Finally, at long last, the first sidestory is ready!
Sidestory 1: Kaitou and the Magic Tree
The theater was packed the next week as all of Pewter City, plus the millions more watching on TV, turned out to watch the performance of an ancient style of play. Backstage, the cast members were even more excited as they made their final preparations.
"Okay...actors ready?" Dawn asks as she emerges from a dressing room in a royal blue and gold robe. Cheers go up in reply. "Orchestra ready?" She readies her violin to play and strokes an A note. A notes from various instruments, drum rolls and bells jingling answer back in reply.
"All set out here!" Brock reports from the wings.
"All right! Let's do this!" Ash trumphantly holds his whistle high like a sword before motioning for the rest of the orchestra to follow him onto the darkened stage.
After a few tense seconds, Brock walks out onstage in a red and gold robe with green accents, playing a crescent moon shaped harp with ivy inlays.
Lotta watches from the wings as Brock plays the overture. Good luck, everyone--I hope the audience likes my script.
When the last note dies, Brock bows and begins. "Good morning, and well met, travelers. I am Kashu, a wandering minstrel of this land."
Suddenly, Whitlea makes a flying jump onstage in a shiny silver bodysuit, so she just appears to be a shiny silver humanoid form to the audience. "This is Sozo--a spirit of creation." Brock explains as Whitlea prances around him. "Although you will very plainly see her creating the world of our play and assisting the actors, bear in mind she is but a shadow..." Brock plays a soft chord for effect. "and therefore invisible to you."
He pauses for a moment. "Now then...now that the pleasentries are finished, I will begin my tale for today."
With that, he plays a sweeping chord as the curtain opens. 30 people in colorful robes and carrying various instruments sit off to the left. Ash and Dawn are present as well, instruments in hand.
"In a certain valley nearby a certain village, there lived a stonemason." Brock began, prompting a boy in Asian-esque work clothes to walk onstage. "We will call him Kaitou." he added as some bells jingled for effect. "Every morning, he would depart his simple little house at dawn, and travel to the quarry at the base of a mountain. There, he would cut stone to build buildings, statues, and roads."
A spotlight appears on the boy. "I am Kaitou, a humble stonemason." he begins. "With my mallet..." Whitlea discretely gives him a mallet. "...and my chisel..." Whitlea next discretely gives him a chisel. "I earn my keep. My body is strong, and I can easily lift a stone two times as heavy as I am. So when I strike the mountain, they hear the tapping in the valley."
He then pantomimes hammering the mountain setpiece while the woodblocks provide the sound. Just then, a Raikou roar is heard offstage, prompting Ash to blast a high note that sounds like a female scream.
"Behold--a Raikou, the Legend of Thunder, passes this way." Brock narrates as a magnificent Raikou puppet runs on the stage.
"Do not tremble in fear, travelers." the puppeteer performing the Raikou's head assures the audience in a deep yet gentle voice. "For inside this Raikou body lies Mamoru, a young prince that desires to marry Cresselia, the guardian of the moon. The Great Lord Arceus..."
The orchestra interrupts the puppet with a trumphant fanfare at the mention of Arceus.
"has given me a test to see if I am worthy to wed Cresselia." the Raikou puppet continues. "If I can discover what makes a man truly happy, he will return me to my true form. Until that day, I remain a Raikou blessed with magical power. And when that day comes, I will be reunited with Cresselia."
The harp and bells herald the appearance of a Cresselia puppet in a "starry" overhead section of the set, with a Lugia and Jirachi puppet by its side.
"I am Cresselia, guardian of the moon." the Cresselia puppet announces, its voice calm and soothing. "Shining with a silver glow so bright, with Lugia and Jirachi through the night. My diamond lantern glows as I wait for my Mamoru's return."
The flute, harp and fiddle play a love theme as the Raikou puppet and Cresselia lovingly look at each other. When the love theme ends, the lights blink back to Brock.
"Ho'oh has reached the highest point in the sky, and Kaitou is hungry..." Brock narrates as the lights blink over to the boy playing Kaitou.
"I will rest and have my lunch." the boy comments as he gives Whitlea back the mallet and chisel. "I will find a tree, and rest in the shade it gives to me." He walks around the stage for a moment as Whitlea climbs on a stool behind a prop Cheri tree and shakes one of its branches to make it appear to wave in the wind.
