."

    "What does that mean?" Ash asked, piqued.

    "It means that we must be on our guard--a basilisk or something just as frightening may lurk here." Dawn replied." Ash nodded, and followed Dawn out the north door.

    The rustling of Rattatas caught us off guard as we entered the next room. I managed to kill one immediately, but Ash cornered the other one and focused some power into Kunimada. "Holy Sword Beam!" A flash of blue light appeared from the sword, killing the other Rattata."

    "Well done." I smiled as I inspected the two corpses for anything of interest.

    "It is the most basic sword technique an aspiring swordsman--or swordswoman--learns." Ash explained. "All other magic based sword techniques are based on the Holy Sword Beam." I nodded to show I understood.

    "Speaking of swords..." Dawn examined another hastily scrawled message in the western wall. "This says 'You can't kill it with swords...'

    "Hm..." I thought for a moment. "Is it possible the other message about the basilisk and this one are connected?"

    "They could be, and they may not be." Ash told us. "It's also possible that whatever fiend that lurks here is not a basilisk, but something else entirely."

    "Whatever it is, you will have to use Utahime's song to defeat it." Dawn cautioned as we made our way forward.

    My fears grew more and more intense as we passed through the next room. Various scraps of clothing were scattered throughout the room, many of them blood stained. I shuddered as we made our way eastward--what if the fiend in the forge's deepest sanctum was something far stronger than the three of us combined?

    <i>No, Kiyama--stay focused, and be brave!</i> I reminded myself as we made our way eastward. <i>If you die, Yasuna will never get the chance to welcome us home!</i>

    We found what I figured was an altar dedicated to an evil spirit in the next room. "Maybe that's what's making us all jittery." I mused. "Can you purify it, Dawn?"

    "If it would pacify the spirits here, it's the least we can do." Dawn assured me as she opened a bottle of holy water and sprinkled it on the ancient altar, making it glow pale blue as the evil was cleansed from it. "There....I feel calmer already knowing that the spirits here can rest peacefully."

    "Same here." Ash agreed as he led the way out a south doorway.

    A goblin charged at us as we walked in the next room, but Ash ran to meet it, slashing its leg when the two met. With Ash distracted, I aimed an arrow at the goblin's unwounded foot, focusing all my courage into it. "Seeker's Fang!"

    The glowing arrow's impact made sparks fly. That gave Dawn an opportunity to charge! "Holy Dance of Angels!" she cried as her flail went flying into the goblin's ankle, making it trip and fall.

    Ash made a flying leap to deliver the final blow some moments later. "Mist Cutting Moon!" he called as Kunimada engulfed the helpless goblin in ice.

    The next room was rather small, save for an ornate looking chest. Naturally, I ran for it, but the sound of Utahime playing a lighthearted melody made me stop in my tracks--the chest was blocked by a large pit!

    "Thanks..." I giggled as I made my way back to the entrance.

    "While the thought of treasure is exciting, is it worth a long fall into the pits of darkness?" Dawn cautioned me as we made our way out the west door.

    "No...and thank goodness Ash played Wandering Lantern when he did." I replied.

    A large worm hissed at us as we entered the next room, daring us to take the massive pile of coins and jewels it guarded. Ash was not afraid of the hideous green worm before him, and eagerly slashed at one of its upper segments. I managed to pierce its thick hide, but the wound wasn't deep. Dawn tried to attack, but barely scraped her target as the worm grazed her skin.

    She figured her flail would not be much help as Ash delivered another slash. After I made a shot to its head, she charged a ball of red light. "Great lord, may this holy flame show all the world the power of your name! Great Fire Dance!"

    The worm was surprised by the wave of fire surrounding it, and quickly succumbed. "Clever--I did not know a bug would submit to fire." I mused as we helped ourselves to the treasure the worm had been protecting.

    "Bugs are part of the plant domain of the earth point, and earth fears fire in that form." Ash reminded me. He slid open a door leading down to the forge's next level. "Be on guard--I have a feeling the creatures here will get stronger the farther down we go."

    I was more worried about what awaited us in the forge's deepest sanctum--was it really a basilisk, as the messages we had seen claimed? Or was there something far more sinister down there?

    <b>To Be Continued...</b>
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  9. #24
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Tale 11: The Tale of the Underground Forge (part 3)

    I wrinkled my nose at the rotted bread that dotted the floor as we arrived on the third floor. That was obviously a sign that someone else had been inside the forge before us, and had not been so lucky.

