(Rated E for Everone)
"Once Upon a Moonlit Evening"
One of my most fondly remembered storytelling shows is a nighttime performance.
Fortree City was holding its annual summer festival, and I was the main event of the opening night--the storyteller featured in "Stories under the Stars".
The event took place in a quiet spot in the park, which wasn't far from the main drag, and every night, a different storyteller would perform, as if giving the festivalgoers a bedtime story or two.
I had been told I would be performing to all ages, so my repetoire was in the clear. I had some moon and Lugia themed material planned, including one of my favorites, "Lugia's Capture", but for the most part, a lot of them were magic themed or featured strong girl characters. The strong girl stories were my little thank you to Winona (who is a strong girl herself) as thanks for having me perform.
So there I was backstage with my trademark guitar--I had just performed my special "courtesy song" to the audience, and they seemed to have gotten the message to behave--as if my sung warning of "I really hope that you guys don't become my next verse." wasn't enough. That line isn't just for show--the song describes two events I had bad experiences with (my first and last experience telling for a birthday party that wasn't a sibling's, and the Slateport Festival last year), and I will not hesitate to add a verse if I have a bad experience. Fortunately, the song hasn't gained a third verse yet, and Fortree was not likely to earn the dubious honor.
But I digress.
I checked my tuning one more time, made my way onstage and sang the song that started nighttime performances as I settled in a chair overlooking a pathway crowded with adults, teens, and children. The evening star is shining bright, so make a wish and hold on tight. There's magic in the air tonight, and anything can happen... Once all was quiet, I launched into my first tale, "The Ultimate Riddle". "There was once a boy--let's call him Martin--who had served all his life in the royal army. As his fighting days neared their end, it dawned on him that he had never seen the king's face." I reached for my guitar and played a soft interlude. "So early the next morning, he set out for the palace, eager to get a glimpse of the ruler he had served for so long. When he strolled through the gates, he was confident the king would be pleased upon seeing a loyal servant like him."
I set my guitar aside and walked around the chair, as if mimicing Martin in the royal palace. "When Martin arrived in the throne room, he bowed before his king..." I paused to get on one knee before an imagined throne at stage right. "and said..." I decided to choose a voice like Ash to represent Martin. "So this is my king's face..."
There were some giggles in the crowd as I quickly got up and stepped into the "throne" area to assume the persona of the king. "And what do you think you're doing?" I demanded in a deeper version of my own voice. "No one sees me unless I send for them."
"But I only wanted to see the one I have served, and nothing more." I protested as Martin.
"Not so fast!" I thundered as the king, while at the same time feigning my left arm being grabbed as Martin. "I want to ask you something before you leave."
"What is it you ask of me?" I asked as Martin. This continued as I switched between the two personas:
"How far are the heavens from the earth?"
"The spirits of light in the heavens sing, but we on Earth can't hear them, so heaven is as far as a song."
"Then how wide is the earth?"
"The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so the earth's width is as wide as the distance between those points."
"And how deep is the earth?"
"When my great grandfather was buried a hundred years ago, he has not been seen since. So the earth is deeper than a hundred year journey."
Some applause went up complementing my interplay before I returned to my actual voice. "The king smiled and told Martin..." As the king again, I began "You are indeed a wise person, but now I must throw you into the dungeon." Gasps went up from the crowd as I continued in character. "And while you are down there, watch for a Combusken to pluck." At this point, I was by the chair again, so I sat back down, took my guitar, and played a hopeful interlude. "And so, Martin was thrown in the dungeon, but he didn't despair--he had faith he would find a Combusken to pluck, and that his king would set him free when he did. It also dawned on him that the king didn't mean a literal Combusken, but one who bragged and boasted of his accomplishments."