"Oh! Here is a Cheri tree..." the boy smiles. "Thank you, Cheri-san, for your shade." He reclines under the "tree".
"I hear someone happy close by." the Raikou puppet notes. "I will appear to him with a mighty cry." With that, the puppet approaches the boy and roars.
The boy muses "The wind roars like a Raikou..." Frustrated, the Raikou roars again. "The wind blows like a Raikou..." the boy continues, oblivious to the puppet. The Raikou puppet roars again, making Kaitou finally look. "It IS a Raikou!!!" he gasps. Laughter wafts through the crowd as the Raikou jumps back, but then lovingly nuzzles the boy. "Oh, but he is a friendly Raikou, and does not wish to harm me." he smiles. "I will share my lunch with Raikou-san."
Whitlea gives the boy a box lunch out from the prop tree's leaves, which he divides in half. As they "eat", the lights go down, save for Brock's spotlight.
"It is said that what goes around, comes around." Brock narrates. "What Kaitou didn't know was that the Raikou he had shared his lunch with was magical, and would change his life forever."
"This human seems friendly," the Raikou puppet notes. "Now I will ask if he is happy."
What sounds like a thousand voices begins wafting through the theater, asking the same question: "Are you happy, young one?"
"The wind whispers in the tree, and it asks me if I am happy." Kaitou muses over the voices. "I am strong, I have plenty to eat and a roof over my head, and always share with those in need. That makes me happy."
A gong sounds, stopping the voices. The orchestra then strikes up a festive tune. A procession of more musicians, dancers, acrobats, guards and heralds parades onstage. "Make way! Make way for Master Takahiro!" the heralds call over the music.
"Kaitou watched as the Pokemon Master and his retinue passed by him, on their way to a neighboring city." Brock narrates as he plays.
"I bow before Master Takahiro and allow him to pass here." the boy says. He bows in respect as the spotlight blinks over to Brock.
"Kaitou saw how beautiful Master Takahiro looked and longed to be a Pokemon Master like him." Brock narrates, still playing with the orchestra. "The Raikou saw Kaitou's longing, and decided to reveal his power to him."
"Kaitou, look and you will see, the tree you're under is a magic tree." the puppet begins as the orchestra stops playing. "Whether you long for riches or just a fish, just say the word, and I'll grant your wish. Any wish you say, I'll grant you, any wish you say will come true. By the power of Lord Arceus in heaven, a Pokemon Master you will be!"
With that, the puppet hums a familiar melody and Brock plays a mystical melody as the boy playing Kaitou is surrounded in smoke. On the harp's final glissando, the gong sounds, and he steps from the smoke in a Pokemon Master's outfit.
"Before you judge Kaitou for being too focused on material things, understand that he had never seen the Pokemon Master before, and was awed by the ceremony and power such a position demanded." Brock explains as the boy playing Kaitou feels around his new costume. After a few tense seconds, the procession and music continues, with Kaitou on the Pokemon Master's mount. When the last of the procession leaves, the lights go down.
"For a time, Kaitou ruled from the Aiiro City as Pokemon Master." Brock narrates. "The Raikou prince, meanwhile, had to tell Cresselia what had happened..."
The lights come up on the Raikou puppet watching a girl in a sakura print kimono "build" a kite. "So Kaitou rules from the Aiiro City--with more gold than he can count and servants at his beck and call. Maybe riches bring happiness..." The puppet notices the girl "What is that you make, miss?"
"It is a kite--a gift for the Pokemon Master." the girl replies. "I was going to let it fly before I take it to the Aiiro City."
"Please, let it soar." the Raikou puppet replies.
The girl nods. "This kite will soar to the stars!"
"And with it a message to Cresselia." the Raikou puppet adds.
The girl pantomimes flying a kite as Whitlea dances around waving a ribbon and the Raikou hums the familiar melody. As her dancing gets more and more elaborate, the harp joins in the song. Finally it reaches the "heavens" section of the set, where the Cresselia, Lugia, and Jirachi puppets watch.
"The kite brings a message to me, words from Mamoru it sings to me..." the Cresselia puppet muses as it studies the prop kite.