    The tomb in one corner of the next room confirmed my suspicions, but was more worrisome was the room itself--there was no sign of a door besides where we had entered.

    Dawn, meanwhile, unearthed a right arrow on the wall by the door. "Hey Ash...play Glowing Blue Eye."

    Ash nodded and played the song, making the wall with the arrow lower like a door. It was still a bit dusty as we stepped into the large room filled with stray swords, flails, and other weapons, but what struck my attention was the large mosaic of monsters and legendary creatures that served as the floor.

    "Amazing..." Ash mused as he knelt down to inspect the mosaic. "Though the image is faded a little, you can still see the many monsters, creatures, and Pokemon the artist created."

    "To be fair, no one has been down here for years." I explained. "That said, do you think the monster that lurks in the deepest sanctum is represented in the picture?"

    "Let's see..." Ash looked over the large image for creatures and Pokemon he knew. "I see Arceus in the center, some kind of winged Ponyta, a bird similar to Moltres, a thousand armed creature being attacked by the three Beasts..."

    "The bird you see must be different because I see Moltres here." Dawn interjected as she pointed out Moltres by Arceus' head.

    "Perhaps this mosaic shows Arceus judging the monsters?" I asked--the image appeared to show Arceus, the other Legendaries, and benevolent creatures attacking monsters.

    "Could be...there are many other creatures in the image." Dawn replied.

    "The half-siren, Lugia, some kind of water demon, a Crobat-like monster..." Ash continued to study the mosaic. "Various ghosts, Ninetales, werecreatures, dark mystics..."

    "Are we ready to move on?" Dawn asked, slightly annoyed.

    Ash scrambled to meet us at the north end of the room. The next room had hundreds of holes in the north and south walls. The question was, which one was the correct way forward?

    "Great Lord, please reveal to me that which mere mortals cannot see." Dawn prayed, making all the holes glow. Luckily, the center hole turned out to be where we needed to go.

    Another mosaic depicting Arceus judging the monsters met us in the next room, but an Ursaring was hungrily eying us. Ash drew Kunimada, but this made the Ursaring roar again. I fired an arrow in its stomach just as it charged at us.

    "Waltz of the Blade!" Ash slashed the Ursaring's knee with a harsh blow. The Ursaring tried to scratch him, but he quickly jumped away. Before the Ursaring could chase him, Dawn heaved a fire spell at one foot.

    I focused all my rage into my next arrow. "Three Blaze Arrow!"

    The Ursaring didn't expect three arrows to pierce its leg, much less to be slain by White Raikou Slash some seconds later. "Nice work." Dawn smiled after determining the Ursaring's corpse had nothing of interest.

    "Thanks." Ash smiled.

    Various weapons, armors, and other items were scattered within the next rooms--a shield in the next room, a ladder in another, and some spears in a third. I expected that we would see more weapons the closer we got to the forge proper, and the fiend in the deepest sanctum.

    A fireplace met us in the next room, so we took a moment to relax and regain our bearings. I was more worried than ever when I saw another message that said "No, he has eleven eyes" on the wall--just what was it in the innermost sanctum? Did we have a chance of defeating it?

    To Be Continued...
    Last edited by LightningTopaz; 6th October 2012 at 07:12 PM.
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  10. #25
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    Tale 12: The Tale of the Underground Forge (part 4)

    Our expedition into the deepest parts of the forge led us from an ancient building into a cave. While there were Pokemon tracks scattered about the numerous broken arrows, what frightened Ash the most was a large pool of water in the center of the room. The stalactites up above had likely created it, and every time Ash heard a new drop land, he would uneasily look around as the sound echoed throughout the cave.

    Even Pikachu could tell his master was frightened. "Pika?" he asked as he climbed on Ash's shoulder.

    "Please do--it would be helpful to have some light." Ash replied.

    Pikachu nodded, and formed a tiny ball of lightning that surged through his fur, creating a yellow glow that allowed us to see down the rocky paths.

    What we didn't count on was for Ash to almost trip a fire paling. He leapt back when he saw the glowing mandala-like design at the room's entrance. "I didn't know there would be traps here, too!"

    "Peace, Ash..." Dawn assured him. "Paling traps are disarmed by the elemental that defeats it." With that, she charged a rainbow ball of energy. "Water of life, our need is dire, clear us a path through demon's fire!" Colorful Rain!"