Some days later, an advisor joined Martin in the dungeon." I continued. "The advisor complained that although he saw himself as very smart, the king had given him three riddles he could not solve--how far are the heavens from the earth, how wide is the earth, and how deep is the earth." Some 'Oh's wafted through the crowd as it clicked that these were the same riddles that Martin was asked earlier. "Martin offered to tell the advisor the answers in return for a thousand gold pieces. The advisor happily paid the thousand pieces--more money than Martin could ever dream of--and confidently answered the king when he was brought before the king the next day. In the end, Martin was set free, and the king gave him a place to serve in the royal court, where he served with great wisdom--so ends the tale of 'The Ultimate Riddle'"
Applause filled the air as I played a quiet interlude. I looked up at the moon shining down on my stage, composing myself for my next tale. "We turn our attention now to a marsh somewhere in a remote part of Johto, where once a month, many ghost Pokemon and other creatures of the night came out to play." Some piqued whispers raced through the crowd, but I continued. "Now any other night of the month, the people of the marshlands slept soundly, for they knew Lugia was flying above them, lighting up the night with his silver plumes. But on the one night Lugia rested, they stayed far away from the swamp, lest they be captured by the dark creatures, never to return. So the people cried whenever Lugia rested, and there was no moon to light the way."
I started an improvisation around Lugia's theme as I continued "The people's laments bothered Lugia, and so he decided to come down to the earth to see what troubled them. So one night, on the night he would've rested, he flew down to the earth. He was amazed at the murky water around him, and the many roots and thorns in the muck. The only sounds he heard were gurgles, sloshes, and rustles as he tried to make his way through the muck."
"Was Lugia scared?" a girl asked me as she held a balloon close.
"Oh, yes...he was very scared." I assured her. "But he knew he had a duty to keep the beings of the earth safe, and so he kept moving as best he could through the swamp. Suddenly, as he came to a large pool, Lugia slipped, and grabbed onto a branch to steady himself--but then the branch grabbed him!" Murmurs raced through the crowd as I played a tense riff. "As Lugia struggled to get free, his mind raced as to what Pokemon could've caught him--was it a Haunter? A Dusknoir? Or worse, the Lord of Nightmares himself, Darkrai? He could see the light of a few Lampents in the distance, laughing playfully as he helplessly struggled." I punctuated this by playing Lugia's Song in a minor key. "Just then, Lugia heard a twig snap and squishing footsteps approaching from the west, and looked to find a young man, lost and frightened, in the swamp. Finally, Lugia pulled with all his strength and broke free, making a bright silver flash that lit up the whole swamp." The crowd cheered as I switched Lugia's Song back to a major key. "The ghostly Pokemon fled into the darkness, leading the young man to safety. But Lugia was still trapped, and there was no one to help him." I intoned, silencing the cheers over a tense riff.
"The ghosts returned and debated what to do with the silver dragon bird that lay helpless in the murky water. The Gastlies wanted to poison him, while the Mismagiuses wanted to curse him, and the Chandalures wished to feast on a Legendary's dreams. Finally, they decided to push Lugia into the muck, and rolled a rock over that place just before the sun rose, so that Lugia could not escape."
"Oh no..." a boy whimpered, fearful for Lugia's fate.
"Many a night passed with no sign of Lugia, and the people were just as worried as you are." I assured my audience. "They asked the town seer to try and find Lugia, but even she, with her gift of speaking with the Legendaries, could not find Lugia. Before long, Lugia's disappearance was all anyone in the heavens or the earth could talk about." I played a hopeful interlude, then continued. "A few days later,the man Lugia had saved came to the tavern and told the townsfolk where Lugia was. So the townsfolk all followed him to the place where the ghosts had buried Lugia and rolled the rock away, allowing Lugia to take flight into the sky!" The crowd roared at this. "Everyone was relieved that Lugia was all right, and since then, he has been very careful when he visits the earth...so ends the tale of 'Lugia's Capture.'"
I saw a flash of lavender hair in the wings before Winona joined me onstage. Aside from a few wisps of hair peeking out from her helmet and bits of Altaria feathers on her arms and legs, you would've never known she had been giving Pokemon rides to the kids all night. "You're doing great so far, Brock..." she smiled. The audience cheered in agreement. "What's your secret to all those stories?"
"Read all the fairy tale and folktale books you can find--and with many siblings in the house, there were lots of those to go around." I replied. "Memorable vacation moments and family memories are fair game as well."
"Your courtesy song--is there a story behind that too?" was Winona's next question.