"Has he found the answer to the Great Lord's question?" the Lugia puppet asks.
"When does he return? When will he appear?" the Jirachi puppet begs.
"Not soon, I fear." the Cresselia puppet sighs over a sad riff from the orchestra. "Riches and power he thinks are the answer. Before he can return, another answer he must learn."
The lights blink back down to the stage below, where the girl is still "flying" the "kite". "Gah! The sun's so bright!" she cries as she shields her eyes.
A cry is heard as a Ho'oh puppet "flies" onstage. "I am Ho'oh--guardian of the sun, blazing bright!" it announces in a strong female voice. "Around the world I fly, bringing light."
The lights blink down to Pokemon Master Kaitou in the garden. "Eventually the Pokemon Master must give up his post, but Ho'oh rules forever!" the boy playing Kaitou muses. "If only I were Ho'oh..."
"Whether you long for riches or just a fish, just say the word, and I'll grant your wish." the Raikou puppet announces. "Any wish you say, I'll grant you, any wish you say will come true. By the power of Lord Arceus in heaven, Ho'oh you will be!"
With that, the puppet hums a familiar melody and Brock plays a mystical melody as the boy playing Kaitou is surrounded in smoke. On the harp's final glissando, the gong sounds, and the Ho'oh puppet flies from the smoke.
The lights come up on Brock, with a spotlight on the Ho'oh puppet. "A second wish made, and a foolish one, too." Brock begins as he plays a tense interlude on the harp. "It took some time for Kaitou to realize this, but the people groaned under his intense heat."
He stops playing long enough to wipe feigned sweat from his brow. "After all, a wise one once said, 'One must first stumble before they can walk.' Nervous laughter wafts through the crowd at this.
"I am Ho'oh!" the Ho'oh puppet proclaims. "Behold my golden glory!" The orchestra plays a triumphant stinger as the puppet spreads its wings. "From east to west, I light the skies with Sacred Fire that never dies! My rainbow arrows pierce the earth! Power lies within my hand! In an hour I can burn this land!"
Ash plays a flourish as three girls trudge onstage, fanning themselves. "We are three maidens fair..." they chorus over the flute's song.
"Mika..." the first girl says.
"Nara..." the second girl says.
"Rena..." the third girl says.
"Walking in the garden for some fresh air." all three girls chorus again. The scene continues like this:
"Through Lugia's gate..."
"To the Goldeen pond..."
"To the gazebo..."
"Hoping for it to be cool."
"So we go..."
"Fanning, oh..." Laughter goes up at the third girl's exaggerated groan.
"Fanning so...so...slow..." the girls sigh.
The rest of the orchestra joins in with the flute as the girls exit to some applause. The Ho'oh puppet then boasts "With one breath, rivers run dry, wells grow thirsty, flowers dry up, and trees wither and die."
A harp riff is heard as the thousand voices ask "Kaitou, are you happy?"
"Happy? I am the most powerful Pokemon besides the Great Arceus!" the Ho'oh puppet boasts.
At this, a sound effect of thunder plays and a harp glissando plays as a Manaphy puppet appears. "I am Manaphy, Prince of the Sea, dancing about in sky and sea." it announces. "Through my hands come water, hail, snow...blizzards blow! Across the sapphire sky I go, casting a shadow on the world below."
"You dare come near me?" the Ho'oh puppet gasps over a tense riff.
"Great firebird flying so high, you are blazing hot, but I, Manaphy, can make thunder shout, and blot you out!" the Manaphy puppet retorts.
The orchestra plays a tense riff as more "lightning" flashes. "No shadow can turn day to night!" the Ho'oh puppet protests.
"Fight!" the Manaphy puppet yells, putting up its hands as if to say "put up your dukes"
"No power of darkness can steal my light!" the Ho'oh puppet boasts.
"Fight!" the Manaphy puppet demands.
"Fight!" the Ho'oh puppet cries.
With that, the orchestra and the harp play an adventurous theme as the two puppets "fight". After a few minutes of "fighting", the Manaphy puppet delivers the final blow to a clash of cymbals.
The spotlight blinks over to Brock. "The heavens are still, the battle done, the Prince of the Sea eclipsed the sun."