    Ash watched, stunned, as the many colored raindrops fell on the paling. "I'll have to keep Utahime handy..." he mused before finding another message scrawled into the rock. "It is awake..."

    We all jumped when we heard a roar in the distance. "I have a feeling we must be close to the deepest sanctum..." I stammered.

    Ash played Glowing Blue Eye, then studied the map that appeared before him. "No--from here we have three more levels before we reach the inner sanctum."

    "Then what was that roar?" I asked as we entered the next room.

    My question was answered when an Ursaring charged in front of us! But before we could ready our weapons, Pikachu pointed out an earth paling in one corner.

    Ash grinned as he make a flying leap into the air. "Moltres Taking Flight!"

    The Ursaring didn't see Ash diving into it from above, and ended up getting pushed into the earth paling from the brunt of Kunimada's blow. "Good thinking, Ash." I smiled as I watched rocks rain onto the Ursaring.

    "A paling can only be tripped once, so we must take advantage of traps in the next few floors if we want to face the fiend at the bottom." Ash explained.

    "The less we have to fight, the better." Dawn agreed as the path turned southward.

    The first few rooms we passed through held nothing of interest, but it wasn't until we saw a rack, a boot, and other means of torture that I started shaking--what if the forge was also used as a torture chamber long ago?

    <i>No--this king was kind and just--not the kind to use torture.</i> I assured myself. Then another idea popped in my head--what if this makeshift torture chamber belonged to the fiend?

    Spinaraks skittered out of the way as we continued south. One room had a line from a Kanade story on the western wall--"Upon the Night of Brass, when the White Buneary lies in blood, the Maiden of Virtue shall awaken." According to the tale, the white Buneary actually symbolized a demon--and it was when this demon was slain that Kanade's powers awakened. We determined it had no connection to our quest and continued on to the east again.

    A groan in the distance startled Pikachu as he watched some Rattatas run by. "Pika pi?"

    "At ease--there's no monster here." I assured him.

    A tapestry depicting goblins attacking a town hung on the east wall of the next room. I swore I heard a tikin playing "Falan Love Song" in one corner of the room, but when we looked again, there was no tikin, much less a tikin player, to be found.

    Dawn decided to see if the tikin song was coming from a spirit. "At ease, wandering spirit....we mean no harm."

    We watched as a young girl clad in an ornate orange and yellow robe appeared, playing a tikin. "Have you slain it?" she asked us. "Did you slay the <i>kasai yurei?</i>

    "Is that the name of the fiend that dwells in the deepest sanctum?" Ash asked the ghost.

    The ghost nodded. "My love went off to drive it away from this holy forge--as he descended into the forge's depths, he left messages to help others that would try and slay it if he did not return."

    "That explains the messages..." I mused.

    "How can we help?" Ash asked.

    "Arceus has told me I would not enter the heavens until someone has slain the kasai yurei." the ghost replied. "If you think one of the six mystic jewels is here, it is not."

    "Even though Lauki is not here, we will still cleanse this place so you can see your beloved again in the heavens." Dawn assured the ghost.

    The ghost smiled as she resumed playing the tikin. Yet as she disappeared and we carefully climbed down to the fifth floor, we heard her voice sigh "Thank you...."

    <b>To Be Continued...</b>
    Last edited by LightningTopaz; 6th October 2012 at 07:07 PM.
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  11. #26
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    Tale 13: The Tale of the Underground Forge (part 5)

    After carefully guiding us down the shaft to the next floor, we found ourselves in a large room, where the steam from below had blown a hole in the eastern wall. A tile map of part of the labyrinth made up the floor--obviously of a floor we had passed through earlier.

    A Venipede studied us for a moment as we tromped through the next room, but it presumed we were no threat as it resumed tunneling through the cave wall.

    I was startled by some headless statues as we entered the next room. Some thumping clued be in on who had beheaded them--a gang of goblins chittered happily as they beheaded another statue of an ancient queen, only to laugh heartily as the stone head landed on the floor with a thump.

    They had no time to react as Ash cut into them in a trail of Cheri blossoms. "Path of Sakura!"

    I helped out by firing an arrow at one that was trying to leap at Dawn, and she quickly scorched another with a fire spell "Star fire, awake and deliver your judgement! Fira!"