"Yes--both verses have a story behind them, but the second one is more tellable." I replied before interjecting "That part about not being my next verse? I meant that, but I don't think you guys are going to be that next verse." Some applause wafted through the air. "Go on and give yourselves a hand for being a good audience so far." I coaxed the audience. The applause picked up pretty quickly after that
"So what happened to inspire that second verse?" Winona was as piqued as the audience was.
"It all started with an invite to Slateport's annual spring festival a couple years ago." I began. "At the time, that was on my list of top places where I had never performed. So I got in touch with the directors of entertainment and offered my services. So after all the requisite negotiations such as how to get there, where I'm going to perform, what amenities they'll provide, what to expect audience wise, and so on; I'm placed on a stage on the left end of the long pathway that leads to their boardwalk, where most of the action is. Because that path is lined with palm trees, it's affectionately named Palm Parkway." Giggles wafted through the crowd at this. "So I arrive and set up shop spinning tales, warming up with 'Buneary Hunts Ho'oh', but I barely start 'The Crafty Taillow' before I hear the following on the other end of the path..." The familiar theme song to "Kochou and the Beautiflies" went blaring into the night for a few seconds, making some kids cheer. "Imagine that cheer a few minutes ago multiplied by about twenty." I deadpanned. "But in the true spirit of 'the show must go on', I try to continue the tale of a Taillow that sweet-talks a merchant into setting it free, but I can barely hear myself over the animated rock star and his rallying cry of 'Rock n' Roll Forever'. Eventually I'm just telling the palm trees that tale, so I give up and ask my host if we could move somewhere quieter. No go, they said, because they had no control over where the entertainers are put. So I waited about thirty minutes for Kochou to finish--not necessarily a bad thing, as that cartoon has great music. When Kochou finished and trooped off with his cohorts for an hour, I tried again with a new audience. But I barely started what I just told before a certain Herdier comes strolling down the parkway. My audience decides Hero is more appealing than a Legendary's misadventure and run for autographs and pictures, and I'm left all alone again. I had no hard feelings, but it was very annoying to be somewhere with lots of noise and distractions."
"Did you come back the next year?" a girl asked.
"Fortunately yes--I came back the next year and this year--and both times I had my own quiet nook." I concluded. "They also make sure to let me know if characters or other acts will be in my area before I begin." Laughter came from the crowd at this. "So there you have it--how the second verse of my courtesy song came to be." The crowd applauded as I addressed Winona again. "Got a minute to help with this next tale?" The crowd usually likes it when I rope a Gym Leader or some other prominent person into assisting in a tale.
"My team needs a rest, so I don't see why not." Winona smiled. Last year, she helped me tell "The Language of Birds" with aplomb. She asked to help again this year, and we agreed on "Sorin's Flight"--if only because a Pidgeot was featured. I secretly wished Ash could be with me to do the sound effects for that story, but he was off on an adventure in Unova with new friends and gathering new tales for me to tell. I couldn't complain, though--I'd told the tale many times without a slide whistle and odds and ends as I had with them, so sound effects or no, the audience was still going to enjoy it.
"Once Sorin was out in the forest looking for Berries." I began, making cheers go up from the crowd--Sorin tales were some of my most popular material. "He was hungry, and winter was coming, making food hard to come by. The other Pokemon stayed far away from Sorin because of his fondess for pulling tricks, and no one knew what he would do when you gave him your trust." Giggles came from the kids in the crowd as I returned to my chair. "Sorin trudged through the brush, wondering just what sort of trick he could pull to get some food, when he saw a small Pecha bush with a few Berries growing, so he helped himself, forgetting all about the trick he had been plotting."
A spotlight come up on Winona as I continued. "Now, Pidgeot happened to be passing that way, and flew down to meet Sorin."
"Good day to you, Sorin!" Winona filled in Pidgeot's dialogue as she stretched her arms, as if she was Pidgeot stretching her wings.
"Pidgeot actually wasn't happy to see Sorin." I interjected. "She had often been the target of many of his pranks in the past, and today, she swore, she would have her revenge by playing a trick of her own. Sorin just saw Pidgeot and said to her..." I then switched to my "Sorin" voice, which sounded like a slightly higher pitched version of Ash. "Oh, these Berries are so good, and I am quite the hungry Pikachu today."