"So water is stronger than fire?" the Ho'oh puppet muses. "I wish I were Manaphy..."
The Raikou puppet appears off to stage right. "Whether you long for riches or just a fish, just say the word, and I'll grant your wish. Any wish you say, I'll grant you, any wish you say will come true. By the power of Lord Arceus in heaven, Manaphy you will be!"
With that, the puppet hums a familiar melody and Brock plays a mystical melody as the Ho'oh puppet is shrouded in smoke. On the harp's final glissando, the gong sounds, and the Manaphy puppet appears from the smoke.
A spotlight appears on Brock. "In every moon, dark days appear. Kaitou, unfortunately, does not see clear." he intones as he plays a soft interlude. "His eyes are blinded by the flames of power, which will need feeding every hour. A wise one once to me did repeat, 'When you buy shoes, be sure to measure feet.'
"I am Manaphy, Prince of the Sea!" the Manaphy puppet announces. "I stop the sun, make rivers run and overflow. Shake the earth with torrents! Blow, wind, blow!" As if on cue, the flute mimics a whistling wind noise.
"I throw open the windows of the sky, and let the tears fall from my eye!" the Manaphy puppet continues over the flute. "River, rise! Water, flood the land! I am your master, this I command!"
"Lightning" flashes, nearly drowning out the flute as Whitlea unrolls a large royal blue cloth. "Over the valley the water creeps--higher, higher, higher..." the Manaphy puppet notes. At this point the "water" has completely covered the stage. Then, Whitlea shakes the cloth to make "waves". "Trees are uprooted, and Pokemon flee, for no one is as mighty as me!" the Manaphy puppet announces over the flute.
An Ursaring puppet "walks" in the scene. "I am an Ursaring," it says in a deep, gentle voice. "When the day is warm and fair, I growl and glare. When the day is snowy and blowy, I smile and gloat. Because every day, cold or fair, I wear my fur coat. When Raikou does roar, and Manaphy begins to pour water from the sky; I do not hide inside, like a Kricketot. If I get wet, I have no sneezes, because I give a big hug that squeezes me dry. Laughter wafts through the crowd as the Ursaring puppet "hugs" itself as it lumbers offstage.
A Chimchar puppet romps onstage. "I am a little Chimchar." it says in a high pitched female voice. "One day, on my way to find shady shelter, a Cheri tree bowed its head. It said 'Welcome," just to me. Up the tree with a hop, I made my home at the top. Happy was I to live so high in a beautiful, blossoming Cheri tree. But now, thunder rolls, the gates of heaven open on me, high in a leaky and creaky Cheri tree." Laughter goes up at this. "Down I slide, hoping to hide from the raging Gyarados in the sky. Rain is plopping, I am hopping, never stopping. There has to be a reason why! I think there's monkey business going on!" With that, it romps offstage.
"The world is covered in my dark cloud..." the Manaphy puppet notes. "Lightning, come forth!"
Whitlea triggers some white lights wired to her fingers, making a bright white flash light up the stage as a sound effect of thunder plays. "Light the sky! Let thunderbolts fly!" the Manaphy puppet commands as the white light flashes again and again. "High and low, low and high, lightning flash! Torrents crash! Gales lash! I am the mghty one!"
A harp riff is heard over the "storm" as the thousand voices ask "Kaitou, are you happy?" They are barely audible over the noise.
"Happy? All things tremble and flee! All bow to me!" the Manaphy puppet boasts.
Just then, a Lucario puppet appears at the top of a mountain setpiece. "I am Lucario, the guardian of this mountain." it announces in a mystical voice. "I do not tremble. I do not flee. I stand forever, for eternity."
The "storm" calms down, save for a spotlight on the Manaphy puppet. "So the mountain will not bend nor break, despite my power? If only I were Lucario..."
The Raikou puppet appears off to stage right on the now cleaned stage. "Whether you long for riches or just a fish, just say the word, and I'll grant your wish. Any wish you say, I'll grant you, any wish you say will come true. By the power of Lord Arceus in heaven, Lucario you will be!"
With that, the puppet hums a familiar melody and Brock plays a mystical melody as the Manaphy puppet is shrouded in smoke. On the harp's final glissando, the gong sounds, and the Lucario puppet appears from the smoke.