    Once sure the goblins' corpses were neatly stacked against the wall, Dawn managed to restore the beheaded statues before we continued on.

    Rotted straw and various arrowheads lay in the next room, so we turned eastward, as per the map in the first room. A second map just like it was in the next room, along with various sized skeletons hanging from the wall. Most of them were human, but Ash recognized a few Pokemon bones as well. He shuddered a little at a Pikachu skeleton hanging over the doorway as he left.

    A message by a fountain in the next room determined the Pikachu skeleton's origin. "It ate Pikachu..." Ash read as he waved away some curious Spinaraks.

    "The <i>kasai yurei</i> must like Pokemon as well as humans." I mused as I threatened a Spinarak with the point of my bow, making it skitter away in fear.

    "Either that, or it transformed into such a creature." Dawn suggested.

    Ash just petted Pikachu. "I'm just glad I have you, my friend."

    "Chu..." Pikachu happily sighed in reply.

    There was nothing but a rusty chain in the next room before we continued south. After winding through a long hallway, we emerged in a room containing an idol of Yofune, in addition to gargoyles perched on the wall and torches adding a dim light to the room.

    "You think this idol is ancient?" Ash wondered.

    "Impossible--the king that built this forge was good ruler." I explained. "Besides, it appears to be of a recent vintage."

    "Kiyama's right--it doesn't have any dust or cracks on it." Dawn mused before laying a hand on it and whispering "Great Lord, please reveal to me that which mortal eyes cannot see."

    "Well?" I asked when the golden glow from her hands faded away.

    "Lord Arceus says that this is fairly new, likely erected by the <i>kasai yurei</i> to commune with Yofune in the underworld." Dawn explained before turning to Ash. "You have Arceus' permission to destroy it in any manner you deem appropriate."

    "I know just the thing..." Ash slid Utahime into his palm and mused "Flames that dance as embers fly, and lightning flash across the sky, combine your power at my call, so all may know Arceus rules all! Red Thunderbolt!"

    He then played a festive tune that caused red thunderbolts to begin striking the idol. The faster he played, the more thunderbolts hit, culminating in a massive explosion at the song's conclusion.

    "You could've just sang a spell..." i suggested as I brushed cinders off my tunic.

    "I know, but we still have two more levels of labyrinth to explore after this, and then the <i>kasai yurei's</i> lair." Ash reminded me. "So I need to save my strength."

    "Have you ever thought about learning to play the harp?" Dawn asked as we entered a room with a faded emerald swirl in the center.

    "Well, I remember Mom playing when I was little, but she never let me play on it." Ash replied as he gathered up some of the empty bottles lying in one corner of the room. "So I just bypassed the harp and went straight to the flute. Having said that..." He paused to show us a stairwell leading downward in the next room. "I would love to learn if it was a handheld one like Brock's."

    "I would be honored to teach you." I assured him. "In fact, with enough practice, you could probably rival Brock's skill!"

    <b>To Be Continued...</b>
    Last edited by LightningTopaz; 6th October 2012 at 07:07 PM.
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  12. #27
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Journeys of the Red Star (Book 1: The Journey of Fire)

    @Elite Four Lugion; @Tophat Dragoneye;

    Tale 14: The Tale of the Underground Forge (part 6)

    A Spinarak skittered past us as we arrived in the entry room. "You know...I've always wanted to learn to wield a sword..." Dawn mused as we carefully stepped around some stalagmites. "So if you taught me how to wield a small sword, would you let me teach you the harp?"

    Ash was a bit dumbfounded by the question. "Is it possible for a miko to wield a sword?"

    "As a matter of fact, yes!" I replied. "I have seen mikos wield the small, yet mighty <i>shoken</i> before..."

    A smile formed on Ash's face. "Tell you what...when we get to Chamizu, I'll buy you a <i>shoken</i> and you can buy me a harp. Then, we can teach each other our respective skills."

    "Consider it a deal." Dawn replied.

    Our route turned westward down a long hallway, which in turn came out in a room with several passageways. "Now which way?" I asked. Besides where we had entered, the room also had routes leading east and west.

    Dawn, however, was interested in some ancient runes by the northern wall. "This is...a secret door?" She tried to brush away the dust in an attempt to read a word smudged in ancient paint and further marred by dust, but the door gave way!