"If you're THAT hungry, Sorin, have I got the place for you!" Winona continued as Pidgeot. "They say the Legendaries in heaven hold the grandest feasts that rival any meal on Earth."
I sighed as Sorin. "I have never been to such a feast, as I have no wings, so I can't fly."
"Tell you what..." Winona replied as she leaned against my chair. "It just so happens that the Legendaries are hosting a feast today, so if you pack your guitar and play for me as we travel, I'll gladly take you there. Besides, I'm sure the Legendaries would love your songs."
This was actually a cue for me to retrieve my own guitar as I interjected as myself "Sorin went and gathered his things, and climbed aboard Pidgeot's back, making sure to hold on tightly to the three brown plumes adorning Pidgeot's head. Once Sorin was safely aboard, Pidgeot soared skyward into the icy winter air, plotting all the while how she was going to get Sorin back for all those tricks he had played on her."
"Heh heh heh..." Winona deviously snickered as I played a tense riff, to some laughter.
"Sorin looked down at the world below and marveled at how beautiful it looked--the trees were mere green dots, and Pokemon looked like tiny Durants." I continued.
"Why don't you play me a song?" Winona interjected. "It would make the trip go faster."
"Not now...I'd prefer to keep looking at this view." I replied as Sorin as I started playing a solo guitar version of Epona's Song.
"Okay, I'll fly carefully so you don't fall." Winona replied.
As myself, I continued "With Sorin relaxed on her back and strumming a lazy tune, Pidgeot started flying in circles..." I then started, speeding up my melody. "then zigzagged across the sky." My song had turned from Epona's Song to a faster tune. "She dipped, spun, and sped through the sky, doing anything she could to make Sorin fall." The crowd started clapping as I played a blazing fast set and Winona danced.
When I got to an interlude in between tunes, I narrated "Sorin, meanwhile, was desprately trying to protect his belongings and hang on himself, so he pleaded..." As Sorin, I begged "Can you please stop ths crazy flying? I'm gonna fall if you're not careful."
"It's the winds of heaven doing this, not me." Winona replied as Pidgeot as she continued dancing. "They are different from those of the earth."
"Sorin's head spun and his stomach churned, so when Pidgeot dove towards the earth, he took that opportunity to jump off into a tree's branches." I continued. "Pidgeot, still thinking Sorin was aboard, dipped and spiraled higher and higher untill finally, she accidentally touched the sun, and went falling to the earth in pain." With that I raced to the set's conclusion, complete with a falling note to signify Pidgeot falling.
The crowd roared and Winona took a bow before I concluded. "When Pidgeot came to, she saw that the three plumes on her head were now red, orange, and yellow, like the sun. Since then, Pidgeot's plumes have always been those colors as a reminder of that escapade. As for Sorin, he was plotting what sort of trick to play next, but the other Pokemon learned that playing a trick on the trickster wasn't such a hot idea."
"YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!" the crowd roared as we both took a bow. Winona waved as she jogged offstage and back to some waiting kids, leaving me on my own again. So far, so good I mused as the lights dimmed for intermission--doing all the voices and playing that fast set was hard work!
Last edited by LightningTopaz; 19th April 2011 at 01:48 PM.
I returned to the stage after intermission refreshed and ready to tell more of the many tales from my massive collection. "Okay! I want to start Part 2 of the show by working a little magic--magical tales, that is." Cheers went up from the crowd, but then a deck of cards, some coins, and other odds and ends on a table got my attention. "On second thought, maybe I will do a little magic for you." The crowd cheered again as I started shuffling the cards. "And I want to welcome back a familiar face to help me." Winona charged onstage to join me.
I finished shuffling the deck and pulled out the aces, kings, queens and jacks. "Once the four aces decided they wanted to see the League battles." I began as I laid out the aces in a row. "They found the kings in one section and decided to go talk to them before the first match began." I laid the four kings over their respective ace. "Then the queens found the aces and the kings and decided to go say hi." I paused to lay the four queens in their respective pile. "And to top it off, the four jacks decided to drop in and chat." I then laid the four jacks in their respective pile. "Now, the League anthem's playing and Ash is about to come out and get the battles underway, so the cards need to get back to their seats and fast!" With that, I turned each stack face down and stacked them on top of each other before delivering the stack to Winona. "Now, what I want you to do is cut the cards by taking some off the top and put them on the table, then put the remaining cards back on the top, okay?" Winona nodded. "You can do this as many times as you want, I'm in no hurry."