Brock appears in his spotlight, with another spotlight on the Lucario puppet. "You have now seen four wishes." he notes over his tense interlude. Kaitou still seeks true happiness, and the Raikou prince still searches for an answer, all because of greener pastures. A wise one once told me, 'The fingers on your hand all have strength, but each one is a different length.'" He lets that hang as the lights come up on the Lucario puppet atop the "mountain".
"I am Lucario." the Lucario speaks again. "Alone I stand, atop this great tower of stone. Keeping watch from the snowy peak, with the Legendaries I speak!"
Brock plays a prayerful interlude as the Raikou puppet enters the scene. "Great Lord Arceus, the answer to your question I now know. A happy man is mighty. Kaitou has proved it so." it prays. "Release me from this Raikou skin, and let my future with Cresselia begin!"
Some bells are heard as the lights come up on the "heaven" section of the set. "Oh, Mamoru, you do not yet know, you are as blind as Kaitou." the Cresselia puppet scolds. "Power can be misused, and might can be misused. I fear our wedding day is still far, far away."
"Lord Arceus does not answer..." the Raikou puppet worries. "Great wave guider, tell Lord Arceus you are happy!"
"Kaitou, are you happy?" the thousand voices ask as if on cue.
"Happy?" the Lucario puppet asks. "Earth and heavens bow, for no one can touch me now."
A young boy in Asian-esque work clothes walks onstage. "I am Takuya, a stonemason's apprentice." he begins. "Every day, I take my chisel and mallet..." he waits as Whitlea hands him the requested items. "and travel to the mountain to cut stones." With that, he pantomimes hammering the mountain setpiece as the woodblocks provide the sound.
"Oh, I feel a pain in my side!" the Lucario puppet groans. "A stonemason chips away at me. Please Lord Arceus, make me a stonemason once more, as I used to be!"
The Raikou puppet appears off to stage right. "Whether you long for riches or just a fish, just say the word, and I'll grant your wish. Any wish you say, I'll grant you, any wish you say will come true. By the power of Lord Arceus in heaven, a stonemason you will be!"
With that, the puppet hums a familiar melody and Brock plays a mystical melody as the Lucario puppet is shrouded in smoke. On the harp's final glissando, the gong sounds, and the boy playing Kaitou appears from the smoke in his original costume to thunderous applause.
Brock comments from his nook at stage right. "And so, we return to where we started our story. The wise ones spoke true when they said 'Man often makes a foolish wish, don't climb a tree to catch a fish.'"
"I am Kaitou, a humble yet happy stonemason." Kaitou smiles. "Each day I travel to the mountain."
"Could it be..." the Raikou puppet gasps. "Kaitou is happy?"
"Yes." the boy replies as he "works". "I have learned to be happy just the way I am."
Brock plays a prayerful melody as the Raikou puppet "prays". "Great Lord, I was deceived. The answer is not power, wealth, or glory. The one content to be just as he is, he is truly happy."
Then, Brock plays a long glissando as the Raikou puppet is surrounded in smoke. On the harp's final glissando and a triumphant stinger from the orchestra, Rylan, clad in an ornate gold, blue, and purple robe, steps from the smoke and hugs the Cresselia puppet as it descends to the stage with the Lugia and Jirachi puppets.
"And so, Prince Mamoru and Cresselia were wed, and wedding bells rang all through the heavens and on the earth in celebration." Brock concludes as the curtains close on the happy scene. "Kaitou never forgot Prince Mamoru and the lesson he had learned. Prince Mamoru became the Herald of the Evening Star, lighting the way for Cresselia every night. Their love lasted for all time--so ends the tale of 'Kaitou and the Magic Tree'."
He turns to exit, then adds "One more word from the wise ones before I leave you...may all your wishes be sincere, and may all your dreams come true!" He plays one last glissando as his spotlight blinks off, ending the play.
"YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!" the crowd roars as the lights come up for the curtain call. Brock bows first, then the orchestra, then the puppeteers, and then the actors. But the biggest ovation is saved for Whitlea as she removes her costume's hood, allowing the audience to see who is inside the silver suit as she takes a bow. Enthusiastic applause rings through the theater as the entire cast takes a bow...