    Ash scrambled into the new room and caught Dawn seconds before she landed on the cold floor. "Are you okay?" he asked. Aside from a little dust on her robes, Dawn didn't appear to be in any pain.

    "I'm fine...thank you for your kind concern." Dawn smiled as she brushed off the dust. Once she was presentable again, she looked around the new room. "Another demon idol..." she mused when she spotted a vaguely draconic idol in the eastern corner of the room. She offered me four of her <i>tomi</i> cards. "Would you like to destroy this idol, Kiyama?"

    "Sure!" I replied.

    "These are four of my instrument spirit <i>seirei</i>." Dawn explained as she fanned out the cards before me. "The Spirit of the Harp, which holds the power of light...the Spirit of the Tikin, which holds fire...the Spirit of the Moji, which holds water...and the Spirit of the Flute, which holds wind."

    I needed no time to choose which spirit I wanted to summon. "Spirit of the Harp, may your song resonate in our hearts!"

    The card glowed, and a young girl clad in a long golden robe appeared, a majestic bow-shaped harp in her hands. "What is your request, master?" she asked, ever aware of the swarm of Venipedes headed in our direction.

    "Destroy those Venipedes and that demonic idol with your holy song." I replied.

    The Spirit of the Harp nodded. "Hear now 'Flowers in the Garden At Sunrise'. With that, she began playing a peaceful melody that engulfed the Venipedes in light.

    "Pika?" Pikachu gasped as the Spirit's song created golden auras around us.

    "I feel stronger..." Ash gasped when he saw the aura around him. "and courageous!" He was about to draw Kunimada when he saw a flash of silver light streak towards the idol, shattering it into a thousand pieces.

    I gave the Spirit of the Harp a little bow when she finished her song. "Thank you, <i>seirei</i>."

    "I will be waiting for your call." the Spirit of the Harp smiled before returning to the form of a card again.

    Dawn retrieved the card and shuffled it back into her deck of <i>tomi</i> cards. "Remember how the Spirit of the Harp played when you learn the harp for yourself." she reminded Ash.

    Ash nodded as he admired the many royal tapestries hanging on the cave walls. Though they were worn and faded from age, I couldn't help but wonder if he was imagining what they may have looked like when they were new.

    I found a cryptic message on the western wall of the next room. "Crimson, gray, ruby?"

    Dawn studied the faded letters. "This message is far too faded for me to read any more of it...it could be a description of the <i>kasai yurei</i> for all we know." Ash nodded and led us onward.

    He played Glowing Blue Eye on Utahime some moments later, making a door form on the west wall of the next room. We climbed through a large hole in the western wall in that room, but as we climbed down to the next level, I noticed a message that warned "It's a trap". Did it refer to the <i>kasai yurei?</i> Or did it refer to something else entirely?

    Whatever the ominous message referred to, we were about to find out.
    Last edited by LightningTopaz; 6th October 2012 at 07:08 PM.
    My URPG stats: Maya's status

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  13. #28
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Journeys of the Red Star (Book 1: The Journey of Fire)

    A little interlude-y part for you this week to make up for missing a week....

    @Lugion; @Tophat Dragoneye;

    Tale 15: The Tale of the Underground Forge (part 7)

    I was relieved when we saw a fireplace in the next room. "Thank Arceus for somewhere warm!"

    "I'll say...I was starting to get a little cold." Dawn agreed. We weren't sure if someone had been in the forge before us and lit the fire, or if it had been magically lit. However it was lit, a warm fire was a welcome sight in a cold cave.

    Despite the relative peacefulness of the room, our impending battle with the <i>kasai yurei</i> weighed heavily on my mind. Sure, Ash had Utahime, and Dawn had innate magical power as a miko, but what magical powers did I have, if any?

    I thought back to our earlier battles, and how my anger and determination enchanted my arrows--was it possible that I had magic power inside me as well?

    "Remember that message that said 'you can't hit it with swords'? I asked. "What if that also applies to arrows as well?"

    "Your emotions adding the elements to your arrows is a sign you have a little magic power." Dawn assured me. "However, I'm pretty sure you can't hit a ghost with arrows either."

    I sighed--I wanted to help my friends, and yet it appeared I had no other means to attack besides my bow.

    A thought occurred to me as we left the fireplace room and started down a hallway--what if I could channel magic through my harp, like Ash wanted to learn to do?