Winona cut the cards four times and dealt them out in stacks of four like I had done. As I revealed the four stacks to the audience--each respective suit was all together again! "And now all four groups are enjoying the Houen League together!" Applause filled the air at this.
After putting the deck back together, I set it back on the table in its box. I didn't even need to mess up a box of cards for the next trick--the box already had a hole worn in it from years of Solitaire, Hearts, and poker. From Winona's and the audience's perspective, the box looked fine, since the hole was away from them. "Wanna play a little game?" I asked Winona as I took the cards.
"Sure!" Winona replied. "What are the rules?"
"When you're done shuffling the cards, look at the bottom card and memorize it, okay?" With that, I gave the cards to her and watched as she shuffled the deck. "Now, we'll put them back in the box..." I explained as Winona slipped the cards back in the box, unaware of the hole. "And with a little psychic power, I will tell you what the bottom card is without taking them out of the box." Some mystical music played as I feigned a psychic reading a crystal ball, but all I really had to do was look at the hole, which showed the six of diamonds peeking through.
"So what's on the bottom, Mr. ESP?" Winona challenged as the music faded out.
"It turns out..." I began as I got the cards out again. "that the six of diamonds is on the bottom."
"How'd you know?" Winona gasped as I showed her the card.
"Magic, I guess." I replied as I put the cards away and returned to my chair and guitar. "Now we'll move on so some magic so amazing, it is the stuff of legend." Winona took that opportunity to slip offstage as I added "And the best thing to work a little magic? Your voice." I played a quiet interlude to focus my thoughts on the new tale Ash had taught me, then began. "A long time ago, there was a man that lived with his daughter in a village named Miaja, which stood at the foot of a mountain. Since the girl had a great love of water, she was named Umi, which means 'sea'. Now one year, there was a drought so harsh, no crops were able to grow. But Umi and her father went up onto the mountain paths to cut stalks, as they always did. Just as Umi was on her way down to rejoin her father, she saw a crystal clear lake--so clear in fact, that even if a leaf touched it, a Swanna would carry it away so that the lake remained clear and blue. Umi dropped off her stalks at home and eagerly returned to the lake, wondering if there was a way to bring such quality water to her village. As she walked around the lake shore thinking about her dillema, a Swanna appeared to her and said to her..." I switched to my standard "female" voice. "Umi, to open Lake Swanna, you need a golden key."
As myself, I continued. "Umi was puzzled as she walked along the shore--where would she find a golden key? She came to a forest not long after, and asked the Pokemon about where a golden key was. The Chatots replied that she would need to seek Turin, the third child of the Sky Dragon Rayquaza. When Umi asked where she could find Turin, a Swellow told her that Turin lived in a canyon not far from her village."
I played a riff that sounded like running as I continued. "The Swellow took off towards the canyon, and Umi was not far behind. When she got to a pool by the canyon edge, she did not see Turin anywhere. Swellow assured her before he left that Turin loved songs and singing, so if she sang, he would be likely to appear. So Umi sang practically every song she knew for three days straight, and when Turin still did not appear, she resorted to making up songs--one of which went something like this." With that, I plucked an E note on my guitar and began singing a jazz-like improvisation around that note. No guitar. No other instruments. No other voices. No techno wizardry. Just me, my voice, and an enthralled audience listening to the mystic sounding melody. They were even more enthralled by Umi proving herself to win Turin's love, which lead to more singing on my part. All in all, "The Girl and the Dragon Prince" went over reasonably well, but it needs a few more field tests before it is added to my repetoire of stories.
In between my tales, singing, and impromptu magic act, everyone looked like they had a wonderful time (and if they weren't, they were doing great at hiding it!) Fortree's quickly becoming one of my favorite venues, and I can't wait to return there again.