    I got a chance to test my theory as a swarm of Spinaraks met us in the next room. "Resounding Chord of Fire!"

    The Spinaraks scurried to get away from the flames that formed from the harp strings, but the cinders my spell had left behind left the smell of burnt poison in the air.

    "Next time you try a fire spell, can it not be against something with poison?" Ash asked be as he pulled his tunic over his face to try and block out the smell.

    Dawn was more interested in another message engraved on the western wall. "'Sharpen thy sword and ready thy shield'?"

    "We must be getting close." Ash replied as he brushed aside more charred Spinarak's remains.

    After wading through the knee deep sand in the next room (thankfully with no sand worms to be had), we came across a mural depicting an ancient army clashing with goblins. Seeing Kanade in the image gave me new resolve--just as she never gave up on her adventures, we wouldn't rest until the <i>kasai yurei</i> was slain and the ghost of the forge was avenged.

    Some Ratattas scurried by us as our path forward turned into a slope leading downward. A roar startled me at first as we approached an ornate door, but I did my best to hide my fear as we approached.

    When we arrived at the bottom of the slope, we found one last message--the first word was marred by dust, but the rest of it read "lies here, slain by a flaming spirit". "This must be our target's lair..." Dawn mused. She gasped as her hand brushed against a switch hidden in the wall, making the ornate door rumble open.

    "This is it...we can't go back now." With that, we entered the darkness that led to the <i>kasai yurei's</i> lair...
    Last edited by LightningTopaz; 3rd November 2012 at 05:10 PM.
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  14. #29
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Journeys of the Red Star (Book 1: The Journey of Fire)

    @Lugion; @Tophat Dragoneye;

    Tale 16: The Tale of the Underground Forge (part 8)

    Ash angrily eyed the hideous orange spirit waiting for us in the next room. "You that dares to desecrate this place--no more will you feed on fallen heroes!"

    With that, he played a mystical melody on Utahime, sending a blue beam of ice speeding into the spirit's stomach.

    "Lord Arceus, give Ash's blade the might to cut through things hidden from sight! Rune Blade!" Dawn called. The spirit balked as ancient glowing runes appeared on Ash's blade--now he could fight with Kunimada!

    I motioned to Dawn. "Is it possible for you to enchant my arrows so they could hit the <i>kasai yurei?</i>"

    Dawn nodded. "In fact, I could change the spell to enchant any weapon by naming whatever I needed to enchant while naming the spell." With that, she closed her eyes and began focusing her power again. "Lord Arceus, grant Kiyama's arrow the might to pierce things hidden from her sight! Rune Arrow!"

    "Thanks!" I replied as I took one of my now glowing arrows and fired it into the spirit's stubby arms. It howled in anger and heaved a fireball at my own elbow. Although I rolled out of the way as I retreated to a stone ledge, it still singed the sleeve of my tunic and left behind a small burn.

    Dawn saw me holding my wounded arm and charged a ball of light. "Seven colors of healing light, rain down and show the dark your might! Rainbow Burst!"

    The room lit up with many colors of beams as I climbed on the ledge. While a green beam healed my burn, the majority of them landed in the spirit's stomach.

    Ash, meanwhile, took advantage of the rainbow light stunning the spirit to strike it in the side. The spirit countered by transforming into a form that was both human and dragon at the same time--a <i>ryuto</i>. It saw Ash rushing to attack it again, and slapped him with its hand, knocking Ash backwards.

    Though Ash had the wind knocked out of him, the <i>ryuto</i> couldn't reach me with its tiny wings, so it blew a spiral of dark magic in my direction. I fired an arrow at its leg, which dispelled the brunt of the attack, but it was still strong enough to knock me to the ground.

    About then, Ash had recovered from the <i>ryuto's</i> attack enough to play an excerpt of a hymn on Utahime, creating protective circles around all of us and forcing the spirit to shift into the form of a werewolf.

    <i>Say...since werewolves fear silver, I wonder if the Rune Arrow has the same effect?</i> I thought as I readied an arrow. But before I could fire, the spirit shifted into the form of a dark knight. My enchanted arrow had no effect--it just bounced off the spirit's armor with a <i>tink</i>

    Ash was undeterred by the sudden turn of events. "Shining Wave of Light!"

    With that, he began a festive melody on Utahime, making a wave of light wash over the dark knight.

    Dawn studied the knight as it clutched its wounded arm in pain. "I think you got its sword arm, Ash!"

    But before Ash could play Shining Wave of Light again, the spirit shifted again, this time into a large golem. I sighed--even enchanted blades and arrows couldn't cut through stone unless enchanted by a powerful spell.

    Dawn seemed to sense our frustration, and charged a blue ball of light in her hands. "When none of our weapons won't suffice, help me break through the rock with the power of ice! Icy Silver Crystal!"

    The golem quizzically looked down at the silver pool of ice forming around it, leaving it no time to react when it was surrounded by silvery crystals, leaving it frozen in a block of ice.

    Ash was about to sheathe Kunimada when he saw a crack begin to form in the ice! "We're not out of the woods yet!" At that moment, the spirit broke free in its original form, howling desperately, and knocking us all to the ground!

    "Too...loud..." I groaned from the screech.

    "I...can't...move..." Dawn agreed as she too struggled to get up.

    <i>Jao wiisha--!</i> was as far as Ash got in singing the Great Spellsong of Fire when the spirit screamed again, forcing him to cover his ears as he hit the ground again.

    I realized what Ash was trying to do. "The <i>kasai yurei</i> is using a form of spellsinging to render us unable to move..."

    "So if Ash manages to get off...the Great Spellsong..." Dawn winced as the spirit continued to scream. "he could potentially do the same thing to it! That way, we could finish it off once and for all!"

    Finally, the room went silent for a moment as the <i>kasai yurei</i> weighed its options. "Now's your chance, Ash!" I whispered.

    "I don't know if I have enough strength...." Ash groaned as he slowly stood up.

    "Can't you at least try?" I pleaded.

    "Think about Pikachu on the surface, and that lady spirit we're helping." Dawn added. "If we die, Pikachu will be all alone, and that spirit will never see her beloved again!"

    "I know you can do it--you've done it before." I continued.

    Ash said nothing, but faced the <i>kasai yurei</i>, getting its attention. But before it could scream and knock him to the ground again, Ash sang <i>Jao wiisha nes chiel com yutuul...</i>

    "He did it!" I cried as a large circle of light surrounded the spirit.

    Our celebration was cut short when the <i>kasai yurei</i> shifted into a siren and sang <i>Rou iitsa ron selga vichii...</i>, making the room begin to flood with water!

    "Oh no..." Dawn swallowed hard. We hadn't counted on this.

    "It's trying to take us with it by flooding the room with water!" I explained as I led the way to the ledge I was perched on before. It was a little hard to walk as the water level slowly rose higher and higher, but we eventually made it to higher ground.

    "Maybe I can use the same spellsong to freeze the water at its current level!" Dawn suggested. "As a <i>miko</i>, I can use the Four Great Spellsongs at their full potential."

    With that, she sang <i>Rou iitsa ron selga vichii...</i>, stopping the water flow as what water was present froze into a layer of ice, trapping the siren as well.

    "It worked!" I smiled.

    The spirit shifted to an ice dragon as one last attempt to destroy us, but Ash readied Utahime to play as he called over the dragon's roar "Great Fire Dance!"

    With that, he began playing a victorious melody, surrounding the white dragon in flames! It howled in pain as the fire consumed it, but Ash's song overpowered it, destroying it and melting the ice in the process.

    "It's over..." Dawn heaved a sigh of relief as Utahime's song warped us out of the forge and back on the plain outside Chamizu, where Pikachu was waiting.

    "Pika!" he smiled as he ran into Ash's waiting arms.

    "I'm glad to see you too..." Ash agreed as he hugged Pikachu. But then he saw a blue light fly out from the forge entrance, which met a red light flying down to meet it.

    "The spirits..." I assured Dawn as they formed into the girl from before and a young man. "By defeating the <i>kasai yurei</i>, we have cleansed the ancient forge of evil and allowed them to reunite in heaven.

    "Words cannot express my gratitude for bringing my beloved back to me, mortal of earth." the male spirit began.

    "We know not why you seek the Six Points of Magic, but we and all the hosts of heaven believe you will find them and awaken Lord Arceus." the female spirit added.

    "Thank you." Dawn replied. She waved goodbye as the two spirits became lights again and flew towards the heavens.

    "Pika!" Pikachu called after the spirits. "Pika pikachu!"

    Ash, meanwhile, knelt at the place the spirits had appeared to us, took Utahime, and started playing a prayerful melody to the sunny sky above us, both grateful to be alive and thankful that we had met the spirits.

    Dawn recognized the song Ash was playing. "'A Peaceful Road to Heaven'--a hymn often played at funerals to wish the spirit--or in our case, spirits--a safe journey to the heavens."

    We listened to the peaceful melody echo across the plains. When Ash finished, Pikachu politely applauded the tune as we gathered our gear and started down the road to Chamizu. Finally, Dawn asked "Why did you play that song?"

    "I wanted to thank them for helping us and wish both of them well on their journey to heaven." Ash explained. "So I felt playing 'A Peaceful Road to Heaven' was the least I could do."

    "Pika chu?" Pikachu requested.

    "A victory song?" Ash was confused.

    "We did defeat a large monster back there..." I reminded him. "So I see no harm in a victory march."

    Ash thought for a moment, then launched into, appropriately enough, "A Triumphant Welcome on the Festival Day", which rang across the plains as we continued down the road into the setting sun...

    <b>To Be Continued...</b>
    Last edited by LightningTopaz; 3rd November 2012 at 05:10 PM.
    My URPG stats: Maya's status

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  15. #30
    Brock's Pikachu LightningTopaz's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: The Journeys of the Red Star (Book 1: The Journey of Fire)

    @Lugion; @Tophat Dragoneye;

    Tale 17: The Tale of the First Harp Lesson

    It was market day in Chamizu, and I couldn't be more grateful to arrive in an inn to rest after our adventure in an ancient forge. While I paid for a room, Ash and Dawn went their separate ways.

    They returned some hours later with gifts for each other--Ash a sword for Dawn, and Dawn a harp for Ash. "It's beautiful!" Dawn smiled as she drew the mythril <i>shoken</i>, admiring its crystalline guard with an aquamarine in the middle of it. Sapphires were also there, embedded in the silver grip.

    Ash was equally enamored in the harp Dawn had bought for him--a vaguely circle-shaped instrument with flowers and leaves as decoration. "I think I'll name it..." He paused for a moment to think of a good name. "Yukanmune." No sooner had he spoke the name, did the harp glow a soft red as some of his magical power flowed into it.

    Dawn smiled. "Consider it my thanks for being a brave warrior and a great friend."

    We traveled to a field outside of town later that afternoon--if Ash had given his new harp magic power by naming it, we would at least be somewhere where no damage would be caused if he accidentally cast a spell.

    "All right." Dawn began as Ash finished putting on the fingerpicks that came with his new harp. "You'll notice that Yukanmune has guide strings--<i>do</i>'s are the red strings, and <i>fa</i>'s are the black ones."

    "Oh, so that's why some of the strings are colored..." Ash mused.

    "Remember, only the picks should touch the strings." Dawn gently reminded him after spotting some of the fingers on his left hand touching the strings. "Your non-playing hand should be supporting the harp in your lap." Ash nodded and did his best to mimic Dawn's relaxed pose with her own harp--a lyre-shaped instrument with wings for the tops and diamonds inset within flower decorations.

    "If your shoulder hurts or your fingers tingle, relax and make sure you're not tense, and you are evenly distributing your harp's weight on your non playing hand." I reminded him.

    "Go ahead--explore your new instrument a bit." Dawn urged.

    That was all the encouragement Ash needed--he managed to find and pick out a C major scale. Dawn smiled as he explored a simple chord progression and improvised around it. Even Pikachu smiled as he listened to the hesitant first progression take shape in fits and starts.

    "Now try it in a minor key." I suggested.

    "Minor key?" Ash was confused.

    "If you know the name of a major key, step down to <i>la</i>--or the equivalent note, and you have a minor scale." I explained.

    Ash nodded, located an A string and started improvising around the A minor scale. For one moment, he looked like one of the great harpists in a theater orchestra, playing an ominous song to set the mood for a tense scene.

    "That was great!" Dawn applauded him when the last note died. "You just played your first song!"

    "Th-thanks..." Ash blushed, flattered by the applause. "I just made it up..."

    "Keep practicing." I reminded him. "Brock did not learn all of the songs he knows overnight, and you won't either."

    "Nor did I learn all I know with the sword in one night...." Ash agreed. "So I'm gonna practice the harp like I did the sword--extra hard!" We laughed as he played a triumphant chord for effect.

    <b>To Be Continued...</b>
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